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Saturday, January 01, 2022

Ain't it Grand!

 A Great Photo of a Grand Union Intersection from Roanoke, Virginia taken in the 1930s.

Photographed in ideal conditions as well- nice new dark asphalt and the sun is just right to light up the rails.

This junction was at the intersection of Campbell Ave, and Jefferson Street in downtown Roanoke. 

What is interesting to me is how tight the intersection is. The rails of the left turn routes intersect right on the rails of the through routes. I don't think a Grand Union Junction could be any tighter.

 The overhead wire geometry is next to impossible to make out. It's easier to see its shadows. Is this four contact wires converging on one frog!?! 

Construction Photo ca 1927.

My intersection is downright luxurious in comparison. The curves are very broad and yet still very tight for HO scale (my left turns are 7 9/16" radius or 55 scale feet). 

Anyway- I thought I would share this interesting piece of construction. Yes sir! Thought I would share!


Monday, October 04, 2021

For Justice and Glory!

 Anybody Remember the Keystone Cops?

I thought it would be funny to model them.

The Keystone Cops (often spelled "Keystone Kops") are fictional, humorously incompetent policemen featured in silent film slapstick comedies produced by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Film Company between 1912 and 1917  -  Wikipedia

After the demise of Jordan Highway Miniatures vehicles I started looking around for other period models. This Model T Ford is a 3d print from Robert Sprague 3D Designs on Shapeways. It's not as fine of a model as Jordan but I wanted to see what I could do with it.

Tru-color paint was used for the black.  But the Floquil metallic paint used on the radiator and other details turned out too glittery for my taste. It works fine on tiny details like the hubcaps, but the broad expanse of the radiator and even the marker lamps is too much. A brass colored paint would look a lot better for this.  As is typical of 3D prints the model has some visible strata from the printing process and some details are oversized to meet the 1mm minimum thickness.  
But truth be told- I'm trying to get G scale results with HO scale models with this ultra close-up photography I'm doing. But really the model looks just fine when observing the scene when standing next to the layout.

So it is what it is.  When it comes time to populate my layout with automobiles I'll reassess this model to see if I'll use it or not.  And then I called the Model T project finished for now.

Then, while researching something unrelated, I came across this production still from a Keystone Cops flick.  "Hm! I wonder if I could model that" I wondered to myself . "Well... I do have that Model T model and covering it with cops would hide most of it defects" I replied to myself. "Ah- but what about all those cops" I countered, "nobody manufactures HO scale cops like that". Darn! I was right. I was defeated. Until I came across this:  
Preiser Unpainted Firemen. The uniforms are really similar and they even have those helmets like the Keystone Cops! Well what do you know?  Everything fell into place. This is a feasible project after all. Well I gotta do it now!

Trying out different figures to see where and how many I can fit.

The 12 selected figures were primed with Tru-Color grey primer.  Then they were painted with FolkArt craft paint. Not as nice as model paint but effective. The buttons and badges were painted with the same Floquil Brass glitter paint as the automobile. 

The Walrus Moustaches are a must!  Now its time to see how many of these guys I can fit in the auto.

I really didn't expect to fit them all in- but they all fit in! Well technically the 12th one isn't IN the car but is running to catch up.

Here is the photo set-up. My phone that I'm taking the pictures with doesn't fit under the overhead wires. So it is laying on a cardboard tube cut to length to keep the phone just above the wires. Under the camera lens is a First Surface Mirror set a 45 degree angle aimed at the scene. A flashlight is illuminating the "sky".

And voila! The completed scene.

I might revisit this at a later date. Add some billy clubs to their hands. I'll see if I can introduce the appearance of speed. Maybe turn those front tires so its making a hard turn and introduce some lean to the suspension. I'll take a look at those Artitech Model T's when they become available again.

But for now I'm satisfied. I think this photo is hilarious.

Yes sir- hilarious!

"Good job Dandy"
"Awe thanks Dandy"


Monday, August 30, 2021

Frogs on the Overhead

 Overhead Crossing Frogs

I just noticed that I haven't finished swapping out the temporary overhead crossing frogs with commercial frogs.

But the temporary frogs have been working out so well that I might just keep them!

Negotiating Frogtown.

Here are the four 90° double track crossing overhead frogs (track obscured for clarity). The two crossings on the left still have the small washers that I was using for temporary crossing frogs. The two crossings on the right have been finalized with crossover castings. But since the washers have been performing flawlessly and they have a much smaller appearance that I've decided to keep them as is. They just need to be finalized by trimming the excess wire and solder it all in place for electrical continuity.

As for the angle crossings I don't think the washers were working well for that. So they have been swapped out for the adjustable crossing frogs. These work great.

Rivers Trolley & Traction Adjustable Crossovers are what I used. But I have no idea where a fella can purchase them these days. Might have to monitor eBay closely for them.

Yes sir! Closely monitor eBay for frogs!


Monday, August 02, 2021

How 'bout Them Apples!

 In studying photos of 19th century city streets I've noticed that "road apples" are quite ubiquitous.

But the question is: should droppings be modeled?

I mean- it is natural after all. Horses are going to doo what horses gotta do!

Both Images: Shorpy.  Color: Hotpot

And doo they do a lot! It was quite the problem back in the day. Particularly in New York City that when the elevated railroads were built the steam locomotives were hailed as a solution to the pollution!

But doo I want to model "excreta" though? I suppose I might if it's not too conspicuous- one of many details to notice. And it is kind of funny. But I doo want to be careful- it is a poop joke after all. I don't want to be crass. Just... realistic. Which begs the question- what to model dung with?

The question of what to use to model "after parts" had been lurking in the back of my mind for some time now and one morning while emptying my coffee maker I noticed that the used coffee grounds are about the right size and color for manure. So I set up the test photo shown at the top of this post and well, yeah, not a bad result. So I'll keep it in mind and see if I can tastefully incorporate "effluent" into some of the scenes on the layout when I get to the detailing stage of layout construction.

All I need now is for someone to make some HO scale Pooper-Scooper figures, then I can make a nice little scene like this.

Yes Sir! HO scale Pooper-Scoopers!


Monday, July 19, 2021

Street Congestification

 Oh! Traffic Around this Town is getting Nuts!

Left to right: Hauler: Velociped, Berkshire Valley: Buggy,  Artitech: Ford T Runabout,  LMB Old Time Trolley. with Preiser and A.C.Stadden figures.

I'm finally getting some nice photos on the layout.
Yes sir! Finally!


Sunday, July 04, 2021


 Electrical Arcing at the Southern California Railway Museum.

The track was relocated but the overhead hadn't been yet. So the brakeman had to try and guide the trolley wheel. But when the wheel left the wire, fireworks ensued.

One thing the video didn't capture was the brilliant green color of the arching: 

Enjoy the fireworks and have a happy 4th of July.
Yes sir! Happy 4th of July!


Monday, June 21, 2021


Successfully Strung a Span Wire Between Two Electroliers - Without Blowing out the Lamps!

This is a big relief since the brass Electroliers are ground for the 3 volt DC streetlamps AND act as an anchor for the 15 volt AC overhead.

The fear being that the 3 volt LEDs are exposed to the 15 volts running current. But since each have their own power source it doesn't seem to be a problem.

Now that all of the Electroliers are in I would really like to install the span wires between them. The overhead in the intersection is a bit bouncy without them. After the success of a little test rig I have commenced stringing the span wires.

These old wooden temporary poles and span wires can finally be removed. The poles were on the building property line and with them gone now, I can finally get to building the buildings.

Trying something new here.  The rule has been Nickle Silver wire for the contact wire and Phosphor Bronze for the span and pulloff wires.  But for these new span wires I'm trying 30 AWG High Quality Polyurethane Enameled Copper Wire. This wire is softer and much easier to work with. The phosphor bronze I was using just loves to pierce the skin!

I found the Polyurethane Copper Wire much easier for wire wrapping and its easier to straighten than the phosphor bronze.

Hmmm... seeing my wire wrappings up close in photographs I see that my wrappings are kind of loose. I need to work on tightening my wire wrapping skills.

Yes sir! Tighten my wire wrapping skills.