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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And this is the complex sitting in it’s new home.
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…
As well as trying to figure out the yard in New Brighton, I have been also working the other side of the aisle. As I have built the individual blocks for my main street along the berm, I hadn’t actually glued anything down. Because all the buildings are close to done and some waiting final installation for the last details, now was time to get the road in.
I used Walther’s road system (Walthers.com) for the city streets. Mainly because it mates up to the railroad bridge. Plus I figured I wouldn’t be scrimping on width for a city street and the sidewalks work with it. Pretty much a win all the way around. One word of caution, the concrete sections have beveled edges so when glued together give the appearance of individually cast sections. Mix these with asphalt sections, because you have both and aren’t paying attention, and you will have some filling to do to even things out.
I had already made the block sections as I built the buildings, so it was just a matter of gluing these together and down to the plywood. In the past I have used contact cement for this. It will hold anything down, forever. But, you have to wait for it to dry before joining the pieces together and like I said you never get it apart. I now have a new best friend for this job. Canopy glue. The first brand I had was RC56, the current bottle is something56, don’t know the name but they all seem to use 56. So far it is holding beautifully and I haven’t knocked anything loose.
When planned the road the idea was for one complete half plus a partial on the other half. The main reason was so at the intersection of Main street and the street under the railroad bridge, I could have the Walther’s working traffic light without it hanging in space.
I glued down the main sections and you can see that there is about a 1 inch strip that I needed to cut and fit. Starting on what would be the north end of the street and working south I started to cut and fit the pieces in place.
I just continued down the street till I got to the end where the road T’s.
As you can see I was also doing a little filling of cracks and sanding as I went. Now I need to mask off the fascia and surrounding areas and paint the street and sidewalks.
A couple of other things done. after getting the street in I also put in the foundations for the houses on the north end. with these in place I can put in the plaster yards and start the scenery at that end.
In addition to those I have finally settled on which buildings will be on the far side of the railroad overpass.
On the right side of the street, not that visible, are a bar and a movie theater. They were chosen for this space because they both have one sided Miller Engineering (microstru.com) signs on them and won’t work else where. And on the left is a Heljan (heljan.dk) building. It was part of a brewery complex, one of those things you pick spur of the moment, that hasn’t found a home yet. The scale looks off to me. Bigger then N scale but smaller then HO scale. In the background it looks right.
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…
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.
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.
I have the road name on but have to come up with the other MOW markings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just got back from another week long business trip, but during the week I was home before this trip I was able to get a couple of things done. I just didn’t have time to post anything.
Heading south from Jackson you come around the bottom leg of the peninsula into the city berm scene I had talked about before. Below is a photo that I posted before, it’s of the scene as originally conceived.
It’s kind of hard to see from this angle but I had intended to have a double track bridge with a single track bridge right behind it. As I actually started working towards this scene I found out that I didn’t have enough room to get the rear track switched off the main and head onto the rear bridge. Looking over the situation I found I could get the track separated far enough if I – A: moved the whole scene over about 8″ and – B: changed the double and single bridges into a single triple track bridge. I was able to modify the girder portion of the bridge into a triple track bridge as the Walthers kit is made for this modification. However, having already built the abutments, modifying them wasn’t as easy. In fact, to say I butchered them would be extremely kind.
So off to the LHS to get a couple of new bridges. For those who care, my hobby shop of choice in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is Becker’s Model Railroad supply in New Brighton. He had one kit in stock and ordered the second which I had in a couple of days. In case you’re wondering I needed two kits because they build into a double track bridge, if you want three tracks you need two kits.
One of the things I found is that when you build this kit as instructed for a triple track bridge you will end up with about a 1/2″ gap between the girder portion of the bridge and the actual bridge abutment, which works out to about 4 scale feet. The gap is extremely noticeable and looks like crap. So I took some time and studied the model to figure out how to modify it to eliminate the gap and have the abutment look symmetrical. I should note that I had to build the abutment first as it sets the width of the subroadbed.
Below is how I modified and built the abutments.
First I modified the base of the abutment which is also the sidewalk. I marked where I would cut the sidewalk section. In the photos below I highlighted these with arrows.
After I cut and joined these I began the modification of the actual abutment section. I started with the pillar section of the bridge.
The photo above shows where I cut the pillar section. One of the things that the instruction wants you to do is to cut the double pillar( the center one on the lower pillar section ) but I figured if I cut through smaller cross section next to the double pillar I would have a less noticeable seam to fill and hide. Below is a photo with the cuts made, but before assembly.
Once I started to glue the pillars together, I also started to glue the backings on to add strength but I made sure that I staggered the joints so that no two joints were on top of each other.
Once the pillar section was done I glued the works together, filled and sanded the joints.
Though I kept checking as I was assembling the abutment, once I finished I put the girder section in place and was happy with the result as there was very little gap when in place.
After I finished the bridge abutment I was able to cut the subroadbed and put the works in place. I was then able to lay the cork roadbed in place.
In the photo above you can see a track that is heading to nowhere. The track to nowhere and the rear track on the bridge are for a return loop that will be underneath the helix and needs to be in place and operating before the helix goes up. In the original plan the area I’m using as a return loop is actually a set of staging tracks that feed into the yard. I reversed the direction so that I can set up a portion of the layout with continuous running. Trains can reverse here, run around the peninsula, up the helix and again around the upper portion of the peninsula and then into a reverse loop on the upper level. When I picked this plan, continuous running was the one thing I felt it lacked. I was happy when I figured out how to do this as I like to sometimes watch trains just run. Also I can orbit a train as I switch towns and have to clear the mainline as the other train comes through.
Below is a photo of how the scene will look when finished.
As you can see in the photos I will now have to do some modification of the bench work structure as it is the way of everything. The up side is that I now have more room for structures in the background which will greatly add to the depth of the scene.
I know that I have been putting it off for what seems like forever, but I have some open time coming up. Which means that I will have the base of the helix done probably within the next week or two. This is truly important as it is not only the base for the helix but also the tracks leading into the yard at New Brighton.
After completing the substation I started in on the actual power plant. For this project I am using the Northern Light & Power from Walther’s. The structure itself is pretty basic, base plate, four walls and a roof. The large windows scream for a detailed interior or so I thought, more on this later. I also got the interior detail kit for the power station. This is pretty basic also, two steam turbines, two generators and walls for the boiler section.
I started by assembling the four walls and then masked off the raised lip that the windows mount to as I wanted a clean surface to glue the windows to. I then masked the whole exterior to protect it from overspray and then sprayed it with a rattle can, in a light industrial gray.
After removing the masking tape I set the building onto it’s base but could not get it to sit flat. After carefully looking at it I found that there was a production error in the tooling. The cutout and “stoop” for the service door is on the right side of the base while the actual door is on the left side. While not a major problem it is a little annoying. I made a cutout on the left side for the door and removed the stoop from the right side ( and later removed the stoop for the roll up door as well ) and the building dropped right into place. I’m sure Walther’s felt it wasn’t worth the expense of retooling the molds for such a minor thing but you would expect some kind off additional mention that the problem would have to be addressed while assembling the kit.
Next up was to fill in the mortar lines in between the bricks. I have never had very good luck using the usual methods – some variation of flowing a diluted paint into the mortar lines and then wiping off the excess – and started just painting on a concrete color and then dragging the edge of a razor blade across the face of the bricks to remove the paint. I have found the trick to this is letting the paint just set up ( just about dry to the touch ) and the removing it. The added benefit is it roughens up the brick face and tones down the plastic sheen.
When I had completed a side doing this I would celebrate by painting all of the concrete surfaces ( base, window sills and architectural details ) until the whole structure was done.
After the exterior was done I turned my attention to the interior. After pulling up several pictures on the internet, I decided on steam lines, conduits for electrical wiring, some catwalks, control boxes and other miscellaneous details. As I said, with the big windows you needed a lot of detail. After gluing the Walther’s detail set in place ( painted it first ), I set the wall section back in place and taped a couple of the windows in place to get a feel for placement of the afore mentioned details. That’s when I noticed that the window mullions block about 50% of the interior. Even lit, you don’t need anywhere near the amount of detail as you think you would. Unless of course you into that kind of thing and need to be totally accurate.
So I settled on adding just the steam lines to the turbines and a catwalk over the turbines to access the steam valves. I will also add some figures and 55 gallon drums of lubricant. I don’t think that you would notice much more, especially at the angle that the power plant will seen at.
A side note, the heavy doors between the boiler section and the power plant are molded as wooden sliding doors. I painted them as steel doors, as I believe that they are meant as fire doors and would not be made out of wood.
Once that was done I applied the decals. This is another thing that bugs me about the newer Walther’s kits. On the older kits the used a thin decal that if you were not careful on long / large decal they would break and you would have to carefully line them up. The plus side was, with a little Solva Set, you could get them to snug around details like the brick work. They fixed the problem of the decals breaking by going to a very thick decal that no matter how much decal setting solution you use, you are not going to get them to settle into the detail work.
I also added a spacer plate to the substation to fill in between the substation and the power plant. Right now you can see the seam, but after ground cover is applied it will disappear. I did start to play with weathering to see if I could tone down the decal lettering and will finish the weathering before installing on the layout. Additionally the fencing and wiring of the substation will happen after it installed on the layout.
Well I think that is all for now. Until next time…
First up is the build of the Walther’s Power plant and power substation (walthers.com) that I received for Christmas. I know that I said that I would do a ” review ” of the kits, but this is more of how I did it and my impression of the kits and problems/faults of the kits.
I started with the substation. The kit is pretty straight forward in its build. For as simple as it is, it does have a tremendous visual impact. I started by identifying how it would go together and need to be painted. The only real problem in painting it is that the transformer could not be painted as a whole, I like to assemble things as much as possible. This makes glueing and seam clean up a lot easier, which then results in a better finished product. Most of it can be put together and then painted, but the cooling fins on the transformer ( at least what I assume are cooling fins, I probably didn’t do enough research on transformers to know for sure ) are to closely spaced to attach before painting. So I assembled them as sub-assemblies. I then mounted them to painting sticks, which are nothing more then a couple of 1X3’s and 1X4’s with double sided foam mounting tape grouped by color.
I first primed all of the pieces and then let them dry for as least 24 hours to let the paint completely dry and harden. I then painted the different parts in their respective colors. For small detail parts such as the insulators, I brushed painted after the base color had dried.
The base was spray painted a flat tan color, so that when I put ground cover on it, if there were any thin spots it would just look like dirt. Ah yes the base, this is my first “problem” with the kit. One has to decide how the substation will be used. The box art shows the substation sitting along side the power plant and I assumed that it could be used this way. Turns out there are two different types of substations. Probably an over simplification. There is an up converting substation and a down converting substation. The kit as a whole is a down converting substation, the type you would find in a residential or light industrial setting. Power is sent through power lines at around 300,000 volts. A little high for your home. Electricity comes in off from the high tension lines and is dropped to something a little more friendly for your house.
An up converting substation would be part off the power plant and would do the opposite. You only use about 2/3 off the base ( there is a cut line on the back side of the base where to cut it ).The instructions say that you can use it for this purpose with “some added detail”, but there is nothing noted as to what that detail is. I looked online, but as of yet to find a good explanation or picture of such an installation. I possibly have not used the right key words, but it has been a pain in the you know where.
My second problem with the instructions is that they don’t show how it would be wired up. There is some hint as to how it is done, but they are incomplete. Meaning that they show some of the wiring but not all of it. Plus the instructions kind off look like a copy of a copy of a copy. There are a few substations within driving distance and I will have to head out to get a few photos of one so that I know what I’m doing. But I picture myself out there with my camera with a telephoto lens ( as you can’t get really close to one ) and have Homeland Security show up wondering why the sudden interest in the local power infrastructure.
Anyway, I got everything painted and assembled but did not permanently mounted it to the base. Also I did not put the fence in place as this will all be done when I put the piece in place and get the ground cover on first.
Work progresses, yes that’s right, I finally got some time and made a little progress on the benchwork. After my last post we headed out to Los Angeles on a business trip for a week. While it was a week lost, again that pesky need to pay the bills, the upside was when we left, it was 14 degrees BELOW zero here and was 80 degrees above in LA.
Anyways, once we got back the weather ( meaning temperature ) improved and I heated the garage and got some plywood cut. I got the basic cabinet bases done for the peninsula end.
Since I took the picture I was able to cut and install the other upper quarter round brace on the end cabinet. The last thing I need to cut is the finish frame pieces for the half round end. These will be finished with pieces that are kerfed so they bend around the curve. Unfortunately while I can kerf short pieces on my table saw, I cannot not do long pieces. It just isn’t practical as they become rather unwieldy. I will have to head over to my brothers and use his radial arm saw, hopefully this week still.
While all of the other cabinets will have doors on them, the half round is designed as a open display shelf. After the frames are on I will then add the framework for upper and lower decks.
On a different note, Santa ( my wife ) was very good to me this year. I had refrained from putting anything model railroady on my Christmas wish lists for the last several years. In the past while I was between layouts I would continue to add to my stash, figuring that whatever I got, I was sure I could use it on any future layout. I now have more then I could ever hope to use. This year with a very clear picture of where I was going, I finally put a few things on the list.
First, a couple of structures.
The Merchants Row building is for the berm/bridge scene that I had talked about before. It will fill in nicely on the other side of the corner as I have another building for the opposite corner. The Power Station and accessories will hide where the track comes through the backdrop from the staging yard. I will “review” these as I build them and give my impressions and techniques that I use to build them.
Lastly is something that I’m pretty excited about. My wife thought it was a little weird until I explained what I wanted it for.
It’s a camera crane from ProAm USA ( www.proamusa.com ). It will help when I start photographing the layout as scenes are finished. I have ordered an underslung camera mount for it so I will be able to move the camera into a scene to get realistic ground level shots. It may seem a bit much, but I won’t have to try and hold the camera while lining up a shot and not knock everything over as I do it. At least that’s the theory. Also I may add a video camera to it and with the casters be able to follow a train along the layout. Again, theory.