Thursday, December 29, 2022
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Sunday, December 25, 2022
I didn't realize it at the time, but forty years ago today I embarked on a lifelong hobby. And it was entirely by accident.
Among the many gifts my little brother and I got that Christmas morning was a computer and a train set. While I was into computers, all the attention was on the train - especially since it prompted my great-grandmother, who happened to be visiting, to tell us about my great, and great-great, grandfathers' careers on the old Illinois Central Railroad. I'd always been into history, but the combination of family stories and a fascination with miniatures was pretty compelling. The computer faded into the background as my dad and I "helped" my kid brother with his train set.
The limitations of a simple loop of track prodded us to find a local hobby shop to get more track - and maybe even some "switchouts." Once there, if I'd just been nibbling around the hobby before, once I saw my first issue of Model Railroader, the hook was now firmly set. I had no idea you could actually recreate history in miniature like this. I'd always been fascinated by museum dioramas, but these dioramas were way bigger - and had action! And you could create whatever world you wanted, limited only by your imagination.
Ah, the dreamings of a young model railroader - no matter his (or her) actual age. Subsequent weeks and months followed a pattern familiar to many: dreaming about layouts and track arrangements, being confronted by limitations of space and time, the uneasy detente with other things competing for one's time, money, and attention. . . Is there anything quite like those early days, when the future is full of possibility and, not unlike Schrodinger's cat, you're just as likely to create a masterpiece as fail in the attempt?
It's been 40 years today since it all started. The train set disappeared over time (although the power pack survives to light the Christmas layout, pictured above), my hobby pursuits have gotten much more sophisticated, and my ambitions more realistic. But every once in a while, I get another taste of the initial excitement I experienced all those years ago.
And a gift from my mom & dad around Christmas last year (actually, for my birthday, which is a week later), provided a huge helping - just in time for this year...
Yessir - that, my friends, is a bona fide Campbell's Soup train set, "Limited Edition 1982" - exactly like the one from that long-ago Christmas. Over the course of time, I'd forgotten what the cars looked like, but the red and white F7 diesel was instantly recognizable. Of course, it's more than just an old train set - it's wonder and dreams and possibilities distilled into metal and plastic. It's a reminder of my entry into a hobby that's given me a chance to meet people from all walks of life from all over the world, that's provided hours of stress relief (while sometimes inducing stress), that's helped me develop a number of different skills - many of which I've been able to use outside the hobby.
Most of all though, every time I see it - especially now that I have it set up around the Christmas tree - it reminds me of being full of hope, anticipating wonderful possibilities, and looking forward to the future. And isn't that the essence of being young, if not chronologically, at least young in heart?
Here's hoping this Christmas that you're able to capture and hold on to the joy and wonder of the season, to be a kid again - if only in your outlook - and to enjoy time with family and friends.
And if someone you know gets a train set for Christmas, beware - you may just have a front row seat to the start of a lifelong passion.
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Here are some pics from my Christmas layout to put you in the holiday mood. Hope you enjoy them and hope, even more, that you and yours have a Wonderful and Very Merry Christmas!
Monday, December 19, 2022
Last time, I described how I forgot to apply "F"s and Builder's Plates to the side sill of the frame on the 1109 . . .
|Once you notice them . . .|
|. . . you notice how naked the frame looks without them.|
|I used the same process to apply the builder's plate decals to scale 1"x6" strip styrene. After the Future dried, I cut to length, and "painted" the white edges with a black Sharpie.|
|Finally, I glued the "plate" to the frame with a couple drops of thick CA.|
|Engineer's side builder's plate|
|Engineer's side "F"|
Here's how it looks of tonight:
Sunday, December 18, 2022
After my last post on painting & lettering the SW1, I realized I forgot a couple of decals - namely, the builder's plate and the "F" on the sides of the frame.
But in my defense, they're not all that visible in my prototype photos, so they were easy to overlook:
But you can see them in this nice broadside - especially when I highlight them :^) (as always, you can click on an image to enlarge it):
Now, the "F" is easy enough to figure out - I'm just going to use the "F" from the Accu-Cals set I've been using on the rest of the model (#5820H).
But what about the builder's plate? It's really hard to make out in the photos, so I spent a pleasant hour going down a quick rabbit trail researching EMD SW1 builder's photos. Spoiler Alert: there ain't much out there, but I did find this . . .
. . . which came from the always-so-very-helpful Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society (the full PDF presentation is actually online here). It's not an SW1 plate from 1939 (when the 1109 was built), but it should be close enough - especially since it's essentially weathered black in all the prototype photos I have.
Next step was to see if I had such a decal on-hand. Thankfully, I do:
|Microscale 87-48 Data for Diesels - Black and White (1940-1992)|
- Apply a little Future with a brush to the spot where the "F" goes, using it like Microset to place the decal.
- Place the "F" & wait to dry.
- Brush an overcoat of Future to blend the decal.
- Airbrush/spot spray dullcote over the area to match the rest of the frame.
- (thanks to Andrew Castle who weighed in over at the Valley Local FB group that he's used this process himself and confirmed it'll work).
- I'm going to try something a little different here. . . The proto-photos show the plate as a plate (duh), which is to say, it has a thickness, so I plan to mount the decal on styrene to simulate a plate.
- I'll apply the decals to thin styrene strip (thickness TBD) 6 scale inches wide.
- Cut to length and glue to the side sill, per the protoytype photos.
- Just have to figure out how to weather/tone down the silver lettering without totally covering it (the prototype got all dirty and black, but you can still make out the raised lettering - I can't do that here).
Friday, December 16, 2022
The last time I did an actual, written update on the B&M SW1 way back on November 9, it was all ready for primer, paint, and lettering. While there've been a few teaser posts documenting progress since then (and in one post, just dumping some progress pics), here's the MUCH longer detail on the process. . .
To prep for painting, the first step is to clean all the body parts and mask off the frame/chassis.
Since the loco is all black, my buddy Ralph suggested I use this primer for paint, knowing that I'd be putting on a gloss coat for decaling anyway. I was skeptical, but it airbrushed like a dream and covered beautifully.
And the Micromask worked like a champ too. I just needed to use a toothpick to scrape a little bit so I could grab it with a tweezer and peel it off.
The next step was to apply a clear acrylic gloss to the body for decaling. Again, going on a suggestion from Ralph, I airbrushed Future floor polish for the gloss coat.
As an all-black loco, the addition of a little color is most welcome. And as it turns out, the Boston & Maine started painting "sun visors" on the cab windows to relieve the crews of the glare that resulted in the beautiful (but blinding) large "greenhouse" windows. Based on research over at the Model Railroader's Guide to B&M/MEC Diesel paint schemes Facebook group, the paint was one of two different greens - depending on the era. Apple Barrel Marsh Green was about as close as I could come with what I had on-hand. I just needed to add some materials to make it "airbrushable" (using this as a guide).
With the painting done, it's time focus on lettering and for that I have to thank David Hutchinson for the fantastic prototype photos - including one in color of the scheme I want to do!
|I couldn't find any engineer's side pics of the 1109 in the right scheme, so this one has to do...|