Wiping out Safety Stripes

With my layout being set in the 1950’s, I’m working on collecting or modifying models to be accurate representations of what would have been seen in Liberty Village. Back in the fall of 2018, I picked up an Atlas S-2, it was already in CPR paint, but paint for an era that was just a bit too late for my still not quite pinned down 1955-1958 ish layout era. The shell for the locomotive has been sitting on my workbench for months waiting on me getting a paint booth set up at the house so I can airbrush. Haven’t gotten there yet, but the 1950’s being the way they were, there was one more aspect of the Atlas S-2 that I realized had to go, the bright yellow safety stripes on the pilots at either end.

IMG_7305Safety Stripes on the pilot, recommended for a switcher to help it be seen, but not there in the 1950’s in the paint scheme i’m applying.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered that paint on Atlas locomotives is easily removed using 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. Which is great as it’s readily available at the drug store, and compared to a lot of other chemical paint strippers sold in hobby stores, or things like brake fluid that some people swear by, its paint removal qualities on models its relatively benign. Relatively benign doesn’t mean don’t take any precautions. Well ventilated spaces, gloves, masks and the like are all still important when working with any chemical for any length of time.

In this case, a little bit of alcohol poured into a paint mixing cup, and some Q-tips and toothpicks are the tools needed. Applying the alcohol with the q-tip and gently rubbing will start to loosen the paint from the cast metal pilot, and as you rub, you can eventually see places where the paint is holding tighter in corners and around details. This is where the tooth pick comes in to gently rub at more stuck on paint, then go back at it with the q-tip moistened in alcohol again.  It took me maybe 20 minutes total to do the two ends.

More or less finished project to remove the stripes. Because the locomotive will be fairly heavily weathered representing a hard-working locomotive at the end of this paint scheme, it doesn’t need to be perfect, just good enough. (right photo of 7020 by Dom McQueen, 1952. From the Bill Sanderson collection. Scan From Here.

This was another of those I need to do something projects where I was watching car racing this afternoon, and realized the only reason I hadn’t gotten rid of the safety stripes was because I was being lazy. Another check mark on this project. Now to finally get around to sorting out that paint booth!!

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Brunswick Balke Collender Power House

This weekend, in my process of constructing the Liberty Village Line, while I am still plugging away without laying track, I decided to start converting the large remnant piece of 0.060″ Styrene from the backdrop into the structures for the layout.

img_7205Not the most convenient work surface, but when I was dealing with an 8′ sheet of styrene, the floor is all I’ve got to get rough cuts done at least.

With the big chunk of leftover styrene, I have enough material to make a serious dent in the internal cores of a large number of structures on the layout. I decided to start with the only structure I’ve mocked up (I’ll mock-up the others once the track is laid and final alignment known). The first building to start taking true physical form is the power house for the Brunswick Balke Collender company, which made pool tables and bowling alleys and other entertainment/games. The buildings are both still there, the powerhouse (now modified to be a bank), and the factory building which houses offices and restaurants.

Wall cores cut from 0.060″ styrene sheet, cutting corner braces from 0.25″ square styrene, and gluing the first corners together.

With the space I have for the layout, my boilerhouse is about half the size of the real building. I’m compressing it by shortening the building, so that I can fit the main wall of the factory onto the layout as well. This is a pretty simple building for the main structure. Four walls, for my purposes, only three openings, two doors and a window on the south wall adjacent to the tracks.

This is a simple building, only the “front” wall adjacent to Liberty Street has any openings in my selectively compressed version to fit the layout space.

The Chimney will be a bit more complicated. I’m still working on how I’m going to creat it. I also don’t have nearly enough patterned brick sheet for building the larger buildings or the chimney. I’ve got a show coming up next weekend where I’m selling more stuff from the collection (I’ll post an update about that mid-week). The Chimney has a taper from bottom to top, and then a flare at the top. Fortunately, the Chimney is a down the road problem. First things first is to build the main part of the building.

Working on adding trim around the doors and window, the wall with a brick veneer added, and then with doors and window in place.

This is being built-in “traditional” ways. Sheet styrene, injection molded styrene doors and window from Grandt Line (now out of business, all their tooling has bought by a new company, the San Juan Model Co.). It was a nice simple structure for my weekend, four walls, a roof, a bit of detail around where the chimney will be. After working on and off between other household tasks, the walls are all together, with brick, the window and doors are in place, and the roof is rough cut in place. I held off on attaching it as I am debating best order of operations for attaching it, detailing it, etc along with the building walls so I don’t take a step that then makes painting the walls the buff beige/yellow colour that the brick actually is, as opposed to the red of the styrene sheet.

img_7235Replacing the cardboard structure with a taped on printout of an architectural drawing (of the modernized building) with some styrene and a cardboard chimney (everything in due course).

While I doubt that I will have been able to paint it before the Copetown and Toronto Railway Prototype Modeller meets at the end of February/Beginning of March, I suspect this will be one of the few things I actually bring with me to these get togethers, if only because I haven’t been building much else that’s portable in the past year with the house move and layout construction!

First Track Laid for Liberty Village

Another week, another layout milestone. I was having a rough day the other day, lots of things going on with work and just got home feeling beat. I was looking for something to put a smile on my face in the layout room. I’ve held off on doing any track laying until my switches are built so I can make sure everything lines up at the staging sliders. Despite this, I realized there is some track I can lay in a corner of the room that is scenic only. To hide a corner in the closet at the east end, I have room for a couple of fake tracks to represent the Canadian Pacific Parkdale Yard.

img_7184Cutting foam roadbed and track to fit in the corner to represent Parkdale Yard.

To do this little bit of trackwork, I decided to use up some old Woodland Scenics Foam Roadbed roll. I used this on my previous layout built circa 2003 in my parents old house in Georgetown when I lived at home for a couple of years after finishing university before I was sure my job in Toronto was going to work out, and to let me pay off some student debt before paying rent.

The roadbed in place, with DAP silicone caulk and then track put in place.

The foam roadbed was glued down using Gorilla Wood Glue. I had done a series of tests with a bunch of adhesives to check that it would bond to the pink foam and not melt it with spare off cuts of foam and roadbed. I decided that the Gorilla Wood Glue was the best for these materials. I have to do the test again with the cork roadbed for the working tracks, but that’s a down the road matter.  I have room for two full tracks across the angle of the corner, which I can put some freight cars on to be a visual block for the join between the benchwork and the backdrop. The yard was obviously much bigger than this, but a couple of tracks provides a bit of extra staging and a visual filler for the space.

First rolling stock on the layout on track actually affixed to the benchwork (and yes, I know it’s a CNR Caboose in a CPR yard, I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered to dig in the tubs of stored equipment to find a CPR caboose!!)

While I wait on my switches being finished for the serious track laying to commence, the next time I feel the need to do something, I have a bit of track I can practice painting, weathering and ballasting before the main layout work starts. Happy start to my weekend as well writing this post!

Filling in the Last Gap around the wall

When I originally designed the layout, I didn’t plan to use all the space in the closet for extra tracks in staging, I didn’t think I needed to, and didn’t want to have to mess around fitting pieces around the shelf brackets. Then I discovered even in the areas I thought the brackets would clear, they didn’t (See here and the fix here). Today I finally had a chance to swing by somewhere with a table saw, and cut a little bit of plywood to fill the last gap we left in construction back in August.

img_7168A hole in the layout, left because the old shelf supports blocked the area, now gaining some extra layout real estate.

Once I test fit the little bit of plywood into the opening, I took it back out and pre-drilled and countersunk where the screws would go, I got it back in, and because of the low overhead height, I hand drilled pilot holes into the cross frames. Once one hole was drilled and a screw put in, the other three were easy.

Hand piloting the holes because of restricted space, and the filler piece installed.

With the plywood in, it was easy work to cut down another bit of the pink foam, and tack it in place with No More Nails cauk. All told, probably took me an hour including cleanup to finally have the around the wall portion of the benchwork all done. Nice way to do the first layout work for 2019!

img_7172Ready for roadbed and track. No more room for a train to fall down behind the layout anymore!

Another Saturday, and some more benchwork progress

IMG_6827Looking like a layout.

I haven’t actually done much in terms of actual work on layout building of late, that’s coming in 2019 when my friend finishes building switches, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been active at least working my way through layout building issues and things I need to do.

Having had some time to live with the benchwork, I’ve uncovered problems and opportunities to change my plan before I actually lay any track to hopefully wind up with a better layout at the end of the day.

IMG_6832The “West” or CNR Staging, puttering around with track alignment gauges and flex track in advance of laying track.

The past few weeks I’ve been playing with flex track on the traverser that is easier to work on for the west end of the layout. I figure once I’ve done the installation of track out here, it will be easier to replicate in the tighter closet for the east. The west staging will have four tracks, the east can accommodate 5 because of how the lead to the layout reaches it, but I’m leaning to only installing 4, I don’t need more for the size of my layout, and I don’t want to encourage myself to buy more rolling stock than I actually need!

The “east” or Canadian Pacific Staging area, the traverser was out so I could work, showing the finding of a replacement tail track board, and getting it in and foamed today.

With the discovery that I had to replace the closet shelf brackets, it meant I could have a proper tail track off the traverser for each track on the shelf. To do this, I had to take down the original piece that was cut around the old bracket, and install a new one. Fortunately, I had the perfectly sized piece of spare plywood from benchwork construction in the summer, and was able to carefully remove the existing piece, and use the screw holes in it as a guide to drill holes in the new piece so it lined up exactly the same. Success, the traverser still slides properly, so it was on to putting on the pink foam, and being back to where I was at the start of the day, ready to lay track!

And now, if you’re still reading, an apology, there hasn’t been any of my “Tuesday Train” railfan photo posts in December. I haven’t had time, and I’ve been remembering sometime during the day on Tuesday while I’m at work, my new job has many perks, but one of the things I can’t do at it is waste my time doing silly stuff like blogging about trains. I’m going to take the Rest of December off the Tuesday Train, and re-set and get ready to get back on with model making and layout building in 2019. I’ll have a year in review post as I’ve done the other years of this blog before January 1, but for now, I’m off to put my feet up and enjoy the rest of my Saturday evening.

IMG_20181205_1943160Sneak Peak of 2019 to come when the trackwork is done! Dan will have more to say about building the switches when he’s done them.

Saturday Nights all right for Layout Progress

Since my discovery last weekend that I had effectively blocked the CPR staging to the point that it wouldn’t function effectively with the existing closet shelf brackets, I’ve fixed that problem, and moved on with some actual layout building, working on the traversers, laying out elements, and my first mockup building.

Replacement shelf brackets in place, which give me the space to have a full set of tail tracks at both ends of the closet traverser. I have a piece of wood perfectly sized for the one end, I’ll need to get a piece cut for the other if I do want to add more tracks.

One big plus of the problem I discovered last week is that it means I get more staging and run around space in the closet. I don’t know if I will need it or not, but it won’t hurt to have it.  Two metal L brackets later, the storage shelf in the closet is supported, and the tracks are no longer fouled. I’ll need to carefully remove the foam from the one end in the closet to remove the wood and install the new piece, but I have an off-cut from the benchwork construction in August which is the perfect size for the staging in this area.

As I’d noted last weekend, I was using the new rotary cutter I bought to cut cork and foam. The traversers both now have their cork roadbed in place. It’s not glued down yet, no reason other than I hadn’t gotten around to it!

Two shots of the CNR Staging Traverser, now with cork roadbed in place. On the right you can see me mocking up the roads with EVA Foam, which will be the underlay to raise them almost to track height so I don’t have to use as much putty/plaster to create the roads.

I’m doing everything in nice slow stages. Build the benchwork, let it sit and settle a bit, put on the foam, let it sit and settle a bit. Lay the cork, let it sit and be sure before I glue it down. In a few weeks time once my friend is done building switches, then I’ll be motivated to start getting cork glued down so I can actually lay some track. Early 2019 is going to be fun with laying track and then figuring out wiring and DCC to run some trains! I want to have the track laid and wired and running flawlessly before I start any serious scenery work.

I debated back and forth about laying track directly onto the foam instead of using cork, but I decided I wanted to use the cork, as it will raise the track level, which means I can build “foundations” for the buildings that can be blended into the scenery. Liberty village was pretty flat, even between the tracks and the road, but between the cork/track and the EVA sheet raising the roads to basically rail level, it will give me the opportunity to fill the gaps with sculptamold/ground cover materials to create undulations and imperfections so that everything isn’t unrealistically washboard flat.

That said, while I’m not starting full on scenery, I am going to start working on mockups of the buildings for the layout to get a sense of size and scope of the work I have coming in building buildings, and to look for places where the buildings as I’ve envisioned them will block operations.

Brunswick Balke Collender takes shape, in cardboard mockup form. Depth makes such a difference, and quick mockups allow for making decisions before time is spent on finished buildings.

The Brunswick Balke Collender Co factory is going to be the first thing people see when they enter the room. I’ve had a printout of a drawing taped to the wall since the summer, but with starting to block out roads and such to see how/if things will work as planned, it seemed like a good time when I got a big piece of thin cardstock to make a mockup. Mockups are great, they are fast, make a layout look less empty, and let you look for things you’ll need to adjust in the finished model. For example, the main building will just be the south wall, set at an angle so that the east side has a bit of depth, and the west side will have non/minimal.  The boiler house, a separate building is going to need to be compressed to fit the space. It’s going to have its full width and height, but will be somewhere around 30% of its actual depth. My mockup is a bit too deep still, but its a lot cheaper and easier to find out my first estimate was too big in cardboard than styrene later.

As I move forward, I’m sure I’ll find lots more adjustments to buildings once the track is in place and I prepare the mockups, but that’s all part and parcel of the layout building experience.