Trains and Gravity are not friends

By the time this posts I will have given my Clinic on the 3D printed model of the Dominion of Canada and the shipment of her back to the UK for restoration in 2012-13 at the Hindsight 2020 13.0 Virtual RPM today. A couple of weeks ago, I needed to get some detail photos for the presentation, and I had, an incident, where one of the span bolsters decided it was not attached to the rest of the car anymore, and while I thought I had a grip on everything, it took a trip to the floor. The 3D printed material can be brittle, and it shattered. Fortunately, it was a clean break, and the two parts could be re-aligned, and with some brass shims to provide some strength repaired. Whew, a sigh of relief, but not before some unpleasant words that can’t be repeated in polite company!

Before and after of an unplanned test of Newtonian Gravity Theory using a model, not recommended for your blood pressure.

Upgrading my Radio for out chasing trains (Tuesday Train Extra)

I have been getting out a lot in the past year railfanning, more than in the past, and I am finally getting better at monitoring Railway Radio Operations when I am out. In doing so, I have heard some great conversations between crews and dispatch, and some weird moments when things go wrong. I’ve been looking for a bit for a digital recorder. I finally settled on a kind of mid-range one, not the cheapest, and not one of the fancier ones. I chose a Sony PX370 mono recorder. Its small and will easily fit into my camera bag for travelling with me.

My new Sony PC-370 Digital Audio Recorder for recording radio, and a Bluetooth dongle for transmitting to a speaker while I am out.

Once it arrived, I started to play around with it, I decided that I want to be able to listen through a speaker still when I was out and about, I don’t like wearing headphones when I am out taking pictures. To achieve this, I bought a small Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the 3.5mm audio jack, and I can then connect it to one of my bluetooth speakers. So far so good, I can now listen and record. What I needed was a way to easily carry everything around. To do that, I decided to apply my 3D modelling skills, and make what amounts to a backpack for my radio, mounted into the screw holes for the belt clip to carry the recorder on the back of the radio. I got that print today, and once all the support material was cleared away, the recorder slid in, and after some adjusting of fit on the screws, the carrier was screwed in, and the radio attached. It looks like I am all set now to get out on Easter Monday and chase some trains.

A 3D printed backpack for the Sony Digital Audio Recorder I have bought, mounted to the belt clip mount on my Uniden Bearcat BC125AT

I haven’t recorded much yet, and I don’t think I will regularly be posting audio, but a clip from last week to let you hear the recording quality at least is attached of CPR Dispatch talking to a train on the North Toronto Subdivision heading for the Mactier Subdivision and points west is attached below.

Some chatter on the Canadian Pacific Railway North Toronto/Mactier Subdivision frequency on April 10, 2022 when I was playing with my new recorder.

Merry Christmas

Santa Comes to Liberty Village! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate. I hope this finds all who read and follow my blog well and in good spirits with loved ones as we near the end of another challenging year. Its been a long one for me for many reasons, but as I celebrate Christmas with my family, I also think of my friends who read my blog, and those of you I’ve never met, and I hope you are all well.


Every Day a little bit forward, and a little bit better

This weekend is the “Civic Holiday” weekend in most of Canada, the first monday in August is a holiday for most workers in most provinces. I took the Friday off to extend it into a four day weekend. I was, feeling a bit mopey and not all that motivated yesterday, yet I found myself putting in a half hour or so at the workbench, picking up a project I’ve been ignoring for a while, construction on the Hinde and Dauch paper factory.

Working on resin casting windows from my 3D printed masters. On this one wall alone there are 19 windows and one door to go in the bottom right corner. This building has a lot of windows, and this is the “simplest” wall!

In my constant quest to improve my building technique, I decided again to try something a bit different, sort of combining techniques I have used to try and come up with a better way of marking and cutting out window openings. This remains one of my banes when it comes to scratch building structures, you get ten or twenty openings into a wall, and a careless cut or slipped blade can ruin hours of work, sometimes irreparably. It’s a task that requires patience, and time, not one I can do in a five or ten minute work break, but one I need to have actual blocks of time and calm headspace for.

Working on cutting out window openings, a never ending task when scratchbuilding large factories.

My latest combining of techniques is seen in the pictures above, using a printed paper template with the windows cut out, I then used a black sharpie to trace out the openings onto the styrene wall. With this done, I then tried two techniques, for the square windows I did what I have been doing of late, and drilling corner holes with a #66 bit. Then using a knife and ruler to cut between them until an opening is made. Once the opening is made, I use a file to expand the opening to fit. The second technique on the lower windows was to drill a large centre hole, and use the nibbler tool to open them up. I had gotten away from the nibbler as the small mountain of off cut bits gets infuriating in my office/workshop, but it also offers a lot of control that I don’t find I have with the knife.

This is one of the smaller walls on this building, but that doesn’t make it simple. The majority of the windows are arched at the top, which means careful trimming out then sanding. So far, so good with the few I have done. This is definitely a be calm and take time task. Fortunately, for this wall there are vertical columns of brick that bracket the window columns which will hide any mis cuts along the sides of the windows, so as long as I get the top and bottom tight, it will be fine. I now need to get back to casting some more windows as I haven’t actually done them for the main walls along the rails, where there are a lot of much bigger windows to make and install, and where there are no vertical columns to hide any mistakes.

A week off work full of small projects

I’m a busy body. I’m not good at sitting around and doing nothing, and last week, I took a week off, which normally means I would have gone somewhere or done something. In 2020, that isn’t a thing, so I stayed home. I sat on the patio with some late fall warm days listening to music, I watched Remembrance Day Ceremonies and documentaries, and I worked on a variety of layout tasks.

Painting and scraping, making small steps on many projects.

First up was some time in the paint booth, putting primer on the first of several National Scale Car mini-kit conversions of Intermountain 10′-6″ AAR boxcars into accurate Canadian models, along with starting to turn the styrene tube into wooden telephone poles. I need them to be hollow so I can wire streetlights, so using actual wood was out. Instead, using styrene tube, and a razor saw blade, I can create the appearance of wooden poles. They don’t look like anything yet, but once I get some paint on them, they will. This will be an ongoing project and sooner or later I will write a more fulsome blog post about them.

The other thing being painted, as you can see are 3D printed Fire Hydrants. I went out in the summer and measured actual Toronto Hydrants, these are accurate including the “Toronto Water” TW cast into them, though it’s virtually invisible on the prints. I am super happy with how my hyrdrants turned out, and once they are done being painted and installed, I’ll probably write more about them too.

Finishing the first pass of ballasting the layout. All track now has some ballast, touchups and additions may be needed here and there as I go.

Next up was some actual layout work, ballasting track. The image above shows the last stretch that wasn’t ballasted after ballast and glue were applied. It is a nice feeling as it is a “milestone”, all of my track is now ballasted, it may need to have some more added, but it is now ready for me moving on with finishing the base scenery between the track, roads and building foundations. The last bits of pink foam that you can see will soon disappear!

And another building appears, this time a compressed version of 60 Atlantic.

The next building to move from card/foam mockup to styrene is 60 Atlantic Avenue. A building that spanned the block between Atlantic Avenue and Jefferson Avenue on the north side of the tracks. I have the full block, but it is about half the actual width to fit on my layout, so I am trying to capture the feel of the building through selective compression. I am happy with it, I know what Building it is immediately, and I think others who know Liberty Village will as well when they see it. It’s now ready for paint, trying something different, trying to paint the walls and windows separately, to save a lot of masking and pain that I will have with some other buildings where the windows are already installed. We shall see in time which approach works better for me.

Undoing work I’ve done to correct mistakes

The final task was undoing something I have done. I’ve been laying gravel driveways around buildings, and I made one critical error. Railways would never have allowed gravel to be laid between the rails, even on a private crossing in an industrial area. It moves, and gets pushed up against the inside of rails and causes derailments. The same thing happens in model scale, putting ballast between the rails high enough to be a driveway creates spots where derailments happen. So, using some warm water to soften the glue, I soaked the gravel between the rails and scrapped it away back to level with the rail ties. Now I will be able to go back and add wood board crossings, a much more realistic crossing.

All in all, it was a good week. I had thought I would get more done on the layout, but, at the end of the day, I let how I was feeling drive me. When I got up in the morning, I relaxed, listened to music and started to work on the layout when I felt like it late morning or early afternoon. This is a long term project, and I was never going to finish it in a single week off work, but it was nice to clear the mind and get away from things, knowing that the layout was there waiting for me when I went to my layout room, instead of my work computer and job waiting for me. I’m back to that now, but hopefully the good feelings of relaxation last a few weeks and we can make it to my next break at Christmas.

Urban Wildlife in HO Scale

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I dabble in 3D printing and selling prints of my designs through Shapeways. One of my friends and a fellow modeller in Toronto Bernard Hellen, has taken this a step further and gone all in on his own business selling 3D printed animals and critters of his own designs. His company is Miniprints, where he has used some downtime in the Pandemic to start a business selling 3D printed animals for scenery and working to fill a niche in the marketplace. We’ve been discussing if there are opportunities for him to help me with printing for my layout with parts I’ve drawn. He kindly offered to send me some samples of the Raccoon’s he has designed, as my layout set in Toronto in the 1950’s would most definitely have had some of our City’s legendary “Trash Panda’s” hanging about.

Yup, they are tiny HO Scale 3D printed raccoon’s, all ready for painting.

The models are simple, but they don’t need to be super detailed, that is the trick in HO scale and printing, too much detail in the print sometimes actually hurts the model, the detail is better created through painting and detailing. I chose to paint these by airbrushing a thin coat of white primer, then building up colour from there using Vallejo Washes (pre-thinned paints). I applied a light grey wash, then picked out the eyes and tail stripes in a full strength black, then applied a black wash over top of that. This to my eye captured the grey/white fur colouring of a raccoon without getting too dark.

After priming and fully painted. They certainly look like Raccoon’s to me.

I will definitely be buying some of the raccoon’s when I am ready to start adding little details like this into my scenery, and Bernard has a growing range of critters in different scales and to suit different parts of the world people may be modelling. Its certainly worth a look if you are working on a model and looking for some wildlife to add into your scenery.