Thursday, March 22, 2018

Night Fever

 With major combat operations over for the season, I decided to get out my good camera and take some shots of the layout. What better way to show off all the lighting I installed than by taking some long-exposure night shots. Enjoy!

This is Johnstown's Business District. The building at right is The Oasis, a notorious spot that's often padlocked by the police.

The TO agent at SF tower enjoys a smoke break as M1a #6720 barrels past with a mixed fright. The building in back is the Ezell Safety Products Company.

The Superior Paper Company looms over Johnstown.

The Broadway Limited vanished into the darkness of Portage Tunnel.
Som reefers with perishables from California have just arrived at the ice house.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

And that's a wrap for this season!





Well folks, after a short but busy construction season, it's that time of the year again. The weather is warming up, yard work is coming into the picture and I'm ready to shift over towards running some trains. It's the same thing every march. But this year is different. Most seasons end with me stuck on some major task that can't be put off any longer and I don;t have the energy left to take them on. This year, I managed to knock out those two last projects.

First and foremost, I plastered up the remaining roads and sidewalks in Johnstown. It took me the better part of two afternoons but I got it done. Once that was done, I went ahead and drilled the holes for the lights.I finished things off by getting all the plaster work painted.

emboldened by my success, I decided to go ahead and get all the lights installed and wired up. I started off with a pair of Busch operating traffic lights. Then I installed some incandescent street lights along the main streets in the Johnstown business district. The buildings are lit with a mish mash of LEDs and incandescent salvaged from my last layout, whatever was on hand.

For the industrial areas, I used LEDs except for Water Street Freight Terminal. I used a pair of Model Power highway lights for Superior Paper and a pair of Goosneck Lamps for the freight station.

Now, I had planned to use a pair of NJ International crossing flashers. I did start the process of stalling them. But wen I tried to untangle the rat's nest left over from the last layout, things got ugly. The resistors on each signal decided to come unsoldered. After a bit of fighting, I gave up and tossed the lights and PC boards into a box for next year, if I'm desperate.

The last thing I did was apply some turf to a few spots and then spent a few hours cleaning track and trouble shooting. The K4 and M1 needed only a few spots cleaned. But on my first attempt at running the centipedes, they went stumbling and stuttering down the track like a misfiring car! The I1 wasn't too happy either and there was a lot of work with the bright boy and alcohol and rag.

So that's it for this season. I'm sure I'll get the itch to tackle the odd project or two here and there, but the heavy lifting is done for a while. Before we know it, it'll be fall and I'll have the itch again. Until then, have a nice summer everybody!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Finished the Last Two DPM Buildings

Boy, I love these DPM buildings but painting them is a tedious PITA. But as mentioned in an earlier post, that's the trade off  for easier assembly. Anyway, I knocked out the last two.


First, I took on the "Corner Turret Building." I started by spraying all four walls with Testors "Flat Light Aircraft Grey." Next I brushed everything but the trim Floquil "Boxcar Red." I did the roof in my usual Grimy Black.

I committed the pointy witch hat-looking roof for he turret since my Cornerstone "Merchants' Row" kit has a similar roof. I installed more of my folded construction paper drapes in the ground floor windows and hit it with a coat of weather wash. I can't really call it done until I get more Dulcote, but that step takes all of two seconds.


 The last in my bunch of buildings was the Corner Apothecary kit. I started by spraying the walls with some cheap Wal Mart spray paint. Next I brushed the windows and trim Foloquil "Roof Brown." The roof was "Grimy Black" yet again. Finally, I touched up all my my hand brushing oopses with some Floquil "Reefer White."

"Why white paint?" You may be wondering. Well, back in the March 2017 issue of Model Railroader, Lance Mindheim wrote an article suggesting painting buildings shade of white, being that this is a common color in real life. Mr. Mindheim is an extremely talented modeler whose layout looks phenomenal. 

That said, I have noticed there are some drawbacks to white paint. First and foremost, it's very unforgiving of mistakes. If you've ever painted a DPM building, I don't think I have to tel you it's only a matter of time until you're painting window trim and "oops!" the brush slips. 

When you're using two dark colors like Boxcar Red and Roof Brown, those mistakes aren't nearly as noticeable. But a dark color on white paint? Yeah, that sticks out like a sore thumb. So unless you have very steady hands, I suggest not painting DPM buildings white. 

Painting issues aside, I'm just not believing it. The buildings done in "Antique White" look alright, but not white white. But as I was driving today, I really looked at the buildings I was driving past, and most of them were white or tan. But for some reason the brick colored buildings on my layout just look more realistic to me than white. I guess I find a more impressionist approach better than trying to force reality into where it doesn't want to go. 

Where the white paint does work though is in the industrial areas. Both the Ice House and Bralick building are painted white and they look right to me. They also show of weathering quite nicely. This makes total sense since Mr. Mindheim primarily models industrial areas on his layouts. 

So yeah, I'm not bashing Lance Mindheim at all. Quite the opposite actually. His layout is a sight to behold and the level of realism he achieves is unparalleled. I'm just saying I tried one of his techniques and it didn't quite work out for me. But it goes back to the paot I wrote about there not being a right or wrong way to do this hobby.

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.