Tuesday Train #193

P1010501Scenes that don’t seem to exist anymore. A train of “RoadRailer” trailers, highway trailers designed to be connected to railway bogies to cut out the need to load the trailers onto flat cars. The service has come and gone over the years from CN. These pictures were taken July 30, 2004, a week later, according to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, CN cancelled this service, a Chicago-Toronto connection seen here at Trafalgar Road in Georgetown on the Halton Sub.

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Resin Casting on my Own

Almost a year ago I took my first tentative steps into the world of casting my own parts in Resin thanks to my friend Ryan and a Saturday at his place working on models together with him and Trevor. Sadly, Covid has caused this to become a more common thing, as a number of us now have a Saturday night zoom chat where we all sit at our workbenches in our home and work and chat and have a drink virtually. It’s easier than packing up and going to someone else’s place to work, but not quite the same.

IMG_2453A stack of new supplies from Sculpture Supply Canada for making molds and casting in resin.

I am starting this adventure with basic stuff, two part silicone for mold making, and resin, that doesn’t require anything more complicated than mixing equal parts of the two liquids in each kid. The mold material cures it says in half an hour (I’m finding better results at giving it 2 or 3, and the resin says it cures in 10 minutes (again, half an hour or more is better). The parts I am casting are basic parts, manhole covers and storm sewer drains for the streets on my layout. I have drawn the different styles that are on Toronto streets, they will be a subtle detail in the layout, but I will know they are there and not generic, and that means a lot to me.

My first mold made at home, from top left top row: The Mold Box, the Silicone parts, measured out & bottom row: gently pouring silicone, weighting down while curing to get a smooth back, ready to demold, and the cast part.

So, full disclosure, the first mold I poured in the picture above, failed, I didn’t give it enough curing time, and it was a goopy mess. Lesson learned, be patient, just let it sit and cure, there is no rush here other than my own urges to see if I have succeeded!

Subsequent molds, see how much nicer they look when you let them fully cure?

I have two styles of manhole covers (water/Sewer and Hydro), and storm drain covers. I need about 50 of each manhole, and about 70 of the storm drains, give or take. As I wasn’t sure I would get 10 of each from each mold (manholes I am, storm drains I’m getting 9 per mold from a couple of damaged prints. If I’d have been smart, I’d have made one mold box of 10 good parts, and made multiple molds from that, instead, I made two mold boxes and made 3 molds, each with one defective piece!

Mixing resin, settling the parts, and pulling out completed manhole covers.

The nice part about the fast setting resin, is that I’ve basically made all the parts I need now. I probably need to do one more run of the five molds to have extras, then I can sit down some evening and clean all the castings and prepare them for painting and installing onto the layout. I started the roads stamping spots for the covers, I’m not entirely happy with how that worked, as I’m going to need to go back and putty around them to fill gaps. I think it will work better if I pre-paint the parts, and sink them into the drywall compound roads as they are almost dry. It will let me blend them into the compound, and they can be painted around when I paint the roads/touched up later.

IMG_2528A manhole I 3D modelled, had printed, and cast in resin in the layout. Needs painted and you can see where the roads still need some cleanup!.

This is one of those weird ones. In theory, resin parts are cheaper than 3D printing, and if I did the math of going to shapeways and getting 75 storm drain covers cast, it probably winds up being more than the resin supplies, but what’s more important than the cost is the learning a new skill. I want to, no need to do a lot of custom windows for my layout, and at the cost of having them printed, shipped, and likely paying duties, having learned how to cast means that I can print a single window master for each different one, and cast as many as I need in resin. This is where the cost savings will come down the line, in doing bigger parts for my buildings, these small street details are really just my training wheels!

IMG_2537Five full molds. Yeah, you can see some nasty air bubbles on one mold. Most of the parts are actually ok, but learning as I go to be careful pouring and working to avoid wasting resin on failed parts.

For anyone still reading, this will be post 500 on this Blog since I started writing it in May 2016. I’ve come a long way and a lot has changed since my first post, but my love of the hobby hasn’t. I hope those of you who read enjoy my prattling on as I muddle through this adventure of building my prototype layout of Liberty Village.

Building Building Foundations

Any project that starts with a new tool has to be a good one right?

IMG_2421New Milwaukee M12 Cordless Jig Saw, clean, clearly not used yet!

Thanks to the kindness of friends in coming to my house with portable tools and access to the woodworking shop at The Toronto Railway Museum where I volunteer, I was able to build all of the benchwork for my layout without owning any power tools other than an Impact Driver/Drill combo set. That’s great for the heavy construction, but I still need the ability to do things myself at home, especially now in an era of Social Distancing where we can’t get together with friends and build benchwork together.

As I am building the layout, one of the first phases of the structures, is building foundations so that I can work on scenery, but have bases for the buildings to eventually get mounted on, these will largely be buried, but will be visible here and there, so I wanted to make them out of MDF using a technique I picked up from a friend.

Getting set to cut foundations for the buildings on the layout from 1/4″ and 5/8″ MDF fibreboard.

Basically, the MDF is cut to size, sanded, and sealed with a “Sanding Sealer”, basically a varnish. Because MDF can absorb moisture when it is cut because it is pressed board, you need to seal cut edges. I learned this mistake the hard way myself as one of my dioramas built on an MDF sheet cut to fit into a shelving unit has curled at the two cut corners. Nothing I can do to save it now, it is what it is, but I can’t have that on the layout.

I spent a Saturday a bit back drawing all the outlines for the foundations in preparation for this, with copies made and them all cut out and pieced together, they were transferred onto the MDF and away I went with the jig saw to cut out the pieces.

Pieces cut out, sanded, cleaned and painted with sanding sealer on the edges to keep the MDF from absorbing moisture and expanding on the layout.

With my new saw in hand, and a nice weekend last week, I got set up on my patio terrace, and spent an afternoon cutting, sanding and sealing pieces of 1/4 and 5/8 MDF for building foundations.

Checking the fit of foundations after cutting to see if they need any trimming before sealing them.

I’ve since painted all the the ones that are small enough to paint in my spray booth other than two pieces that need to be re-cut, and three pieces that are too big for my booth. These will get painted outside on the terrace when the chance presents itself. I am really happy with the look, now just need to get motivated to take the next step of gluing them down and starting scenery around some of them. Onwards we go.