Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Modeling & Motivation: Pergola & Trellises

As promised a few weeks back, here's some additional detail on building the pergola and trellises from GC Laser (kit #12341). Ended up being a really fun build that only took about an hour or so (though I still have to paint them...)

Start by carefully removing the parts from the sheet. I started with an X-Acto, then a scalpel, but the most effective tool ended up being the simplest/most common tool of all: a single-edged razor blade.

Here are all the pergola parts laid out. You build it up in layers - each side has three layers. While I considered using ACC to glue things together, I ended up using regular wood glue, applied with a micro brush.

While the kit is really straightforward and easy to build, taking your time and paying attention will yield the best results. Here, I'm using a straightedge to ensure that the tops of the three layers of parts are perfectly flush with one another. - and that the notches line up perfectly. The white is a stack of business cards shimming the long leg of the square to keep the short leg perfectly level.

Once the two sides are complete and glued to the base, apply some glue to the notches in the top to attach the cross pieces (beams). Here you can see I only use the tiniest bit of wood glue, applied with a micro brush. I also tried applying with a toothpick, but that didn't work very well for me. YMMV

The instructions tell you to turn the pergola upside down to attach it to the slats (rafters) (which are conveniently - and ingeniously - spaced perfectly on the sheet). The only caution in building this kit (and not mentioned in the instructions), is to be sure to remove the part of the sheet from each end of the rafters - as you see in the pic above. If you don't, you won't be able to get the beams snug against the slats.
 And here are close-up finish photos!

After finishing the pergola, the trellises were pretty easy - though a bit more delicate. So be sure to take your time and use a steady hand. All that's required is that you remove the parts very carefully and then glue the curved cross pieces (two per trellis) to the main/vertical parts using the printed marks as a guide for proper placement.

And here they are finished!

I'm planning on airbrushing the pergola and trellises white. But what should I do with the pergola base? I'm considering a brick color for the brick pattern and just brown or green for the rest of the base, figuring I'll add static grass or fine ground foam there.

How would you recommend finishing these? I'm especially worried about obscuring the cool brick pattern.

If you need a little modeling motivation, I hope you'll try one of these little laser kits. It was a really enjoyable way to spend a some quality time at the bench and now I can't wait to do some more modeling!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Rt. 15 Overpass DONE!

So, this happened a while ago, but with everything going on I'm just now posting about it. . .

Yes, I finally finished the Rt 15 Overpass which will anchor the "north" (right) end of the Wethersfield scene on my layout. After doing some more weathering, including adding soot to the portion of the bridge that's over the tracks, I put everything in place - and discovered a problem.

The "oil" marks that I'd made down the center of the lanes on the abutments and bridge didn't match up! That's what I get for doing each piece separately (left abutment, bridge, right abutment). Actually, the left abutment and bridge matched ok, but the right abutment was WAY off. No problem. Since I used powders, and hadn't set anything with a fixative (and, since this will never be handled, I may not bother with a fixative), I just used a cloth dipped in alcohol to gently wipe off the marks from the right abutment and redid them - this time with the bridge and abutment right next to each other.  Probably didn't matter too much anyway - you never even see the roadway from normal viewing angles.

So, here are some pics of the finished project!

Before weathering

After weathering

Overview - now the "lane stains" match up

In the end, I have to admit this project took way longer than it probably should have. But with everything going on, it was nice to take my time and work on it during any tiny blocks of time I could. I'm pretty happy with the way it came out though - the goal was to make it look like it was about 5 years old, during an era characterized by steam-powered trains and high-emission vehicles.

I'd be really happy to hear what you think and whether you'd do anything differently with it, have any suggestions, etc (especially whether to bother overspraying it with Dullcote or some other fixative, at the risk of causing the weathering to disappear).

"All" I need to do now is get some scenery in under and around the overpass. Oh, and figure out what to do about the backdrop here. I'm afraid that'll be a whole other challenge....

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wordless Wednesday #245 - Rich Billings

I'm sorry to have to report that Deb's dad passed away last week, after a long - and bravely fought - battle with cancer. You can read the notice here. Thank you again so much to all of you that have supported and encouraged us with your thoughts and prayers, as well as making donations on his behalf. He lived life enthusiastically and with a sense of wonder and following his example will be one of the many ways we'll be keeping his memory alive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tuesday Tool Time - Small Soldering Iron

After an X-Acto knife, a track nail hammer, cutting pliers, and a small screwdriver, one of the first "sophisticated" tools you purchase as a new model railroader is probably a soldering iron. I got mine probably a little earlier than my airbrush, but I've used it extensively ever since for all sorts of projects - wiring feeders, soldering rails together, etc. I've even used it for decoder installation. And it's still going strong after all these years.

So why did I bother purchasing a new & different soldering iron? Well, ask my buddy Bill. He brought a couple of his newly "decoderized" steamers over to the layout to do some test running and decided, pretty quickly, that they needed "Keep Alives" (aka capacitors) installed. "No problem," said I. "Not only do I have a couple on-hand, but I have a great soldering iron you can use if you want."

Well, let's just say beauty (or, in this case, "greatness") is in the eye of the beholder.

After exclaiming how he couldn't believe that anybody could use such a beast for decoder installation, and expressing his awe (or was it incredulity?) that such a newbie installer as myself would even attempt using it on such delicate wires and soldering pads (at least that's how I remembered the conversation), I asked him what he uses. "Something with a much smaller tip and adjustable heat settings - and, by the way, it's pretty inexpensive."

He had me at "it doesn't cost much." At least that's how I remembered it.

Anyway, here's what he recommended and what I got - a Vastar AC222 Soldering Iron Kit.

To have a proper "unboxing" you need a box - in this case, the kit comes with its own toolbox.

Ahhhhh..... pretty

Lift the top tray, and you see all the other cool stuff that's included.

Here's everything, all laid out.

And not only is the iron fully adjustable heat-wise, it comes with a handy on/off switch right on the cord.
One thing I didn't take a close-up photo of is the main reason I got the iron - the fine tip. I've already used it for some decoder work, as well as soldering together some wire to make finescale railings. 

Definitely worth the $23 bucks - even though that's double what I paid for my old Radio Shack iron - over 30 years ago(!) But my old iron will continue providing yeoman's service on rails and feeders.

Let me know what you use for soldering the teeny-tiny wires that come with decoders. I may no longer be in the market for a new iron, but - like Bill - you may be helping someone else get a more-suitable tool in their hands.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tuesday Tool Time - The FrankenPipe

Most of you that do any airbrushing probably have a nice, sophisticated setup. At least, you have a small, quiet compressor that's a joy to operate and maintains family harmony.

Or maybe you're like me. I have a compressor that I lovingly refer to at The Beast.

Yup, that's a full-sized compressor that I bought a while back to power my air nailer and some other accessories. Nowadays, I don't use the air tools all that much - and I needed a compressor for my airbrush - so I took the cheap thrifty route, figuring I could just use what I already had on-hand.

But going from a large compressor like this down to an airbrush, with its teeny-tiny airbrush hose, required a bit of creativity...

Introducing: the FrankenPipe. Yup - that there's eight (count'em - 8!) different fittings, plus moisture trap and gauge, all connected together with some thread tape and wishful thinking.

The idea was to bring the full-size hose into the paint room and - through a series of different fittings - create a moisture trap/gauge cluster that could be easily and quickly disconnected. Same on the airbrush hose end - but that also required some converting from the small hose to the full-size fittings.

What resulted might not look all that elegant, but it allows me to maintain a lot of flexibility - including adding more standard size hose to extend the reach of my airbrush into (most parts of) the layout room.

I think it actually looks pretty cool. Heh - but sound - well, that's another issue. Let's just say more than a friend or two has jumped out of their skin when The Beast decides to kick in and they're not expecting it!

Oh - and forget about late-night and early morning paint sessions. Ask me how I know . . .