Working on a Freight Shed

It seems like just yesterday, but it was in fact May, before the summer even arrived that I wrote about a structure kit for the layout I had started, and building my first mold for casting parts to replace damaged ones from the kit.

IMG_9887Four new resin roof supports, as the majority of the castings in the kit were garbage. I built the master, and my friend Ryan did all the castings as he was making parts for kits he sells from his company National Scale Car.

Having not been in a rush, I didn’t bother to ask when he’d have the chance to cast some of the replacement parts, but we got together for dinner a few weeks ago and he had them ready for me. Today I decided it was a day to advance and project and feel like I was getting something done. I had the deck completed, other than painting/staining the deck. To do this, I decided to use some of my supply of cheap art acrylics from Michael’s. I pick them up when I need a cheap paint, as I’m trying to create the appearance of wood having different ages and levels of wear and aging on them.

Painting the deck using cheap acrylics and watering them down to spread them on the surface of the deck for the freight shed.

I used a brush that was about the same width as the boards on the deck, and watered down the paint as I went. I didn’t want a heavy amount of paint, just enough that it coloured the wood. Once I was done with the paint, I put on a wash of a golden brown stain. I am still considering a second stain of isopropyl alcohol and india ink that I keep for weathering wood. The undersides of the deck are only coloured using this alcohol/ink mix. It was a technique that was in the instructions for a kit I built years ago, and I really like the effects you can create with it, as over time the ink settles, so depending on how much you shake the bottle after its been on the shelf, you can adjust how much ink there is, and thus how dark/beaten up the wood looks.

Installing the roof trusses and roof beams. Lots of weights and little clamps being used to hold everything together and square while the glue sets. I just did all of the gluing on this with good old fashioned white glue. It soaks into the wood and has lots of working time to get things adjusted and aligned. It does mean you need to be patient as it hardens though!

I enjoy projects like this, they are a good way to shake the cobwebs off after I haven’t done a lot of modelling later. while I’m making little adjustments here and there, mostly I’m building it right as the instructions provide.  It means that I can just work away and use skills I already have. I find doing things I know I can do after a break helps me be ready to make it up as I go doing things that are pushing my skills. Strangely, working on a kit helped me advance my cleanup that I’ve been doing and trying to organize my workspace, as it showed me where some things I thought I had found the right home for, weren’t the right place.

IMG_9898End of the day’s progress. Reached the point where I don’t have the right glues to work with the cardstock material for the roof, so stop while I’m ahead and it’s looking like I want, rather than pushing on and making a mistake.
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Peninsular Musings

I’ve written about the peninsula for my layout in passing in posts, and at least one post on mocking it up, but now that I’ve been living with it mocked up since April (4 months), I now have a good feel on what I do and don’t like about it. I like that I’ve gotten it down to a size where it does what I need it to for the layout, but where it isn’t so big that it completely blocks traffic in the room. I don’t like how small the room feels when the peninsula is in place but nothing is happening. When I took the peninsula down for the wiring and tracklaying to proceed last weekend, I walked into the room and went wow its a bigger room without the peninsula, not necessarily the response I wanted.

IMG_7814Peninsula mockup before trimming it down.

My original plan had been for it to be hinged and swing over to the front of the benchwork to free up space. Over the four months I’ve had the mockup in place, I’d been coming around to having it be permanently mounted, but having taken it out now, I know that would be the wrong decision. Keeping it movable, even just swinging it around is necessary to open up the room for a whole variety of reasons. because of the buildings on the peninsula, I don’t want it to be completely removable as then I’d be constantly having to take the buildings off and put them somewhere else, having it hinged and swinging away does the best of both worlds, easy to store, and opens up the space.

June 07 18 - Liberty Layout - West.anyExtract of the Track Plan showing the slimmed down 22″x40″ Peninsula

The peninsula will swing to the right of the plan above, so that it would be against the benchwork between Jefferson and Atlantic when its stowed. In working on the trackwork, its also become clear that I need to actually build the peninsula benchwork sooner rather than later, even if I don’t permanently install it, just to support the track and get the alignment right. I have a few ideas on how to do the hinge and alignment pins to make sure that the benchwork and track always align and hold in space when it is put in position for operating.

IMG_9205Flying trackwork, this needs a peninsula badly to let me finish making sure this trackage works when complete both on the main benchwork and the peninsula.

I want to get the trackwork and scenery on the wall mounted benchwork done and finished before I start working on the peninsula in earnest, but I can build it, get the track in place, and take it down, or who knows, maybe once its in place, I’ll be happy its there and be able to work around it. While I putter away at the trackwork in the coming weeks, I’m going to think about when I can do the woodwork to build the simple box and legs so I can have it in place for a bit, then take it down to finish the phase 1 construction of the layout.

IMG_9236My printed survey showing the footprints of the buildings on the peninsula, and the roughed in track lines. Just waiting for a wood box framework to get installed.

So, its continued progress, slow and steady. I know now how I want to handle the peninsular, and doing it hinged to start, its easier to change my mind and go permanent later, rather than going hinged as decisions like casters on the legs are now a must rather than an option.

Today Was a Good Day to Lay Track

Just under a year ago, there was no layout in my house. Then, with a lot of help from my friends Ryan, Doug and Trevor, we built benchwork in a day last August. Today, I had a work session booked with friends to work on tricky bits of the layout with many hands and for me to learn things from people with more experience than I have in layout construction, so that I get myself set up to be able to make more progress myself when time permits.

The first task of my day was a quick run to Home Depot to pick up a few pieces of trim lumber. I finally figured out how to get some decent lighting into the closet and the CPR Parkdale Yard staging yard. I made a valance board that is installed onto the shelf using baseboard lattice trim, and glued around the metal shelf frame using No-More Nails caulk adhesive. Then, using a supply of self adhesive LED Strip lights leftover from the set we bought for our kitchen cabinets, I installed a strip of the lights behind the valance. Now, there is ample light for working in staging, and for anyone operating there to see what they are doing. An easy couple of hours of solo work which made wiring in the closet so much easier (didn’t make the space any bigger, but made it brighter at least!).

 

 

 

 

The two pictures show the new valance board clipped onto the shelf railing while the glue cures, and the second shows the lights on and working and brightening up the staging yard.

Today, I had two friends, Dan and Trevor coming over to help. Both are experienced modellers, and Dan built all the switches for the layout, including the monstrous Bat’leth of track that fills one whole corner of the benchwork that Dan built. It needed some final adjustments before laying, and then filling in the pieces to connect the switches up Mowat Avenue from the staging yard to the first corner of the layout. It took time, but Dan’s meticulous and super skilled, and he was able to make minuscule adjustments to track and locomotives/freight cars that had them running far better than I have managed.

When Trevor arrived, we set to work on installing the layout power bus, the main wire that gets connected to the DCC control station and then to all the individual pieces of track. For the bus, we used 14 gauge speaker wire, its big enough to carry a lot of power and info, but easy to work with, and already paired. Using plastic mounting bases, that you connect zip ties into, the wire is loosely held for now beneath the benchwork but the zip ties can be pulled tight once the work is done to keep the wiring from moving once all the slack is taken out as I move along the layout and connect wiring from each of the pieces of track.

Once the bus wire was run around the room, we (and by we mostly Trevor if I’m being honest!) started to connect the track at the west staging, and figure out how we would wire the sliding traverser shelves so there was enough slack for the shelves to move, but not so much that it would hang or not work.

 

 

 

 

Trevor working on the less sexy part of layout building, the wiring, but its super important to make a layout run.

Dan built all the individual switches using Fast Tracks jigs and supplies, but before we could install them, one in particular, a large combination piece with five switches and two crossovers we called the Bat’leth because of its resemblance to the Klingon weapon on Star Trek needed some little cleanups and testing with my rolling stock before it could be glued down. Between some fine filing on the points, replacing and adjusting wheels on locomotives and freight cars, equipment now seems to run flawlessly through the switches. With that, we could move on drilling holes for the switch throw bars and the frog wires to drop through the benchwork. After sorting out all the bits of track that go between the Bat’leth and the walls, we were in a position to apply a layer of DAP Alex Clear caulk and get the track glued down into position.

 

 

 

 

Trevor works on wiring the west staging traverser, while Dan works on adjustments to the switches he built for the layout. On the right, the Bat’leth is now adjusted and glued down in its corner of the layout curing.
Proof I did some work thanks to Trevor. A picture of me working on my soldering skills, and on getting the track glued down and aligned with Dan.

With the day’s work winding down, we had some fun testing that the wiring actually worked, and that I could control a locomotive on both ends where the track is connected, and not short out or blow anything up. After today’s work, about 1/3 of the “visible” track that will have scenery is installed is glued down, and when timer permits, I can move on with installing wiring drops and laying more bits of track. As usual at the end of a good work session, we were stopped by both the time of day, and the running out of supplies!!

 

 

 

The First powered test on the CPR Staging, running over the layout bus (main wiring line) from my ESU Lokprogramer at the other end of the room. Means everything we wired (mostly by Trevor) was done right!

 

Trevor brought his O-18a, a locomotive which would have been very at home in Liberty Village. The video is a short test on the CNR Staging at the end of the day.

Canadian Pacific Staging – Saturday Work Session

IMG_8918.jpgLaying the first track for my second staging yard, the “East” or Canadian Pacific Railway Staging.

The first year of building a layout has been a funny experience. A year ago today I didn’t even have benchwork, today, I laid the four tracks for my second staging yard/traverser, the east or CPR Parkdale Yard. With that, I’ve now laid approximately 37 linear feet of track, though it exists in a 61″ and a 56″ space on either end of the layout, there is no middle between the yards!! There is approximately 30 linear feet of “mainline” and sidings along Liberty Street and Mowat Avenue to lay, which means over half the track on my layout is now in place!! Despite that, I can’t run a train anywhere, nevermind from one end to the other!

Tracklaying in process. Applying lessons from the easier to access west staging construction to make laying track in a tight space less frustrating!

Today was a chance to see if I’ve learned anything from my experiences doing the CNR or West staging, which is out in the open and imminently more accessible for working on than in the closet. I can’t believe when I started revising the Liberty Village Line design to fit our house that I ever thought I could start construction in the closet. I’d have quit the hobby if I’d been working in there first instead of learning out in the open part of the room, even if that means some of my mistakes may be more visible when the layout is done. I can’t thank my friends Trevor, Ryan and Doug enough for our benchwork buildathon day last summer. When I had them out my goal was to get out of the closet, that day everything but the peninsula was built, and my progress working on the layout has been so much better for it.

What half-witted moron thought building a layout with under 6″ of clearance to an existing closet shelf was a good idea…

It’s a long weekend for Canada Day, so I had a whole Saturday with nothing on and no commitments. It meant I could take the day and hole up in my office/layout room and take my time laying the track in the closet. this worked out well, as I could work for 15-20 minutes on laying a track, let it bond for an hour or so, work on other things, then lay the next track without being rushed.

I installed the acrylic fall shields on the CPR staging.Being in the closet, its just easier and safer to have them up.

The next steps are to solder the rails to the brass screws I installed on either side of the location for the rail cut to let the traverser slide. Once the rails are soldered down so they don’t move, It will be Dremel time to cut the gaps again. This was fiddly out in the open, it will probably really suck in the closet, but having done it once, much like the rest of today’s tasks, I am much more confident that I will be able to do it and not mess up today’s hard work.

IMG_8932State of play at the end of a give or take 7 hour session (with breaks for laundry, lunch, a nap, glue setting, etc). the S-2 Switcher is sitting at the limit of glued down track, the track to the left is work in progress for alignment.

I’m looking to have some friends over in July for a work session to help with laying turnouts and wiring, both as many hands make light work, and as these are things I am less experienced with and I continue to lean on the generosity of friends in the hobby to help me learn, and I look for ways to help them in return with things I know. I’m still a long way from running a train, but this was a productive use of a long weekend Saturday to get many steps closer to the end goal!

CPR 7020 Nearing Completion

 

One of the planned workhorses of my layout will be a Canadian Pacific Railway S-2 Alco switcher Number 7020. This is a model of a locomotive which is preserved at the Toronto Railway Museum. She spent her entire working life in Toronto switching for the CPR. As I’d written about previously, I’m modelling her in her 2nd paint scheme, an overall maroon with yellow bars and trim.

IMG_8224CPR S-2 #7020 being tested on my layout. Still have to apply decals to the number boards and then weather.

Today I flat coated the locomotive to take off the shine and seal the decals for weathering. It already looks lightyears better being dull, and will get some heavy weathering to reflect the paint scheme being tired and near replacement in my mid-late 1950’s era.

First test pull of cars from the staging tail tracks onto the traverser.

I’m still using a loaner DCC system (and even if I had bought mine, I haven’t wired any of the layout yet!), but that was enough for me to put 7020 on the track, and check that she moved forward and back, and was able to pull some cars onto the staging transfer table. Successful test, as you can see in the video above.

IMG_8230Temporary wiring hookup to power a single track on the transfer table.

Once I’ve finished the numberboards, I’ll probably set up the good camera for some beauty shots before weathering is applied, but that’s another days task as a productive holiday Monday of layout puttering comes to an end for me!

Completing the Staging Transfer Table (Round 1)

I’ve started laying track on the layout, starting with the “west” staging that is the Canadian National Railway staging, representing the Dufferin Yard where Exhibition Station now stands. The way the layout is set up, I have to mirror what I’ve done for the “east” Canadian Pacific Railway staging representing Parkdale Yard. My original plan was to build in the closet first so I could make mistakes where they would be more out of sight. Over time, I decided that it made more sense to start in the main room, because I’d have room to work and see what I was doing so that when I’m working in the more constructed closet, I’d already know what I was doing.

Scenes from Tracklaying, using a heritage brick from the Don Valley Brickworks as a weight to hold track down while the silicone caulk sets to hold the track in place.

Once all four tracks were laid, I cut the gaps in the rails so that the transfer table could slide. I did this with my dremel tool and a flex shaft attachment so I could get in close and control my cutting. I don’t have any pictures as it’s hard to take pictures of yourself doing this. Once the gaps were cut, I slid the table, and noticed my first mistake. I had the table pushed in too far. the drawer slides have a point where they stop resting on the hard stop, and to close them the last 1/8″ or so you have to push hard. I’d intended to not use this as it could cause rolling stock to fall over off the rails, but I’d failed to check where everything was sitting before laying the tracks.

Cutting rail gaps, its hard to take pictures of yourself with a demel tool cutting gaps.

After some frustrated looking at it, I realized I could easily move all the pieces of track not on the transfer table to fix the alignment. It took maybe 45 minutes including the time needed for the new silicone caulk being used as glue to set and hold the track in place.

Realigned tails and then laying the balance of the track in staging.

Getting everything lined up meant I could spend some time rolling equipment on and off, and looking for places where there were misalignments or issues. I found and fixed a few, I expect when I get closer to full operations, I’ll need to come back and file some rails a bit to provide a bit of alignment give, but overall I’m happy with it at this point, as I can now look at getting started with wiring it up so I can actually run powered tests across it so see how things work.

Video of a first test of the staging, before I installed a safety shield at the back to make sure equipment couldn’t take the fast way to the floor off the back side!

Friday I was able to go to my local plastics supply store and buy some pieces of 1/8″ acrylic sheet cut to the sizes I need for the spaces I need to have a safety guard for now. There may be a few other areas that need to be guarded once the layout gets closer to completion, but for now, its mostly around the staging transfers when I get them done. The clear safety screen is now in place. I’ll need to run a bead of caulk between the foam and the acrylic as there’s a bit of a gap and a little bit of caulk can keep that from becoming a dust mess full of bits of construction debris.

Acrylic safety shield on the back to make sure equipment doesn’t take the fast way to the floor off the back track.

The final task I did today was install a kitchen cabinet handle so there is an easy way for operators to move the transfer table. Eventually I’ll add a skin of black styrene or ABS to make the facade of the layout look presentable, but that’s a well down the road task.

Installing a Kitchen Cabinet Handle for the transfer table to make it east to shift and align.

At the end of the day, I’ve now laid a touch over 17 feet of track, though it only covers about 4.5 feet of benchwork length with the four staging tracks on one end. Its nice to see some track in place at the 11 month mark from when we closed on our house and moved.