Friday, September 28, 2012

Archie’s garage is done

This week I was able to finish up Archie’s garage. The walls were sprayed with a Krylon white / light tan colour and lightly weathered with some Tamyia Smoke. The foundation was painted with Polyscale Aged Concrete, and when it was dry it was loosely washed with some thinned flat black to simulate oil stains. The roof is built up from Campbell scale siding superglued to a styrene sub-structure. When dry it was washed with some flat aluminum and flat black paint, and then highlighted with a little rusty-coloured chalk.
I built a caricature of a rolling door for the entrance - that's it in the photo below before it had been sanded, painted, and generally made a bit more presentable. I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time on it because it is barely visible now that it’s installed. It just gives a hint that there is a door there and nothing more.
It’s not a very practical or realistic building, but I rather like it and hopefully I’ll figure out just the right place for it on the layout.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Light ray blues, part 4

“I’m glad you’re here. You need to call your station for more police and an ambulance.”

“I am not with the police.”

“Yes you are. You said you were.” I said petulantly.


He was right. That voice had fooled me. He had on clothes that sort of looked police-uniform-like in dim light, but it was partially covered by an overcoat. I never asked for ID. I never challenged him.

“We must leave.” Barry White was long gone and Darth Vader was back.
He stepped passed me and removed a wallet from McMillan's pocket. He checked its contents and put it in his own pocket. He then put a hand on McMillan’s shoulder and paused for a moment.

When he was done it was back to business, “Let’s go.”

“I don’t know who you are and I need to call the police.”

“No. You are coming with me.”

For a man with a voice like he had he was surprisingly small. He couldn’t have been more than five foot seven or eight with shoes on. A bit on the thin side too. I could have probably knocked him over or out ran him or both. But he persuaded me not to. He drew a gun. 

“We are going to my office for the rest of the evening.”

“I need to get home. My wife will be wondering where I am and I’m dead tired,” I whined.  I was tired. I’d been working long overtime hours for the last three weeks pushing to get a stable solution to those equations, then nearly witnessing some sort of crime earlier this evening, and now this, with a ‘50s ray-gun and all.

Darth grabbed my arm and we started walking towards an alley. He was stronger than I thought. I could feel the gun against my ribs.

“What about the car?”

“Leave it. It will be hard to trace. We are going to walk over to Scarboro Square Station and take the train. I know some back streets to get there. This is not going to be a perfect escape, but if we have some luck, and not draw attention to ourselves, we will disappear.”

We were lucky. Extra lucky even. After about fifteen minutes of navigating the alleys and back streets of Agincourt we came across an overflowing Salvation Army clothing drop box in an unlit corner of a parking lot. Five minutes later we had some different coats and shirts. Fairly good ones too, but a bit smelly. Although, I wasn’t smelling so good myself.

“Don’t worry. People will think we are just business men who have had a little too much fun and too much drink. Just act the part a bit,” came Darth’s sage advice. I was nearly falling down with exhaustion. I could probably pass for falling down drunk.

Once we were on the train I immediately fell asleep. I never seem to learn from my mistakes.

You can find part 5 here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Basic paving wraps up

Last weekend I finished up the styrene paving job in the urban area. I’ve been working on this for a few minutes each evening over the last two weeks, and I was able to devote a few hours on the weekend to finishing it. After the last piece was in place I had a long look and was struck by the feeling that the layout is starting to look done, and less and less ‘in progress’.
Before cutting and installing the median strip between the tracks and the outer ring-road, I got the GE 45 tonner off the shelf to check clearances. It’s got the widest profile in my fleet and it has unearthed some problems with scenery placement in other parts of the layout, so I thought I’d check that it got though this section of track without scraping against anything.

That’s Stella’s in the distance. I’m having a difficult time finishing it off. I think I’m being too apprehensive about whether it’ll turn out alright. I just need to dig in, finish gluing it up, and then use whatever results as a starting point for any corrections or modifications. I’m more and more seeing it as a learning piece about what not to do on my next high-rise!

Well, it’s on to painting.

Friday, September 21, 2012


[Main DCC terminals]
I used Atlas terminal track for connecting power to the rails. This makes for an easy, solder-free setup, but leaves the unsightly screw terminals visible on the train board. On this little layout I’ve got three of them: one for main DCC power, one for the DCC program stub, and one for a future DC power connection so I can run my old DC equipment. In general, trying to have a dual power DCC / DC setup on a layout might not be the best thing, but on this small layout my plan is to have a master switch that applies either DCC or DC. I’ll need to be careful and make sure I’ve removed all the DCC rolling stock before flipping the master switch.
[DCC power terminals hidden]
So far, I’ve built some camouflage for two of the terminals. The DCC power terminal is covered by a rise in the pedestrian walkway. It’s built from styrene sheets and hand-rail moulding. It just needs to be painted. I have some more hand-railing in my stash and I plan to install it along the walkway further down into the high-rise area.
[DCC program track terminals]
The DCC program track terminal is covered by an old equipment shed that is a survivor from my childhood ‘70s layout. The paint has been touched up a bit and it’s been glued to a styrene base that does the actual hiding of the terminals.
[DCC program track terminals hidden]
The DC terminal is way off on a stub in the rural section. I haven’t come up with a disguise for that one yet.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Light ray blues, part 3

A shiny dark blue sedan came down the street and stopped beside me. Barry Vader and the driver exchanged glances. Barry held open the backdoor and I got in. This is a nice car. Leather. Wood grain. Budgets must be flush at the police department these days. This was a far cry from the usual grubby Crown Victorias.

“Where are we going?” asked the driver.

“I live a few blocks from the Darlington stop. We can just drive north along Sheppard until we get there, and I can show you the turns from there.”

I’m always forgetting my manners, “My name is Ed. Ed Bryce.”

“Constable McMillan,” came the reply.

That was the end of our conversation.

We drove for a few blocks until the headlights revealed a big lump in our lane. We slowed down and the lump took on human form. It looked like a bicyclist had got his rear wheel caught in the streetcar track and had fallen. He wasn’t moving. 

McMillan stopped the car a few feet from the downed rider, got out, walked over and leaned in to see what was wrong. Then a miracle struck the rider. In an instant he reached into his jacket, pulled out a gun and fired it point blank into the constable’s chest. 

McMillan screamed. The gun was silent. No gunshot noise. No smoke. There was just an intense red beam of light that seared straight through McMillan and petered off into a dim white light before completely disappearing a few metres down range. McMillan crumpled over onto the bike’s back wheel. The rider didn’t waver and held the gun firm as the beam sliced through McMillan’s torso as he fell. The rider didn’t kill the beam until the constable had fully replaced him as the lifeless lump on the road. The rider then got up and ran down the street.

After I had finished seeing the cosmos spin wildly before my eyes, had broken into a cold sweat, had barfed up my dinner of vending machine sandwich and coffee, and had felt my legs recongeal after turning to rubber I got out and staggered over to McMillan. He had a hole in his chest the size of a baseball with a thinner diagonally radiating slit that tracked the arc of his fall. My stomach started to heave again but there was nothing in it now. I was shaking. I tried to steady.

The beam had seared and sealed his wounds like burnt barbecue. I knelt by him. I tried to calm down and figure out what to do. There was no traffic. No people. No cars. No dogs. Nothing.  It was just as dead as him. I’d have thought someone would have noticed the commotion. I needed a phone. I got up to see if there was one in the car.

From behind me I heard, “Leave him. We need to go.” It was that voice again. I need to pay more attention to my surroundings.

Part 4 is here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Archie’s Garage

I wanted some sort of small garage that would allow a good view of the ocean at one end and have a large door at the other. The door end would face the streetcar tracks, and a couple of strategically placed lawn-chairs would let the owner watch the world go by while being protected from too much sun or rain by the roof overhang.
The window wall is just 3 O-scale window moldings glued together – I can’t recall if they are Grandt or Tichy; I’ve lost the packaging. The garage door frame is built from 2 Tichy HO-scale door moldings glued together with the centre vertical support cut out. I still need to add a door, floor, roof and some glazing to the windows.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Light ray blues, part 2

What I didn’t count on was falling asleep. I didn’t wake up until I was six or seven stops past mine. When I did, I got off and started to walk. There wouldn’t be another car around for hours until the morning rush hour service started.

The night was clear. No rain. Not too cold. At least it was a good night for walking home. I had to find a phone along the way to call Jess. I was gonna be late. Again.

Then I heard a sharp bang. I stopped and looked up and down the street, but I didn’t see anything. I kept walking.

But not for long. Another bang. It sounded close. I froze. And then ran. Ran into an alley between two buildings and pressed tight against a wall. I didn’t know what was happening. It might have been shots. I wasn’t taking any chances. The brick wall seemed like protection.

I have no idea how long I hugged that wall. It probably wasn’t more than a few minutes, but it seemed much longer. I didn’t hear anything for quite awhile. No bangs. No shots. No nothing. I cautiously peaked around the wall. Still nothing. I thought the noises came from the opposite direction I was going, so I headed on my way, but faster this time.

“Stop!” The voice behind me sounded like Darth Vader was commanding me from the bridge of a star destroyer. I stopped.

“Put your hands up where I can see them.” I did.

“Now turn around slowly and face me.” I did. Very slowly.

It wasn’t Darth, it was a cop. He wasn’t pointing a gun at me. With a voice like that I guess he didn’t need to.

“What are you doing here?” 

The Darth voice was pushing all my obey authority buttons. “I fell asleep on the number 90 car and missed the Darlington stop. I didn’t wake up until I got here. I started to walk home and heard some bangs. They might have been shots. I hid over there for awhile.”

“Can’t you take a cab?”

I felt my face start to flush. “I’ve only got streetcar tokens and some change on me.”

The cop stared at me for a bit. Darth Vader started to shift to Barry White. “I’ll get a constable to drive you. They were shots. We haven’t found who fired them.” Barry cracked a smile, “You can put your hands down.”

I thought pulling up in my driveway in a police car might help straighten things with Jess. A sympathy ploy maybe. It might have worked if I had actually gotten home.

Part 3 can be found here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Yost Theatre

Ok, the kit is actually the Wathers’ Rivoli Theater, but I have a plan to selectively compress it to fit into that newly paved spot across the alleyway from the Chapters bookstore, and to dedicate it to the founder of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies and Magic Shadows, Elwy Yost - naturally, I’ll modify the ‘Rivoli’ sign to read ‘Yost’. Although I never had the privilege to meet Mr. Yost, his tv shows were responsible for developing my lifelong love of movies. And 2014 is the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night at the Movies - yeap, it’ll have been on tv for 40 years! - so it’ll be a bit of an homage.
I bought the kit when I was at George’s 50th because I wanted the front facade. The building itself is very deep in order to accommodate the audience seating, but I’m going to radically change its depth to fit the space - I’m not sure how wacky that will make the building; I’ll need to do some more detailed measuring to see if it’ll look too weird. There’ll be a streetcar stop either behind or to the side of the Yost.

Monday, September 10, 2012

City paving gets started

[Starting point]
Over the weekend I started paving the remaining unfinished areas in the city. I used various thicknesses of sheet styrene for this job. The cut plastic pieces were glued together with old-fashioned Testors tube glue, and then the completed paving inserts were attached to the train board with rubber cement – which doesn’t attack the painted Styrofoam base, and will allow the pieces to be pried up if I want to change things around in the future.
[end of the first day]
Even though just a few of the basic paving shapes are in place, in my mind I can see things starting to take shape, and so far, so good. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
[end of the second day]

Friday, September 7, 2012

The B3 and the small buildings game

The B3 has been an interesting project for me. I usually have a few on the go, ones I ‘should’ be making progress on, and others that I’ve started more or less on a whim. The whim ones more often than not turn out to be more fun and surprising. That was certainly true for the B3. Once the basic building was glued up, I lifted off the old dictionary I was using to hold the walls down on the floor during the drying phase, had a good look at the project, and, presto!, I got an instant feeling of goodness from it. I still need to add lighting, a bit of roof and interior detail, and a little light weathering, but I liked how it was shaping up.
As for construction, all the pieces, except for the floor, were cut from 0.020 inch styrene; the floor is 0.080 inch. The L-shaped windows on the ends were glued up from Grandt Line O-scale moldings. All the other window and door moldings are HO-scale Tichy Train items. The brick paper is from Micro-Mark. The B3 letters on the end walls are foam items that scrapbook hobbyists use that I picked up at Michaels’ and painted to match the main windows. However, I’m a little ambivalent about them and they might get scraped off.
Over the Labour Day weekend I learned about H.G. Wells’ 1911 book Floor Games (You can find a copy of the text here). It’s a charming description of games he and his young sons played based on ‘building’ cities and towns and landscapes on the floor of their house using wind-up trains, tin soldiers, wood blocks and other found objects. I’ve been thinking for awhile that the projects I’ve been working on like the B3 aren’t model building projects at all, and reading Floor Games made me think that these projects are more the result of game play than model building. Some sort of ‘small buildings game’ following Wells’ lead.
The game is pretty simple once I started to think of the activity in those terms. The game pieces are: 1, a selection box of HO-scale window and door moldings from Tichy Trains (some other brand or set would do just as well); 2, some miscellaneous window and moldings that I’ve bought because they were either on sale or looked interesting or both; 3, some miscellaneous sheets or pieces of styrene – some with molded patterns like metal siding or bricks; 4, brick papers; 5, paints. Also, some figures and vehicles are good to have around for scaling things. A well stocked spares box comes in handy too but isn’t a strict necessity. Some basic tools for making styrene models are needed.
The ‘game’ involves fiddling with the pieces to find arrangements that seem interesting and maybe meet some need for the layout. For me, I usually have a starting idea and then play around with the pieces to try and make it happen, but usually what actually occurs is some other configuration arises based both on the original idea and the parts – basically, game play changes preconceived ideas. There really aren’t any rules, just as what is described in Floor Games doesn’t seem rule bound. One gets a sense of how to proceed by just proceeding with what’s on hand and seeing where that goes. In Floor Games, Wells goes on at length about what happens during a game and its outcome, but doesn’t elaborate much on rules. In more conventional terms, the small buildings game is a type of scratch-building, but without an emphasis on replicating a particular real-world object, or even being close to similar to a real building.

Anyway, I think I’ll park the B3 project for awhile and move onto some layout work.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Light ray blues, part 1

“Jack, can you wait a couple more minutes before you run another batch?”

“Sure, but hurry up. I wanna get home.”

I wanted to get out of here too. Jess would be royally bent if I’m late again. I just needed to get those cards updated and I could go.

A bright light slowly made its way down the street and came to a halt near the front door. Oh great. The last car is early. I opened the window and shouted down to the driver, “Wait a minute. I’ll be right down.”

“Ok, but hurry up.”

Hurry up. Hurry up. Jeez. I typed faster. Ok, that got the last one. I handed the stack of cards to Jack.

“Here you go. Let’s hope it’ll be a good run this time.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“I’m outta here. See you tomorrow.” I pulled the cover over the card punch, grabbed my coat and headed for the stairs. Jack added my cards to the bottom of the master deck and then loaded the whole eighteen inch stack into the reader. Maybe by morning we’d have an answer. Hopefully, I was now on the right track.
Lucky for me the driver was more interested in ogling the girl on page three of his paper than sticking to his schedule.  I got on the car, dropped a token in the box and looked for a seat where the people didn’t seem too weird. If there weren’t any delays I’d make it home just in time for the start.

You can find Part 2 here.