Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Modified Miter Box

I also start a new tools and general modeling topic on this blog, because sometimes there are jobs to do, to complement the actual layout theme or are also useful in other modeling areas.

Some years ago I have build a jig for cutting scale lumber, styrene or metal strips. This simple jig accepts a standard modeling miter box. Some bigger lumber or styrene shapes just cannot be cut with the NWSL chopper, neither do metal shapes. So this jig simplifies the task of cutting a number of same length strips, like telephone poles, lumber or pipe loads, etc.  

Material list:

- A piece of 1x4 lumber (left-over from your benchwork building)
- 2 small pieces of hardboard (left-overs from your backdrop or fascia/valence)
- 1 piece of thicker wood or whatever serves the purpose (for setting the length)
- 1 small C-clamp
- 1 piece of "paper" tape measure (available for free in most Home Depots like IKEA, serving the customers to make quick measurements of the furniture o.a.)
- Small Miter box and razor saw


- Glue or nail one piece of hardboard at the outer edge of the 1x4 (right)
- Place the miter box against this stop to determine the "0" location of your measuring tape (the center of the miter box)
- Glue the tape in place.
- Put the miter box against the right hand stop and glue or nail the left hand stop in place on the 1x4.

- Now use the bigger piece as a moveable stop and clamp it at the desired mark on the measuring tape.

Place the miter box between the fixed stops, set the desired length with the clamp, insert your scale lumber or styrene stock and cut it with the razor saw. 

On a spare piece of plywood I nailed 4 spikes, spaced for the width of my flatcars/gondolas. This simple jig helps in glueing the poles in layers so the load may be build removable.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Preparing for the first operating session

 After my summer vacation I decided to prepare for a first operating session on the layout. In fact I did not run that many trains on it and I want to be sure everything works fine before I continue with ballasting track and adding more scenery. I also want to know if the operating scheme that I figured out would actually work, and that can best be checked out during an ops session.

It's hard to believe how much clutter is gathering on the unfinished parts of the layout. Kit boxes with structures and rolling stock. Locomotives and cars scattered around on most of the tracks. Tools and scenery materials, glue jars and paints, plans, sketches, drawings and things...you certainly know what I mean. It took me a weeks' evenings to get rid of the junk and to store the other items away, so that my tabletop looked like a model railroad again on which I could finally run some trains.

The photo above shows San Juan Capistrano (partly finished) on the left and my staging yard with Vista and Escondido on the small shelf above it.

I've tried a number of waybill and car card systems over the years but finally settled with the system we use at the FREMO (Friends Circle of European Modelers). The late Wolfgang Dudler (MMR 452) created an Excel based database to print waybills. A downloadable version is available HERE.

The system consists in entering the towns and industries of the layout on one side and the off-line shippers and consignees with the appropriate ladings.

 Above is a screenshot of the input screen. I derived a bit from the original program with the center portion for the consignees and lading whether on-line or off-line. To the left are the off-line shippers and to the right of the center portion are the on-line shippers. This makes it easier to assign the different shipments.

On the waybill page I redesigned the waybills for my purpose. The waybill page draws the information from the input page for 12 waybills. On the input page you may select the on- or off-line shipper by its number, which is entered into the orange box on top left. With this you may choose specific shippers or simply replace lost waybills without printing the whole set.

There is another particularity if I choose from the on-line shippers (right side of input page), There is another set of waybills that may be generated, Empty Car requests. In my system the empty cars are not just there when I need them, but I probably have to order them at the nearest yard, and that's what these waybill are for. How my system work will be described later. First I want to try it out and make adjustments if needed.

I then generate PDF files from the excel sheets and print them out on heavier (120 gr.) printer paper. The normal white paper I use has 80 gr. Don't know what this will be in ounces, but I am sure there are similar paper sizes in the US. I use these waybills until they are used and print new ones from the files. To save on inkjet color, I used also 120 gr yellow printer paper for the MTY car requests.

Then I cut the waybills out with a large paper cutter. This makes long, neat cuts and saves time over a pair of scissors.

For my first stock of waybills I came up with about 400 !!! waybills. I doubt that it will be a tad more, because some industries didn't get any assignments yet. But I don't want to over crowd it and will add waybills as needed.

I placed waybill boxes on the fascia around the layout, adjacent to the industries and sorted the waybills to their respective slots. The boxes are a variety of models we use at the FREMO.In the above photo is one from Micro Mark.

In the next installment I will explain my operating system, so stay tuned.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Growing weeds on the depot

As the tower would be completely covered with weeds I only carved the dome and bell tower from a chunk of balsa wood, just enough for the shape.

Then I covered the roof with Plastruct Spanich Tiles using the kit templates

I painted the roof with a red brick color

After the paint had dried I started to cover a part of the roof with Woodland Scenics medium green weeds/turf, held in place with a coat of white glue.

The white glue proves to take too long to set, so I continued with Woodland Scenics Hob-E-Tac sticky glue. That's the same glue for attaching the leaves to tree armatures. It sticks instantly upon contact.

To cover the tower and dome I chose Woodland Scenics bushes (Clump Foliage)

I started from bottom to top, adding "bushes" in several layers until it looked like on the photographs of the 1940's.

The arches of the tower were almost completely overgrown and the dome looked like some kind of mushroom head.

I applied weathering powders on the remaining roof and the walls.

Here are some views of the finished depot .

 The b/w picture above at right was my reference to recreate the track side of the depot. (San Juan Capistrano Historical Society photo)

And the Demorro photo above served to model the Verdugo street side of the depot

 After all this project pleases me as much as the like-new look of the depot.I guess it is some kind of a unique looking depot and really fun to build.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

San Diego Depot (Mock-up)

With Capistrano well under way, I turned to another big work area - San Diego. While I was drawing the parts for the new San Juan Capistrano depot, I also finished a rough drawing for my rendition of the Santa Fe depot in San Diego. I realized that I would not have enough space to put the full size of it on the layout.

After measuring the available space I decided that what is pictured on the photograph above, would perfectly fit. On the original there is almost the same size with another 11 arches to the left.

From measurements on the pictures I took during my last vacation in San Diego, I came up with about 1.25 metres (approx. 50") for the model. I got the wall segments laser-cut and they were basically just a copy/paste of the master and joined with tabs and slots.

The main wall will be flush against the backdrop with only the arched collonade and one tower modeled in 3D. Because I laid the track first I have to make some compromises with the depot now.
I still have to make some minor adjustments to the collonade and trying to get additional information for modeling the tower.

As always .... to be continued.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Depot at San Juan Capistrano in the 1940's

 My actual model of the Santa Fe depot in San Juan Capistrano is like it looked in 1962 with the orginial lettering when it was built in 1894.

I had built this depot for a contest and just for fun because I liked the mission style architecture.
When I decided to model the Surf Line it was clear that San Juan Capistrano would be one of my signature towns on the layout and as I already had a model of the depot and freight house, this would make it even easier....I believed.

 When I decided to set the era in the 1940's and while studying photographs of that period, it became obvious that I could not put the shining white depot on the layout. The original depot was covered with vines and ivy leaves all over the bell tower and large parts of the roof.
Building the bell tower with the dome and the small ornaments all around was quite a challenge and so I did not want to cover all this work with foliage.

When I build the first Capistrano depot I already had the main structure lasercut, so I decided to make another run and build a new depot. This time saving me the hassle of building the bell tower and dome. Above are the main walls and collonade cut from 2.5 mm MDF.

Assembling the main structure was as easy as building a commercial kit. I provided tabs and slots, so  putting the walls together was a snap. 2.5 mm is not thick enough for the brick walls so I doubled the walls for the collonade. I used clamps to hold the pieces together until the glue dried.

Here is the basic structure. I need to cover the tabs and slots with some kind of compound to get a smoother finish. The bell tower will be covered with foliage so I don't spend too much time on hiding the tabs there.

To get the slopes of the roof correct I used the templates from the vintage HSM (Historical Scale Miniatures) kit.

The doors and windows had a protruding brick trim. I recreated that using 3 different sizes of strip wood.

Stay tuned for the next progress of the depot soon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Barn (continued)

As I said in my previous blog entry, this would be a simple project based on the only straight-on photograph and an areal view that I have.

Using my Micro-Mark magnetic fixture I assembled the 4 wall sections, keeping them straight and square with the magnets until the white glue had set.

Then I glued the same corrugated carton pieces to the walls and the roof like the ones I used on my packing house. This was an easy straight forward process.

I wanted to show the barn doors open, so I cut 2 door panes from Northeastern scribed siding. Using single boards from the siding I fashioned the Z-bracing. On the outside of the doors I glued corrugated carton. To show the doors open I contemplated over a way how to do it without glueing the doors directly to the frame. I came up with the idea to drill a small hole at the top and bottom of each door and to insert a short piece of brass wire to serve as door hinge. This gave me the freedom to bend the doors open randomly. If I don't like the way they are opened I can still make some changes.

The photo above shows the opened doors. In the close-up I must admit that I don't really like my very simplistic way to show the hay loft doors. I probably cut them out and make new ones. :)

Test-fitting the barn on the layout

What looks like a major rain shower is actually the wet compound. I still need to build the corral and to add some more ground cover.

The barn completes the packing house scene on the southern part of San Juan Capistrano.