Thursday, January 18, 2024

A Quick Update . . .

As you can see from yesterday's post, I haven't given up on the blog - though it may look like it. Suffice it to say that the past four weeks have been unusual.  The Missus and I were supposed to leave the morning of December 23rd to head down south to visit my family for the holidays. In fact, we were all packed - presents and everything - & ready to go that Friday night, but I came down with some sort of bug (not COVID, fortunately) that laid me out for over a week. Long story short - we didn't get to visit my family and between being sick, the holidays, and ramping up for the 2024 legislative session, things haven't been quite normal.

But layout progress - though often thwarted - has continued, at least a little bit. I have folks literally from around the world visit during the Big Railroad Hobby Show (aka "Springfield" aka "The Big E show" aka "The Amherst Show")) later this month, so I want to get some more stuff done.

As of the last layout update, I'd finished the Bethel cottages and was getting ready to start on the scenery. I did some ground goop and placed the foundations, but progress there has pretty much stopped while I try to figure out how to proceed. I have to figure out the photo backdrop - and 2 of the 3 foundations have "settled" & are no longer dead level, making me consider ripping them out and doing them over again...

So I turned my attention to the Saybrook Scene, which is the first thing visitors see when they come down the basement. Once BillS did the structures and scenery there (I don't even want to hazard a guess as to how long ago THAT was!), I turned my attention to the rest of the layout. But it's become High Time to ballast the track there, and finish up the scenic details and other scenery - not to mention the Route 1 overpass, photo backdrop, etc.

Check out the photos from yesterday to see how things stand there as of now . . .

Since I got water in my basement last weekend (another setback we don't need to get into :^), I lost a few more good layout work days, so I doubt I'll be able to get this scene finished in time for the Springfield show, but at least I'm making progress despite all the challenges. #DoOneThing  has really helped make sure progress, even if it's slow...

Speaking of #DoOneThing, if you don't mind Facebook, remember there's a Valley Local group over there. You don't have to love FB to parachute into the cool groups over there and follow the progress. And, I hate to admit it, it's a *lot* easier to post quick progress pics there as I'm working. So be sure to check it out.

That said though, I do plan to do more regular posting here - and was, until I got derailed a bit this past month. So thanks for your patience and hopefully you'll stay tuned!

In the meantime - Happy New Year!

(which reminds me - I haven't done an "Accomplishments/Goals" post in forever...)

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Wordless Wednesday #455 - Christmas Layout

Here are some pics from my Christmas layout to put you in the holiday mood. Hope you enjoy them and hope, even more, that you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season!!























Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Sunset Diner in Cromwell, CT

One of the lessons I'm learning (and RE-learning, over and over again) is that persistent progress in this hobby is the result of doing what you're most in the mood to do - pivoting from one project to another and not allowing yourself to get bogged down. If you always - or at least often - #DoOneThing, you'll be surprised at how much you get done.

I was able to spend a good amount of time in the basement this past weekend working on setting the scene for the Camp Bethel Cottages I've been working on, but weeknights are much better for working at the bench. So I pivoted from working on scenery to finishing up the Sunset Diner in Cromwell. (Be sure to click here for a really cool story about how this diner figures in the history of big band music . . .)

To set the scene, literally, here's a period view looking north on the Middlesex Turnpike into Cromwell. . .


The diner is the white, octagon(!) windowed structure on the left.

BillS built a model of this structure for me a couple years ago and it's been sitting on the layout ever since. But it was high time to finish detailing it with some stacks, vents, and a cool sign.

The stacks & ventilators came from a Walthers rooftop details assortment. I used some scrap styrene to make bases and cleanouts.

The skylight is an old Scale Structures Ltd. kit. The little tracing/template on the right was to help me cut out clear styrene for the windows.

But figuring it would be much easier, I ended up using some Micro Kristal Klear instead.

I made the signpost from 1/16" tube, 3/64" and .015" wire all soldered together. The eyebolts are DA #2206 and the chain is Campbell #256.

The lack of sign in the first/main prototype photo I had ended up holding up this project for a while since I didn't even know the name of the diner for the longest time. Then I found this photo.

Bill used his computer skills to recreate the sign and I printed it out and mounted it to .020" styrene and used .008" wire to create hooks to hang the sign from the chain. 

The sign post and the stacks/vents were all airbrushed with Tamiya paints, thinned 50:50 with 90% alcohol.


I didn't like the vent on the skylight that came with the Scale Structures kit, so I used one from my scrapbox, securing it with some CA gel. You can also see how well the "glass" came out.

And this is the back, which you don't really see from normal viewing, but at least I know what it looks like :^) All these parts were attached to the main structure with CA gel.

And here it is on the layout. Still need to do some weathering, but I think it'll sit here like this for a bit until I can muster up some courage.

So there you have it! I think it came out really well, especially when you compare the photo above to the prototype pic at the beginning of this post. I really enjoy recreating the past in miniature, especially when there's a cool story involved. Thanks for following along and let me know what you think!