Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hell Freezes Over

If you've been following this blog since its inception, you're no doubt aware that the lack of Pennsy steam in N Scale has been a perennial favorite topic for rants. So imagion my surprise when I log onto Facebook and see this posted in the PRR N Scale Modeling Group:

That's right, Bachmann has announced a K4 Pacific in N Scale with DCC and sound less! Now how can I pass that up? If anything it makes me feel a little but foolish having spent all that time and money to upgrade my old Minitirx engine, but oh well, two K4s are better than one right?

If that weren't enough, Broadway Limited, no doubt feeling some heat from the recently-lit fire under their fannies released this:

Yup, that's a painted prepoduction model of BLI's much-anticipated M1a. While still scheduled for a November 2015 delivery, it's somewhat reassuring to see them update their delivery schedule and not push this thing back another two months.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Back to the Curve

The new access road for Kittanning Point Station. A pair of Cornerstone crossing gates guard the crossing.

Overall view of the valley. The brown area at left will require going through the access hatch to finish.

Note the reservoir spillway at left.

After what seems like months, oh wait, it has been months, I got back to work on Horseshoe Curve. Anyway, I was in a mad rush to get the area around the Curve done before my son was born. And I came quite close. But towards the end the "I wanna do something else on the layout" bug bit me hard. As a result I ended up doing some work at the Altoona Shop (which I am currently redoing) and started the switch to DCC. 

At any rate, I started things off by painting most recently installed plaster in preparation for turf. I have to say, it was nice to see the area look a bit more natural after looking at grungy white plaster all this time.

The next thing I did was finish the road from the Curve to the front of the layout, along with a short access road for Kittanning Point. As usual, I used Woodland Scenics paving tape and patching plaster. Now, here's where the fun starts. I grabbed my cheap poster paint and mixed some white with the black to create a nice dark grey color of a faded road. But not only did I not get an opaque coat, I got a weird blue color! I tried going over it with straight black, still the white bled through. 

Eventually, I tossed in the towel and went downstairs for the night. Today, however, I went out and bought some acrylic paint, and that was the ticket. For my next trick, I went about applying the Woodland Scenics turf. I stared with green fine turf, then moved on to patches of yellow and finally coarse turf. For application, I brushed the area with a coat of matte medium, applied the turf and sprayed it with more, diluted matte medium. 

While the glue was drying, I went ahead and added some grade crossing gates to Kittanning Point station. Next, I have the whole tree issue to ponder.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Finished two more houses

I knocked out another two Model Power house kits. The first one I took on was "Moving In."

I've come to the realization that these kits look better in darker earth tones. The last time I painted this kit, I used Floquil "Antique White" and I think it ended up looking a bit toylike, akin to a Plasticville building. Anyway, this time around, I went with Floquil "Tuscan Red" for the walls, "Antique White" for the windows "Grimy Black" for the roof and doors and Testors "Flat Olive Drab" for the shutters. 

As threatened, I only placed shutters on the front windows. Most of the houses I see only have them on the front, so this is prototypical. Also omitting a large portion of the shutters made the project go much faster. assembly took maybe 20 minutes as opposed to 90. All in all, I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

The next kit, "The Grabitski's" proved to be a bit of a challenge. The kit is a house that's having an addition being built. Therefore it would take more than a coat of paint to differentiate it from its earlier incarnation.

After a bit of head scratching, I decided to do some kitbashing. My brilliant idea was to turn the under-construction addition into a carport. I started out by taking the side wall of the addition and chopping it down to one story. Next, I used some Plastruct styrene pieces to fashion a footing for the wall, rafters and a roof. 

Now, the addition also comes with a wood floor and its own foundation pieces, I assembled these and stuck them to the back of the house, creating a back deck. I finished it off by adding some Woodland Scenics figures.

For paint I used "Grimy Black" on the roof, "Roof Brown" on the carport supports and deck and "Concrete" on the carport footing. As for the walls and windows? I wasn't in the mood to brush paint them. But the only model paint  had in a spray can was silver and Olive Drab. But then I realized "Who says I have to use model paint?" I grabbed two cans of Krylon spray paint and knocked the walls and windows out in seconds. I used some unnamed shade of maroon for the walls and "Meringue" for the windows and doors. As advertised, it was dry in 15 minutes. 

I omitted the shutters entirely on this house. Honestly I don;t miss them. They don't really add a lot to the building and are a tedious pain in the ass to put on. 

In other news, I have begun purging my locomotive fleet of non-PRR, Conrail, PC, NS equipment. I originally thought I would keep it to run once in a while, but the switch to DCC has made me rethink that. After all, I never ran these engines before the switch, why would I install decoders in them? Besides, DCC is expensive and I could use the cash infusion.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Finished Model Power's "The Sullivan's" Again

I bought another bunch of Model Power house kits at the last train show I attended. They'll help populate Gallitizin. Now, I've already built this kit once. But most houses in a given area are usually built to similar designs so I figured I could get away with repeating myself as long as I painted them different colors.

Anyway, assembly didn't exactly go smoothly this time around. First off, I decided to paint the walls Floquil "Coach Green," which is usually a big pain in the nuts to work with. It's quite watery and runny and as such, you have to slather on coat after coat to get it somewhat opaque. The result being the walls took nearly two days to dry thoroughly. 

This kit also comes with a bright red roof. Since this is a house in a small Pennsylvania town and not a pet-friendly budget motel, that had to go. So I used, you guessed it, Floquil "Grimy Black." I finished things off by painting the foundation Floquil "Concrete." The windows and shutters stayed in their stock colors s did the porch and chimneys.

Let's talk about the windows and shutters for a second, all 26 and 52 of them respectively. What a tedious slog these things are to put on, especially the shutters! In fact I damned near left them off and think I'll do just that on subsequent houses. Not only will it speed assembly but also differentiate them further.

Things really started getting hair when I started assembling the walls. This house is essentially two perpendicular rectangles. You glue one to the other, slightly off center. The roof of one rectangle has a cutout to accommodate the roof of the other. Being an idiot, I glued the one rectangle in the wrong spot relative to the cutout and had to pull the whole thing apart, leaving a nice bit of glue schmootz all over the wall. 

All in all, this house didn't turn out too bad, Wicked Witch of the West color scheme aside.

In other news, I got my two Pennsy geeps equiped with DCC decoders. Being older models, they required TCS "CN GP" decoders. These are basically two small PC boards interconnected with wires. They're actually kind of a pain to install, requiring complete dis-assembly of the mechanism. No, not terrible, but kind of a pain. But that said, it is nice to have another key piece of road power back. That just leaves my L1 mike and my PAs and the entire PRR road fleet is DCC.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Finished Model Power's Brewery Kit

First off, let me apologize to the entire world for the ugly color scheme of this particular structure.  Truth be told I this kit wouldn't have been my first choice but my wife saw it at a train show we went to together. Since my other hobby is brewing beer, she bought it for me. As such it's going on the layout.

Now, as delivered, this kit came in a horrifically ugly paint scheme. Mustard yellow walls, gray roof and chocolate brown wood work. 

So yeah, that had to go. The first thing I did was chuck the elaborate base, which I thought looked cheap and cheesy. The next thing I did was break out the paint. I brushed the walls Floquil "Depot Buff," the wood work Floquil "Roof Brown," the roof  "Grimy Black" and I sprayed the walls Testor's Olive. 

Next I did the usual song and dance of filling the mortar lines with grey poster paint. This ended up making the walls look filthy. At this point I hit the walls with some weather wash (probably overkill at this point), sprayed it with Dulcote and called it done.

All in all I don't think the kit looks any better. But then again it doesn't really look worse either. Let's call it a draw. If anything, the yellow walls and black roof kind of make it look like a Fitch Barrier:

In fact I may need to make up a "Fitch Brewing" sign.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Oh Brave New (To Me Anyway) World

As threatened, I got the last UP5 panel hooked up and installed in Johnstown. Now I actually have a degree of walk around operation and I'm pretty damned excited about it. Let me tell you, when it comes to DCC, I have seen the light. I can't believe I seriously thought I would have operating sessions using cab control! And speaking of realistic operations, I got a little taste of that last night too.

H16-44 #8807 brings the Broadway Limited into Johnstown

When I rigged up the new system, I hastily pulled all locos off the layout, leaving their consists behind. The main lines resembled a scene out of Atlas Shrugged. So before I could run some trains I had to clear the tracks. H16-44 number 8807 was assigned to the task. At first I had he hook up to a consist sitting on the outer main at Johnstown and back it onto the inner main and then pull it into the yard. Next, it was a move up to Cassandra to fetch another stranded cut of cars and bring them back to Johnstown yard as well. The final move of the night was a run up to Gallitzin to retrieve the Broadway Limited consist. This will probably be the little FM's only shot at pulling the Broadway.

To be able to follow my train around the layout and take full advantage of my yards and staging tracks was awesome. I am very much looking forward to full operating sessions