Saturday, May 16, 2009

Easy Trees and Track Plans

It was a fun night for model trains! We had a good turn out at my house and I appreciate the guys coming over since my wife was out at Bunco and I couldn't go out since the Punkin was with me. She was very cute tonight and dressed up formally to great the men as they came buy.

Tonight's players: Steve-bay, Glue Bob, Coalfinger Ken, Reverend Wade, and a shaved Packrat Paul who looked like Curly from the Three Stooges. Man, I wish my company would let me do that. Much cooler in the summer. Mark my neighbor also dropped in to help.

The goal tonight was to work on Coalfinger's coal mining layout. He has a 3x6 layout already and is adding another 3x7 foot extension. He wanted our input on his design.I love his finished portion, so and addition would be even better. Here you can see a mock up of the track plan. Click on the photos to enlarge.

The room is plenty big enough for the layout. Here Bob checks the clearances and sees that they are at least two feet all around.

Naturally I can't mind my own business so I had to redraw the layout. Ken may never speak to me again and I wouldn't blame him. But its his layout and he can do whatever he wants with it. The major suggestions were:

  • The yard didn't have an adequate yard lead or a run around track, so we added them.
  • We flipped the whole yard complex so that it was accessed from what would be the end of the line.
  • Took out the turn table as a maintenance issue is always present.
  • Put a loco run around or "escape track" in the yard.
  • Installed a scenic divider to separate the coal region optically
  • Put in a run around track for the coal mine.
  • Add industrial back drop to the yard.
  • Moved the ice house close to the main line where it should be
  • Lengthened the main siding.
Yup, that should do it!

Next we had a tree making party for Bob's layout! Yes, we didn't work on mine and that's ok. I have plenty of expendable room and work tables, so its easier here to do messy projects. Bob sent us an article on making inexpensive connifer trees done by a fellow named Dave Lawler at an ONR convention. The trees are magnificent. Our first step was to tinker with the technique.

The first tree had too much paint on it and too much flock. We thinned it down for the next one. Bob wasn't real pleased.
Once we got the technique down pat, we set up an assembly line with cutting and trimming, painting, flocking, and storage. Basically we were flocking all night!
Here Bob and Steve are adding the second coat of flocking to a lightly sprayed tree. On this step we used a clear paint.
Bang it, dang it! I have to slap the tree to get the loose flock off.
A little more light flock to the top than on the bottom.
Steve puts the finishing touches on the tree and pushes it into foam for drying.
Not great, but not bad. Let's make some more!
Basically all you need is some garland rope, cutting pliers, scissors, dk green, green, brown and clear spray paint and some Woodland Scenics flock in different colors.
We coverd the table in newspapers and applied the flock over folded pieces of cardboard so that we could recycle the flock. In retrospect, it would have been easier to use a plastic tub. This is a messy business and we wore latex gloves to keep the green off our fingers. The spray paint is another issue. We took a box fan and put it in the window, then opened a door to get fresh air circulating to pull out the fumes. I was stoned in minutes!
Many of the aerosol cans say "the color matches the cap" which is all well and good until you take the cap off. So I wrote on the dome of the can with a Sharpie marker the color so we could quickly pick up the right can.
The first step is to trim the "tree" in a tapered fashion and to trim out some of the "limbs". Once that is done the trunk of the tree needs to have all limbs removed. We then spray the trunk with brown paint and set it aside for a few minutes to dry. The next step is to take the dark green paint and spray the tree limbs. We did this in a directly down from the top of the tree direction, then a directly up from the bottom direction. You want to cover the needles, but not soak them in paint. Quickly then you shake or sprinkle dark green flock over all the tree. Once the tree is covered, shake out the excess flock on the cardboard and set the tree in a foam sheet for drying.
The first step gives you a nice, green fluffy tree! These trees are destined for the northern regions of Canada so they are naturally a little sparse and thin.
We used a paint box to catch the overspray. Here are some trimmed trees with painted trunks that are drying.
Reverend Rick has a keen eye and is not above rejecting a poorly trimmed tree. Note the green paint on his fingers. Gloves are a must!
Mark, who is not a model railroader, didn't hesitate to jump in. We had an assembly line going. Paul, Mark and Ken would trim the trees, which takes the longest amount of time. Rick and I would paint the trunks and put the first coat of green flock on. Steve and Bob would put the second lighter coat of flock on the tree and do any final touch ups or corrections. Perfect! Having a bench high long table to work around helps.
Here you can see some of the finished trees. Magnificent! Cheap! Fast!
Once we got the tree techniques figured out and got a rythym going, the work went fast.
Being a factory guy, mass production of items, especially trees, makes a lot of sense. In just less than two hours the team made 75 trees at a very low cost per tree. We had a great time chatting and kicking around new ideas (and each other).
The trees look very realistic, especially from a few feet away.
Here is Bob's forest!
Here are 25 trees, completely finished on their foam carrier. They'll spend the night at my house while the paint dries. They vary in size from 10 scale feet to 80 scale feet.

It was a great evening!

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