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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Oh No! The Rubber Broke!

Apparently, Rubber molds have a shelf life.

Half way through the casting of the street lamps needed for Grand Ave, the rubber mold decides to completely fail.

Now it could be I didn't use enough release agent. But the mold also cracked (Maybe the sun got to it? UV rays are so destructive!). So I'm sure its at the end of its shelf life.

So the next time I make a mold, I have got to make all the casting right away.
Yes sir- Right away!


Monday, November 02, 2015

Well Whatdaya Know ~ All Rubber Are Not Alike

Quality Rubber - That's The  Secret Ingredient For A Successful Mold.

      What with the Backesto Bits already to go, its time to make a mold of them all. But when I went to go fetch the left over rubber compound from the Streetlamp Project, I found it has a short shelf life and had hardened.

Anxious to move forward with this project, I stopped by the craft store to pick up some of their casting rubber~ Amazing Mold Rubber. And after some time and effort, well... I found it ain't so amazing. I'm sure its fine for most crafts, but not for precision casting. In a nutshell, it shrinks!

Recycling the box from the streetlamp project, it turned out to be just the right size for this project.

There it is! In all its pink glory. Or so I thought.

The shelf life of the resin is much better. It cast just fine and faithfully with no shrinkage. But when I compared the castings with the originals, there was about 10% shrinkage with the "Amazing" rubber.

So, I'll pay the small extra for the much better quality of the Oomoo rubber compound. Lesson learned.
Yes sir! Lesson learned!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Structures~ Backesto Bits

I've seen folks make 3D prints of small buildings, but not of larger buildings. I'm a little skeptical how they would turn out. But casting parts isn't out of the question.

Windows, doors, columns, cornices, and chimneys.

There are some seriously repeating patterns on this building. So my plan is to build one and cast many.

I first built a window with 3D Studio Max so that I could get a 3D print of it and cast that. But for some reason Max has issues with Shapeways and et al.

So the heck with it! I'm going to build them up with styrene. These things are tiny in HO scale, I had to apply the cement with a syringe!

I think I've got everything. The next step will be to make a rubber mold of these and then I can cast as many bits as I need.

Yes sir! Cast as many bits as I need!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Ain'ts Done Yet!

The 9th Annual State of the Company, Board of Directors Meeting of 
 The Dan D. Sparks Plywood Development and Transportation Co. 
A Dubiously Structured Corporation (the “Company”) 
Held on 22nd September 2015, 10:ish AM Arbitrary Daylight Time 
at the Car House Tavern, San Dollar, California.

 Board Members Present: 

President:                           Dan D. Sparks
Chairman:                          Lettuceleaf M. Malone
Traffic Manager:                Robin DeRail
Finance Manager:              Count DeMonet
Director of Development:   Arnie Clever
General Manager:              David Lyman
Quorum present?                Who can tell?

Others Present:
Man of Mystery:                  Fred Gurzeler
Technology Genius:            Volkmar Meier
Company Orchestra leader:     Bill Bolton Orchestra & Surf Band

Absent:                     Effort

· Chair, Lettuceleaf M. Malone called the Meeting to order at some point.
- Secretary Mrs, Roundbottom recorded the minutes between sipping her Gin Fizz .

 · Secretary Roundbottom presented to the Board the minutes of the Sept. 2014 meeting of the Board for approval, whereupon motion duly made, seconded and toasted with another round of drinks.

Opening Message from Chairman:

 Lettuceleaf  Malone

Pompous windbags - The whole lot of them! I (Secretary Roundbottom) am supposed to be recording the speeches of these gentlemen, but between these marvelous Gin Fizz's and all this bellowing, I just can't be bothered. Truth be told they are all a lazy lot. Between Mr. Sparks racing his yacht (or whatever these moguls do), Mr Malone playing the ponies, and General Manager Lyman always loitering at the Nickelodeon and doodling cartoons all day, its amazing this enterprise is afloat at all! 
Well, I suppose I should pay attention and record these proceedings. At the very least it should be entertaining to listen how these gentlemen will endeavor to put a positive spin on such a dismal year! So if anyone is interested here you go:

· Traffic Managers Report  Provided by Chair:

Robin DeRail

Aye! The programs I instituted to remove nefarious characters and scalawags from eating up valuable bandwidth from this blog has been highly successful! See for yerselves:

Unique weekly blog hits (visitors, not page hits) from 9/22/2014 to 9/21/2015:
  • Overcrowded cars have been cleared out nicely! This blog hosted 3,294  visitors this last year (Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015). That's down from a crushing 4,930 last year, and 3,355 the year before that. They visited 5,521 times, down from 8,960 times last year and 6,621 times the year before that. That makes for an all time grand total of 42,154 visitors. I'm quiet proud of that I am! 
  •  This blog is now averaging 21 visitors per day. These viewers of quality have a much longer attention span!  Their attention has increased to over 2 minutes (2:09 minutes)! That's down from 29 average daily viewers watching for an average of only 1:58 last year! 
  • Due to the way Google displays data now, it is no longer possible to ascertain what the top 3 posts for last year were. But it is possible for an all time basis, which are:
  1. A Grand Union Intersection In Action!     2,351 views
  2. The Adventures of Bending Wood        1340 views
  3. #426 Project ~ Cleaning and Preparing Brass for Painting     936 views
So to sum up: Less loiterers, and more viewers of quality! Aye!

· Finance Committee report provided by Chair:    

 Count DeMonet

A happy side effect of reduced ridership has been less heavy coins in the fairbox for the cars to have to carry around (It takes two large men to carry one of those!). The company should be seeing some significant savings from the reduction of weight!
  • The Count reported that revenue earned took a dive to an average of $0.03 per day, down from an average of $0.05 per day last year and $0.06 per day the previous year.
  •  DeMonet continued with that the annual earnings for this last fiscal year came in at $10.18. Down from $19.43 last year and $22.78 the previous year. This now brings the grand total to $91.87. Google won't pay out until that total reaches $100, expected sometime this next "fiscal year" (Sept. to Sept.). The Board has agreed that the money will be put towards a DCC system for the layout. 

· Board Development Committee's report provided by Chair,      

Arnie Clever
  • Mr. Clever expressed his dissatisfaction that nobody listens to him and his planning has come to naught. 
  • Despite this situation however, Arnie has carried forth and has been looking into robotics and automation with promising results. Some of which shall be instituted in the very near future!

Mr. Sparks' closing speech summed up his concern that the company has been seriously neglected and it's time to roll up our sleeve and make some significant progress on the layout.

And with that, Orchestra leader Bolton struck up the Orchestra/Surf Band with a rendition of Tales of a  Raggy Tramline:

· Meeting adjourned around Noonish.
· Minutes submitted by a very tipsy Secretary, Mrs. Roundbottom.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Structures ~ The Backesto Block Building

Dimensional Drawings for Modeling the Backesto Block Building

Here is my working drawing for constructing a model of the Backesto Building for the layout. I'm starting with this building for a couple reasons. One, its one of the most ornate buildings, thus more time consuming to build. So I want to get it out of the way early. And Two, for its historical significance:

The Backesto Building figures prominently in this photo of the opening day of the San Diego Electric Railway. I greatly desire to duplicate this scene in model.

Originally built in 1873 it was San Diego's finest building at the time. It was later expanded a couple of times.

Amazingly, the Backesto Block remains intact today as part of San Diego's Historic Gas Lamp Quarter! Although without all those chimneys (probably an earthquake hazard). The building is about 224 feet long with another 84 foot addition (to the right). I don't have that kind of space so my model will be an abbreviation of that at 70 scale feet.

I photographed the building extensively for the dimensional drawing. I tried to get shots that not only reveal the layout of the building but also the profile of the building.

Did I mention the building is ornate?

The head-on shots show the layout of the building of course, but I also need shots that reveal how far details protrude from the walls.

I lucked out and found this old newspaper clipping revealing how the roof of the Backesto looked in the 1880s. I would have never guessed that pitched roof design hidden behind the parapet.

Early Modeling Attempt

You've probably noticed this building appearing in the background of some layout construction shots. Its my very early attempt to build the Backesto, I'm talking decades ago! Its pretty crude, one of my first attempts to scratch build with styrene. But the fact its held up so well for so long is a testament to the strength of styrene. Its good stuff!

The structure is a corner building, so here is the South side. One of the expansions is suggested on the left. During the Backesto's early years it had a couple of blank walls that had advertisements painted on them.
The era I'm modeling (1890s), Schiller and Murtha occupied the ground floor.

I think the Backesto Block building is a gorgeous building. I'm looking forward to modeling it. This time as a fine model. Yes sir! A fine model!


Monday, April 20, 2015

City Planning

What's a City without Buildings?

Its time to start building buildings for this layout. And not just any old buildings. But models of actual buildings from San Diego's historic Gas Lamp Quarter. Because, you know... I like to do things the hard way.

Looking North up San Diego's 5th Street c.1915. Most of these buildings not only exist today, but are beautifully restored as part of San Diego's Historic Gaslamp Quarter.

The Plan
Each street on the layout represents a different decade, from the 1890s to the 1940s. Pretty much the entire era of the San Diego Electric Railway Co (1892 to 1949). The architecture of the buildings will be of the era of the street on which they stand. 

Because this is a model railroad and space is a premium, this layouts blocks are rather short. My blocks are just over 100 scale feet compared to San Diego's 200 x 300 feet. This for the most part relegates me to modeling exclusively corner buildings. Though I might be able squeak in a small mid-block building somewhere, its not a priority. Corner buildings are just fine.

An old edition of a San Diego newspaper touting some of the city's finer buildings. I originally wanted to include all these buildings on the layout, but I have since come to realize that the U.S. Grant is too huge. It's around 200 feet wide and wouldn't compress down to 100 feet very well. But the Union Building would fit well, especially since it housed the offices of the San Diego Electric Railway!

The Ultimate Goal:

This photo of the double-decker San Diego Electric Railway #1 rounding the corner in front of the Backesto Building was a big inspiration for the conception of this layout. Other than getting the layout up and running as designed, replicating this scene in model is my ultimate goal. Modeling ol' #1 will be the cherry on top. Until then, I think I'll start by constructing a model of the Backesto Block building. That should be a good challenge to start with. Yes sir! Should be a good challenge!


Monday, April 06, 2015

Bungalow Row

A Suburban Neighborhood Module Designed For The Southern California Traction Club Layout.

Since the old SCTC modular layout was a continuous loop, adding a module to one side of the layout required another module of the same length on the opposite side. So by adding the Tarnation Module to the industrial side of the layout, a companion module would be needed for the suburban side of the layout. So I designed this:

Bungalow Row. A standard 2'x4' double track traction module.

Nothing fancy in the way of trackwork. Just the standard double-track on a private right-of-way on the center divide of a boulevard. 

This postcard of a neighborhood in Pasadena, California with the Pacific Electric tracks down the center of the street has the look and feel I wanted to capture with this module.

A couple of narrow residential streets like this intersect the main boulevard.

These streets would be populated with various styles of craftsman homes.

To break-up the grid pattern a bit and as added interest, a dry wash cuts through the module at an angle. This would allow for a short wood pile trestle for the tracks and a couple concrete bridges for the boulevard.

I would have like to have included this passenger shelter on the module, but I just wasn't able to get it to fit. Too bad, that would have been a nifty detail.

The Models

There are some pretty decent models of bungalow style houses available out there:

Barbs Bungalow by Atlas could be built up into a really beautiful house.

Alpine Division (old Suydam) has a couple of rather nice craftsman kits of Craftsman style houses. With a lot of work, these could be built up to look great.

Woodland Scenic's Granny's House, all built up and ready to go.

 Rix even offers a couple of houses that could be built up into some pretty decent models.

Speaking of Rix, they offer this overpass that would be perfect for boulevard crossing over the dry wash.
The tracks would cross the wash on these trestle bents by Grand Central Gems.

AMB LaserKits even offers the Pacific Electric style passenger shed seen in the prototype photo earlier in this post. I would love to fit this in!

But alas... the SCTC has taken on a fresh new direction rendering this module obsolete. But the module could conceivably be redesigned to fit the new layout. So maybe there's life in this after all! Yes sir! Maybe there is some life in this after all!


Monday, January 05, 2015

A Brighter Year Ahead

Layout Illumination!

Getting enough light on the layout has been somewhat of a problem (shuffling a clamp-on lamp between the workbench and the layout). So this should help.

You know... I try. Despite my best efforts, I don't think this is up to code. I'm not a certified electrician, so in effort to illuminate this layout safely I simply copied how the vanity lighting in my bathroom was wired. Same wire gauge, same bulb wattage. Same splicing. Same everything, except, my valances are wooden as opposed to the metal vanity lighting housing. So apparently I have violated the "Splices outside of a Junction Box" rule. As well as others I'm sure. I have some exposed wires that need to be tucked into a conduit as well as install some cable clamps.

So, some more work remains to be done.

Other than that though, I'm feeling quite accomplished. I make light where there were none before! And its all looking like a rather authentic streetcar interior.

The lights are controlled with this dimmer switch in the same shiny brass as the conductors bell. The control panel will eventually be build below here, so everything will be within reach.

This scene is shot with just the canopy lights illuminating the scene. Looks like an overcast day. San Diego spends half its time in overcast days anyway so, we're good.

Yes sir! We're good!