Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Here it is the middle of June and I finally blog Again

This should be the final blog about the construction of the Tichy Pittsburg and Lake Erie rebuilt USRA 40 foot 50 ton capacity box car. I am finally complete to the point of diminishing returns for doing any more. I could have added air hoses and a Carmer lever uncoupler but that would take me weeks at my current pace.  I have Yarmouth Carmer lever etchings but the attachment is quite fiddly. Ask long as I am leaving the coupler trip pin on the couplers an air hose connection would sort of look redundant.  

The object attached to the sill just to the left of the door on this side only is a NYC cover for the AB valve. It is fairly common on 1950's NYC system box cars. I have not seen it on any other roads. 

Nearly everything added to the model came from Tichy although not in the kit. The grab irons are Tichy 18 inch drop style and the sill steps are from a separate set. The NYC decals are from National Scale Car as are the chalk mark decals. 

The paint process started with a Tamiya grey primer coat that was used in construction.  When I was satisfied with the boxcar's body I used the Tamiya red oxide primer as the base box car read coat. The car was then decaled.  I then hand brushed diluted wash coats of Vallejo Panzer Aces #302 Dark Rust until it reached a dirty dark color representative of steam era freight cars. The running board was washed with Vallejo 71.121 Light Gull Grey to achieve more of a weathered wood effect. Highlights to the running board were added with diluted Vallejo Panzer Aces #310 Old Wood. I used Vallejo's airbrush thinner to dilute the paint instead of water. 

The trucks were a bit of a problem to find. There are lots of versions of Andrews 50 Ton trucks in HO. But the closest match to the prototype is a now out of production Proto2000 truck. I managed to locate a 2 pair on eBay at a reasonable price (less than new Tahoe trucks.) It was fortunate I bought 2 pair as the side frame broke off one truck while testing to see if Tangent Code 88 wheel sets would fit.  In the end they didn't as the axel was a bit loose in the Proto2000 trucks and I went back to using the wider wheelsets that came with the truck.

The car is not quite correct as there was a significant error in placement of the reporting marks on the side shown. The previous blog post covered some of the problems of construction. But now It is ready to be shown publicly. If my mojo is right I will take it to our local RPM meet, the Bay Area Prototype Modelers meet this Saturday in Richmond, California. I just have to type up a description.

Note on the photo. I am working with my new phone camera on a Pixel 6. I am also working on modifying the color saturation of photos that I am publishing.  

This is a builders photo of the original rebuild fresh out of the shop as it was originally lettered for the PMcK&Y. It was re-liveried for the P&LE and New York Central System about 1940. 

Photo from the NYC Historical Society Collection

As Porky Pig would say at the end of a Walter Lanz Cartoon film....Thaaats Aaalll Folks

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Port Costa Layout in Stasis for April 2022

Nothing much has happened on any layout improvement projects for the last 6 weeks.  Four of those weeks I have been fighting a combination of sinusitis and bronchitis that has left me mostly unmotivated. 

I have been pecking at a project to build a Tichy Rebuilt USRA boxcar following the closest prototype to the kit, a PMCK&Y/P&LE/NYC 50 Ton car.  

This has been a bit frustrating as the kit requires 36 separate grab irons mounted in 72 #78 drilled holes. In the process I have gone through at least 12 #78 drill bits. But I am finally done with that phase.  I have 72 3/4 " NBW castings from a Grandt Line set to cut off and mount above the grab iron holes. 

I have completed building the underframe and mounting the AB brake parts as far as I will go (I don't do the detail piping.) The trucks are Proto 2000 Andrews trucks and Kadee 158 couplers in narrow draft gear boxes. 

I have modified the Youngstown 1930's style doors to follow the Richard Hendrickson 1990's MRJ articles. The Speedwitch kit for the correct doors is no longer available. Assembly, brake end detail and other body details still to go before painting and decaling.  

That's all for now.  I am focused on this kit and then another Tichy kit for an 1943 52 Foot War Emergency gondola.  I like building car kits but for now I will in future stay away from freight cars that require grabirons instead of ladders on the ends. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

You Didn't Miss Me at All, Did You...

Well, after not publishing anything for a while, I decided to write up what I have been working on.

First, the turntable project has been given a lot of thought but not much action. The pit issue may have been resolved when I followed up on a method used by Bill Schneider of Rapido in a presentation he made on his OW&N layout on a Hindsight 2020 Zoom clinic. He used a 10 inch MDF speaker ring with bezel mounting spacer recessed.  So I ordered a pair (they only came in pairs) for $18 from Amazon and have been playing around at how to finish the pit ever since.  The 10 inch inside dimension diameter scales out to 73 feet instead of the 70 foot for the Port Costa turntable. But the Banta model of the Port Costa roundhouse track spacing was built to use the 75 foot Diamond Scale turntable so I am closer to that and will have to fudge less.

These is a photo of an earlier 70 foot turntable bridge attempt being used to play around with the speaker ring as a turntable pit:

The white plastic circular insert covering the bezel is an attempt to build out a larger inside ring for the turntable support rail.  A new scratchbuilt bridge will have to be rebuilt. I bought a Sterling cast pot metal turntable kit a several years ago for a much deeper D&RGW prototype when I first started Port Costa. The main bridge support seen at the center of the second photo may yet be used. 

A few weeks ago I figured out I needed some different Peco Code 83 turnouts to make the SP mainline track plan at the west end of the layout work.  These have arrived and I have just fitted them into the west end curve. This morning I wired them and tested them with both locomotives and some freight cars. 

There is a short ramped section on a curve (ouch) to the level of the mainline trackage. Thus far I have tested the two Alco switchers and the M-4 2-6-0 and the three work fine over this bit of nasty trackage. It is a lead off the mainline into the Port Costa yard and engine stabling area so no passenger engines or cars are expected to traverse the sharp 20 inch curve on a grade. Right now bits of a plastic wedge are being used to support the grade.  This area "off scene" and is not going to be "scenicked" but I do want a more resilient support for the trackage.

The mogul is sitting on the Eastbound SP main just before a right hand curve turnout.  The mainline curve continues into another right hand curve turnout and left hand #6 forming a crossover to the Westbound main. Beyond that is a siding along the mains next to the Carquinez strait and some stub trackage where the old ferry terminal to Benicia used to be located. The foreground will be occupied by the hill with the water tank. 

For the turnout into the compact storage and staging freight yard I had to use a 18"/20" radius left hand Peco Set Track turnout. Not elegant but it works. I did some shimming to adjust for the Code 83 to Code 100 height transition and then back to Cod3 83. 

You can't see it well with the low resolution but the metal pencil shaped object is a thin Xacto knife holder with a Proxa brush dental cleaner that was discussed recently on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum as an uncoupler tool for Kadee couplers.  I found a pack of the brushes on sale at a Safeway and tried it out. It actually works separating the cars with minimal movement or hand intervention.

January 2022 Layout Progress

I left this in draft since January 30. No wonder I have nobody reading this blog.

Well  basically, there has been little progress on the layout in the last few months. I did some design work on the turntable pit and bridge but little has happened to the layout which remains the same. 

Note the lineup of steam locomotives on the service track (water/bunker oil.) I am still waiting for the Owl Mountain Harriman Stand-In parts to add to the lineup. I have another Bachmann 2-8-0 to convert and parts to fix the second Mehano M-4. I have little hopes for another brass C-9 or C-10 as the only ones coming to the market lately have been unpainted 1970's models that would require complete rebuilding to work in a DCC/LocoFi control environment. 
I have yet to fix the roof on the section house or do anything better with the trees and ground cover. 

On the control experimental side, the pre-ordered LocoFi new Gen 3 chips that will be able to support steam sound and control features have arrived. I am waiting for some better information on new developments in stay alive/products before performing any more conversions. One thing that has happened is I have found how easy it is to build and load sound packages for the LocoFi  control module.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Thaaats All Folks...

I have been very remiss in ignoring this blog. I can't promise to better as I seem to be already spending an inordinate amount of time at the PC and doing very little modeling.  Almost nothing has changed on the layout. I can't promise much more for 2022. 

This is the only freight car project in the last 3 months:

It took me 3 months to finish this SP&S 40' flat car.  I found out the Tichy flatcar kit which cost me all of $8.50 was identical to the 50 AC&F cars SP&S purchased in 1924.  I have always liked that railroad and lived in my youth in all the three cities of its name. I have 1960's memories of the SP&S ALCO FA and FB unit lashups crossing the Spokane river bridges and the tall viaduct over the dry valley southwest of Spokane.

I modified the kit to represent the early 1950's with AB brakes. I had Tichy Andrews trucks and was given some non-public good color photos of the cars from the 1960's when still in revenue service for lumber loads. The problem that led to the lengthy build time was finding decals for the model.  Champ made a decal set for this specific car with 7 road names but did not include SP&S in road names (eastern/midwestern bias?)  I tried using the Speedwitch SP&S boxcar set but the reporting marks were too large. I wound up buying a RR roman letters set from Microscale to piece it together but had to pay for $20 minimum order (3 sets of decals.) I finally did get from eBay the Champ Tichy flat car set but all the weight and other small lettering was in block gothic. I used it anyway as by that time I realized it was never going to be a contest quality model. 

Interestingly the SP&S rated the car at 40 ton capacity rather than the 50 tons on the Champ decal set.    I must have spent over $40 on decals for the $8.50 car. 

The end result is not a closeup detail model but a 1 foot model. With Moloco .088 metal wheels and Kadee #158 couplers the weight is not too light. I am trying to adapt the Owl Mountain lumber load kits to this flat car. It looks like I will have to use the 9' wide lumber stacks rather than the smaller lumber as the Tichy flat car deck is a full 9 feet wide with no overhang unlike the OM SP F-50 flat car decks which are 8.5 feet wide but overhang the side sills. 

I am back looking at the design of the Port Costa turntable pit and trying to figure out how to build it. 

Thaaat's all folks....(remember Porky Pig at the end of Walter Lanz cartoons...)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

November Notes #1

My blogging appears to be bogged down. Age must have something to do with it. Anyway the following of my model railroad/railway activities are of note as or 11/2/21:

  • A new model vehicle has been acquired for the 1930's auto parked in back of the freight house next to the freight platform. From the original 1950's photo (courtesy Contra Costa County Historical Society) I had identified it as a 1936 Dodge Sedan. I tried for many months to obtain an HO model of the 1936 Dodge but have been unable to find a replacement for the OO scale Oxford Miniatures Austin Sedan being used as a stand in.  In that search I stumbled across a 3D printer going by the name of Toys in the Attic who had a model of a 1938 Plymouth F5 sedan.  Figuring that was probably as close as I was going to get, I ordered 2 of these 3D prints with one being a backup in case I mucked up the paint and assembly of first one. 
    It has been painted Vallejo Gull Grey and left unglossed to reflect the aging affect of 12-14 years of the fierce Contra Costa sunshine on 1930's auto paint. The windows have been made with Microscale Micro Krystal Klear. They work if if viewed from a 2 foot or more distance.  Now all I need is a 1950-53 California Orange license plate decal to add a plate. 
  • Two new foreign road (non-SP) box cars have been added for the consists of east and west bound Cal-P traffic.  For a the past 6 months I have been working on a CMStP&P (Milwaukee Road) Accurail 40' Double Door rib sided kit. I had wanted to add a Royal Slack Adjuster brake cylinder per prototype to the underframe. My attempts to procure a casting for this type of brake gear have also come to naught and I just went ahead finished the car. Other modifications were replacing the running board with a prototype for period wood running board using the Tichy part # 3029 "Roofwalk" and a better Ajax brake wheel.   It still needs a corrected reweigh decal to replace the as printed NEW date and location and should have Barber not Bettendorf trucks. 
  • The second new foreign road boxcar is a Rapido PRR X31a which needs no modification beyond a corrected reweigh date and location applied instead of NEW. 
  • The SPMW Bachman Scale Test car and Scale Maintenance car have been completed to the 98% at which I usually say that is good enough. The scale test car has been repainted and uses decals made by a friend.  I had to replace the lower side grab irons which were cast on to get the decals to fit.  The scale maintenance car started as an Accurail outside braced box car and was modified to a picture Jason Hill displayed on the SP Prototype Modelers Facebook group. It took a lot of cutting and rebuilding. I had to scratch the door steps from brass, used Tichy work car windows and covered those with sanded clear styrene to simulate window screening. 
  • The turntable is my current focus on the Port Costa layout. I have looked at my earlier attempts at a bridge and need to build a new one.  I also need to work out the turning, bridge power and locking methods. This may take a couple of months.  I am working on it off the layout with the final steps cutting out a square section of the underlay for the pit and putting an almost finished turntable pit and bridge. 
  • Small projects will include additional ballasting of the house track/siding around to the small company freight dock behind the roundhouse. I have a lot more work to upgrade the stand in buildings behind the roundhouse.  I also have to address Tank Hill scenery, refine the station area scenery and add more realistic foliage and trees. 
  • I also need to add remote controls to the turnouts behind tank hill that cannot be reached. I am looking into manual not motorized solutions. Then there is the mainline trackage that needs to be fully realized so I can display some of the freight cars, road locomotives and passenger equipment I have been acquiring.
Smoke me a kipper....



Friday, October 8, 2021

October 8, 2021 and Lack of any Layout or any other Model Railroad Progress

 This is a short note to anyone who glances at this bloggy spot. I recognize I still have a blog but have had nothing I really want to post at this time.  All work on my layout and model projects has slowed. 

At the moment I have turned my attention to the turntable and possible replacement of the mockup stand-in with an actual pit. Bill Schneider (who works for Rapido) did a clinic on his HO NYO&W layout and talked about his building two 76 foot turntables for his layout.  This has somewhat motivated me and  pushed the Port Costa turntable back to the foreground of my myriad layout building tasks. 

I had already procured two one foot square slabs of  half inch PVC sheet. My initial attempt to cut out the pit was interrupted when I stabbed my left hand badly with a utility knife. Three weeks later I am thinking about getting back to the project.  Bill's ideas on building the pit and bridge are roughly similar to my earlier attempts and the half inch PVC sheet idea I got from an MRH blog is very tough material makes this look more feasible. 

More later.