Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Friday, May 31, 2019

LA Warehouse District - Building a Freight Car

A long time ago when I was first envisioning this layout I had decided that I would populate it solely with Blueprint Series Freight Cars from Branchline trains and I started a bit of a stockpile. At some point after that the line was discontinued (although has since been picked up by Atlas, nothing has been done with it). While I have a number of Accurrail kits in various stages of completion I have never actually built one of the Blueprint series cars. It was time to rectify this and see what I might be getting into.

First thing I noticed just pulling out the parts is that these cars are likely to be pretty fragile, something that was borne out during the construction of this first kit. The instructions are okay at best, but the one in this kit looked like a photocopy and not a good photocopy and it some places was pretty useless because the grainy picture no longer showed any detail. That's what reference books are for.

It went together pretty well in the end. Just required careful cutting from the sprues. There was a lot more flash than I expected to see, especially on the grab irons which was difficult to remove at times. As I was finishing the car up though I came across the single biggest problem. My kit has the wrong doors. Without measuring these are the doors for a 40' car, not the doors for a 50' car. Since they aren't manufactured anymore I will have to figure out away to acquire new doors for this one. Due to the fragile nature of the brake lines I managed to break one of those during the construction. I'll probably just replace it with wire at this point. Lord knows I have access to wire. Between getting the wrong doors and breaking pieces during construction that puts a damper on my enthusiasm for building the rest of them.

The Kit

The Tools

That's a lot of stuff

The weights


Underframe finished

Ready to work on the top

Roof, note the doors, just a tad to small for this car.

"A" end

"B" end

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

LA Warehouse District - Track Plan Revision

A few ideas managed to emerge from the depths of my mind and I pulled out some more graph paper to make a couple of revisions to the track plan. The one thing that I have decided is that I'm going to invest in one of the track plan CAD just to be able to tinker with things a little easier. Something that will also allow me to design buildings, potentially to export to a laser cutter.

The first concept was how to include that signature scene of the curved buildings that I was losing. I reevaluated the room and decided that I could add another foot to one end of the layout if the cassette curved into the room rather than along the wall. The radius will be tight, down to 18" but the prototype is pretty tight too. So I'm good with that. I don't really need to model much of the building to get the affect but it is still a pretty small area to work with. What I might do is build something that will extend on to the cassette as well, something along the lines of Rice's jigsaw puzzle scenery pieces.

Adding a foot of space to the left was going to allow additional trackage to be installed as well. Industry Siding C will extend all the way back behind the freight building although I'm keeping the capacity at three cars. That, in turn, opened up space for a tad bit more track on the right side. I'm currently envisioning a freight house served from both sides  (now Industry Sidings B1 and B2) and still maintain and, in effect, lengthen Industry siding D to 4 cars. I have toyed with adding one more siding (tentatively Industry Siding E) that would sit more or less in the center of the backdrop. The issue here is that no matter what I do I would end up using another Industry Siding as a switching lead. For now I'll leave that siding off.

I'm a little stuck on scenery treatments as well. My first step was to create a scenery zone on the edges and the back. No track into this 3" zone along the backdrop but I might allow a some track to penetrate this zone on the left and right side as needed. I then sketched in a couple of the other building zones that would be working industries. A number of the sidings will end up behind other industries and thus "hidden" from view. I'm thinking removable structures with rare earth magnets for actually operating the layout. I'm considering three elevated roads, one on each end and one in the center to help break things up into separate scenes. Unfortunately elevated roads are not prototypical for LA it is, however, for Denver. Will have to mull that over since the Santa Fe didn't have any switching traffic in Denver.

Anyway just thoughts to mull over at this point.

I made some paper rulers representing 50' freight cars just to quickly see if I was leaving enough room. Here you can see two of the rulers and a portion of the South Yard Track, the North Yard Track and Industry Siding A.

Will it all fit? According to the rulers and the model it should.

And the whole reason for this version of the plan. Can I work in a curve and get my signature scene, or at least a portion of it, back?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Sledgehammer Project; Pt XXVII - The Sledgehammer BFG coming together

With paintwork started on the Taurox I realized that I really need to get the Sledgehammer itself together. Did some extra detail work along with some assembly in this session. I'm thinking one more session ought to finish it up and it will be ready to paint. At this point it mostly needs more rivets!

The first order of business was to add some teeth to the elevation mechanism. Without teeth it can't be elevated (and why there is a gear in the carriage without teeth on this component makes no sense). I'm constructing the teeth from 3mm foamed PVC.

The roughly cut teeth attached to the elevation mechanism.

Did some work on the carriage supports as well. Now the elevation wheels would, in theory, actually work.

Filing and a little green stuff and they will be as near perfect as they need to be for something that will likely go unseen.

Treads in place, sideboards in place and starting to hack off two cradles that would hold shells. Since there is no casing on the shells provided, there must be powder charges (just like the real B4 Howitzer) which means that the crew must be able to ram home the shell and the powder and they need a place to stand.

Almost there

The basic planking to give the crew some standing room.

A little wood grain added. This will give some variation in surfaces and its what they did on the real thing as well.

Some strapping added to hold down the planks.

Holes drilled for the nut and bolt castings.

The tiny nut and bolt castings cut from the sprue. A number of these are spread all over the room as they escape from the jaws of the tweezers at velocity.

These whole thing seemed to take forever, put looks good, looks just like an actual field modification.

Some of the crew checking out the new details. I still need to add a gun sight of some kind and finish adding some of the other detail bits. But she is close to being finished.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sledgehammer Project; Pt XXVI - Taurox - Painting with Primer

As I mentioned I need to do some paintwork on the Taurox before I can finish the assembly. This will consist to two distinct pages. I'll start with the primer, and see if I can work in some modulation, and add the basic camouflage to the exterior and get the interior ready for more detailed paint work.

Ready to go in the airbrush booth.

Failure to take some pictures. I have already used, Stynylrez Black, Stynylrez Grey, Stynylrez White and Vallejo Desert Tan.
I started with black, shooting (primarily) upwards from underneath. Followed that with grey, basically, perpendicular to the hull. I also used black on the interior but not the grey. The interior was shot with Desert Tan over the Black primer. White was sprayed downwards from above over the entire vehicle including the interior.

The basic coat for the camoflauge was Stynylrez Ebony flesh. While not completely visible in the pictures the inside of the rear door and the inside of the turret hatch also received this color.

After the base color was on I finished off the camo with Stynylrez olive green.

At this point I'm calling the initial priming work done. The rest will need to be done with a brush. I'll finish the interior first, attach the various other sub-assemblies and then finish off the exterior. I'll follow all of that up with weathering. I'll need to push forward on the Sledgehammer build so I can get the base coats on it as well and move forward with the two elements together to make sure they match.

I only used primer colors today, although I see I left the Stynylrez Grey out of the picture. I like the Stynylrez primers much better than the Vallejo primer at this point. They are much easier to use and don't seem to separate as much.