Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Engine Terminal is Now Awaiting Scenery

Still roofless, the roundhouse awaits final track testing. The pit for the coaling station is at left center. The short tracks on this side of the turntable are for MOW equipment storage, extra wheelsets, etc.
After the last few weeks, I have been working on the new Oakdale engine terminal. It has been a bit of bear to do that since there is very restricted room to work. To top that off, all the electrical has to be accessed by ducking under the railroad. When I was building the railroad, I left the fascia off until I was finished with wiring which made it an easy job. Now, the fascia is on the work area and it is not practical to remove it so I duck under.
Since the locomotives to be stored here will be primarily coal burners, cinders are produced and need to be dropped and carried away, hence the depressed ash pit track. In the background, Crown Flour becomes a new industrial site with probably another one to its right.
The trackwork went down easily enough except for the ashpit area which required the benchwork to be revised to accommodate the depressed track. Similar depressed areas were made for the coaling tower's coal dump.
Two curved turnouts allow locomotives into the yard. The box car in the background is sitting on the main line.
The power to each track is controlled by this
panel. This will help prevent overload of the
DCC system with several sound-equipped
engines all drawing current.
One of the side projects has been the complete replacement of light bulbs over the railroad. When I first installed the lighting in 2008-9, the best bulb available was the CFL but I always thought that the light was too yellow. Your eyes adjust to it but it wasn't right. I finally found a relatively low-cast LED 100W-equivalent bulb and unscrewed and rescrewed all 75+ bulbs with these 3000°K units. The railroad looks quite a bit better. My operating crews have not seen it yet but I like it.
      The coaling tower and sand house have both been constructed as has the yard office. Now I just have to get some scenery going so I can get this area finished.

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Roundhouse is Built. . . Almost

The partially finished roundhouse. Its roof pieces lie on the structure at the left side. Tracks from the rest of the railroad will enter in the wide space between the other turntable tracks. 
Since finishing the new turntable at Oakdale, I have been working on an old Model Masterpieces kit of the Colorado Midland roundhouse at Colorado City. It is a kit with sides made from cast dental plaster and looks terrific. Unfortunately, the looks are outweighed by the trouble to put the darned thing together. The window openings are considerably smaller than the nice window castings, the side pieces are of different thicknesses and so on. In short, it takes a lot of fiddling and trimming to get the kit in a reasonable state to be assembled. It finally happened, though, with the original 4-stall kit plus two of the 2-stall add-on kits coming together for the final structure.   
     The track was laid out according to the plans with each track being 10° from its neighbor. A few additional "garden" tracks were also laid for MOW equipment, spare parts and so on. To complete the interior, which will be hard to see, I laid down a layer of cinders. Before putting the roof on, though, I need to wire the tracks and make sure the electrical is all working.
The current plan for the electrical switches. As can be seen, there is not a lot of room for the panel. The wheel at the right controls the turntable rotation.
Since there might be in excess of eight locomotives in this area at once, I decided to put individual shutoff switches for the stalls. This, of course, requires a panel of some sort to visually indicate what each switch does. There is limited space on the fascia on the railroad at this point so I am struggling a bit to find a good place to put a panel. I have found a place but I may try to size things down a bit before committing.
Two of the switches which will be needed to access the engine terminal area.
Before doing all that, though, I still have to lay track from the existing railroad down to the turntable providing areas for the coaling tipple, sandhouse, ashpit and water spout along the way.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Danger of Estate Sales

Pine from Home Depot and drawer pulls from Amazon combined to create a workaday cabinet.
A couple of years ago, my wife and I were at a local estate sale. The owner of the articles in the sale was obviously a woodworker based on the tools available. In a corner, I found a box of partially built small drawers and pre-cut parts for several more. For $10, I took the box home figuring I could do something with it.
     While it was marinating on the shelf, my collection of Precision Scale and Cal Scale parts kept growing until they overflowed the available space. I had finally found a use for the drawers. Assembling the existing drawers was easy as was cutting a few new parts to make a total of 30 of the little things. Last week, I finally bought some more lumber to build a case for them which I finished today. Some label-holding drawer pulls finished things off. The final project is not what I consider a great example of the woodworker's art but it will hold my parts. Mission accomplished but through more work than I expected when I visited that estate sale. Now back to model railroading stuff.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Another Turntable

With the finished turntable mounted in its pit, filler material still needs to be added in the area between the benchwork and the turntable casting. The prototype turntable was built of cast iron with its distinctive lightening holes.
Like most modelers, I have more locomotives than I really need. My choice, then, is to remove some of them from the railroad so I can operate it without stumbling over the extra motive power OR build some place to put them. My choice is to build a roundhouse in which to store all the engines I don't need but want to have anyway.
     At Oakdale, there is a space which is out of the way but is the perfect size for a small engine terminal. This area has been earmarked for such a terminal since I started building the railroad. It will allow me to have my "overflow" area and, also, to build a Model Masterpieces Colorado Midland roundhouse kit I have had for around 20 years. The first step in all of this was to locate the turntable and go from there.
     My Sellers turntable was built from a Freshwater Models kit which was out in limited edition several years ago. I had provided prototype information to the kit company and they did such a nice job on it, I had to have one. Made with a plaster pit and cast metal base, it went together rather quickly. Installing in the hole I had made was a bit more problematic. It required two people, one on top of the railroad and another beneath the benchwork to put nuts on the support bolts. My darling wife agreed to help and, as a true gentleman would, I offered her the choice of positions. Climbing underneath a built railroad and trying to start nuts with my left hand (I'm right-handed) is a bit of a challenge but, eventually, we secured the turntable and leveled it up. 
Lines for tracks in the roundhouse extend from the pit. The turntable is based on a 60-foot prototype which is ample for the locomotives used on the S&C.
The next job will be to assemble the eight-stall roundhouse and try to get it reasonably aligned with where I want the tracks to go. A real engine servicing area requires a coaling station, sand station, water plug and ash track as a minimum so I have to allow room for those and then assemble the appropriate structures. With the company service tracks and a new industry track I discovered, there will be four more car spots in Oakdale which should add more interest.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Fan Away Your Troubles

The benchtop fan takes little space on the workbench and pull vapors through it rather than letting them settle elsewhere in the room.
My modeling bench has a terrific setup. It is located in the corner of my wife's quilting room. It's upstairs so I don't have to go to the basement and work alone and I can visit with my wife when we are working in the same room. There is a downside, however. Some of the processes we use to build our miniature world emit odors. They are generally the pleasant ones associated with soldering, painting and using super glue. Unfortunately, these are also odors which can lodge themselves in fabric and in the sensitive nostrils and lungs of non-modelers. To help mitigate the situation, I recently purchased a benchtop fan specifically designed for benchtop-oriented vapors.
The fan in its high-performance position.
It seems that there are a lot of processes (soldering seems the most prevalent) which could use the fan. The one I purchased was a Hako FA-400, available at Amazon. It comes with a carbon filter which should eliminate the troubles. It has a high rating among these fans and has two possible orientations, one for general air circulation and one for a more high-power application.
      Hopefully, this little unit will resolve my particular problem and, perhaps, yours as well.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Protective Shields for Delicate Structures

The polycarbonate plastic protects the bridge from destruction-by-owner.
In a recent post, I told of the recent completion of a road bridge ( While the delicate appearance of its members is pleasing, it also makes the bridge very delicate. I would be the first one to admit that I am somewhat clumsy. I could see myself leaning over the bridge or catching it with my long-sleeved shirt, all of with the same result - disaster.
     To help prevent the new bridge from being "washed out" by operators or, more likely, myself, I cut and mounted a piece of 3/32" thick polycarbonate plastic. Home Depot and other similar stores carry it in stock. Other delicate items such as signals can be similarly protected.
    This should deter all but the most determined bridge wrecker, at least I hope so.

Central Pacific 564 - A Review

The finished Central Pacific boxcar with Bitter Creek Allen trucks. 
When the Central Pacific was in its infancy, it purchased 25-foot boxcars with a capacity of 15 tons. The traffic on the railroad quickly telegraphed its need for higher capacity cars and, in the 1870s, 28-foot cars became the standard with 34-footers later on in the century. The little 25-footers lasted for quite a while (a few hundred were on the 1895 roster) with some lasting into the 20th century.
     My model was built from a Bitter Creek Models ( kit. Laser-cut underframe, ends, side and roof comprise the kit with plastic injection-molded parts for brakes, bolt castings, etc. A basswood frame and ends form the basis of the car with basswood strips comprising the roof sub-frame. Thinner, laser-cut sides, end pieces and roof are glued onto the frame pieces. Enough pieces are supplied so that either cars from the 1870s and the later 1880s rebuilt cars can be built. The roof comes in a style representing the original metal-clad roofs and also the later wood roofs. Supports for the running board slide into slots in the roof which simplifies this tedious task.
     The instructions are very clear with several illustrations so that is little doubt as to what needs to be done at each step. Lettering diagrams are provided so that the kit's decals can be applied accurately. There is enough decal material so that a car from the 1870, 1880 rebuild or the 1891 renumbering can be built.
I built my car to reflect one which had lasted from 1870 and had not been rebuilt but had been relettered during the 1880s. An interesting note is that these cars were lettered with even numbers only. Flat cars were odd numbers only. The reason for this escapes me but it was common at the time. Perhaps it was for a quick identification of a car type when referring only to paperwork.
     Trucks and couplers are not included in the kits. Bitter Creek makes some very nice Allen/California swing motion trucks (P/N T-29) which are suitable for this car. Also available are CP/V&T Kimball trucks (T-30) and Light Thielson 15-ton trucks (T-32), any of which would be suitable. Bitter Creek also has several other nineteenth century trucks, many of which have been remastered and look very nice. Kadee 711 couplers were used.
      The boxcar kit is Bitter Creek's P/N K-20 and retails at $25.00. I recommend it highly as a well-researched, well-designed kit suitable for any nineteenth century railroads.