Saturday, February 17, 2018

Finished DPM's "Otto's Auto Parts"

This was definitely not one of my better efforts. I started off by spraying the building with Testor's "Flight Light Aircraft Grey." Next, I proceeded to paint the brickwork Floquil "Roof Brown." I didn;t take me long to realize I'd completely screwed the pooch on the color scheme. On top of that, I had an unusually-difficult time keeping the Roof Brown paint inside the lines. The result was an ugly building that looks like it was painted by a three-year-old! Take an educated guess as to what color I painted the roof.

Once the building was assembled, I put in the window inserts and shades. Then I his the walls with some weather wash. The last step will be Dulcote, but I haven;t had a chance to get to the art supply store for another can.

At the end of the day, I'm not sweating things too much, since there are lots of ugly buildings out there in the real world. Also, the building is situated in a way you really won't see the front wall. At any rate, that leaves two more buildings and I can call Johnstown's business district done. Then it's just finish up the sidewalks, some turf and lighting.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Finished DPM's "Reed Books"

Yet another DPM kit down. I went with Krylon "Meringue" for the brickwork, Floquil "Tuscan Red" for the trim and bay windows and of course "Grimy Black" for the roof. I skipped the usual proceedure for the mortar lines since these bricks would have been painted. I also skipped the Dulcote because I ran out.

As far as DPM kits go, this one was a bit more challenging to put together. Each bay window is three separate pieces. I tried gluing them together before affixing them to the rest of the building but that didn't work as I managed to get the angle wrong. This resulted in a whole lot of glue shmootz on the front of the building! So I had to snap the bay windows apart and reassemble them and touch up the damaged paint!

At any rate, that's four down, three to go. I've already got Otto's Auto Parts painted and ready for assembly. I other news, Spring has started to, well, spring here in the Palmetto State. Usually this marks the end of moy model railroading season as my enthusiasm starts to peter out and yard work starts to enter the equation. But so far my enthusiasm is remaining strong this year. It's not like the layout turns into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight on March 1st, so as long as I feel like it, I'll keep on going.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Finished DPM's "Bruces Bakery" Kit

I knocked out another DPM kit, "Bruce's Bakery" this time. I decided I can't use "Boxcar Red" and "Roof Brown" on every building in town. That'd get boring in a hurry. I used Floquil "Depot Buff" for the brickwork, "Souther Freight Car Brown" for the windows and trim and of course, "Grimy Black." I don;t know what I'll do when I finally run out of that last one, but I digress. All in all, I think the color scheme works quite nicely.

It was the same basic procedure for the brick mortar lines and windows as the last two buildings, so no point in repeating myself. That said, I did go a bit further with the window dressing. First, I used bits of the white stryrene left over from the roof to create window shades on the upper floors. For the ground floor, front windows, I took pink construction paper, cut it into strips and folded it accordion style. This nicely simulates drapes. Credit where it's due, I learned that trick from Spookshow's blog.

I still have no idea which businesses will ultimately inhabit these buildings. I'm currently scrounging through my collection of leftover decals to see if any are usable. I would be nice if DPM included some, but since I only paid $6 a piece for these kits, I really shouldn't complain too much.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Real Estate Market Heats Up in Johnstown

 That title aught to get the search engines going! As mentioned in my last post, I managed to score a bunch of DPM buildings at fire sale prices at a train show.  I've already got the first two of them knocked out.

The first buidling (pictured above) was the "Roadkill Cafe" kit. I stayed pretty conservative with the color choices. I used Floquil "Boxcar Red" for the brickwork, "Roof Brown" for the cornice, windows and trim and "Grimy Black" for the roof.

Once the paint dried, I coated the walls with some Apple Barrel "Pewter Grey" craft paint (readily available at Wal Mart) and wiped most of it off with a paper towel. This nicely fill in the mortar lines between the bricks and really enhances the building's realism.

Once the craft paint dried, I hit the building with a coat of weather wash, followed up with Dulcote.  I skipped the chalks because I want the building to look like part of a vibrant downtown and not look rundown.

The last bit of business was the window inserts. Before installation, I sprayed them with Dulcote to fog them up, thus hiding the empty interior. I then installed the windows with the Dulcoted side in. This way you still have a glassy look on the outside. Lastly, I used some of the leftover styrene from the roof to fashion window shades for the top floor.
I started off the kit building with an easy one. From here on out, I decided to build the most difficult ones first. These DPM buildings are all basically four walls and roof and as such go together in about five minutes. The trade off is the windows, doors and trim aren't separate pieces, which makes painting them the time-consuming part.

The second kit I built was "Wilhelm's Mercantile." Rather than hand brush all those windows, I sprayed the two front walls (the one's facing the streets) Testor's "Flat Olive." I then carefully painted around each window with "Boxcar Red." This actually worked quite well as the colors go nicely together and the painting went a lot faster.

For the back walls, I used "Boxcar Red" on the brickwork again and "Roof Brown on the doors and windows. Once painted, it was lather, rinse repeat for the mortar lines, weathering and window inserts. All told, I think this building came out pretty nifty looking.

So that's two down, five more to go. This is what helps keep my enthusiasm for working on the layout strong. When you of doing one thing, you can do another. Tired of scenery? Build some buildings! Tired of building? Ballast some track!. I think what's stopped me in the past is having a big job that has to be done before any other work can proceed and not wanting to do said big job.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Train Show Haul

As threatened, I ventured to Easley, SC for the Central Railway Model and Historical Association train show. I didn't have my hopes up very high as the past few years were kind of a disappointment with very little N Scale. This year however bucked that particular trend. 

One thing I was hoping to find were some DPM kits to finish of Johnstown. Not only did I find some but, they were an absolute steal at $6.00 apiece! They normally sell for $13 to $18. So needless to say I snapped them right up. Normally I like to walk through a train show before buying anything just to get the lay of the land, but in this case, I knew if I didn't buy them right then an there, they'd be gone.

My other big find was a fully-reconditioned Lionel KW transformer. At 190 watts, the KW is the slightly less-powerful little brother of Lionel's legendary ZW. When I built the V&R railroad for my kids, all I had were a pair of train set transformers. I found that Postwar-era Lionel locomotives overloaded them in short order. But the KW can run this pipsqueak of a layout without breaking a sweat.

Despite being 60 years old, ZW and KW transformers remain in high demand and as such usually command premium prices. There is a caveat, they must be reconditioned or subject to a thorough safety check before being put into use. Mine was reconditioned with a new power cord, new rectifier disks and new rollers. I paid $70. You can find them as is for less but it's not worth risking electrocution or burning the house down.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Nobody Gonna Break'a My Stride, Nobody Gonna Slow Me Down!

Yup, another productive afternoon in Johnstown. About two thirds of the rails are painted, including all of the industrial track except the turnouts. I've found Peco turnouts can be funny, and I don't mean "ha ha" funny. You have to be super careful painting an ballasting near them or their performance goes straight to hell.

I use Peco "Electrofrog" turnouts, which have powered frogs. These have the advantage of allowing you to run locomotives with a small pickup footprint. However, the frogs must change polarity depending on which way the turnout is thrown. To do this, the point rails (the ones that move) are connected to the frog and draw power from the outside rails. Therefore, the point rails must make perfect contact with the outside rails or you're going to have some very squirly locomotive performance. So, when painting the turnouts, I always to a few precautions.

To whit:

1. Use a foam microbrush for maximum paint control

2. No paint anywhere near the point rails. Looks may suffer, but I'll gladly trade aesthetics for operational reliability.

3. No ballast between the rails near the moving parts. Again, choosing function over form.

4. When done ballasting, blow out the gap between the point rails and the outside rails with a computer duster.

With the rails painted, I set about ballasting some track. The full length of the Industrial Track is ballasted and a portion of the main line is too. Now of course, no sooner did I ballast the main line then I realized I hadn't installed the sensors for the NJI crossing signals yet! Oops.

As you can see from the above photos, I finished plastering up the road from the industrial area to the edge of the layout. I'll name the nascent thoroughfare Water Street for the freight terminal. Kind of ironic and maybe a bit tasteless considering certain historical events in Johnstown. But hey, I didn't name the freight terminal; Walthers did.

Lastly, I got some more turf put down. I really do love how the scene is coming together. Other than wiring, most of the messy work is finished in Johnstown. Just a few more feet of rail to paint and ballast, a little more plaster work and then it's just turf, trees and detailing.

In other news, I decided I am going to the train show in Easley this weekend. My parents care coming up from Hilton Head and it will be a nice opportunity for my father, my son and I to get out of the house.

In past years, the show has been kind of a disappointment with very little in the way of N Scale. But I still found a few things there. One of the biggest lessons I've learned about train shows is not to be afraid of leaving empty handed. Sometimes the best deal at the show is leaving with the money in your pocket.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Ballast, Turf and More

Another productive afternoon of chipping away at the Johnstown to do list. First and formost, I ballasted bout half of the industrial track. You already know of my misgivings with ballasting so I won't bore yo with them again. But I will say this, this ballasting experience was pretty painless as far as that particular task goes.

With the ballasting done, I went ahead and applied the turf around Superior Paper and the ice house. With the turf in place, the scene really started to come together. But there's still plenty to be done.
I think the next project will be to paint the gutters in between the yard tracks black. This will make accidental holes in the ballast much less noticeable. 

The last thing I did scenery wise was to add a pair of Tichy Train Group crossing signs at the grade crossing.
Another little project was to add about eight inches of track to the Water Street Freight Terminal siding. This came about because I was spotting boxcars and found my little NW2 didn't quite respond to the throttle quickly enough. My boxcars ended up on the ground. The extra bit of track gives an operator a bit more margin for error.