Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Better, wetter, water

Anytime Railroad modelers do any kind of scenery these days, "wet" water is a mainstay item. The surface tension of water has to be defeated to get the water to flow onto and into the scenery materials being secured, in advance of adding the thinned matt medium or white glue.
The usual approach is to add some liquid detergent into the water, or to use "Photoflow" from Kodak. And this approach usually works very well.
But currently I'm using some groundcover products that are proving to be difficult to get the "wet" water to soak into. In particular is the "Light Cinders" from Scenic Express. There's a lot of very fine particles in the "Light Cinders " ballast and that seems to be causing the problem.
But I've found a solution.
I'm adding about 30% by volume of alcohol into the sprayer bottle along with a few drops of detergent.
And man it works gangbusters!
I'm finding that I'm spraying far less water than I used to get the texture materials ready to accept adhesive.
Give it a try!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The "More on" approach to scenery

I've been struggling with a certain part of the ground cover in the St Thomas yard area.
I use Scenic Express Light Cinders for the yard tracks, and wanted to have a sense of that kind of material in surrounding areas of the yard. So I've been playing with tile grout as ground cover.
I've not had the kind of success with grout that others have.
If I soak it with enough water to start the portland cement setting, there's actually too much water and the mix never really hardens.
Soaking it and drizzling thin glue or matt medium results in a gloppy mess.
What I had tried with mixed success, was brushing very slightly thinned glue onto the surface and then sifting the grout onto the glue. The trouble starts when adding texture and colour to adjacent areas. The glue tends to leave marks that look like water marks in the grout. As well as the top of the grout is still loose and the dyes in the grout can be picked up easily with an errant finger.
So I wasn't in my happy place with this. The colours and marks I could address with airbrushing greys into the grout, but the looseness of the material wasn't cutting it.
On a whim and a suggestion from Trevor, I scattered some Scenic Express Fine Natural Soil over the grout and set it in place with thinned white glue.

I think this works!
Some of the grout dye was wicked into the dirt cover which helps keep some of the continuity of colour that I'm looking for. More importantly no more water marks and other unsightly stains, and everything is secured in place.
Further colour shifts can be made with the airbrush and military colours. But first more static grass and other vegetation has to go in before I make that determination.
Thanks for the suggestion Trevor! Don't think I'd have gotten there on my own.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Another lovely offering from Speedwitch

My buddy Ted Culotta has done it again.
He's released another beautiful pair of kits, recreating the Ann Arbor RR single sheathed single door and automobile boxcars.
Today I finally got the weathering finished and my trio are now part of the fleet.
Ted and I have had discussions about how best to model ladders. Neither of us are big fans of molded plastic ladders. And he's not enamored with my etched ladders for all applications.
So he's come up with a interesting technique for modeling ladders. A sub-frame of resin is in the kit in which the modeler lays wire rungs and then an overlay with rivets cast on is applied over top. An effective method, but I'm not 100% sold on the solution.
Regardless, the kits build into very nice models and as always Ted's decals are first rate.
Wonder what`s next from Speedwitch Media?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lemonade from a lemon.

One of the perils of being a "doer', rather than a ponderer, is that every now and then we paint ourselves into a corner.
This little device illustrates this well.
The first turnout in the St Thomas yard, at the west end, has it's head block ties right on the abutment, as you can see in this photo.
The model abutments were reused from the old layout and I really didn't give the control of the turnout in question a lot of thought as I dove into getting the layout underway.
I am not one to suffer from analysis/paralysis. Usually some form of inspiration occurs as work progresses.
This one however stymied me for quite some time. This is where good friends come to the rescue. My buddy Trevor Marshall was here a few weeks ago and turned his hand to addressing this problem for me. He writes about it here; http://themodelrailwayshow.com/cn1950s/?p=7708

I was pleased with the mechanical aspect, but visually it wasn't working for me. So starting the other day I lowered the slide switch by about an inch to improve the way the slope is going to look once I cover the switch with scenery.
With this done I can now look at building the switch stand platform in the near future.
Ever forward!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2nd time's the charm

Painting brick, particularly brick in good repair or fairly new, has plagued me for years.

Erie Ironworks had a plant right on mainline in St Thomas, built in the post-war era. It's been a struggle to find any images of this plant. The best thing I have to work with is an old aerial photo.
Pretty simple. One story brick factory with clerestory roof lights. And a loading dock and dedicated spur.
So I made some guesses and some leaps of faith. Took some Design Preservations modular panels and created a reasonable representation.
The building painting though didn't work out well the first time. I had used Scalecoat Boxcar red 3 for the base and then flowed thinned grey acrylic paint for the mortar lines. As you can see from the first image not very nice.
I stared at this for awhile, looked more images online and studied techniques and tried again.
This time the base colour is Krylon Leather Brown, which I then lightly, very lightly over-sprayed with a Krylon primer red. I thinned the acrylic grey paint further by at least another 50% and flowed it onto the model.
I'm feeling much happier about this. I still have to paint the concrete wall cap and loading dock deck, as well as finish the other 2 celestory units. Waiting for more window castings for that.
From there I can install the windows and think about surrounding terrain.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Well that certainly cheered me up!

Not that I really needed cheering up, but it does the heart good.
My friend and fellow modeler, Bill Darnaby, of The Maumee Route fame, just sent me 3 photos of my kits that he's built recently.

As you can see he's done a stellar job of building these kits.
And it's very gratifying for me to see my kits being enjoyed in the manner that I had hoped they would be.
So thanks to Bill for sharing and here's hoping you get inspired.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The next kit from Yarmouth Model Works

It's been a banner day in the shop. Finally the patterns have been delivered to the caster.

This CPR single sheathed auto boxcar has been an adventure and a learning experience.
All the major components are 3D printed. A first for me.
The technology is amazing, when used right. But it's not cheap. Good thing I didn't have to pay commercial rates for the printing or the drafting, otherwise this project wouldn't have happened.
The biggest lesson we learned on this was to have all parts printed on the same machine at the same time. Calibration can be an issue, and it seems that there's some disagreement about how long an inch really is..
This kit will , of course, include laser cut running boards, photo etched details and Black Cat decals. The other neat trick in this kit will be the doors. Over the early life of these cars, they were rebuilt with 3 different door opening sizes. And the kit will include all 3 door options.
If all goes well the kit should be ready for sale by the spring.