Thursday, October 6, 2011

Utah Society of Railroad Modelers

I'm a member of the Utah Society of Railroad Modelers.  We had a fantastic meeting yesterday which included essentially three clinics on scenery.  If you happen to be in the Utah - Salt Lake City area, we'd love to have you join us!

Sign up on our Yahoo Egroup...

 Rob Spangler is one of the best scenery guys in the valley.  He starts off by showing us cardboard strip supports for plaster scenery.

 "Bench Mark" Evans takes a photograph of the cheesecloth that Rob is using to cover the cardboard strips.  This is a great idea!

 The cheesecloth takes the place of the Woodland Scenics plaster cloth squares, and is much much cheaper.

 Allen McCallum changes gears and shows us a different style using using masking tape covered with newspaper to get the same effect.  Actually I like both methods!

 In depth discussions on the pros and cons of Hydrocal plaster leave my daughter Taylor snoozing on the table.  Next time I'll sit her in the back with a pillow.  At least she wasn't snoring.

 With the drop cloth out, Allen and Rob start painting on the wet plaster.

 Rob uses a very thin mix, while Allen's is much thicker.  Both achieve the same effect.  Great clinics!

 Bill Hughes jumps in and starts teaching us how to cover up the new hills with trees.

 Supertrees!  What great stuff.  For about $24 you get a whole box of this odd type of dried week.  Bill soaks it in matte medium and then spray paints it.  Later he adds ground foam for color and texture.  They are amazing.

His layout must be spectacular as I watch his Powerpoint presentation.  The trees (like the Aspen he's making here) look very realistic.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rejoice! For I Have Found What Was Lost!

I knew I had another steam loco with sound!  I remember buying it, but like so many of us when you have a quantum mass of train junk in the basement it is often hard to put your hands on what you need.  So you buy another one and eventually have three hobby shops in your basement (Hi Packrat Paul!  Miss you man!).

 Its a 4-6-0 just like the other one, but this one has a sound decoder.  And it sounds amazing!  Let's give her a test run!  Oh...where did I find it?  LOL...where it was supposed to be!  In the box with all the other rolling stock so that I'd know where it was.  I'm going to the Doctor tomorrow, btw.

 Quickly I hooked up the DCC system.  Yeah, I probably should take an afternoon and get the test track up and running.  Wouldn't take long.  But this works for now.

 I need to adjust the wires, but other than that she runs great and the sound is fantastic!  Just what a small layout needs.

Oops!  Somebody heard the whistle and came running down stairs to see what was going on.  She took my throttle and started running my toy!  I hate that....gotta get her some of her own.

Not the best video as I had the wrong camera handy, but you can hear the sound.  Now when I get here sister loco back they will make a perfect set...right after some heavy weathering!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hidden Trackage Section

Hand lay or not hand lay...that is the question.  This layout is designed to accomplish my NMRA Achievement Program requirements.  I could hand lay all the trackage, but that would lake an extra month and a half.  Or I could just hand lay the two turnouts and the crossing required by Civil and then build the rest in Micro Engineering track (very close to prototype).  What to do?

 The reason I'm talking track now is that I need to finish the hidden trackage.  I brought out the textile mill to look at its size again.  I'm going to put in the side boards this weekend and need to figure out how it will fit.

 The building will need to be raised a bit, so that is fine.  The profile board on the side will be cut straight across.  We may do that tomorrow night.

 The foam sheets that I bought here in Utah are thinner than the foam I bought in Georgia.  I'm going to add another layer to raise the roadbed up to the risers.

 Here I was test fitting the cork roadbed that I plan on using.  A little yes, we need the second layer of foam.  First, we need to check and make sure we have clearance.

 Nothing gets lost faster than the handy NMRA gauge (HO for this one).  So I have a badge neck band that has a metal clip on it.  This way I can keep it with me and won't lose it in the mess.  I also have a belt clip for it.

 Using newspaper I made a template of the sub-roadbed for cutting the foam.

 Speaking of organization, everything for the layout is in one of two boxes.  One box has all the premade structures.  The second box has everything else include track, turnouts, rolling stock, crossties and other things that I bought specifically for the layout.

 Here you can see the tube of ME track, some crossings and turnouts and a few cars.

 Using the template I cut out the second foam layer of roadbed.

 I used the hot wire cutter to trim the ends up.

 Here I've glued the next layer in place, careful to make sure the glue leveled out.

My caulk gun stinks.  It has a smooth plunger and the trigger won't always grab it to push out the glue.  So I'm throwing it away.  If something bothers something about it.  Don't let it keep nagging you.  This detracts from the fun of layout building.  I'll buy a new one tomorrow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Last of the Risers

My darling wife, even though she is sick with a terrible cold, took the broken hot wire cutter back to Hobby Lobby and got me a new one.  She is wonderful!  Now I can finish the risers!

 When I'm not working on the layout I read a lot.  My basement is full of books.  There are many model railroad books, but only a few I treasure.  This is one of them.  If you can ever get a copy of Pual Mallery's Trackwork Handbook, buy it at any cost.  It is worth its weight in brass locomotives.  The reason I'm reading is that we are going to be laying track soon!

 To bridge the gap between sections 1 and 2, we need four risers, two on each section.

 For this we'll need a detail drawing for measurements, a tape measure, Sharpee marker, risers and a hot wire cutting tool. 

 From the edge of the wood section (not the foam) I measure in 3" per the plan.  That is the center of the trackline.  We'll put the shorter block there.

 With both risers placed, I'll draw around them with a Sharpee.

 Hot Wire Tool #3 (first one broke, second one didn't work) is hot and ready.  WARNING: this things will burn you really bad and make you say words like @#$@# and #$%# #@%  so be careful.  You'll need to wipe off the foam residue occasionally so I use a thick rag.  CAREFUL!  You need to wipe from the tip down to the handle and not the other way around.  The reason is the residue is sticky and if you wipe from handle up to the tip (as seems very natural) you will pull the wire out of the base and tear it up.  Sounds like experience, don't it?

 I cut out the square and removed the blocks.  The base foam was glued in place so I had to do some excavating.

 The fit is nice...not quite as snug as I'd like but no matter.

 Both square holes are dug out and the blocks are resting in place.

 Once in a while clean up your mess.  My rule is - the first time I can't find a tool easily, I stop and clean up. Foam gets all over everything, so you need to toss it in the trash can.  I used to save foam scraps but found after a few layouts that they are just in the way and I only would use a small fraction of them.  There is always plenty of big pieces around.

 Using the XL300 adhesive all the blocks are glued into place. We'll let them dry 48 hours.

 At the end of the session I pick up all my tools and put them on the tool tray.  I make sure that the foam cutting tools are unplugged and all sharp instruments are in the middle of the table where I can find them.

There!  The risers are in.  This will allow me to finish up the foam work and get ready for the side boards.

Good night!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Need Some Car Shop Time

Sometimes you need a break for benchwork.  I bought a piece of rolling stock on my last visit to Chicago.  Let's start putting it together.

 I really hate the disappearance of shake the box kits.  Taking it out of a box and running it gives me the creeps.  Its just no fun unless I have done SOMETHING to it first.  Here is a standard Accurail kit that I found at Des Plaines Hobbies in Chicago.  Guess they don't sell much Atlantic Coast Line because I got it on sale.  Let's put it together.  Here you can see all the parts for the kit.

 This fits perfectly with my time period and needs for smaller rolling stock.  It will rust up really nicely!

 First I'll read the instructions.  Did I hear someone laugh?  Yes, I do read them.  Then I politely throw them under the glass top so they don't get glue on them.

 We'll need to de-sprue the parts from the parts trees, so my favorite tool for this is the sprue cutting tweezer.  You can buy them from Micro Mark or most any hobby tool supplier.  Just remember, this is a tool that you get what you pay for.  You'll use it a lot so buy a good quality one.

 Following the directions (stop laughing or I'll turn off the computer and go to bed) I'll cut off the parts as needed since they are painted.  We'll remove the bulkheads first.

 I carefully test fit the ends onto the gondola body.  Works great!

 For plastic models I tend to use Tenax 7 R.  Well, this is the BOTTLE for Tenax 7 R, but I use toluene that I buy in quart bottles from Homeless Depot.  Same stuff.  With it I use a #0 brush to apply the model cement.

 With the ends glued on the next step is to mount the weight.  I used to paint the weights to keep them from rusting.  Normally a quick coat of clear gloss coating.  But since I change scales/gauges so much I don't bother.  I've used silicone caulk before but found that with a sharp jolt the weight will come loose.  So I've gone back to the old stand by contact cement.  Takes a while to apply  but the weight won't ever move.

 Here the weight is glued permanently in the bottom of the gon.

 In my toolbox there are (no kidding) 55 pairs of tweezers, almost any kind you could want.  This is my favorite pair and the only ones that have a place on the workbench.  The are sharp and curved with very narrow points.  Put money into your favorite tweezers and take really good care of them.  You need this for handling tiny parts.

 I glued the bottom of the gon in place.  My thoughts are that this model is actually much heavier than NMRA standards.  Either way, I'll not change it.  So I start cutting the small parts off the sprues and will glue them in place.  The brake wheel and underbody brake lines and devices are already glued on.

Oops!  Its way past your bedtime young lady!  Off to bed.   We'll finish up another night when I find the Kadee coupler box.