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.

Quick General Scenery Update

Haven’t been working much on the layout the past few weeks as May has rolled into June. I’ve been “working” on a batch of seven box cars, six are now painted and ready for decals, but other than a post when they are done as a point of pride in completing a bunch of resin kits, they haven’t made for interesting projects to write above. The weather has gotten nice outside as Spring has finally arrived in Toronto (and summers Humidity has not), work has been busy, and staying in the layout room to work on it after the day job work ends has been less attractive. That said, a couple of weeks ago we had a rainy weekend day where I wasn’t feeling like watching TV, and I wanted to both move the scenery on one side of the layout that is nearing completion forward, and make some steps on the other end where I have recently been working on buildings and paving/scenery to keep it moving forward.

The first fence I wanted to do was a wood board fence, I’ve built plenty before, but in doing this one, I used up pretty much all the scale lumber in the right sizes I had. Time for an order of supplies to start being put together. To build the fence, after I cut everything, I dyed it a variety of stain colours to create the appearance of different ages of boards. Once they were all dry, I pre-built the sections on the desk, drilled holes in the layout, and test fitted as you can see below. I am quite happy with the look of the fence. I need to paint and finish the gate you can see in the pictures, but that’s an easy task. Now that I’ve finally got a fence here, I can sort out finishing scenery in the Brunswick Balke Collender yard.

A “quick” wooden fence in progress, counting out if enough boards have been cut, and the finished project.

The second area, I wanted a chain link fence with a big gate across the siding as this is an industry that received tank cars, so that seemed like it would be appropriate detail for it to be fenced off. I have written in the past about my home made chain link fence, so I won’t go into all the details here. I have only half finished it, I haven’t gotten out the tulle to add the mesh, but I have the gates and pieces I need to finish it, which I need to do sometime even though gluing the tulle to the brass frame inevitably means gluing my fingers to it with the CA! Once I get this bit of fence done though, a quick trip to the paint booth, and the gate for the wood fence above and this fence will be done, and I can blend the scenery around the fence.

Making some short sections of chain link and the gates for an area where tank cars are unloaded.

It is as always, nice to see things go from my minds eye to reality, every time I do this, and I know I’ve said it before, seeing things come to life helps me to get/stay motivated to work on other parts of the layout. Always keep making progress, even when its small!

I ran a train and I liked it…

So one of my friends asked lately if I had run any trains on the layout, and I realized, much to my dismay, that I had not, I hadn’t so much as fired up the DCC in several months other than one of the rare visitors we have had come into the house during the pandemic who had never seen it, so I briefly fired it up just so they could see a train move.

I was having a stressy Friday at work yesterday, and decided mid afternoon that I needed to take my break and run a train to clear my mind, and it was great. Didn’t prep and paperwork or plan anything, just ran a train from CN staging across the layout, then one from CP staging. it didn’t run perfectly, not at all. I didn’t clean or vacuum the track before trying to run the trains, and I’ve been doing scenery, which means potentially dirty sports on the rails, but whatever, I needed to bang some cars about!

Quick video of a CPR Job heading back to Parkdale Yard

Just the simple act of running some trains, even with hiccups (which, yesterday at least didn’t phase me as i knew that would happen) with no prep before running lifted my spirits and made me feel better to get through the last couple of hours of my work day. I even managed to use the ops session as a chance to check a clearance and start thinking about the next phase of scenery and a future project. All in all, a good half hour that sprung out of being frustrated at work, which is a lot easier to escape from to your hobbies on the days I’m still working from home!

Scenes from a quick test run OPS session, and checking clearance for a fence and gates at a recently built structure.

Constant Steady Progress on Buildings

Slow and steady wins the race as they say. I haven’t done anything crazy or particularly revolutionary, just slowly making progress when time permits on scenery and buildings. It is however, immensely satisfying to see things come together, every bit of scenery or layer of paint or pan pastel moves the layout forward, and brings it ever closer to a state where it looks decent in photographs.

Slowly but surely a building emerges. From no paint and no paving, to paint, windows and then the windows fogged from behind. Now to blend the scenery and build a fence and gate!

My latest progress has been on a curved portion of a building on the west end near Mowat. I used this building as my test mule for the Cricut in cutting wall cores and making vinyl window transfers, so I was motivated to actually get it along to the point of being ready to assemble and start to see how it looks as the different parts come together. It is now together and on the layout. I think it will need some more work with pan pastels to build layers of grime and colour on the bricks, but over the course of the weekend its gone from primer to a nearly complete building. I need to spend some time blending scenery around the edges of the styrene pavement, but once that is done, this end of the layout will really start to come alive. I have also decided that the spur where the tank car is parked should be fenced off and have a gate, so I’ll need to break out my fence making jigs again and make some more home brewed chain link.

What a difference some paint makes. Threw a mix of a bunch of brown-ish paints together and threw some paint at the parts of Hinde & Dauch that were ready for it. Let that cure for a while, the mask and paint the window frames.

On the other end of the layout, I am slowly making progress on Hinde & Dauch. I haven’t cut out any more windows in the largest part of the building lately, but I did throw some paint at the other two portions, just for the motivation of seeing the building start to come alive, instead of being grey primer. It is a hugely satisfying and motivating result of half an hours work mixing up a brown paint from 3 or 4 shades and spraying, to then see it look like a building. I will need to let this cure for a bit, then mask and paint the windows and doors, but it is a relatively low effort high reward task to have gotten some paint on it.

Finally Hiding the last of the Foam

A milestone of sorts is basically upon me, the last of the layer of pink insulation foam my layout scenery is built out of is almost gone. I have laid the last base coat of ground cover dirt, and the last bits of hard cover paved area that I am making out of styrene are cut and ready to paint. I have been focusing on the large Hinde and Dauch Paper building and box car kits in terms of layout work the past few weeks, but this past few days the mood struck me to finish something else that I have been working towards, hiding the foam.

Working my way through the last large area of soil to be laid. Between the buildings along the wall will be paved, and a building hides the two tracks.

This is one of those things that could have been done months ago, if I’d wanted to just get on with it, but as with so many of my projects, I have a lot of things on the go as my attention wanders.

The last corner of dirt goes down, and preparing the final styrene concrete and sidewalk parts for painting and installation.

Hopefully in the next few days I can get the paved areas painted and installed, and start working on touch-ups to the base scenery and start thinking about the first passes with some detail scenery using static grass and other soils/dirt’s as appropriate to build texture and colour. As with everything, the end of one project brings others in building a layout, and as my own worst critic sometimes, far too often I see the areas where I need to do work or fix things vs. appreciating what I have done, but for now, I’m just going to sit back (well, stand up given the height of my benchwork), and appreciate the fact that wherever I look on the layout, the last vestiges of unsceniced foam have all vanished!

Windows & Signs for Hinde & Dauch

It’s been a while since I’ve updated on building construction on the layout. I have been mostly working on boxcar kit builds of late. I have done a bit of work since buying my Cricut in advancing the Hinde & Dauch paper company factory. It is one of the main structures on the layout, its size and location makes it prominent when entering the layout room, and it was an industry that generated traffic, and looks big enough to do so, even when compressed in size.

Since using the Cricut to cut new wall cores, I have laminated on brick sheet, and cut out the openings in the brick for the two short walls. I have also installed the windows in the two short walls. They are now basically ready for assembly and painting.

The process of cutting out the brick laminated layer is surprisingly easy. I am finding my windows cut on the Cricut are a touch narrow, but that actually works in my favour. Once I use a sharp xacto blade to cut the brick from behind, the opening is a little bit too tight for the cast resin window. This means I can carefully widen the window to fit each individual casting and account for any variations. This is still a time consuming process, I won’t lie, but it is a much less painful process than cutting out the windows was the way I was doing them before, less mess and much less bending and flexing of the styrene wall causing it to distort. So far, I am much happier with how this wall is going than some other ones have gone.

Walls and Windows. The Cricut cut core, laminated with brick sheet, and getting all the windows cast and ready to install.

With the walls making progress in being ready to be assembled into a building and painted, the next thing I needed is to prepare the painted wall signs. I have written in the past about my technique on this. I have in the past made decals and transferred the black decal onto white painted areas on the wall. I am looking at least if I can use the Cricut to cut masks using removable vinyl and painting the white, then masking, then painting the black. This would look even better than I already think my signs look, I am not sure if it will work. I also don’t think I have any removable Vinyl to experiment with, so this will need some more thinking to see if I do as I have, or try something different.

Hinde & Dauch has lots of painted on signs, and they are large. Getting them drawn up and then testing printouts on the walls.

Even with just paper printouts on unpainted buildings, the sense of the look is inspiring, and definitely helps me feel that this building’s long gestation and many months of taunting me are on their way to being behind me.