Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dirt in the yard

My goal is to try and make the yard look under maintained with lots of dirt instead of fresh ballast.

I know actual dirt would have probably been the best choice, but right now it's buried under a decent blanket of snow and I didn't feel like digging any up.  So I turned Woodland Scenics ground foam and Grout.

As mentioned before, I chose not fill the space between the tracks with solid ballast.  I intentionally left some painted plywood showing through and planned to cover this with my "Dirt" and leave patches of ballast showing through.

After a little experimenting, I wound up mixing Woodland Scenics Fine Earth ground foam with equal amounts of a Mocha colored grout.  This gave me the ability to spread/sprinkle the mix into the scene a little easier.  Trying to sift the grout can be a little tricky as it's so fine and can get go down pretty heavy.  By mixing it with the foam it gives some body and a little more control.

I started off by brushing a 50/50 glue mix that I used for ballast in a random pattern around the ballast patches as well as up on the ballast next to the track.  Then using my fingers, I grabbed a pinch and started spreading it around the ballast.  You have to be a little careful here as the Grout can stain and discolor whatever it touches and can be hard to get off.  A little is fine, but you don't want too much.

This is a little time consuming, and I suppose there is faster way, but it worked for me.  Trying to get good pictures of this is turning out to be a little more challenging.  The color never seems to come out quite right but in person it looks pretty good.




This is the base color of the yard, but I plan to add some greenery to it, being careful not to put too much on.  I'll probably use more fine ground foam as well as using the static grass.  Another thing I want to try is to make and use grass/weed tufts mixed in with everything else.

As for ballasting, this all I have left to do for now, a small stretch from the top crossing around to the two turnouts by the giant pair of scissors and the tracks in the engine facility.



Here's a close up of the two wood crossing I forgot to add.  These were darkened using PanPastels, then I sealed them with TCP Flat paint to help resist the glue mixture when I applied the ballast.





  




 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Yard ballasting

This is probably the most ballast that I've spread in one scene.

Even though this is nothing more than open staging yard, I figured I might as well make it look halfway decent so it blends into the rest of the layout.

I started off by spraying Krylon Camo Brown on the track like I've done in the past, it's a great color for the base.  But it is a little stark with the color I'm using for ballast.  I also wanted the yard to look weather worn and unmaintained, which meant the ties were not going to be fresh looking.

Just after starting the ballasting project you could tell how stark the color differences were.




So I grabbed a makeup sponge and mixed up a couple thin batches of acrylic paint, one tanish and the other more grayish and proceeded to blotch the sponge on the tracks.  There was no way in hell that I planned to paint each individual tie or groups of ties, so this was going to have to do.




At this point I also decided to sprinkle on more ballast between the tracks.  I plan to add a lot of dirt to the yard, so most of the ballast between the tracks will be covered, and I found doing a little testing that it'll be cover the ballast up rather than adding small amounts of ballast to the dirt.  Just looked a little more natural.

So the ballasting proceeded.  What's lighter is freshly glued.


I was having so much fun ballasting that I almost forgot to add the first crossing.


This is where it stands for now until I get the second crossing that I ordered.


While I'm waiting for the second crossing to arrive, I also decided to play around with some Pan Pastels and chalks to dirty the yard up a bit before adding the dirt.




Monday, February 8, 2021

Back to ballasting

Not near as exciting or fun as the loco facility, but a needed process.

I've got all 7 of the turnouts ballasted on the head end of the yard.  I've got another 13 on the opposite end.  At first I wasn't going to ballast the yard as it's just supposed to be used as an open staging yard.  But as things progressed I figured why not make it a part of the layout?  

While the yard is long (16') it doesn't have near as much track as it had previously.  Also, with the work that I put into the engine facility recently, if it didn't get ballasted, it just wouldn't seem finished.  So let the ballasting begin...


Awhile back I seen a product called Ballast Magic by Deluxe.  It's a powdered glue that you can mix with your ballast (and other scenic materials) and you spread it just like you normally would, but instead of using a 50/50 type glue mix to adhere the ballast, you just spread it and spray water on it.  The water activates the powder and when the water dries, the ballast is suppose to be stuck.

Recently a couple of friends bought some who thought they'd give it a go.  Another one said he's sold on it and that's all he plans to use.  So I figured why not?

The instructions say to mix it with your ballast to a 7:1 ratio (ballast:powder).  In my trial that didn't work, so I tried 5:1.  That made it solid, but with a bit pressure I could still get it to crumble.  So what I've done is to mix the powder with the ballast to 5:1 ratio, once dried I come back and soak it with alcohol and then add the typical 50/50 glue mix to make permanent.

Sound like an extra?  Yes, but if it keeps me from having washouts, I can live with that.  Right now I'm doing this only on the turnouts, haven't decided if I'll use it everywhere else or not?   We'll see...


 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Biddle's fueling pad

I've been working on the fueling pad for the Biddle loco facility last week.  I've been trying to keep it simple, with the just basics but as I progressed, I kept finding myself sliding down that steep rabbit hole.

I started with two strips of "0.60 black styrene for the main pad, glued them together and scored the concrete relief cuts.  I also pre-drilled the holes for the fuel piping and safety guards.  Then painted it with a concrete color and used a sponge to "pad on" several different colors of gray, I followed this with several colors of Pan Pastels and sealed it with Dull Coat.  The fresh fuel spills was made using Tamyia's Black Panel Line Accent Color lightly dripped in selected areas, in some cases I applied it three or four times.  

Next I started glueing down the little details.  The fuel piping and guard rails were made from "0.40 brass rods. The piping support came from some scrap styrene "I" beams.  The fuel hoses were stripped 22ga wire, soldered to the end of the brass rod, painted and glued in place.

The tool cabinets were made from chunks of styrene, painted & weathered.  The barrels were just cut from styrene tubing and the MU rack came from the Botchmann diesel fueling kit. The MU hoses were short chunks of 22ga wire, cut, bent and glued to the rack.  When everything had dried, I sealed the entire thing with a final coat of Dull Coat.

All in all I'm happy with how it came out, just enough detail and not overdone.  In time I'll get at least one worker glued in place and frozen in time.





Next I needed some lights, because the union workers would throw a fit if they had to work in the dark!  I'm not a big fan of lit layouts, while they do look good, I was starting to look down that rabbit hole again.  So I debated about buying the Woodland Scenics PlugNPlay light poles which would give me the option later to power up the lights. But I came to my senses and just made a few instead.

I started with some copper rods for the main poles, and again used some of the "0.40 brass rod for the arm and soldered these together.  I found some small brass tubing for the light housing and scratched my head trying to figure out how to make the globe until I stumbled across some craft beads.  These were 8/0 "Seed Beads" in a clear/pearl which I just glued on the bottom of the light housing. After that I painted the poles and arms and sealed with Dull Coat.





With everything done I sat it in place, located and drilled three holes for the light poles.  I'll leave these loose so I can finish working on the area and will probably just leave them loose so I can clean the tracks later.





Just a few more details and then I can start ballasting this area and the rest of the yard. 



 

 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

A sand tower for the Biddle facility Pt2

I think I can stick a fork in the sand tower for now.

I picked up some K&S brass rod for the sand delivery pipes and used CorelDraw to sketch out a template for a pattern of how to bend and cut the pipes.  I was able to use the drawings to tape the pipes in place so I could solder them together as well.

Once assembled I secured them to the tower via a hole and epoxied them in place.  I also decided to make some outrigger supports to help keep them in place once installed on the layout with more Evergreen "H" beams. I also glued some thicker styrene blocks to the bottom for concrete pads.

Had to do some head scratching to figure out how to make the flexible hoses off the piping.  I wound up using two resistors and the cut the wire ends off and soldered them to the lower ends of the piping.

Once that was done I dug out one of the Gold Metal Model safety cage ladder kits and decided to see how badly I could I screw one of these up.  Getting the first couple of cage pins secured to the ladder was like an exercise in frustration.   I chose to solder the cage to the ladder rather than use glue because it was faster.  I was able to get several pins in place after the first one and got them soldered, then a few more.  Pretty soon I was working on the last one.

It didn't turn out perfect but it will pass the 3' rule I think.  The last thing I did before turning out the lights was to epoxy the ladder to the "I" beam on the tower so it could set up overnight.

The next morning after a quick inspection I fired up the airbrush and sprayed it with a primer, then sprayed some TCP Galvanized Metal paint for the entire tower.  Once dry I came back with a small brush and painted the flexible hoses with black paint and touched up the pads with some acrylic concrete paint.

For my first major scratch build without much of any plans others pictures, I'm quite happy with it.






I sat it in place after getting it painted  to see how it looked.
I think I'm going to install a couple of locator pins so I can remove and replace it easier when I clean the tracks or work around the facility.







Next up comes the fueling pad and a set of power poles with step down transformers, those should be a much easier project.




Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A sand tower for the Biddle facility

After getting the engine shed far enough along, I started looking at adding some of the other necessities to the scene, one of which is a sand tower.  I found a couple of kits, one being the Stewart kit, which was in my opinion too small.  So I started looking around Google to see what I could find to mimic with a scratch build.

I found this one from the CWE layout



I kept snooping and I found this prototype from somewhere in New Mexico on the Santa Fe.



So I decided to try and make a close copy of the Santa Fe version but with different piping and hoses.  For the main tank I cabbaged a part from an unused kit, the uprights were Evergreen "I" beams and the rest was made from misc Evergreen strip stock.   The top railing is from an old Walthers "HO" ladder stock that I bent to fit a square of styrene. 


I still need to make the "X" bracing and then work on the piping, hoses and ladder.  I think it's a good start? 






I may have to move the fueling track away from the building a bit, but that wouldn't be a bad thing.








Tuesday, January 26, 2021

"Can a I get a little help?"

 A buddy stopped by the other day to chew the fat and run some trains.

Matt brought his BN equipment over to stretch their legs a bit.  He ran my FPPX coal drag (37 cars) and his two Deuces could barely pull it so we tacked one my U30C's on the rear to help shove it.

His units were consisted but my U30c wasn't. So we ran it old school, each were on a separate throttle.  Not once did we stringline the cars.  I don't have grades on the layout which probably helped.  But it was still a fun time.  

He captured it on video.




Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Biddle's new engine facility and shed

After the new turnout arrived I got it cut in for the caboose track and shortened the pocket track to allow space for the shed and got the tracks repainted.  The industrial lead is still just tacked in place and will be for the foreseeable future until I decide what to do with the industrial area.

 


After deciding on using the Walthers Machine Shop for the engine shed, I figured I'd take my time and see how bad I could screw it and how fast it'd wind up in the trash?  Just the name Machine Shop conjures up a filthy place, and being used for a engine shed, an oil and grease covered floor would be a given. So some heavy weathering would be called for.



 

As for the roof, on the last building I printed the roof from Google Maps and stuck it to the plastic roof, this time I wanted to try painting one.  Although the texture detail isn't very visible in this image, I painted the roof with a grey acrylic and laid down a Kleenex, let it dry then painted over it again with a medium gray.

Once dry I used a fine black Sharpie marker for the tar lines, then applies a couple different colors of gray for varying aged roofing effects.  Finally I came back with some Pan Pastels to vary the overall color, eventually I may come back with some Ochre and browns to lighten things up a bit more and add some dirt and rust stains.

 


The sad part of all this is that the roof will be locked in place and will not be removable, so much for the dirty floor.  Oh well, it was good practice for some exterior concrete pads that will be needed.

Once I got the shed assembled far enough along I was able to set it in place to test fit it to make sure things would work as planned.  I also added some back ground images to hide all the layout clutter in the background. 



I've still got a lot to do the shed before sticking a fork in it, but I think it's going to work as intended?  

Next I'm going to have to decide where the concrete pads  will be placed.  I've got a couple of sanding towers to play around with and will have to make some simple fueling racks.  I think what I've got for the vertical fuel tanks will work just fine.  I'm gonna have to jostle things around and see if I can find a place for everything.

The amount of detail that I'll be able to add to this place alone should keep me busy for a long time:  A couple of sheds and an office extension, parts on pallets (brake shoes and stuff) and general junk,  fuel pumps, sanding tower, 55 gallon drums, spare wheel sets, a few spare trucks.  

Then there are ground level power poles with transformer and then perhaps crew vehicles and a couple of heavy breakdown vehicles could round things out.  The building would likely only do general light repairs & trip inspections but no major overhauls or heavy work.