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Logging Repair

The logging Repair project is on hold for now until it’s placed in a permanent location on the layout. This is my first attempt of the board by board construction with strip wood made on a table saw. The base ground color is #1090 Cumbres Earth, #1183 Oak Creek Orange ballast and dabs of other Az Rock products to enhance the scenery.

The scenery was done before the structure was built. A future rail spur is modelled with the graded roadbed, ties and spike kegs waiting for the track gang to lay the ties and rail.


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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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Concrete and Asphalt Paving Powders

Concrete and Asphalt Paving Powders

These products are rock powders that will provide a slightly gritty scale texture. They can be applied to any surface that white or yellow carpenters glue will bond to. We have applied the products to Styrofoam, plywood, Homasote, cork, cardboard, matboard, plaster, and Masonite. Why use these products instead of styrene or manufactured ready-to-use material? I consider modeling as a three-dimensional form of art. When you apply a material such as this with even the greatest of care and finesse, those human shortcomings will show up in the finished model. This is what gives the work character and interest to the viewer even if it’s only you. Plaster could be used for roads, streets and sidewalks; however, sanding is required to fix the surface and the plaster dust is a real nuisance to clean up. My downside of plaster is that it sets up way before it smooth enough for a road surface. Our products will have an acceptable natural color right out of the bag, and you don’t really have the weather to surface for a believable scene. Materials;

(#1030 Asphalt Paving Material) or (#1290 Concrete Paving Material)

White or Carpenters glue

Mixing bowl

Artist palette knife

Broad knives from one to three inches wide

Razor saw

120 grit sandpaper

AZ Rock dry color pigment kit #14

Rubbing alcohol for diluting stains

India Ink

Mars Black acrylic paint

The usual variety of brushes, model paints, hobby knives, and eye droppers.

The real fun begins after our products are installed, cured and dry. Concrete will have expansion joints and curbs tooled on the surface. Liquid and powder stains will be applied for the weathering. Asphalt streets and roads can have potholes and patches applied with Acrylic paints and so forth. Before you begin, make some field trips and take pictures of what looks interesting to model. There are two methods for applying the material.

Dry method;

I used this method for a gas station or parking lot diorama on a 1/8 Masonite base. This could be likened to the method used by the Navajo Sand painters. When everything is dry, the base can be tipped to remove the extra sand. I have lately been building urban scenery with streets, sidewalks and driveway aprons appropriate for each situation. I use 1/8 inch Masonite cut to the size that fits a half to full block of buildings including the sidewalks. Any driveway aprons or alleyways are filed and sanded on the edges paper-thin. File and sand the corners to the radius of the sidewalk corners at any street intersections. Lightly sand all curbs to a slight radius. Set your buildings back on this base and see how they fit. These dioramas can be built on the benchtop and assembled on the layout for that urban scene. Now you can make your streets with either our “wet or dry” method.

You can use this method on your already installed bench work except step #7 below becomes more important.

1. Brush full-strength glue on the area to be paved.

2. Flatten the glue with a palette knife to provide an even layer.

3. The glue will begin to dry on you in places, so lightly spray it with water.

4. Sprinkle on the powder as evenly as possible.

5. Use a dry palette knife or bread knife to flatten the powder into the glue base. Don’t let your tool dig into any wet material as it will make lumps in the surface.

6. If globs of glue come to the surface, add more powder and flatten it out with your tool.

7. Keep trawling the surface until the entire area looks slightly damp and stop. If you ended up with a lumpy mess, you can save it by using our “wet” method below starting at step #5.

Wet Method;

This is useful for applying pavement to any area on the layout whiter it’s on a slope or flat. Perhaps you have an old-style gas station where the pump island area was humped for getting those gas tanks absolutely filled. This feature can be added later to the base you built using the dry method above.

1. Pour some diluted glue and water (1 glue/3 parts water) into a mixing bowl. Add powder and stir until you have the consistency of toothpaste.

2. Spoon some mixture on the layout. Even after stirring, the powder will quickly settle to the bottom. The spoon allows you to keep the mix in the right proportions for your work.

3. Begin by working the material into the surface for establishing a good bond. Then flatten it out with a palette and/or broad knife. Now you’re learning what a cement finisher goes through. The thickness should be about 1/16 inch.

4. There will be places that are too soupy on top, so add more dry powder to stiffen it up and continue trawling.

5. Add more diluted glue to any areas that are to dry and can’t be worked.

6. Continue trawling until the area is flattened to your satisfaction.

Custom sidewalks before or after?

 Free handing curbs has never worked out for me as they come out to squiggle and vary in height. A very beat up part of town will have some crumbled curbing. 

I will try this only in short stretches by leaving gapes in the method below. I have successfully used very thin corrugated cardboard cut to size and glued in place. Weight them down until dry because it will curl. When dry, coat with the wet method and apply thinly with a brush and smooth with the palette knife. Brushing on the soupy pigment always requires two coats. Let the first one dry and then quickly do the second so the first doesn’t come loose. Take care to fill the edges of the open corrugations and tool the curb radius as true as possible. When dry, coarse sandpaper can be used to dress up the surface and edges. I used cardboard that was similar to a small USPS Priority mailbox. I use the brass angle that has each side snipped at an angle an 1/8 inch of angle is left one the end. File and sand away the burr left from the snipers.

Tracks in the street or a crossing at grade;

Drag the tool along the guller area where to street meets the curb. Flip to tool over and now drag it to form the curb edge. I use the “wet method” for the areas outside the rails. The pavement will have to be applied thick enough to cover the ties and nearly up to the rail height. Between the rails, clearance must be maintained for the wheel flanges.

 I used a thin matboard cut narrow enough to allow strip wood on both sides for a steel flangeway. Short sections are easier to handle and use full strength glue to hold them to your wood or even plastic ties. Weight them down to eliminate curling. When dry, brush on the wet paving material just enough to cover it. Flatten with the palette knife. Pre-paint the strip wood with a color like “Rock Island Red” (iron oxide) and allow to dry overnight or longer. I hope your cardboard was narrow enough to fit the strips in place and allow clearance for the wheel flanges. Trim the mat board to make this happen. Glue the strip wood where it touches the mat board and install spacers between it and the rail to keep it tight until dry.

This was for straight track. For curves and switches in the street. You’re on your own, however, that same method should apply. Just maintain clearances for those moving parts such as switch points.

Several of my grade crossings are planked with strip wood such as Campbell Scale Models profile Turnout ties. In that case, pave up to the two or three planks outside the rails. I stain them with our #1430 Earth Pigment diluted in rubbing alcohol. Our #1145 Black Pigment us used for the Creosote look on the ends. Slightly dry brush the surface with an off white or light gray for simulated sun highlights to make that effect pop out.

Detailing and weathering;

You can go as far out as the imagination allows. How about a car at the service station with the hood open and steam pouring out of the radiator (cotton) and antifreeze running across the driveway into the street sewer grate (green paint). Asphalt doesn’t lend itself to dramatic detailing like concrete so let’s talk about that. You can pick and choose from this what would also work for tar roads, so let’s move on.

Use the tip of a razor saw or a dull X-Acto knife to score expansion joints in the street and sidewalks. Score down the center of the streets right through any intersections. Newer streets have the curb and gutter as an independent pour. For that score a line down the street about a ¼ inch away from the curb. Now score from the curb to curb for the cross-expansion joints about 10 or 12 scale feet. Use your head and don’t let any scoreline cross like the curb and gutter lines if you made them. The sidewalk curb line is very critical. In HO Scale, mine is about a 1/8 inch wide. Keep that width absolutely parallel to the street side of the curb. If my sidewalk is about 3/4 inch wide. I make the cross joints about that distance apart. Whatever, keep them all the same equal distance. Here again, start the score from the curb score and move your tool towards the building. Now you will know why I never glue my buildings in place as they get in the way for this maneuver. I get my cast metal sewer grates and manhole covers from Durango Press. Carve and/or drill depressions on the pavement for these. I pre-paint them grimy black and weather them with my 1400 rust powder. Older pavement will crack from those heavy trucks and/or winter frost. Score jagged lines in the surface with a sharp tool and keep them random in shape, size, and location. In a couple of places, I carved cobblestones into the street (random size area about an inch or so) and painted them a brick color.

Now, drill appropriate size holes in the sidewalks for fire hydrants, signs, and power poles but don’t install them yet. Sweep or vacuum that and the scoring mess for now. Consider what you want to be painted in the streets like center lines, parking spaces, crosswalks or even RR (dry transfers) for an approaching railroad track. Paint leaks under masking tape so freehand with a brush and paint, or best, colored markers if you can find them. Mark these areas lightly in pencil with a straight edge first to keep things straight. Now get out the Mars Black Acrylic paint and apply it to your street expansion joints, pavement cracks and edges of sewer grates and manhole covers. I sprinkle on a few tabs of my White Chalk Powder #1440 and let everything dry for a spell. Tires leave blackish streaks on the pavement so with a very small and stiff artist brush I apply #1450 Black Powder. Be cautious with the pigment on the brush and have only a track amount on the bristles.

Make random arcs around intersections where cars pealed around the corners. How about horrible skid marks through an intersection? That white chalk powder left in the street, with a stiff brush, tone down all places with a little scrubbing that looks too black. I use the #1440 White Chalk Powder to tone down bright shiny colors on all my railroad structures. I do this while the paint is still tacky, so it imbeds into the surface. I am a “non-dullcote” person except to protect some models from having the weathering smeared through handling. If you did all of this, you’re on your way to becoming an artist in other things as well.

Place your hydrants, power poles, signs, people and vehicles in the scene. The best part is you don’t have to be done quite yet. There are many detail items you can place like, trash cans, phone booth, dogs, jaywalkers, park benches, newspaper stand, pop machines, mailbox, paper trash, cardboard boxes, weeds and a little dirt ( #1090 Earth or #1020 Light Earth).

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Where all the trains in the system are at 9:30 AM on any given day on our historic Santa Fe model railroad.

Seligman engine service and Work Train siding
When the “Work Train” is needed, it will be assighned a number by the dispatcher and run as an “Extra”.

Phoenix Junction in Ashfork
Train” #220″ is at the end of its run in Ashfork and is positioning passenger and express cars brought up from Phoenix with Engine #301. These cars must be ready in time for pick up by the East Bound Grand Canyon Limited and East bound Fast Mail.

All the passenger equipment has American Limited operating diaphragms as seen on the express baggage car.

Ashfork
Home of Escalante Harvey House and Santa Fe Freight Station
RDC “Extra” is used to shuttle fresh train crews either East or West to replace any other train crew personal that become “Dead on the Law”. Ashfork is a crew change town anyway for some trains.
The Ashfork yard has been re-graded for “Humping” cars out of Phoenix and other East Bound trains that need to be re-blocked with those trains. West bound trains are never humped here as they just pass through.

Williams
Home of the Frey Marcos Harvey House.
Train “#412” East Bound Mixed Freight waiting in the “hole” (inside passing track) for the West Bound Chief.

Grand Canyon Junction at Williams with Gorre & Daphetid “#240”
The Gorre & Daphetid Railway was sub contracted to serve as a tourist line between Williams and Grand Canyon.
A hillside scene will be built where the tunnel portal is to give the illusion that trains actually come from the Grand Canyon

Flagstaff AZ
Train #202 is an East Bound Reefer Express and being “iced” as we speak before it heads out across the High Desert on the Colorado Plateau of Arizona and New Mexico. The conductor is missing paper work on a few cars but they will get iced anyway.

Apache Railroad Junction at Holbrook AZ
Used as a return loop track for any direction just for now. Any train can be parked there and held for staging.

Winslow AZ
La Posada Harvey House
Major fuel stop and crew change town where #4 the East Bound Super Chief is stopped right now. Too bad I don’t have a larger area to model this facility better, but accept the two tracks and move on.

Gallup NM
El Navajo Harvey House
Train meet

123 Grand Canyon Limited West Bound 22 El Capitan East Bound

Yatahey Coal line Junction East of Galup #401 Coal Train West Bound

We created a fictitious “Navajo” railroad engine for for working the mine.

Albuquerque NM
Alvarado Harvey House 10 Fast Mail East Bound. This is a 12 car train headed by F7A-B-A on the main line. A passing track is on the left and used for switching industries.

Trailer Train siding Albuquerque NM#251 Trailer Train will be a West Bound after switching piggy back trailers. The model of the trailer train facility was from “Bridges and Buildings” book from Kalmbach publishing. The article stated that the prototype was a Santa Fe structure in Kansas City The lead unit of the Fast Mail is in the background.

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CAVEMAN ELECTRONICS

The model railroad industry has gone in almost complete denial that thousands of us still run with DC throttles. An exception is MRC with its various transistor power packs. They also make a walk around a unit called the CM20 of which I have for my mainline cab and could now use a second one. This is ideal for staying with your train where ever it is around the layout. This system allows you to unplug the handheld unit and move it to another telephone jack where ever you installed them around the layout. The train continues at the same speed while unplugged. For my yard, I don’t need that elaborate of a system that costs about $200.00 for a local control throttle. To save time, I would have purchased a simple handheld transistor unit, but no one makes them anymore. The commercial ones I used in the past have all burned out so they’re in the dumpster. The picture of the home built one you see below was built 33 years ago and it still works fine. It consists of three components. An 18-volt power supply, a filtered DC circuit on a perf board, and the simple transistor throttle itself. If you know nothing about electronics, find the book below and you will be able to master what I call “Caveman” electronics. I purchased the second printing of this book in 1975 and the author did well by assuming the reader knows nothing about electricity. I have built many projects from the book and got them to work even thou I had to substitute some components. Now that my second throttle works, plans are underway to build a high powered walk around the mainline controller.

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A couple wood frame houses

A couple of wood frame houses
Our foreground model was just built and the dwelling to the right was constructed forty years ago. Now does it make any sense to build a brand new abandoned house? Yes, as this is a quirk of a model railroader or any model builder. Next, I’ll install lights and do a night shot to emphasize the holes in the walls and roofs.

 

Both of the dwellings have been unoccupied for years, so the neighbouring flagstone company has taken the liberty of spreading their stone rubble beyond its boundaries.

Neither structure is a piece of cake to build, however, the abandoned house was the most challenging.

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TRAIN WRECK Nightmare on the Chief

Is this the horrible result of a model railroader that switched from DC to DCC?
(My scene was inspired by an article in Trains Magazine published many years ago.)

The scene was built in twelve hours including hand laying the track. High Desert Soil (#107-03) is the ground cover with some #40 Blended Grass and # 62 Conifer Green Foliage amidst broken ties and twisted rail.
OOPS!
Looks like someone threw a switch the wrong way again.

Used 1302 as ballast, 1032 in between the tracks and 1250 as ground-cover.

The scene is modeled after a real train wreck between no. 8, the “Fast Mail” and no. 19, the westbound “Chief”. This disaster happened in September 1956 at Robinson siding New Mexico.

The Northbound Mail was sitting in the hole waiting for the Chief to pass by when the North Switch had been thrown the wrong way in the middle of the night. News reported out of Albuquerque was able to hop on an airplane and get aerial pictures of the devastation.

 

 

It’s totally impossible to have a head-on collision like this using DC.

Now look at the mess, twisted and burned diesel with death and injuries to the crew.

 

 

Use 1307 as the rocks

The Undertaker and Priest were summoned to sort out the living from the dead. “Oh why, oh why”, asks the owner of this layout, “if I stayed with DC, this never would have occurred”.

 

 

 

One of the Santa Fe’s private cars was at the rear of the Fast Mail and the occupants escaped injury even though the train was shoved back a car length from the collision.

 

 

 

In the wee hours of the morning, the boom car was brought in from Raton NM to salvage what it could. In order to lift the passenger car, numerous lead weights had to be installed in the Athearn boom car as a counterweight.

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Leaning tower at 2nd and Commerce

From the Kalmbach book; BRIDGES & BUILDINGS
By Gordon Odegard and Dan Rauschenberg
An eight-sided gate man’s tower that houses controls for pneumatically operated crossing gates.
These octagonal towers were built by the Milwaukee Road found around the city including this one on at 2nd and Commerce in Milwaukee. The authors found this one unique because it leaned to the South. It dates back to the 1900s and was still in use during the ’60s. The article included scale drawing and photographs but not a model of the structure.

I used Campbell’s lap siding, windows and black tissue paper roofing material. Floquil’s Reefer white and Santa Fe Blue make my model fit a Santa Fe color scheme.
The tower stands tall so the operator can see over any trains in his control of the crossing gates.

The tissue paper roofing material was pained with Floquil’s weathered black.

The model will be moved to a more appropriate area still under construction.

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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 boxcar 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 boxcar 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 boxcar doors at some point before the train arrives there?

Success at unloading three boxcars
The produce shed was carefully positioned near the track using the NMRA gauge which is really 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 cutouts to place on them for detail. I made photocopies 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 meet their clearance standards. I moved the dock a couple of whiskers lower and away to minimize the chance of engines and rolling stock from striking it.

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Scratch building a George Sellios design service station

I don’t believe this was ever a Fine Scale Miniature kit that George built for his layout. You can see what I’m talking about by referring to page 33 in George’s book about his Franklin & South Manchester Railroad. The station also reappears on page 63 in the November Model Railroader. His has red trim and I went with the Sinclair green. I have about $40.00 in the scene that is mostly the cost of the detail parts. We had 10 service stations in Calumet and I worked at one as a teenager and hung out at several others in town. This was made to go with my Gasoline Alley scene next door as that garage is at right. Caserio’s owned the Sinclair bulk plant and service station next to the railroad tracks on West Pine Street in Calumet. My friends parents owned a Sinclair Station a few blocks away on East Pine Street. Mine is just called the “Calumet” station. Every layout needs a close up action spot in every town, so this is the model chosen for the purpose here.

There is an outside service area where all that equipment is displayed. The scene is early 1950’s so the cars will be that and older. A corrugated metal fence frames in the property.

There is an outside service area where all that equipment is displayed. The scene is early 1950’s so the cars will be that and older. A corrugated metal fence frames in the property.

Street and sidewalk curbs have been touched up with #1290 Concrete Paving material. A row of #1155 Basalt Rip/Rap rock was placed between the street and railroad right of way. The now painted cast metal details are; windshield wiper display cabinet, tire changer, battery charger, four shelve cabinet, 10 ton press, work bench (wood), air powered grease pump on barrel, wheel balancer and bearing packer. Other service station equipment is in the scene also. It’s never winter on this part of the layout so vehicles can be worked on outside year around.