Tuesday, November 1, 2016

River Valley Central: T-Trak Division

Gosh it seems like only yesterday I abandoned my permanent layout plans and embarked on some t-trak to satisfy my railroad bug. My how things have changed in the past year. My family has moved into our 2nd home, which is much more suited to our needs, including a magnificent 10'x10' layout space.

I still really like the t-trak method, and intend to build my home layout one section at a time using t-track sections setup on top of the benchwork with scenes that can be mix and matched. Here's a peek at a first set of modules for a complete layout. There are some nonstandard shapes in here, but they follow the standard length dimensions either single, double, or quad. The two end caps connect to a permanent return loop behind the backdrop. The intention is to add passing sidings back there for staging.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

CNW Gondolas: Let's Get Going

I took the summer off from ndecisive. We moved to a different house, family changes, lots to do. Now that the weather is starting to turn and it's getting close to the NMRA Kate Shelley Division's fall swap meet I've got the urge to do some railroading again.

First up this season is a couple simple gondola builds. The BN and PC will both be patched into CNW letters and numbers, the big CNW one is getting a strip, bulkheads added, and PRIDE lettering for crushed auto service like this 134000 series car. All 3 will be pretty well beaten and weathered.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

DME T-Trak Action

Long time no update! Here's a brief video I shot on an old cell phone this evening. It's choppy and fuzzy and there's quite a lot of noise, but it's action!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Farm Site: Trees and Grass

This weekend I hit the Farm Site module hard and got quite a lot done. I started with ballasting the tracks (yuck) to get that out of the way, then moved on to the rest.

outlines of the buildings and driveway were drawn on the base first, then I moved through each type of ground cover one at a time until all the pink was covered up. I've got roughly half of the Landscape Learning Kit left after the next module I'll probably need to replenish some of the ground foam.

The trees are built from the Woodland Scenics Trees learning kit. They're ok, but they look like foam clumps stuck to two dimensional trees that have been cranked around to 3 dimensions. I don't know if that's just what a WS tree is or if I need to practice a bit more. They were pretty simple to do I guess.

The general idea is coming together. The potential exists for a ton of details, this module may never be "finished". Old cars are needed under the windbreak trees, these people need a burn barrel and maybe a dumpster, a mailbox, some farmy utility looking junk by the bins, maybe a lilac bush in the yard, maybe a cloths line, a path from the front step to the driveway, more weeds and bushes around the tracks, and on and on and on...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

DME 2nd Hand Diesels: Decals!

I was able to finish the artwork for some custom decals and sent them off to Highball Graphics to be printed. Jim @ Highball was great, he answered a couple questions and the decals arrived about a week later. The print quality was outstanding, the price was very inexpensive (I sent artwork that was more or less ready to go so no setup or design fees). None of it was very complex artwork, mostly just letters and numbers. I'll show you the fun stuff later, but here are the 3 DME units lettered and ready for finishing.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

DME 2nd Hand Diesels: 2nd Gen Joins the Roster

This week a 2nd Gen EMD joined my DM&E roster. Received as an undercoated Kato SD40-2, I went right to work on it getting ready to replicate the 6360 City of Mankato.

I started by grinding away the inside of the shell behind the radiator grilles. This is a model car trick to open up the radiator grille, and worked really well here. There was quite a lot of meat on this part of the shell so it should still be plenty strong. Why am I cutting the radiator grille open? Sound of course! I've got an MRC 1806 decoder on order, and the way the shell is designed girding open the radiator grilles to let the sound out made logical sense.

For paint I headed back to the acrylic craft paint aisle and came back with some Craft Smart Dark Yellow and Bright Blue. DM&E used several different shades of blue and gold over the years, these two struck me as close enough for the look of 6360 after a few years of service.

Here is the City of Mankato with it's running mates, all waiting for decals, decoders, and dirt.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Farm Site: Lights and Stuff

A mock up of the farm site scene tonight, lighting finished in the farm house, the shop, and on the yard light pole.

Here is a cutaway of the house showing how the upstairs bedroom is lit, the kitchen on the back of the house is done similarly. All of the fiber optic pipes are bundled together under the house and epoxied to a warm white LED. I plan to use a 5v lighting bus, so a 100Ω resistor is wired in series with each LED. A hole was drilled in the lens of the LED to help gather the light pipes and hold them in. I also wrapped aluminum foil around the LED to block light from leaking out the sides and hopefully reflect more of it down the pipes. The pipes themselves are painted black to block light from escaping and hide them inside the house. The shop is lit similarly with light pipes and a cool white LED.

 The yard light is a warm white SMD LED chopped off a holiday light set that had very fine enamel coated wire attached and a gob of glue for a lens. I trimmed the enamel wire on one lead very short and soldered it to a brass rod, the other lead was super glued down the length of the rod to simulate a mounting arm and conduit on the pole. Wires were then added to the bottom of the conduit and the pole for connecting to the 5v bus. I painted the lens of the LED with transparent orange paint to give it a high pressure sodium look, then painted the rest of the LED glue blob black to block unnecessary light out the top and sides. The pole will be painted brown and the conduit gray.

I planted all the buildings and some trees to mock up the scene and draw some guide lines for the driveway and outlines of each building. Since it was all in place I wired up the lights to a power source and was more than pleased with the result!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Farm Site: Farm House Remodel

Originally I had planed for this module to be just a driveway and bins, the house having been torn down years ago. This Bachmann farm house is somewhat special to me, I've had it since I was a kid with a train set. When I rediscovered it in a box of old train stuff I had to use it.

It's a pre-built, and the build quality is ok but it is a bit of a fixer upper. It was pretty easy to take apart, there was very little glue. Most of the joints were just heat melted together.

While it is apart I've started installing lights. I wanted a yard light on a post for this module, it only makes sense to add a couple of porch lights and a few lights on inside the house too. There is one warm white LED swiped from a string of Christmas lights under the house with fiber optic light pipes from www.thefiberopticstore.com. There is a hole drilled in the LED and all the light pipes are stuck together and shoved in the hole. I have a little more work to do with it but so far it is turning out well.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

End of the Bean Field, Begin the Farm Site

I "finished" the bean field this week. By finished, I mean added a fence and road markings. I'm sure there will be other little bits added now and then but I'm calling this done for all intensive purposes.

The fence was made using Micheal Whiteman's method, simple posts with no actual fence. I used HO 3x3 strip wood painted with Americana Asphaltum brown craft paint and planted them just like Micheal describes in the nscale.net post.

Road markings were done with Sharpie Oil Paint Pens in Yellow and White. These were the ultra-fine variant and I could not be more pleased with the result. Using a straight edge for a guide I zipped two white lines and a yellow center line in about 30 seconds. Then I added some cracks with a black ultra-fine Sharpie marker. I'll be getting a black oil paint pen because I really really like the way the yellow and white worked, and the permanent ink has a weird purple sheen in some light.

I also started working on the base for a second module, the Farm Site. I picked up a couple Rix grain bins from a friend on nscale.net and a Woodland Scenics Trees learning kit from the hobby shop old as well as a Deluxe Innovations shed. I also plan to recycle a Bachmann farm house that was part of my first N scale layout when I was around 10 years. This module is going to take quite a lot of time I suspect because of the number of features, the house, bins, trees, etc. I'm hoping to light the house and shed, and also install a post light to illuminate the driveway. Just how to go about that remains to be figured out. These two modules should complement each other well, and can be arranged in any order.