Category Archives: On The Workbench

Happy Memorial day…

I would like to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day and offer my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all those who served and especially those who have sacrificed all for our freedom and country.

I have finished and started several things this past week. Pretty good considering the work load right now with my job.

First: I have the track in up to the helix transition. Yup, check that off the list.

Track work in up to the helix transition.
Track work in up to the helix transition.

While I was installing it and constantly bumping my head, I realized that a bunch of the “stuff” that I had put off till later should probably get done before I get much farther. First and foremost is the backdrop in this area. That way I can also install the base and track for the gravel company.

And then I figured that if I was going to cut the hardboard for the backdrop here, I might as well cut all the backdrops. Upper level included. Which means first I had to install all of the half inch base boards for the backdrops on the upper level.

So second: I did just that. all of the baseboards installed.

Installed all the base boards for the upper level backdrops.
Installed all the base boards for the upper level backdrops.

Then I remembered that before I could install the backdrops on the upper level I would have to get all of the upper level valance supports into place as the backdrops will be notched around these.

So… third: I started to install the valance supports.

Started the upper valance supports.
Started the upper valance supports.

I have all of these cut, the problem was that I only had enough pocket hole screws to get just this corner in place. Late on Memorial Day is not the time that you are going to be able to run out and buy more.

This whole episode is very much like the story – If you give a mouse a cookie.

A couple of other things that I have been working on. First is a background building for Jackson. It started out life as a Walther’s Water Street Freight Terminal. I am making it into a light manufacturing building. Because the space is only 4 1/4 inches deep here, I had to narrow the depth. I used the backside of the main building that I cut off to lengthen the building. Right now I’m working on the mortar lines in the brick. After that I’ll add the windows and such. To make it look more like a manufacturing plant than a warehouse, I’ll add venting ducts, piping and perhaps some tanks to the outside.

Here’s what I started with:

The basis for my light industry for the Jackson background.
The basis for my light industry for the Jackson background.

And here’s where I’m at so far:

Modified the kit as a background building.
Modified the kit as a background building.
From the other end.
From the other end.
Overall building.
Overall building.

One last thing, I installed a concrete retaining wall behind the buildings along the berm in New Brighton. I was out of the mix of paint that I use for old concrete and used Floquil “aged concrete” paint that I had on hand. The color looks nothing like old concrete. So I bought some paint and mixed my color and started to repaint it. Below is a picture of the wall and the two colors as well as a couple of what the scene will look like when finished.

Concrete retaining wall along the berm scene
Concrete retaining wall along the berm scene
View down main street in New Brighton.
View down main street in New Brighton.
From the other angle.
From the other angle.

That’s it for this week, till next time – Happy Railroading…

 

 

Early April Update…

This is my early April update ( hoping I get enough done between now and the end of the month to have a late April update). With work at home and travel for business, I haven’t had large blocks of time to work on anything major. I have had time to keep working on my main street buildings though.

I have finished off the Bookstore building. When I left off last time I was working on the roof. To get a little more depth to the roof I used masking tape cut down to a scale size to simulate rolled roofing material.

Installed rolled roofing using masking tape.
Installed rolled roofing using masking tape.

With a coat of flat black paint it turned out pretty well. I didn’t airbrush it, but rather brush painted it. The color is less uniform and looks more like a tarred roof.

And with of flat black paint we have a finished roof.
And with of flat black paint we have a finished roof.

I will add fine details after the building is in place.

To finish this block I pulled a couple of old buildings I had previously built out of one of the storage totes. One was City Classics “food Market” and the other was a nondescript brick building. It’s a Kibri kit reboxed and sold by Walther’s. The market needed some touch up to the paint and still needs some kind of interior. I have been looking for suitable photos to print. It has large windows and even with the window banners in place, the empty interior is still obvious.

The brick building on the other hand needed a lot of help. It needed a coat of paint for the brick and stone work details. I added an awning and a photo of a hardware interior. Why a hardware store? I had a Woodland Scenics  dry transfer sheet that had a large hardware store decal that looked good on the blank wall that overlooks the parking lot between it and the bookstore. Thus a hardware store.

Also the buildings were chosen for there height. The buildings taper down from the bookstore to the market. After these commercial building will be a residential neighborhood and I didn’t want a abrupt change visually.

Anyways, here is what it looks like:

The mid block, the hardware store.
The mid block, the hardware store.
The block from the other end.
The block from the other end.

Again, fine details will be added to the block once installed on the layout. These will include: street lights, road signs,  parking meters, trash cans, fire hydrants, etc. Also, the streets will be weathered and markings applied once they are all in place.

In the past I have always done all this work on the layout. Doing this on the work bench has been much easier and more enjoyable.

I have one more commercial block to finish and will be starting that soon.

Stay tuned and Happy Railroading…

 

March Update…

I apologize as this may be my only March Update. Work is very busy and will be so through the end of April. Add to that spring is here early and there are things that need to be done around the house. If I have a chance I will fill you in on what’s going on, if anything.

One of the things I have been working on when I get a little time downstairs is getting ready to wire up the staging yard. As I had mentioned, I plan on being able to cut the power to the individual tracks. Wanting more then a just the position of a toggle switch to tell me which track is on or off, I had planned on having an LED to indicate whether it was powered or not. Now for me wiring an LED is kind of scary because of the need for the proper resistor. And yes there are several different ways of figuring out  which is the proper size resistor. But being slightly math impaired, I would stare at these and my head would start to swim and they would simply make no sense.

So after reading many different articles on it (coming away more confused than when I started), I hit the forums. The basic take away that I got was that a 1.0K ohm resistor was a good starting point. I ordered a small selection of different values of resistors figuring that I would start big and work down till I found which worked best. If I killed a couple of LED’s along the way it was OK as I have plenty.

Turns out the 1.0K ohm 1/4 watt resistor was the way to go. I’m using 3 lead, bi-color (red/green) LED’s and DPDT on/on switches. I prepped everything and as they say, it was off to the races.

Making the panel lights, everything cut, stripped and ready for assembly.
Making the panel lights, everything cut, stripped and ready for assembly.
First assembled light.
First assembled light.
Yay, they work. No one is more surprised then me.
Yay, they work. No one is more surprised then me.
First one installed in fascia.
First one installed in fascia.

The other ongoing project on the workbench is a Walther’s Kit (walthers.com) of the Argosy Booksellers. I think this kit was first released by Magnuson Models as a resin kit. Walther’s then released it as a plastic kit, being that it was a model of their original home. It is a good subject, but the kit takes a lot of work as everything is added as layers. Think some of the German manufacturers like Faller or Kibri. I believe that this is the only kit that they tried this way and it’s just as well. While the Germans have this down, I’m sorry to say Walther’s failed.

The different layers are: the basic brick wall, the stone pilasters, the concrete (?) sills and headers for the windows, additional stone work trim and then the windows and doors. Some parts fit from the front and other pieces fit from the back, depending on the wall section. Even then, pieces that are mounted from the front on one wall, might mount from the back on a different wall. The castings aren’t that great either. They needed some filing and sanding to get them to fit properly. I had planned on painting the different pieces first and then assembling them but gave up on the idea.

So I assembled the wall sections, leaving off the window castings. These I painted separately and applied them after the walls were painted. I painted the whole assembly the brick color and hand painted all the trim work. Like I said, this has been an ongoing, long term project. My progress so far:

Argosy Booksellers kit, for the New Brighton scene.
Argosy Booksellers kit, for the New Brighton scene.
It has a big flat roof, and desperately needed some details.
It has a big flat roof, and desperately needed some details.
It also needed a sidewalk out front, although not a simple install.
It also needed a sidewalk out front, although not a simple install.
Sidewalk in, now it just needs to be cleaned up and painted.
Sidewalk in, now it just needs to be cleaned up and painted.
Sitting in place, wanted a sense of how it fit into the scene and what buildings would be next to it.
Sitting in place, wanted a sense of how it fit into the scene and what buildings would be next to it.

A couple of things that slowed me down were the roof, which is just a big flat piece of plastic on top of the building and adding the sidewalk. Since the building will be on the lower level, the roof is very evident. I added a couple of taller vent pipes, as well as a series of vent stacks. Also a roof access was added. Overall what was added all looks plausible, at least to me. I’ll probably add a TV antenna or two to finish it off. The last thing is to decide what type of roofing to add to finish it off.

The sidewalk was it’s own challenge. I use the sidewalks from the Walther’s street system. The problem is that they are not as wide as the sidewalks with their Merchant Row series of buildings, which form the basis of the scene. In order to widen the sidewalks, a piece of .080 x .100 styrene has to be added. Not a big deal, other then getting them to sit flat against the sidewalk, then sanding them to blend. All that’s left is to figure out the roofing and then add the printed sheets to the windows. And lights. And then weathering.

Great little projects when one doesn’t have a ton of time.

Like I said, if anything else happens I’ll let you know. I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Till later, Happy Railroading…

October Update…

Welcome. If my last post was long overdue, then this one is almost inexcusable. For that I’m sorry. My wife and I have been traveling almost every other week for business and when we’re home it’s all about catch up. Working for a new company has been extremely time consuming, plus I have been overseeing a couple of build-outs for the company as they plan on moving into new work spaces.

After our last trip a couple of weeks ago, I thought that I would have plenty of time to accomplish some major work on the layout. We got home on a Friday night and when I woke up on Saturday, I could barely move. I had pulled a muscle or something in my back. Quite honestly it was probably lifting my wife’s suitcase as she seems to pack for any contingency (up to and including the Zombie Apocalypse), although she’s pretty sure it wasn’t because of that.

Being able to barely lift myself out of a chair, the thought of slinging a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood around was so out of the question. So sitting around feeling rather worthless because I couldn’t get anything done, I sat downstairs pondering what could be. That’s when my eye’s fell on a box of building structures that sat unstarted. If all I could do is sit, I might as well put that sitting time to use.

So that’s what this will be about, the kits that I was able to get built or at least started. And actually I think I got quite a bit done.

First up is a Blair Line Kit (blairline.com) of their Drive-in Theartre kit. Pretty basic kit, but it makes a great transition between the town of Jackson and the surrounding  countryside as these were always on the outskirts of towns. I love the way it turned out and can’t wait for the surrounding scenery base is place so it can be placed.

Blair Line drive-in theatre outside the town of Jackson.
Blair Line drive-in theatre outside the town of Jackson.

Second up was another Blair line kit. It’s their Fertilizer plant ( or dealer depending on what part of the country you hail from ). It is a laser cut / peel and stick kit. The precision of which the parts fit is outstanding. I was a little hesitant about the stick on parts but the adhesive is surprisingly strong. Loved it so much I have been checking out the rest of their line. Once I start actually placing the structures and scenery there will be a lot of details added.

 

Blair Line fertilizer plant for Jackson. My first laser cut / peel and stick kit. I loved the precision and ease of this kit.
Blair Line fertilizer plant for Jackson. My first laser cut / peel and stick kit. I loved the precision and ease of this kit.

 

The other end of the plant.
The other end of the plant.
Alternate view of the fertilizer dealer.
Alternate view of the fertilizer dealer.

It still needs signage and weathering, but I love the kit.

Next was a Walther’s kit (walthers.com). I had picked up Al’s Victory Service, although the kit is now made with a different name. I couldn’t build it as it is made because the space wasn’t large enough. I had too shorten it from a 2 bay service garage to a 1 bay station. Also since the customer area was going to be more noticeable then the service bay, I had to dress it up a bit. First was the floor, I decided that the floor should be that ambiguous tile floor. And then I added a couple of chairs and a table, as well as a counter. I will also add lights and people as well as weathering.

Beginnings of the black and white tile floor for the gas station.
Beginnings of the black and white tile floor for the gas station.
Masking all in place.
Masking all in place.
How it looks painted and with the gas station in place. Not perfect, but it adds a lot to the finished kit.
How it looks painted and with the gas station in place. Not perfect, but it adds a lot to the finished kit.
Gas station in place. General location but will be adjusted as I get the lot in place.
Gas station in place. General location but will be adjusted as I get the lot in place.

Another quick kit that just had to be in a small town was Walther’s Vintage Dairy Queen. As a child I remember the trips to visit my grandparents in northern Minnesota. My father was a Dairy Queen fiend and we would always stop at one in one of the small towns along the way. So it only fits that there had to be one in Jackson. Like I said, it is a quick build but still has a lot of detail for a small kit. I will add lights and people but weathering will be light as they always seemed to be well kept.

Walther's vintage Dairy Queen.
Walther’s vintage Dairy Queen.

The last kit that I’m working on is from JL Innovative Design (jlinnovative.com). The kit is Wilbur Shaw’s Speed Shop. I picked it up at a train show (actually, I picked up several of their gas station kits, I’m not sure why so many).  Mostly done, but it will need a bunch of detail, mainly the service area as it is rather big. I will probably pick up their service station detail set. This kit will not be in Jackson but rather at the outskirts of New Brighton.

Wilbur Shaw's speed shop under construction.
Wilbur Shaw’s speed shop under construction.

The sign holder jutting off the end was supposed to be made of balsa and card stock, but the combination seemed kind of flimsy, so I made a styrene one to hold the signage.

And one last thing. I received my order of data only boxcars. Still waiting on the custom decals for the Northern Continental road name. I will finally have some home road boxcars.

The next big project. Waiting for custom decals.
The next big project. Waiting for custom decals.

Obviously I will need more then a dozen boxcars for the home road, but it’s a start.

I’m not sure what the weeks ahead hold, but I’m sure that soon I will be able to get started on the helix and other projects on the actual benchwork. Please stay tuned.

And again, thanks for stopping by even though progress has been slow.

Happy Railroading…