“Greeting Al, from the northern part of Wisconsin, USA.
This is my first contact with your blog, but I have read it for a couple of years now, and sure do appreciate your efforts as well as the contributions of all who enjoy this indoor sport. I have lifted many tips from your many readers – so thanks to all.
I, like most others, am retired and decided to re-set up the layout I had packed away for many years. The layout is pretty big – roughly 12’ x 16’ in HO scale. The table is constructed with 2 x 8’s for framing, 2 x 6’s for legs, covered with 3/4” plywood and that covered with 1’ thick Styrofoam for sound deadening.
There is an internal walkway for repair and correcting errant rolling stock. Everything is standard DC, but I sure wish we had the finances to have gone DCC. We have three steam locomotives and 10 diesels of various size and configurations, plus more rolling stock than we really need.
There are four separate loops individually controlled, including a street car run, an industrial switching yard, a commercial and town run, and a mountain run. We have fixed our point in time to be around the early to mid-fifties, and have not modeled this after anything other than our imagination.
We have a three stall operating round house plus additional service buildings. In the mountains there is an operating mine with an oar crushing operation, serviced with a separate spur. We have a major factory area plus a refinery. We have a small stock yard with it’s siding, including some meat packing operations.
The residential area is small but it connects to our downtown business district. The mountain area has many small “interesting” scenarios for the viewers to discover. We have on order, a 3’ x 12’ printed banner of a mountain scene from a photo, and this is to be most of our backdrop. I am looking forward to getting that into place.
We have done no landscaping as yet (that will come later) and very little of the electrical wiring is finished. The track loops are now functional and a few of the building and yard lights are hooked up. No swithouts are functional at this point so when we “play” we need to manually change the switches.
Some ides that we have incorporated as we progresses thru the layout so far are; using tar paper for blacktop roads. It works great and can be cut to any size, length, and configuration. Very thin pin stripping tape (from an auto parts store) can be used for center lines where needed. I do not have a steady enough hand to paint the lines myself.
I purchased a bag of fish tank gravel and some fake greens from a pet supply store – a lot cheaper than from a hobby supply center.
I also have picked up several fake flowers and interesting branches from Hobby Lobby for future landscaping use. I used a stiff wire brush on some old roof shingles and I collected the gravel in a glass jar. Good for almost everything including ballast.
Keith – My construction partner is named JJ, so thus the name of our project – the JJ & K RR”
And now back on to Fred – after his stunning last post, quite a few of you had questions.
Fred’s put together another post which I’ll publish in the next day or so. In the meantime, he also kindly sent in this:
“Hi Al –
For the ridge detail on my depot, I used a strip of the roof shingles inverted! The weathering was pretty easy: weathering powder in the usual places – dark grey for runoff from the roof, green for the “verdigris” that you saw everywhere back when copper was used pretty exclusively for flashing.
Although I suppose you could say that I’m really “painting” with it.I find that you can brush it onto all surfaces including polyethylene as long as you put something sticky on the surface first.
Some use fixative after they weather, I use it before. And while the surface is still a little tacky I brush on the green – the more the better. Just make sure you don’t inadvertently touch an area you don’t want to receive it, and if you drip any powder on anything else, blow it off before something touches it and it spoils things. I’ve done this with whole roofs, and by wetting the surface with a spray mister you can “powder” it on the damp surface really thick. It gets that lovely copper sulphate look.
In this case I made my flashings on the roof first, (of folded paper, cut very fine) then sprayed on (lightly) a very dark green/brown as a base color. While the paint was still wet, I bathed the paper with green weathering powder on the exposed side. Having already unfolded the flashing, I flipped it over and sprayed (fairly heavily) a 3M spray adhesive on the underside.
After 5 minutes of drying, I stuck the flashing to the roof, with tweezers, being careful to only press the edges so it wouldn’t curl, and then trimmed it in place with a very sharp blade. After all that I touched up with a little more weathering powder and a very pointed brush.
Having modeled years ago for architectural projects, what I find so satisfying today is the breadth of special glues that are available, especially the Cyanoacrylates. Having built furniture with it for years (you can leach the really thin stuff into a dovetail joint after assembly and then sand or plane the surface, I have a lot of the stuff around, in a variety of consistencies.
For modeling I have been mainly using the thick stuff. And because the only drawback to the stuff is its shininess, I’ve learned a technique I’ll call “spotwelding” with crazy glue, and “finish welding” with PVA. Allow me to explain:
On my station I used 3/8″ high ABS railings, which I bought in bulk. They’re too black as they come, so I usually paint them per my description above, only give them a light dusting with green powder, which takes the edge off the color, and gives it some color “scale” which I like. They’re light and fragile, though, and tough to hold in place. Plastic cement is likely to melt them, leave shiny glop on the receiving surface, and PVA is fine, but holding my hand on a model for the half hour that it takes to harden is not my idea of fun.
I should have mentioned my love affair with the other component of successful cyanoacrylate gluing – the “accelerator.” I get mine from Rockler, which is a fine carpentry outlet here. It comes in pressurized aerosol cans and has the advantage that you can give a very light overspray on the receiving surface without staining or damaging anything. because it’s pretty volatile it seems to evaporate quickly and leaves no trace of stickiness or residue.
Then I take the part to be glued (in this case my railing), and with a piece of wire like a paper clip I dab the smallest possible drop on the underside in about three or four places. As long as the accelerator hasn’t come near the piece to be glued, the droplet will remain liquid on it for several minutes. Very carefully I place the rail exactly where I want it. And the instant that railing hits the receiving surface (in this case the station platform) it is firmly stuck, or at least enough to hold it in place.
We’re not through yet! Because PVA offers the modeler some serious advantages, not the least of which is appearance, (the second one being the ability to wet it and undo your work if need be) I want to do the major bonding with it. It also allows you to fill little gaps which if dusted with weathering powder at finish, make joints invisible or more realistic.
So then I take a small bottle lid with some PVA “white glue” (I use Elmers Glue-All because it’s cheap and readily available) and with a small chisel shaped artist brush and a drop of glue at the very tip, start the tedious job of filling in the joint between the railing and the platform. After an overnight dry it looks perfect, with no visible glue.
Church Roof has the “Verdigris” treatment:
A huge thank to Fred!
And finally, here’s a question I see time and time again, so I thought it worth posting as I think it’ll help quite a few:
I’m just getting back into model railroading (HO Scale) after about 50 years. I have all the board work down and am now getting ready to lay track. I have one main question before proceeding. When I was originally into Model Railroading there wasn’t any DCC wiring only DC and I have no one nearby to ask questions. Do you recommend that I stay with DC or try to figure out on my own the newer DCC method?
Any help would be appreciated.
Please do post your answers below – and thanks to everyone who’s contributed.
That’s all this time folks – don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide – it’s the very first step to getting your head this hobby, whether DC or DCC is your thing.
Keep ’em coming.