Saturday, 16 November 2019

One Project Leads to Another

One thing leads to another.

A few weeks ago, I relocated the track switch for the spur to the Midwest Plastics industry and mounted the spur and industry onto a piece of MDF.  I wanted that spur to be oriented in the same direction as the spur for my auto parts plant. In order to smooth out the short curve onto the spur I shifted the entire plastic plant about 6 inches to the right.  That little project turned out to be just the beginning.
Hey, that looks like those three SCLAIR cars at Midwest Plastics.

The 2nd step became apparent when I realized that shifting the industry over just that little bit meant that the highway overpass that runs beside it also had to be moved over.  Shouldn't be a big deal though, as the overpass has never been glued down to the layout, so I just edged it over also about 6 inches or so to where it looked about right.

However, when I moved the highway overpass, it ended up directly over top of the street crossing. If a driver crossed the tracks , they would run right smack into the overpass support pillars. Can't have that.
As can be seen here, with the overpass moved, the level crossing led straight into the overpass support pillars.

Moving the crossing to the right would have opened up a whole new set of problems with a track switch and ground throw, so I moved the crossing about 6 inches to the left instead.
Some fresh ballast and a little ground cover added. I'll still have to install some signs and a few detail pieces.  Luc gave me some ideas for fixing up that little unscenicked area to the left here.

Below, JSSX 815 is passing under the highway as it begins the run back to the yard  But see that 3rd support pillar on the left?  There's another little issue as I never even noticed it was out of line until after this picture was taken 2 days ago.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Car Ferry Apron Project

One of the best things, for me anyway, about having a model railway is occasionally putting together buildings and structures. Whether it's a straight forward follow-the-instructions type assembly or kit-bashing (or trying to) or scratch-building something, I really, really like building a building. 

Brian Smith has a new layout underway at his house, and is including a car ferry as part of the operations there.  He has the Walthers car ferry already, as I gave him one that I had put together for myself years ago.  It's a nice model, but too big for me to use in my layout space.

I volunteered to put together the matching Walthers car float bridge kit for Brian.  I've had that kit in my cupboard for years and never got around to using it either.

Here's a photo of the box cover for the Walthers Car Float Apron.

The apron kit went together well enough, no big concerns there.  Although I didn't much care for the colour that much of the parts were molded in.
A view of most of the sub-assemblies of the Ferry Apron. I hand painted many of the individual boards on the apron deck, and then went over them with a thin black paint wash to highlight the seams between them. I also painted the molded in ties and the recessed grooves where the rails will go.

Some of the sub-assemblies include 2 steel breakwalls and the steel framework, which were all molded in the same bright orange colour as the pulley seen hanging from the cables. I suppose Walthers was trying to make these parts appear to be sort of a rusty colour, but they certainly came up short in that way of thinking.  I painted the framework and the steel girders with grey primer, and sprayed the steel walls with camouflage brown.


Notice the concrete weights inside the two support structures to keep the cables taught. Brian will have to lay the rails (code 83 recommended) on the apron.  The model comes with plastic rails included, but using them would mean having to use at least a couple of idler cars to be able to reach onto the ferry for loading and unloading.

Everything's together here.  The model's apron actually pivots from the loading/unloading end, and can be adjusted for height by easily removing the top structure (which I did not glue to the supporting structure) and tightening or loosening the cables.

This is the view of the completed and weathered apron that would be seen from the deck of the ferry as it approaches. I'm certainly hopeful that this will add a lot of enjoyable operation to Brian's new layout.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Switch Replaced, and a Berwick Boxcar

Well, that messed up track switch at my Wright Bridge and Tank fab shop has been replaced...didn't really take all that long for the track crew (me) to do either.  Maybe a little over an hour. With the new Peco replacement being shorter than the Atlas switch was, I had to splice in two short pieces of rail, about 1 1/4 inches long.  I also added in an extra electrical feeder.

After a few test runs with a couple of different gondolas and an engine there were no problems running there at all. Things were good so I also ballasted the switch and even added in a little bit of greenery. With that done, the area runs better and looks better than it did before.  So I'm calling that a "win". I did neglect to paint the sides of the rails though, so I'll have to try to get to that sometime soon.

The Peco switch in place, but I really should have painted the rails first. Oh well.

Also last week I posted a photo of my new purchases from the train show in Woodstock. Among those items was a 50 foot Berwick boxcar from Branchline, painted for the Wisconsin Central with the SSAM reporting marks.

Still shiny and new from the box just won't do for me, so before it goes on the layout I feel a little weathering is in order.  I try to refer to interweb photos of similar cars, hopefully from the same number series at least, for reference as far as wear and weathering patterns go.

With this boxcar, to start I flattened down the burgundy with a few light airbrush passes of Concrete Grey.  I've used that colour a few times now to tone down original factory paint jobs, and have had very good results so far.  Using white for this step can quickly lead to a frosted appearance to the paint, so I think the grey-beige of the Concrete really helps me to avoid that situation.

Following the airbrush, I just use an old worn out brush to dab burnt sienna, burnt umber, and a tiny bit of black along the roof sills and door tracks, and then blend it together with a little drop of water on the brush.

I've dirtied up the lower areas of the doors with a darker mix of the same colours. Scratches and rust blisters on the panels and posts are burnt sienna and burnt umber applied with a fine tipped (005) brush.
Some rusty colour has been sprayed on the coupler by the previous owner of the boxcar, but I couldn't say exactly what was used. I'm thinking that it's a bit too orange though, so I think I should go over it with a quick spray of Rail Brown or something similar.

The silver of the roof is first toned down a bit with Grimy Black mixed with Rust and then the rust spots are actually 3 colours, applied separately in layers. Raw Sienna, then Burnt Sienna, and finally Burnt Umber for the darkest portion. 
The rust patterns on the roof are more or less taken from a photo of another boxcar I saw online

The other side of the Berwick car.  I'm really pleased with the way this addition to the fleet has turned out.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Woodstock Show Finds, and Work for the Track Crew

The first train show of the season was in Woodstock, Ontario this past Sunday, and I always look forward to it.  There is usually another one in Woodstock in January and again in April, but weather can be a problem for traveling then, so this is the one that I try to make sure to attend.  I only went as a customer this time, and of course I forgot to take my camera. But I can show you what I purchased though.
I've got vague plans for the 86 foot 8 door boxcar, the Branchline WC boxcar was a nice find, as was the Reimer tractor-trailer.  The NWSL Chopper will be useful for future projects. The one hobby shop here in Sarnia closed down at the end of September, so I picked up the Xacto blades and Microbrushes, and the couplers and Flat Haze will go into my supplies.

I started to do a little bit of switching on the JSSX on Thursday, but I didn't actually get any done as I ran into a bit of a problem when the train arrived inside the gate at Wright Bridge & Tank.
The view from just outside the gate to Wright Bridge and Tank.  Wright was my mother's family name, so I chose to use it here.

A little bit nicer view of the Wright fab shop.

And here is the problem, of course.  There's been trouble here in the past, with gondolas and flat cars derailing on their way out of the facility, but the reason certainly was never this obvious.

The broken Atlas switch will be replaced with this Peco model that I fortunately happen to have on hand. Although the Peco switch is not exactly the same dimensionally, it will be an upgrade, so the layout will be better off for it. I guess the track crew (me) will be spending some time working here this week.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Some Layout Work From This Week

Took time away from my SCLAIR covered hopper and other weathering projects to do a bit of actual work on the layout that I'd been putting off for a while. I've been wanting to move the Midwest Plastic industry a bit further along, but doing so was going to mean re-arranging a bit of track work. And this week I finally forced myself to do it.  Took a little over 3 hours to get everything in place and at least operational. The only real complication was that I had to move an electrical feeder as well.
Above, these two switches and the diamond had been located about 6 feet to the right.  I moved them this week so that the switch on the left will become the lead to the Midwest Plastics spur. I did this so that the lead will be in the same direction as the one to my Parts Plant, which is next to it.  The switch on the right will lead to an industry to be named later.

Anyway, here's the Midwest Plastics industry (two separate buildings, plus the silos are separate as well), sitting on my workbench (again), this time to be permanently set onto a piece of MDF so that I can move it to and from the layout easily to work on it.

The buildings have been epoxied down onto the MDF, and the spur is complete with ballast and weeds.

 And here is Midwest Plastics in place and at least operational on the layout.

Oh, and speaking of that parts plant, I'd like to come up with a name for it sometime, so if you've got any ideas...that's it in the background of the photo below.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

SCLAIR Covered Hoppers Part 2

Spent most of my model railroading time working on the 3rd SCLAIR covered hopper that I showed in it's kit form here last week.  It's not finished yet, but is painted and just about fully assembled and ready for decals.

I'm leaving the bottom stirrup steps for last, as I'd probably break them off if I put them on before the decals.  Also, I have some etched brass stirrups on order from Yarmouth Model Works, so those might be a good option as well.

I've kitbashed model buildings previously, and detailed and re-painted freight cars and locomotives, but I don't actually have any experience at all at putting freight cars together from kits like this. Never done it before.
I showed this view of the Intermountain kit last week.

I went with my best guess for the colour, which is acrylic Reefer Orange with Reefer White for the diagonal stripe. As I began spraying it, the orange looked like it was coming out really bright as I sprayed it over the light coloured plastic that the kit is molded in. To try to counter this, I gave the parts 3 or 4 passes of Grimy Black as a base, and then sprayed the Reefer Orange over top of that.

I think the results are acceptable, but the orange is not as dark as whatever shade of orange Intermountain used on their decorated models.

Here is the covered hopper masked and ready for the white stripe.

Masking removed it looks pretty good. A slight leak of white at the top right corner of the stripe was easily fixed with a Q-Tip dampened with Micro-Sol.  Happily none of the orange painted lifted off when the masking tape was removed, so that's a win.

No weights were included with the kit, and I don't have any of those sticky lead weights, so I epoxied 1/4 inch steel hex nuts from the hardware store into the hopper bays.

My soon-to-be NCLX 46551 posed with the other two survivors in this paint scheme.  The colour is  definitely lighter, but certainly close enough for me.

And finally, perhaps saving the best for last this week, I watched as this eye catching bit of graffiti passed by on Monday...

Monday, 7 October 2019

SCLAIR Covered Hoppers

I've had one of the Intermountain orange and white SCLAIR covered pellet hoppers for the layout for quite a long time, and had thought that a set of two or three of them would be real nice. When Intermountain released them again last year, I got another one, plus an undecorated kit of the same car so I could use a matching set of Highball Graphics decals that I have.

The orange and white colour scheme is really a nice one, and stands out nicely among the black tank cars and grey covered hoppers that always fill the freight yard here.

I was told a while ago by a friend that there are only 3 of the orange and white SCLAIR three-bay covered hoppers remaining.  They have all had their reporting marks changed to NCLX, and the numbers are 46044, 46048, and 46051.

Actually the Intermountain models aren't really exactly correct (it figures), but they're close enough for me. The main difference that I can see is the 3 horizontal stiffeners that run along the top of the sides on the prototype, whereas the Intermountain model has only one, which is located a bit lower down on the side panels. Oh well, I don't really think I could properly correct such details, and I'm content to live with such a compromise anyway.
My newer Intermountain model, as it appears straight out of the box.

My first SCLAIR hopper, on which I have previously done some paint fading and a bit of rust streaking.

The undecorated Intermountain kit, along with the Highball Graphics decal set.  Metal walkways for the roof come with the kit, but no weights are included.

Here are two photos of the prototype SCLAIR hoppers in service, both of these having been taken by Luc Sabourin.
This car has the French "Polyethylene" painted out below the SCLAIR.

Note that this one (46548) has the word "Polyethylene" painted out in both locations.

Here's a photo that I took a couple of years ago of the 3rd one of the remaining prototype cars, NCLX 46551. This one was taken as the freight car was sitting in the yard at Sarnia.

So, I'll be trying to patch and re-number my 3 models to at least resemble the last 3 of the remaining prototype covered hopper cars in this distinctive paint scheme.  Wish me luck, especially with the undecorated kit version of the model.