Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where's Waldo?

One of the perils of model building is dropping little parts. Something I am certainly not immune to. Sometimes the repeated attacks of fumble fingers is a clue to stop working for awhile.
I did try the jeweler's bib trick shortly, but that ended when I nearly decapitated myself answering the phone. Now I just try to be more careful.
Part of this issue is planning ahead. In the first photo you will notice that I painted my concrete floor a basic grey. Not thinking that the colour is an almost perfect match for the grey tint in most resin. Somewhere in that photo you may find a cast resin brake cylinder. Let me know if you find it. I try not to think of the hours spent over the years crawling on the floor looking for parts.
Yesterday, while building a Westerfield CN gondola, I dropped the brake cylinder. Of course it was down onto the floor searching. After a futile 10 minutes I gave up and dug out another from the spares box.
I found the brake cylinder this morning. It was in my shoe! Sigh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Doing things a little differently

One of the great things about being a Custom Builder is being called upon to challenge myself to create finishes requested by my clients.
A client sent me an O Scale Chooch Ultra Scale kit of this NKP War Emergency boxcar to build and weather. For me the real challenge was to replicate the varying colours of the individual planks.
I thought that was a perfect time to try something I'd heard about from time to time. After painting the car body the colour requested by the client, I coloured individual boards with various oil paints to create subtle variations. Then I decaled the car and finished weathering it.
I was very pleased with the results, and more importantly so was the client.
Artists oil colours are a really useful medium to have around for weathering. They are easy to use and very forgiving. Since they dry very slowly, it's very easy to undo things and try again. Not often we get that chance.
The CPR car shown here was also weathered with oils. It's not yet done, but hopefully you can see the potential.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's not easy being green.

Or is it?
I love doing scenery. It's creative, free form and just plain good therapy. The variety of scenic materials that are now available to us layout builders is simply mind boggling.
Take the time to visit the Scenic Express website. It is simply overwhelming. In fact I find it easier to peruse their paper catalogue and then order online. There is so much to chose from in terms of colour, texture, and suppliers. And variety is one of the keys for successful scenery.
One item in particular I want to mention is their Super Trees. They are, for me, one of the best looking commercial tree systems on the market. And they are fairly simple to create.
Simply take the supplied armatures, remove the few dry leaves inside, prune as desired and soak them in a solution of matt medium. After a good soak, the matt medium helps preserve them as well, apply foliage. The Starter kit, comes with a variety of materials to chose from. Apply additional matt medium and texture material as desired then hang upside down to dry.
The next day you're ready to plant trees. Poke a hole in the scenery base and glue the tree in place, what could be simpler?
The other item that should have a shout out is the Static Grass gun. Incredible looking fields are now possible using this tool. Plan to spend some time experimenting with grasses, colours and glues until you hit upon a mix that works for you. One important caution, be sure and use a fresh battery.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Setting the geographic context

A few people have written and requested track plans and maps of the layout and the route I'm modeling. So I thought I'd accommodate.
The first map is of the Canadian National system through Ontario in the 1950s. The Wabash had running rights from Windsor to Glencoe, then to St Thomas, and on to Fort Erie or Niagara Falls.
The portion that I've chosen to model is from Aylmer to Jarvis. The original desire was to go as far as Cayuga, but there was no good option to allow me to model the bridge over the Grand River. (see the last image)
I was fortunate to receive a complete track profile of the Buffalo Division from a friend and I've posted the charts of the stations I'm modeling.
I found the track profiles to be invaluable for designing the track plan. It was a simple matter of copying the track profiles and adjusting to fit the available space. All the hard work had been done decades ago for me.
This is another example of why I prefer prototype modeling. I find it to be easier to copy what was done rather than try to create from thin air the raison d'etre for my railroad. This same thinking will be applied to the schedule, the roster, the industries served in the towns. I also have a copy of the shippers list for each town that will be served.
I will be posting a track plan of the layout in the future. I just have to get what I have in to a publishable state. I can read my drawing, but I won't subject you do it just yet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A boxcar kitbash

Inspiration for our modeling projects can come from many different sources. A desire to work in a new medium, a photo of a structure that just has to be modeled or a desire to recreate a scene in miniature that has personal significance. In the case of this model, it was an announcement by Gerald Glow on the Yahoo Steam Era Freight Car Discussion Group (STMFC) of a decal set for the Wabash 8000 series Double Door boxcars that got me going.

These cars were of an order of 300 cars built in the Decatur Shops from January to June 1950. As built the doors were labeled "When empty return to Detroit", which for me, made them perfect for my layout which models a portion of the Wabash line across Ontario connecting Buffalo and Detroit. As I model 1951 the build date was perfect as well.

This is the opening of an article just published in the October 2011 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. The article covers in full the kitbash of a Wabash 8000 series Double Door boxcar. Maybe this will inspire you to try something along the same lines.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Diesel Fleet

When the Wabash dieselized their operations in Ontario in 1950-51, they replaced the K-1 and K-3 class Mikados with 10 pairs of F-7A units built in London at GMD. These units were delivered drawbar connected with the second unit numbered with an "A" suffix. This was done in part to avoid arguments with the railroad unions regarding possibly requiring 2 crews for the lash-ups. These were also the only Wabash units delivered with winterization hatchs. After all it is Canada.

When I was considering building this layout, the clincher was discovering that Proto 2000 had just released factory painted Wabash F-7s with DCC and sound. I ordered 9 pairs for my needs. It was simple matter to remove some of the numbers from the body using Scalecoat paint and decal remover and renumber the units using Microscale decals. The number boards were simply blacked out with a marker and those numbers were also redone.

Winterization hatchs are from Detail Associates and simply glued in place. Every unit was then lightly weathered to show some use. They are almost brand new after all.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Getting all of the benchwork and roadbed installed is indeed a major milestone in the process of building a layout. The photo also shows that all of the individual wood ties for the handlaid track is glued down and ballasting is underway.
For me one of the great advantages of handlaying track is that I can ballast before spiking the rails, thus preventing any possibility of gluing turnout points shut. Plus I do enjoy the process of building my own track. The staging yards will use commercial track.
The 2 closeup shots show Courtland and Delhi underway. Courtland is a small rural town which will have the requisite feed mills and freight house along with the station for train orders. Delhi is located in the heart of Ontario tobacco country and as such had a large Imperial Tobacco plant which would be located to the front edge of the layout. At this time I'm only including part of the spurs, but a later date I may build the tobacco plant on a roll away unit.