Tuesday Train #305

The stock for Amtrak’s first New York to Toronto “Maple Leaf”, Train 63 (VIA 98 in Canada) pulls down the yard tracks at the VIA Toronto Maintenance Centre, having already been turned for the return trip departing as this post appears at 8:20am on Tuesday morning. For the first run since March 2020 and the first Covid-19 Lockdowns which stopped service, Amtrak assigned AMK108, a P42DC in a 50th Anniversary Paint Scheme. I don’t know if it was intentional from the power desk in Albany to send a special unit on the first run back, but regardless, it was a nice touch on top of just getting something different after such a long gap. More photos of it arriving passing Sunnyside, being turned at TMC and videos are below.

Fixing a paintshop whoopsie

Mistakes, we all make them, how much they hurt depend on your ability to get past them without getting angry (a personal challenge), and being able to accept that sometimes, you need a do-over. I have been working for a few months at my on-again/off-again work-rate on a batch of 7 resin boxcar kits. At one point I had thought about having them all built and painted and ready to decal and taking them to a cottage my in-laws have rented in July to do the decals. I have decided, that while totally doable, that is more effort in safely packing them up and the various tools to do the decals, I would rather completely unplug for that week from hobbies, So I am going to do that, but I still want to get these cars finished! At any point for weeks now I could have been decalling cars, instead I’ve been looking at a half finished kit, the last half finished kit at least. I finally this past week decided to get it done and the one other car that wasn’t painted primed and painted…and then the chaos started.

The bad side, the OK side, and the end damage…not my best night at the paintbooth.

I managed, in under 5 minutes to have the car body fall off the paint stand 3 times, smearing the primer the first two times, then breaking off fine etched parts in a stirrup step at the corner, and a cut lever and bracket on one end (and smear the paint again on top of pick up whatever loose crud was in the paint booth). I swore, loudly, and put everything away. I then sent my usual hobby sounding post the traditional “Trains are F@$king Stupid” text, and went to bed.

Scraping off primer with my fingers, post dip on the roof, and isopropyl dip working as normal and just melting away the poorly adhered bad coat of primer.

I have come to the conclusion that the “airbrush ready” mix of Vallejo Primer I have at my paint booth has been over thinned or over flow improvered (is that even a word?) as it sprayed badly, like on top of my dropping it, when it was cured, I was able to scrape almost all the paint off the roof with my fingernail, and some of the primer on the body would come off that easily too. Not much use if the primer designed to give you a good base for applying paint won’t actually hold. I think it is time to pitch what is left in the bottle, and start a fresh batch, something has happened to it as the past couple of times I’ve sprayed it, it has behaved progressively worse.

A good clean coat of primer, this time using my rattle can of Tamiya Fine Surface Primer.

Once the car had been cleaned, I had some time today to fix the broken stirrup step and cut lever, and make sure everything else seemed to be OK and attached where it should be. I found a few parts where it seems the isopropyl also broke glue or CA joints, so after some fixes, it was back to the paint booth. This time, I did what I knew I shoulda done and used the rattle can of Tamiya Fine Surface Primer. This stuff is awesome, and I have almost never had problems with it, yet I’ve been messing around with other primers with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, you just need to stick to what works and go with it. Oh well, as usual, live and learn, but at least it seems I didn’t break anything so badly I couldn’t fix it!

I’m H-a-p-p-y…Go Like Hell…1966 Ford GT40 MkII Number 1 – That’s No Train Part 12!

Another day, another post about not trains…but this was one I’ve been looking forward to building for a bit, and after the past two years of disruptions, the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race returned to its traditional June date last weekend. With that motivation, building my 1/24th Scale model of a 1966 Ford GT40 MkII finally came to the top of the pile, it gave me something to do while watching the race on the weekend, and during the week before to motivate me to get things done on the build to be able to finish it while I watched, but before the whole story…Yes, It’s That’s No Train Part 12!!! Previous ones here.. 1, 2, 3 (& 3.5), 4, 5, 6, 7 8, 9,10, and 11!

I have previously built a modern Ford GTLM car from a Revell kit, I’ve wanted to do a 1966 GT40, that car’s predecessor for a while, but the kits that were out there were not available, and rather dated. In 2020, Meng Models, a Chinese company released a 1/12th large scale version, then announced in 2021 that a 1/24th version was coming as well. My local plastic model (and paint/tool supply) at Wheels and Wings had it in (as I write it appears to be out of stock), so I dutifully ordered it and set to thinking about which of the two cars I might build, that I would build. I was torn between the winning #2 of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, or the “losing” #1 of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme. If you’re not a racing fan, here is an article on the long standing controversy of the fixed finish by Ford of the race and the potential fix by Ford to make sure the car of theirs they wanted to win, did so. There is also a great book on this history of Ford at Le Mans, Go Like Hell, well worth a borrow from your local library or an addition to your library. I finally decided that I wanted to model the blue Mikes/Hulme 1 car, even though my 2016 car is the one that won on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first win in 1966. While a diorama of the two winners would be nice, I decided I just like the look of the blue car better than the black and silver number 1.

Early stages of work on the GT40, test fitting and checking out, getting sub components of the engine painted and assembled.

The Meng kit is, in some ways a “snap together” kit, a lot of parts are designed in the way that Bandai Star Wars/Gundam style kits, where you could assemble them without glue. It’s not entirely that way, but the way it is designed allows for a lot of easy test assemblies and building sub assemblies to understand how the kit goes together, which is really nice to me, as I was able to think ahead of how I was going to need to modify the driver figure I bought to fit, and if any major changes would be needed to add lighting.

Painting and assembling the kit, working out modifications to the driver figure to fit inside.

I decided that this was going to be my Le Mans week project this year, I needed a break and a mental cleanse from doing the same old things on model train projects, the timing worked out that I was able to set the spray booth up the weekend before, and leave it up for a couple of days, and use my breaks and lunch early in the week to get through painting and masking and repainting different colours so by the time the race started on Saturday morning, I was well advanced and into final assembly and details during the first few hours of the race. By the 1/3 way through the 24 Hours, I had the project mostly done other than some detail touch-ups and could put my feed up and enjoy the race.

Painting the driver figure add on from Le Mans Miniatures and painting interior details/assembling the interior.

I like adding drivers to car models. When I was a teenager and building a lot of model kits, I hated that manufacturers didn’t include drivers, especially in race cars, as it made any attempt to display them dramatically look wrong as there was no one driving. That continues to this day, but unlike 30 (gulp) years ago, thanks to the internet, it is much easier to find after market third party detail kits for models and driver figures. For this one, I found Le Mans Miniatures who makes figures in a variety of scales, including the 1960-1970’s style drive figure I used for this one.

Tinting headlight and taillight lenses, and using the window masks included in the kit to paint the window frames.

One of the challenges of a project like this, is paint colour. There are “accurate match” paints out there, and I used paints from Zero Paints on the modern GTLM, but these are “hot” lacquer paints, that stink and require harsher chemicals for cleaning, which I don’t really like using. I much prefer acrylics that can clean with water and much milder cleaning products, so it took me a while to figure out the “right” blue for the pale Gulf Blue the car wore. I eventually settled on a Vallejo Model Air “Sky Blue”, Number 71306 which to my eyes captures the pale blue right. Is it a perfect match? I don’t know, I know that it looks to my eyes when I look at the car how I feel a Gulf Blue Ford should look, and that is good enough for me!

The Decal Hot Tub makes an appearance. The decals in this kit were really nicely printed with thin film. The red teardrops around the headlights reacted well to MicroSol and settled nicely to the body curves with several patient applications of it.

The final part was to add LED lights. I have a good supply, so was able to just take from my bin of electronics, but I realized that I I don’t have any battery clips and switches left. This car has headlights and taillights wired for lights. I will need to at some point place an order for more switches and battery clips from my usual supplier of Evan Designs, but I will wait until I need a bunch of stuff to make it cost effective, for now, the project can do without the battery and switch. I love the look of the lights in a model, especially when I turn them on in the evening and my office/layout room is dark, the little sparkle and glint just makes models feel alive to me.

All in all, I am really happy with how this turned out, building a kit in a week is pretty fast by my standards, but I don’t feel I cut any corners, I just used a bit of the wind of motivation to get it done, rather than falling into my usual traps of losing motivation or not making time. I need to get back to some layout projects, but as with all my puttering I find if the motivation has flagged even a little, its best to not do things than push them, as pushing is when I make silly mistakes and frustrate myself instead of enjoying the break and positive feelings the hobby is supposed to generate. Pictures of the finished model and some video links to learn more about this car below. Circling back to the title of this post… I’m H A P P Y…

Endurance Racing means racing at night. My models of endurance cars have lights, and they come to life when it gets dark.
The recently completed 1966 GT40 MkII alongside my previously completed 2016 Ford GTLM car on my “Le Mans” diorama base for them.

Below are the trailer to the movie Ford v. Ferrari (Le Mans 1966 outside North America) and to a video of actual footage of Le Mans 1966 with members of Carroll Shelby’s team and Ford speaking about the race.

Getting on the GO

Well, another addition for the collection! It has nothing to do with my Layout, but something I have wanted for many years, and on many occasions considered investing the time and money into the various resin kits that have been available over the years. As much as I like building things for myself, sometimes, the win is being patient and the market coming to you. This morning I picked up my GO Transit F59PH locomotive from Rapido Trains, and it is an absolute beauty.

When I first started working in Toronto in early 2003 until I moved into the city in early 2005, I commuted by GO Train from my parents house at the time in Georgetown to Toronto Union Station every day. At the time, the F59PH’s were the only power on GO, as was the case from around 1994 until the replacement MP40’s started to arrive in 2008. These are what I think of when I think of GO Trains. There are still a handful left in service, largely for the new London train as it requires 2 F59PH’s to haul it because of line weight restrictions (one to haul it, and a backup in case it breaks down so they are not stranded far from assistance).

GO Transit 528 rolls through the curve at Pottery Road in 2006, GO 528 in HO Scale rolls through Liberty Village in some kind of time warp.

They arrived a few weeks ago, and I finally had the chance to pick mine up from the Toronto Railway Museum Store. They still have them in stock, as do most stores, but as people see them, I don’t imagine they will last long on the shelves! A variety of early GO (as mine is), a single Experimental GO scheme, and modern GO, along with other operators of the locomotives are available. Of the 72 F59PH’s built, 49 were delivered to GO and 23 to Los Angeles Metrolinx. Other operators including Montreal’s AMT/EXO, Metra, North Carolina Department of Transportation and Trinity Rail Express have used ex-GO locomotives as they were supplanted on GO.

Unboxing the F59PH from Rapido Trains. Typically solid packaging protecting the locomotive within. It looks exactly like I remember GO Locomotives in the older paint scheme with the yellow striping along the base of the body.

As this doesn’t fit on my layout era, it won’t get a lot of use, for the immediate future, it is going in my display cases with other locomotives, though in the future, when the older Athearn Bilevel coaches I have are replaced with the soon to arrive ones from Rapido, it may spend some time on Canyon Road, and almost certainly I am going to be replacing the locomotive sized cabinets I have with something that can accommodate short trains on display.

I did do my usual basic testing with new locomotives of running them on the test and programming track to make sure it runs, and that the various lights and features work. A short video of the locomotive running and the sounds is below for anyone interested in hearing it.