Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Friday, January 14, 2022
As you may have noticed, I've really hit the ground running so far this New Year, with a blog post Every Single Day This Week(!) - but that has everything to do with 1) motivation to accomplish SOMEthing, anything, even if it's small, and 2) the Missus allowing me a lot of room on the weekends to do so.
But, if you're like me, those blocks of time can sometimes be wasted just staring at the layout and getting overwhelmed with all there is to do. All too often, that feeling just sends me back upstairs to the comfort of a soft couch and a good book - or, worse, TV.
With my new mantra though (ANY progress is progress), it's amazing what I can find to accomplish. Case in point - adding more shelves. As hobbyists we can NEVER have enough shelf space, so here's how I did a little something on the first day of the New Year (which will hopefully spark additional progress in the coming days and weeks all year long...)
|Since I got a new, smaller compressor and got rid of the FrankenPipe, I discovered I could cover this open space with a proper shelf.|
|In keeping with another of my new mantras - "don't make the perfect the enemy of the good" - I decided all I needed to support the new shelf was a couple of pieces of scrap wood, glued to the studs.|
|The shelf itself is another piece of scrap plywood, cut to fit.|
|Heady from my accomplishment, I decided to do the same in between the studs to the left as well. . .|
|Same process . . .|
|And there we are - although this shelf acts more as an extension of the bench top.|
|Makes for a nice place to hold my painting holders - and no chance of things falling between the studs.|
|Since I was on such an organizing kick (friends will tell you that I really need to be more organized *ahem*), I found a perfect place for my new pastels - right next to the PanPastel rack.|
|And, finally, I added my new scenery materials to the Wall of Scenery - all organized for quick finding.|
If you're even a little OCD, beware that your hobby doesn't devolve into anything more than collecting and organizing. At some point, you really should DO SOMETHING with all that stuff. But if you're stuck in a bit of a rut and aren't motivated to do anything on the layout, take some time to tidy the layout room & your workshop. You may discover that by the time you're done you're just itching to get back to work - even if it means making another mess.
Thursday, January 13, 2022
- Those two block-looking things at the top of the photo are, actually, blocks. 1-2-3 blocks, to be precise (see what I did there?) and they're great for assembling structures.
- At the top corners are some much-needed packages of foliage from Heki. This stuff makes excellent brambles and general brush along the ROW. Even though I'm not a huge fan of doing scenery, I AM a huge fan of collecting every type of scenery material I can.
- What's Christmas without books? Although my layout design days are (probably) behind me (for the time being, at least), like many in the hobby I always enjoy a bit of daydreaming - and little jewel layouts, and imagining how I can fit them in various/sundry rooms, are definite dream fodder.
- And speaking of books - who gets Volume 2 of a set? Someone who already has Volumes 1 and 3, that's who. These books from Bob's Photo are always great sources of prototype information and inspiration. And now this set is complete!
- Those masonite looking things to the left are actually sidewalks that I plan to use in Middletown...
- And the pastels to the right were recommended by Lou Sassi in his "HO Layout for Beginners" Sure, I have a lot of pastels already, but who am I to ignore Lou's advice?
These brushes are very cool - and if they're as good as their packaging/presentation, they should work really well for detail & figure painting. Can't wait to try them out!
So, what'd Santa bring YOU for Christmas?
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
You see, I'd attached the "love handle" in a location on the back of the throttle that I found comfortable - but unfortunately, it wasn't until the adhesive was firmly secured that I realized that the throttle wouldn't seat all the way in the holder. UGH!
No worries though - I figured I'd make short work of modifying the holder to accommodate the throttle & handle.
|So I marked off those dimensions . . .|
|. . . and used a cut-off disk in my Dremel to make three quick, straight cuts.|
|The cutting created some melted plastic around the cuts themselves, which I trimmed off with a chisel blade in my X-Acto knife.|
|Then it was just a matter of filing down the corners to make things look a bit nicer.|
|Here's the finished product, with the throttle firmly seated and the handle adequately accommodated.|
|Since the holder was finally finished, there was no longer any reason to hold off on installing it. Unfortunately, it didn't come with any mounting screws but I had some suitable ones on-hand (would've been more suitable if they'd been black though).|
|And here it is in place along with the other electronics under Middletown.|
After a few days, I realized two things: 1) I'd mounted the throttle a bit too low on the fascia and figured it'd look better up higher. So I moved it. . .
Sunday, January 9, 2022
Although I'm loathe to make any hard & fast New Year's Resolutions, I do find it helpful to look back and look forward. But unlike that more general post I did the other day, this "accomplishments/goals" post is a no-nonsense, no-frills (and no pics) comparison of what I'd set out to do in '21 versus how I actually did. While not "resolutions" per se, I'll at least note where I'd like to be a year from now.
And, unlike last year, I'm posting this a day earlier. So that's a step in the right direction at least...
A layout is never done - there are always additional details and scenic textures we can add. But there's definitely a level of "done-ness" that I definitely want to achieve - if not by the end of this year, then as soon as possible. By "done-ness" I mean the following:
- All trackwork is in and operable (mission already accomplished here, mostly, despite some persistent shorting issues);
- Main structures, roads, and grade crossings are done and in place;
- There's a basic layer of scenery (at least ground foam & static grass, and ballast on the track - trees are a bonus);
- Backdrops are all installed.
How I did: After major progress in 2020, including finishing basic scenery, I only got started on the backdrop and did a little more scenic texture.
How (I hope) I'll do: Finish the backdrop. That's it. There are no more structures that need to be done here, and basic scenery is already in. Of course, there's LOTS AND LOTS of detailing that needs to be done here - including lumber piles, chain link fences, additional scenic colors/textures, and switchstands (cosmetic only, but needed throughout the layout) - but to hit the level of "done-ness" I outlined earlier, I just need to get the stupid backdrop done, finally.
While technically branching off the mainline, north of Middletown, in my basement East Berlin is located in the corner next to Wethersfield, so it's next . . .
How I did: Ditto Wethersfield. Major progress in 2020, but only a little more scenic texturing in 2021 - including trees though!
How I'll do: I actually just started working on the last structural element there today - a concrete loading dock for loading bricks from local brickyards. Other than that, I'd like to improve the transition between the foreground and backdrop on the right side of the scene. And other than just a few more details, this area should be very close to "done" by the end of this year - if not the end of this month(!)
Continuing south from Wethersfield, the Rocky Hill scene has been close to done for years, lacking only a backdrop.
How I did: I started the backdrop here last year, finishing it from the Goff Brook scene around the end of the peninsula.
How I'll do: I have only to finish the backdrop from the peninsula to the backdrop in Dividend for this area (at least "north" <to the right> of Glastonbury Road) to be done.
How I did: Progress in Dividend was my major accomplishment in 2021, including a speed record in getting the backdrop done start to finish, as well as finishing most of the basic scenery - including a rock cut(!)
How I'll do: I'm working more here now, having just finished painting the major structure foundations and starting to rough in the rest of the backdrop. Other than that and the remaining basic scenery (which will have to include a lot of trees), I need to build the tank farm at the south end of the Hartford Rayon complex.
How I did: Other than mocking it up enough to figure out where/how to place the hill that divides this town from Dividend, I think all I did here last year was some cardboard lattice and plaster cloth.
How I'll do: Other than a distinctive diner, and perhaps scratchbuilding the station, most of the buildings here will be generic DPM-type town buildings - some of which are already built. The other challenge will be colorizing an era-appropriate postcard of Main Street and integrating it into the photo backdrop here.
But the MAIN accomplishment in this area is actually also the last major (re)work that needs to be done on the layout - I need to remove part of the benchwork and add-in the Mattabessett River and a rail bridge. On the prototype, that represents the line between Cromwell and Middletown, so if there's any way I can figure out how to replicate that on my layout, I'm gonna try.
How I did: I did a lot of mocking up and trying different street/terrain levels to try and get things to look "right" in the limited space I have for the major town on the Valley Line. Other than that, I reworked the terrain at the north end of the yard.
How (I hope) I'll do: There's a LOT of structures to build for Middletown, even though I have a huge head start thanks to Bill Maguire and Dave Messer. Some of them - like the freighthouse and Meech & Stoddard - will have to be scratchbuilt, but most of the rest of the city structures will be a mix of DPM, Walthers, and Magnuson Models kits.
Given all the structures needed - as well as all the area I need to cover with even cardboard lattice and plaster cloth (it's mostly bare benchwork here) - I think it'll be a long time before Middletown is at any level of done-ness. But I at least hope to get the backdrop done this year.... fingers crossed.
East Haddam/Deep River/Essex
How I did: I painted the foam board.
How I'll do: Since I plan to focus on getting everything north of Middletown "done" this year, I don't expect I'll be accomplishing much on the south end of the Valley Line. But I'll see if I can at least finish the structures in East Haddam that Dave Messer started.
How I did: Um, nuthin' - zero - zilch - nada
How (I hope) I'll do: The Saybrook Scene is the first thing you see when you come down the basement stairs, so I'd really like to get this area to a level of "done-ness" in 2022. The good news/bad news here for years has been that (thanks to BillS), Saybrook has been within striking distance of "done" - all major structures in, and most of the scenery completed. However, before it checks all the "done-ness" boxes, I have to at least ballast the track (still vacillating on what to use), finish the backdrop, and get the Route 1 overpass done. Signal bridges will be a bonus (I figure actual signals are a detail that's way off in the future).
Unlike the rest of the layout though, Saybrook can boast that it's the only area that has not only painted fascia, but painted valence and layout curtains. Still no carpet though (I don't think having it on the basement stairs really counts...)
J-1 Class 2-8-2 #3022: I worked on the cut-down tender a bit in 2021, but still have to do the over-the-top-of-the-smokebox handrail (the bending of which is surprisingly tricky), and finish detailing the tender and the loco itself. I really hope to get that done this year.
DEY-3 & DEY-5 Class diesels (Alco S-1 & S-2): Last year, I finally got these undec models out of the box(!) and started putting them together. And THIS year so far (even though we're only 9 days in...), I got the DEY-5 primed and painted. So that should definitely get done by the end of this
year month. The DEY-3 will need a little more work (3D printed fan housing, perhaps thinner radiator shutters), but it should definitely get done (finally) this year - perhaps even by the end of winter. Fingers crossed!
Ops Sessions: Unlike 2020, I was able to operate monthly for a few months last year, but ops sessions are on hiatus for the time being. Turns out, some of my shorting problems have resurfaced, so - in addition to more sessions in 2022, I want to figure out - once and for all - what the source of the shorting problem is, and fix it.
Blog Posting: If there's one thing I can almost guarantee that I'll improve on in 2022 vs. 2021 it's the number of posts on the blog. Of course, the more I can accomplish, the more there'll be to write about.
So there you have it - a thorough & current, if not quick, assessment of the layout and what I hope to accomplish by this time next year. Here's hoping you'll continue to follow along and provide some much-needed motivation and encouragement (as well as guidance & tips) over the coming months.
With your help, I hope next year I'll be able to report a LOT more on the "How I did" side of the ledger.
Saturday, January 8, 2022
- ANY progress, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is still progress. Large accomplishments are the sum of many small ones. So always do SOMEthing on the layout when you can.
- Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. Trying to create the "perfect" backdrop in Wethersfield has prevented further progress there for years. While I know I won't be able to settle for just any ol' generic backdrop there, I can probably do a better job of finding the right balance between the impossible and the presentable.