Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Okefenokee Railroad

You pronounce it: oak-EE-fen-O-key

Here is version 1.12

Benchwork and Saw Palmettos

This week we are going to try to complete the first half of the swamp benchwork.

We'll start with the far back wall and work our way around to the right hand side. There is an access hatch in the middle of the back wall, so there are some extra supports. I'll post some track plan drawings a little later.

I found a website tonight: http://www.geocities.com/bkempins/ASMMain/Main.html and it belongs to Alkem Scale Models. They are purveyors of etched brass parts and I've reached out to them to see if they can etch the saw palmetto plants for me. These are perfect for etching and we'll need a lot of them. They give a very distinctive look to the layout. If he doesn't do them I can do them myself.

Bad Mood

I'm in a bad mood today because of work, so I went to the basement as soon as I got through with the dishes. Ok, my wife threw me out of the kitchen and banished me to the basement.

I cleaned up the train room and got it ready for the NCI group to come over Friday. Last week I bought a ton of screws and I put them in their appropriate bins.

On my shopping list I added shims, two utility knives and some utility knife blades. I use Google spreadsheets so that I can access them at work or with my Blackberry.

The kind of wood you buy for your benchwork really does make a difference. We were arguing about wood the other night. Concrete Keith likes dimensional lumber. I like sawn plywood. There are pros and cons to each, so I'll let you take your pick. On my layout I chose to go with B-C plywood. What I found was that if you need your benchwork to be incredibly level (as I do with so much water to pour on it) that the B-C grade has some slight waves and ripples to it that effect the flatness of the board and cause some buldges. Don't scrimp on the benchwork, which has not been my mode of thinking for many years. Next time I'll use high grade sand ply.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cypress Trees

I'm going to need trees very quickly so I have to start producing the molds. People are already trying to buy them from me and I haven't talked much about them yet. Here is my outline for the trees:

Cypress Trees Analysis

Series Inches from Front Size Quantity Detail Height Inches Low Height Inches High Part Numbers
1100 6 Large 5 High 12 14 1101-1105
1150 12 Medium 9 High 11 13 1151-1159
1200 18 Medium 9 Medium 10 12 1201-1209
1250 24 Small 10 Low 9 11 1251-1260
1300 Backdrop Small 3 Low 9 10 1301-1303



Level Inches from Front Size Quantity Detail Height Inches Low Height Inches High Set Part Numbers
1350 6 Large 2 Dozen High 2 4 1351-1352
1400 12 Medium 2 Dozen Medium 1 3 1401-1402
1450 18+ Small 2 Dozen Low 1 2 1451-1452


Level Inches from Front Size Quantity Detail Height Inches Low Height Inches High Part Numbers
1500 6 Large 12 High 2 4 1501-1512
1550 12 Medium 12 Medium 1 3 1551-1562
1600 18+ Small 12 Low 1 2 1601-1612

Mold Casings

33 Halves

Total Molds

1 piece 13

2 piece 33


The Piedmont 2009 Raffle Layout

I just realized that I had not posted any pictures from the layout, or the track plan, so here you go. I'm still finalizing the track plan.

The NMRA's Kalmbach Library

I just got my latest information from the NMRA's Kalmbach Library. If you aren't a member, here's a great reason to join. On my workbench is the HO scale Stampede Meat Packing Plant. I decided that Walther's plastic "wood" parts really didn't look right and didn't give a great feeling for the complexity of the wood pens and pathways for the cattle.

Many years ago I constructed the HO scale Campbell Stock Yard kit. Unfortunately I didn't keep the instructions, which I now do religiously. However, the Kalmbach Library keeps many of the kit plans that you might want to use. I wrote to them and for a whopping $1.50 I got a copy of how to build the pens.

I'll dig through my wood box and see what supplies I'll need, then I'll start building the pens.


I've decided that I need to share more about my vision for the Swamp with my team mates that are going to help me build it. Many of them just don't know much about the Okefenokee or what I'm doing in order to give me help. So I'm going to produce a training Powerpoint deck to use in a clinic of sorts. This way they can see the swamp, get used to the scenery and learn about the very tough men who logged the Okefenokee.

Some of the work is already done in that I gave a clinic on swamp scenery and building cypress trees a few years ago. I'll take that and my collection of pictures and put it together, then present it one rainy night in Georgia over coffee and donuts.

What fun!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trip to the Store!

It has rained heavily for days. Last night I was at my friend Packrat Paul's house for a train night. We constructed over 30 feet of benchwork! What fun.

Today I needed some supplies and was a little tired from my dieting and heavy exercise, so I went to the store. Here's what I bought:

Michael's (a hobby and craft store)

  • Selection of hardwood dowels: 7/16", 5/16", 1/4", 3/16" and 1/8". One each, all 36" long. (for testing swamp piling bridge assemblies)
  • 8x10 picture frame for my buddy Iron Mike's photo (to do something nice for Mike who gives his all to the hobby)
  • Bag of craft sticks, 5 3/4 x 1/4 x 3/32 inches - 75 per pack with a smooth finish (mixing resin and for scale model construction)
  • 5 oz bottle of Aleene's Original Tacky Glue (the best for assembly of most things)
  • 2 oz bottle of Ceramcoat Rain Grey acrylic paint (brick morter for the packing plant)

  • 8x10 glossy photo of Iron Mike standing next to the Coal River Railroad Layout (to do something nice for Mike)
Dollar Tree (generic $1 store)
  • Package of 80 cotton rounds pads (for painting and absorbing glue)
  • Roll of aluminum foil (various uses)
  • Two packs of 50 pipe cleaners ( the big ones) for cleaning air brushes
  • Two rolls of 1" x 60 yds masking tape (for taping down items to paint and masking)
  • Three disposable lighters (for lighting candles, heat source, torch lighting)
  • Set of 6 jumbo clothes pins (clamps made of plastic)
  • Small 2 1/2" x 3" mirror (for checking straight lines and edges)
All in all it was a good day. The dollar store is a great place for supplies. I only go to Michael's for things I can get no where else or because I have a coupon. Now I'll go to the basement and put this stuff away.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Found a Fellow Swamper!

Sam Lindsey III [sam@samlindsey.com] writes...

My layout is considerably smaller. The main theme for my scenery is going from the swamp to the seashore with various things in between. Actually, I started working from the swamp (in the far corner of the layout) as far as scenery goes. Then there was about a 2 year hiatus – no good reason, just stopped. Finally, this year I have started up again. By the way, if you look at the swamp, you can see how – gosh! I just went to my web site and hadn’t realized how out of date it was. Will take some new photos and post them tonight!

At any rate, I used plexiglass to be the swamp water (with dark brown paint under the glass). I want to virtually cover the glass with water lilies, etc, but that is for a future time when the scenery is more complete. I also used ½” dowel cut down the middle for the “trestle” over the swamp. Hope you can see the alligator and the osprey nest!

The current plan is to keep the theme of a logging railroad, but add the extra themes of grain, oil, passengers, and cattle. Oh yes, I have an operating lighthouse that will be a star attraction on the other end of the railroad from the swamp.

I have gone from HO to O because of the handling and building requirements. So, when I went to O, I decided to go to the 3-rail system. A lot is not to scale, and a lot is just funny, but it’s my railroad. I hope to have a working giraffe car on the layout soon! Don’t know how that fits with the theme, but it will have to. My boys (23 & 31) demand it!

I have gone on way too much. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I hope your layout works out well. I am still trying to get my hands around the water part. I will actually have seashore with abandoned track and bridge (sand dunes) on one part of the layout.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Little Help From a Friend

There is nothing like getting a little help from a friend. It is what I love most about the model railroad community. They are always willing to help. Tom dug through his files and mailed me a CD full of photos. You can't beat guys like Tom. I always try to do the same for people when they need help.

What I needed were some detailed photos and drawings of some prototype rail car trucks for some models I'm about to start. He responded to my request.

Hey, Scott,
The CD burned and is going out tomorrow. There are way more images than I recalled. Probably 30 or so hi-res pics plus the two drwg scans. Anyway, what's there will allow you to build a very good replica of the orginal box car. I shot the pics at the Fenimore, WI CNW Narrow Gauge Museum a couple of years ago. The CNW ran a 3' narrow gauge line from Fenimore down into IA. The locals called it "the Dinky".
There is a soft cover book available with drawings of the rolling stock and the 2-6-0 loco. Neat little line and perfect for conversion to On30.

Tom Houle [thoule@wi.rr.com]

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Protoype 30" Railroads

Here's a link for those of you that aren't familiar with 30" railroads...
This covers the railroads in California...
The Yosemite Short Line Railway Co.
The Empire City Ry.
The Sloat Lumber Co.
The Molino Timber Co.
The Johnson & Pollock Lumber Co

L-girders are up!

We were able to install the L-girders tonight. Thanks to a lone of a laser level from Iron Mike, we were able to get a very level straight line. The pre-made joist were screwed into the studs in the wall with 2 1/2" drywall screws. Gusset plates were put over each joint. The assembly goes all around the room and is ready for more benchwork.

We also laid out the line for the L-channel that holds the drop ceiling. The crew worked from 7:30 to midnight. Steve, Paul, Bob and my neighbor Mike all dropped in.

The team spent some time talking about how to put the pilings in for the track work. I like the idea of the flex-pilings, and we may try that. Bob had some great ideas about how to put the pilings in. Basically, we are going to have to run some tests. Total time tonight was 4.5 hours.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Sprues - 1 hour work

Tonight I placed the windows on paint boards as well as other parts that I had washed and prepped. I also cleaned up the train room and shop since the guys are coming over tomorrow.

I was looking at the water tower directions and realized that I didn't have the ladders on the paint boards. They were of another color. I found them, trimmed them and put them on the dark gray paint board.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Don't Do Windows - 1.5 Hours Work

The next step is to work on all the windows and doors. I cut these from the sprues very carefully as not to break them. The concrete steps in the kit will be isolated and trimmed later when I have other concrete color items to paint.

In this kit there are
64 total windows
4 regular doors
6 double doors

For the price you can almost afford to throw the kit parts away and just keep the windows!

I break the sprue trees down to smaller sections with a Xuron tool. This makes it easier to use the sprue cutter on small or delicate parts.

I also cut out all the dark gray parts which included the water tank and railings.

Now that I have the windows in a pile, I can clean them up. Using a SHARP NEW BLADE in my hobby knife I trimmed each window being careful to remove any flash in the window panes. Areas with a lot of flash were sanded with a 3M fine grade sanding block.

Tip: Each evening when you finish working at your work bench take five minutes and clean up. Put things in their proper place, replace worn blades, clean brushes and move things off your main work space. You'll find that you are going to build cleaner and better models and that you'll like sitting down to work in a place where you can find everything you need in its proper place.

Tip: Never keep your trash can under your workbench. Always keep it to the side where small parts can't find their way in.

Tip: As a safety procedure always put used or broken blades in a special container and throw them out carefully. Don't put used blades in your shop wastebasket where your fingers mind find them when you've accidentally thrown a small part away.

Tip: Use a combination of black and white floor tiles for your work shop area. This way, when you lose a white part, you can sweep the floor to a black square and find it easily. Use the reverse process for a black part.

I dropped a small part and looked everywhere for it, sweeping my squares and looking in places that I shouldn't have to look. I found the part in my trash can which is very close to my work space. My finger found a use hobby blade while I was looking. The first aid kit is over the door.

Experience is a good teacher.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Begin Slaughterhouse #5 - 2 Hours Work

Over the past few weeks I went to Chicago and number of times and visited some hobby shops. Many of the shops I used to frequent are no longer in business. I purchased the following for Slaughterhouse #5:

Central Valley #101 HO Stock Car Kit $11.95
Atlas #778 HO Scale Cows/Horses & Farm Animals $4.25
Model Power $5793 Kit 72 unpainted animals $12.99

My goal is to have the slaughterhouse complex finished for the SER convention on June 13th, which is about three months away.

The prototype of this facility is Champion Packing in Waterloo, Iowa. I could not locate any photos on line.

It is hard to keep decals from getting destroyed or lost. I tape mine face down to the kit's box lid.

I'm going to paint the brick parts first. This is a midwestern packing plant so it might have red or a yellowish brick. I might change it from red brick to a yellow so that it doesn't look so much like a kit.

The stack is round, one piece unit, not a two piece like pictured on the box lid.

I sprued and prepped all the brick parts and prepared them for painting. This means that I put down double sided masking tape on some flat cardboard sections that are about the size of the opening to my spray booth.

* I may paint the inside of the wall sections flat black

The structure is two separate buildings! Oh, this opens up some doors! This will allow the two to be reconfigured and look different. That is the real trick with a kit; to make it NOT look like a kit.

I drew several sketches in my notebook and decided to finish the two buildings and then look at the assembly of the complex. It appears that there are enough parts to complete the building in several fashions.

All the parts were washed in warm, soapy water and allowed to dry. Once they are dry, you don't want to touch the surface. Floquil paints are SO FINE that you will see your fingerprints painted on the building if you touch it prior to painting.

As I place the building sides on the tape boards I make notes on the board such as the paint type and color, any warnings or notes about masked parts.

* Idea - Develop a sticky sheet of carboard that is ready for parts so I don't have to put on masking tape.

I'm going to paint the backsides of the structure a flat black first, so I marked the boards as such.

I drew in my notebook a sketch of jig for holding round parts. The brick chimney has to be carefully painted since it is a long, round tube. The jig is a board with two uprights and a dowel threads through the chimney so that it can be rotated like a lathe.

Before I start cutting off parts I take a digital photograph of the sets of components with the number indicators toward the camera. This allows me to be able to figure out which part is which should I forget after painting.

When de-spruing (or spruing as I call it) I break down the sprue trees (thin bars of plastic that hold the parts and are used for guiding the plastic in the mold) to make them easier to handle.

For spruing I use a sprue cutter (a pair of sharp tweezers) or a Xuron cutter that is dedicated to sprues. Usually this is a track cutter that has gotten dull. I write "for plastic only" on the handle with a Sharpie pen.

All the brick sections are now clean and on the paint boards.