Saturday 30 November 2019

A Couple of Industry Tweaks Along South Industrial Blvd.

I've added the short length of chain link fence (right hand side of the foreground) at the edge of a warehouse property along South Industrial Blvd. I still have to make up an access gate for the JSSX crew to open and close when switching the warehouse.
A rental daycab passes by as JSSX 813 is working on the South Industrial Blvd. street trackage. Still need to install a gate for for access to this warehouse spur in the foreground.

On the other side of the street, this building on South Industrial Blvd. always seems to be an attention getter, With it's run down appearance (2200 plus broken window panes will do that) and at 40 inches long, the size is fairly significant too.  There's one thing about it that has always kind of bothered me though...
The building was kitbashed in two separate sections, and as seen here, the seam between the two is just a little uneven, and too wide for my liking.

I've decided to hide the seam by making up a double-width concrete column to cover it.  I think that it turned out alright.

As long as I had the styrene out, I decided to try out my new NWSL Chopper 2 on it, and started making up some ductwork for the rooftop.  I'll spare the gory details, but you can take my word for it that the blade on that thing is sharp.
My scratch-built rooftop duct work, just set loosely in place.  I've found some other roof details that I can add also, and a few weeds growing along the ground here would help make things look a little bit worse as well.

Saturday 23 November 2019

DT&I Boxcar Weathered, Plus Trying Some Speed Matching

You may have noticed the change to the header photo at the top of the blog.  I've updated it again, this time with a photo I took last week.  The JSSX's GP38 #815 is seen beneath the highway overpass as it begins it's return run to the freight yard after completing switching duties.  I really liked the picture, so I thought I'd feature it in the header for a few weeks.  Here it is again...
I also wanted to mention that I'm using the 815 as the standard or "control" engine as I've spent time recently working on slow speed matching of my GP38's. I want to get them all to run similarly and really, really, reliably at slow speeds because the nature of the layout mainly involves short trains and lots of industrial switching.

So far I've only set the low speed voltage, using CV2. I may try CV5 and CV6 for the high and medium speeds some other time.  My understanding is that the Atlas dual-mode decoders, still in some of these engines, only use CV2. Not sure if that is correct, but this seems to be working well so far. I've got them running so that they crawl along 1 meter in about 105 seconds in speed step 2 of 128. That's slow. I wouldn't say it was a particularly difficult exercise to do, but it did take a bit of time to get the speeds matched between the 815 and the others.  I think I'll speed match my SD40's and other engines as they make their way onto the layout

I was about to buy another boxcar at the Ancaster Train Show two weeks ago, when I asked the seller to include this one in to the deal for an extra $5 and he agreed.  I figured that, when coupled with another similar DT&I 86 footer, this one could soon make for one half of a nice looking pair.

And the "after" shot of the same car with the weathering completed.
Here's my finished 86 footer, after about 8 hours total work time at the workbench.

In addition to weathering, I've also replaced the plastic wheels with metal ones, and replaced the stock Athearn swing couplers with the Walthers Swinging Coupler Adapter Kit.  I've used that adapter kit many times on other long boxcars, but now I've run out of them and they've been out of stock at Walthers for a long time.  I hope I can "track down" some more, as I still have other 86 foot cars to be worked on.
The weather-beaten DTI 26035 on it's first revenue trip along the GTW.

And coupled with DT&I 26020, which was already on the roster, the two 86 footers will soon be spotted at the local auto parts plant.

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.