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Passenger Cars

Setting up passenger cars with a marker and interior lights that don’t flicker for the Santa Fe Chief.

The lighting system is powered with 2 AAA batteries that put out 3 volts. I use a battery holder from Radio Shack for this. A slide switch is mounted in the car vestibule for turning on the power. One 3 volt light bulb is mounted in each car and power is routed through a two-terminal gold connector between the cars. The voltage must be cut back for the LED marker lights with a 120-ohm resistor. Everything lights up with the same switch. Now that this works, I’ll run wires with gold connectors between each car to light up the whole train.

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Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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Campbell Tree

This is a closeup of the branches of a pine tree using Campbell Scale Models foliage material. This type of foliage gives the tree a wispy appearance that has its’ own appeal to modelers. The openness allows you to see through the forest at whatever there is in or behind a grove of trees. This variety is a lot of work, and I may do a web-site tutorial on the technique if folks are interested.

I go back in time by reading about old techniques for much of my modeling. Jack Work introduced these “Wispy” types of trees. The variety shown here uses “Air Fern” for the branches. This, I believe, is the material found in the old Campbell kits. All my tall pines have trunks shaped from Cedar as it has more strength than Balsa and not as hard as Pine to work with. The Air Fern Stems are very thin and need to be built up thicker in the area near the trunk. I use Burnt Umber Acrylic paint directly out of the tube with a brush to add thickness for a better appearance. The scenery shell is my paper bag method with glue and dirt added for color and texture. Now I’ll add more soil and foliage ground cover at the trunk bases to plant them properly. The trestle is from Campbell and stained with a homemade product.

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Transferring loads

I just had to build a Campbell Scale Models produce shed several years ago. This is how it fits on the layout as if it could be used for receiving loads from a box car such as the one seen here. The loading platform is long enough to place three box cars for unloading. There was a situation in Minneapolis were forty box cars could be unloaded at the Farmers Market East of Lyndale Avenue and North of Glendale Avenue. I don’t think anyone would model that as thirty five feet of layout would be required.
Just for the heck of it, I’m going to give the conductor of this train the job of unloading three cars of boxes from box car to the platform without knocking anything over. I’ll be nice, there will only be a few boxes per car. Will he know enough to open those box car doors at some point before the train arrives there?

Success at unloading three box cars

The produce shed was carefully positioned near the track using the NMRA gauge which is real close to the boxcars. The ballast had to be chipped away so the platform would be in the same plane as the boxcar floors. I used the brush to push the freight unto the dock from the other opened door without a problem. What helped the transfer is to keep the loading dock slightly lower than the car floors.

 The Campbell Scale Models L.C.L. Freight House kit came with wood blocks and barrels. The instruction sheet has sign cut outs to place on them for detail. I made photo copies to be used on my homemade boxes and crates. Everything on the platform could easily be used as live load transfers for that way freight.

To meet N.M.R.A. standards, their gauge was used to position the loading dock for height and distance to met their clearance standards. I moved the dock a couple whiskers lower and away to minimize the chance of engines and rolling stock from striking it.

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Campbell’s kit # 382 Country Barn is truly a western horse or small milking parlor type suitable for a ranch. Its bright red paint has faded to a pale orange and the roof is showing its age. Notice how the siding boards are very rotten next to the ground. The project took about eight hours including the unpainted fence. Like most model railroaders, the bench work is waiting to be built where this structure is to be planted. You need our pigment kit to weather the roof and walls.

Ah, that better.
Those shaggy bark junipers give a little more life to the scene. Sagebrush armatures and it’s all free for the picking in Arizona if you know the right place and people to ask. You can buy the moss for the tree foliage from Wall Mart.

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The Challenge of creating Pine trees

This is as much an article on the use of Hemp and Jute twine as it is on pine tree construction. It all started when I read some old articles on scenery that were published before the world of ground-up foam. I expanded on those old techniques for colouring the material and the results are seen below. Most of the trees were built and added to the same Mining Mill scene for comparison. There was an article in the Sept/Oct, 2004 Narrow Gauge Gazette on Kenneth Ehlers Pandora & San Miguel Sn3 layout. On the cover is a view of the many pine trees on a steep hillside. What caught my attention was the dead tree in the scene. The tree he modelled is one that is recently dead whereas my model is very dead. The trunk is painted to represent different stages of decay. Natural trigs were glued into holes drilled in the trunk. The foreground scenery was improved by planting some straw and live grass and then adding some of our Dead and Alive ground covers. What I call Dead and Alive ground cover is the moss material ground up in a blender until it passes through a window screen. Those patches of Straw and Green grass are of course coloured Jute twine. The year after our massive forest fires in Arizona, drought set in that year. The bark Beatles moved into the trees and killed a major portion of what was left of the forest. This is what the trees looked like. We have since received a lot of rain and snow and thankfully, many of the trees have recovered. I modelled them by using the brown-coloured moss material for the limbs. Jute twine was stained with my #1430 Earth Pigment. The Jute was cut into short snips to represent dead needles. I then flocked the tree and set them with hair spray. Another tree has been added to the scene and the thought occurred to add dead pine needles on the ground below. They are short snips is Jute Twine coloured without #1430 Earth Pigment. You can make this yourself, but I recommend using rubber latex gloves as it’s messy and there could be health issues involved. Handling the finished product will leave the dye on your hands also, so use at your own risk. A half-cup of Denatured Alcohol, Turpentine or Mineral Spirits is placed in a jar as either one of these products gives the same results. Add a half teaspoon of brown pigment and shake it up to dissolve the pigment. Now add ten one-foot lengths of the jute twine and shake it up again a few times and then remove the twine. Pulling each string through your fingers a couple of times helps disperse the color into the material. I spread them out on newspaper and let dry for several hours. This picture has finally been restored to my computer had lost a while back. I used it on the box cover of the Pine Tree kits we sold some years ago. They use the same natural moss material (#3) that is used on our new style Ponderosa trees. The main difference is that the trees at left look very shaggy and look good in a cold winter setting. Consider the fact that heavy snows and high winds can damage a tree. For this effect, clumps of moss are simple pushed down the trunk and glued in place. They are then trimmed with scissors for the conical shape. I quit selling these trees because hand manufacture of the cedar trunks was too time-consuming. This Ponderosa tree uses our #3 moss material, but it’s laid on Jute string for the branches. Needle detail comes from short snips of our #5 Green Grass material. This is set on the branches with hair spray. I don’t mix both styles of trees in the same scene because they wouldn’t look right. The trees at left make better foreground models whereas the above trees look good in the higher elevation background of the layout. The Pinion Pine has #6 wool to fill out the Sage Armature. Needles were made from our #5 Green Grass clippings and set with hair spray. A version of a Shaggy Bark Juniper can be modelled with a Sage Brush armature and our #3 natural foliage material. I have expanded on this technique by adding clippings of our #5 Green Grass material for needle detail. I don’t mix the two versions close to each other on the layout as they compete for attention as to what one looks better.

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Comic Strip

Using photos for a cartoon strip require close ups that keep everything in focus. Flaws in the model work now show up dramatically such as the unpainted wagon spokes, shiny cloths and the right shoulder of the man not glued in place properly.

To make the characters larger in the picture box, you need to crop them out before you reduce the picture size. Now the flaws in the man really stand out.

You now need to decide if the overall scene will be of interest to the readers even though the characters are small and without action. Traditionally, cartoons are about the characters and the artist draws them bigger in the frame to show features and action.

Notice the expression and body language of Walt in my drawing. I need to find a way of drawing my characters and overlaying them on my photos for many of the frames. Just drawing the characters would save a lot of time when using existing scenery for a cartoon.

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A radical new look for the yard

The hump yard looked like this for over ten years with just ballast for scenery. This would be correct for the dry Southwest and I left it that way so my customers could see the HO “fine” ballast colours of #1222 yard mix and #1152 Empire Builder overlaid in the foreground. This is the first step no matter how you scenic a yard as the ballast is the base before adding more to it.

The Eastern/Midwest look
A whole host of color and texture brings life to the scene as this railroad doesn’t spray herbicide to kill weeds and grass. I used the following products for this effect; #1031 “N” scale Black Cinder, #1011 “N” scale Red Cinder, #1151 “N” scale Empire Builder ballast, #2000 Urban/Industrial Dirt. This was applied randomly and then brushed around to (slightly) mix the colours. #2 Dead and Alive ground cover, #8 Olive Green Flock, #4 Straw Grass clippings and #1321 “N” scale White Marble for the spilt sand from the engine sanders. The Clump foliage is a sample from a scenery company that never made it a product. All nine products are put down dry and then bonded in one application. It’s hard to tell, but 50 per cent of the original ballast still shows through so you need to PRE ballast the tracks anyway and let that dry completely.