Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

This Christmas postcard is from my grandmother's collection and may date from the 1910s. That's it for this year. Hopefully I'll be back posting next year with the conclusion to the Jones' Chemical Company build and some new projects. As well, I hope to get a day to work on the layout over the Christmas holidays.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Roofs go up at Jones

I spent some time on the weekend installing the roofs on the Jones Chemical Company.

Here's the roof for the tank pad in a partial state of construction:

Basically, it's a 0.040 in sheet of styrene, cut to the shape specified in the article, with a piece of fine sandpaper glued to one side to simulate roofing material. Mr. Moore recommends two things that I didn't follow: 1) giving some three-dimensional shape to the roof, and 2) covering it with thinned glue and sprinked with fine stone. I closely examined the pictures in his article and his roof looked flat, so I'm not sure if he built it as he described, or if the perspective of the photos distorted the shape of the roof. Also, I though sandpaper was easier to apply. To get the sandpaper to stick, you'll need to lightly sand the styrene sheet before coating with a thin layer of white glue. To keep the whole thing flat while it dried, I sat my 12v marine battery on top. When dried, I edged it with thin styrene angle.

Here is the test fit of the roof to make sure everything is level. The vertical posts on the tank pad are made from 3 mm, square-section styrene. Since the tanks are different from those in the article, I had to arrange the posts a little differently, but tried to keep the same overall appearance. The biggest change is that I had to have 3 posts on the back instead of two so that there will be proper support for the inter-tank elevated walkway. I must admit that getting all the posts to the correct length was an exercise in trial-and-error sanding and fitting.

The tank pad roof is painted with a thinned, loosely mixed, wash of flat black and dark gray. The tv controller made a handy weight for holding the main building roof panel in place while the glue dried. These roof panels were also cut from 0.040 in styrene.

Here's a little closer look at the tank pad. The vertical supports are painted with Model Master acryl rust coloured paint.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Piping at Jones

Progress has been slow on the Jones Chemical Company. I've been busier than I thought I would be this fall, and there hasn't been a lot of time for model building. Anyway, I did find some time on the weekend to install the tank piping. The basic inter-tank connections are 1/8 inch piano wire bent to appropriate shapes as per the article. Corresponding holes were drilled in the tops of the tanks for seating the wires. Although a little hard to see in the picture, the small tank at the rear has a large diameter plastic pipe from a Walthers piping kit connecting the tank to the building. There is also a vertical pipe and valve from the same kit attached to the large diameter tan coloured tank.
I also added clear plastic to the windows and installed a view blocker in preparation for installing the roof. I had plans for adding a large horizontal tank with flashing LEDs inside the building to simulate a bubbling chemical tank, but with this project taking so long - longer than the Bunn's Feed and Seed - I decided to forego that idea and concentrate on wrapping up the project. Next part: installing the roof on the main building, and building the structure that covers the tank pad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

E.L.Moore industrial park?

I thought I'd think a little bit about how Jones' Chemical Company and Bunn's Feed & Seed would be positioned on the train board. After trying a few different configurations, a side-by-side layout along a siding looked the best. I'm going to mount them to a piece of 1/4 inch acrylic cut to fit into the centre section of the layout with its long sides parallel to the siding and to the highway. I thought the acrylic sheet would provide a stable base resistant to changes in temperature and humidity that occur in the basement. Also, I wanted the base to be sturdy enough to be removable so that the display could be used on a future layout, or as a stand-alone diorama. The windmill is a Walthers kit. It's a little weird placing it near these buildings, but I want to do something with the vertical elements in the scene, and I think this will make for an interesting contrast - although, I suspect its location may change before everything is finally placed in the scene.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New tanks for Jones

I haven't done any model building in awhile, but on the weekend I spent sometime fixing up the tanks. I decided to make due with material I had in the workshop for the new tanks. I no doubt could have found some 1 1/4 inch tube or pipe for exact replicas of those in the article, but I was lazy and thought it was more in the Moore spirit to use what was on hand. So, I built two tall tanks from 1 inch diameter aluminum tube and a third small tank - peeking out of the background at the back of the pad - from the same tube. Styrene caps were glued to one end of each tube and gaps were filled and sanded to get a uniform appearance. The aluminum tubing has a length-wise crease - it used to be part of a lamp - but when turned towards the building it is not noticeable. The next stage will be to add the piping.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Preliminary tank fitting at Jones

Mr. Moore recommends building the chemical tanks from 35 mm film canisters wrapped with paper and topped with a balsa cap. With digital photography the norm, it's hard to find 35 mm film cans anymore, so I thought some substitution was in order. According to the plans, the tanks have a diameter of 1.25 inches. I did some searching - as it turns out, not enough - and decided to use some 1.5 inch diameter, plastic sink tail-pieces cut to the length of the tanks specified in the plans. The problem turns out that at 1.5 inches in diameter, they are too wide and will require some major changes to the catwalk dimensions, as well as some basic changes to the layout of the tank facility, to get things to fit. Overall, I think to preserve the interesting appearance of Mr. Moore's design I'm going to go back to the drawing board and find some other tubes with 1.25 inch diameters. I should have followed the old adage - which, ironically, I always preach, but apparently don't heed :-(  - to "measure twice, cut once". 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Truck loading dock at Jones

The truck loading dock is built from balsa wood as specified in the article. When completed it was stained with a very loose wash of brown, 'mud' and flat black paints to give it a used look. 

The tank along the back wall is an addition to Mr. Moore's project. There is one photo in the article which shows a horizontal tank peeking out from the back end of the loading dock. It looks like it was made from paper or cardboard. This tank is never discussed in the article; however, I liked it and decided to add one. My tank is made from an HO tank car that was part of a Loblaws' Christmas train set. After stripping everything from the tank, it was set on a base built up from balsa strips. The end ladder is made from Plasti-struct HO-scale stock. All the wood was stained in the same manner as the truck loading dock. The ladder was painted Tamyia yellow-green, and was washed with a thinned flat-black. Some flat aluminum paint was used to pick out worn spots on the ladder such as the foot treads.

Mr. Moore scratchbuilt all the discarded 55 gallon drums that are strewn about his model. I was lazy and used Grandt Line and Campbell 55-gallon drums. They were painted different colours and washed with thinned flat-black paint. When I studied painting I once had an instructor who thought a painting wasn't lively if it didn't have any red in it - I tend to agree, so the drums gave me an opportunity to add some red elements.

Before all these items were added to the building, the building's panels were all washed very loosely with thinned flat-black paint. I also added some signs that I had left over from other kits. I'll post some better pictures of them soon. Now, I need to find something to make the large chemical tanks out of.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finished paneling at Jones

It turned out that if I watched some episodes of My Name is Earl and Corner Gas I was able to make and apply the remaining panels without too much trouble :-)

Once all the sides were paneled, they were painted with Tamyia flat aluminum, and all the window frames were inserted and glued into the openings. The door openings were framed with styrene angle stock as was the vent opening on the railside loading dock. The rolling door receiving structure above each door was made from a styrene tube sliced lengthwise in half. Its ends were then closed by gluing on a thin styrene piece and sanding to shape. The door frames and rolling door structures were painted light grey. The doors are made from 0.040 inch styrene sheet cut to size and scribed with a scribing tool.

I've also finished the wooden truck loading dock and hopefully will have some pictures posted this weekend - and hopefully will start on the chemical tanks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wall paneling begins at Jones

I’ve got about half of the building paneled with the simulated corrugated metal panels. Frankly, I think this is the last time I’ll use this technique because the tedium of creating the panels is starting to get to me – but, I wanted to have an E. L. Moore-esque look, so I only have myself to blame :-) To add to the frustration, I’ve misplaced the extra panels left over from the Bunn’s Feed and Seed Plant that I had saved for this project. Argh!

So, I began by making panels. That pile is about enough to cover one side and one end wall. I’ll need to make another pile for the remaining two sides.
Before gluing the panels to the walls I painted the bottom halves of the panels with dull aluminum paint from Tamyia so that post-installation painting won’t mar the finish on the foundation.

Prior to gluing on the panels I did some preliminary finishing on the concrete steps, tank pad and foundation. The exposed laminate edges were plastered over with some white putty and then sanded to a rough finish. The concrete parts were then painted with several coats of Tamyia light gray and then with a thin wash of flat white to tone down the colour. Also, the interior was painted flat black to help control reflections.

The panels are attached to the walls by coating the wall with a thin film of white glue and pressing the panels on. Don’t press too hard or you’ll overly flatten the corrugations. Once dry, the excess panels are trimmed from the window and door openings with a new, sharp knife. To get an idea of how things will look when it’s finished, I then installed the window frames on the front wall.

Monday, October 12, 2009

North Wall

After a lot of finicky work on the garage it was a pleasure to work on the pieces that make up the north wall. After a couple of hours on Friday night, it's starting to look like something. Well, the summer is definitely over and I had hoped to have this finished by now, but I'm about 115 parts shy of that goal :-) Maybe progress will be faster now that fall is here.

Walls go up on Jones

The walls are now raised and glued up. Each of the corners are reinforced with pieces of square-section styrene strip. As well, a floor cut from 0.060 inch styrene was inserted a scale 4 feet into the structure. As I mentioned previously, since the door sill height was adjusted to a uniform 4 feet, everything lines up well.

The concrete railside loading dock and the side tank pad were built from laminated 0.080 inch styrene sheets. Mr. Moore shows the loading dock with four steps on either end; however, I thought that since this meant that each riser was about a foot tall, they were too steep for actual steps and looked a little odd. It turns out that 0.80 inch styrene is approximately equal to 7 inches in HO-scale, I re-sized the stairs so that each piece of 0.080 laminate corresponds to one step. It turns out this means there are 6, 0.080 steps, with 12 inch scale treads, and the top step is made from 0.060 inch styrene to get the whole unit to come level with the door sill. This also means that the total length of the staircases are longer than in Mr. Moore's model, but looks a little more realistic when a figure is placed beside it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Building E.L. Moore's Jones Chemical Co.

E.L. Moore’s ‘Jones Chemical Company’ appeared in the March 1974 issue of Model Railroader magazine - that's the first page shown above. Like Bunn’s Feed & Seed, it’s a structure that captured my interest long ago, but when I first tried to build it, it was beyond my abilities. Now is as good a time as any to try again.

As I noted in the Bunn’s project, Mr. Moore used mainly balsa wood and basswood and paper and clear acetate and other rather humble materials to build his structures. I tried to follow his lead in the Bunn’s project, but in the end I used a lot of styrene to build the basic forms of the buildings in the complex. With the Jones project I’m going to completely abandon balsa and basswood except for things that are obviously wooden structures like the truck loading dock and some elevated platforms in the tank area. The core structures will be made from styrene or other plastics, and many of the details – like the window-frames - will be commercial items. However, I still like his paper-based method for making sheet metal panels, so I’ll still use those to help the overall appearance continue to suggest its Moorian origins.

The walls of the building are drawn on 0.040 inch sheet styrene according to the dimensions in the article; with one exception. You’ll note that in the plans the railside platform is 4 feet above ground, and the truck loading dock on the end is 3.5 feet above ground. If you want to have both loading doors open – as I do because I want to make the overall scene a little more animated than shown in the article – you’ll have a problem when installing the floor. Mr. Moore recommends a balsa floor carefully sanded to work out the problem with the door sill heights. Since in an actual building such as this the floor would probably be at a single level, I simply placed both doors 4 feet above ground, and I’ll adjust the truck loading dock dimensions accordingly.

I like working with sheet styrene, but I hate cutting out door and window openings. Previously I’ve done this by simply using a knife and steel straight edge to slice my way through the plastic along the edges of the openings. An internet search popped up a link to some instructions from the Saskatoon Railroad Modellers for making cut-outs. It’s relatively easy and works well. Simply drill out the corners of the opening (I used a small drill in a pin-vise), score along the edge of the opening with your knife and ruler (no need to go all the way through as before), flip the piece over and score an X between the holes, and finally, carefully flex the piece until the scored plastic pieces pop out. You may need to clean-up the opening with a file or sanding stick.

[How to cut out an opening]

[Step 1: Drill out the corners of the opening]
[Step 2: Score the outline of the opening with a sharp knife.]
[Step 3: On the flip-side, score an X between the holes.]
[Step 4: Flex out the piece.]
I’m using Tichy Train Group horizontal slider windows instead of Mr. Moore’s ink-ruled, scratch-built ones. I used those on Bunn’s, and they are alright, but I thought I’d use something more three-dimensional on this project. I test fit the window frames as I cut out the openings, and sanded them as necessary to make sure the frames fit before proceeding to glue the walls together. Unfortunately sometimes my sanding goes a bit astray, but not to worry, some out-of-squareness of the window openings can be tolerated because the window frame trim will hide a bit of unevenness in the opening.
And finally, here are the four walls, ready for assembly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Morphing Walthers' Bralick Building into Mr. Scott’s Dilithium Crystal Factory

I started this project back in the spring and set it aside as summer activities started to get going. I thought I’d at least post the beginnings of this project as sort of a prod to myself to continue with it in the fall.

This imaginary factory is based on Walthers’ Bralick Building. The reason I bought this kit a few years ago was that it was on the sale table at a hobby store for a very low price and I liked its windows. In some ways, it’s rather odd as a model railroad kit. It’s basically a big, four-storey box that takes up a lot of real estate and doesn’t directly serve the railroad other than as a filler structure for a city.

When I started building this railroad back last fall I decided to glue-up the walls and try placing it on the layout to see how it would look and where it might fit in. It was big and imposing. Too big really. Over a period of weeks I placed it in various locations and thought about it now and then. The dilithium crystal angle didn’t come to me until I was just causally showing off the train table to some visitors.

I’m not too sure how this project is going to develop. About the only two certain things are: it’s going to have a roof-top landing pad for shuttle-craft, and a loading dock for freight cars. Beyond those things, I’ll see what happens.

Obviously, a roof-top shuttle-craft landing pad needs a shuttle-craft to land on it. I had this Johnny Lightning Galileo shuttlecraft on my desk.

Staring at it while doing bills was probably what started this project cooking in my subconscious, so it was a given that it would be a key feature. The packaging has long been discarded, but an internet search suggests it’s 1/64 scale, a little large for an HO setting. However, with fictional items like shuttle-craft, strict scaling – in my opinion – isn’t too important. As long as it appears to make some sense with respect to the overall scene, that’s good enough. In most cases this means that as long as it doesn’t look out of place with nearby figures and paraphernalia in the scene, then it’s ok.
A quick browse through the old Star Trek Technical Manual indicates the ‘real’ Galileo shuttlecraft is about 23 feet long. Using the HO-scale ruler, this particular model measures 25 feet long. They seem pretty close, which seems odd given that this is allegedly a 1/64 scale item. In the end it really doesn’t matter since when posed with HO-scale figures and vehicles it looks like a reasonable size.

At four stories, plus some more for the landing pad and associated structures, this building was going to over shadow everything else on the railroad. I decided to cut it down as shown. The lowest part will be the landing pad and the taller section will be a hanger facility. If you’re going to build something similar, don’t do the dumb thing that I did: cut the walls down to size after you’ve glued them together into one, very solid unit. Cut them down before gluing. I used a sprue cutter to do the rough cutting, and a dremel and sanding sticks to clean things up.

You might be asking, what’s this got to do with Ontario? Well, nothing. Other than that I’ve watched a lot of Star Trek in Ontario.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Work trains in the Havelock yard

I had the opportunity to drive through Havelock on my way to Toronto over the long weekend holiday in August. Havelock is a good place to watch trains. It has an easily accessible train yard and station right in the ‘downtown’. The yard runs adjacent to Highway 7 as it cuts through town. There’s a large parking lot, with grassy areas and picnic tables, right beside the tracks. Just on the other-side of the highway are grocery and convenience stores, so you don’t have to go hungry. As well, the old train station has been converted to a restaurant serving moderately priced good food. It has a patio just a few metres from the rail yard, so you can eat and watch yard operations if they happen to be going on. Debra – always a good sport in these matters ! - and I did just that on one occasion.

On this trip I saw all these rail maintenance cars parked on the track closest to the parking lot. Turns out there were 29 cars in total, and they were lashed up into trains of around 3 to 5 vehicles each. I had never seen so many in one place, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take their pictures.

They, or some variation, might make for some interesting models. I think what makes them compelling is that size-wise they have a scale similar to automobiles, pick-up trucks, and small delivery vans – people sized, unlike everyday boxcars and the like. They also have lots of interesting detail to boot that draws in the viewer.

I can’t say that I know what all these machines are for – well, other than the port-a-potty on rails :-) Enlightenment is always welcome.