Friday, November 30, 2012


If you would like to learn how to weather your rolling stock, locomotives, or anything else for that matter, I recommend signing up to 'The Rust Bucket' forum, part of the Weathering shop site.
There's some quality work to be found there. What's more users there are very helpful and will give constructive criticism. Also a plus is that people are not allowed to give criticism unless they have show cased some of their own work first, to prove that they're not all mouth / no action so to speak. I feel that's a very good policy to have.  to go to the forum and sign up, or, to have a sneak peak of what it's about,   worth a visit at least.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

CP Rail GP38-2 4404

I just bought a new locomotive in the sale at Bromsgrove models.  An Atlas GP38-2. I thought it might be a good base for a kitbash, turning it in to another road name etc. I just couldn't leave it for the money, so it was a bit of an impulse buy.... I'm sure you recognise that.
However, I am quite taken with it's appearance, and a friend of mine has pointed out that this particular loco has been photographed and video'ed often, and indeed it shows up on the familiar photo sites etc, so there are plenty of references there. So I think I might leave it in this colour and roadname, and see if it can be superdetailed without too many big changes that I might as well turn it into a loco more useful for my usual modeling interests. As a CP rail engine I can use it at the club just fine, and if I make my module a bit more generic, I can even use it on that. one day we're in the 1980's SP, the following in modern day CP rail territories.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Conrad turnout motor

I've installed the first of 5 turnout motors under my module, to drive my turnouts.

I had a look around to see which motor I wanted to use, and decided to give these a try. They are supplied by Conrad Electronics, a German electronics retailer similar to Maplin in the UK. They also have a UK webshop, and you can order these motors in packs of 3 for very cheap. Clicking here will take you directly to the corresponding page. These are motorised drives, so not coil driven like a SEEP. However they are not slowmotion drives, these switch within 0.5 seconds, but switch off at the end of the throw so you don't get any 'sound effects' such as hum etc.

They also do not have an extra switch to control the polarity of the frog, however the actuating lever is protruding at both sides of the housing, allowing for left or right hand side mounting. The unused side could easily be used to actuate a micro switch installed next to the drive, for that purpose, and that's what I am planning to do in due course.

I don't know much about the reliability of these, so time will tell, but for the money I thought it was worth a try.
To see one in action, see the below video. It is driven here by a programmable DCC accessory decoder, which has the advantage of setting the power to the motor, slowing it down a bit. I intend to do the same.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New release Atlas Trainman GenSet in HO

Atlas has just announced a new release run of their GenSet locomotives. This is a newly retooled model, which represents a second phase Genset with a taller longer 'long hood', which means the cab is further forward and the short hood is indeed shorter. The long hood has provisions for dynamic brakes , hence it is taller.

The new model comes in a number of road names, and also has retooled and finer handrails. (this was a common criticism of the previous release, for which replacement handrails of a finer quality are available to order now). It is again released in their Trainman Plus range.

Pictures of the undecorated model are here, courtesy of Atlas. More info can be found at their website:

The new model is an ideal candidate to make into a correct model of the genset locos as used by the California Northern RR, which I model, however that road name is currently not released. It was under the previous release, but that had the incorrect lower hood. So for me , here's hoping this model will be released in CFNR paint schemes. 

We've got power

I've finished all the track wiring today, and have power to all track , so it had to be tested by running a loco. It is always a great sense of achievement when the first run is made, it's a milestone you've reached in a sense.

Next will be to install turnout drives and their wiring, that is the task I'm trying to complete this week.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bromsgrove Models Sale

Bromsgrove Models is a UK modeling supplier of whom I've bought a couple of products in the past. The service has always been quick, and the prices were generally very good.
Due to deteriorating health, and not being able to sell the business on, they are winding the business down, and therefore there are some great discounts to be had.
They have a range of products available, that might be interesting for the north american modeler. Go pay them a visit, you can still pay by card till the end of this month.
Find their address in the useful links sections on the right.

Nearly finished the woodwork

Almost there: nearly done with the woodwork.
I've added height adjustment to the legs, re-enforced the head ends, made leg pockets so that the legs slot into the boards, and added a shelf to one of them underneath to fit the DCC system.
Some final alignment work to do and then I can permanently fix the track and wire it all up. Then come the fun parts, running trains and making the scenery.

More carpentry work on the module

Work is steadily progressing:

Today so far, I've made a shelf and attached that to the bottom of one of the boards. On this I am planning to mount my DCC system and power supply. Here you can see my Lenz command station, which I received today, test fitted on it.
I've also cut extra pieces of plywood and glued these to the inside of both head ends of each board. This is to re-enforce these against flexing, and make them stronger. These are the surfaces that will join with other boards, and will also be the ones that get clamped etc, so I decided to re-enforce these while I am still in 'carpentry mode'.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Musings on DCC

The module boards I'm building are intended to also function as a small switching layout, and I was looking for a DCC system to do this with.  As I also knew that the majority of the other modules in my area are controlled with a Lenz DCC system, I knew I wanted to build in at least one or two  Lenz LA 152 fascia panels, so that a throttle can be plugged into the module when it's part of a larger set up.
I didn't however wanted to spend the full amount of a Lenz DCC system. Lenz has pretty much invented DCC, and is one of the best systems around, and carries the longest warranty of any system out there to my knowledge (10 years), which is re-asuring, but for a few module boards it is too much of an investment. 
However my plans slightly changed when I came across a demo set in a local hobby shop, available at a significantly discounted price, so I've bought this, a Lenz set 100, which is their top system. This is overkill for the module, but I will  install this on my home layout in the future, and use the currently used SPROG II for the modules when operating them as stand alone. 

For a comparison of the Lenz 100 to other systems, have a look at this article on Model Rail Forum.

height adjustment and securing legs

Here's a few pictures on how I've constructed the height adjustment (for uneven floors), and how to secure the legs to a module board.

I've used a couple pieces of scrap wood to construct pockets, which are as wide as the legs themselves.

These pockets are glued (and screwed from the outside) against the inside of the module board at the right height, and the legs will slide right in.

All that remains to secure the legs in place is to drill a hole from the outside through the module side, and through the leg and insert a bolt to 'lock' the leg, although I will try to do without that, I think the legs will be secure enough to use as is, but I'll try that out first.

Secondly I've used Tee Nuts inserted in the bottom of each leg, and used carriage bolts which have a nice rounded head to allow for height adjustment.  I might at a later stage hot glue some bottle caps onto these nuts, to have something a little softer in contact with the floor, to prevent scratching etc.  The legs themselves are made from 27mm x 27mm wood , and plywood cross braces. This makes them light enough to handle, but sturdy enough not to be too fragile. You could use heavier methods of course, but that is probably a little overkill, but also depends on the weight and size of your module boards.
I prefer them lightweight, as I won't be getting any younger.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Module boards on legs

Inspired by last weekend's modular meet, I decided to do some work on my module boards.
Today I made a second set of legs for my second board, that together make up my Wolter Springs module.

Here the are the pair of boards, on legs and test fitted for the first time in my dining room. (much more comfortable temperature than in the shed I made them in...).
 I still need to make slots on the bottom of each board to guide the legs better and set them to the right height easier, and then drill the holes in the head boards to that I can guide them together with dowels or a bolt and wing nuts, but it gives me a good impression on where it's going at this moment, and it's starting to come together.

Sub terrain mix

Earlier I posted that I had started to put my base scenery down on my home layout.
I use a method that I picked up from the 'Ten Mile Creek' scenery videos by Joe Fugate for my hills, mountains and other uneven terrain features.

The first mix of 'paste' that I mixed up followed the recipe closely, here it is once more for good measure:

4 parts Vermiculite
3 parts filling plaster
1 part portland cement
mix these up first, then slowly add water to get the consistency of soft (but not too soft) ice cream. Too thin, then add a bit more plaster, too thick, simply add a little water.

It is important to use filling plaster, NOT plaster of paris. The reason is that Plaster of Paris sets very fast, and the Portland Cement does too, so before you have a chance to apply it to the scenery, it will have set. (Don't ask me how I know, okay do, yes it sets VERY FAST, I had an unusable mix within less than 5 minutes of mixing, and that was my second batch).  I should have paid a bit more attention to the video (read stay awake as I nodded off while watching it :-)  ) , as it says to add a little baking powder (not baking soda) when using plaster of paris, about   a tea spoon of baking powder to the above 3 parts plaster is enough.
Filling plaster has a retarder in it, Plaster of paris does not, that's what the baking powder provides, so the mix stays usable for much longer.

Here's a picture of the mix that I made , and yes, this is the one that set after the picture was taken, so I had to make a new batch, this time with baking powder added....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Freemo meet Broadclyst, Exeter, 2012

Today I attended the local meet at Broadclyst near Exeter,Devon UK, where we had a fun day operating our trains on a layout made up largely based on the standards set by the local RS Tower group, and adopted by the NMRA British region. They are based in turn to a degree on a blend of FREEMO (US) and FREMO (EURO) standards.

Here is an overview picture of the set up, in the hall. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Logging railroads

A fair amount of modelers choose to model narrow gauge railroads, and / or logging industries, not in the last place because of the use of the Shay locomotives and other types.

A nice blog about this subject is   , if logging is your thing, have a look, it might just provide you with information or inspiration. Below picture was taken from that website to wet your appetite.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Napa Jct, American Canyon in HO

Below , a picture of my layout in the area of Napa Junction, situated in real life near American Canyon California.
The scenery is not yet finished here as you can tell a lot still needs to be done, but I'm posting it as a progress shot more than anything. Compare this photo with one I'll post in about a year's time to compare the results.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

California Northern DVD

I thought I'd share this with you. For several years now I have been looking to get more information of my subject railroad, the California Northern. In the past Pentrex has released a VHS video about this railroad, and I've never managed to obtain it. I asked Pentrex if they would re-release it, and the answer i got at the time that it was being considered, but had not made it on the 'list' yet.
So it was a pleasant surprise that I found the DVD version is now finally available, it is a recent new release, and of course I ordered it. I am looking forward to view it, and see the SD9 I've modeled of a few vague pictures, in action :-)

The link to the DVD is here.

Also if this is not your 'railroad', I would suggest to browse around on their site, you could probably find a video there that will be of interest, and give you good information and inspiration when modeling your model-railroad.

Scenery work

Today I started another step in the construction of my scenery.
I may have mentioned previously, that I like the scenery construction methods of Joe Fugate, who's video instructions I have watched and picked up some useful tips.
I've decided to make the same scenery sculpting 'paste' as he does, which is a mix of 4 parts fine Vermiculite, 3 parts filling plaster, and 1 part Portland cement.
This mixture is spread on top of my cardboard strips+ masking tape base (also from the same videos).

The first application of the (still wet mixture) can be seen in the picture below. I am really looking forward doing the rest of this hill with this method.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finally CFNR SD9 203 makes a short test run

As with many of my projects, I finally got as far as getting my CFNR SD9 project to a running condition.

Here's a short video made on that occasion.  There's still a bit of work to do before this loco is 'finished'.