Oh Come on….cat hair everywhere

Seriously? I know cats & their hair and scale models are drawn to each other, but Gandalf doesn’t spend much time in the layout room, and can’t get up to the layout itself, but this is crazy. I haven’t even had this pair of Rapido Canadian Pacific USRA Clone Box cars long enough to start weathering them!! I recently wrote about de-catting locomotive drive-trains, well the same thing applies to freight cars! All I have done is swap out the wheels and couplers for my preferred ones, and set them on the layout. I want to fade these cars out as by my era in the 1950’s, they should be old and well used looking. Still figuring out exactly what my first step in doing this is going to be, if I’m smart, I’ll do one car, and see how it goes before I do the other!

A giant clump of Gandalf “Floof” stuck to the side of a brand new boxcar.

Vacuuming cat hair that floats about is a normal part of cleaning with regular dust, but walking into the layout room the other day to find this giant clump of hair was definitely annoying. At least a quick pinch and it was gone!

First building of Toronto Carpet done

I wrote last week about progress on three buildings on the layout being made here. The first of these, over the course of the rest of last weekend and a couple of evenings this week, has reached what I call the first stage of completeness, done enough to look good on the layout. Further details and weathering/aging to the building will come, but I don’t have all the bits and pieces I need (a seemingly all to constant issue).

For this building, I am doing a combination of paint and Panpastels for the brick and trim colouring. The windows for this are Tichy frame windows, which while not 100% accurate for the masonry walls, for this building, represent a “good enough” compromise in the interest of actually getting the building constructed. The painting starts with a coat of grey primer, followed by the application of pan pastels. For this building, I just a mix of colours, mostly a “Raw Umber” base with “Red Iron Oxide Shade” overtop for a reddish-brown brick that gives the sense of the mortar lines without them being glowing white stripes on the building. I then used a mix of various greys, black and white for staining around locations where water would run down. Once I was happy with this base layer, I sprayed it with a rattlecan flat sealant. I think, Jason Shron from Rapido actually recommended this Behr (Home Depot) rattle can when I asked him what he was using to seal his roads once he had weathered them with PanPastels (note to self, I really need to start working on my roads again sometime!).

Pan Pastels before sealing on the layout, then into the spray booth for sealer and green trim. My selection of PanPastels are shown (yes, labelled with the label-maker as the packaging is labelled on the bottom!).

PanPastels come in a range of 92 colours, they can be blended and you can achieve a range of effects for buildings, roads, and rolling stock weathering with them. The picture above shows the limited range of colours I have. I have bought ones that feel brick or grime toned for doing structures mostly. Some time I will branch out and try them on rolling stock. I am very much in the “seal the pastels” camp, as they don’t bond on their own. This is important for things being handled, as they will come off and I have left fingerprints in models. The downside is, even a clear tones the colour down. It is not uncommon to find you need to go back and bump up details like the grime and water rundown effects on buildings, but these layers are less likely to get damaged by future handling than the main brick finish is.

“Finished” building in place on the layout.Now I can think about blending it into the pavement and the surrounding scenery getting polished off.

One down, two (and a bridge) to go for Toronto Carpet. I have started the second Toronto Carpet building. Now that I’ve got some space on the workbench, I can take it back off the layout and start working on the brick detail for it, which will be one of the more complicated patterns I have tried, wish me luck in re-creating it!

Wednesday Workbench Organization

After work today while half watching playoff baseball and half chatting with friends about impending Provincial Legislation that will yet again toss my day job world for a loop, I broke out our labelmaker and finally labelled and organized the drawers of my small parts cabinet. I like organizing, and while it wasn’t in bad shape, the lack of labels meant that finding doors and windows and detail parts for my ongoing structure building relied on my memory of what I had, and where it was, not a tenable situation!

Drawers all labelled, and our labelmaker.

The labels peel off easily enough from the plastic drawers, and while I probably could organize things better, they are going to work for now, and hopefully as I wind down on buildings to construct for the layout, I can pack up windows and doors a bit as I won’t need them until the next time the itch to work on a diorama or some other side project structure comes along!

Tuesday Train #321

On Track for a Cure. One of the TTX Pink Well Cars, seen here sadly graffiti covered in Capraeol Ontario. This is the second one of these cars I have caught, which is impressive as I think there are only 3 of them out there! TTX painted them pink to raise awareness of breast cancer research fundraising.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – https://cancer.ca/en/ways-to-give/breast-cancer-awareness-month

More Buildings, more Cricut Experimenting

One of the nice things about a small layout, is everything is done in moderation, there is not a lot of any one thing. This comes in handy where it comes to Buildings/Structures, as no two buildings are the same, and modelling a real area, I can’t really stick in generic space fillers, all 18 buildings/structures are as accurate as I can manage in 1/87th scale of the real buildings, or at least achieving that is my goal. In the past week and a bit I have made a dent in 3 more buildings, bringing me to 14 of 18 started.

#1 – S.F. Bowser, Southeast corner of Mowat Avenue & Liberty Street

First up, a building that will be a lot of work, and which you really won’t be able to see. This is the last of my front edge see through buildings, and is at the corner of Liberty Street and Mowat Avenue. It is important that this building be see through, as there are two switches at its front door, and to date, I haven’t gotten to 100% reliable operation through them. Some of it is I think, rolling stock related, some of it is the switches which are the middle of the giant “bat’leth” of track a friend custom built for this complex corner of the layout. The real building here has large multi-pane windows. Putting in a building with just big openings wouldn’t work for me, because I would know its wrong, and when I stick a camera into the layout, there are angles you can see it, and I’d know its wrong. After some thought, I realized that with a thin 0.020″ piece of Styrene, the Cricut could probably cut an inner layer to the wall cores I have been cutting, that could be laminated inside the wall and create the appearance of the windows. What I didn’t contemplate, was how long it would take for the Cricut to cut out the huge number of window panes. I set it to run one evening…and 8 hours later when I got up, it was still only half way through cutting. I decided to cancel the cut as they were scored enough that using a burnishing tool, I could pop the openings out. This was another slow and careful process, as too much force risked ripping the mullions that were to be left behind. I did tear some, but not beyond careful repairing with the parts that tore off and gentle application of liquid cement.

Using the Cricut to cut both a thicker “core” and a thinner “window” layer to be laminated together to make a wall.

Before I laminated the mullion layer to the core, I wanted to apply brick to the layout side, and make any adjustments to the window openings for the door or window lintels. This building is one where I am using a lot of off-cuts and remnants from other projects. I save almost every off-cut of brick sheet, and a lot of bits of blank styrene from the walls. Someday down the line I will do another purge and get rid of them, but while I am actively layout building, having lots of scraps comes in handy for a lot of reasons.

A lot of work for a building where 100% of the detail faces away from the operator into the layout!

#2 – Starting Toronto Carpet

The Toronto Carpet complex on my layout is three buildings, two of which are connected by a sky bridge over Mowat Avenue. To make this work, I first need to do the western part, Barrymore Cloth. Once this is done, it will set a hard support for one end of the bridge. I don’t think I will build the bridge until the main Toronto Carpet building is done, so I can make sure it fits between to final buildings, rather than between a plastic building and a foam mock-up.

I have only cut the core on this building, and put it in place to check dimensions. That said, the Core of this building is layered, and boy did I have a bad day cutting. I managed to need three takes at this because I screwed up the dimensions in the Cricut cutting program twice before getting all the walls and the depth plates to create the pattern of areas set back from each other. It was, a frustrating day between the time, the mistakes, and wasting styrene. I didn’t throw anything out, but the leftovers of the first attempts won’t be useful for much other than braces and hidden parts of buildings.

Test fitting the first part of the Toronto Carpet Factory on the west side of Mowat Avenue.

This building has some interesting and unique brickwork that I really want to try and re-create, so I am going to be doing a lot of careful brick laying before I connect the walls. I will write about the brickwork whenever I actually do some of it. Same for the windows, I think I am going to try something new for me, we shall see how it goes and report either way!

#3 – Toronto Carpet Factory – 72 Fraser Avenue

The third building in my recent mini wave of progress is 72 Fraser Avenue, a second building on the main Toronto Carpet Factory Block. It is not rail served on my layout, and is a background space filler. It is being built using tried and true techniques now, with some adjustments. This is the first time I have tried to use the Cricut to cut openings for commercial windows. I have cut to use my own 3D printed and resin cast, vinyl windows, and Cricut windows as above. For this building, I am using Tichy Trains windows as they are close enough to the actual buildings. There is no point in making work for myself when something off the shelf can be used.

Working on test fitting the walls, and the almost ready for primer and paint building on the layout.

For this building, I am going to paint the windows and door separately, so I can finish the brick, then once its sealed, pop in the windows, glaze them and call it a day. Still lots of work to do, but over the course of a couple of nights, it is always gratifying to see a building go from a board mock-up and drawings/measurements to a physical object I can hold and look at and really feel it becoming a part of the layout.


My current work target is to get the buildings along the backdrop done, so I can then work from the backdrop out improving and finishing scenery. To get there, two of these buildings need to be done, as do two others. Both the other two need some more work in creating 3D printed windows for resin casting. I’ve been putting that off finding excuses to not spend even more time in my layout room on the computer (since I spend all day there on my work computer), but I am going to need to do some of the computer work so I can keep on with the actual layout building. Seeing what I can get done certainly isn’t hurting the motivation to do more on the computer so I can keep the progress happening.