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Sunday, April 28, 2013

One Down! 999 to go!

The installation of the overhead has begun and shall proceed in earnest!

The first of many, many wire wraps.

Now that all the line poles are placed (which, by the way, fulfills one of the parameters of my New Years Resolution) the stringing of the overhead wires may commence. Yes sir! The stringing has commenced!


Monday, April 22, 2013

I Thought Brass was Brass

But there is such a thing as "Soft Brass".

As it turns out, soft brass is totally unacceptable for use as line poles. 
And that's all I have to say about that. Yes sir. That is all I have to say about that!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Simple, Stately, Line Poles

Getting very anxious to get the layout running again, I have fabricated a whole new batch of line poles.

Having the streets right on the edge of the layout means that the other sidewalk isn't there to plant the second span pole.  So my poles were originally built with these bracket arms:

But the tension of the overhead proved to be too great for the poles on the street corners and these bracket arms had a tendency to suddenly bend 90 degrees, ruining the pole. So I have decided to bite the bullet and add span poles along the edge of the layout.

These square milled line poles were very common pre-20th century.  Eventually they figured out that milled poles were more expensive to build and that un-milled poles are actually much stronger. So they fell out of favor fast and seem to be all but completely gone by the 1920s. I think that these square poles are actually quite handsome, you know, for a pole. So my 1890s and 1900s streets will sport these nifty poles.

 I fabricated my poles from solid 1/8" square brass stock. After I had painted and weathered them, I was won over by the Southern California Traction clubs practice of adding "eye-bolts" to their poles. Should my permanently attached span wire bend or break, I would be faced with some major repair. But seeing the ease at which the SCTC could swap out their span wire with this "eye bolt" method, well its obvious which method is superior. Yes sir, its obvious.

SCTC member, John McWhirter, posted a sketch on a Yahoo traction modeling group that depicts an effective method of adding "eye bolts" to line poles that I followed to fabricate my own. Basically its looping span wire around a track nail and then threading the ends thru a hole drilled thru the pole. The ends are bent to hold it in place for soldering. Then trimmed flush.

Here are my poles with their new eye-bolts installed. The soldering ruined the paint job near the bolts so I have some touching up to do before the poles can be installed on the layout.

Here is the first pole to be installed on the layout. Notice that the new eye-bolt isn't overly huge and helps the pole maintain its simple, stately elegance, you know, for a line pole. Yes sir! Simple, stately elegance, for a line pole!


Monday, April 08, 2013

Tarnation Supply Warehouse

Building a Good Ol' Fashioned DPM Style Model for an Upcoming Project.

A bit of a diversion, how good does it feel to build one of these type of models again! Its been years for me!

The idea is to butt two of these "Schultz Garage" by Woodland Scenics models together to build a larger building...

Like this! They went together easily enough... except where the cement overflowed and dissolved some of the brickwork on the nearest corner. No worries! I'll think of something to hide that. The back of the facades don't have any detail, so since I have some left over wall material...

Sweet! This beefs up the wall and adds some more detail to the building.

I want a good old fashioned red brick color for the building. A lot of guys are using Americana craft acrylics for these sort of projects, so I thought I would give it a try. I went to my local Micheal's crafts store to get a bottle of "Americana Heritage Brick", but of course they were out, so I got the next closest thing, "Rookwood Red" with "Fawn" as the trim color. It doesn't really matter what color I get anyway, weathering will alter these colors dramatically.

See? Just adding a mortar mix already changed the color quite a bit. For the mortar I just rubbed on some Durhams water putty tinted to a light grey into the cast-in mortar joints. The building looks quiet stark this way, so its going to need to be toned down.

I gave the building a weathering wash which really toned things down and really brought out the detail (including the melted brick smudge on the near corner!). Most folks use an India Ink / Alcohol mixture for this, but I prefer a Bragdons Weathering Powders / Alcohol mix. It gives me a more dusty and dry look that I like for my Southern California set buildings.

For the windows and doors I used the same "Fawn" trim color.

And they were cemented into place. I'm thinking of doing something different for the freight door, so I skipped it for now.

There is a popular technique among craftsman where paper signs are sanded tissue thin so when applied to the side of a brick building they look painted on. So I thought I would give it a try. Its pretty tough to do and when my sign finally ripped, I stopped and glued them on. But I think it was too soon, they still look kind of thick.

I have some doors left over, so I thought I would experiment and see if I can make one look partially open...

I carefully cut out an opening and then filed it smooth up to the door frame.

The new freight door was painted and installed.

 Then the doors and windows received the same weathering powder / alcohol mix that the bricks did. Look how it really brings out the details. But now with that open door, I'll need some interior detailing.

With the last of the leftover wall material, I cemented them together to make an interior office space. I hate to waste, so this makes me happy.

So easy and effective.

The roof was constructed as per the instructions, but with longer pieces of styrene. But I'm not entirely happy with the plain roof, I mean, what kind of roofing material is that supposed to be anyway? So...

 A scale 3' strips of 600 grit sandpaper was cut and glued to the roof to simulate tar paper.

The "tar paper" was weathered with the Bragdon Weathering Powders.

Also of note is how thick the windows and doors are. The model comes with clear styrene to fit behind them, but I think it will just highlight that thickness. So...

 I've experimented with using Micro Kristal Kleer for windows in the past and wasn't too impressed, But for an industrial building like this, I think it might just be perfect! And it fits IN the window openings, not behind them. Its messy work, so it was applied from the back of the windows.

Micro Kristal Klear goes on white, but will dry clear. Being IN the window frames, this should help the window frames look thinner.

And there ya go! I'll come up with something to hide the melted brick thing when this building is put into its scene. But until then, this has been a fun little diversion. Yes sir! A fun little diversion indeed!


Monday, April 01, 2013

Visiting the Saddest Place on Earth

I was, as all my friends were, very saddened by the closing of Disneyland in California a while back. So I enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to visit the old abandoned park recently and well... It turned out to be the most depressing thing I have ever done.

The first thing that struck me was how overgrown everything had become. The perfectly manicured landscaping had gone downright bohemian.

Being a rail fan, the Main Street Station was one of my favorite places. I could still hear the Station Masters announcements: "Your attention please! The Disneyland Limited now arriving..." Fortunately that still lives on at Disney World in Florida which is still alive and thriving.

Despite the Disney Co's best effort to keep the park updated, the basic concept is very 1955. With every passing year, Disneyland looked more and more like a miniature golf course.

The Jungle Cruise has become, well... a jungle! Such an attraction had become less attractive ever since video gaming made visiting adventuresome places so much more submersive than just riding a boat with a stand-up comic with viewing the "backside of water" as the highlight.

Once hailed as the way of the future, the "highway in the sky" is now a relic of the past. I really had thought that monorails would have been everywhere by now.

This post might be a little off topic, but Disneyland was really a scale model layout. Main Street scales out to roughly 7/8th scale. A very large scale layout that you could actually walk around in. But Disneyland, just like model railroading, can't compete with the limitless virtual world. 

 So sad. The whole time I was walking around I kept hoping I would wake up from this nightmare and find it was all just an April Fools joke. Yes sir! Just an April Fools joke!