Workbench Cleanup and Reorganization

I like to have a fairly tidy and organized workspace. Detail parts and bits and pieces for model trains are pretty tiny, if your workbench is a mess, you’re going to lose something. I’ve seen a few workbenches over the years, and generally, those who I know and whose work I’ve seen have the same thing going, keep it clean and organized.

When I built my custom bench last year after we moved, my friend Ryan suggested including a piece of off-cut pegboard from his workshop, and boy am I glad I listened and did. I’ve never had a bench with pegboard before, but it is so flexible. Last night and today I’ve been reorganizing all my tools and odds and ends that I use, having lived with the bench for over a year, I’ve learned what tools I use often, which I am using less often, and which things are in inconvenient places. The pegboard has made it super easy to reorganize the hanging tools, along with reusing a parts tray to organize many little bits and getting them closer at hand when I’m working so I don’t have to grasp at a distance of go looking for them. I’m not done the reorganization yet, but I’m quite pleased with how its turning out so far.

IMG_0064A organized and cleaned up workbench ready for me to get back at modelling rather than cleaning (once I finish up cleaning my side cabinet on the right!)

This seems awfully modern…

What’s this then, its not from the 1950’s???

Every now and then, much as I build a plastic kit or do something else to work on skills, I work on models that aren’t actually for my layout. This is one that’s been kicking around for a couple of years since I picked up a decal set for the VIA Rail “Canada 150” wraps that ran in 2017. This is a moderate detail up project, using an unpowered Athearn “Blue Box” P42 locomotive that I got cheap at a flea market show. I don’t care if it doesn’t run, this is one for the display case as I really liked what VIA did for Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation by decorating a number of locomotives and coaches with different names of Cities and Towns served by the train.

The project is a fun one, adding some rooftop and underbody details, the new high intensity headlight that isn’t in the old body, and adding some photo etched metal grills on the radiators at the rear. Then it will be a chance to practice on airbrushing and masking for painting. Not a high priority project, but one that as I’ve been cleaning and organizing around the layout room and workbench, I decided this week to make a start on for something to do aside from layout construction.

IMGP9501VIA Rail Canada P42 No.900 leads a train eastbound near Newtonville Ontario on June 26, 2017 showing off the “Canada 150” wrap.

More Peninsula Progress

As with everything I do, slow and steady on we go. After getting the peninsula built and installed, I’ve been making adjustments, fitting final pieces for locking it into place, and starting to look at laying track.

Video showing the Peninsula swinging into the stored position to open up the middle of the layout room when its not in use.

The trackwork on the peninsula is fairly simple, there is only one turnout, and one crossover, but that leads to 4 separate tracks for spotting cars around the Standard Brands mill/elevator and plant, and the International Cooperage Company of Canada dock. There will be lots of action and work in a not very big area, and one that is occupied by the largest complete building on the layout, most buildings being flats and compressed, the mill and elevator are the only buildings that will get to be full sized!

Starting to lay track onto the peninsula. I was luck to be able to obtain a full survey of the Pardee Avenue lands that I printed in HO Scale to get the building locations.

One thing I’ve determined is the crossovers and switches are complicated enough that it’s going to be a multiple person job to successfully get them shaped and glued down, so I will be looking to reconvene my great friends sometime in October/November for another track-laying party to get it done. Lots of other things to work on in the meantime, and I’ve discovered I don’t have enough Micro Engineering Code 70 Flex track to finish the layout, so I need to get more track anyways!! As always, equal steps forward and sideways, but the layout is really starting to look like I’d imagined designing it. It won’t be long now before a train can actually run on it from one end to the other!!

Tuesday Train #166

IMGP5910RawConvVIA Rail Train #1, The Canadian departs west for Vancouver on September 22, 2019. I went out to shoot this train as a former co-worker is taking it as the first leg of their trip moving home from Toronto to New Zealand. I’m super jealous of them taking the train across Canada. It is seen here near Gormley, in Richmond Hill just outside of Toronto. On this trip, Prince Albert Park is bringing up the rear.


A Peninsula to finish the Benchwork

IMG_0009Another trunk full of lumber, not as much as last time, but enough to finish the job.

I took Friday this week off as a rest/recovery mental health day. I’ve been quite busy at work of late, and put in a bunch of overtime, so wanted to use some of it up and get a lazy day as well. My idea of a lazy day is to be productive on something I really want to do, rather than have to do. So of course, that meant a trip to Home Depot, followed by my off-site woodworking shop to build the last bit of benchwork for my layout, the peninsula that will hold Pardee Avenue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the final design and form, but it was finally time to just get it done so I could move on with tracklaying.

I didn’t take any pictures of the work in progress. I got into a groove, things were working and coming together as I’d planned, and because working away from home means dragging tools and supplies, I wanted to get done as quick as I could so I could pack up and get back home to see if everything worked. The peninsula is a pretty basic box, as are the legs.

Getting the peninsula in place. These shots show it in the operating position, before I’d finished installing the legs or the hinge.

The peninsula wound up being 40″ long by 22″ wide. There is only a single switch on the peninsula and several buildings/sidings. I needed to get it in place though, as the trackage to get onto the peninsula is complicated with crossovers from switches on the main line along Liberty Street.

More finished and with the hinge in place to start testing the swing.

I managed to damage the small caster wheels from Lee Valley that I’m using while building the legs (i knocked them over and they went over and smashed into the hard concrete floor, sigh). I have replacements now, so will temporarily disassemble the legs and replace them. I also need to get some ballast for the bottom to help keep the casters on the ground. Once that fettling is done, I’ll make sure the surface is level and do the final fastening of everything together. Then I can get on with making sure everything is level at the transition across the joint when I install the foam on the peninsula, and then its back to tracklaying. It was indeed a good day off work!

Working on a Freight Shed

It seems like just yesterday, but it was in fact May, before the summer even arrived that I wrote about a structure kit for the layout I had started, and building my first mold for casting parts to replace damaged ones from the kit.

IMG_9887Four new resin roof supports, as the majority of the castings in the kit were garbage. I built the master, and my friend Ryan did all the castings as he was making parts for kits he sells from his company National Scale Car.

Having not been in a rush, I didn’t bother to ask when he’d have the chance to cast some of the replacement parts, but we got together for dinner a few weeks ago and he had them ready for me. Today I decided it was a day to advance and project and feel like I was getting something done. I had the deck completed, other than painting/staining the deck. To do this, I decided to use some of my supply of cheap art acrylics from Michael’s. I pick them up when I need a cheap paint, as I’m trying to create the appearance of wood having different ages and levels of wear and aging on them.

Painting the deck using cheap acrylics and watering them down to spread them on the surface of the deck for the freight shed.

I used a brush that was about the same width as the boards on the deck, and watered down the paint as I went. I didn’t want a heavy amount of paint, just enough that it coloured the wood. Once I was done with the paint, I put on a wash of a golden brown stain. I am still considering a second stain of isopropyl alcohol and india ink that I keep for weathering wood. The undersides of the deck are only coloured using this alcohol/ink mix. It was a technique that was in the instructions for a kit I built years ago, and I really like the effects you can create with it, as over time the ink settles, so depending on how much you shake the bottle after its been on the shelf, you can adjust how much ink there is, and thus how dark/beaten up the wood looks.

Installing the roof trusses and roof beams. Lots of weights and little clamps being used to hold everything together and square while the glue sets. I just did all of the gluing on this with good old fashioned white glue. It soaks into the wood and has lots of working time to get things adjusted and aligned. It does mean you need to be patient as it hardens though!

I enjoy projects like this, they are a good way to shake the cobwebs off after I haven’t done a lot of modelling later. while I’m making little adjustments here and there, mostly I’m building it right as the instructions provide.  It means that I can just work away and use skills I already have. I find doing things I know I can do after a break helps me be ready to make it up as I go doing things that are pushing my skills. Strangely, working on a kit helped me advance my cleanup that I’ve been doing and trying to organize my workspace, as it showed me where some things I thought I had found the right home for, weren’t the right place.

IMG_9898End of the day’s progress. Reached the point where I don’t have the right glues to work with the cardstock material for the roof, so stop while I’m ahead and it’s looking like I want, rather than pushing on and making a mistake.