Thursday, June 25, 2015

Modeling an orange grove (part 2)

Over last weekend I found some time to work on my orchard on the layout.

A first mock-up with Orange tree, windmill, smudge oil tank, standpipe and weirs is shown above.

 After I routed the furrows, I painted the base a brown color and sifted fine earth (from the backyard) into the wet paint.

The available orange trees don't look like the real thing, so some upgrading was necessary. I used ready made trees from Woodland Scenics and the Orange Trees from Life Like, although these have oranges added, they look like a wire brush, so I sprayed the trees with spray adhesive (3M or similar), waited until the glue was tacky and then rolled them into a mix of medium and dark ground cover.

In the back are the ready made trees from Woodland Scenics and in the foreground the upgraded Life Like trees with foliage and oranges added.

 A first batch of some 20+ trees before I ran out of adhesive and foliage.

To attach the oranges I used a strong hairspray (the cheapest I could find, not my wife's, though) and sprinkled the Woodland Scenics oranges all around.

I sat the finished trees aside to dry. 

Next weekend I will make the rest of the orange trees (about 50+ needed) and plant them. Some ballasting of the tracks and weeds along the orchard will be added also.

So as always, stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Modeling an orange grove (Part 1)

 My packing house is ready for the fruit. Time to plant some orange seedlings and get the fruit growing.

In the photo above we see the American Fruit Growers Packing House in San Juan Capistrano on my Surf Line layout.

On a bare spot just outside of Capistrano I laid out a grid pattern spaced 22' x 22'. At the intersections of the grid I will plant the orange trees.

I mocked up a first row of trees to see if there's enough space in between for the trucks that pick-up the Field boxes. I will rework these trees to look more like orange trees. The stumps will be inserted into the baseboard so that they are not visible.

The pipes in front of every row are stand-pipes for the irrigation system. The two tanks in the background will hold oil for the smudge pots. There will also be a small fruit stand on  the country road.

The photo above shows a concrete standpipe standing in a citrus grove next to Interstate 5 near Capistrano that Bob Chaparro and Robert Simpson visited and documented during their visit.

I've cut the irrigation ditches freehand, with a router bit inserted into my Dremel motor tool, on both sides of the tree lines.

The ditches look like this with the concrete standpipes at the beginning of the rows.

The prototype standpipes are constructed from three 32" long concrete rings which are grouted together for a total of 8'8" tall. The diameter is 58". I found that the Tichy Train Group pipe loads have approximately the same size. I just needed to represent the grout lines. I applied two beads of CA all around the pipes and poured a filler powder over the CA. This powder may be used to fill crevices and bonds with CA.

When the CA had dried over night I glued some water pipes, trimmed from a kit sprue.

I used a round file to make the half round openings for the water to flow into the irrigation ditches.

The standpipes were normally covered with a wooden lid. I've cut the lids from a scrap piece of scribed siding using a compass cutter.

I painted the standpipes with concrete colour (Woodland Scenics Street color) and covered them with the wooden lids. Some are broken like on the prototype.

Stay tuned for the next step in modeling an orange grove.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ford AA 1934 Leach Refuse Getter

Inspired by another photograph on, I challenged myself in scratchbuilding one of these garbage trucks. The picture above shows the unpainted model.

I have a couple of 1/87 scale Ford 1931 AA truck kits from Con-Cor with different body styles which I could easily swap against a new refuse body.

From the prototype picture I approximated the length and height of the garbage body. The width was defined by the width of the track chassis. I cut the floor and sides from .040" plain styrene. 

I glued the one side to the floor using the magnets from the Micro Mark glueing jig to keep the assembly square.

After one side had dried, I glued the opposite side to the floor also.

To ensure that the side walls were spaced evenly with the floor, I inserted a piece of strip styrene like shown in the picture.

In the meanwhile I started construction on the collecting bucket using a piece of styrene tube, cut to the width of the body. I removed one side, giving a "U".

I glued a piece of .015" plain styrene to the front of the body. After this had dried thoroughly I attached one side of the roof using clamps to hold it in place. Because the body is curved, I waited until the glue had dried at the front edge before continuing to glue the roof along the curved side walls.

Using a "Curvograph" (that´s a ruler to draw eliptical, sinus etc curves) I sketched the special shape of the top lid brackets.

Taking the original photograph as a guide, I positioned the bracket on the side of the body.

When the glued had dried a trimmed and sanded the bracket smooth with the top.

Again, using the picture for reference, I added .010" plain styrene sides and rear panels to the bucket.

With all the brackets in place I glued the top lid to the roof of the body. I had to use four clamps to keep it in shape on the curved body until the glue set.

The Con-Cor kits don't feature an interior for the cab, so I scratchbuild one using scrap pieces of .040" plain styrene and C-channel as shown in the picture above.

Then using the cabs as a guide, I glued the interiors to my four truck chassis. The two on the left side will be for garbage trucks the third a produce truck and the one on the right will have a flatbed.

I contemplated a lot on how to represent the roller guides that lift the bucket to the roof top for unloading. Again I approximated the shape from the prototype picture and used a cutting compass, which has a scalpel blade insteat of a pencil tip, and cut the curved shape on .020" plain styrene.

I also fabricated two brackets to attach the bucket to the roller guide and placed the body on the truck chassis to check if everything fits.

I´m very pleased with my first attempt to scratch-build a truck only from a picture. Unfortunately I did not find any reference about what kind of garbage trucks were in use in Southern California during the 1940's. I will use some modelers license and suppose these vintage 1930's trucks were still in use in smaller towns, considering that because of the war effort there was no money for newer garbage trucks anyway.

Now the trucks are ready for the paintshop. As always stay tuned for updates.

Monday, March 30, 2015

7 ton Semi-trailer, Panel Cargo

Some time ago I purchased the 1/72 kit of a Studebaker US6 truck with semi-trailer and was hoping to use it on my HO layout like I did with the LCVP. Unfortunately this kit is accurately scaled and thus too large compared to my other HO trucks.


I searched the internet of useable models in HO. It proved that Roco (now Herpa) manufactured a 1/87 model of a M118  Semi-Trailer. It was listed under Roco Minitanks with the item number Z168. Although being a more moder version, it could be modified and give a good stand in for the WWII 7-ton Semi-trailer.

I purchased six trailer models, some already modified. This model seems to be out of production for some years because in Europe I couldn't find any, so I had to buy them all in the US. None came in the original boxes, which didn't matter much because I would modify and paint them anyway.

The first step consisted in removing the landing gears, rear axles and spare tires.

Then I started to build up the tool box which on the model only had the front panel and no sides, back or bottom.

I used .020" plain styrene pieces from my scarp box to build new tool boxes.

On the prototype the landing gear is attached to the underside of the frame near the center and is used as a temporary support, or whenever the trailer is uncoupled from the tractor. It is operated through a worm screw and miter gears by a hand crank, located on the right side of the trailer. I used C-channel to represent the long worm screw and the nut where the guide bracket is attached.

Using .015" brass wire I bend the back brace assembly in shape.

In the photo above the tool boxes are completely built-up and a steel bracket for the spare wheel was installed on the front of the body. (The spare tire on the model was attached to the underframe)

This photo shows the operating mechanism of the landing gear. The wire back brace assembly is locked into a hole that represents the guide bracket srewed to the long worm gear (C-channel). The detail isn't visible from the side.On the prototype, turning the crank handle in either direction, rotates the worm screw. The nut and guide brackets, which are connected to the landing gear back braces, follow the thread of the worm screw, thereby raising or lowering the landing gear, depending on the direction fo rotation.

I also decided to represent the cross ties on the frame because they are partly visible when viewed from the side.

I primed the bodies and sprayed them with Tamyia Olive Drap from a spray can.

The finished semi-trailers.

Roco/Herpa did not manufacture a tractor (Studebaker or GM) so I also had to transform a GMC truck by removing the truckbed and installing a saddle plate.

 I will probably also convert some of the Classic Metal Works tractors to pull the trailers.

I still need to find bigger wheels for the landing gear (or eventually build them from scratch). The trailers will we loaded with boxes and equipment and some also covered with tarp before they are put into action on Broadway Pier for loading on the next cargo ship.

Stay tuned for my upcoming conversion of a Roco/Herpa M30 Fuel Tank Semi-Trailer into a commercial tank truck.