Moving on to the next Building

Having taken a bit of a break from serious layout work through August and the first half of September, last weekend I pulled the Cricut out and started drawing walls and windows. The Building at 20 Mowat Avenue is one that is compressed in size to fill space between two others that are more focused in 18 Mowat Avenue and Canadian General Electric.

The Cricut out and cutting walls, then laminating vinyl window frames onto clear styrene, and weeding the window panes. Once the walls were cut, I then use them to prep the brick sheet to be laminated on before cutting out the windows.

This is a pretty small building, its selectively compressed to fit the space. My approach to building buildings has been to use a thick base of 0.060″ styrene to match the foundations I installed at the start of layout building. With the Cricut, I can now cut out the building cores, and work to laminate on brick or stone details. Once the brick is laminated onto to the core, I use the openings cut by the Cricut to open out the windows from the inside. I can then file, shave and nibble the openings to fit the windows. For this building, I am again using vinyl to create the window patterns. With the windows, I can check and see how much space I need to trim to fit. As with many things, I leave my windows cut by the Cricut a bit small, as it is much easier to make the openings larger than it is to fill in gaps if they are too big. That is a bit less critical with the vinyl windows, as it is a lot easier to re-cut them to a larger size and on buildings using either commercial plastic windows, or on buildings where I need to do 3D printed windows and cast them in resin to create the right look and feel.

My technique for “painting” with Pan Pastels, using a micro applicator to get good coverage into the tight spots that I can’t get into for good coverage with the sponge on the brick.

I am still learning how I want to paint my buildings. I’ve done a bit of everything on the layout. I do like the PanPastels powdered pigment, as I am starting to get the hang of applying them and not filling in the brick mortar lines. I have found this easier than going back with paint washes or mortar washes to pick out the brick lines as I have had to do on buildings painted with the airbrush or a spray can. I think there is need for both techniques as I go depending on the building, so improving how I do things is important. On this latest building, I am continuing to work with experimenting in weathering and aging the building as I go. Nothing crazy, but getting a feel for applying a bit of grey where water would run off the window. As the PanPastels don’t self adhere permanently without being oversprayed with a fixative, you can treat them like an oil, and pull them down, move them after application. This meant that I could dab on grey, and move it about using vertical strokes to create the appearance of water runoff. I am waiting on some more colours (I need white) to finish this work before I spray the building to seal it. The one thing I don’t like, and that I am still working on, is the clear spray inevitably changes the appearance of the pastels. It darkens them (not the end of the world), but can cause fine detail to disappear (more of a problem). I am finding that I have to be, more generous in how much PanPastel I apply so that what looks good before I spray, still is visible after! There is a feel to this, and I’m not sure I am there yet, but I would rather underapply now and go back and add more over, than overdo it.

From hardboard mockup to styrene, to primed and then partially painted with PanPastels. Not bad for a weekend and a couple of evenings work.

The next few buildings are ones that are not as compressed to fit and fill space, and that will help create the sense of being in Liberty Village by representing actual major buildings, like Canadian General Electric and the Toronto Carpet Factory. This of course, is all in my seemingly pathological effort to avoid cutting out the windows on Hinde & Dauch and actually moving it along… someday…It is a hobby after all, at least I have things to work on even if a lot of the time it is to avoid a slow and fiddly task that even when I make progress on it, seems to daunt me!

Seven Boxcars fleet weathered and with Brake Lines

That’s it, they are done for now. The mini fleet of seven resin box car kits I have been working on are as done as they are getting at the moment. They have been lightly weathered to take the worst of the freshly painted sheen off, and had rubber brake lines from Hi-Tech Details installed. They are now ready for some running in to find any problems that need fixing, and for me to get some paperwork done so I can start setting up operating sessions (the lack of paperwork is not unique to these cars.

Before and after initial weathering, yes, it is subtle on most of them, but the grime brings out some detail and further differentiates similar cars. Future me will weather some/all of them more individually than this quick fleet job.

I don’t remember when I first used the Hi-Tech Details brake lines, but for me, they are a game changer. Much easier to install, just two holes, dabs of CA Glue and insert the two prongs, and they are in. They are rubber, so they deflect over anything sticking up from the roadbed, and you can’t snap them while coupling/uncoupling cars reaching in with a tool to reach the couplers. I really like them, and in all likelihood as I go and cars that have more solid air hoses lose them, I will upgrade my whole fleet with them.

Closeups are always cruel, but you can see the rubber brake lines on the ends of the car. Nice and flexible so they don’t easily break off. Second shot shows the two mounting points and what it looks like from underside.

Time to get back to building buildings and advancing the layout scenery. I made some progress at long last on Hinde & Dauch last week and the main wall windows. I am officially half way through. 17 window openings done with windows inserted, 17 to go. Hopefully make some more progress on that this week.

Four Years of Construction Progress on Liberty Village

Wow, four years since a group of friends helped launch the construction of Liberty Village. I had no idea when I started construction, how it would go. It turns out, its been a varied four years since I started work, two years where I had help from friends that got me to the point that the benchwork was done, and track laid, then two years on my own where I’ve plugged away at scenery and buildings. I can’t wait to have my friends back to see the layout again and run trains, but for now, this is just a thanks to show how far I have come, how far I still have to go, and appreciate the process. Still plenty of building to go, but certainly lots been done in the past 4 years. Here’s to four more years of progress getting me to a point where its largely complete!

Before benchwork, at the end of the day August 11, 2018, and today, August 11, 2022. Progress clearly visible!
Looking into the closet, again before Benchwork, after it was just built, and today.

Seven Boxcars now with Decals

A nice update for me, as a small fleet of seven resin boxcar kits I have been working on the past few months are really starting to look the part. Over the past week I have gotten the decals onto all seven cars. They all need clear coating, weathering and brake hoses added, but they now look done, even if they will still be getting worked on for a bit. This is one of those things where seeing things go from bare resin to painted and detailed really helps to motivate me to get a go on with projects big and small, including the work to finish these.

Beginning of July above, end of July below, good progress. Just sealing the decals, weathering and rubber brake hoses to finish them.

Another Mini Diorama

So, I teased in a couple of posts (here & here) that I am building another stand alone diorama, I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I am going to show a bit of detail. It is another 12×12 project panel model of a specific real world building, much like the Diorama of Bar Volo’s original location I built several years ago. It will have two buildings, one of them is the focus, the second which you’ve seen is background. It will have lights and some other things to make it hopefully, a dynamic feeling mini-scene.

My chosen road material, Lepage Thick Hole Repair drywall compound, tinted with grey acryllic paint so if it gets dented in the future it isn’t gleaming white.

I have started as I do with these small project, a lot of time collecting parts and supplies and doing small side projects that become a part of the bigger whole when assembled. The past couple of weeks these smaller projects are hitting my motivation sweet spot, as I am not doing a lot of new things, but using skills I am pretty comfortable with to putter and visualize and test assemble and look to see how things are going to work. This makes it a good project for work days. When I need my 15 minute breaks in the morning or the afternoon, I can quickly turn to the bench and feel I’ve accomplished something. This is one of the problems I am having with my current main layout project of the never ending windows of Hinde & Dauch paper, I need to be in the right mindset, and have time. A rushed effort in a work break to cut out some windows will inevitably lead to a mistake, and swearing, and trains are stupid… and its summer time, I don’t want to be grumpy with my hobby, I want to enjoy it!!

Scratch Built Traffic Signal

I posted earlier this week about a new side project in discussing brass fire escapes for a building. It does tie to the layout in some skill-building as I will need fire escapes for one building on the layout, and learning to solder brass is a useful modelling skill.

This post, is another related to the diorama, but where the skills being used can be applied to my layout. I don’t have traffic signals on the layout, but I do want to have working streetlights, and there are something like a dozen of my hydro poles that will have street light arms added. Figuring out how to make the lights work is important. For my previous Bar Volo model, I drew up the Toronto Style “Acorn” lamp heads, but they were a bit oversized, and Shapeways does not print the translucent material anymore. I am at some point going to at least get some static versions printed so I can “finish” the hydro poles on the layout, as long as I am smart about how I add the arms, revisiting them to add working lights later is something I can do at some future date, but for now, on with what I was doing this past week, making a traffic light.

Scratch built light standard using K&S Aluminum tubes, some Tichy Phosphor Bronze wire, and the D5 DEM Modelsmiths LED Traffic Light.

For this diorama, I need a single traffic light, in a very specific style of design for the location of the building being modelled. I spent a lot of time searching online, and then, found on Etsy of all places, Modelsmiths Designs. They have a stand alone website too. When I first found them, neither site offered shipping to Canada, which is something I find too often that places won’t ship here, or ask exorbitant rates. Fortunately, the owner was very friendly when I contacted them, and looked into it with their shipping services, and was able to add affordable shipping to Canada, so I ordered two hanging 3 light traffic signals. They sell a range of traffic signals, streetlights, railroad signals and other details in HO, O and S Scales. They also sell electronic controllers for them. I didn’t buy a controller, as I expect I will just static wire the light to a single colour for the diorama, but as I build who knows, I think I have a three way switch somewhere that I could wire in to manually change the light aspect. My initial response to testing the lights now months after I bought them, and fishing the wires through the tubes, is that I am very very happy with them, and hopefully down the road I will have use for other of their projects, I like to support people who make good products, and who go out of their way to be fair in shipping to Canada, as its much easier as a small producer to just saw “naw, the effort for a handful of sales isn’t worth it.”

In terms of construction, I had some different gauges of K&S Metals Aluminum Tube kicking around. I thought about using styrene tube initially, but I think the aluminum does two things, it bends a bit better for the extension arm, and is a little bit stronger for long term handling. I was able to find the specification drawing for the light online, so I had rough dimensions to make sure I built it roughly to scale (as close as my eyesight allows, and I don’t tend to get too worked up about an inch here or there on scale dimensions!).

Working Streetlights. Red, yellow and green LED’s in the lamp housing.

I have some cleanup work to do, and filling in the open ends of tubes, but once I am happy with it, and have fabricated a base, it will be off to the paintshop to provide a cleanish look for the pole and hide the different materials. All in all, a good quick project to get the core work done and see if what I thought actually worked in terms of how to realize this part of the project.