Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Layout fascia -- my approach

Most model layouts have a fascia of some sort, to hide and dress up edges, and frequently Masonite is the preferred material. It can be curved to fit a variety of layout shapes, and offers a sturdy, smooth surface which is durable. What else is involved?
     One important choice is the color chosen for the fascia. One wants it to look nice but be unobtrusive, and not detract from the real star of the show, the layout surface. In the world of the theater, the solution for such things is flat black, which does indeed make anything so painted tend to disappear visually, but is a stark contrast with the layout surface, and flat paint is prone to show scrapes and scratches. Other modelers have chosen paint colors like Forest Green or Dark Brown, and some have chosen lighter colors like Tan. I chose to clear-coat the natural color of tempered Masonite, which is a fairly dark brown. I like the contrast to the layout surface without particularly calling attention to it. I have varied the depth of the fascia on my layout by location, to suit the circumstances, as illustrated below.
     Here is the appearance of my fascia when it extends to some depth below the layout. The natural color is obvious. This photo shows the area just west of my town of Shumala. Some screw heads are visible. I attach the Masonite with flat-head #6 or #8 screws and then paint them with acrylic Burnt Umber (dark brown), which matches most Masonite quite well. A couple of the heads in this photo remain unpainted.

The reason for the depth of fascia in the photo above was partly to accommodate a seaside cliff and beach scene. (Originally there was a staging return loop inside this fascia also.) The fascia was simply cut lower at the point where the beach scene fit best. Also prominent here is an inset control panel, yellow for contrast, with a couple of throttle plug-ins, and my main power switch (with pilot light) for the layout.

     The end of the peninsula with the beach scene is still under repair from its previous incarnation and cross-country shipping (and storage for some intervening years), but here is how it looks from the standpoint of the fascia applied. Here you can see that the fascia has to be even higher to the right of the beach scene, as the hillside above the SP mainline tunnel rises upward.

The scenery here represents what is called “coastal sage” in California. I will say more about that in a future post about landscape and vegetation communities, a vital part of accurate scenic representation in a place with such varied, diverse, and often closely intermixed landscapes, as is true of coastal California.
     Another subject is creating shelving along the layout sides. Along much of the fascia at Shumala, I have opened a shelf beneath the layout to hold a control panel, along with waybills and waybill files, pencils, uncoupling picks, soft-drink cans, and so on, which I would prefer not to put on the layout surface. The bill box at far right was described in a previous post, at: . The vertical black strip is Velcro for throttles.

     The newest part of the layout is the Shumala extension, already described and shown in a previous post, at: . Fascia is needed to set off the edges of this new section, and scenery refinement requires the final edge to be in place, so that ground cover and other aspects can be brought to that edge.  Fresh fascia pieces have been cut and are shown below being applied there.

     I have met modelers who regard layout fascia as strictly “cosmetics,” and they intend to apply it when the layout is otherwise complete. I don’t entirely understand this view, because I like to bring the ground contours and scenic materials right to the fascia edge. And another aspect of layout fascia design and construction is signage. I will comment on that in a separate post.
Tony Thompson

Monday, February 25, 2013

Adding a storage shed to my packing house

Some time back, I was inspired by Jim Lancaster’s layout detailing, with his completed Showcase Miniatures packing house (it is at his layout town of Highgrove). He added a reefer body and a platform extension, to serve as additional cold storage space, based on such car bodies being shown on a Sanborn map at a packing house. You can view his arrangement on one of his web pages (at this link: ); just scroll down to his Figure 5 (fifth photo) on the January 2011 page.
     I remembered that I have seen such use of reefer bodies myself, in fact at the prototype Phelan & Taylor packing house in Oceano, California. There was for years a car alongside their loading dock on the railroad side, painted aluminum (there is light gray paint under the aluminum) and probably of PFE origin. Here is my photo of how it looked in 2009, though unfortunately it was gone by my visit in 2012.

     To add such a cold storage facility to my Phelan & Taylor model packing house, I used an old Lifelike reefer body, and since it just fit in the space alongside my packing house, I could use the full length and width of the car. I made an additional loading platform, using the same 9-foot spacing and post height of the support posts as on the main structure. For materials, the long platform and facing pieces were left-over board-grooved material from the Showcase Miniatures kit of the packing house itself. Posts were 6 x 8-inch scale stripwood. A stiffener under the platform was added, with a 8 x 14-inch scale stripwood piece. Here is how the underside looks.

     The reefer body was spray painted Floquil White, like the main structure, and the roof was black, like the main structure. The body needed to sit just about a half-inch high, so I just glued some chunks of quarter-inch square balsa to the underbody. I then used 0.030-inch gray ABS sheet (from Plastruct) to form a closure for the underbody area, with corners stiffened by pieces of scale 8 x 12-inch styrene strip in the corners. This view shows the underside of the reefer body. The styrene corner support pieces are white.

     The finished platform and reefer body fit together well, as shown below.  I will locate the reefer storage shed so that its door is spaced the same distance from the right-hand freight door on the packing house, as the distance between the two packing house doors (about 40 feet).

I will weather this assembly when I weather the entire packing house.
     This has been a simple and interesting project, and adds interest (and capacity) to my packing house. It has the further advantage of reproducing something which was present at the prototype Phelan & Taylor facility in Oceano (see photo at top), which was the inspiration for the whole packing house project.
Tony Thompson

Friday, February 22, 2013

Background flats-2: kitbashing

I wrote a post earlier about background flats, specifically the products of KingMill Enterprises. (You can see their currently available flats at their website: ). My previous post on them is at: . In this post, I will describe modifying one of these flats to suit a layout location, which I guess could be called “kitbashing,” by analogy with what we do with three-dimensional objects.
     The KingMill piece to be modified is this one, named “Commerce St. Building Sides #9” (there are ten Commerce Street sheets), in the KingMill line of Radical Flats. With a single-story corrugated metal building removed and the bottom edge already trimmed, it looked like this.

     I wanted to use the right-hand building, but to reduce it in height to fit better with its surroundings. I just cut off the top story, removed the story below it, and rejoined the pieces, simply taping them together on the back.

You can see in this photo of the just-rejoined flat sections that the upper section is a bit lighter in color than the lower part. I blended the appearance by gently darkening the upper section near the joint. I used Prismacolor pencils, mostly a brownish-brick red color called Chestnut, but with a little help from a slightly browner color called Chocolate. This made the color gradient on the flat look much smoother.
     My next challenge was the sign. The sign provided, of course, is for the maker of the sheet, KingMill Enterprises. Nothing wrong with that, but I planned a different industry for this structure, and thus I made a sign for a printing business, Caslon Printing Company. This name of course refers to William Caslon, the famous English printer and type designer who, about 1720, created the enduring face which is named for him. Many printers in the American colonies as well as in Britain used it, and in fact it was used for the first printing of our Declaration of Independence.
     The original KingMill sign is kind of grayed with age, which looks good. To get somewhat in the same direction, I made a sign (using Caslon type, of course!), but not simply in white letters on black. I made it in Photoshop, which permits you to vary the percent of black, whether starting with black or white. I lightened the black background to 70 percent black (thus making it a dark gray), and darkened the white letters to 10 percent black (thus a very light gray). I printed it out on a high-resolution printer at my local copy shop, and before attaching it to the flat, used the Chestnut Prismacolor pencil to add some patches of almost invisible color variation, along with another color of Prismacolor pencil, called “50% French Gray.”
     The sign was made to match the dimensions of the one printed by KingMill, so it was easy to fit the location. I used rubber cement in the “contact cement” mode to attach it, cut exactly to cover the dark center of the original KingMill sign.

     Next I attached the foamcore board backing (this process is described in my first post on flats, at the link given at the top of this post), again using rubber cement in contact mode on both surfaces to be joined. I noticed that like many KingMill flats, they sit a little low to the ground, so that loading doors are really too low for an HO scale freight car. Accordingly, I glued the flat about one-fourth of an inch above the bottom of the piece of foamcore. I then used the same Prismacolor pencils to color this “foundation” area of foamcore below the original flat. You can see this in the photo above.
     I made the foamcore back smaller than the printed flat, so that the backing is not readily visible, and darkened the edges with a Sharpie brown pen:

     This is a pretty simple project, but I wanted to show that these fine flat building products are readily modified to suit what you need or want. I expect to experiment further with this process. Meanwhile, this printing company “building” is ready for placement on the Shumala extension.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waybills, Part 27: collected posts

I have been interested in waybills for model railroad operation for some time, beginning with my introductory article in Railroad Model Craftsman in December of 2009. I have also written a couple of articles on model waybills for the OpSig magazine, The Dispatcher’s Office, and one for the on-line magazine Model Railroad Hobbyist, in the issue for May 2012. I have also been posting a number of comments on the topic, and extensions of those published pieces, in this blog. If you were to want to find all the posts with “Waybills” among their keywords, use the search window at the upper right of the blog page. That way, you can find other posts which touch on waybill issues but are not part of this thread of numbered posts specifically entitled Waybills. For example, my post about refrigerator car service terminology (at: ) would be found this way.
     Last year, Mike White in Maryland collected together all my waybill posts through July 2012 in the form of a PDF document. He properly included several posts without “Waybill” in the title, but which did touch on waybill topics within the post. For many people, his PDF may be a convenient introduction to my discussions on the subject, so I am placing it on Google Drive. Here is the link:

Mike’s collection runs through July of 2012, and it contains posts (numbered as higher as Waybills-26), dated as late as July 5, 2012.
     I hope this document of Mike’s is helpful. It can be downloaded and printed, for those who prefer that kind of reference material; Mike included all illustrations, so the collection is complete for everything up to July 5, 2012. I may collect a group of later waybill posts into a similar document at some future date, but for now I wanted to keep together what Mike had done.
Tony Thompson

Monday, February 18, 2013

Keeping a model car fleet under control

Control? No, I don’t mean that my freight cars act up and require discipline. I just mean that I strive to maintain a rational freight car roster over time. That means taking into account changes in my goals, either on account of new knowledge which modifies my goals, or the discarding of old goals no longer as attractive. It also means keeping up to date with identification of surplus freight cars, which can be sold or given away, and occasionally the need for new ones.
     One way I have approached this over the years has been to start with my best knowledge about traffic which my layout will represent. This can be done by car type: gondolas, hopper cars, tank cars, box cars. These roster plans by car type can be and are reviewed from time to time, and modified if necessary. Those rosters, based on traffic and current at the time, were posted two years ago. The links to those are shown at the end of this post, for those who would like a full set of them.
     Beyond this traffic approach, one can also “cross-cut” the car-type rosters by railroad. I have not gone into great detail, but there have been several posts on that basis also. To date, the only ones posted were about home-road cars, Southern Pacific and PFE cars, and those links are also shown at the end of this post.
     But these home-road analyses, valuable as they are in controlling a car fleet, do not deal with “foreign” or off-home-road cars. I have written one simple introductory post on this topic, which can be viewed at this link: . And here is an additional post for further analysis of fleet size: .
     To go further, I want to construct rosters of the cars I have for the major railroads, to make sure those are reasonably balanced. Of course one pays attention also to lesser-size railroads, but in most cases I will have only one or two cars from such roads, so would not need to create a roster. I will just show a single example to illustrate my point, drawn from the New York Central.
    The Central was one of the very largest railroads in the U.S. and accordingly I need to represent a selection of its car fleet on my layout. In 1953, the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) shows that the Central had about 58,700 box cars of AAR class XM, and about 21,700 gondolas. These are part of a fleet size which in total numbered 137,400 cars, but almost 43,000 of those cars were hoppers, which as I have stated elsewhere (see: ), are much less likely to be interchanged. Thus the XM box cars represent 62 percent of the non-hopper fleet, and the gondolas represent 23 percent. This combined 85 percent of the non-hopper fleet means I prefer to model only gondolas and XM box cars for the New York Central.
     Here are the cars I now have on the roster. First, I needed some of the virtually standard steel box car of the NYC, the design derived from the USRA all-steel box car design; the Central eventually had some 21,000 box and auto cars of this design. Richard Hendrickson wrote an article about these cars for Railmodel Journal (March 2007, pp. 43–50); there is also a longer, more detailed and more profusely illustrated article by Patrick C. Wider in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia (issue 21, 2010, pp. 1–93).
     Very helpfully for modelers, Broadway Limited has imported nice models of these cars, with both corrugated and Dreadnaught ends. I have both types, in the form of cars NYC 103247, 103943, 118728, and 122766. Here is my BLI model of car 103943, one of the cars with corrugated ends.

Second, I wanted to have one of the Central’s many rebuilt cars, NYC 154679. This is a Sunshine kit (no. 64.1), representing the steel-sided rebuilds of 1916–1918 double-sheathed box cars, eventually more than 6000 cars. My model was built by Dennis Williams and lettered and finished by me.

I also have a Kadee PS-1 box car, NYC 169004. To these I want to add one car of either 1937 or immediate post-war AAR design. I have a postwar kit from C&BT Shops, for which all detail parts have to be replaced, but the body is well done, and it is a candidate for this additional car.
     Turning to gondolas, I have chosen three to represent a large fleet. First, one of the USRA gondolas in later years, NYC 707698, from a Walthers ready-to-run car; a Proto2000 kit of a Greenville 52-ft., 6-inch drop-end car, NYC 712612; and a West Shore Line kit, as yet unbuilt, to model a steel-side rebuild of a USRA 40-foot car, which is their kit 9104. The Greenville design is of special importance, as the NYC eventually owned 6600 cars like this (and another 4000 went to subsidiary Pittsburgh & Lake Erie). You can read about them in Richard Hendrickson’s article in Railmodel Journal (November 1996, pp. 24–30). Here is mine:

     These examples for a single road, New York Central, are meant only to illustrate the approach I take, both to assess whether I need the cars I currently have, and also to assess whether I need to add cars to my roster.
Tony Thompson

Here are the links to posts from that series on “Choosing a model car fleet” in 2011:

stock cars:
automobile cars:
flat cars:
covered hoppers:
open hoppers:
tank cars:
ore cars:
refrigerator cars:
box cars:

     Here are links to the SP and PFE specific fleet discussions of those posts:
PFE cars:
and also:
SP box cars:
and also:
SP 50-foot box cars:
SP automobile cars:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A packing shed for Shumala, Part 3

My first post about this shed structure described its general features and how I began construction, including my clothespin clamps; it can be viewed at: . The second post covered most construction aspects, as shown at: . This final post covers final assembly of the structure; construction of the loading dock (which was an interesting challenge), and painting and lettering.
     Once I had all main structure parts assembled (except for inserting windows, which I believe should be done last), I gave them a priming coat of Floquil White. This includes the fascia boards and undersides of the subroofs. For the window inserts themselves, I stuck them to a strip of tape, sticky side up, to hold them for painting, as you see here. Here also are all the subroofs (seen from the underside), the clerestory, and the main structure.

     Next I applied subroofs A, B and C to the structure. With three of the four subroofs installed, all trim touched up with white, and the kit’s convenient stick-on roofing applied, the structure looked like this.

In this photo, only the clerestory remains to be installed, plus the loading dock. The clerestory was a minor challenge, because the long, flexible wall and roof pieces did not seem to want to stay straight. Again, I used my scale 8 x 14-inch stripwood to stiffen these parts so that they would be straight, and fit properly into their location in Subroof C.
     The loading dock was done separately, and was intended to be painted separately also. I began by setting up a gluing support, using wax paper against all surfaces which would see glue. A 90-degree block was taped to a straightedge, and the subdeck taped to that, keeping it vertical. Then each post was given a dab of yellow glue and inserted into its slot, checking each to make sure it was perpendicular to the subdeck. With all posts inserted, it looked like this; you can just see the wax paper.

Once that was dry, I added the kit cross-bracing along the inside of the array of posts, and added more diagonals with scale 1 x 3-inch stripwood.

Meanwhile I stained the deck itself (the upper piece) with stain from an ancient bottle of Floquil Walnut Stain. Once this was dry, I glued and clamped the two parts together, the deck and the subdeck (with its attached posts). The deck assembly could then be keyed into the provided slots in the main building.
     The sign for the building was taken directly from a photo of the actual sign, which has 3-D letters, for the Phelan & Taylor facility in Oceano, California. That prototype photo was shown in a prior post, which you can view at: .) I used Adobe Photoshop to remove the corrugated-iron background while keeping the 3-D shadows, then to create a new background of light blue, and scaled the sign appropriately for this packing house. The HO scale sign was printed out on glossy card stock, using a high-resolution color laser printer at my local copy shop.
     Once all these steps were finished, but before inserting any windows, I gave the entire structure a light overspray of Dullcote, both to dull any shiny spots and also to provide a flat surface for weathering.
     The window assembly process is simple and convenient. The double-stick tape on the back of each window is pressed onto the window glazing, and the glazing being oversize, a gluing surface to attach the window assembly to the back of the wall is provided. Here are two of them assembled.

     Here is the completed structure. The construction turned out to go well, and in some ways the absence of instructions pushed me to think more carefully about the sequence of assembly steps, and to devise a sequence that worked for me. I entirely endorse and recommend this kit, though it might be a big challenge for a beginner.

The building does need some weathering, which I will do after choosing a final position on the layout.
     I am happy with how the packing shed turned out, and I look forward to adding it to my Shumala extension.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Signs for structures

I have offered comments in earlier posts about typography on the layout, which means choices and arrangements of type faces, which are used, for example, for signs on structures. My previous post can be viewed at: .
     In this post I will offer further examples and describe my own approaches. When I know a particular sign requires a particular typeface, I will use it if I can, as in the case of the Southern Pacific depot I built for Shumala (see my post at: ). The SP had a standard set of characters for depot signs, which they called “Egyptian,” and since it’s available in digital form, I did use it for the Shumala depot sign.
      Among the signs I describe in this post are for the structures behind the depot at Shumala. Here is how they looked on the old layout, when this town was called Jalama (this photo was also shown in a post about layout holdovers, at: ). The store at photo center is named “Jalama Store,” since there was (and may still be) a store with that name at Jalama Beach. But the name is now obsolete.

     The store, built from a Chooch kit, is still intended to be a small grocery store, but I changed the sign to simply reflect the items sold, groceries and sundries. For this new sign, I used Copperplate Gothic, a face having vestigial serifs and with a similarity to a common style of signpainter’s lettering. Another reason I like this face is that it was created by the outstanding American type designer, Fred Goudy, in 1901.
     To the right of the store are a pair of small structures, from Design Preservation kits, intended to be a cafe and tavern but never given signage to so indicate.The small cafe seemed an obvious choice to name the “Railroad Cafe,” as such cafes were often so named when located near railroad facilities. Since the building front is white, I thought to make the sign black, with white lettering. The lettering in this case is Franklin Gothic, a very generic-looking sans serif face widely used in advertising, and often copied by sign painters.
     The tavern is named the “Dolphin & Anchor,” and has a symbol sign hung on a horizontal pole outside. This is much in the style of British pubs, and the lettering is from the Bembo typeface. The dolphin and anchor symbol, very familiar to anyone interested in type, was the printer’s mark of Aldus Manutius of Venice, the first great printer and the source of the name of the company (Aldus) which originally brought out the PageMaker page layout software. The Bembo face was named for the author of the first book which used it, published by Manutius, and cut by the great Francesco Griffo in about 1495.
     I took the printer’s mark from a book on printing history (The Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography, by Ruari McLean, Thames & Hudson, 1992), and since it was in color, I duplicated that color for the building-front sign too, again in the spirit of many British pubs (you could Google “pub signs” to see examples). Here is the printer’s mark.

As with other signs, I sized them appropriately for their structures using Adobe Photoshop, and then printed them on glossy cardstock at my local copy shop. The “pub sign” is double-sided (just print the sign twice, glue back to back) and was glued to a brass wire of 0.022-inch diameter.
     Here is a photo of that same scene shown above, with the re-signed structures. The “Giant Orange” stand remains as it was.

Here is a closer view of the new signs. The lunch counter has not yet been installed in the cafe.

     These examples could readily be multiplied, but I wanted to show these examples at Shumala of applying typography on the layout.
Tony Thompson

Friday, February 8, 2013

Modeling SP structure colors, Part 2

Last fall I posted some comments about modeling the standard colors of SP structures (Colonial Yellow, Light Brown, and Moss Green). You can view it at: . Here I add to that discussion, along a couple of lines.
     First, I mentioned in the prior post that Tru-Color Paint was planning to issue versions of SP Common Standard Colors. They did not at that time have a color standard but hoped to obtain one. I loaned them my Bowles drift panels (described in the prior post) for all three structure colors, and they have now returned my panels, along with bottles of paint for each color. They look excellent.
     These colors are announced for release in September 2013 (see: ). Their Tru-Color numbers will be TCP-153, “Southern Pacific Colonial Yellow – Depot Color,” TCP-154, “Southern Pacific Moss Green – Depot Color,” and TCP-163, “Southern Pacific Depot Trim Brown.” (Why they have not chosen to use SP’s own name for the brown, Light Brown, I can’t say.) Here is the set of colors sent to me:

     Second, I have had communications from a couple of modelers about color matches to these standard colors. One of them is Peter Hall, an SP modeler in the Chicago area, who experimented with both standard paint colors and modifications to them, using Polly Scale in all cases. Shown below are some of his white styrene samples. The coding is explained below.

Reefer Yellow (RY) was modified with additions to try and get it toward the Colonial Yellow color, in each case 5 cubic centimeters (cc) with added drops of Rust from a standard medicine dropper. Also shown are several paint dabs on a single piece of styrene: yellows for Santa Fe (SF), Chicago North Western (CNW), Canadian Pacific (CP), Erie Lackawanna (EL), Seaboard Coast Line (SCL), Trailer Train (TTX), and Union Pacific (UP). All these paints were from fresh bottles newly purchased at Des Plaines Hobbies, the renowned Chicago-area shop.
     At the lower right in the photo above is my own sprayed sample of Colonial Yellow from Star Brand Paint, compared to Peter’s CNW Yellow sample. I would judge them to be pretty close though not exact. Obviously, if a structure is to be weathered or faded, the CNW Yellow would be an entirely acceptable color.
     Here are the CNW Yellow and the nearest modified color, Reefer Yellow with 25 drops of Rust, atop the Bowles drift panel for Colonial Yellow. I think the CNW is again the closest.

     The other person is Gary Ray, who helped with the restoration of an SP depot in Paradise. CA. The restored depot now serves as a museum; if you’re interested, you can find out more about it by visiting the museum’s web site at: . Here is Gary’s photo of the finished depot:

He sent me samples of the Colonial Yellow and Light Brown versions used on this structure. These paints were made by having samples from the old structure duplicated at Home Depot with their computer scanning process. To my eye, these colors look lighter than the standards. To compare them, I photographed Gary’s samples (at left) alongside the Bowles panels (at right) in midday sunlight. To me, the Bowles panels do look darker than Gary’s samples, and for modeling purposes, that might be an advantage, because indoor light is much less intense than sunlight. For the Paradise depot, though, the darker colors of the standard might have been better.

     These tests of various paints to match the SP standard structure colors are interesting and yield some potentially useful information. But with the forthcoming Tru-Color Paint versions, this kind of matching should not be necessary for modelers.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A packing shed for Shumala, Part 2

The principal industry located on my layout’s Shumala extension is a packing shed. The construction of the extension, and laying of the siding tracks, has been partly covered in prior posts, the most recent one being this: . The packing shed, a Showcase Miniatures kit based on a prototype structure, was introduced in the first post on this topic, available at: . I received a communication about that post, asking what the packing shed was supposed to look like, a reasonable question since I had simply dived into the description of the construction process without providing a picture of the end product. Here is the kit box photo:

This photo shows the model painted white, which is the color I intend to use also. But I will not use the “Sunkist” sign, as this will be a packing facility for vegetables.
     In my first post about this structure, in the link provided above, I described only the initial construction phase. I continued with a similar approach to other components, and added more stiffening, as shown below. I have to mention that although this is a well-designed kit of an interesting prototype, and I have the greatest respect for Joe Warren at Showcase Miniatures, it has at best vestigial directions. In fact, aside from a very helpful parts identification drawing, and an exploded view of the structure, there really are no directions. Accordingly I will say a little more than I might otherwise about the methods and sequence of assembling a kit.
     After attaching the two end walls, including corner strengtheners of scale 8 x 14-inch stripwood (not supplied in the kit), to the front wall, as shown in the first post about this packing shed, I assembled a number of component parts, such as doors (one freight door is shown here) and the stairway.

The surrounding trim for both freight doors is at top. The stairway is in the center, and the two remaining pieces are some of the windows and their frames. I will prime and paint the windows after separating them from their frames.
     With the laser-cut plywood front wall having its end walls attached, I next attached the subordinate side walls of the upper parts of the structure, and also began to glue the various doors into place. For each wall corner, I attached a piece of the 8 x 14 stripwood to straighten the corner, and also the outer edge.
     The kit supplies a pair of braces that go across the length of the back of the structure and not only stiffen it but help square it up. Here is the upper one in place, with the two short upper walls keyed into it. As you can see, I used yellow carpenter’s glue for this work. One freight door remains to be glued in place.

     Completing the main structure with all back bracing and stiffening parts makes a solid structure, with all walls flat and all corners square. Here is another view of the rear side to show this. The lower main wall stiffener is a strip of quarter-inch square balsa.

With all door and window trim installed, this is an almost top-down view of the outer main wall of the structure. Window sills and corner trim remain to be added.

     While the main structure assembly was continuing, I also assembled the clerestory and began to add the fascia boards to each of the sub-roofs. I determined that on my layout, the only roof section for which rafter ends behind the fascia boards might be visible was the slanting roof at the left end of the building (see the kit photo at the top of this post), which is called Subroof A in the kit. Thus I added only these rafter boards (a simple job).
     One point to watch with assembling fascia boards to subroofs: use of a water-base glue like carpenter’s glue can gently warp the subroof. I clamped each one flat as I went along, to avoid this development, using a length of my square balsa strip. On the right is Subroof A with its rafter boards, and Subroof D is at left.

     One of the last assembly jobs on the main structure and clerestory was the door and window trim strips, all of which are the correct size and backed with double-stick tape, thus easy to apply. For the windows in the lower sections, I added a horizontal piece of 2 x 2-inch scale strip (not in the kit) to represent a window sill projection.
     Finally, I added the corner trim at all outside corners. For this trim, I decided to use my own stripwood, although there are pieces provided in the kit for this; the kit pieces looked a little too thick to me. I chose 1 x 6-inch scale stripwood.

     At that point, the main task of any complexity remaining is the loading platform, and I will show that in the next post. Then the following step will be to prime the main structure, the underside of all the roof sections, and the window pieces; that too will be covered in the next post, as will final painting. The structure is coming along nicely, and I look forward to completing it.
Tony Thompson

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Prototype Rails at Cocoa Beach, 2013 -- Part 3

This is my third and final post about the Prototype Rails meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Cocoa Beach, Florida, held during January 10–12, 2013. My first post was a general one, and contained comments about a couple of the many clinic presentations, which were ably organized by Jeff Aley. It can be found at: . The second post was about the displays in the hotel ballroom, including large and small model manufacturers, and is at: .
     In this post I want to show a few of the displays by individual modelers, somewhat randomly chosen (unfortunately I have to omit a few I wanted to show, because I failed to get adequate photos of them). I will start arbitrarily with Eric Thur’s extensive display, notable for his inclusion of prototype photos of each car. Here is an overview of the center portion of the table Eric used, which shows a number of Eric’s models, though not everything:

This next view shows an area on the table behind the view above, with a group of models by John Johnson, and is a little closer to the models. You can see how nicely weathered these are, and they too have accompanying prototype photos.

     Another fine display was provided by Craig Zeni, largely of Southeastern railroad cars and locomotives. Again, nicely built and nicely finished.

     The inventer, organizer and grand poobah of this meeting, Mike Brock, only lives a few miles from the hotel and accordingly can readily bring a good group of models, many of them freight cars from resin kits. You will notice that he and Craig Zeni have both built a yellow Katy box car (a Speedwitch Media kit which is on my own workbench at the moment).

     Another group of excellent models was shown by Fenton Wells, and my several efforts to get a good photo of the entire group were not successful. But here is a single car, illustrating how Fenton provides background for each model. This one happens to be from a Speedwitch kit also.

     Last, I will include my own humble display, containing only two cars on account of having to travel with them in carry-on luggage. Both cars have been the subject of past blog posts. A series of posts described my efforts to complete the helium car at left (you can work backwards from the final post; it is at: ). The Kansas City Southern box car at right was an early “Shake ’n’ Take” model, as described earlier (the final post about it is at: ).

     I do enjoy the chance to show off recent models, and if I lived closer to Cocoa Beach, I could take more models – but I don’t plan to move away from Berkeley any time soon!
Tony Thompson