The Roster

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's new on the layout?

It's been a while since the last post. Here's what's new new on the layout....

Picked up a customized American Flyer K5 locomotive recently. The prior owner did a great job customizing it for the Pennsylvania railroad.

The latest addition to the roster.

Marker lights, bell and headlights. Really well done work on this.

Whoever did this added the running boards to the headlight.

close up on the tender. Really nice work on this!

But wait, there's more!

I'm building coal loads for the S Scale America Coal Porter cars.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The GP-35 is fixed and back in the rotation

The Burlington Northern GP-35 from American Models is fixed and again rolls around the layout. If took a bit of detective work and some new power pick up leads, but the motor again picks up track power and hauls the train around the track.

The GP-35 hauling a string of cars. The Railbox car contains the American Models sound unit.

While a picture is nice - a video really shows how well it runs.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A milestone - all the track for the intial plan is installed

The west yard looking southeast. The three mainlines are on the right.
The west yard looking southwest.


I picked up a 30B from the Fall S Fest. It works great is fills the need I had for replacing the 4B and 8B transformers I was using.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The urban planning and landscaping continues!

A few more picture and a video or two showing the progress I've made on the town. I do feel like I'm turning a corner as I think there is more 'done' now than 'not done'. Scott's benchmarke question seems to be "can we game on it?". Scott - the answer is now yes, we could game on it. Not all of it, but enough for a game.

Now on to the pictures!

This is the east section of the layout. We're looking north from the south end of the layout. The wall sections in the foreground are from Acheson Creations. The near buildings are from Armorcast.

Pulling back a bit for an overview. The old Marx tower is a placeholder for now. Trying to decide if I like a tower there.

Cheaspapeake Stree takes a sharp turn into town here. It's a light industrial area.

Another shot of Chesapeake Lane, this time at the intersection with Butler Street.

The Plasticville factory has rail service in the rear with the ability to load trailers as well. The yard signs are from Armorcast. They are actually 'business cards' with their name and number embossed in the casting.

Another shot of the Plasticville factory. It marks the start of the industrial area.

Looking north from the edge of the bridge, the Burlington Northern U33C is bearing down on the cameraman. Better clear that track quick! 


A short video showing the U33C hauling a string of freight cars around the layout.

And another short video as the train rolls through town.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Examples of the recent landscaping work underway

A few pictures of the landscaping work underway on the layout. The current focus has moved past the Kwiky Mart and on the the section of town near the railroad station. For the layout I'm modeling the 1980's, so for this town, the area near the train station has seen better days. The conveinience store is the most modern thing around and it's an optimistic business venture based on having enough traffic derived from the train station, the local businesses and the proximity of some housing (the apartments are adjacent to the store) to make a go of it.

The businesses are definitely on the low end representing light industry and commercial endeavors that don't mind the close proximity to the railroad tracks.

Here's Chesapeake Road looking south. We're at the intersection of Butler Street.
Another view of the station showing Lackawanna  Street in the foreground.

Lackawanna  Street looking north. Miami Street is on the left where the State Trooper sits.

Similar to the preceding image, this shows the paved lot in front of t he Plasticville factory.
More of a street view. The 'grassy' area is a vacant lot.

Flipping the camera around we see the intersection of Warren Street and Lackawanna  Street.

The buildings are just resting on the table. I'll have to address the warped resin in the left hand building,

Lackawanna  Street curves around this building. While the public entrance is off Warren Street,  the freight entrance is here. These buildings are produced by Armorcast. They are intended for the tabletop gaming market, but they can work with S and give a nice change from the Plasticville landscape so common amongst hi-railers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Landscaping work on the layout continues!

Spent some time this week making progress on landscaping the layout. After scrolling back through the archives of the blog, it's nice to see the layout taking a more finished shape. But words fail where pictures excel - see what I mean below.

From the south end of the layout - the east yard and town.

The town fronting the train station.

The Kwiky mart

The police make a stop for coffee


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Landscaping progress on the apartment district

Managed to paint/flock the ground cover in the area of the apartments. What a difference a little flocking makes!

Landscaped with a couple of palms tossed in to flank the door. These trees are cake decorations that were based on a washer, had the trunks painted light brown and hit with a coat of dullcoat to remove the shine off the plastic leaves.  The car is Dodge Charger from the M2 line. The dumpster is a resin piece from the Armorcast line.

Overview shot showing the landscaped grass and river bank. The parking lot is gray paint with light gray fine ballast dropped onto it. The mottled effect reflects old payment that has seen better days.

MRC field grass installed between two tracks. In S scale, it's between 2-3 feet tall.

Same grass from a different angle and no rail car in the background.

I'm really liking the field grasses. Yes, it's labor intensive to install, but it looks good when it's done. I'll be slowing adding the tall grass highlights around the layout as the basic scenery gets installed.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cityscape - scene 1 the low rent apartment district

A couple of years ago I picked up two of the Plasticville apartment buildings. You likely know them - two story buildings that look like they have 2-4 apartments. It's an old staple of the Plasticville line and represents apartment buildings from the 1950's to the early '60's that captures some of the modernist and art deco elements that give Plasticville kits their character.  I want to drop them into the layout, but where?

After fitting in the track plan and the train station, I feel pretty confined with locating the apartments. There is an unused section that fits between the river, the railroad tracks and the convenience store. It's a little cramped, but 'compression' is how we usually rationalize this for model railroading.

Who would want to live in an apartment right next to the railroad? You can find plenty of towns where the rails run next to residential properties. In addition,  I can say is that I've lived in two apartments in my life that were in close proximity to the rails - one was right next to a major yard. After a while, you do get used to it. To some degree I want to model these buildings as a reminder to my earlier adventures and experiences. 

I assembled the buildings and placed them on the layout, adjusting them to get an idea of exactly where I best want to site them before I starting painting and flocking the landscape. We've got the river flowing close by on the north boundary. I'm thinking of squeezing in an access road to the rail yard next to the river bank. More a dirt/gravel track than a formal road.

Looking to the left
 On the south we bump up against the back of the convenience store. This area needs more landscaping.
Looking to the right
 Here's the view from the convenience store looking north toward the apartments.

Looking north

 And here's the view from across the river looking south. The river bank when finished should be covered in brush and trees providing some additional screening.

Looking south

 From a modeling aspect, separating the railroad right of way from the apartments seemed like a good safety aspect, so I dropped some brick wall sections from Armorcast around the east and south sides of the property to secure the boundaries. It also makes a nice divide with the backside of the convenience store 6' tall

Boundary between the store and the apartment. It's going to be a tight fit for the garbage truck.

The parking lot feels cramped, but again for modeling purposes, I'll be compressing the scene a bit to better fit the buildings into the available space.

The parking lot will be a crowded space when the cars and dumpster are added.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Landscaping with Field Grass

On a recent trip to the hobby shop, I picked up a package of MRC "field grass". I've tried Woodland Scenic's 'static grass' before and was disappointed with my results.  But reading the instructions on the package I thought I'd give this a shot.

Opening the package, my first thought is that unlike static grass, Field Grass has the consistency of "broom straw". Each stalk is rigid and will bend and  ultimately snap if pushed too far.

The instructions were so simple even I could follow them. Use a nail to push a hole in the base. Fill the hole with glue, then shove a clump of field grass in the hole and let it dry. I started with a few small clumps to see if I like the effect.

Some grass along the river bank

Same grass, different angle

Using these as a highlight in a subtle drainage swale. 

The darker flocking and tall field grass imply more water at this spot.

Lead in to the stream
This marks the soft groud that leads to the drainage stream. I'm liking the effect and will likely like the banks of the stream with more grass. This is sort of a 'dead' area on the layout. It's bounded by tracks and the river and bisected by the stream. It'll end up looking sort of wild with a lot of cast off railroad junk scattered about.

What's the verdict?

I like it! It's easy to use and adds a lot of detail to the layout. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

American Flyer's new cylindrical hoppers...a rant

I spent the weekend at the Carillon Railfest in Dayton, Ohio this weekend. Overall, the Railfest was a fun time, but for one really annoying thing. What, you may ask was that?

I'd acquired several of American Flyer's 'new' cylindrical hopper cars. The ones with "Canada" and "Alberta" emblazoned on the sides. Beautiful cars. Nice details, well painted with good high rail couplers...

...and scale wheelsets.

I attempted to run these cars on the clubs modular layout today. Now the track work on a modular layout can be challenging, but the code .148 track is supposedly capable off handling scale wheels. But no. I could not get those cars to make one circuit of the layout without derailing. It's very frustrating to spend nearly $70 on a car and not be able to operate it.

 Why in the world would you ship scale wheels with Flyer style couplers? I mean, hi-railers occasionally run high-rail wheels with kadee 802's that look more scale, but who exactly is the market segment that runs scale wheels and flyer couplers?

Lionel acknowledges they've gone down the wrong path. At the recent York show (Spring 2014) they indicated that future cylindrical hoppers would ship with high-rail wheels and that high-rail wheels would be available foir $25.00 a set. So those $70 cars are going to be more like $95 by the time I get functional wheels on them. I am not a happy camper regarding Lionel/American Flyer right now.

It's a shame, as the cars look great. But a car you can't run is not much of a car from a customer standpoint.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Progress on the Spruce Hill environments

I managed to get a little time in on landscaping and got the ground cover on some more of the Spruce Hill area. Here's a few pictures to show the progress.

Add a coat of gloss to the river to 'water' it up  as well as flocked some more ground.

This should off the river with the large rock. The banks need to have trees and shrubs added.

Looking to the left, you can see how the ranch houses back right up to the tracks.

Another shot. The fencing is temporary. Trying to get a feel if I like it there.