Sunday, January 29, 2012

E. L. Moore’s Moe Lass’ Old Sorghum Mill - Cutting the Balsa Walls

[After the walls were cut out, I tilted them up to see how they looked.]

This is another one of those E.L. Moore projects that attracted my attention, but I can’t quite put my finger on why: the clerestory, the large fireplace, large front windows, and an overall interesting shape seem to add up to something for me. Mr. Moore published this project in the April 1966 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, and like 1965, this was another year where he was very prolific and published 6 building construction projects in RMC. And it turned out that this project was one of the simplest.

Ontario is too far north for a sorghum mill, so I’ll repurpose it. Apparently, Mr. Moore looked ahead to just such a possibility,

Well anyway, it’s a picturesque sort of building and if you have no desire for an antiquated sorghum mill you can always find other uses for a sturdy structure of this sort.

What the new use will be, I’m not too sure just yet.

Mr. Moore was a balsa aficionado, so although he used a material called Northeastern brick for the walls that I’ve not been able to find, I’ve substituted with 1/16 inch sheet balsa - which is the material specified for the floor and roof - that will be covered with MicroMark brick paper in keeping with the old-school nature of this build.

When I finally decided to get started on this project I was having a little trouble getting my mind settled down. I eventually decided to put my DVD of Around Midnight into the tv, and after watching for awhile, I was ready to have a go. I haven’t seen this movie in a very long time and I’d forgotten how good it is. I won’t win any awards for speed in cutting out the walls since it took the entire movie, plus the first quarter or so of The Endless Summer - although I do admit to more movie watching than balsa cutting :-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

El Camino Municipal Swimming Pool – Test fitting some parts

I’ve fitted the pickup bed, liberated the package tray from the interior bucket and glued it into what was previously the rear window, added some styrene I-beam to the base to boost the pool to a suitable height, and glued in a styrene sheet to fill the opening formed by the package tray and the door pillars. Also, a bit of filler was used to smooth out some joints that didn’t fit too well.

[I bought this kit a few years ago in the bargain bin at a nearby hobby shop. I like to look through sale items just to see if there is anything interesting, and cheap! I don't necessarily plan to use the items for their intended purpose, but more that they have interesting parts I might use in the future. This was one of those. It also has a great modern-style store front that I'll use someday, I'm just not too sure when that day will come and what the project will be.]

However, the most interesting job was adding the sign. It’s an item from an old Life-Like HO scale Kentucky Fried Chicken store kit. The sign’s support posts supplied in the kit were discarded, and some new ones were cut from 1/8 inch diameter styrene tubing. These new ones allowed me to tilt the sign to a more extreme angle than those in the kit and adjust the height to something that seemed right for this structure.

I usually spray paint car models and I want to do it on this project to get an ok finish on the body. Problem is I always spray outside and never in the house. With cold January weather here, I’m looking forward to the annual mid-winter thaw so I can squeeze in a little painting on some projects that are stacking up on the workbench, otherwise they’ll have to be parked until spring.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

First Video

I shot some video of the layout over the Christmas holidays. This weekend I finally got around to figuring out how to use iMovie to put the video pieces together and then load the whole thing to youtube.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

El Camino Municipal Swimming Pool – First cuts

I’ve been thinking about this build – along with several others I hope to finally get started – for quite a while. Instead of my usual pre-build fretting over how I think all the building steps should proceed, I just decided to jump in and start cutting. Although that seems reckless, it often helps me get over mental log jams. Simply making a start can often clarify things.

The donor kit is an AMT/Ertl 1959 El Camino. I chose this particular vintage of El Camino because the roof is shaped something like a cap that sits over the cab instead of being seamlessly integrated into the body as on later models. To me, this made it a little more building like. I also like the fins

The pick-up bed, rear cab pillars and roof were cut away from the body using a cutting wheel in my dremel tool, followed by several iterations with the grinding drum and various sanding sticks. To get a square and even edge along the bottom, a sheet of sand paper was placed on the workbench, and the piece was sanded as a whole until it looked right.

I’ve been thinking this project might also be a good candidate for LED lighting. Small ones could be used in the tail-lights, and the bottom of the pool could be fitted with lights that point up into the ‘water’.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Niagara Falls Trolley Cards

Over the Christmas holidays I was browsing through the family files at my father’s house and came across a post card set that was bought as a souvenir of a trip – probably taken by my mother’s mother ‘s family - to Niagara Falls.

I don’t know anything certain about the dates of either the vacation, or the cards, but they might both date from the 1920s. The set contains 11 cards, each one printed on both sides, of views of the falls, boats, bridges, and trolleys. They are quite beautiful. I like the ambience of these images. Debra and I last visited the falls back in 2010, and some of that feel still lingers there if one looks for it, but there’s a lot of Las Vegas there too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of canoes and ground throws

I have lots of little jobs and projects that I've put to the side for one reason or another. Now that Christmas is well over, and there's lots of snow on the ground, it's a good time to tackle them. Those canoes are items from Sylvan that have been sitting on my shelf for years. They're nice little models, but they are actually waterline items and have flat bottoms. It turns out that my own canoe is for calm water and is also flat-bottomed, so no problem with me on that. These models come unpainted and need a little sanding to clean them up before painting. They're not super-detailed, but paint-up nice. I also installed two switch ground throws from Caboose Industries in the industrial section of the layout. Straight out of the package they are black plastic items, so I painted them with a little rust and primer red to match the yard crane that's in the same area.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Oceanview Hotel: Basic Structure

The Oceanview Hotel is a caricature of a boutique hotel – and a destination of the passenger service of the Lost Ocean Line - built using leftover window moldings from the Mr. Scott’s build. I had a large collection of extra window frames since I had drastically reduced the height and footprint of Mr. Scott’s to fit a particular location on the old layout. As well, the donor kit for Mr. Scott’s came with many extra parts, which further increased my window frame stash, and it seemed a shame just to let them gather dust.
After playing around with the frames it looked like a simple tower could be built just by gluing them into squares and stacking. The frames are a 9 scale feet high, so although the ceilings in the tower floors wouldn’t be generous, but they at least wouldn’t mimic floor 7 ½ in the Mertin Flemmer Building shown in Being John Malkovich!

The window frame connectors are built up from I-beam styrene pieces, and the floors are made from 0.040 inch styrene sheet stock. The central shaft for the elevator and utilities is also built up from 0.040 inch sheet, and is reinforced with glued-in square-section stock running the entire length of the piece.
The Oceanview Hotel would have lots of organizational and design problems if it were a real hotel, but I was pleasantly surprised by its look once I stacked up all the floors and stood back for a good stare. I’m moving on to painting and detailing. Also, if I can find a source of cheap LEDs I might try my hand at adding some lighting.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ratio's OO/HO Yard Crane

I started work on this kit during the Christmas holidays as a little diversion, and finished it a couple of evenings ago. Well, truth be told, I spray painted the parts sprue with red oxide colour primer in the backyard a few days before Christmas when the temperature was above zero since I can’t spray paint in the basement. It had about a week to dry before I started in on construction.

I saw this crane last summer in a layout article in an issue of Model Rail. I immediately was smitten and found a supplier here in Ontario to order one from. This crane wouldn’t find its way into Canadian railway practice regardless of era, but I liked it, so that was that.

All the plastic parts are contained on a single black sprue, and the kit also includes some thread for the lifting hook and a chain for the driving wheel. The parts are well molded and a pleasure to work with. My only comment is that some holes require a little enlargement for things to fit together without jamming or application of undue force. Overall, I’d rate this as a kit suitable for an intermediate-level model builder: it’s not a ‘shake-the-box’ item suitable for rank beginners, but likewise, it doesn’t require application of advanced methods like being familiar with photo-etch assembly techniques. However, I wouldn’t dissuade a beginner from giving it a try if they had already built a couple of kits; it would make for a good first step-up build.

Once it was assembled I applied some final washes of my favourite rust mix followed later with some washes of PolyScale grimy black to finish things off.

I glued the kit together so that I would have a fairly solid model when finished, but I suspect that a careful modeler could get those gears to mesh and turn properly with a little extra effort so that it could actually be operated – the moldings appear that precise.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

James May's Great Train Race

Over the Christmas holidays I was searching to see if there was a Top Gear segment reviewing the Honda CRZ and I had the happy accident of stumbling across the series James May's Toy Stories. Episode 6 was about an attempt in 2009 to build the world's largest model train setup stretching from Barnstaple to Bideford - a distance of 10 miles. Unfortunately, the attempt wasn't successful, but a second one, the subject of the The Great Train Race, was made in 2011 with better results.I've posted here the first segments of each show and you can find the others on YouTube. Both shows are good fun and worth a watch.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The fate of the old layout

Over the Christmas holidays the old layout was moved out of the basement to make room for the new one. This blog got its name from the old layout: it was 6 feet by 5 feet in size, 30 square feet, hence, 30 Squares of Ontario. Maybe I should consider a name change.

I salvaged what I could from the old layout, then hauled it outside, wrapped it in plastic, and stashed it behind the shed for the winter. It’s too big to disassemble in the basement, so I’ll tackle that task outside in the backyard when the snow’s gone.
Debra commented that the remains seemed like some sort of strange abstract collage style painting. Well, if anyone wants to buy it as such, contact me and I’ll give you a price Saves me the work of taking it apart

The old layout’s rolling base I kept and modified to act as the stand for the new portable layout. The tilt-top action was eliminated and replaced by a fixed support frame. No big loss since the new layout is about half the width of the old one and just a little longer. This makes it easier to roll around the basement, and no tilting is necessary to get clearance when attempting to move around obstacles.

One good thing about the new layout transportation-wise is that only one person is needed to lift and carry it. I installed a lifting ring at the balance point along with handles before and after it. I attach a strap to the ring for lifting and carrying the board, and the handles are used to balance and tilt it – the strap takes the weight and the handles are for control. This seems to work ok, but the board could be built lighter through a more judicious use of materials!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Scenes to start the new year

Happy New Year! However, the unhappy part is the train layout must now return to the basement, but before doing that I spent some time over the past week taking a few pictures.

I made use of some old watercolour paintings as backdrops for these pictures. I frequently used a painting behind several different buildings which is why it sometimes looks like mountains and trees are moving around :-)

[Getting ready to load a flat car at Bunn's Feed & Seed. The rail-camino has already been loaded.]

[Bunn's as seen from the truck delivery side.]

[Bunn's at "night" as seen from the roof of the Barrel & Marble Works]

[The Barrel & Marble Works from track-side.]

[Getting ready to load a tank car at Jones' Chemical Company.]

[Jones' Chemical Company from the truck delivery side.]

[The 4pm car has arrived at Scarboro Square Station.]

[This was an early trial of building placements. Grille's is now next to the Bookery.]

[The streetcar passes by The Bookery. There are a number of issues with this picture, but I liked the way the overall composition turned out and the colours, so I went ahead and used it for the blog's new title picture. Once I fix up the grass-mat a bit and do some other scenic improvements, I'm going to re-shoot this scene.]

[I shot this interior scene of The Bookery back in the spring, but I rather like it and have included here for no other reason than that.]

[Walking to the beach along the boardwalk from the Amtronic Ranch House.]

[My two favourite tank cars. Still looking pristine. I don't have the heart to try and weather them. Unfortunately the curves are too small on the layout to allow this to run.]

[Looking from just above Grille's roof-top patio towards the windmills.]

There's obviously lots of detailing and building still to go on this, but that makes for the fun.