Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Midnight Special

Our spring break plans were trashed yesterday so my wife gave me the night off! Hooray! So at 6:00 in the evening and during dinner, I start calling the crew to see who can come over. Bob and Paul were available so we started working on the benchwork again.

I put the coffee pot on, baked some cookies and headed to my sawdust covered paradise. Paul came in and we immediately started talking about his really cool layout under construction. He was telling me how the East Broad Top might be loaning his railroad some hoppers. Being an EBT fan I was all ears.

Bob came over shortly after and we began on the right hand side of the layout. We finished the cantilevers (two of them) and the joist, which were already cut by Steve and Ken the worknight before. We decided to put the first cantilever at the weak point which is also the narrow point of the layout, then the second one in the middle of the nine foot L-girder.

These both require cutting an angle that is steeper than the 50 degree limit of my chop saw. I'm not aware of a better way to do it so we were unsafely holding it and cutting by using teamwork. Later in the evening Bob was cutting a short piece by himself as Paul and I looked on. Little did we know that this 2x2 piece has a serious knot inside that was invisible to the naked eye. It went off like a gun shot and the saw through the piece at me like a bullet. It crashed about a foot away from my face and into the sheetrock. I staggered and caught my fall as I landed in the next room. I kindly excused myself, changed my underwear, and went back to work. I do wear safety glasses for just such projectiles. Needless to say it made me jumpy the rest of the night. Later in the evening the guys broke a small profile board and I hit the dirt, much to their delight.

Since the L-girders were pitched at an angle and not parrellel to the wall, we had to notch the 2x2 uprights to make them fit. We carefully measured, cut way the excess with a chiesel, test fit the piece, noticed it was upside down, and began the process again. I laughed way to much last night, amidst dodging flying lumber.

After finishing the left side, we grabbed a cookie and a fresh cup of Joe and headed to the left side. We completed another six feet of bench and then retired to the talking table.

The rolling table module which we are now calling "the gurney" has still not been finalized. The guys brought up some great ideas and I had a few as well. Still, nothing struck my fancy. Paul came up with an excellent idea of making a mock up so I grabbed to eight foot boards and Bob dropped in a 34" cross piece and we pretended we had the module. Paul and I moved it around and we really began to understand that it was huge! Nine feet won't work and neither will 34" wide, so it either has to be 8' x 32" or two pieces. I'm really not liking the option, so I'll think about it more this evening. I might need to change the trackwork, but the track is EXACTLY like the Billy's Island trackage and it will break my heart to move it around.

At midnight we decided to pack it up and walked back into the train room to gather our jackets when Bob got the itch to put up a simulated fascia board just to see how the layout would look. I had some 4" pieces of luan plywood scrap, so we screwed them in place and the layout is going to look GREAT!

It's great to have good friends that will drop what they are doing and come play. Steve, we missed you but we know you work long hours.

I've gotten a lot of requests to start the Swamp Stories again. These are coming from the guys on the On30 Conspiracy from several years ago when the swamp modules were being constructed. I think I'll crank them up or at least post some old ones. At the time I was constructing some scenic test modules for the swamp. Here is a picture of one section with a crossing and piling bridge. It was destroyed when the "water" I poured reacted with the sealing paint on the foam and devoured the module.

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