Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday Status

tap tap tap - Is this thing on? . . . .

Well, now.

It's been a while. Since I started this blog over 4 years ago, I don't think I've ever had a hiatus this long, but life - as they say - has a way of hijacking your plans from time to time. But all is well, relatively speaking (sorry 'bout the pun...).

My dad is doing really well, the Missus' dad is doing less well, but ok. At least he's home now. He's not recovering as fast as we'd hoped and the doctors expected, but they're not super concerned so we're trying not to be.

And the day job did its usual ramp-up into Crazy Town mode over the last couple of months, so that's been a major distraction. I've also been trying to find a new car in the middle of all that.

So, unfortunately, the blog - and model railroading in general - has taken a back seat. More like waaaay in the back of the bus.

But light is showing on the horizon. I debuted a clinic on operations at last month's meeting of the Nutmeg Division of the NMRA. It was kind of a dress rehearsal for a presentation that I'm scheduled to do in a few weeks at the NEProtoMeet. I'm also scheduled to have an open house on the Sunday of that weekend - I just hope I can get the layout cleaned up and operating again in time(!) Hope to see a lot of you that weekend!

And while all the non-model-railroad stuff has kept me from model railroading, I fully expect to feel the nibble of the bug again soon. Of course, as I do, I'll share that here. Thanks much for your patience - hope y'all will stick around a bit more.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Modeling Monday: Route 15 Overpass - Castings Reveal!

So, as things typically happen lately, I got distracted by work/life and am only just now getting around to sharing the result of the castings I poured over a week ago. And this time, I actually had enough room on my iPhone to shoot a proper video. Well - I don't know how "proper" but at least it didn't get cut off this time. . .

I'll never become a YouTuber, but let me know if you've been enjoying the videos and/or finding them helpful. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video's gotta be worth even more. And it saves a lot of typing :^) And - bonus! - you actually get to see in kinda-real-time how things are working (or not - that's the joy of a "live" video).

But this is a blog after all, so here are some detail shots of the castings that I got. I don't know if I had beginner's luck or not, but I think they came out really well.

Unfortunately, there must have been some bubbling along a few of the girder edges though. You can see above what look like "chips" that broke off. Nope - that's how the casting came out. Should be a relatively simple matter of filling them in with either putty or strip styrene. I'll letcha know (or I might not even bother, since these will literally be painted black and put under a bridge back next to the backdrop...)

Speaking of bubbles...

Remember that beginner's luck I mentioned? Well, it wore off a bit with the second pour I did. My main mistake here was not overfilling the mold with the resin pour. As a result a lot of air - and thus, bubbles - got trapped under the acetate.  Even WORSE - I tried to fix things by lifting the acetate up and smoothing the bubbles out. Big Mistake - that really just made things worse and created more bubbles. I would have been better off just placing the acetate,leaving it alone, and seeing what I ended up with, come what may.

Note to self: Always overfill the mold.

The beginner's luck didn't totally leave though, cuz the castings ended up ok. Yeah, there are a lot of voids, but they're either on the back (where they won't be seen) or actually in the casting (where they really won't be seen - especially after they're painted).

So, as I mentioned on the video, turns out I really only need two sets of girders in addition to the masters in order to have enough for the Rt. 15 overpass. But for that plan to work, I needed to be able to free the masters . . .

If you can remember waaaaay back when I first started this a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I used some Aileen's to glue the masters onto the base of the foamcore box. Well, while it did take a bit more time than I expected, a soak in water did eventually allow me to carefully peel them off.

And there wasn't even any residue! Certainly no damage to the masters, which of course is awesome. I'll be sure to wash all the pieces thoroughly before painting though.

And that's it! At least for now, my resin casting efforts are going to take a back seat while I focus on some other things. Busy days at work will be ending in a few weeks and I've been immersed in shopping for a new car (mine just turned 180k and the Missus' car just turn 245k!). Unfortunately, my FIL is still in the hospital, but doing ok all things considered. It's just a long road. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Before I do anything else though, I really REALLY need to clean up this mess %^)
Thanks to all of you that attended the NMRA Nutmeg Division meeting yesterday and hung around for my presentation on Operating the Valley Line. You were a great audience and I got some good feedback that'll help me improve it for the upcoming NEPROTO Meet. Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Route 15 Overpass: Removing the Mold & Pouring the Resin

Ok, that was a little bit of a fail. That's what I get for not making sure that there's enough room on the phone for an actual helpful-length video. Since I don't want to leave you in SUSPENSE! suffice it to say that I was able to get the rubber mold out of the foamcore box. And here's what I had:

Not too bad - but I still got some seepage of rubber underneath the masters, despite running a bead of glue around the perimeter of each part. Next time, I'll make sure that the glue seeps out just a little around the edges - that should seal things nicely.

But that's next time. For now, I had some trimming to do. And, after trying even a sharp x-acto, I came up with the perfect solution - sprue nippers! As you can see above, they're straight and flush-cut ting. Just what I needed to go around trim off the extra rubber "flash."

Compare this photo with the "before" shot above, and I think you'll agree that the nippers worked great.

Next step was to mix and pour the resin. Click here for the details.

As before, I mixed the Parts A & B in equal measures together, then slowly poured into the mold doing my best to avoid bubbles. And - important (as I discovered later) - be sure to "overfill" the mold slightly.

Next, cover with acetate or plate glass/plexiglass to keep the backs of the castings flat. As you can see, a few bubbles resulted. I'm not sure yet how to avoid that and decided they didn't matter since they'd be on the back of the castings anyway.

Lastly, weigh it all down. I think that'll help a bit with the bubbles but we'll see.

It turned out that I ended up mixing a bit more resin than I needed and it had actually started to cure ever so slightly in the mixing cup. So I did an experiment and quickly poured the rest of it all into the gondola load mold I'd made before. Just a quick & dirty pour - and I didn't even bother with acetate or a weight.

And this is what you end up with (above). A very non-flat surface that's not only very uneven, but slightly humped. No matter though. Because: test.

This comparison shows you the difference the acetate/weight will make. Sure, the casting on the left has no bubble voids, but the casting on the right doesn't require lots of sanding to get everything flat and flush (though you may want to putty the holes - not really necessary on a gondola load).

So now I'll wait overnight to see how my *important* (i.e. "not test") castings come out. Since I've done a bit of practice, I've become much less intimidated by the whole casting process. At least I've cleared a lot of the fog for myself and removed some of the mystery. Hopefully that bodes well for what I hope will be some really nice girder pieces for the Rt. 15 overpass in Wethersfield.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Fun: A Modeler's Life Interview

Click to enlarge and actually be able to read it :^)
Since things have been so busy lately, and despite all the necessary extra driving, I am way behind on one of my favorite ways to pass the time - listening to model railroad podcasts. In fact, I'm SO far behind that I just recently realized that my convo with Lionel Strang at Springfield got posted (over a month ago - yikes!). Lionel hosts one of my favorite podcasts - A Modeler's Life - and he and I spent some time together during the Big E train show weekend talking about trains.

So check it out if you can - link is here and just scroll down to March 9. Unfortunately, unlike my other interviews, it's on the paid Patreon site. But browse around there and see if you don't agree that you can get a lot of great content for as little as a dollar ($1) per month.

And whether or not you head over to Patreon, be sure to check out the free content on the ol'AML. Lots of great stuff there - or at least something to make long commutes a little more bearable!