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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Robie House as of 1 Aug

One would think that with all the rain we've had in July that I'd have finished the Robie House by now. All I can say is that summer is still summer even with the rain. But, I did do a little work on this project over the weekend. The wall that attaches to the garage is under construction.