Friday, February 28, 2014

Frugal Friday

Just scored a 20 pound box of plaster cloth at Jerry's Artarama for.... wait for it... $49.99.  It retails for $114.35 and is available online for $62.39.  But right down the road in West Hartford, it's on sale.  And I didn't have to pay for shipping.

This is going to come in especially handy if my first bike race gets canceled this Sunday.  I have a lot of hills to cover, and not with my bike.

I've made some more progress on the layout, thanks to help from Roman and Bill.  Hope to post some pics soon.  (It's even more of a) Happy Friday (now)!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Modeling Monday: Goff Brook Bridge Installation

Well, things have been happening on the Valley Line lately, the latest flurry of activity starting this past Saturday and continuing today.  But, before what turned out to be a 1.5 month hiatus, I actually got some major progress done at the south end of Wethersfield, in the Goff Brook area of the layout.  Like most progress lately, it happened "with a little help from my friends" - actually, a lot.  In fact, if it hadn't have been for Pieter and Roman, I don't know if I'd have ever made that first cut in the mainline track.  I'll let the photos do the heavy lifting of telling the story, but you may want to refresh your memory of the prototype as you follow along (and, as always, you can click on the pic for a larger image)...

Here's the area we're working on, with prototype guidance on the backdrop.  The plywood riverbed is already in and the fascia has been cut further to follow the riverbed contour.  The bridge I plan to install is there too, but as you can see, I have lots of track & roadbed to remove/modify to recreate the prototype scene.

And heeeere's the first cut in the track - the first step in installing a bridge on a railroad that's already in.  I made the cut a few inches beyond/outside where the bridge is going to go, in order to offset the track joints, bridge joints, and joints in the subroadbed.

South end cut is made to the track and I'm using a putty knife to pry up the track.  It had been glued to the cork roadbed with Aileen's Tacky Glue, so the track came up fairly easily.

Once the track was up, it was time to remove the cork roadbed and plywood subroadbed to make a gap for the bridge.  I figured my SawzAll would be quicker than my saber saw.  It certainly was quicker, but I wouldn't recommend using it - the reciprocating action caused a general earthquake from Dividend to Wethersfield.  YIKES!  Glad there wasn't any rolling stock in the area (though my cardboard building mockups ended up on the floor).

I removed the temporary riverbed to figure out where to place the permanent riverbed supports (one seen clamped here), and you can also see here the gap I've created for the bridge.

You may recall that one of the distinctive features of the Goff Brook Bridge is the abutments - they actually start out as stone walls before turning into abutments.  Consequently, I had to narrow the plywood subroadbed to accommodate the walls.  Yeah, as you can hopefully see, this is delicate work, done with a light/small saber saw.  This is the south end.

And here I am cutting the north end.

Similar view to a couple pics ago, but now notice the cut-away subroadbed.

Next, I installed the riverbed permanently on the risers noted in the pics above.  As you can see, I countersunk the screws and ran a bead of hotglue between the plywood riverbed and the masonite fascia.  All this will be skimcoated (and hopefully sealed) with a layer of plaster before painting and adding gloss medium or other "water" material.

In order to accommodate the thicker ties of the bridge track, I removed the original HO cork roadbed and replaced it with N-scale cork shimmed with cut-down business cards.  This took a little time and patience, but results in a nice, smooth transition between regular track and bridge track.  Here, Roman is working on the north end while I work on the south end.  BTW, another plug for Aileen's Tacky Glue - it works like white glue, but is thicker ("tacky", naturally), sets up without clamping (usually), and dries perfectly clear.

Here's a shot of the overall scene so far...

And the bridge track mocked up in place.  It's starting look like something finally!  Tip about the track: Since I'm installing a bridge in an "existing" area (i.e. where I'd already had finished benchwork/roadbed/track), I used the track that I removed as a template for forming/curving the bridge track.  Worked pretty well.
While Roman and I were working on the subroadbed, river support, etc., Pieter was in the other room with this photo:

And trying to recreate the distinctive abutments with some scrap stone wall castings and - wait for it - pink styrofoam.  Here's what he came up with:

All I could say was "Wow!"  Considering all he had to work with was one color photo, some scrap castings and some foam, I was pretty impressed at how well he captured the look and feel of the prototype.  As you can see, I had to add some scrap 3/4" plywood under the stone wall scraps to raise them to the right height, but the overall effect is just what I was looking for.

Here's the bridge from the other side, looking "northeast," with my helpers of the day looking on.  In all honesty, they were much more than mere "helpers" - I really don't think I could have gotten this far without them.
So, with the Goff Brook railroad bridge done - or at least "ready to be 'done'" - I had to figure out how to complete the scene, the terrain, etc.  But, mainly, I had - and have still - to turn my attention to the Goff Brook road bridge.  I still don't have a photo of what it looked like in the late 1940s (see previous post), but I may just end up using something that looks "right" for the area until a photo turns up - if one ever does. And, at the Springfield show, Pieter talked me into buying suggested I consider a bridge kit from Sylvan Scale Models.  It looks pretty good to me.  Unfortunately, as much as it is a blessing to have John Wallace around to consult, with all his vast knowledge of the area, if there's a "curse" to having him around it's that he has a vast knowledge of the area.  "That bridge doesn't look at all like what was there," he told me when he saw it.  Oh well.  I'll keep looking for a photo.

In the meantime, at least one of the two Goff Brook Bridges have been installed - and, thanks to Roman & Pieter, I think it looks pretty great.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

1.5 Months

That's how long it's been since I worked on the layout - and it's WINTER for Pete's sake! And I've had SNOW DAYS! Sigh. No great excuses - just the usual ones of "too busy at work", "too much going on", blah blah blah.

Well, finally, today, with help (and not a little added motivation) from my friend Roman, I Worked On The Layout. 

We cut a LOT of cardboard strips...

And we installed the (last of the) bus (yay!) and mainline feeders (double yay!)...

Ok, nothing sexy, but it had to be done. 

Best part of all, though, was that even this little bit of progress has energized me to keep going. So hopefully I'll have even more progress to show soon. 

But first, I may need to clean up a bit. Ugh.