Thursday, March 23, 2017

Friday Eve Fun?

Just saw that I got over 4,000 hits on my blog today.

I usually get.... well..... NOwhere near that.

Methinks my blog may be under attack - but by who(m)?


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Use L-Girder Benchwork

Way back when I first did the benchwork for East Berlin, I'd decided to transition from cork roadbed to just laying the track directly on the plywood. So, on one side of the bridge (south/left) there was cork, and on the other side of the bridge there wasn't. Consequently, in order to keep the bridge level, the plywood on the north/right side was higher than the plywood on the south side.

Now that I'm working in this area again and giving it more attention, I decided - since the "Berlin Main," though cut back, is/was still "main track" - it should be elevated, and the industrial siding ramp down from there to ground level. Of course, that would require lowering the plywood base in the area (right/north of the bridge) in order to allow for the height of the cork roadbed while keeping the track level.

I'm glad I used L-girder benchwork. It really makes it easy to make changes in elevation and well as width. How easy? Well, let's just say that as I was going through old posts to find benchwork links, I found a post where I reworked East Berlin's benchwork already once before! It was so easy, I apparently forgot all about it....

Levels are your friend

ANYway, "all I had to do was"*:

  • Clamp the risers to keep them from moving when I removed the screws attaching them to the girders/joists;
  • Unscrew part of the fascia for access to some of those screws (see photo above);
  • Lower the plywood until track was level from one side of the bridge to the other (long 4' level in photo above, spanning the river) and level front to back (2' level along wall, pointing toward you);
  • Rescrew the risers at the new height and rescrew the fascia back in place.

Then I glued down the new cork roadbed, holding it in place with pushpins (see photo above, click to "embiggen").

All that took only a little over 2 hours - and I made another little bit of progress. I don't even want to think of what would have been involved if I had wanted to try and do this having used something other than L-girder benchwork. There must be other reasons it's such a tried-and-true construction method for model railroads, but my experience (or, rather, "experiences" considering how much I rebuild, apparently) has certainly convinced me it's a great way to go for a larger layout.

* a variation on a favorite phrase of a couple of friends who shall remain nameless, when giving a certain somebody layout advice... as in: "All you have to do is _____"  :^)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Modeling Monday: DERS-2b (RS-2) #0510

When I posted about my completed DERS-1b last week, I realized that I had only provided finish photos (which are much larger) of the DERS-2b (RS-2) but no list of the details I added. I started with a factory painted Proto 1000 RS-2, which needed quite a bit of work to get it New Haven-ized (starting with installing grab irons which P1k didn't supply - sheesh!)

Click here for the complete build thread (posts are in reverse date order), and see below for the BOM. And, as always, if you have any tips/suggestions for how I could do things differently - or especially better - be sure to let me know in the comments!

List of Detail Parts Added

  • RS End Drop Grabs (Cal-Scale #190-533 - 2 pkgs)
  • Wabco Type "E" single chime air horns (Details West AH-174)
  • Steam Generator Stack (Custom Finishing #151)
  • Steam Generator Intake (Custom Finishing #346)
  • Marker Lights (Cal-Scale #190-280)
  • Lift Rings (Detail Associates #1107)
  • MU Stand/hoses/plugs (Custom Finishing #347)
  • Brake Equalization Valve (Custom Finishing #308)
  • Handbrake Chan Guides (Custom Finishing #147)
  • Handbrak Chain (A-Line 40 lpi)
  • Speed Recorder (Details West #SR-284)
  • BARCO Steam Heat Pipes (Custom Finishing #336)
  • Signal Line Hoses (Hi-Tech Details #6039)
  • Coupler Lift Bars and Pilot Hand Grabs (from Kato RS-2 railing set #952061)
  • Passenger Car Diaphragm Buffers (scratchbuilt from styrene)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend Progress: Wethersfield & East Berlin

Now that I finished the Wethersfield Lumber Co. shed, it was time to put it back on the layout. The siding goes across a-slightly-uneven joint between the plywood and foam board, and I also wanted to raise the shed in order to lower the track relative to the shed floor.

The photo above shows a couple of things: 1) the necessity of lowering the track (I want the tops of the rails to be about even with the top of the shed's floors; and 2) how empty and clean the inside of the shed is. This is one of those times when I think I moved too fast, putting the roof on the shed before weathering and detailing the interior.  Any suggestions on how to remedy this (short of undoing the assembly that I did!) would be most appreciated!

I took some time to position the shed on the track. I'd had it right at the end of the track, but then it occurred to me the I could get two boxcars in the shed at once if it was located far enough down the track. As you can see above, only the ends of the cars are exposed to the elements - the shed provides plenty of shelter for unloading through the cars' doors. (heh - need to unload LOTS to fill up that empty shed!)

This is a better view of the layered foam core I used to provide a nice level, heightened base for the shed. I used full-thickness HO cork roadbed until I got to the foamboard, then N scale cork in the shed. With the shed resting on the foam core, and the track on the N-scale cork, the shed's floors were at the right height in relation to the tops of the rails.

Raising the shed required the surrounding topography to be raised a bit as well. I could have troweled on an extra-thick layer of ground goop, but decided to save some of that by hot gluing scraps of foam core around as "fill."

While that was drying, I decided to move over to the Ballantine's Beer Distributors site (click here for more about the Ballantine's industry). Again (poor planning I guess), the track of the siding spanned the joint between the plywood and the foam and the foam was a little too flexible for my liking (this was back when I used 1" foam; now I used 2" for a base). 

Instead of replacing the 1" foam, I decided to brace it with some scrap 2". As you can see above, all it took was hot gluing the 2" foam to the bottom, and holding it in place until the glue cooled. Problem solved: no more flexy!

In the photo above, you can see I hot glued some scrap foam to fill in a gap where the track will go. I then rasped it down to level everything out.

Here's the Ballantine's siding, straddling the plywood and foam as I described above (you may have to click on the image to enlarge to see it). Like Wethersfield Lumber, I decided to provide a level base for the Ballantine's building, as well as the parking lot. The long straight foamcore on the left is the base for Jordan Lane in Wethersfield.

I used N scale roadbed again so the siding will be lower than the main, and also to raise it a little above the plywood. That way I can use a layer of ground goop to provide some subtle undulation to the terrain. Just painting the plywood wouldn't do that. Finally, I used some Aleene's Tacky Glue to glue down the track and my handy-dandy water bottles to weigh it down while drying. Incidentally, you can see a glimpse of the Ballantine's building in the background. Click here for the build thread.

I decided to do a quick paint job to hide all the white, pink, and blue foam. Looks better already!

I then  used up some left over ground goop to even everything out in the lumber yard lot.

Apparently, I was in the mood for more foam core and hot glue - here I'm providing a base for the Wethersfield station/freight house and lot. Note how I cut the edges at an angle to make it easier to fade in to the surrounding area with ground goop - once I make some more. That's the end of the house track peeking in at the right.

Here's a better photo of the house track/siding - showing the N scale roadbed, split and separated in order to be wide enough to support the track. I'll fill in the space with vinyl spackle later. I made sure the siding was far enough from the main to fit a loading dock/platform in there.

I then turned my attention to East Berlin. Turns out, this is the last "unfinished" area of the layout, track-wise. The prototype is at the end of a branch that starts at the north end of Middletown yard. Historically, the line had gone all the way to the Berlin station on the Hartford line - but it had been cut back to East Berlin by my era, and was left in place to serve some local brickyards and Stanley Chemical Co. (makers of paint and such).

True to the prototype, my Berlin Branch also comes off the north end of Middletown yard, goes across the Mattabessett River on a short plate girder bridge (hidden behind the soldering iron) and terminates at Stanley Chemical (long siding coming toward you). Two main compromises (a.k.a. use of modeler's license): 1) I'll have a brickyard served from the "old main" (track at the back) rather than along the way (there really is no "along the way" between my Middletown yard and the Mattabessett River); and 2) East Berlin is physically right next to Wethersfield (just out of sight to the left). But operationally, it'll work fine.

So, not a lot of progress to show - especially given the amount of time I spent - but it was a very enjoyable weekend and even a little progress is better than no progress at all. Remember - you can eat an entire elephant just one bit at a time . . .

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wethersfield Lumber Co. - Assembly Part 2

Wow - it's amazing how quickly over two years goes by . . .

Here's the last part of the last post I posted about my construction of the Wethersfield Lumber Co., ". . . Assembly Part 1." (Click here for the build thread up to this point):

That was January 30, 2015. And it's been sitting there, just like that, while being served faithfully by the Valley Local all through my major layout expansion and up through this year. Yikes!

But now that the layout has been built out, all the track's been laid and wired and things have been operating pretty well for months now, it was time to get back to Wethersfield - which Bill and I did starting early last month and I continued early this month. But that work is all being done at the "south" end of town. At the north end, the persistently incomplete Wethersfield Lumber began to annoy. It was time to finally finish it. Well, the shed at least....

I'm actually a little embarrassed by how little there was left to do - and how long it's taken me to get around to it. Going through the previous posts, my only "reason" could have been a hang-up with what to do about weathering the roofs and (heh, now that I've remembered too late) what to do about detailing the interior (oops!). Well, I figured I could always deal with weathering the roofs "later" - I just wish I'd remembered about the interior . . . . I guess I'll get a taste of what folks who build ships in bottles feel like when I go to try to add lumber to the now-completed shed . . .

But in any event, the photo above shows all that was left to do - two end walls for the cupola, 10 roof braces, and four roof sections.

Using the marks on the blue mat, I squared up everything and glued the cupola end walls in place, being careful not to jar anything. Waiting for the glue to dry took more time than anything else - I let the walls dry & cure overnight so they'd be secure for the rest of the work.

Next, I added the roof braces. They fit snugly in place, so I pressed them all in and then just added a drop of glue to the top ends where they meet the side walls - just enough to keep them secure.

Finally, I glued the roof sections on - the only challenge being holding the cupola roof snug while the glue set up so the ridgeline seam wouldn't show too badly. As you can see, compared to how great the walls look (IMO - click here for how I got this effect), I really need to weather the roof...

And I need to add some stacks of lumber to the interior - still not sure how best to do that (and now fully remember why I'd not finished the shed before...). I'm also considering mounting it on some sort of base so that the track that goes into the building can be "recessed" somehow. Just running track in there on ties and all doesn't look right to me.

If you have any suggestions on that - or on anything else I should be doing with this project (especially anything else I may have forgotten!), I hope you'll let me know in the comments.

At least I'm getting some modeling done! (and sharp eyes will have noticed my next project on-deck: that nice Key Imports J-1 class 2-8-2 in the background, soon-to-be #3022 - power for the Air Line local!)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Name That Location

Here's a beautiful shot of a New Haven K-1 class mogul running through a gorgeous scene. Unfortunately, I can't make out the engine number and - worse - I have absolutely no clue where this was taken. I could be the Valley Local, but the NHRR was (in)famous for its complicated web of branchlines which covered all of Southern New England. As much as I'd love for this to be somewhere in the Connecticut Valley, I'm just not sure.

Can anybody out there help a brother out? Or at last provide an educated guess? Sure would be great to solve the mystery . . .