Friday, November 29, 2013

Benchwork Planning

After a long hiatus over the summer, I'm getting back to the railroad again. Over the summer I've done alot of thinking about it, just no working on it. I've also been to a few swap meets and such and have done some more research on specific types of freight cars I'm interested in.

First things first I guess, the track needs somewhere to go. The original plan was to use a door, but after looking at all the doors in the house and their rectangular shape, the oval design of the layout creates some odd corners. I thought about putting a farmhouse in one and some trees in another, but those sharp corners still just don't sit right in my mind. The door idea has given way to a traditional open framework design.

The structure will be composed of 1/2" plywood ripped into 3" strips. Portability and light weight will take a hit, but semi-mobility was still be considered. I doubt I'll be dragging it to any events but I'd like to be able to get it out of the house if we move. The legs will be 2"x2" sticks, detachable, mounted to the 4 obvious corners of the inner structure, and braced with more plywood "boards". The whole thing will be topped with pink foam, and wrapped with 1/8" Masonite for a nice clean look. I'm shooting for around a 48"-50" grade height all said and done.

The track plan overlay is roughly scaled to fit, this is the look I was shooting for with the round corners. You can see clearly why the left front corner is still squared off. The route of the spur there may be modified some day to connect to an add on section, or it might just remain straight. We'll cross that road at a later time. I realize the track near the back of the layout is very close to the edge, I do plan to extend the Masonite up 2" or so to contain things around the back side. You may notice the plan has changed... Again. I've been studying the minimalist works of some others and decided to ax much of the track. I also discovered some #6 turnouts in the track box, so the lower left spur and the cross over have been "upgraded".

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fertilizer Hopper Build - Weathering

As much as I preach less is more when it comes to weathering, I always pile it on thick. This car was no exception. Though most of my equipment will fall in the late 70's to early 80's, and the build date on this car is '77 it is showing some serious age already... Starting with some washes made from cheap craft store paint, it got a fade with Vanilla. Next a very light wash of some Licorice on the sides, heavier on the ends and bottom. The rust streaks were over done with Burnt Sienna oil paint, a tiny dollop placed at each roof walk support and then drawn away with a clean brush soaked in paint thinner.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fertilizer Hopper Build - Decals

Spent another evening on this, tonight the decals got applied. The Oddballs set I used was pretty decent. Not on the level of Microscale, but close. The package said "screen printed" but I always thought Oddballs were done on an Alps like printer? Either way they are crisp and clear. They are also very thin, which makes them pretty much melt into the paint but also makes them super fragile. I messed a couple of them up but was able to salvage them to be passable. Next up will be some real light weathering to add a couple years of age, and I guess I should try and track down some Microscale COTS decals.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fertilizer Hopper Build Update

Over the past few nights I've been throwing down some ModelMaster Light Gray paint. First on the top and sides, the next night the bottom and ends, and tonight a 2nd light coat on the top, ends, and sides to hit any areas that got missed. The factory gray paint was a little dark for my liking, and this is a little light, but it'll do I guess. If nothing else it's a nice faded gray that will take a little light weathering well.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fertilizer Hopper Build

I got a couple new things in the mail over the last week or two, meaning I have all the components for a small project. The fertilizer plant on the River Valley Central will receive dry products by rail and ship out local orders by truck. I picked up an MTL ACF hopper wearing Souther Pacific and some Oddballs decals to make a hopper that's not something you can just go buy. Not that there's anything wrong with RTR, but sometimes it's fun to roll your own.

This will hopefully be a quick and easy build, though it got off to a bit of a rough start. Originally the plan was to get any gray MTL ACF hopper, wipe the letters off, decal, weather just a tiny bit, done. I don' t know what's changed since last time I renumbered an MTL car but the pad printing was not coming off without taking the rest of the paint too. Matter of fact, the gray paint wiped off almost instantly when the rubbing alcohol touched it and the black letters didn't budge. Not huge, but I guess I'm not going to decal this thing tonight. Instead the whole thing took a soak in alcohol for about an hour or so. The alcohol stripped that thing naked. I mean totally bare, with only a slight touch from a cheap tooth brush to scrub the end frames a bit. That's all for tonight though, repaint will have to happen another night.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Revisions Are Unavoidable

I just can't stick to a plan I guess. I ran trains around this quite a bit, and as I mentioned earlier, I just don't like the switchback. I want to be able to switch cars in and out of the spur on the right, but can't because the spur on the left is always blocking moves to the right when there are cars on both tracks. Now don't get me wrong here, this is being built to be a roundy rounder. Mostly I just want to watch, but I might want to swap cars out every 3rd pass or something, and I wan't to be able to do it without fiddling around with a switchback.

So here it is. The River Valley Central v.2. Using no more track, and re arranging the two industry spurs, the switchback is gone. The industry on the right is now serviced directly from the siding, and the industry at the left can have cars spotted on either track without interfering with things on the right. Things are a bit cramped on the left, but the river can be pushed wherever it needs to go.

The "interchange" was also shortened and moved to the right a bit, it now holds about as many cars as fit on the "staging" siding in the back and the passing siding on the front. Additionally, there's a sweet spot for a depot to sit just to the left of it. I'm not sure if the "interchange" will be used for interchange, or as a starting point for another railroads trackage rights with the end point represented in the staging area. I guess it doesn't matter what it is, which ever way the wind blows is the way it will get used.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Foam and Track Fittment

Over the past week or two I've made fair progress, starting with gluing all the scraps of insulation I had left back together to make a 80"x30" rectangle. The original plan was for a 28" door, but all my pieces added up to 30". I figure this provides a little flexibility when I go shopping for a door. Exactly what you want isn't always what  you get when you shop the ReStore and the bargain pile at Menards. Of course one afternoon I was in the store getting some things for work and found a near perfect 30" door for $10 with only minor dings, but since I was on work time I passed it up. By the time I got back up there later it was of course gone!

I also cut and fit nearly all the track. The end curves are all 11" and 9" sectional track, as are the 19" curves for the sidings. A majority of the straight sections are scraps of flex track of various lengths, but there are a few pieces of sectional here and there, including the rerailer sections in the back. I have not decided what to use for road bed, but I am seriously considering cutting my own from foam weather strip tape. We'll see how that goes I guess. I do also need to pickup a couple of bridges. I won a Blair Line gift certificate as a door prize at the NMRA Kate Shelley Division swap meet last fall, so I'll be ordering the same trestle kit used by Marty McGuirk on his original. Also need to pick up a couple deck girder bridges yet.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Drawing A Plan

I reviewed reposts of the original Carolina Central plan as well as peeked at the Getting Started book on Google Books. It all provided exactly the information needed to draw one up using XtrackCad. I had a little trouble making the switch on the right fit, not sure how it fits on the real thing but I had to move it around the curve just a bit to get things to line up (or at least be fudgeably close). I even took the time to learn how to run trains with XtrackCad. Pretty crude, but cool none the less.

The complete parts list for this version, the .xtc file is available as well:

Count | Description
  34 | Atlas 2501 5in Straight
    7 | Atlas 2510 9 3/4R full section
    9 | Atlas 2520 11R full section
    2 | Atlas 2521 11R half section
    4 | Atlas 2526 19R section
    2 | Atlas 2532 Rerailer Track
    2 | Atlas 2546 Warren Truss Bridge
    4 | Atlas 2750 Custom Std #4 LH Switch
    4 | Atlas 2751 Custom Std #4 RH Switch
    2 | Atlas XXX 1 1/4in Straight
    3 | Atlas XXX 2 1/2in Straight
    4 | Atlas XXX 5/8in Straight
    0 | 11.394 N Flex Track               

Much to my delight I've got everything but the Warren Truss Bridges (I don't really care for them and might sub them for some plate girder bridges instead). All the curves and switches required are in the box and I think there's enough scraps of flex track to do the straights. The switches are hideous, they have a giant manual switch machine attached but I have an idea in my head about chopping that thing off and adding a spring like this:

There are also enough scraps of pink foam in the garage to be able to stick a 28"x80" piece together. Now on the lookout for discount door...