Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Frustration, Stupidity and the Horseshoe Curve Backdrop

One of the biggest lies I tell myself when it comes to model railroading is "I can be neat with the plaster and/or paint." Case in point is the backdrop as Horseshoe Curve. Recall a few months ago I installed a view block to separate the curve from the rest of the layout. Well, prior to building the mountains you see in the above photo, I glued some bulletin board paper with a cloud pattern on it to the view block.

Despite my best efforts, I manged to slop plaster all over the backdrop. Now if I were smart, I would have removed the cloud paper before planting trees on the mountains. But why make it easy? I thought I could use a utility knife to cut new pieces of cloud paper but the trees made that impossible.

With cloud paper defeated, it was on to plan b, painting the backdrop sky blue. I painted the backdrop and I have to say it doesn't look any better. Then again it doesn't look any worse either. Let's call it a draw.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

More Work at Horseshoe Curve

Over the past few days I've been busy working on the mountains near Horseshoe Curve. I've gotten most of the mountains painted burnt umber. I've planted trees on the mountain all the way around the curve. The next order of business will be building the mountains in front of the tracks and then ballasting track.

My plan is to finishe off all the mountains and then finish the interior of Horseshoe Curve. This includes roads, the visitor's center and park, reservoirs and canals that are located inside the curve.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Finished the Truck Dump

I put the finishing touches on the truck dump the other night. I wrapped up the actual construction by adding some Plastruct safety railings around the top of the structure. I then painted said railings and the coal chute Floquil "Grimy Black."

After all the paint had dried, I went about my usual weathering routine of weather wash, Dulcote, chalks and more Dulcote.

I capped thing off adding some coal to the inner hopper. This is actually black sand sold at Michaels under the brand name Creatology.

In other news, after running Pennsy for a while, Conrail has returned to the Pittsburgh Division.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Whipping up a Truck Dump

Coal was and still is a major commodity on the PRR Pittsburgh division. Unfortunately I don't have the room for a full-sized coal mine on the layout. But then I saw a truck dump like the one pictured above on Lee Weldon's late great Western Maryland layout (Link). Coal is trucked from a mine, which can live somewhere off the layout, and brought to the truck dump where it;s transloaded into rail cars.

Intrigued, I shot Lee an e-mail and her very kindly provided me with the dimensions for his model, which as it turns out is a Campbell Models kit. Rather than buy a kit, I chose to scratch build a model from materials I had on hand. I used Evergreen V-Groove styrene sheets for the walls and various Plastruct styrene strips for the rest. The only part that wasn't scratch built was the coal chute, which was left over from a Walther's kit.

For paint, I went with Floquil "roof brown." I will need to apply a second coat tomorrow and add some weathering. For my first serius effort at scratch building, I don't think this is turning out half bad. We shall see when it's done.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mountain Construction and Some More Weathering

After a month of foot dragging, I finally got around to finishing the remaining mountains inside the tracks between Horseshoe Curve and Gallitzin. Plaster is a lot of messy work and I don't often find myself with the energy to do it. But tonight was one of those rare nights when I did have the energy and now the large mountains behind the tracks are complete from Altoona to the east portals of the Gallitzin Tunnels.

I also got around to weathering my Kato C30-7. That takes care of most of the Conrail fleet.

Friday, October 3, 2014

More Weathering

With my fleet of Pennsy hoppers looking sufficiently grungy, I've turned my attention to my Conrail fleet. The first locomotives were my Atlas SD35 and Atlas SD50. I think they might have turned out almost a little to grungy but they still look good.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bear Necessities and Some Work on the Actual Layout

I admit it, I like to enjoy a cold brew while I'm running trains, occasionally one I brewed myself no less. Having a safe place to put was a necessity. To provide said safe place I picked up a cheap car cup holder from Dollar General, cut of the part the hooks over the car door and screwed it to the layout. Now I can safely imbibe while running trains without fear of spilling beer on the power pack.

I also finally did some actually scenery work on the layout for the first time in nearly a month. I glued more lichen to the mountains behind Horseshoe Curve.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Improving the Visability at Horseshoe Curve

As mountain construction has progressed, my view of Horseshoe Curve and the eastern approaches to the Gallitzin Tunnels from the control panel has been blocked. This isn't bad thing, in fact far from it. Having the trains disappear from view adds interest and not being able to see the entire layout at one time makes it seem bigger than it actually is. The one down side is if train decides to derail or stall in this section of the layout, I don't usually find out until said train gets rear-ended.

My decidedly low-tech solution was to buy a cheapie door mirror from Wal Mart and screw it toe the angled part of the wall over Horseshoe Curve. It's not a perfect solution as I can only see part of the track in question, But hey, some is better than none right?