Thursday, December 31, 2015

Stock Car Chronicles, The really tedious job.

The worst is over.
All the tension rods and the bracing timber overlays are done. As well as the lettering boards.
All those tension rods make for a really striking model, and there's no simple way to replicate them. 16 pieces of wire have to be cut and secured in place and then all the brace caps need to be deflashed, trimmed and secured. Takes about an hour a car.
Next is grabirons. Lots and lots of drop grabirons, but that should go fairly quickly.
You can tell the end is in site when the box starts to look empty of parts.
But first I have to put them aside for a day or so, while I finish another project now that the mail finally delivered a missing part.
Happy New Year all. And thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Stock car Chronicles, Brake rodding

Well that went quicker than I'd feared it might.
All 15 cars now have all the underbody brake rods added.
For this task, I did not use the kit supplied cast resin brake levers. Who wants to take the time to clean them up? Instead I used etched levers that I sell through Yarmouth Model Work. With them being 0.005" thick brass I can also easily add clevis' on the brake rods.
I like to use Tichy turnbuckles with one end cut off to represent the clevis that is present on the ends of brake rods. It's a nice detail and makes for a very secure connection between the lever and the rod. And it's quick to do.
The other added touch I do is the bit of chain on the hand brake rod connecting to the brake cylinder. I bend a small loop in the end of a piece of wire, add a length of scale chain and close the loop. The chain is secure to the brake lever with a "U" shaped bit of thin wire and the rod is secured into the truck bolster. All told it takes about 15-20 minutes to add all those details.
Now for some would question adding so much detail to the underside of a model, where it may not get seen. Well, more and more layouts are being built at eye level and who amongst us hasn't squatted down to look at models at track level? That's when those details really show.
Also, I know it's there and I kinda enjoy making the effort.
The side tension rods are next, wait till you see what that does for the look of this car.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Stock Car Chronicles, Brake parts

Well it's back to regularly scheduled programming, which today featured AB brake parts for the stock cars.
The Westerfield kits included cast resin AB brake parts, which I chose to not spend the time deflashing and fiddling with. Instead I used Tichy AB brake parts. The Tichy parts are a tad undersized but much nicer to work with. I assembled 15 sets of parts in about an hour.
I also chose to alter slightly the mounting arrangement for the triple valve.
I made a simple platform from 3 pieces of 1X8 styrene, which I found goes in quicker and simpler than the various brackets Westerfield provided.
0.010" wire is used to plumb the parts together. The layout of the parts is a tad uncommon. Usually the triple valve is on the same side as the cylinder, but a little variety never hurts.
Probably tomorrow, the brake rigging will get started. Wonder how far these cars will get before the year's over?

It was a productive Xmas Day

With no kids and family far away, "traditional" Xmas activities are a non-starter around here. So what better way to pass the day than building a roundhouse?
The St Thomas yard requires a roundhouse, but since I'm modeling the post steam era, a functioning roundhouse is not required. So I chose to truncate much of the structure to save on layout space. I'll have 2 stalls open for SW-8s that call St Thomas home and an open air track and the rest will be up to your imagination.
I started with laying out the floor, orienting against the backdrop and centering off of the turntable.
With that laid out and cut it was to the bench.
It took careful geometry to get the doors centred and square to the tracks. From there I cut Evergreen Board and Batten to form the exterior walls, using photos to estimate the actual dimensions. With the long wall determined I cut partitions using the exterior wall as a guide. One partition per bay, to help support the roof panels which will come later.
With the cutting done and square in hand the partitions were glued in place.
From there the door headers were cut and glued in place as well as the only set of posts and beams was created and glued in place as well.
Now I have to sit down and create the 9 pairs of doors, and paint the interior.
The roof will be simple enough, just a lot of careful cutting.
For now it sits in it's place of honour waiting for another "me day".
And now back to work. Stock cars await me.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Stock Car Chronicles, painted interiors

To date, I've built over 100 resin stock cars. These are the first that I've painted the interiors on. I feel that it's rather tricky to see the interiors, but the client desires rule.
There was a protracted discussion as to what colour to paint the interior. There seems to be no definitive documentation about whether the NYC  painted the interiors, left them as raw wood, or kept them lime washed. All were know practices by different railways.
In the end it was decided to paint the interiors the same as the exteriors. For this job I'm using Tru-Color NYC freight car brown. It's a good paint that goes on well, dries quickly, and is a gloss finish. All good points for me.
The only thing I don't care for is the acetone base. Even with a professional spray booth, acetone can be rather powerful stuff.
With this done, the floors can be installed and the hours adding details will now begin.
Well not "now", more like tomorrow.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

WTF doesn't even begin to cover it!

I've been playing around with various options for yard ballast.
The "cinders" I've been using isn't quite doing it for me.
I did a little online searching and came across the use of "sanded grout" as a ground cover. I liked the visual results I saw in the photos. So I bought a box and started playing with it.
I found that just bonding it down with water and relying on the integral bonding agents to be inadequate. Thin Weldbond left a shiny surface which was not acceptable.
So I bought a jar of Acrylic Matt Medium. Thinned it about 3-1 and this is the result.
What is all this white crap?!?!?!?
I'm not sure where to go next with this. Can I even cover this or do I have to rip this section of track up and start again?
I've never heard of this happening with Matt Medium. WTF?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Stockcar Chronicles, First major hurdle over

The most daunting task in building resin stock cars is cleaning the flash from between the slats on the sides, doors, and sometimes the ends. For the 15 car build that task is now over. And it went better than I had hoped.
It wound up taking about 40 minutes a car over 2 days to clean the 15 sets of castings. And it generated that largest pile of bits of flash and dust I've seen here.
My sanding "station" is a sheet of 1/4" plexi with 80 grit paper glued to it. There are some who will tell you that anything rougher than 200 grit is asking for trouble. But I've done over 100 stock cars now and have a feel for this task.
One does need to pay attention. There's a very real tactile experience involved. As the flash starts to get to the thinness desired, you can feel the difference in the resistance through your fingertips. The big take away for this job is to not "zone out" when sanding. The hours of sanding in a circular motion can lull you into a semi-comatose state if you're not careful.
Another important aspect of tackling a job this big, is to be organized.
Every kit and it's contents were numbered so as to be sure to not mix the parts from one kit to another. There are always minor variations from one resin kit to another, that's just the nature of the beast. The best way to avoid fits when assembling the body parts is to keep the parts together as they were cast.
Next step, assemble the bodies and roofs so I can paint the interiors.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Take that Hydro One!

It may be a case of tilting at windmills, (a Don Quixote reference), but I'm hoping to save some money in the long run.
I just purchased 30 4' LED replacement tubes for all my florescent lighting in the basement. They are purported to draw 1/2 the power of T-8 tubes. Given that Ontario has one of the highest electricity rates in North America, anything I can do to reduce my bill is a good idea.
The tube on the right is one of the LED units. It's a little warmer than the old T-8 to the left, but I'm okay with that.
And they aren't cheap! 30 tubes cost almost $900.00 after taxes and that was with a deal from the supplier. But given the fact that 1/2 of them are on upwards of 12 hours a day, I should recoup the expense in a year or 2.
The best part is the fact that the actual tube is plastic, not glass. I can go back to dropping things again without fear of shards everywhere!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stock Car Chronicles

There`s no doubt in my mind that a few of you loyal readers would enjoy following along as I tackle this 15 car build.
So here we go;
Weighting stock cars.
Stock car models are always a tad tricky to weight. There`s all that openness to contend with. So my usual solution of 1/2"nuts glued inside the body is not an option. Zinc plated hardware looks nothing like pigs or cows.
So I did a little online searching and bought a sheet of lead from  A 12" x 24"x 1/16"thick cost me $15.00 plus shipping. That's lots of lead for this and future projects.
Since it's non-ferrous I had no concerns about cutting the lead on my trusty old paper cutter.
A pile of 1" x 5" strips was cut up and secured onto the cast resin floors.
I have found that the best method of securing weight in models is to use silicone sealant. It remains flexible and yet sticks to almost everything. And it will resist any shocks, like what the post office can provide when I mail the cars to the owners.
So we'll let that sit and cure for at least a day. Which will leave me to pursue to other tasks.
Does it look daunting yet?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

And that's just a warmup

4 lovely Westerfield ATSF stock cars finished and ready to ship.
These 4 represent a nice cross section of some of the stock cars used by the ATSF over the years. And as always, the Westerfield kits are a nice experience to build.
Some people are scared off of resin stock cars due to the sanding required to open the slats, but with the right head space and some good sand paper it's not that bad.
Good thing I feel that way, as next week we tackle this job;
15 NYC stock cars for one client!
We'll see how I feel about stock cars after that. Hope I'm done before Xmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The results of my endeavours

I truly do not get enough of these kinds of photos,
These are 3 cars I just built for a client. Here they are freshly unwrapped and posed on the layout that will be their new home.
Just a nice feeling of completion is being enjoyed.
Nice looking models sitting in an expanse of excellent scenery.
What could be better?

Monday, December 7, 2015

While you weren't looking,

I snuck in turntable.
Between various other tasks, I've been pecking away at the turntable.
I purchased a 75' table from those fine fellows at Diamond Scale Products. Turntables are one of those things that can give you fits if they aren't well made. Good thing the Diamond Scale units are.
This is not the first one of these I've owned over the years. The old Palmerston layout had one of these as well and it worked very well. And it continued it's service on Rich Chrysler's layout in Simcoe. It has since moved on, to where I'm not sure.
I've also seen larger Diamond Scale turntables on other layouts and they perform well. Good enough for me.
There's a lot of fiddling to get the pit to sit at the right height. Not sure what the thinking was for the height of the pit walls, but I know how to cut holes and shim things to get the desired results.
I will be altering the wiring from the suggested process, but I'll cover that later.
For now, with the pit in it's hole, I can finish up the ties and rails to the turntable and move onto other things.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Too much of this,

Could leave you looking a little like this;

A little bit of the 1000 yard stare.
Spent the day assembling S scale brass car sides for a coach and a combine. There's a sub-side and 2 overlays for each side. All of which required tinning, careful positioning and final assembly with the resistance soldering unit.
These are rather nice kits from MLW Services. I've built 2 of the combines before, for Trevor. However the coach is new to me. Not a big leap from the combines.
Doing work like this is a nice departure from resin, and it certainly gives a whole new appreciation for those who scratch build brass locomotives. Like my pal Mal Houck.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

And they do stand the test of time

I just boxed these guys up and will be mailing them back to their owner in the Yukon.
3 very nice tankcar kits from Southern Car & Foundry.
Tank cars in resin can be a challenge if the pattern maker hasn't paid very close attention to some of the trickier details. In this case Jon Cagle did not cut any corners.
These are very nice kits to work with and are still available through SC&Fs website.
The only deviations I made from the instructions was to not use the styrene strips for the tank straps, but rather I used brass stock and soldered 0.015" wire to the ends which then passed through the clamps. A far more secure method in my opinion.
The BOAX car was lettered using decals from Black Cat Publishing.
This also proves that I'm not just working on the layout.
Wait till you see what comes out of the shop next...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Now that I've had a shower...

Some benchwork/roadbed work was in order.
This is what will be the east end of St Thomas. In reality this is about a 1.5 mile stretch, compressed into about 20' of track length. It's all the space I wish to devote to this. I think it'll work quite well though.
Where the level and the drill are will be a number of homes, close to the R.O.W.. The curve is out towards what was then undeveloped land in town and the clamp is resting upon where the CPR interchange will be.
I've stolen an idea from Tony Koester, and will have an active interchange option through the backdrop. I may even go as far as encasing the end of the interchange spur in a house to help the scenes all tie together the way I want.
I know I'm making progress. I'm thinking about how I want to break the layout up into circuits for DCC.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Am I becoming one of those guys?

We've all encountered them.
The model train enthusiast, who is in desperate need of some personal hygiene. They seem to populate the weekend train shows that crop up in community centers. They seem to have chosen to switch the yard rather than shower.
I usually shower just before dinner, after a day of whatever work has thrown at me.
Yesterday afternoon, after a long day of working on resin stock cars, I got involved in spiking more track down.
And I really got into the whole "Zen" of the process, when my wife came down and asked if I was showering before dinner. Without thinking I responded, " I'm busy spiking rail."
I did, in the end, shower before dinner.