Friday, June 7, 2019

Benchwork Paralysis Continues

Actually I have been thinking again about the custom woodwork idea. The price of cabinet grade lumber is steep these days but I am coming around to that as possibly the only solution that I can get accomplished. 
Along those lines I started to do what a modeler does when frustrated and build a model of part of the benchwork to give me an idea of what I would need to have cut.  
The attached photo is a 1 inch = 1 foot concept model of the benchwork section C on my plan.  It would be the largest of the sections being 30 inches by 72 inches.  The plan would be (harder to get) 1 X 3 or 1 X 4 wood for the L girder and 2 X 2 legs.  The lower strengthening  pieces would again be 1 X 3 or 1 X 4.  Note that the L girder that is in back by the wall is reversed. This section is 6 feet long and 30 inches wide. The height is 36 inches which allows for up to 4 inches for 1 X 2 cross pieces and 1 or 2 inch foam sub roadbed to reach the maximum planned modeling surface height of 40 inches. 
There are no grades in my trackplan. I plan on using a 1 inch foam as the basic line and adding another 1 inch foam that can be cut out to provide a little surface elevation relief and allow for the turntable depth.  
I am looking for stability and rigidity more than mobility. All wood pieces would be attached by screws.  It could be collapsed back into a pile of cut lumber when I need to move out. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

More on the Port Costa-WC layout design

More on the Port Costa-WC layout design
The design is a modeling display layout rather than an operations oriented replication of freight and passenger movements. Track arrangements at Port Costa an Walnut Creek replicate condensed track plans of actual locations. Avon is a bit more fanciful.  
I operate strictly with DCC fitted locomotives. Trackwork will be a mix of Peco Code 83 and Code 70, Micro-Engineering and possibly others. I have a good stash of Peco Code 75 that will suffice until their Code 70 turnouts are available. Turnout control is another issue. I am used to just hand throwing Peco turnouts. I feel it mimics a brakeman's job on a real railroad.  I certainly have no plans to power turnouts and create a wiring nightmare. Manual push pull controls are probably an adequate solution for me.
I am probably going to add a friends suggestion of a cart fiddle yard/staging connection at the end of Walnut Creek to allow for longer length and by making it double allow for turning a 3 foot train segment. One could look at that as a truncated homage to the original purpose of Port Costa as the southern terminus of the SP car ferry that moved all mainline trains across the Carquinez strait until a bridge was completed in 1928.  The ferry pier tracks would have been located coming off the outside of the curve in the lower right corner. I will possibly do a John Allen style bridge and mirror where it is marked Martinez, Sac , ROW (Rest of World) in the upper left corner.
Note the 5 sections/modules and their dimensions. These form the requirements for the benchwork sections.  Benchwork is my agony. Trying to find a way to create the support structure for the layout at a one meter height that will allow copious under layout storage space.  It is my big hangup and problem of commitment to one solution or another. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

My Port Costa-Avon SP Layout Soon to Start Construction

The ceiling in the previous blog post has finally been repaired and I am gradually moving back into the office/trainroom. 

This is the tentative drawing of a plan to fill a nine by eleven foot space of the eleven by eleven foot room with three of my favorite scences from near my home. The objective (and preference) is not to create an operations oriented pike, but model a set of scenes mostly for display of my rolling stock. Any SP Western Division trains Eastbound to Sacramento or Tracy and Westbound to Crockett and Oakland will be able to move only a few feet. What action there is would be moving a few cars to and from Avon and Walnut Creek.

This layout will be built on a series of removable tables not attached to the walls of my townhouse office and trainroom. The Walnut Creek module is freestanding with a two foot space between it and a wall completely covered with built in cabinets and bookshelves along with a wet bar. The design of the freestanding shelf/table like structures is still in flux. The height is limited to 40 inches at the sub roadbed surface. I plan to maximize storage of rolling stock, parts and painting supplies under the layout. I can no longer do any carpentry so the sub-roadbed will likely be a foam board of some type. Under the Avon side is a 28 by 48 inch workbench. That wall also has a 6 foot long window. and Avon yard will run in front of the window.

Port Costa with its 70 foot turntable small engine terminal is a favorite. I have tried to include as much of the trackage as possible but have had to resort to curved turnouts at both ends and considerable compression through shortened trackage. Outside the engine terminal trackage the turnout placement is fictional. The Martinez junction has been moved to the east end of Port Costa. Avon is a truncated small yard with the east wye leg omitted. Walnut Creek is shortened at the south end with about 500 yards missing. It is primarily to display the depot and railroad related structures I am building.

I have not sufficiently mastered any of the available free layout design or drawing software packages so my planning is stil pencil and graph paper.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The End of Padstow Mark 1

Rick Stein (of Padstein restaurant infame) is not involved that we know of. (UK joke.)

On the night of February 19, 2019 water from a rainstorm two days earlier had backed up on the flat roof of my townhouse and leaked through the roofing onto the sheetrock ceiling of my office and train room. A 4 foot by 4 foot panel of sheetrock detached from the ceiling and fell swinging down from the paper coating slowly. It did not hit the 2 foot by 11 foot layout based on the trackage at Padstow minus the long pier or my workbench. While the layout and workbench were intact, I was informed that the room would ultimately need to be cleared of furniture and fixings to repair the damage to the ceiling and repaint the ceiling after the external roof was repaired. It has been over 3 weeks since that disaster and unfortunately we have not had enough dry days in a row for the roof to dry out so it can be replaced by the roofers.

I have boxed and binned most of the train stuff from the room. But, alas, the time has come to tackle the rather poorly build layout. It was simpley a 2 X 8 sheet of fiber insulation board on top of supporting 1X2 boards supported by 3 wood TV tray tables. There was an 3 X 2 extension with a shallow manual turntable and locomotive storage tracks that did not exist at Padstow. Any actual storage or shedwork was done at Wadebridge where there was a Southern Railway sub shed.

The design really only afforded a place to pose or switch either my English prototype collection of postware Southern Railway and related 4 mm scale (00) scale or my growing collection of US 1947-54 US Southern Pacific passenger and freight equipment. It was built from an assortment of Peco Code 100 Streamline turnouts going back 15 years and older Atlas code 100 track with wider thicker ties. I have ripped out the turnouts. Much of the wiring was from a previous pre-DCC Great Western Brixham branch line terminal layout from 2003-2010.

It is not really a great loss and I feel no real regret at its demolition. It is almost and air of exultation that comes with an out with the old in with the new anticipation. The turnouts have been saved although their future is in doubt as new layout(s) when built will use more modern trackage components. If it is totally British in outline it will use new Peco Code 75 “bullhead” rail components when they become available. On the other-hand the first to be rebuilt could be to North American prototype track with Micro Engineering and new Peco Code 70 USA line components. I also have some Peco Code 75 flat bottom European HO track turnouts on hand now that have not really been used and may be used to augment the newer track. Flex track would be Micro Engineering code 70.

All the buildings from Padstow station area have been saved. If I get the energy I will build a separate 3 2X4 modular layout that can be stored when not in use to show of English Southern modeling efforts. This will happen only when there is a full range of Peco bullhead rail components available.

I am also thinking about how I can rebuild so that I can model the Walnut Creek station area on the Southern Pacific San Ramon valley branch and maybe the branch interchange at Avon Contra Costa. If I had the space I would start with the small engine terminal at Port Costa, the Sacramento/San Joaquin junction at Martinez and then the Avon yard with interchange to the US Navy Port Chicago terminal railroad as will as the San Ramon branch. Unfortunately this would probably depend on winning a substantial lottery prize. At my age (75) it is probably just a dream goal.

A more realistic proposal for my small 11 foot by 11 foot area is to remove the book cases in the office and put a new Avon/Port Costa shelf layout along the north wall at a 45 inch height. My office desk, PC and printer would go under the layout. The big chair will have to go and only a single roll-around office chair used. The office has to stay here as this is the location for the high speed ATT phone/data connection and the WiFi router. This modular shelf layout would have two tail tracks. One on the short 5 foot west wall and another extending 9-10 feet over the work bench on the east wall. This would be at the 45 inch height.

Along the South all in front of the built in cherry bookshelves, a new Padstow Mark set of modules would be built with a curve at the east end to get to a pair of storage/staging tracks in front of the windows and below the SP layout staging. The workbench desk would have to be replaced and move out.

As I do not anticipate full re-occupancy of the train room/office before the end of April, this construction effort will take place over most of the rest of the year with the goal of full operational track work by December 2019.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

SP Engine rebuild project

I actually have a new SP Engine rebuild project. I acquired 2 IHC pseudo SP M-4's for $19.95 each. I had thought about using the cylinders for a Bachmann C-9 rebuild.  However an M-4 or M-6 are more appropriate for my current SP modeling passion, the San Ramon Branch.  Time to work on these in 2019 while waiting for Intermountain 70 Ton covered hopper kits to show up. 

Any thoughts about re-motoring and DCC upgrade are welcome. I have a lot to do on this engine. I need to locate an MDC shorty Vanderbilt tender for one of the M-4's.  I plan to scratch a whale back tender too and may do that first to house the decoder.

I have ordered a Bachmann "shorty" Vanderbilt tender from Bachmann Parts that appears to resemble the short tenders M-4's had. It cost as much as the two IHC engines combined.  And now I need a new decoder as I have none in stock at home. This is rapidly getting to be an expensive project.  Well my other pre-orders are not looking like they will arrive in the near future.

Monday, December 31, 2018

US Navy Box Car from Port Chicago

I started this box car in February 2018 and have only just got it to the stage where it can be displayed.

The car was originally Denver and Rio Grande #63383 and exists today at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista California. In 1944 the Rio Grande sold it to the US Navy as one of the replacements for wood box cars destroyed in the monstrous July 17, 1944 explosion of ammunition ships and stores being loaded at the Port Chicago California naval transportation facility. It remained in use to transfer munitions between warehouses and ships from 1944 to 1971 when it was donated to the Western Railway museum along with another 36 foot box car. The museum repainted it into Rio Grande box car red. I was able to visit the train shed it was stored in and take a few phone camera snaps. 

An article about the Rio Grande 36 foot box cars and modeling them using the Accurail 1400 series box cars in the Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society Prospector quarterly magazine got me started. Grab irons were replaced with 24" grabs (Tichy) and new end beams made from U shape channel. The stirrup/sidebeam steps are Grandt Line Narrow gauge steps and may be too short for a standard gauge car, but they look right.  The under frame was modified so the beams correctly align with the doors. It took a while but I located US Navy transfers from Clover house to match the car. Unfortunately they did not go on completely on the side of the car I am not showing.  I am thinking about copying the Clover House transfers to decal paper to do a second car. 

The cars were all Navy off white color when delivered to the WRM according to the slide I located on the WRM website.  As far as I know they were in this color in 1948-54 which is my target period. The underside of 63383 is still an off white or very very light grey (and the K brake cylinder still lettered for a USN 1971 brake test.)   I used spray can Tamiya White Primer to cover the boxcar red of the Accurail undecorated body and as the base color which covered completely after 2 coats. I then brushed an overcoat of Tamiya acrylic paint with 5 parts white mixed with 1 part light sky grey thinned with 1 part Tamiya acrylic thinner. I left it a bit streaky. 

My research indicates the Navy non sea-going asset equipment numbering system (61-00202) dates from 1948.
I became very interested in these box cars and their story. My shunting yard used for testing models and pictures is in theory the SP Avon Contra Costa yard where the San Ramon branch left the San Joaquin line to go south.  Avon yard is only 1 mile west of the Port Chicago/Concord Navel Weapons station interchange trackage. And I live 10 miles south in Walnut Creek where the July 17, 1944 explosion which completely destroyed two loading cargo ships and killed 332 people was heard. Although unlikely, I theorize the unloaded car was occasionally seen at Avon yard as a buffer car for switching explosive cargo to the Navy trackage. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

More on SP Freight Car Red from a Rattle Spray Can Update

I was testing the camera on an new Samsung S8 phone and I uploaded it and thought it might illustrate more of the benefit of Tamiya Oxide Red Primer as a base for SP Freight Car Red. The rattle can red goes on smooth with no buildup. It requires almost no cleanup beyond wiping the spray cap with IPA. 

This is a Westerfield SP B-50-15 resin kit that is at about a 98% completion level. I need to add the 4" car number to the ends. The Westerfield decal just wouldn't bend into the curve between the two top ribs. I have other options coming that I may try. 
The Carmer uncoupling levers and brake line details also need to be added.  I have been playing with building it just too long. 

Just peeking out behind the B-50-15 is a Tichy B-50-12, the stock USRA box car kit that was shown in my first post on finding the Tamiya Oxide Red Primer a good close enough substitute for SP Freight Car Red. PBL Star Brand STP-30.  What I did to that car and will do to the B-50-15 is brush paint a thinned wash of Vallejo Model Color 70.871 Leather Brown over the car body after decaling. I wiped the acrylic from the decal lettering surfaces with a Vallejo thinner moistened microbrush before it dried.  This added a browner aspect to the Tamiya primer that to me approximated SP Freight Car Red even closer. If and when I finish the remaining decals and details on the B-50-15, I will try the brown wash on it too.

I have to work on photography with the Samsung S8 a bit.