Finishing some various Layout projects

Part of building a layout is reaching milestones, sometimes they are big, sometimes they are small. These are some smallish milestones on various things.

First up, installing fences. None are permanently glued down, but the first four fences, two chain link, one board, and one corrugated steel are no in place on the layout. They all need some adjusting here and there, then some scenery around them, but they are now not propped up with pins or paint jars or clamps or anything else, they are just standing. I dry brushed on thinned white paint to the wooden fence for the Brunswick Balke Collender lumber yard on the south side of the street, using thinned white paint applied to try and create a weathered/whitewashed look as based on the aerial photographs I have, at least originally this fence was a lighter colour, and I think this looks better than bare wood.

The green corrugated metal fence is the southern end of the Mercer Reformatory for Women prison. I’m not modelling the prison itself, the building was off the layout, but the south end of the yard just gets onto the layout. The whitewashed wood fence is the lumber yard for Brunswick Balke Collender’s pool table and bowling alley factory.

Second up, I wrote a couple of weeks ago about rebuilding the legs on the water tower for Hinde & Dauch. I finally got an order of Plastruct Trusses to re-do the bracing and square up the legs. It is in need of a new coat of paint, some primer to hide where paints were taken off and on new parts, then a re-spray of the aluminum to put everything back to looking finished. As part of the rebuild, I also wound up replacing the railing with something a little bit finer. I’m not 100% on the plastic railing. I may yet pull it off and replace it with one made from metal wire, we shall see. I’m not in any rush to paint, I was in a rush to get the legs done as with the bracing gone, and the main legs loose until I had new bracing, it was at constant risk of falling apart, now its at least secure again.

Water tower with straight legs and new bracing. Looking much better to me.

Third, and certainly not last, is finishing paving the roads. This isn’t the roads done, they need some touch ups of plaster here and there, then sanding, painting, weathering, and on to turn them into finished scenery, but, the milestone of having done at least the first level of all the paved roads is a big one, it means I can go back to test running trains as all the flangeway fillers have been removed, and I can work on finding any spaces I got putty I didn’t want that will affect operations before I get on to doing touchups and painting the roads.

The second to last area to be “paved”, and the two gap areas waiting on a final batch of tinted drywall putty when the picture was taken.

To celebrate the end of another work week, I mixed up one last big batch of drywall putty tonight, and finished the roads. My technique has worked and not worked at times, tonight’s paving was mostly ok, but I am glad I am done with the majority of this work other than some touchups. It was harder than I’d thought, though I am mostly happy with the outcome. There are no problems that cant be fixed through some spot filling here and there, some sanding and the eventual painting/weathering of the roads, so that is a good thing!

Finished and setting! The last portions of the roads are paved on the layout.

Now on to cleaning the tracks in the crossings to fix any electrical shorts from rails buried in plaster, and onto some test running of trains to make sure I haven’t done anything to the trackwork that would be better fixed now than when more scenery is done later!

Rebuilding the Water Tower for Hinde and Dauch

Last year I built a kit for the water tower on the Hinde and Dauch factory. The longer I’ve looked at it, and especially now that I’ve started to get the building and its compression/scaling sorted out, some of the things I did per the kit are both not going to work physically and were bothering me visually.

The JL Innovative Red Rock Water Tower built as per the kit in place at H&D and on the ground for sense of scale. It is sitting high in position behind the mockup as I couldn’t find a shorter box.

The kit, while nice, was designed to sit on the ground, the legs splay out and get wider at the bottom than the top. When I look at my pictures and those of the building before the tank was removed for storeys to be added when it was turned into a residential condominium, the legs are clearly straight on this tower. For it to fit on the top of the building in the space available, I needed to disassemble the legs, and get them straight, and either take a couple of inches off, or modify it so it sits hidden inside the tower at the corner of the plant.

With the leg bracing from the kit ripped out, and a new base to hold the feed square, starting to get a much better look.

As much as it pained me to start pulling apart the legs, which were a real pain to get together and get braced the first time, within minutes of getting all the bracing out, and gently prising the tops of the legs loose from the tank, with legs being vertical up and down without any angle to them instantly looked better, and fit better on the building

The water tower in 2005 (with giant sign added) and with the legs straightened and getting more to right height on the layout mockup of the plant.

I’ve since ordered from styrene truss material to re-do the support frames to better match the real world pictures, and once that arrives, I can finalize the height of the tower and start the re-assembly process, and then re-paint to have it back to layout ready. I’ve also ordered some new styrene handrail material, the more I’ve looked at it, the less I like the laser cut wood handrail around the platform from the kit. Such is the way of the modeller trying to recreate accurate representations of real buildings, sometimes, even when you start with a kit, you wind up replacing half of it (or more) to get you to the finish line you were seeking. I’ll post again about this in a few weeks time whenever parts have come in and I’ve made some progress.

An Auxiliary Train for Liberty Village

Recently I built one of the Tichy Trains 40′ flat car kits. It was such a well designed kit and a joy to build, that it finally pushed me over the top to take on a project I’ve thought about for years, but never pulled the trigger on buying. So, out I went onto the interwebs with stores closed, and ordered a Tichy 120 Ton Crane and Boom Car kit to build an auxiliary train to go with the flat car and its junk box.

Both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific had very similar cranes, in fact, in my Tuesday Train post last week, the CPR crane at the New Brunswick Railway Museum is a 100 Ton American Crane rail crane, but as I’d already gone down the road of starting a CN auxiliary, I was in for this to be a CNR recovery train. That said, this project was so much fun, I could actually see myself buying another and doing a CPR one as well!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the early part of the build. These show the parts strewn about as i got started, the ugly looking”Steel” roof before I sanded it down to turn it into tar paper & add wood roof walks, and the boom car cabin walls being modified to add side windows to match CN prototype reference photos.

Having found photographs of both sides (here and here) of CNR 50031, a 100 Ton crane of a similar design that was assigned to the Toronto Auxiliary out of Mimico, I decided to make modifications to the cab of the crane, to enclose it which would go almost all the way to making the model match the Mimico crane. There are some small visual differences in the boom and how its rigged from the pictures, but I decided I could live with my crane being a 90% prototype model based on the information I have, as this isn’t a core piece of layout equipment, but something to look cool and fill some space in staging, and occasionally run out when I want to have some fun with something different.

I also made changes to the boom car. The roof in the kit is frankly, one of the few ugly bits, a blobby styrene attempt to be steel, with thick plastic roof walks. Looking at pictures of CN Boom cars, they tended to have side windows in the cabs, so those needed to be added, and the roofs looked to be tar-paper or something similar, and have wood roof walks. All of these as can be seen in the pictures were easy changes. Take a chisel blade in an xacto knife to remove the ribs on the roof (I left the standoffs for the roof walk, they were useful, and glue on some of my chosen tar-paper material, 600 grit sandpaper! A white metal casting caboose chimney added on completed the roof improvements on the boom car.

Working to enclose the cab. After assembling the sub components, I rolled 0.020″ styrene to match the body curves, and started adding windows and doors to match the prototype photos as best I could.

I can’t say enough how well designed the Tichy crane kit is. It went together so nicely, and was well organized into sprues of parts for sub assemblies to make putting it together into the sub components for painting a dream. I wish all kits were this well thought out and with nice molds. And this kit is by most standards, ancient, I don’t know how long it’s been on the market, but I know its been out there a very long time.

Working on the cab enclosure, and starting the painting process with some primer.

For the boom, similar to the flatcar, rather than using styrene deck walls, I made my own from strip wood. This let me weather them with stains, so the inside looks like weathered wood, then spray the outside boxcar red like the rest of the car before adding decals. I have decaled the car and crane using decals from three different Black Cat Publishing sets, a CN Crane Set, a CN Work Car Set, and the leftovers from the flat car set. The only wording I had to do by individual letters from a letter sheet was the “Toronto” on the boom tender “Toronto Auxiliary” label, which was good as one thing I hate is lettering with individual numbers and letters!!

Weathering the steel deck plates on the boom car with Bragdon Powders.

I weathered the steel deck on the boom car using the same technique as on my Dominion of Canada model, Bragdon weathering powders. They have a variety of rust and grime shades, and they have a built in adhesive component, so they stick to parts before sealing. I did still flat coat the finished car to blend and hold, just so the little bit of powder that can still come off even with the adhesive is stopped. I find it tends to get onto your fingers and wind up on things you don’t want rusty fingerprints on if you don’t seal it!

One of the nice aspects of this kits design, being modules for painting ease, means I could paint parts and rig the boom before I had received the detail parts (steam generator on roof, wire for ladders) and paint the cab later.

I will say, in all honesty, one part of building a crane kit is absolutely terrible, even on a well designed kit like this, rigging the cables on the boom. It sucked. It is what it is, but its a fiddly part of the project that took a couple of stabs as I would start, and start getting caught on the wrong pulleys or having the thread cable cross, and I just needed to stop and walk away.

Mostly finished and on the layout in CN Staging. A few paint touchups, and retaining chains between the boom and the frame of the crane, then some weathering!

All in all, this was a fun project, it is a really well designed kit, and anyone reading who has ever wanted a crane for their layout, in my opinion this is the way to go. In due course it will get some touchups and weathering, but for now, it looks good sitting at the back of staging waiting on someone putting a car in the dirt that they can’t just rerail by dragging it back onto the rails!

Building a Fleet of Freight Car Kits

Compared to many, I don’t have an overly full project drawer/shelf/closet of freight car kits to build, but I’ve got a dozen, and in the past few weeks, I’ve started on five of them. I’ve written in the past about how much rolling stock I think I need, and making a dent in the kit drawer will make me feel better about inevitable future kit purchases!! Presnetly underway are two “mini-kits” from my friend Ryan’s company National Scale Car, one full resin kit from my friend Pierre’s Yarmouth Model Works, a Kaslo Shops kit and a Tichy Train Group kit. I’ll talk a little about each of these below, as I am in various stages of the builds, and as I noted earlier today, discovering all kinds of things I’m out of, like phospher bronze wire for making brake lines!! All needed supplies I’ve uncovered thus far are on order at least, and there is plenty I can do to advance kits while I wait on parts arriving.

National Scale Car CN & CP 10′-6″ NSC3 End Mini Kits

Ryan’s kits are “Mini Kits”, which allow you to use a commercially available kit as the core, and he provides accurate resin cast doors, car ends, and instructions on making other changes to make a more accurate representation of the car you are modelling. I have six of his mini-kits in total, four of them are for 10′-6″ interior height boxcars, two for Canadian National and two for Canadian Pacific. The other two kits I have are for 10′ interior height cars from US railroads for some variety. The donor kits are made by Intermountain Railway, and build up quite nicely.

For the Canadian cars, the Intermountain roofs in the kit are not right, but they and others sell the correct styles of roof, so these are also being added, along with etched roof walks from Yarmouth Model Works and Tichy brake components. When done, these will be four backbone cars of the fleet given the hundreds of them owned by CNR and CPR.

Yarmouth Model Works YM-104 40′ Wabash 12 Panel Welded Boxcar

Pierre’s kits are fantastic, they have everything you need except for paint, glue and couplers, and fill niches that big manufacturers in the ready-to-run market will never touch. I have four of his kits, and I want more of them as money permits!

This car is the first one where he attempted to capture the wavy look of welded cars where the heat from the welding warps the metal carbodies. You can see it in the picture below, I know its hard to keep it visible when the car is finished and painted, but it looks really cool, so hopefully I can keep it. I haven’t done much work on this other than test fitting things and mounting the trucks temporarily, but it looks like it will build up nicely based on the quality of the resin and etched parts, and the clarity of the instructions.


Kaslo Shops HK-11 36′ Fowler Boxcar

The Kaso kit is a model of a car that the CPR and CNR had thousands of, 36′ wood box cars to the Fowler pattern design. I have several Accurail Fowlers which are cheap and cheerful fleet builders. This car should be a slightly higher fidelity one, though I bought it second hand at a flea market for $15.00, and the original owner had started to build it and made some missteps. I’ve been able to undo some of them, others I am still working on, but at this point, I’m comfortable that it will at least be a half decent looking car, even if I determine in time that it will become a siding filler on the layout. Its good practice on kit building, and overcoming problems with a kit and project.

Tichy Train Group 4021 – 40′ Flat Car

The Tichy kit is one that has been around for ages. Ryan and I found a guy selling them for $4.00 at a flea market a couple of years ago. We each bought one. I wish the guy had more, but I don’t really need a fleet of flatcars. I suspect in time I will track down a Tichy 120-Ton Steam Crane and Boom Car, and build a representation of the Mimico Auxiliary train, I doubt there was ever a derailment bad enough in Liberty to have needed to try and bring the rail based crane in (I’m not sure it would have made the curves into the area), but hey, it will look good in staging or in the display case.

The kit itself is really nice, injection moulded styrene and goes together easily and with minimal fuss. Following along with Ryan’s notes here on making the car more like a Grand Trunk/Central Vermont prototype, and from pictures of similar vintage CN cars, I removed the ribs from the stake pockets. I have decals for CN flatcars coming, and will hopefully be finishing the painting of the car this long weekend, with decals and weathering to follow.

That leaves 7 kit projects un-started in the drawer, I will probably start the other two mini kits for the CN and CP cars when they arrive, as then I can paint the two cars for each railroad at the same time with the same base paint. Its been nice to see a bunch of kits come to life, the beige boxes in the drawer aren’t nearly as much fun as the kits are when you get to working on them!

IMG_21935 kits in various states of progress in the CN staging yard, their storage location off the workbench when I’m not actively advancing them.

This seems awfully modern…

What’s this then, its not from the 1950’s???

Every now and then, much as I build a plastic kit or do something else to work on skills, I work on models that aren’t actually for my layout. This is one that’s been kicking around for a couple of years since I picked up a decal set for the VIA Rail “Canada 150” wraps that ran in 2017. This is a moderate detail up project, using an unpowered Athearn “Blue Box” P42 locomotive that I got cheap at a flea market show. I don’t care if it doesn’t run, this is one for the display case as I really liked what VIA did for Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation by decorating a number of locomotives and coaches with different names of Cities and Towns served by the train.

The project is a fun one, adding some rooftop and underbody details, the new high intensity headlight that isn’t in the old body, and adding some photo etched metal grills on the radiators at the rear. Then it will be a chance to practice on airbrushing and masking for painting. Not a high priority project, but one that as I’ve been cleaning and organizing around the layout room and workbench, I decided this week to make a start on for something to do aside from layout construction.

IMGP9501VIA Rail Canada P42 No.900 leads a train eastbound near Newtonville Ontario on June 26, 2017 showing off the “Canada 150” wrap.

When all Glues have failed you…

Learning, this is at the end of the day, a hobby about learning. Learning about prototypes, how to build things, how things work, how to get things done. There are so many ways people do things out there. I’ve previously written about a side project of an HO Scale police car I was building with LED lights. I’ve had nothing but problems with this project. I’ve mangled two sets of the fantastic LED lighting units from Evans Design LEDs. So what did I do, I recently ordered a third set!!

Hey, we’re looking like a police car again with flashing lights hidden inside the vehicle.

So, when I got the package on Wednesday this week, the LED set has been modified, instead of being pre connected to a giant hub, each string was separate, and once they were run instead of having a giant nest on the end of the wire, I’d have to wire them up myself. I thought, this would make life easier for maneuvering, and I was right. What was still going wrong, was all my technique for trying to install the LEDs and get them to hold in place. I was using LED wax, trying CA glue, just nothing. Then I thought of a product that was on my to try list for a while after seing how useful it was from friends. A product called Bondic, which, as they are quite clear, is not a glue. What it is, is a Ultraviolet (UV) light cured plastic. It comes in a dispenser with a UV LED, and you put a little bit of the liquid out, and hit it with the LED for 4 seconds, and it becomes solid. It may not be a glue, but it works like one when it comes to affixing LEDs inside a model. Now you only get one shot at it, so you need to be sure, but so long as you take your time, it works well.

The Bondic kit, and the inside of the police car with the wires Bondic’d? into place.

Its a product that takes some learning, as you need to build it up in thin layers if you need to fill a large area, as it only cures where the UV light can hit it, you can’t use it in a place where you can’t get the UV light to shine in, and if the layer is too thick, the top will harden and the interior won’t, but it’s absolutely fantastic to use. Saying all that about needing to learn, this lunkhead blasted ahead at 11pm on a Wednesday night to use it on a project after he got home from his Rec Soccer game as he was so frustraited at the project he either wanted it done, or dumpstered. As the short videos below show, the lighting now qualifies as done!! Some cleanup on the model, paint the bright red interior dark like a Toronto police car, and then decals and install. Hurray for progress!!