Category Archives: On The Workbench

Workbench Wednesday #5…

Welcome to workbench Wednesday #5. These are things I was working on as I was waiting for glue or paint to dry on the grain complex. They are filler buildings to run along the backdrop in Jackson.

As I had mentioned in the original plan there are feeder barns and stock pens in this area. I built the grain complex for the end of the siding, but tried various small industries to fill in the rest. Problem with that was then there would be cars set that would have to moved to switch the complex.

I decided to go a different route. Instead of a lineside industry, I added several small businesses and a coupe of apartment buildings. All modelled from the back. The apartment buildings are Walthers (walthers.com) Parkview Terrace Apartments (PN. 933-3177). They are perfect because they are made as a backdrop building. Liked the colors that they were shown in but not the raw plastic. So I painted them to match the box art.

Since I wanted to light them and the fact that they were open on the side that would go against the backdrop I sealed the backs.

Backside of the apartments, light block added to the left one.
Apartments from the front, one with and one without the rear backing.

For the businesses I used what I had on hand. Again they are from Walthers. They were a group of buildings I had picked for a main street scene. Wasn’t going to happen. They are simple kits that Walthers had made for them from Kibri. Only a couple of different styles with different architectural detail and color. Since I only needed the backs, I measured what depth I would need and cut off the fronts. And again added styrene to the open side so that I could light them without light leaks.

The row of shops from the rear. Cut down for the backdrop.
What was the front of the shops, now cut down with styrene covering the opening.

At some point in time I got bored and assembled them without thought of painting them. The plastic color is not natural, so I will be painting them (unfortunately brush painting) before installation. In addition all buildings will have something in the windows (curtains, blinds, etc.) so that they look occupied. I plan on blocking some windows so that when lit not every window is aglow.

This is what the scene will look like when done.

Background buildings in place.
Looking from the other direction.

It should be a rather convincing backdrop for the town. The apartments and shops will fill space without really registering in your mind that they are there. Of course they will need a lot of weathering as they are right along the tracks. That, and some trees and a fence, plus ground cover and the appropriate details and it will be a great scene.

That’s it for now. In full helix mode (update to follow very soon) so no more of this kind of work for awhile.

Will post on the helix soon, till then…

Workbench Wednesday #4…

In this edition of workbench Wednesday I will continue on with the grain complex.

Having finished basic construction it was off to the spray both. Not a easy task as my booth is two feet wide by two feet deep and the complex is just under 30″ assembled. The walls are all flat white. My first pass through with the roof was a dull silver, however they really stood out. I didn’t think any amount of weathering was going to change that. So I repainted them a light grey.

In the pictures the walls and the roofs look a lot closer in color than they really are.

complex painted, awaiting weathering.
Alternate view.

Side note: after painting and before weathering I added the shingle roof to the office.

I started to weather the building using Pan Pastels (panpastel.com). I have two sets, one is weathering earth tones (rust, browns, white) and the other has black and grey tones. Really like the thought of them and all the demos I have seen make it look easy. However, it requires a lighter hand than I seem to be able to master. So I went back to my weathering chalks. I’m use to them and can control them better. I did use the pastels when doing the rust color and I think it turned out well. Baby steps I suppose.

Anyways, this is how the complex stands now.

Sorry about the angle, complex weathered.
Main building with dust collectors and grain loading pipes weathered.

I also did the grain bin. I used a technique that I had used on a sheet metal sided grain elevator to highlight the banding on the bin. Not one hundred percent sure I like the look. I’ll let it sit a bit and decide if I still like it before permanently installing it.

Grain bin finished and weathered.

And this is the complex sitting in it’s new home.

The complex set in place.
Looking south down the mainline at the complex.

I still have the large transfer pipe to weather and I have to add the window “glass”, but for now it is basically done.

Since I have the helix now to work on, I’ll walk away from it now before deciding if it needs a little more and what fine details to add.

I will get you an update on the helix soon. Till then…

 

Workbench Wednesday #3…

Welcome back to Workbench Wednesday #3. Got the order from Walthers (walthers.com) and should have enough to complete the project. So let’s jump right in.

Finished the long front wall of the main building first and then the upper wall and cupola.

Nearing completion.
Upper walls in place. Now just the roof.

Before adding the roof I wanted to complete all pieces of the overall structure. Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to the roof as all subassemblies except the office had steel roofing. If you have ever done Evergreen steel roofing you know that all the individual raised seems of the roof have to be glued in piece by piece.

Next up was the office. Basically kitted this one. Laid out and cut the walls and a center support. Cut out doors and windows and then assembled.

Office walls cut out and ready for assembly.
Corner bracing added. Decided to add a center piece for support.
Office assembled.

Did add the roof to the office right away as it would be shingled.

Office complete, not planned, but ended up with some nice sags in the roof. Will look it’s age once painted and weathered.

As noted above for some reason I ended up with some sags in the roof. Was going to redo it but it occurred to me that it would add character and give an impression of age. So I left it as is and I hope that after the shingles are added it will still be noticeable. Also visible is the internal braces in the corners. I was trying to keep everything square. This is common for all structures.

After the office I built the transition building. The tall narrow structure with the sloped roof. For some reason I never stopped and took a picture of it’s construction.

Then it was on to the last piece. For lack of a better term, the warehouse. The assembly procedure was pretty much the same as the previous pieces.

The warehouse section glued together.
Top view of the warehouse building showing the bracing used to keep it square and from bowing. Typical of all structures.

So with everything assembled (except for the roofs) this is what it’s going to look like when done.

Overall structure basic assembly complete. All sections except the office will have steel roofing. The office will have a shingled roof.
Alternate view of the overall structure. The grain bin is from Rix products.

The Rix grain bin is their tall bin with three extra sections added. The bin is hard to see in the original image of the structure. I went with one this high based on a image of a different complex.

And then it was time for the steel roofing. It took me a couple of nights of work to get them all done, but I did it. After I had the roof on the main section I also built and fitted the dust collectors to the side of the building. This also included the loading pipes and small roof sections added for protection from the elements.

Loading shelter roofs, steel roofing, loading pipes and dust collectors in place.

This is what it looks like with all the roofs in place.

Overall structure with the main detail pieces in place.
Alternate view of the structure.

The long pipe between the Transition building and the grain bin was again based on an image of a different complex. Also added L girder bracing to the bin based on what I have seen out in the field. I am amazed that no one has ever included this in their kits, as all bins that I have seen have it. I have to image that it adds additional bracing to the lower part of the bin because of the added pressure of weight in this area.

Well that’s it for this week. From here its off to the spray booth.

Till next time, Happy Railroading…

 

 

 

Workbench Wednesday 2 …

For this edition of Workbench Wednesday I’m going to walk you through the start of a project to fill the part of the backdrop behind the town of Jackson. Why, do you ask, am I so fixated on Jackson. Well, the answer to that is it’s right behind me when sitting at the workbench and every time I turn to look at the layout, there it is. Just screaming – complete me.

I have been having a problem trying to find the right industry/industries to fill this space. In the original plan from the Model Railroader magazine this space had stock pens and feeder barns. These were used to feed, water and rest cattle  per government regulations. Though I could have recreated it, Jackson is to close to the New Brighton stockyards to warrant them.

So, I’ve got a hole to fill. See below:

The space I need to fill. Backside of tracks along the backdrop where the lumber sheds and grain silos are .

I have been floating a lot of different buildings that I had on hand trying to find the right thing for the space. But nothing seemed to work. Started looking online at images of mid sized Midwestern towns and one of the things that jumped out was that many of them had multiple grain complexes. I didn’t want to just throw another basic grain elevator into the scene, so I googled images of grain elevator complexes and found one I liked.

The inspiration.

I loved the looks of this one, but I was definitely going to have to scratch build it. After looking at the image for awhile I noticed that the central portion looked like any kit grain elevator turned sideways and stretched out.  Thought about buying a couple of kits to reproduce this portion of the building but figured that would be too expensive. Probably spent as much on supplies, but had a whole lot more fun.

I used known dimensions (door height is normally 81″ for example) and using measurement from a kit grain elevator on hand, I worked out the general proportions of the building. It would not be full depth as it had to fit between the track and the backdrop. I then drew up a template for the end wall of the main section.

Basic sketch up for the main building.

Drawn to full depth, the second line on the right is where it would be cut off for the backdrop. I decided that the main elevator section and the office would be clapboard siding and the other two sections would be vertical board siding. Off to the LHS and picked up what they had and got started. The end walls were approximately 12′ high, unfortunately the plastic sheets were only 8″ high, so splicing was involved.

 

First pieces cut and glued together for the end wall.
First pieces cut and glued for the end wall. Windows in place to check fit.

I then cut the other end, with these two pieces cut I was able to start assembling the main building. It should be noted that the structure in the photograph is street side. After looking at images of other buildings like this I came up with what I thought was a plausible track side configuration. The long side walls have a couple of track side dock doors as well as piping for loading the rail cars.

Main building nearing completion. I used a lot of bracing for the walls.

As noted the side walls were rather flimsy, so I braced them or rather over braced them rather well. A this point I had used up all the clapboard siding that I had on hand. I added the upper back wall using plain styrene as it would not be seen.

Work continues on the main building.

The building in the picture has two structures on the roof of this section, I decided to add only one.

And for now this is where I will have to leave you. I ran out of siding and was unable to go any further. I have already placed an order with Walthers (walthers.com)  and should have it pretty quick.

Till next Wednesday, hope all is well and Happy Railroading…

 

Workbench Wednesday…

For this first edition of Workbench Wednesday (formally know as “on the workbench”) I will present a couple of of the farm scene kits.

First up is a kit by Monroe Models (www.monroemodels.us). It is their kit #2211, Bob’s Barn. Very simply, loved this kit. The fit was first rate and everything scaled out right. I initially chose this kit because of the footprint size. The width and height were pretty standard when compared to other kits on the market. It was the depth that caught my eye. It was about a third shorter than the others. Which was perfect as the scene isn’t that deep and I would’ve had to shorten it.

All of the trim (corners of the building, window trim, fascia boards, etc. we’re the proper width and gives the building the proper proportion. The white metal castings are pretty flash free and required little cleanup. The instructions are clear and the order of construction seemed reasonable. I did vary as they have you do painting before assembly and I prefer to do it after the walls are together.

When glueing the walls together I added additional bracing on the inside. This was done to combat warping that can result when painting the wood walls. After the walls and roof assembly were glued together, I painted it barn red. Then the trim work was added and painted. When that had dried the peal and stick shingles were added.

Just a side note, I wish / hope that in the future Monroe Models will sell the shingles separately. It would make doing this on scratch built structures faster and easier.

Below is a shot of all the structures together.

The farm scene buildings sans farmhouse

I left the hayloft doors and the side door (out of view) open to add a little interior detail.

The next kit is from Laser Art Structures by Branchline Trains (www.laserartstructers.com). 

It is their kit number #651 Outbuildings farm set. There are 5 buildings. A small barn, equipment shed, smokehouse, chicken coop and outhouse. This kit is out of stock everywhere, with no known restock date. Walked into my LHS and he has the entire line in stock including this one that I had been searching everywhere online for. I guess it pays to support the locals before looking elsewhere.

I was a little disappointed with the kit initially. After thinking about it, that was mainly because I had done the other first. The wood for the walls is thicker and the laser detail not as fine. Because of the thicker walls the corner trim is wider. It scales out at about a foot wide. A little wide for corner trim. Also, the window trim is about as wide, definitely too wide for window trim. And the lengths were a bit short. Found myself adding to get things covered.

The kit has black, lightweight construction paper to use as tarpaper roofing. Luckily I had enough shingles leftover from the other to use on most of these buildings. The small barn got the tarpaper roof, which to me didn’t matter as I don’t plan on using it in the scene. Otherwise, the rest got the shingles which ties all the buildings together.

The last is Walther’s Concrete Silo (www.walthers.com)

It is their kit #3332. Nothing new here, it is their usual high quality and goes together easily.

One thing I still need to find is a proper farmhouse. It’s not that there aren’t any out there, just not what I’m looking for. I’m trying to recreate my grandparents farm on my moms side. The farm my father grew up on was a huge affair and wouldn’t fit the scene. My mothers was much smaller and fits the scene right. To this end I need a smaller house than I’m finding.

All in all, I’m happy with what I have.

Till next time…

 

 

On the Workbench #6…

While doing the big “cleaning of the workbench” I had to do something with all the kits I had stacked waiting their turn to be put together. Most were either more work then I wanted to do right now or weren’t relevant at this time. There were a handful that didn’t need a lot of work and were relevant, were involved but relevant or just something that sounded like fun.

First were the water towers for the towns of Jackson and Brandon. I had bought these when I was in Milwaukee from the Walther’s store. They were half price so I had picked up two. When I had opened them up when I got home I found that the reason they were half priced was because most of the wire cross bracing between the legs had fallen off. No problem, I cleaned off the old glue, glued back the pieces that were still in the package, cut new wire pieces for those that were missing and painted all the wire pieces silver. Then I added lettering. The finished towers…

Jackson’s water tower repaired and lettered.
Brandon’s water tower repaired and lettered.

Next up was the “Silver Plume Bakery” by Banta Model Works (bantamodelworks.com). My plan is to use it as… a bakery, in the town of Brandon. I got it because finding single story retail kits for a business district is hard. Most are two or more stories high. Not the thing for a small town. Plus the building has character. Being a laser cut kit I kind of expected the thing to fall together as that has been my experience with this type of kit. Not the case here. I would not recommend this kit as I had to do a lot of adjusting, filing and filling, plus a little scratch building to get the kit to work out.

I thought that maybe it was just me or perhaps this one kit, but I was watching Gerry Leone (bonavistarailroad.com) on MR video Plus and he was using the same kit as a hardware store and had different issues, but as troubling. I don’t know if it’s this one kit or their entire line, just be aware that you might have troubles with this line.

That said, I did get it almost all together. I made a counter and a display case for the retail portion of the store as it has huge windows and screams for some type of detain. I went online and found a wallpaper print typical of my time period and printed it out for the store. All that is left is a couple of chairs for the local clientele, lights and something to put in the display case (a picture of bakery delicacies) and then add the roof and it will be ready.

Bakery interior.
The bakery with the interior and wallpaper installed.
Another view.

Last up was a Russell Snowplow, A Walther’s Kit (walthers.com). Pretty straight build, it has a fresh paint job on it. I’m not sure if a will leave it that way and show it receiving maintenance on one of the short tracks in the roundhouse or I will weather it and have it sitting outside waiting for winter. It could come down to how much time I have.

One of the many projects finished.

I have the road name on but have to come up with the other MOW markings.

That’s it for now, Till next time…

 

On The Workbench #4…

For this edition of on the workbench I will continue with the roundhouse as that’s all that I have had time to do. I won’t have time to do major construction on the layout for about another two weeks.

Last I left you I had a list of things yet to do. I have been slowly working my way down that list. First I got the service pits in and painted, as well as the windows and service door at the end, the large doors won’t be installed till the roundhouse is put in place.

Roundhouse with service pits in place.
Roundhouse with service pits in place.

Then the tracks went into place.

With the tracks in place.
With the tracks in place.

Looking at the pictures I guess I did the doors and windows after these pictures. Then came the weathering. I do enjoy this and slowly worked my way up to where I’m happy with it, working stall to stall. The staining on the floor represents dirt, oil and rust stains.

With the weathering done.
With the weathering done.
Weathering on the shop floor.
Weathering on the shop floor.

Next was the lighting, but first I added the details to the interior. Tool boxes, oil barrels with lubricating grease, jacks, acetylene tanks, etc. Figures to be added as I figure out there placement.

In the past when I have added lighting to past roundhouses, I had a pair of buss wires for each row of lights. This time I ran one buss and then ran all the wires to it. I also ran the wires from the lights on the backside of the beams as viewed from the cutout opening. I then painted all the wires including the buss wires a flat white so that they would blend into the ceiling.

Adding the lighting.
Adding the lighting.
Alternate view of wiring in progress
Alternate view of wiring in progress
Lights wired up and the wire painted to make it disappear.
Lights wired up and the wire painted to make it disappear.
Overview of the roundhouse lighted, weathered and detailed.
Overview of the roundhouse lighted, weathered and detailed.

And the finished product with the overhead lighting off and with the roof panels set in place ( which i have repainted a flat black).

Better view with the overhead lights off.
Better view with the overhead lights off.
Lighted and the roof in place.
Lighted and the roof in place.

While adding details to the interior, I came across an electric hoist on a beam in the junk box. I decided to add it to the interior. It would not be large enough to handle an entire engine , as some facilities would have, but rather larger items (such as the compressors as pictured). I staged a couple of shots to show work in process just for fun.

Added a hoist for heavy work. Had to stage a scene to get a feel for the finished roundhouse.
Added a hoist for heavy work. Had to stage a scene to get a feel for the finished roundhouse.
Another staged scene for the fun of it. Haven't had a chance to reletter this engine.
Another staged scene for the fun of it. Haven’t had a chance to reletter this engine.

So what’s left to do, well:

Place more workers in the roundhouse.

Install roof sections.

Prep it’s final resting place. Which means getting the turntable installed

That’s where I’m at for now. Till later – Happy Railroading…

 

 

On the Workbench #3…

For this installment of On the Workbench I will be showing the progress on the roundhouse. However, first an apology.

It’s been a month and a half since my last post and at the end of it I had hoped you had a good summer and that you would have a great Fall. Well here we are, well into Fall and I’ve been silent. For that I’m sorry. For work we have a large trade show in New York in early October. So for a couple of weeks before hand is very busy. Then there are two weeks in New York and the last week has been all the follow up work.

That’s not to say that I haven’t gotten anything done, just no time to share it. When I left you last I had the basic structure done and it was time to head of to the paint booth.

Before I share that odyssey, one thing that I did and forgot to point out was the smokestacks on the roof. With the advent of steam engines coming with more features, one being that more are coming with working smoke, I made a minor modification to the roof sections with stacks.

The actual smokestacks with the kit are hollow, so I drilled a hole in the middle of the pad that the stack sections mount to. Now if an engine has working smoke and is parked in the roundhouse, the smoke will actually go out through the smokestack. Waiting to see if it actually works.

Roof section with the hole drilled for the smokestack.
Roof section with the hole drilled for the smokestack.

Now painting. I had painted the concrete floor before the walls or support beams were in place. So the first thing I had to do was mask the entire floor. I then shot the whole structure with grey primer. My intention was to the paint the lower portion of the walls with a grey paint because any industrial business does this because that’s where most of the dirt happens. Looking at the primer I felt that it would be a little redundant. So a masked off the lower 4 scale feet of the walls and painted the rest of the interior a flat white. After that I further masked off the window openings and painted the exterior of the building. Unfortunately I did not chronicle the journey, I only have the finished photos.

The interior of the round house painted.
The interior of the round house painted.
The exterior of the roundhouse with it's coat of paint in place.
The exterior of the roundhouse with it’s coat of paint in place.
Close up of the interior painted with the roof sections in place.
Close up of the interior painted with the roof sections in place.
Longer view with the roof sections in place. Better view of the smokestacks.
Longer view with the roof sections in place. Better view of the smokestacks.

The last thing that I painted was the roof sections. The underside was painted a flat white, while the exterior side was painted a roof brown. Thought about a flat black which is probably more prototypical for the type of roofing, but I wanted the there to be a visual difference between the roofing and the smokestacks. Epic fail.

Testors owns or owned both Model Masters paint and Polly Scale paint. For those who don’t know, Polly Scale was where you went if you were looking for acrylic paint in railroad colors. One of those being “Roof Brown”. Testors got rid of Polly Scale and merged the colors into their Model Masters line. You would think that they would have used the same formula, however they didn’t. The new “Roof Brown” isn’t anything like their old “Roof Brown”. The color sucks and I will have to repaint in a flat black. Which I should have used in the first place. Oh hindsight.

Anyhow, here are the roof sections in place painted in “Roof Brown”.

View from above with the roof sections in place.
View from above with the roof sections in place.

Obviously I had not glued them in place yet, as there is a ton of work to be done on the interior.

Next up:

  1. The service pits.
  2. The rail sections.
  3. Weathering the interior walls and floors.
  4. Adding details and figures.
  5. Adding the light fixtures, of which there will be something like 29 of them.

Of course the windows and doors have to go in too.

So, that’s where I’m at. Till next time, Happy Railroading…

On the Workbench #2…

Still been really busy, so I’ve been working at the workbench on the roundhouse as I have time. When I left you last time I had only three stalls done. One thing I noticed as I read through the last post is that I didn’t really explain why the brick facing on the inside off the walls. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words:

With and without the interior brick facing. Without the facing the interior wouldn't look right no matter how much other detail was inside.
With and without the interior brick facing. Without the facing the interior wouldn’t look right no matter how much other detail was inside.

As you can see without the facing you can see the raised and lowered casting for the details on the outside of the walls. By adding the bracing and facing you can hide all that.

I continued adding stalls.

Basic roundhouse completed up to cutout.
Basic roundhouse completed up to cutout.

In the above I had finished up to the cutout. I do have the whole basic structure done. This is probably obvious from the fact that the short end wall was pictured above.

While surfing online looking at pictures of roundhouse interiors for ideas, I noticed that the interior roof was very evident in all the pictures. While i have all the support beams in place, something I would have to add is rafters. I decided to add these to the underside of the roof sections rather the gluing them in place on the beams. This would make it way easier to add interior detail and as well as painting and weathering. I used .040 X .100 styrene strips, a little big scale wise, but it looks right when set in place with the support posts/beams. They are set on approximately 2 foot centers.

Adding rafters to the underside of the roof pieces.
Adding rafters to the underside of the roof pieces.
Rafters added to about half the roof panels, still a ways too go.
Rafters added to about half the roof panels, still a ways too go.

What you see above is what I got done before I ran out of strips. It also represents the total inventory for 2 of the local hobby shops. Luckily I still have two more I can hit and see what they have.

Below is a series of pictures showing what it looks like with the finished pieces set in place.

A hint of what the finished interior structure will look like when done.
A hint of what the finished interior structure will look like when done.
A better shot of the underside of the roof panels with the rafters added.
A better shot of the underside of the roof panels with the rafters added.
Another shot with the cutaway beams in place.
Another shot with the cutaway beams in place.

Since I had time but no supplies, I started masking the floor so I could prime and paint the main part of the structure.

So, that’s where I’m at. As I have time I will continue working on the roundhouse and keeping you up to date with my progress. I hope you’ve had a good summer and will have a great fall.

Till next time, Happy Railroading…

 

On The Workbench…

Wow, it’s already mid August and the list of projects around the house continues to grow. All of which needs to get done before the snow flies here in Minnesota. The good news is that I’ve put all the wood cutting projects on a calendar so that even if I’m not able to actually to get any actual work done on the benchwork, I’ll have everything ready to go even if the weather turns cold.

So with the free time that I’ve had, I decided to start the roundhouse. Probably jumping the gun, with so many other small projects started. But it sounded the like the most fun.

First thing I did was to glue all the base sections together. After I had them glued together, I scribed in concrete panel lines as I doubt anyone would pore one humongous slab.

blog photos 30 001

I kept the them to around 10ft sections, as this seems to be around what is done in the real world. After I had them all scribed I positioned the base on the layout and marked, then cut out the rounded section that intersects the layout edge. I primed and painted the base in a concrete color.

blog photos 30 005

One of the differences between Walther’s roundhouse and their modern roundhouse is that the interior walls are not detailed. The modern roundhouse has brick detail on the interior walls where as the regular roundhouse does not. Since the interior is very visible I had to add interior brick work to the walls.

blog photos 30 007

Once the end wall was done it was off to the races. I glued the end wall into place and the first inner support beam section. Then I glued the front end wall section (the one that supports the doors) and the transom section into place to set the correct spacing. I then added cross bracing that matches the support beams.

blog photos 30 008

Once I finished those I added the end wall, also with brick facing on it. Then it was on to the next section. and so on and so forth.

blog photos 30 011

You will also notice that I removed a little of the brick work around the windows so that the window casting will sit into place.

One other thing I noticed as I was looking at the pictures is that I will need to A: get the backdrop into place and B: put into place any backdrop buildings behind the roundhouse before it goes into place. Because wow, it would suck to try and place them working over this finished scene.

Well that’s what I’ve been up to. I will continue to update as more progress happens. Stay tuned…