Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Cleaning and Sorting

So yesterday I put scenery stuff in two rolling cabinets. It was not enough. Today I went back to Wally Mart and bought another three drawer cabinet. This one is now full as well.

In the top drawer I but sprayers, bottles and cups for scenery work. In the next drawer are my swamp specific cypress trees, stumps and knees. The bottom drawer is plaster, plaster cloth and some bulk scenery items like logs, timber and wood scraps. You know I still need at least ONE MORE! Marie is going to kill me.
They had the small three drawer units on sale for $6.50 each so I bought two of these. I'm using them for layout specific details such as swamp details in drawer one, castings in drawer two and people and figures in drawer three.
I still have this much more stuff in the back room, but I'm going to wait to buy any more containers. I need to have a throwing out party first.
The top of the workbench is now clean, having recently been my sorting table for scenery stuff. I'm about to use the paint so I'll leave it there. I may clean out the bottom shelf next week.
Train room is back in order again!

Dr. Perry to Trackwork! Dr. Perry to Trackwork! We are going to be laying track soon. Better get a jump on it. This is my portable track laying tool bench. I've had this a while. It is a tool caddy that I bought on sale at Pep Boys and is normally used for auto repair. It is PERFECT for working on the layout. This one is adjusted to 42" high. It is all metal and can roll it's top over your work area. I modified it today so that the small trays are in front instead of the back. Then I put a 26 1/2" poplar board in the back and made a holder for my arm light and mounted a power strip to it.
The light swivels and can be moved over my work area on the layout. The power strip provides juice for soldering irons and the like. The metal surface of the top table is great for soldering. The small trays hold track laying tools and spikes.
I also keep some tools in an orange caddy that can move from table to layout. This way I don't sit tools and supplies on the layout itself. You lose things that way. We will finish the last pieces of benchwork on July 3rd and I'll start laying track by mid July. We'll have the mainline done by November 1, hopefully in time to put me on the Piedmont tour. If the mainline is not done, I won't be on the tour. Laying track on pilings by hand is hard and time consuming work.
Taylor wanted me to finish this section, so I worked on it a while then had to go cook dinner. I may finish it later tonight.

Taylor played with me all day in the basement while I was down there. She loves the trains.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Scenery Materials Organization

It won't be long before I'm going to be starting on the scenery for my layout. Likewise my friend Glue Bob is going to need help on his scenery as well. Right now my scenery materials are scattered all over the basement. I can't find anything, have tons of duplicates because I can't find anything and have things I don't need. Time to clean up the mess. It's 96 degrees outside so let's go play in the cool basement.

Lot's of Swamp Scenery To Make!

MAKE A PLAN: Before you get started survey your materials and make a plan.

My plan:

1. Storage should fit under the layout where I have wasted space
2. Anything under the layout must be able to roll out of the way for wiring purposes
3. Drawers/containers should be large enough to hold most items
4. Drawers/containers should be transparent so that I can see what is in them
5. Storage must be portable enough to be taken to a friend's house

Before you go to the store, measure the height, width and depth of your benchwork so you will know how much room you have to work with. I recently went to the Container Store (name of a retail company) and got some ideas, but couldn't afford anything they had.

I polled the members of the SCENERY Yahoo group for their ideas as well as several other groups. Frankly I was surprised that there was absolutely nothing innovative at all. So, I'll follow the pack...for now! My day started with a little jaunt over to Wally-Mart for some storage. The purchase of two Sterilite three drawer, large, mobile storage drawers was my final decision. There are many different makes and models of these drawer sets. Some taller, some thinner, some that don't roll. The wide and deep drawers with casters seemed to be the perfect thing to slide under the benchwork. I couldn't see me using the really tiny drawers and I wanted something that could hold a bottle. These were about $15 each. The dimensions were 15 1/4" x 21 3/4" x 25 5/8", model number 73149 29308. Be sure to check each unit thoroughly for damage before you buy them as they have a tendency to be broken in shipping.
The first job when I got them back home was to pull the stickers and tape off. If you don't remove the residue from the stickers you'll have green ground foam dust stuck all over the sticker spot. So I cleaned the cabinets thoroughly with GreenWorks all purpose cleaner and a lint free surgical rag. The clean fragrance of the GreenWorks doesn't overpower you in the less than ventilated basement.
The casters are very small. Too small. But they will do for now.
Here are the two cabinets fully assembled and cleaned.
They both fit nicely underneath the layout benchwork. Both roll quite easily on the carpet.

I then took all of the drawers out and lined them up on the unfinished benchwork.
One problem with scenery materials is that they are very messy. I decided that it would be prudent to take a minute and make some coverings for the bottom of the drawers.
Using my ever present stash of cardboard, I cut out some 13 1/2" x 18 3/4" carboard sheets and trimmed the corners so they fit in the bottom of each drawer.
I did not want them snug. They are just there to soak up glue and spilled materials.
I like to use these little kitchen shakers for dispensing scenery materials that are very fine. On the tops I write with a Sharpie marker the type of material in the container and it's stock part number.
So this one is Woodland Scenic's Number T46 Green Weeds. Really, I need to glue a little bit of the material to the top so that I can see it. I'll dedicate a drawer to these containers.
There is quite a collection of scenery tools so they will get their own drawer as well.
Many of the materials will be removed from their original container and put into Glad zipper bags with a large white label panel on them. That way I can write on the bag what the contents are. I'm not sure that Woodland Scenics is every going to get the idea that their bagged scenery needs to be resealable. They just don't get it. I like bags better than bottles because it gives you more storage room.
Before I got started I fired up a scrap scenery bag. Anything that is too small to store or had fallen out in the box was dumped in here to be used on the layout.
I keep this or a wide mouth jar in the front of the drawer to collect materials that are swept up or vacuumed up.
I also like bags better than jars because I can get my hand in a bag more easily. On think I don't like about bags is that when they are in a drawer you can't see what's in them without moving them around.
Dyes are the single most damaging material you can have in your scenery arsenol. They leak, spill dry up and get moldy. They ruin EVERYTHING! So double bag every bottle and keep it as separate as possible. I usually store it in the bottom-most drawer.
Here I have a collection of dry and wet dyes of various kinds, all bagged and double bagged in a larger zipper bag. The jury is still out for storing chemicals. I generally keep all chemical items in a special storage area in my shop, but did relent and am keeping a bottle of alcohol in the scenery storage cabinets.
I then started dragging out every possible scenery material I could find in my house and brought it to the basement.
A few years ago I bought a fancy digital label maker. This is really nice if you want to drop about $60 for the labeler and a supply of tape. A Sharpie will do the same job, just not as neatly.
I use the white background label stock. I've tried the clear and it not only doesn't stick very well, but is hard to see on transparent surfaces. The label was placed dead center of the drawer.
The first cabinet is finished. The shakers are on top for easy access. Next is the living ground cover drawer with grasses and clump foliage. The last is the drawer for scenery tools. These, I figure, will be the most popular.

The next drawer has the trees & stumps drawer, the non-living ground cover which is rocks, ballast and stone. The last drawer are river rocks, dyes and stains, long grass weeds and misc items.
They are light weight and can be moved easy. I put the heaviest drawer on the bottom to give the units some ballast. Both are light enough to pick up and move to a friend's house for a work session. Now, to go clean up all the rest of the stuff. Really, I need one more rolling set of drawers.

Got more scenery storage and organization ideas? Post them in the comments section below.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Shopping We Will Go!

Since tomorrow is Father's Day and I have to work, I'm kinda taking it easy today. I got up early and took the family shopping. My kind of shopping. I went to the Ace Hardware (heaven!), Lowe's (sweet) and the Home Depot (paradise). When I go I take my shopping list with me.

Google Docs has a free online spread sheet program that is web based and you can access it anywhere with your secret code. I use it to keep a list of things I need to buy, which is always lengthy. Anytime I need something I just log in and put it on the list. I keep everything in a priority ranking - things I need quickly for the layout are "A" items. Things I'll need eventually or that I'd really like to have are "B" items. Things I want but need to save up for or that aren't critical to what I'm working on are "C" items. Things I can't afford are "D" items. Always lots fo those!

Today's shopping netted well over $100 worth of stuff. All of it I needed for the Swamp Layout. You can read about what I did today here:

The coolest thing I bought was the countersink/screwdriver device that lets you pilot a hole then flip the tool around and screw the screw in. How cool! Packrat Paul had one the other day and I just had to get it. This one comes in a fancy case that I don't need and will probably throw away. Cost was about $12 at Lowes.
The bucket brigade!

Ace Hardware was the first stop. My father and uncle both owned Ace Hardware stores and I grew up working in them when I was a kid. I love that store! Today I bought nuts and washers for the gurney project on my layout and some brass screws. The brass screws are for mounting rails on the model railroad at the module joints. Bob Wheeler showed me how to tin the tops and solder the rail to the top for a permanent hard-fixed rail alignment position. Works very well.These are 1 inch #2 screws.
I bought more #6 - 1 5/8" drywall screws. You can't buy enough of them when you are building a layout. I should have bought the big bucket.
I'm always breaking the 3/32" bits so I bought some more and some other bits to fill the empty holes in my bit box.
I bought some light socket adapters and some electrical socket adapters. The light socket adapter turns a light socket into an electrical socket. The electrical socket adapter turns it into a light socket. These cheap and handy devices provide light and power in areas of the basement that aren't yet finished. Thanks Mike Devaney for the light socket idea!
The area where my work table is located is not very well lit. I do have electrical outlets in the ceiling so I just put a bulb into the device and...
Let there be light!
I took the drywall screws and filled up the bins. They are all marked for identification and stored in one area where my friends can easily find them. The bins are removable so they can be taken to the work area and accidentally dumped on the carpet for my bare feet to find.
Howard Goodwin told me about Patch n Paint. This is a stucco patch material that he uses to fill in gaps in foam scenery. I suspect it has lots of fun uses and I'm going to play with it.
My wife reminded me to look on the Oops! paint shelf at Home Depot. I found a gallon of gray acrylic and a gallon of beige acrylic. The gray will be used a base coat for lots of things. The beige will be the base coat for the top of the layout and the foam material. $5.00 a gallon! Normally $24.00. You can't beat that!
If they had not painted the lids, I'd have put the paint on them. I'll also write on the cans while I intend to do with it because I'll forget.
A quick swing through Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers fast food restaurant for some ice tea yields some more souffle cups. This handy little ketchup cups are disposable and good for small quantities of glue or paint. I use them in the shop by the dozen. I borrow a hand full every time I visit, and some spoons, too.
I didn't realize the castors I bought required fine thread nuts. The hand Ace Hardware guy saw it right off.

Marie needs some more wood filler, so I took a reminder picture. When I download the "note to myself" I'll add it to the shopping list. Digital cameras rock!
I just had to play with the countersink & screw bit.
Its a two headed bit with a #6 countersink on one side (which can be changed to other sizes) and a Phillips head bit on the other. So cool. I know you probably have one of these, but I was unaware of them and think the are handy!
Today I was working in the Swamp and the concrete was bothering my feet. I keep a stack of these handy floor pads and put one in every area where I might stand for a while
Today it was in front of my assembly workbench.

It is hot today, so I kept the fan in the Swamp running. Continually moving the air makes it feel cooler.
I cut some wood today out in the back yard. I'm a firm believer that if you can't afford $500 for a table saw, just don't buy one. This cheap Ryobi ($89) has cut a lot of wood but it is very dangerous. It has no weight to it, the fence is wobbly and doesn't cut worth a damn. I could just go to Home Depot and have them make big cuts for me. Cheap tools don't work. Cheap power tools are dangerous. Ask yourself, "How much are my fingers worth?" Coming off my Chop Saw accident, I'm changing my mind about some of my tools. This one is now history.
Clamps. Here is my policy on clamps. When you think you have enough, you've just started. When someone else says "you have a lot of clamps" you are now half way there. When you find clamps in upstairs closets you now have enough. These cheap clamps are used to hold some boards and temporary legs in place. I have a huge box full of them, all kinds. Steel C-clamps, grippers, bar clamps, pipe clamps, you name it. Still don't have enough.

Again, to see what I was working on check out the Swamp!