Wednesday, December 26, 2012

021 The Augusta Railway - Dropping In The Backdrop

I love the holidays!  There is at least a few hours during the week I can steal for myself.  Its even better with the help of a few friends.  While I know the A/P Program is all about doing it yourself, there are just some jobs that are a two or three man job.  Hanging up hardboard is one of them.

So I put out a crew call this morning on our USRM Yahoo Egroup and found a couple of good, strong men that could come over to help.  Super Thayne 13 The Viking, Sargent at Arms was available, and so was Garden George who also lives close by.  Seems like everyone just wants to get out of the house this morning and play with the trains!

I've popped up a couple of card tables that help with keeping tools organized and easy to reach so that we aren't working off the floor.  There's a Model Railroader Dream-Plan-Build video going on the big screen.  Camera is ready to go, as are the tools.  Also we have some 30" sheets of tempered hardboard.

I doubt we'll get to painting today, bought I have some base coat for the hardboard ready.  I'm trying something besides Kilz since I didn't have a great experience with it last time.

I'll be using Liquid Nails and 1 3/4" drywall screws to mount the backdrop.

While I'm waiting on the guys to come over, here is a shot of the fantastic Christmas present that my mother-in-law Izzie gave me.  This cleaned out a whole messy drawer full of pliers and put them in front of me where I can find them.  She is very good at crafts and always gives the best presents.  Thanks, Izzie!!!

The guys are here, so let's get started.  First, we'll install the corner board with the curve.  This requires careful placement as I want the tightest radius that I can get and still not break the board.  We put it into position and measured it, then went upstairs with a T-square and circular saw and cut it so that the board went half way onto an upright.  With George on the right and Thayne on the left, we positioned the board.  I applied a good covering of Liquid Nails, then began countersinking and using screws to hold up the board's corners.

With the board held in place, Thayne then marked the centerline of the horizontals and I countersunk and screwed the board all around.  Notice that the bottom screws are not countersunk.  That is because they won't be seen since they will be behind the layout.  Great curve!  This is almost impossible to do by yourself. Hopefully the A/P Judge will forgive me!

I put the screws about 6 inches apart, and the glue behind the board covers all areas of contact.  This gives a good, tight, strong, smooth finish.  I'm careful to make sure that all screw heads are below the surface.  Next round I'll use thicker hardboard.

This is a bad shot, but you can see where we've mounted the second board which did not need to be cut.  We used the same principal.  I lightly sanded over every screw head checking for depth and getting the hardboard "fuzz" off the sheet.

While I was gluing and screwing, Thayne and George measured and cut the smaller piece of backdrop for the end.  My arm got tired of holding up the screw gun for so long, so Thayne took a turn while I worked on sanding.

Thayne was drilling when he struck oil.  I told him to move to Beverly, Hills that is.  He bought a cement pond and is living in luxury.

A quick check shows that the surface is reasonably smooth and free of issues.  So let's fill in the holes.

Ok, looking for a volunteer?  What's that George?  You used to rebuild houses?  LOL...guess you know how to spackle, so get at it!  George taught me that I've had the wrong spackling tool all this time and that I was supposed to be using a more flexible blade.  You learn more when working with friends!!!

To keep bumps and bulges to a minimum, I stagger the holes and then sand the area heavily.

While Thayne finished the last part, and I repair un-sunk-enough screws, George spackles the pits.

For some crazy reason, the screws were not pulling all the way in on this side, even though we were on a plank.  We switched to longer screws...

There!  Thayne is victorious!!!

Doing the seams is very tricky, but George has a nice touch.

This pink spackle turns white when it is ready to sand, and dries quickly.  I went and got a flimsier spackling tool that George likes much better.  He'll put the first coat on and I'll do the second coat later today.

One thing that I've noticed is that when friends come over to help they are WAY more detail oriented than I am.  I'm quite sloppy, to be honest.

Done!  Screwed and spackled.  Tonight I'll finish the job on my own and we'll be ready to paint tomorrow.

The Foreman supervised the entire event.  Notice the BRAND NEW copy of "Backdrops" by Klam-Bake. It just came in the mail this morning!  Normally I let the kids stay with me when I'm working but with three large men in the room the little ones can get stepped on so I tried to keep them upstairs.  Taylor would have nothing to do with that and her curiosity kept her in the room most of the time.

George found a few spots that needed some work so Thayne and I made some more repairs.

George did a final touch up and all the holes are good!

There!  Nice and smooth with a clean bend in the corner.  Just like I wanted.  Now, when we paint it, we'll see every little problem.  But that is for later in the week.

I'll need to work on a way to hide the end, but there is no rush to fix it today.  We spent 2 hours doing this work.  Had I done this myself and had to build supports for the flimsy wallboard it would have been an 8 hour job and would have looked sloppy.

Thanks Thayne and George for your excellent help and company!  I hope to finish the backdrop this week and have the benchwork frame installed by Jan 2.

Wish me luck!


  1. Hello Scott!

    My name is Katy and I am the social media coordinator for KILZ Brands. I stumbled upon your blog and I noticed that you mentioned not having a great experience with our product for your last project. Do you recall what product you used and on what surface?


  2. Hi Katy! I'm glad to see a company actually interested in a problem I had with a product! I used KILZ 5G General Purpose Interior Primer on 3/16ths Masonite brand hardboard in a basement. The hardboard was screwed into the wall and I coated the surface with a light coat of KILZ, believing that I would need to coat it twice. This is per the counter help at Home Depot who recommended the product to use. The paint would cover, and then separate, not adhering to the surface. Two coats did not work and I had to remove all the hardboard and start over because of the uneven surface. Never figured out what the cause was as the board was new and so was the brush. The KILZ didn't seem to be separated and was stirred well. Ideas???


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