Friday, June 27, 2014

The Barn and Corral

The signature structures like the depot or major industries are normally well documented with pictures and drawings. When trying to recreate the more "off-set" buildings, like barns or individual housings, we must use modelers licence, but sometimes we are lucky and find the remnants of these structures by chance. (All b/w pictures courtesy of San Juan Capistrano Historical Society)

To the right of the packinghouse was a barn with a corral for horses or cows. It was outlined on the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1929, so I could determine the dimensions.


A picture from 1911 already showed the barn between the 2 houses in the foreground, actually only the roof.

Then finally an aerial shot from the 1950/60's shows the barn in total. Working from the dimensions on the map and the aerial view I could have built the barn.

When I browsed my photo collection to find some prototype information for the adobe houses in Los Rios District, I stumbled over the picture above, actually showing the barn I was looking for. During my visit in 2005 I had shot all kinds of buildings and structures around the depot without knowing if I ever would need them. With this straight on shot I was able to determine the exact shape of the barn and also how the exterior walls looked like.

The barn is a relatively simple looking structure, so I decided to make it a quick and easy project. I penciled the dimensions on plain .060" basswood sheet and cut the walls out with a few passes of my hobby knife.
The recessed roof served for ventilation purposes. 

This week-end I will glue the corrugated sheet stock to the wall sections and assemble the structure.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Verdugo Street

For my streets I normally use the street system pieces from Walthers. They come in concrete or asphalt color or even in brick. In my modeled era the streets were mostly asphalt, so I either use the concrete or asphalt colored sets, depending on what's available at the local hobby shop. In this case I only had the concrete colored parts.

To give the street the desired asphalt color I used the grey street color from Heki. Woodland Scenics offers a similar paint to simulate asphalt or concrete. It's basically like painting a structure. I could have used my airbrush but that seemed too much hassle for just the small stretch of street.

A quick tip for painting the grade crossings: I used a piece of carton and slipped it between the rail and the adjoining piece of street. Then I applied the paint with the brush and reversed the carton for the other side of the rail.

This left the railheads clean.

The finished Verdugo Street only needs some weathering and details.

Thanks for following and stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ballast and Scenery

Ballasting the track marks the completion of the trackwork. At this stage every piece of track and every turnout should be powered and work reliably so that the trains run without interruptions. If this is not the case make improvements BEFORE you start ballasting your track.

On the protoype pictures from the 1940's there is not much ballast visible, but mostly dirt and rubble, so I tried to mix gray Woodland Scenics ballast with bird litter and beach sand, to achieve this look.

My maintenance of way crew uses a ballast car that I purchase at least a dozen years ago at a train show in Germany (Intermodellbau, Dortmund). It makes ballasting track very easy. The ballast is simply poured into the hopper. The hopper sits on a brass underframe that holds the wheelsets and has 3 holes where the ballast runns between the ties. a couple of rubber and felt wipers spread the ballst between the ties.

When the ballast spread has finished his job, I clean the tops of the railroad ties with a smooth brush. This wipes all the loose ballast between the ties.

With a stiffer brush I clean the rails and the side of the ties. Sometimes ballst sticks to the side of the rails and causes the wheels of the railcars to jump. Then I fill the space between the rails with sand or gravel and sprinkle ground cover on top.

After the ballast is in place I wet the tracks area. I mix Isopropyl alcohol with distilled water and apply the mixture with a spray bottle. I let it soak for a couple of minutes and then using an eye dropper or pipette, I apply a mix of 1 part Matte Medium, 7 parts water and 2 parts Isopropyl alcohol.

I experienced that Matte Medium bonds the ballast better than white glue which also tends to leave a shiny surface or white spots on the ballast. I also came away from using dish washer as wetting agent. I don't like the bubbling effect. I use Isopropyl alcohol instead which works perfectly. Take care to properly ventilate your room when using this medium.

The normal Woodland Scenics ground foam isn't very realistic when used as the only ground cover. Normally I also apply coarse foliage and grass tufts from MiniNatur. Scenic Express markets a similar product in the US.

The tufts come on a plastic sheet and may be torn off. They are glued to the scenery using a drop of white glue. I mix different shades from medium green, burnt  or dry grass. Depending on the area you're modeling you may choose greener shades.

AFG Packinghouse ready for the fruit

Last weekend I finally got some time to finish my packing house and to scenic the surroundings.

As I said in my previous post, my friend Pit Karges had cut some score marks into the wall sections to make positioning the corrugated siding easier, because they overlap by 2 mm.

I applied a bead of white glue on the wall section and spread the glue with a moistened brush. Then I laid the piece of corrugated carton along the score line so that it overlapped the previous layer.

Here's the finished backwall. A nice side effect of laser cutting is that the laser slightly burns the edges of the carton. This gives a nice weathered look.

The long side walls come in 2 pieces. I joined them with a piece of Scotch tape and braced the whole length with strip wood. I did not apply corrugation to the wall that will not be visible.

After all the corrugation was applied and dry, I started to join the wall sections. I braced the corners with pieces of MDF that came from the window cutouts.

Out of experience I know that nothing lasts forever, so I decided not to glue my structures to the baseboard. They could not be removed intact if I had to move or dismantle the layout. So I glued some kind of foundation to the baseboard, where the structure would be. I scenicked the foundation with ground foam so it is not so obvious that the structure only sit on top of the foundation instead of being build into the ground.

The windows are also laser cut. I painted them black and used canopy glue to attach the window glass, which is 0.05" cleas styrene

The final assembly went straight forward. I did not apply the corrugation to the roof panels because I had to hide the gaps between the roof and the windows.

After the roof panels and windows were installed I applied the roofing sheets following the same procedure as the side walls.

I did not glue the loading doors in yet, because I want to build some shadow boxes with interiors.

This is a train engineer's view when entering San Juan Capistrano coming from San Diego. The cantilever signal bridge and train order board are not finished yet. They are only placed temporarily.

Stay tuned for the finishing touches of this part of town.