Monday, December 21, 2015

Wrecking Crew

I continue to espouse the fun I am having building Tichy Trains kits as I work to fill in a few holes on my "need to have" freight car list.  I have in another post showed some work I started using their 40' flat car as a stand in for the F40 style flats and PE tank car.  While at a small hobby shop out of town that has a great supply of craftsman style kits I was able to pick up the Tichy 120 ton crane kit.  Pound for pound, this is a very challenging kit with lots of fussy parts and will require about three Model Rail Radio podcasts to finish assembly :)   I have become addicted to on line podcasts over the past year and find it fun to listen to folks talk about their modeling while I am doing mine. 

Anyway.  PE had steam crane kinda like the kit which given my time right now, is close enough.  I have the article out of a recent Model Railroad Craftsman magazine (will post once I get my hands on it again) that outlines the steps to make it more authentic.  I hope to give that a go some other time, but first I need a couple of cranes that were built in converted boxcars first. 

Here is the crane dry fitted together.  I learned a lot on this kit especially with the rigging...learned to read the instruction 5 or 6 times to figure it out.  I will be modifying a Tichy flat as a boom support car even though they offer the kit.  I need it to look more home built so this gives me the best option.  Brass trucks of assorted lineages were added for extra weight on the cars and two "fine" scale trucks on top of the flat.  Currently researching ways these were affixed to the car for transport.

The plan at the moment is to make a short MOW train with the crane, two flats, one take car for water and a converted boxcar to serve as a crew car.  I may even use a 90 ton depressed flat car to carry the Jordan Miniatures Steam shovel kit as part of the consist. 

Next, paint and decals...

Again, having spent most of my hobby model building putting aircraft and armor kits together, working with the Tichy products is like coming home again.  So much so, that I am gathering up most of my ready to run cars and putting them up for sale at the club to get more of these kits.

Here is the crane painted and ready for service.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Hart Convertable Gondola for the PE

I was musing over the SP Hart Convertable Gondla model I picked up at a show a few years ago and lamented the fact that I was using a 40 year old Train Miniatures wood kit to stand in for a very important prototype on the PE.  While not common on the Orphan Spur I can surmise some made their way there to drop some fill or provided rock for a building project.  I was checking in on Robert Bowdidge's Blog Dry Creek to see how his Rapid Prototype projects were doing and like a bolt of lightning...Robert was offering exactly what I was needing.

This is an amazing example of what can be achieved with Rapid Prototyping today:

First, the kit parts.

I lifted this shot from Robert's site, I got so focused on working with the parts I didn't get a component picture.  As you can see, the printer did all the hard work for you...glue a few pieces in place and install grab irons and stirrups , paint and off you go.  As for surface texture, it is pretty smooth but there are a few bits of debris here and there and a quick swipe with a sanding stick and things clean up nicely.

Here is a picture from a CBC showing you how the gondola could be converted for different loads.

Out of the box pre-primed.  I drilled holes for brass grabs and stirrups and installed them.  Brass rod is not included with the kit.  I also installed the brake hardware at this time 

You can see some of the clean up on the deck, holes filled and sanded.  Ready to paint.

Finished...almost.  I primed the model and sprayed the model with Tamiya Nato Brown XF 68 which is pretty close to actual PE colors in that range.  I then did some highlighting with thinned washes.  Decals were applied over gloss coat, allowed to set and then recovered with more gloss to seal them and get rid of the film show around the markings.  The decals are stark white so I gave the whole model a very thinned down coat of the base color to age everything a bit.   I'll allow this to dry out a few days before doing washes.

Here the finished car is at the quarry picking up a load of ballast for some repairs.

Side view showing some of the weathering.  

Overall, a great kit and well worth getting a few on your layouts. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

PE Photo Prop

In the never ending struggle to actually figure out the particulars of my Orphan Branch Layout I've successfully spent more time thinking instead of actually building.  So, finally put down the tank car project for a few days and started working on a 12"x 24" photo prop that I can shoot finished projects.  Seems a great way to actually get something done in a short time that serves a couple purposes.

So, using 1x4 lumber and a sheet of 1/4" MDF I set to cutting and gluing.

Here is a basic layout of the photo prop.  The structures are salvaged from a layout I took down last year and they will require a lot of work to get cleaned up and ready for repaint and extra detailing. All the buildings will be modified to better represent Brand Blvd in the late 1950's.  

Here I've scribed the tracks in the road using a Plexi Glass cutter and some files to clean out the groves.  You have to work slowly using a long ruler and smooth passes to control the depth.  I was surprised at how easy this step turned out to be. Pads for the buildings were cut from card stock and placed where they will sit.

Overall shot, now I've laser cut the building pads out of .090" plexi glass I picked up at Home Depot.  This is a great height to simulate the concrete walks.  Sand using a medium foam pad and clean out the grooves in the side walks.

Close up of the scribed railroad tracks.  Once these are clean, the whole surface is sanded with medium grit sandpaper to open up the surface to better take the paint.  If you skip that step, the paint will float on the top and when you go to mask the details on the road you may pull up the paint.

Low level shot to get perspective.

Closeup of the sidewalk in front of the bank building.  I laser cut holes in the concrete so I can put some small trees in those spots.  I think this will be a nice detail and add a bit of green to the whole end of the module.

I painted the pads with primer and then Rust-oleum Satin Fossil for concrete.. The lines were accented using thinned down dark grey and oversprayed with an airbrush.  This detail adds a little life to what would be a cold mono tone feature.

Overall shot.  The base was painted with a few coats of primer, sanded and then two coats of black and set aside to dry.  One more light sanding and then the road was sprayed with Rust-oleum Satin Granite color.  I find this to be a great representation of asphalt and being able to use a spray can insures good coverage and paint density.  Here you see the pads, with holes for for screws to fasten them down instead of glue.  In the future if I decide I don't like an area I can detach it and add something else without having to destroy the whole model.

Jumping ahead a bit, I've attached the pads and put down street lines using Sharpie White Paint Pens, also something you can get at Home Depot.  I was surprised at how well these worked.  The track was washed with rust Tamiya and then using the Silver Sharpie,traced the track positioning the point of the pen in the grove.  A smooth steady draw and you have a very convincing track detail.  I chose not to put metal rail in to reduce the complexity and since this wasn't going to be worked into a layout, it would have been more work than necessary.  When I photograph an engine I'll just run some wires to the wheels on the hidden side.

Another overall shot. The triangle area by the red and green buildings is the site of a future service station and sign.  The bus stop will have grass pads and a palm or two to set the scene.

A quick shot at ground level to get an idea of what shots will look like.  Once things are finished then I can start working with stacked images to get better depth of field.

Next, the structures...oh my :)

The Tuttle National Bank was the first structure to be reworked.  This is one of those pre painted Walthers Models which on it's own is a pretty nice deal for the price.  I spiced it up a bit by cleaning up the seams and proceeded to repaint it. The base model is grey with a wash to hightlight the details.  I used Tamiya XF 71 Cockpit Green for the recesses.  Then I gave the model a coat of clear flat Lacquer from a Testors spray can to seal the masking. Then I sprayed Tamiya XF-63 Olive Green on all the window frames.  Another coat of clear and then masked the windows off.

Here you see the model ready for painting. I also masked off the brick sides opting to give it a series of washes and dry brushing to detail it.  Being pretty much hidden from view, it will not require a lot of time initially.  One more clear coat and then I sprayed the whole building with XF-60 Dark Yellow.  Two good coats were applied and then set aside to dry.

Below is a shot before and then a shot after.  A few hours and a couple jars of paint and you have something more visually striking and more period appropriate.

When you unmask, this is what the model now looks like.  Next will be detailing and some light weathering.  There's this nice molded in shield on the roof trim that calls out to be detailed.  I picked up some nifty LED's with a Resistor installed that I will use to illuminate the building.  At the moment the plan is to construct several boxes for the upper story to have individual rooms lit and group of LED's for the lower floor.  Clear thin acrylic will be used to represent the windows and behind those, different window treatments or window signs.  Thinking out loud, the lower level would be the bank and the upper leased office space. This way I can add variety to the view in the windows. 

The task at the moment will be to get it to a stage that it will look complete in a general photograph and then later go back and add details and accents.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PE Tank Car construction

The box from Tichy Train Group was still warm from it's ride over in the Mailman's truck and I had it opened and cutting parts from the sprue before it got cold last night.  Wonderful little model, and with some modifications you can make a number of different 40' flats thanks to the stake pockets being separate.   If you do the standard car you end up with about 8 extra pockets for other projects which is nice.

This is the general idea for this kit bash.  After reading and re-reading the ORER's of the day, PE had only 40' flats of all different manufacturers and these cars were converted using reclaimed tank cars for the load.  While this car doesn't have straight sides like the kit, I have some grainy photo's showing tanks installed on models like the Tichy kit we are working with.  It would be easy enough to add new sides to look like the photo, scratched out of .040" styrene sheet if you wanted to.  Since I am up against a show deadline and want to run this unique style of car with the rest of my tank train, a few liberties will be taken.  As a matter of discussion I am still on the hunt for more photo's and builder's drawings of these tank cars so that some day I can do more prototypical cars.  Until then, stand ins will work just fine for m.

First thing was to build up the center under frame and make sure it's square while drying.  I used a small metal weight to hold things down on the work surface to make sure everything set properly.  Glue I am using is Tenax-7R which sets lightning fast and really joins your plastic together.  You can't wet the mating surfaces like you do with a Testors liquid glue, this must be flowed into the joint between parts and left to set.
At this point I put the under frames aside and then cut the center out of the deck and then glued the Bolsters in place per the instructions.  Since most of these Tank Cars had their center decks removed to better attach the tank to the frame I did this before continuing with the assembly.  Deck sides will be used as is, but since they don't have stake pockets, I filled the holes with Tamiya putty and set aside. 
Next I glued the frame to the underside as shown and used a steel bar to plumb the sides to keep the model straight as it dried.  Deck endcaps were also installed and later the Draft Gear Box.
Once set I attached the kit side frames and this helped line things up as well.  I made up some small sand bags using a pair of kids socks with sand in zip lock sandwich bags inside for soft weight to keep things level on the table as it dried.  Small bags filled with bird shot will work too.
Now right side up and dry, the next step will be to build the tank from a older Life Like Proto 2000 8,000 gallon tank car kit.  The metal weight that is included with the Flat Car will be cut up and parts inserted into the spine a bit later.  I need to figure out how much weight the tank will add to the overall car before sealing things up.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Photo's Found on the Web

Here is a postcard of Brand Ave a little further East then I am modeling, but you can see what space it would
take to get this kind of effect.  Great color reference for vehicles and buildings as well as street markings of the time.

Vehicles Finally

Mini Metals 60's Ford Pickup detailed and decorated for one of the smaller lumber companies that provided wood for the two Box Manufacturers on the Orphan Branch.  I took the truck apart and replaced the wheels and tires from a HO Jeep Pickup model I had in surplus.  Really fills out the wells. Next I gave the parts a knock down using super thin Tamiya light tan paint and then overcoated with light rust on the roof and the hood.  Next I used the same Tamiya Hull Red paint for the rust details on the lower edges of the body and then added some streaking.  The front grill, bumper were painted white and then washed with thin black as was the inside of the bed.  Decals were made on my ALPS printer and applied BEFORE I did any washes or weathering.  I'll be adding some pallets and bits and pieces of wood to finish it off.  This truck is a bit weathered given the time period I am modeling, but it's a lot more interesting then one straight out of the box.
I just picked up a few Mini Metals Bus models and will mark those up with a little weathering.

PE Gets an Upgrade

Have I said I love Tichy Train Group today?   Just got a box of 6 - 40' flatcar kits for a great price giving my PE a nice shot in the arm.  While not exactly the same car, these will still do nicely as stand ins until Atlas decides to do the proper prototypes in HO scale.  LOL ..    I've built one of these a few months ago and really enjoyed the project. 
While we are here, I found this handy guide published by Foothill Model Works regarding painting PE equipment.  Seems I may need to re address some of those Accurail outside braced boxcars PE Color Guide

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

And Even more on PE Tankcars

So, this series of Tank Cars are what I am looking for.  Built on the Southern Pacific F50-4 flat car, you can see in this image that this could be a pretty straight forward build if you had a lot of spare parts.  I'll be digging through my stash to see if I have the components to bash this up.  As a starting point I think the easiest way to go is to use the Tichey Train Group 40' Flat Car with some additional details, namely the wood bracing between the stake pockets that can be simulated using Evergreen Polystyrene strips.  Deck will need to be sectioned on the ends and new supports built.  I looks as though a 10,000 Gallon tank car cut down in length will work for the tank.  Difficult parts will be the strapping, walk supports and of course the handrails and handrail stanchions.  I figure painting will be the easiest part. 
Tichey Flatcar 
Tichey Tank Car

For the Tank, again turning to the PE Modelers best friend, Tichey makes a nice kit that has the parts you need, but two will be required.  Hopefully you can buy sprue's of the parts and not have to give up a whole tank car just for tie downs and stanchions.  More on that later.   If done right this car will be a nice addition to a standard consist, mixing in a few ACF 8,000 Gal Tank cars in for later service.  The included photo was shot in 1941 so they may have lasted into the 50's...well, at least on my railroad they will.  This is too good a shot of a car necessary to at least not try and capture.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A little more info on Tank Cars

So in my last post I talked about the tank cars used for water service at Arrowhead.  I have been contacted by a fellow modeler who may have drawings I can use of the flat with a single tank fitted version seen during the 30's - 50's.  Hopefully I will have those to post at some point.  In the mean time, what looks to be an easy project involves combining a 40' flat car with stake pockets removed and a 8-10,000 gallon tank mounted on top.  PE fielded tank cars and at the moment I am not sure how many of what they had.  This photo is a great illustration of this project:

Granted, this photo makes it look like a longer car, but according to the ORER's of the era as late as 1956 list the flats as being 42' long and have an extreme height of 12'9".  Both Tyco and Athearn both make cars that would be a good starting point, dressed up with some Tichy Train Group details and a Lifelike/Proto 10,000 gallon tank car for the load.  You will need to shorten the dome and add a few vent details but when finished, will make an interesting car.  Colors are anyone's guess but I have a few resources to check out.  I figure the car is either black or a standard red/brown, lower section of the tank black and the upper silver.  Lettering would probably be black.

ORER notes the series runs from 7314 to 7319 by 1956 most likely more early in the 20th Century.

Here is a shot late in tank car water service; a single tank car being pulled by an SW switcher making for a nice short consist for space challenged layouts.

Here is an update:  Reviewed the 1926 and 1938 ORER and came up with this additional Information.

Monday, November 2, 2015

PE Arrowhead Water Route

Well, my plans for world domination have been on hold awhile, but now with a nice kick in the pants opportunity to design new "Freemo" modules for our HO club, I think I can start moving forward.  Currently the club has the older two rail lumber rich modules most are familiar with.  Most of the modular systems were designed to have two or three rails at the front side of the module with a huge blank space in the rear for what ever you could cram in there.  I never liked the concept and until Freemo became standardized hadn't considered doing much more than my own system that could fold into a home layout sometime in the future.  Basically, Freemo has a single rail that starts and ends at the center of the ends of the module.  Generally 24" wide they can be any length given the returns are reverse loops.  These are designed to both run and operate like a real railroad having engines running in both directions.  Check it out on line, plenty of info there. Free-mo site

More to the mission at hand, I am building three modules for the upcoming show.  Our internal standard will be 18' wide with adapter sections 24" for working with other clubs.  The one I plan on keeping will be a simple straight section with a road crossing that will be modeled after the location of a PE Relay station.  This is a picture of a part of the Eastern Section of PE on the way up to the Arrowhead Water facility.

Not the most lush of locations, but with the crossing and the power poles and other details, will make an interesting module to photograph on.

Here is a shot of the structure in the distance.

Arrowhead Water operations could be a whole other very interesting PE operations layout point to point.  History  The terminus was a deep canyon to the north of LA where the natural springs were located.  The mountain side had a huge Arrowhead rock shape on it's flank which was the origin of the springs name. The area had a loading spur, a few structures and beyond it a resort that would be too far away to model.  The track wound down to the city were the actual bottling plant was located.  Here are a few illustrations of what it looked like in the 20's, what I think is a worthy modeling project.

This is from the track side, glass lined tanks on flats were shoved into the end spur and off loaded.  For those fortunate enough to have one of the Metro Models three flask Flat Cars, this would be a nice companion for it.  So far any searches for photo's of the model have come up empty.   Later they went to the more standardized ACF style tanks, none that I can find labeled Arrowhead specifically.

Above are some shots I found on line of a brass model which will really help when I get around to scratch building them for my layout.

Decal at one time produced by Custom Traxx Decals...still available but in short supply.  I think I will grab a few of these for my library and also to apply to an ACF 8,000 Gal tank car model as a fudge given the glass flats are too old for my modeling era.

Here is an old postcard I found on line showing the other side of the plant.  Possibly just the loading side could be modeled  with the sign to represent the building.

Back up in the hills, you can see a PE 44 Tonner holding a tank car being filled behind it.  I'm currently looking for more information on the site, but it looks to be a pretty simple transfer location.

Here is a sample model built for a lecture about making the Arrowhead Tank Car Model.  This makes things a lot clearer...which I could attend the class.

Big time score during my hunt for allusive Arrowhead Tank cars.  Still researching the scheme but WOW
A nice home built version, looking like a straight forward kit bash...need to look more at this one.
Here's a model I found on line.  Length of the tank is off, but nice to see something.

As for delivery, it depends on your era, but here is a cool shot of a 40's vintage truck you could build using a cab and chassis from a Mini Metal Works truck.

How about a series of road signs?

These lattice work billboards scream period..

Some images from the 100th anniversary of Arrowhead
At some point I'll get this part of the blog set up as a more cohesive post.  I reached out to the Pacific Electric Facebook page and these images appeared.  My modeling White Whale finally arrived!  Very excited about getting this kind of information that will allow me to finally model the scene.

the holy grail of Arrowhead water loading.  LOL  Given the information I was able to do a quick model of the water pipe in preperation for a full blown 3D model I will print.  The site had two tracks, one for loading and the other for staging I suppose and had three stations.  Combined with some overhead shots I have a basic idea of what the area was like and how to model it.

The stand was turned out of steel rod stock with brass and styrene.  Funny how such a small detail can become such a big deal.