Tuesday, September 15, 2020

One small step...


It's been a few months since my last post, but I've been busy with photography and chores around the house.  However the other day when it was raining I got around to digging out all of my train and modeling magazines that I've been holding onto for the 30+ years.  Probably close to 500 of them. Once I kept the few that I wanted (20 or so) the rest went to the recycle container.

I know this doesn't have much to pertain the layout or modeling, but it's something I've been wanting to do for a few years and figured it was a good place to start.

Once I get that area cleaned up, I will be rearranging a few more things so I have a little more room.  Then I'll start clearing off the layout and trying to get things running again.  

I think the first project is to finish the two locos I started to prep for painting just before the remodel began.  After that, I may try to tackle revamping the staging yard.  Plan to strip all the track off and start over with a much smaller yard.

In the meantime here are some pics for proof that I actually got something accomplished.


I really do want to be running trains again...


Sunday, July 19, 2020

In the year 2020....

In my last post back on December 30th, I explained why I had stepped away from my layout due to a bathroom remodel and wished everyone a happy and prosperous new year.  I guess that didn't happen did it?  2020, what a year so far and we're only half way through it.

After some friendly prodding from some of my modeling friends, I finally made the decision to go back down and try to get started cleaning up the basement and layout.

Back in September I made a trip to Denver to meet some old friends and Op on one of their huge basement layout.  After getting back the remodel got under way and that, unfortunately lasted much longer than I hoped it would have.

We decided it time to update the bathroom, which primarily involved removing the old tub and replacing it with a walk-in shower.  But before we could start, some plumbing issues arose that needed to be fixed first.

The following months seen pretty good progress until it was time to install the plumbing.  The shower head and controls came in and were the wrong models and color, then the toilet (the most important thing) came in the same way, wrong model and color.

The next delay were the cabinets, the builder was running a bit behind so that meant our cabinets were also going to be a bit behind.

By December 18th all the plumbing was installed and working, so life somewhat returned to normal.  By March I had everything wrapped up.

And then the world went crazy...

With all the stuff going on in the world, unlike most other modelers who made the best of the lock down, it just didn't do much for my moral and just left me feeling like "Why bother".  Last fall after the remodel started up I couldn't do much to the layout and it was about that time that I kind of got back into my railfanning and when it took off, it took off.  I spent the from November till now trackside with a new camera and more recently, a drone.  Here's a link to my Flickr page should anyone be interested.

The lull in the basement continued until today.  Maybe it was the hot weather, maybe it was the peer pressure or maybe, just maybe it was the sheer boredom of the moment?  I gathered up some supplies to get after the basement.  But before I get started, I thought I'd snap a few pics of the bathroom and the resulting aftermath of the remodel and what I'm up against.

In the first pic below you can see the new waste line that needed to be installed before the remodel could begin.  The rest are of from around the layout and you can see how how it became the new storage shelves.  The shelves behind the furnace are full of old model railroad magazines that I've collected over the last 30 years or so, they are the first thing that will be attacked and thrown out! 

In this last picture, under the yard throat is the water main.  When the water was shut off the plumber told me it was high time to replace the old shutoff valves (probably original valves from 1952) since he didn't have a good feeling about them and wasn't able to get them to completely stop the water flow.
So now I need to get back in there and clean that mess up along with some minor mold.  Then I can replace the metal shelving and toss more unneeded junk that's been collecting under there.

I'm hoping by this fall that things will be back to somewhat normal and I can resume running trains and continue on the scenery.  Providing the Aliens don't show up or world doesn't end next week?

Monday, December 30, 2019

A few months have gone by....

and a new year is almost upon us.

I haven't been posting much lately which is due to the fact that I started a bathroom remodel back in the beginning of October.  In doing so I had to move a lot of stuff in the basement to allow room to have some of the plumbing reworked and things got shove up against and on the layout for the duration.

A few weeks ago the major portion of the remodel work is done and all that's left is to construct the cabinets and get them installed.  This may take a little longer than expected, actually the entire project has taken a bit longer than expected, but that's remodeling for you.

In the meantime I've kind of gotten back into my rail photography since I couldn't get to the layout.
I'm hoping that this helps to regenerate the modeling juices as I still was getting kind of burned out after all the work that I've done on the layout in the first half of 2019.

I still am looking forward to progressing with the scenery and additions to the layout.
So I'll try to get back down there once I wrap up all the work on the bathroom.

Stay tuned...  

I hope everyone enjoys a happy and prosperous New Year!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Repurposed Jewel Cases

Awhile back when I built my first GP18, the GP18 came in one of those long LifeLike jewel cases with a cheap plastic nest that was cracked. I also had one of the typical Atlas rectangular jewel cases with the nice gray foam liner that the GP7 chassis came in.  Since both locos were similar in size, the GP18 with the Atlas chassis dropped right in the Atlas jewel case.

The next one I built, I didn't have a spare Atlas jewel case to use.  So I snooped around on the internet and found some spare cases from a guy on eBay.  I picked up 10 for about $6 each that had the grey foam but they were meant for Atlas RS3’s.  Since the RS3's were smaller I figured some quick cuts with a sharp knife and I could get the GP18 to fit nice and snug?  Worked like a champ!

So after finishing my GP9r I was going to need a jewel case for it as well.  Grabbed one of those cases…

Made a rough trace and using a sharp X-Acto knife I cut those areas out……

 A new foam lined case…


Then like I do with all of locos, I labeled the end of the case using a Avery label.  This tells me what loco, what road and what chip I have installed.

Why go to this trouble you ask?
Having all the cases the same size if a plus for stacking or packing, plus the gray foam liner is much nicer than the cheap plastic inserts. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Revised Car Tabs

I've really come to enjoy the use of the Car Tabs for car forwarding on my layout, but there were two things that always annoyed to me.  The first was that every time I’d drop one while placing them on the car, they would inevitably fall face down and you had to fumble with them to flip it over.  The second was placing them on empty open hopper cars like my woodchip cars.  The best place to put them was in the bottom of the cars, but since my layout is set at 52” you sometimes had a hard time seeing the tabs.

Recently, a member on a forum I frequent started using tabs and his method was to print his labels on Avery labels and stick them to the “C” channels because he didn’t have a spray booth.  After reading this I thought it might be a simpler method than painting the tabs like I had before.  As I started drawing up the tabs in CorelDraw, I realized that if I used a styrene “I” beam instead of a “C” channel that I could place a label on both sides, then regardless of how it landed you could always see a label. This would take care of my first annoyance.  So I printed up twice as many labels.

Using a 3/16” “I” beam I did a little measuring and came up with a label size that would fit nicely between the webbing and was still big enough to easily read. 

The second annoyance was the tabs for the open hoppers.  I tried using a strip of clear plastic to create a bridge that sat across the car and would allow me to sit the tab on.   While this worked, you had to be careful as it was a little tricky,  when placing the tab it could slip and end up in the bottom of the car, face down.

Now for the empty open hoppers, I was chatting with Greg one night he suggested something using something that would hang over the sides of the cars instead of on top.  What we came up with was to use a strip of Evergreen #258 rectangular tubing and cut off one end of it so it looked like an inverted “U” channel.  This was one of those head-slap moments because it was so obvious. 


Monday, September 16, 2019

Rock Island GP9 #4424

After way too many years I finally got around to pulling this project off the shelf to finish it.  N scale has always been lacking in low nosed or chopped nosed GP7's & 9's, luckily Rock Island only had two on their roster.  GP7 #1275 and GP9 #1321.  As far as I know only the 1275 made it through the Capital Rebuilding Program and came out designated as a GP9(r)  #4424 wearing the new Blue & White scheme in December of 1976. 

Rock Island #4424 and #1351 are in charge of the NB local as they throttle up
through Haskell, AR. on a hot, muggy July morning.

I did some horse trading with a friend who needed some N scale locos and I need a little kitbashing done in the form of a chopped nosed GP7, the trade was agreed upon and set in motion.  I sent him his locos and all the parts he needed to complete my project:
An Atlas GP7 non dynamic shell
A Lifelike GP18 low nose shell
An Atlas GP7/9 analog chassis
A Digitrax DZ120 chip.
About a year later I received my chopped nose GP7, but was bummed to realize that with the modifications he was unable to give the unit any headlights which meant it would be regulated to a trailing unit only.  So there it sat.... for years.

A few weeks ago while I was rummaging around looking for something to work on, I grabbed the box that held these parts and opened it up to take another look at it and contemplate whether or not I should get started on it?

I took it to the bench to inspect the chassis again for a possible replacement of the old DZ120 with newer DZ126T.  As it happened, I had a newer DCC ready Atlas GP7/9 chassis sitting on the bench in the process of being cleaned and lubed when the light bulb went on!  The GP18 low nosed shell fit the newer chassis with only a tad bit grinding needed on the end to match the slope of the nose, and the "drop-in" DN163A4 with its surface mounted LED's fit with more than enough room.  So the unit would now have headlights! 

With the hard work done for me, I got started adding a few detail parts and then painted it.  I used TruColor paints, Micro Scale Decals and Pan Pastels for weathering.  The grills and fans were darkened with P3 Armor Wash.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Construction in Fordyce

After sticking a fork in the scene at Gavilon, I decided to move on to the town of Fordyce.  Instead of trying to get all the fine details wrapped up at Gavilon I figured I try to get more scenery roughed across the layout and cover up the brown paint and ceiling tile.

To start with I got the mainline ballasted through town and then started on the buildings.  The first one is the new Walthers Modern Concrete Warehouse that I'm using for the processing and cold storage building for the Flappers Chicken complex.

This is a pretty nice kit, the parts are clean and well designed, though the instructions are kind of lacking.  Once I got the walls laid out how I wanted them, the kit went together pretty fast.  One thing I really liked about this kit were the rail doors.  They were pretty much spot on where I needed them.  The truck doors I just kind of winged them into place.  

Before seeing this kit, I had planned to kitbash and scratch build a building for this location.  One thing I was going to add was a Pike Stuff add-on truck loading kit, but I was able to make use of the truck loading doors on the backside and end with this kit and was able to keep it a little more compact than originally planned.

Not happy with the molded color, I found a Krylon color called Sandy Pebble that is close to beige.

Once painted and assembled I got the details added then I started working on the roof.  I was looking on Google maps for ideas of how to paint the roof and found some on a large local industry here in town.  While studying the images the thought occurred to me that I should try my hand at printing it off and fitting it to the kit.  It took me a bit of doing but I think it turned out OK.    

I built the four rooftop AC units from the kit and then used some larger cast AC units that I found eBay a few years ago.  It wasn't until later after getting these home that I realized what I was looking at.  These are exact copies of the MTL load from a few years ago,  roof top AC units that came on a flatcar, but they worked good for this build.  I also added a bit of ductwork to them for the freezer rooms.

I still need to add a few more details to the building, and will do so once I get the other buildings assembled and sat in place.    

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Helicon Focus software

I've known of this software for several years now and have always wanted to play with it.  Now that I've got some photo worthy stuff on the layout, the narrow depth of field really shows up.  So the other night I ordered the Lite version of it.
Last night a I did a couple quick samples to see how it worked?  I took between 12 and 15 shots of scene with different focal points by tapping on the screen of my iPhone then ran them all through the software.  The first two are some of the raw photos, the third is the completed shot which I then touched up with a simple editing software to clean them up.

I think it took less than 10 seconds for the software to do it's magic?  Pretty simple to use to.  This will make my pictures a little more enjoyable to look at.

Here's their homepage: