Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Threshing the Wheat

A turn-of-the-century post card advertising Case products gave inspiration to the project
As has been mentioned before in this blog, wheat is the major item shipped by the Stockton & Copperopolis. The prototype ran through huge fields of wheat, all of which had to be harvested and then threshed to separate the grain from the chaff. To be true to the prototype the model S&C had to have at least one threshing scene. 
The threshing machine assembled from the Shapeways kit. The wagon is a Jordan farm wagon kit. Decals are custom based on early photos.
This project started by assembling a 3D-printed thresher offered by Desert Canyon Miniatures on the Shapeways website. This kit is fairly complex with numerous small parts. The result, though, is a pretty impressive machine. I painted mine to resemble a Case machine of 1890s vintage. 
A Keystone boiler was used with steam cylinder and flywheels taken from parts from the scrapbox.
 The second part of the scene was the portable steam engine which powered the thresher. I adapted a Keystone portable boiler and added a cylinder and flywheel from parts I found in the scrap box. This unit was connected to the thresher by a long leather (brown paper) belt. The reason for the distance from the thresher is the fire hazard. The engine, of course, has a fire and any potential conflagration had to be kept away from the more expensive threshing machine.
The complete scene showing both threshing machine and portable engine.
Figures are from Faller.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Last Bridges Are In!

Duck Creek near Farmington Surrounded by wheat fields, this dry wash is spanned by the S&C.
After postponing building them for several years, I finally got busy and finished the last two bridges on the railroad. The first location was the trestle over Duck Creek which was just west of Farmington. Normally, Duck Creek was a dry wash which could be become a rapid stream in the spring rains. Since the S&C is set in the summer, it's mainly a dry wash which is how I modeled it. The trestle was built like the other trestles on the railroad.
No. 204 crosses Mormon Creek just east of Holden. The water is by Magic Water, an excellent two-part epoxy I recommend highly.
     The second location was the bridge/trestle over Mormon Creek. This stream usually has some water in it year around so I wanted to represent that. Most of it is dry, however, and so a long approach trestle was provided over the stream bed. There was a truss bridge over the actual stream bed. Fortunately for me, the truss bridge was 50 feet long which was exactly the size of a bridge I had built years ago for my last railroad in California. When I dismantled that railroad, I kept the bridges and so a 25-year-old bridge now spans the creek on the S&C. As is typical in the this geographic area, plants near a water source tend to be a lot greener than the rest of the surrounding foliage which is the effect I tried to present here.
     Tomorrow is my first operating session following the lightning strike back in June. Everything seems to be working. Tomorrow we will find out.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Lightning Repair and Miscellany

The finished scale test car. These cars were used to calibrate track scales and were moved from place to place by train. They were usually placed as the last car in the train just ahead of the caboose.
Most of the damage done by the lightning strike back in June has now been repaired and it looks like the Copperopolis Road is ready for operation. Last week, though, I found out that both of my staging yards had taken damage by the lightning. One of the yards was easily repaired but the other is still awaiting some new circuit boards which should take care of the problem. If they don't, there are other ways to fix the yard. In any case, I'm having an operating session in a couple of weeks which may end up more of a shakedown.
Scale car parts awaiting assembly. Two tungsten weights were installed in the
car to keep it on the track.
While I've been waiting on components and so on, I've managed to do a couple of little projects. My first one was a scale test car. Several weeks ago, I asked the folks on the Early Rail IO Group if anyone had plans and/or photos of nineteenth century scale test cars. One person did and, before I could start a model, my friend, Craig Bisgeier, 3D printed a car from the drawings. Craig was nice enough to furnish me with his parts so I could build my own car. Now I have to build a scale track, scale or scale house and maybe get one of those nifty Boulder Creek Engineering scales.
The Case thresher just waits in the field for the harvester to mow down some wheat to thresh. It will eventually be part of a larger threshing scene.
I find that I have a lot of time waiting for glue or paint to dry and building the scale car was no exception. I started on a threshing machine which was a kit on Shapeways. It had a lot of parts but it was a fun project to assemble. I decide that it would be a J.I. Case thresher and lettered it accordingly. It will eventually be part of a threshing scene in one of my wheat fields.
     One other thing which just occurred this weekend was a surprise gift from Tom Teeple. You might remember his Liberty Street module which was featured in the 2012 issue of Great Model Railroads. Tom has moved but he had several wagons which he had assembled over the years which he thought might have a good home on the S&C. Tom is an excellent modeler and these wagons are exquisite. Even a horse-powered thresher was included. Thanks, Tom. They certainly will be used and appreciated.
Most of these wagons started out as a Jordan kit of some sort and were modified into the kind of vehicle Tom wanted.
The odd item at the upper left is the treadmill upon which the horse walks to power the thresher at its right.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Joy of Antique Hunting

A couple of weeks ago, some friends were in town and we went antique hunting in the nearby town of Greenwood. In one of the antique malls, I found a like-new modern reproduction of a wall clock complete with pendulum and "Regulator" lettered across the glass door. I had always entertained the idea of having a fast clock like this in the room adjacent to the railroad so the off-duty crews could easily see the time. The clocks, however, seemed a bit too expensive for me. Since the antique store clock was priced right, I bought it.
      The battery-operated movement  was not the sort to work with my Mike Dodd (mdodd.com) fast clock but I did have an extra one that would. That movement, however, did not have a way to activate the pendulum. Fortunately for me, one was available at Klockit.com which worked directly with my fast clock movement. The new mechanism was mounted inside the clock and connected to an output of the clock controller. Surprisingly, the whole thing ran. Now my crews will be able to tell time in style.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Express Train is Coming!

The complete train of express cars stands at Oakdale awaiting a locomotive.
In the nineteenth century, the U.S. Post Office did not handle parcels, only letters. If you wanted to ship something, your choices were freight (wagon or railroad) or by express. The express companies were many (Wells Fargo, American, Southern, Adams, etc.) and each pretty much handled its own territories. Shipping by express was a little more expensive but your item was insured and did receive better handling than shipping freight. It usually arrived sooner than regular freight service hence the name express. UPS or FedEx would be the equivalent today.
     In the West, Wells Fargo was predominant and either leased space on railroad-owned cars or used its own cars. Railroads pooled express cars over their respective tracks to facilitate the movement of the merchandise. In the string of cars pictured above, four separate railroads are represented, each with its own car representing such a pooling operation.
     The Stockton & Copperopolis car is a brass import of unknown origin. I suspect that it was once part of a Golden Spike set as the car's prototype appears to be very much like the Central Pacific's supply car at Promontory in 1869. I painted it to match my other S&C cars.
The Santa Fe car was scratchbuilt while the Central Pacific car was kitbashed from a Labelle kit.
         The Santa Fe car is modeled after AT&SF drawings depicted in one of the Santa Fe Historical Society's books and also in Model Railroader. Styrene makes up the body while the doors were laser cut. A Model Die Casting passenger car floor is also used. The roof was 3D printed by Eightwheeler Models, a shop in Shapeways.com. It was designed to represent the broken bullnose end roof popular in the 1880s and to fit on an MDC passenger car. The end railings of the car are etched brass from eightwheelermodels.com. They are designed to fit on the MDC floor and include the uncoupling handle for Miller hooks. Central Valley trucks are used.
     The Central Pacific car was based on a CP drawing in the California State Railroad Museum files. The basis of the car is a Labelle baggage car. I relocated the doors to match the CP car and used an MDC roof. While I suspect the car body was more likely painted a Pullman brown, I wanted the contrast of the different railroads and so used green.
Both of these cars were constructed from Westwood parts and Evergreen styrene passenger car siding.
    The MSN Wells Fargo car was built around 20+ years ago used Westwood windows and doors with styrene sides. The MDC roofs and floors were used being modified to fit the sides of the car. The rear car is of similar age and construction and is the rider car for those hearty souls who needed to get somewhere fast and were willing to ride at odd hours to get there.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Central Valley Models

HO Collector magazine, 2nd quarter issue of 2019.
When I started in this hobby, the first kit I built was a Central Valley boxcar. It still runs on the railroad. For a long time, Central Valley was a mainstay of the nineteenth century models offering great kits and a selection of excellent trucks. Last year, a discussion with Tony Cook, editor of HO Collector resulted in an article on this company. While this blog posting is somewhat belated, those of you interested should be able to locate a copy of the 2nd quarter issue of 2019 wherein my eight-page article was published.
     Central Valley cars are still around and can be picked up at swap meets for not unreasonable prices. They are decent models of 34-foot cars and, while you might want to replace grabirons and truss rods with closer-to-scale pieces, I think they are still good kits. In any case, I hope you enjoy the article and HO Collector as well.

Friday, July 5, 2019

"Will you throw down the box, please?"

Black Bart has the stagecoach cornered and is about to relieve the driver of his heavy Wells Fargo load.
"Thrown down the box" was the cry of the 19th century robber. Even though it's 1895, travel by stage is still dangerous. Road agents are still at large as seen by this photo captured by a hidden cameraman. It looks like Black Bart is back on the road or is that just someone copying his technique? In any case, no one was hurt and the stage reached its destination only minus the Wells Fargo box.
     Black Bart was a real person in California history who managed to pull off 28 stage holdups over a ten year period. When he was finally captured, it was discovered that he was a respected person in San Francisco society and his shotgun was never loaded. He never harmed a passenger either and did include the "please" after demanding the treasure box. After serving six years in San Quentin prison, Bart moved on and was not heard of again.
     The coach was assembled from the kits mentioned in my last post (http://sandcrr.blogspot.com/2019/06/mud-wagons-and-lightning.html). Since I could not find any robbery victims, I had to modify a couple of figures so they could "reach for the sky."
The track gang busily at work just outside of Milton. Let's hope they get finished and get the handcars off the track before the next train comes along
On a more positive note, the Chinese track gang is busily at work replacing ties on the Milton branch. I don't recall who made the figures but the handcars were built up from Tichy kits.
     While waiting for parts to rebuild the electronics destroyed by the lightning strike mentioned in the last post, I am doing some light modeling. Maybe I will catch up to some projects I have been putting off.