Monday, May 12, 2014

Busy Week

Wow, where do I even begin? I've been quite the busy beaver up in the train room these past few days. My wife attended a bridal shower up in New York and left me with a few days worth of unsupervised play time. That allowed me to get a whole lot of projects taken care of.

The staging yard at Altoona. Two tracks are laid and roadbed for the remaining two is glued down.
I made some major progress with the Altoona staging yard. I got the second track laid and wired up. Unfortunately this did not go entirely smoothly. In my haste, I neglected to place an insulated rail joiner on one rail. When I fired up the power supply, "Zap!" instant short circuit. After replacing the offending joiner, everything worked fine.

The second track pretty well exhausted my supply of flex track, save for two sections that I'm saving for the locomotive servicing facility. However, I had more than enough roadbed to lay out the foot print for the two remaining tracks. This will allow me to get a handle on the scenery for the Altoona, which will be the one major urban area on the layout.

Model Power's Farmhouse

While I was working on the staging yard, I also manged to tackle two more Model Power house kits. The first one I did was the Farmhouse kit. I went with Floquil "Depot Buff" on the walls, Floquil "Roof Brown" on the roof and front porch floor, Floquil "Antique White" on the porch railings, Floquil "Concrete" on the walkways and Tamiya "Red Brown" on the window trim.

Unfortunately this house came with a big Goofy-looking base that was supposed to look like grass. That needed to be addressed before this building got anywhere near my layout. What I ended up doing was coating everything but the walkways with fluid matte medium and then sprinkling on a heaping helping of Woodland Scenics fine turf.

All in all, this house ended up looking a bit more ramshackle than the others. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Every block has at least one house that's looking a little run down and I'm pretty sure Gallitzin doesn't have an HOA.

Model Power's "The Sullivan's"

The second kit I built was "The Sullivan's." This kit's roof came in the most God-awful shade of red. I mean come on! This is Gallitzin, PA not Florida and adobe tile roofs are quite rare. Thankfully that was nothing a coat of Floquil "Roof Brown." couldn't handle. I went with Floquil "Reefer White" for the walls, porch railings and lattice. To conserve my supply of Floquil Concrete, I used Testors "Flat, Light Aircraft Grey" of the foundation and steps. So that's five kits down and two to go.

The mountains with the pop-up hatch removed.

Another project I needed to get done before scenery construction could progress was a pop-up hatch near Horseshoe Curve. When I was designing the track plan and benchwork, I gave little thought to accessing the area around the curve and stupidly made it very difficult to access. If it's one this we all know about model trains, it's that they always pick the least accessible spot on your layout to stall and/or derail. So I needed to cut a hatch into the table to allow me to clean track, dust, and retrieve the smoldering wreckage of crashed trains.

Just cut a hole in the table. Simple right? Wrong! It seemed like everywhere that was a good spot on top of the table was a nightmare on the bottom. There were wire and cross-members in the way. Finally I settled on the plywood section over the attic door. But that was in the middle of a mountain range! What I ended up doing was cutting a piece of two-inch styrofoam, adding end pieces and overlaying plaster cloth to create a removable section of mountain. I used two pieces of 3/4-inch oak stripwood to create a channel for the hatch to drop into.

It's not the easiest thing to open and get through, but at least I have some access to the inside of the curve now.

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