Monday, September 2, 2013

MRR Contest Build 07

Not too much forward progress on the contest build, at least not obviously, but still moving forward.  I've been working on getting the base level of the ground cover complete so that I could start painting and weathering the ground form.

 I'm using a mixture of techniques--spackling compound, paper, dirt, broken up plaster.  Each of these things is being permanently affixed.  Once it's all secure I'm going to selectively paint it and go over it with india ink washes.  For the time being I'm just going for basic form.  I'm going to paint the big plaster bits to represent broken up concrete, common in industrial land fill situations.  

I've been building up the paved areas and finishing the building interface points.  The most notable addition is the mound that will become a salt pile.  I think my technique of using an old towel painted with glue will do a good job of simulating the dynamic of a salt pile.  That may be a good subject for a future article.

I'll be excited when I can get back to painting.  I'm realizing that I'm happiest when I have an airbrush or dry paintbrush in my hand.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

MRR Contest Build 06

It was time to let things dry for a while this afternoon, when I looked at the clock I realized that I just tipped the 40 hour mark on the contest build.  It's been a while since I've updated the blog on this or any topic, and that's mainly because I've just been trying to squeeze any minute I can into the build.

I've got most of the buildings assembled in rough form: that means basic coloring and assembly, but no fine detail.  I also spent a solid hour airbrushing the silo, layering earth and concrete colors, trying to give the plain structure some life.

The pavement sections are paper laminated to cardboard (awaiting paint), and the ground surface is dirt and plaster waste over a terry cloth towel.  I simply stapled the towel down over miscelaneous bits of stuff to prop it, soaked it in dilute glue, and added sifted dirt.  It sounds bizzarre but it works.

The buildings each have a plywood base that fits into a "hole" on the layout so they can be removed for transport.  The paper buildings still weigh next to nothing even with the plywood base.  I'm excited to see things start to come together.  I have some real work to do on the paving, and a lot of scenery base to finish, but I'm liking the composition of the structures.  Just have to be patient while the glue and weights do their thing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

MRR Contest Build 05, Passenger Cars 05

I'm in the midst of building three structures for the shelf layout build.  At this point I have not "built" much of anything, save for the cement silo.  I put "built" in quotes because I have spent time in Photoshop doing some virtual construction.

I've purchased several textures from Scale Scenes, Clever, and even taken a few items from photos.  These are laid over a schematic cut file that I prepared based on the "site dimensions".  Those cut lines show in the images included here, however, I don't print them--the identifying text won't print either.  The black lines in the upper left corner are my registration marks for the laser.  I've also done some virtual airbrushing to break up the monotony of the printed texture.  It does not look like much, but it helps.  Shadows and reflections give things dimension in advance of weathering with other means.

I've also removed the silo from the mold, and the mold came out fantastically well.  I'm excited to make at least a couple structures for this and future layouts.  If I'm lucky, someone will want to trade, as the mold will clearly have some life!  At this point I am about 19 hours into the build, including mold making and computer work.

The passenger car roof mold came out well too.  I'm excited to start making a few of those, but that will have to wait. . . . for now.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

MRR Contest Build 04

The deadline associated with the contest is a real advantage for me.  In less than 3 weeks I'm going to have to make a video of a completed shelf layout.  For me that means having some rolling stock, structures and scenery that all looks "of a kind", meaning that the colors and level of finish work together.  

Here are my first three shots at weathering N scale freight cars, I spent no more than five minutes on each, and used three colors, linen, raw sienna, and jet black:

When working in O scale, and on larger items, I tend to take a very long view.  Working in such a short time frame is helping me to see that one can work fast, and work well, and get good results.  While I don't see myself changing course in O scale, I am beginning to appreciate how the a layout might be more than a sum of its parts.

MRR Contest Build 03, Passenger Cars 04

Things have slowed down a bit on the build, not from lack of effort, but because I have a few structures to design.  The industries on my contest layout include a portland cement distributor, a plywood distributor, and a chemical company.  I'm trying to create structures that have a real sense of "size" as they relate to the trains.  

I've spent a couple hours on the computer designing the various buildings, and two hours in the shop getting the silo for the portland cement company prepared for casting.  I am making a mold because I'd like to build at least a couple of each structure.  If I end up shipping the shelf layout I'll have some copies for a layout of my own.  I can also share the spares with other modelers.  Who knows, someone might want an N scale cement silo.  Given the amount of work to get the pipes blended, a one off seemed inappropriate.

Here's the latest video:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MRR Contest Build 02

I'm about twelve hours into the build.  It seems strange to measure time this way, except for the fact that time is so tight to begin with.  I'm guessing after I clean up my mess it's going to be twelve and a half hours!  The deadline is really forcing me to focus on finish, and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the very good.

I spent the last hour and a half painting the track.  It's ballasted with good old dirt.  I went ahead and did the ballast before the paint, and then airbrushed the entire assembly with a gray brown mix of umber, cream and Payne's gray.  After that I picked out the rail with raw sienna and oxide red.  Finally, I dry brushed with umber and linen.  All of these paints are Liquitex soft body acrylics.  I find the pigment goes through the airbrush fine providing you have higher than normal pressure.

The key advantage of an airbrush is control over how heavily the paint goes on and where it goes.  If I just wanted to apply a layer of paint I might do it with a rattle can.  Using an airbrush affords one much finer modulations.  Just my 2 cents.  Here's the update:

Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

MRR Contest Build 01

Just when I thought I had a good head of steam I was sidelined by work and chores around the farm.  I have found some time to move the Virgin Church forward, but I just have not had the consistent time that I had in the winter.  Challenges we all face.

My silence has been broken by the Model Rail Radio Shelf Layout Design Contest.  Sometime back I committed to building one of the winners.  A recent extension to the deadline made me think that it just might be possible.  Add to that a challenge and a deadline, and I'm off on a tangent.  With luck, it will be done by the deadline, making it a brief tangent!  3 weeks to go.   Here's the first video:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Virgin Church 11 / Krueger Electric 04 / Saw Stop

Lately I've been working weekends, which has cut into model making time.  The time change also seems to have really messed with my alertness, and has made morning model sessions before work a no go.  Even so, I managed a couple hours in the shop and made some progress on the Church and on Krueger Electric.  I made up the corner boards on the church.  I glued them up rather than mill them, mainly because I am a walking zombie from lack of sleep, and I did not dare go near anything with a motor, much less something amounting to several horsepower.  

Earlier in the work week I managed to trip the Saw Stop--not with a finger, but with an aluminum fence.  That I got the fence so close only reinforced the fact that I needed to step away from the tools, slow down, and take my time.  It's also a good reminder that knowing your tools and being confident with them does not make up for fatigue.

Blowing a blade and cartridge is an expensive mistake.  It's still reassuring to know that the system works.  I've been using table saws regularly for 25 years.  The only serious issue I ever had was a kick back issue when I first started working in a model shop--one incident at age 17 was enough to open my eyes to the real value of safety.  I've been using the saw stop for many years, and this is only the second accidental trip I had.  A small price to pay for the added safety.  

Returning to models . . . .

While I was waiting for the corner board pieces to dry on the Church, I turned my attention to the roof of Krueger Electric. Given that I had three to do, I turned to one of my favorite materials, aluminum tape.

Once it's painted this self adhesive tape can do duty as metal plating (it takes rivet embossing well), passenger car roofing, or even tar paper.  It all depends on how it's cut and painted.  

I spray painted the tape black, and streaked white paint on it.  Alone it did not look like much, but layered and dusted with gray chalk it made a credible roof that matched well with the paper brick.  If I have time tonight I'm going to do the handrails.

As always, looking forward to getting back to the models.  With luck, I'll get work sorted and back under control.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Passenger Cars 03

Last I posted on the Passenger Cars, I had a plug of the roof pretty well done. . . . turns out that in my frenzy of work I managed to make it many feet too short, and my already short 41' car was shorter than it should have been.  That's what I get for rushing.  Good thing that plug number two went much faster, as most things do the second time around.

I returned to the drawing board, and re-cut some new sections from my original cad file.  Rather than jigging them on a spline as before I jigged them in a wooden tray, which worked much better.  It was much straighter and stronger after gluing and required less Bondo to smooth.

Here is the piece after the Bondo, some sanding, and some paint.  I am still debating how I will make the finished product, whether it will be a casting or a "lay up": I'll need a mold either way.  Sorry to say that there is not much else to post this week as I have been travelling for work, and we are in the throws of lambing.  Even with the challenges I'm hoping to keep the Christmas time momentum rolling.  Still a few more hours tonight to do something on the Church. . . .

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Virgin Church 10

After I little delay, I tackled the molding of the Virgin Church.  Virgin was the original settlement in this valley, and the church was the only public building built in the area during the Civil War.  Because of this, it was lavished with some attention to detail, and was designed by a more prominent architect of the time.  This is manifest first in the presence of the clapboard siding itself (in lieu of the plain Virgin flat stone and adobe of the neighboring buildings), and in the eaves moldings.  Using finely milled siding in these parts was not common at the time, and it certainly would have been a luxury.   In it's original form and finish the church would not seem dissimilar from a building on the East coast or in another part of the world.  This projection of power and refinement was symbolically important considering the global origins of many of the Mormon settlers sent to these parts.

I milled much the molding material from basswood on the table saw, something I do but don't recommend to most people.  In addition to using good safety procedures and fixtures, I use a saw made by "Saw Stop", the now famed safety saw.  I would not encourage people without experience and a similarly equipped saw to make such small parts this way.  The pediment molding was built from seven pieces, assembled in place.  The eaves were built from five pieces, incorporating the milled section, as were the eaves returns on the corners.  I used two types of dollhouse crown moldings to add the convex and concave sections to the molding.  In the end, it reminded my of doing architectural work in New England, trying to match historic moldings by building up assemblies of square and milled parts.  

I am going to prep the roof for shingles and do some of the interior fitting before getting into final paint.  Final paint is delightfully close.  And of course, I need to get the corner boards on. . . .

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Virgin Church 09

The last clapboard went on this afternoon.  I am relieved to be at the point where I can return to trim work and painting.  I will certainly layer up clapboards again, but I am going to do it just a bit differently. . . . I already have my eye on a Shorpy photo of a clapboard building that I just have to make.  For the time being I'm enjoying seeing the 19th Century outline of this building take shape.  

Krueger Electric 03

The Color Country Model Railroad Club has been wracked by the news of another members passing.  John Westbrook died on February 9th.  John was an O scale railroader, and was a big contributor to Jim Harper's layout.  I did not know John well, however I did very much enjoy the time that I spent with him.  I'll have to speak with Jim and see if there is something I could contribute to his layout in John's honor.

My models of Krueger Electric have been moving along.  I finished the brick work, and added cap stones and sills.  The cap stones are made from laminated railroad board and shirt cardboard, painted with acrylic. I've drawn lines on the capstones to create joints using a brown brush pen.  A little chalk weathering should finish them off, however, I am going to get the steps and last concrete elements done before doing that.

Interestingly, doing three of these has not slowed things down too much.  In contrast to Virgin Church, which has been "drinking" hours, these little HO structures seem to go fast.  I am aiming to get these done before Wednesday's club meeting.

Water Tower 06

I've taken a little break from working on the spout to get the superstructure and the sound system together.  The plan is to have "filling sounds", clanks and sloshing, play whenever the spout is lowered.  As I have a good idea of how I'm going to handle the spout mechanism, I figured that I should fit the speaker before going much further.

The speaker I chose is Altec Lansing "IMT 228 OrbitM" speaker.  I discovered the hard way that you need to pay close attention to the spec, as there was a cheaper USB only version of the speaker.  I specifically wanted the headphone plug so that it would easily interface with a Pricom Dreamplayer Light.  The components and amplifier are delightfully small, and the sound is very good.  I discarded the provided enclosure, as the body of the water tower will fill the need.  The joists under the tank floor make a perfect grill to conceal the speaker, so, I set the perforated metal aside for future use someplace else, for an as yet undetermined purpose.  The on off switch and indicator light are on a separate circuit board, very convenient for remote mounting.  Ultimately, there will be about half a dozen wires travelling down the stem of the tank.

Over the past several days I've been treating the support timbers with a mixture of steel wool and vinegar.  My clients have been using this finish on full size buildings, and it's working great in scale, delivering the look of real oxidized wood.  The timber was grained with the side of a razor saw and sanded.  The ends were treated with the "Timber Terminator" where they would be exposed.  I am going to get the structure assembled and then return to the spout.  I may take a detour to work out the chain and pulleys, as this could be a bugaboo with the working spout. 


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Krueger Electric 02

I've been gluing clapboards on the church--I'm not going to post that until I get up to the eaves.  Progress has been a bit slow because my eyes have been giving me trouble.  Too much work on the computer being the likely culprit.  So when I feel myself straining I switch activity.  

Krueger Electric is the beneficiary.  The three copies are moving right along--a simple paper model goes very fast.  After getting the walls together, I went ahead and glued some extra laminated wall material on the unfinished exposed sides of the walls.  I also popped the doors in.

I used a couple of fresh blades to do the trimming.  The parapet was cut on the edge of my glass table top.  Once the "backs" of the walls were on, I went ahead and glued the Cinch board roof in.  Although I've complained about the cost of Cinch board, I'm rethinking my aversion to it, as it has been working very well.  

While waiting for the glue to dry, I went ahead and painted up some railroad board to use as concrete details (cap stones and sills).    Adding these elements is really bringing things to life.  I think with a couple of steps, and some other finer bits the little structure could look pretty good.   I still need to do some painting on the edges.

The remainder of my model time this week is going to have to go to the church and the passenger car roof.  I have a demo to give at a local university on Monday, and I will be using the roof as an example of a mold. . . .good motivation to get more done.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Krueger Electric 01

I'll be hosting the February meeting of the Color Country Model Railroad Club.   It's going to be great fun to share the models with fellow members, and to show them the laser cutter and the workshop.  I've started making a couple of models in preparation for that meeting in order to demonstrate a couple of techniques.

It's a bit of a sad time for members of the club because we have just lost a member and friend.  Ed Krueger passed away on January 24th.  Given that Ed was an avid HO scale model railroader it only seemed appropriate to honor him with an HO scale model despite my recent conversion to O scale.

I started by purchasing a brick texture from Clever Models.  I chose their aged brick, imagining a building built in the late 1940's featuring steel windows and concealed lintels with painted signs.  After doing a rough layout in Autocad I modified the Clever Models texture in Photoshop.  Signs were created on individual layers.  I used the "History Brush" to fade the sign, and allow the brick to show through.  I adjusted the transparency of the history brush, and the layer itself until I was happy with the result.  I went pretty fast.  In the future, I might also want to layer in a chipped paint texture.  

I printed the art on archival paper, and spray laminated it to black railroad board.  From there, I cut the sub-walls from some cinch board that I happened have (I don't normally use cinch board due to the cost, but I had it on hand).  I accounted for the thickness of the paper face and the adjacent walls in my cuts so that the finished model would fit together precisely in a saw tooth fashion.  These were then spray mounted to the paper sides.  

In the midst of that work, I cut several frets of windows and doors for the project from black railroad board.  One advantage of having your own laser, even a basic one, is that you can cut very fine sections--sections so fine that it would be hard to sell them commercially.  You can see in the photo below that I etched the line between the sash and the fixed portion of the window (this particular design based on my memory of small buildings in Providence RI).  

The windows are built from two pieces, while the doors are made from five pieces.  The long tail below the door accounts for the landing and steps that will sit in front of it.  As is my regular practice, the doors and windows are primed with spray paint before being finished with acrylics.  

Starting with the laser mark, I drilled the door knob location to accept a brass wire.  Not the most detailed knob in the world, but enough to create a good impression.  

Working in from the outside, I folded in the brick and added a black paper ceiling over the door opening.  Having the door in place really starts to bring things to life. 

With luck, I'll be able to get these models done well before the meeting.