Sunday, May 21, 2017

Creating Deciduous Trees and Shrubs

I like trees...lots of trees. And after checking out the prices for ready made, I knew I would be learning  how to 'create' my own. You tube is chock full of how to's on making trees. I watched a few and tried to pick out the best bits from each of them and try to employ them in my own tree making handiwork.

For my first batch of trees I choose Scenic Express Super Trees in the super value pak. Apparently this 'tree' is harvested from the northland (Serbia) where it grows as some short type of scrub vegetation.



The trees are dried out and very brittle right out of the box. Some folks boil them to soften them up....an hour in super hot water does the same trick. Some will them hang them to dry and attach a small weight to the upside down tree to straighten it out. For most of mine I leave them be and just let them assume their natural shape.

Next I mix a diluted batch of white glue and water....approximately 5 to 1 ratio. 5 parts water to 1 part white glue in a large pail or tub....big enough to submerge the twigs and trees. I do several at at time. Let them soak for a minute or so.  Pull them out and shake off the excess  medium and hang them to dry overnight. I've also had good success just laying them on a couple sheets of newspapers.



Once dry you can start pruning and shaping. With these particular plants there is also a random leaf or two or dozen that need to be removed. A pair of long tweezers works good for this.

Unless your modelling paper birch or a stand of poplars, most tree bark is not white, so some light painting of the trunk or main branch is necessary. I use various shades of flat grey, flat light green, and khaki colours. Cheap rattle can spray paint is what I use.



Next up is the el cheapo unscented hair spray. Mist the branches and shake on some ground foam, or ground cover, pretty much anything that will hang onto the branches will work. Obviously you want to mix and match different shades and hues of greens, some light yellows for highlights. Then remist again with the hair spray and stand them in some extruded foam to dry overnight. Next day you can plant your forest and shrubs.



I think overall my first batch of trees turned out not too bad. Lots of fine tuning to do as I go along for sure. Now I just have to ramp up and start reforesting the rest of the layout.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Finally Made It Back

Here we are, finally made it back after that last time warp of November 2016. Times change and so did my layout.

My last grandiose layout plans came unglued at the hinges for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which was my over ambitious dream list of what a first layout should be, seeing as how I haven't been   doing this model railroad gig for over 40 years.

So I hunkered down and regrouped, read Lance Mindheim's books about shelf layouts again over the winter and decided that perhaps a smaller more manageable shelf layout in which I can actually complete all stages of construction might be in order.


With that in mind I cobbled together a shelf layout that measures 20 inches wide by 30 feet in a more or less U shape configuration. Track consists of one meandering rural line and a small siding. The final track plan may well end up getting revised down the line, but for now I wanted to move onto other facets of the hobby....electrical, scenery, weathering, structures etc. I want to complete this layout and try a whole bunch of different methods for scenery, so I can get a feel for what others have done and see what works best for me. So the overall cohesiveness of the layout , especially the scenery, may not jive 100%, but that's OK.  This will be the guinea pig test layout for the next one,if I like it enough to keep going...  ;).


At this point, the track is down, weathered and ballasted. I used fine sifted sand and glued it all down.

The wiring underneath the layout for DCC is for the most part done. Main bus line and feeders hooked up.

Structures will consist of a couple of elevators and some smaller buildings suited for a backwoods rural theme. I haven't cobbled together anymore structures as yet, other than the two grain elevators I built over a year ago.


My focus right now is on the scenery. Applying ground covers, small elevations of styrofoam, small shrubs and grasses and of course trees. Some of the scenery was homemade and some stuff bought.
Using a lot of woodland scenics ground foam, fine and coarse turf and static grasses.
Been trying to source my supplies locally when I can, however as of late I have been obtaining most of my scenery stuff from Otter Valley Railroad and Credit Valley Railroad in Ontario. Cheaper than local and delivered right to my door. Part of the  problem with buying local is that 95% of the time they don't have the stuff in stock and have to end up ordering it in and wait several weeks. I can do the same thing, cheaper, faster and all around less hassle. My take on it is that a lot of these bricks and mortar places are just shooting themselves in the foot the way they are running their show. If you can't at least stock basic scenery supplies, that apply to all scales, I dunno, I just don't get it. And then they cry foul that no one is patronizing their business.  Rant over.


For about $15 I built my own static grass applicator. It needs a little tweaking but it's just about there. Beats paying $200 plus for the retail one.


And trees.....trees are ridiculous if you want to buy the commercial stuff. Not very realistic and pricey to boot. So I did a little research and made my own and I think they turned out just fine. They are still a work in progress as I fine tune the 'leaves' and colour hues, but I'm slowly honing the tree crafting art.



So that's where I am at to this point.   And so far..it's fun.
Here's hoping the next post won't be 5 months down the line.



Friday, November 4, 2016

See you in 2017.....

Apologies for those checking in to see how things are progressing on the Harte Siding RR...in a word...nothing.  :(

Since September (well more correctly since last April), we have been adding an addition onto our house and doing some remodelling on the existing house. Along with all the other regular property ownership duties, grass, garden , flower beds and just general day to day living stuff, there has been precious little time for model railroads.





We are now at the end of the first week in November and my schedule doesn't show any real slow down till the New Year. With that said I don't see any time or monies available for the Harte Siding till then.

Check back in the New Year and we'll see if I've made any progress. In the mean time have fun with your railroads and I will live vicariously thru your model railroading fun.

Cheers.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Another Layout Design Tweak......

OK....the benchwork is now completed and with that brings the final update to the track plan. Or at least the mainline branch, including the swinging gate to complete the "around the walls" continuous run.

Benchwork as completed looking from south to north.

Benchwork looking from north to south.

Just finished up the swinging gate, very similar to the one model railroader did on their video series, "Rehab My Railroad" on Chuck Sable's layout. The plywood tops are all on, legs braced and squared up..

The 'dock' where the swinging gate locks into.

The swinging gate in the down position.

Swinging gate in the 'ready mode' for running trains.


Now I can turn my attention to transferring some sort of track plan to the plywood. At this point I will most likely be running a single line around the room, passing thru the scenery only once. There will be various small towns/whistle stops along the route...including Harte Siding/Charleswood, Sanford, Brunkild, Sperling and possibly Carman.

The peninsula will be designed around either a cement plant or potash plant. This will be down the road aways though. For now, my main priority will be to get the circuit around the walls done and start running some trains.   :)

Also have a few model kits in the works, still in box. All three will be kit bashed and modified to a lesser or greater degree so as to fit the parameters of my layout. They will not be built as per stated names on the box cover. As Tony Koester liked to say, "There is another model hidden in the box"

A few kits to start.





Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mining The Ballast Quarry

So it looks like I will now have well over 140 feet of main line track, not counting yards and spurs and sidings and what have you's....hmmmm.....and have you priced out Woodland Scenics ballast these days? Or any similar manufactured ballast?  Wow...going to cost me an arm and a half a leg to ballast what I have (or will have)... and to to top it all off, Fred from Warehouse Hobbies says it way too big for anything prototypical.  Ok...what to do?

Harte Siding.

On one of many trips to visit the master (Fred)...on the subject of ballast I was offered an alternative solution.  Fred points out the window in the general direction of the road and curb in particular and says.."There, it's free and you can have all you want. "

Of course what Fred was pointing to was all the curbside sand and gravel from a winters worth of sanding and salting from the City of Winnipeg. He asked what I was modelling and he said that stuff would be perfect, as well as a healthy heaping pail of sand from Grand Beach.

The sand (ballast) pile.

Why buy the pre packaged stuff, when you can get your own for free and sized the way you want? Don't have to ask me twice, I'm in.

Some initial screenings.

Over the summer months I have been mining the "quarry" for various shades of ballast. And so far, it's all free. Just a little work on my part in the great outdoors...so what's not to like?
I have some sand that was leftover from a concrete project. Very much like play box sand in consistency and colour.  Also from a leftover project was some road gravel...yep..that will work.
My kids live in the city and low and behold there was some sand/gravel from snow removal days kicking around. Yes...a couple of shovels of that please.

A little finer still.


A few different sizes of window screens and a little sifting and I had exactly the colour and texture of "ballast" that I required for my layout. Because I am modelling older rail lines and sidings...the ballast I required was very light in colour and small stone size....think CEMR rail line between Winnipeg and Sanford, Mb. No granite there, looks very much like roadside gravel.

Different colour shadings of ballast.

The only caveat here, being that you should sterilize the ballast prior to putting it on the layout. Fred recommends placing a thin layer on a cookie sheet and heating in a 225 F oven for 20 minutes and that should kill any little critters that may want to take up residence on the railroad layout.  We have a two ovens at our place and 3 racks in each. Loading up 6 cookie sheets at a time gets the sterilizing done in jig time.

The leftovers from the screening..should be able to use this somewhere on the layout.

So there you go....the colour and size of ballast that I require, and for the most part free. Beats the commercial stuff in price and quality. If you need some, grab it soon before freeze up and snowfall.

Monday, September 12, 2016

New Track Plan

Wow, what a beautiful change in the weather. Todays high was 14C.  My kind of weather. Now maybe I can return to the stratosphere of the barn loft and continue with some model railroad tinkering.

One change that I made over the last few weeks was to upgrade the electrical service coming out to the shop. I needed to install some more circuits around the shop for various tools and was running out of power and breaker space. We now have 200 amp dedicated service to the shop, not split off from the house as it was in the past. Manitoba Hydro had a special deal for customers if you upgraded from 200 to 400 amp service. Basically the increased service power was a minimal cost to me, of course you pay a little extra per month going from 200 to 400 service, but this now gives me oodles of power for my intended uses. And now I can run some more circuits upstairs for lighting etc etc. in the railroad room.  :)

New 400 amp, power distribution centre.
Been going back and forth over track plans and what not. This latest incarnation will incorporate continuous  as well as utilizing a lift out or swing down.

Latest sketch of benchwork footprint.

I guess at some point you have to call it good and start building some benchwork or this thing will never get off the ground. Must have studied a bazillion different track plans and read about all the pros and cons of the myriad layouts. Initially I wanted nothing to do with a lift out or swing away or whatever you want to call them. But because my entry to the room is from outside the layout, as opposed to stairs coming up the middle, the only feasible way to achieve continuous running using the full parameters of the room was to go with a lift out.

Probably 75 percent of the benchwork was cobbled together last season and another day with the woodworking tools should have the benchwork done and braced.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Roster Update.

Just received a couple of TLT PSC cabooses, CEMR road name from Credit Valley to add to the fleet. They look good next to the Intermountain SD40-2W CEMR locomotives.

Cando CEMR


Here is the complete loco roster as of this writing.

All motive power thus far. ( more to come).

From left to right and top to bottom.

Rapido GMD-1  CN # 1121
Rapido GMD-1  CN #1027
Proto 2000 SW 8/900   CNR # 7151
Athearn Genesis GP38-2W  CN #4775
Intermountain SD40-2W  CEMR # 5311 (x2)..road #'s to be changed in the future on doubles.

All equipped with DCC and sound.

Seems like it's been a long hot summer. Bleh. Summer is not my favourite season. Can't do much outside when the humidex is in the stratosphere and can't work on the model railroad cause it's doubly hot up in the loft.  Fall can't come soon enough  :) .

We likes winter.

Now we're talking....bring it on.