Tuesday, August 14, 2018

New Car Arrives on the S&C

C&A 13103 rests on a siding in Oakdale before going into regular service.
During my first operating session at the NMRA convention, I had to the opportunity to host Howard Garner as one of the operators. Many on the Early Rail list know him and his Cascade Western Railroad (and Cascade Western Laser). Howard is an excellent modeler and a very fine gentleman. A totally unexpected but very delightful part of his visit was the gift of a car he had scratchbuilt, the Chicago and Alton No. 13103. It was a car he used to get an Achievement Award toward his Master Model Railroader. The car is very fine with a complete underbody detail. Thank  you so very much, Howard. It is already in service on the railroad.

NMRA National Convention 2018

Two guest operators switch at Peters during one of the week's operating sessions.
Last week, the National Model Railroad Association held its annual convention in Kansas City and was attended by almost 1500 model railroaders. During the week, these brave folks were treated to clinics, layout tours, operating sessions, non-railroad tours and some just plain fun.
   
The Copperopolis passenger local briefly stops at Milton en route to Peters.
 Since the Kansas City area is home to the Stockton & Copperopolis, we had to participate in the excitement as well. We had two bus tours with about 140 people viewing the railroad. I gave two clinics twice each. One was on improving the performance of small steam engines and the other was on modeling the nineteenth century using the modern techniques we have available. Both were well attended.
   
A private car is dropped off on the house track at Farmington by No. 4. 
 The railroad was also open for two operating sessions during the week and for a special visit by members of the Layout Design Special Interest Group. Capping off the week was the National Train Show where one could visit and speak with many of the hobby's manufacturers. It was a hectic time for me but well worth it. Now it's time to get back to normal and continue building things.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Furniture and Carriage Cars

As just about everyone knows, the scope of a project has a way of growing. The one I just finished started after I completed the Henderson Carriage factory at Stockton (see my post here). I wanted a carriage car or two to service the factory. As you can see, the project did grow significantly.
     My first choice was the A. A. Cooper car shown above. I liked the billboard look of the car. It was also 40 feet long, a typical size for carriage and furniture cars of the period. This was due to the fact that the loads they carried were relatively light for the volume so they could build larger cars without increasing the stress on the timbers and trucks. Decals were by Art Griffin.
   
 My second car was to be a Southern Pacific furniture and buggy car, also a 40-footer, and one for which I had original drawings. It was the car which the SP used to represent the maximum height and width for travel over Donner Pass. It was large enough that the bolsters were lowered to keep the total height down. Notice how the body sort of nestled over the trucks similar to the apearance of some narrow gauge cars. I had the decal set for the Cooper car, some SP heralds left over from another project and the rest was not difficult to make up. While I was rummaging through my decal drawer, I found a few more decals and thought I might as well build up some of them, all of which were larger cars. This led to the following cars.
     The Abernathy Furniture Company was a Kansas City concern whose building still exists in the West Bottoms area of the city. According to some documents I have, these cars made it out to California in the 1890s so it was appropriate for use on the S&C. Decals for this car were also made by Art Griffin.
   
     The Santa Fe cars also appeared in California and, since several of my operators are Santa Fe fans, I decided to include it. It rode on Thielsen swing-motion trucks. More Griffin decals.
     
Kentucky Refining was a surprise to me when I found it in a record of cars appearing on the Southern Pacific. It was a 52-foot long behemoth (for the day) and delivered all sorts of oil, mostly for cooking purposes. The two hatches in the roof presumably were for loading tanks located inside the car. Another great decal set by Art Griffin.
   
The Samuel Cupples car was 50 feet long and another car which was extra high. Here was another manufacturer who used all the "billboard" space he could. I guess he thought bigger was better. More of Art Griffin's work.
   
The C. C. Comstock car was one which has intrigued me ever since I saw a photo in poor condition. Mr. Comstock was again one of those who liked advertising and apparently multi-colored paint jobs and fancy lettering. Applying the decals was somewhat exacting but they came out to my satisfaction which is what matters.
   
While going through this, I found another large car, the Menasha Woodenware 50-foot long car described as the tallest freight car built (of the period anyway). It was a kit made by Main Line Models and one I had forgotten I had. Since it fit with the theme of large car construction, I assembled it as well. Interestingly enough, one of these cars was restored or reconstructed and donated to the National Railroad Museum so you can visit it if you like. These cars, too, made it out to California.
     While a 50-foot car seems like no great shakes in the context of modern railroading, these "monsters" as they were sometimes called gave rise to editorials questioning the wisdom of such large cars on the railroads. To give an idea of what they were talking about, take a look at the photo below comparing a standard 34-foot car to the Menasha car. There was a lot of difference, especially in high winds. And, yes, there were even larger 60- and 70-foot wood cars tried out before the car builders wisely changed to steel construction.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Windmills and a Little Whimsy

The prototype Davis windmill wheel and vane on display at the San Joaquin County Historical Society at Micke Grove Park.
The Improved Davis Windmill.
Stockton, at least in my time period, was known as "The City of Windmills." Windmills were needed since Stockton was on a flat plain. With no elevated spots nearby, there could be no gravity flow of water, and before vast municipal water companies, the only way to get water was to pump for it. Hence
the mills were erected in almost every backyard, all grinding and squeaking away providing background noise for the city's business. Stockton may also have been known as the Windmill City because there were at least two manufacturers located in town: R. F. Wilson and Relief Windmill.
     The R. F. Wilson company had its plant down by the Stockton Channel not too far from where the rails of the Stockton & Copperopolis ran. While the prototype railroad did not directly service the plant, my S&C does so I had to have some of the Davis style windmills the company made. Fortunately for me, there are numerous pictures showing the popularity of the Davis mill and there is an real windmill wheel and vane assembly in the San Joaquin County Historical Society which I could measure and copy.
The Improved Davis Windmill as rendered in Sketchup.
   
     Building a windmill wheel is kind of tricky. All of the parts are small and must be aligned perfectly for it to look right. I decided to try to 3D print mine. It was my first project and went ahead without too many mistakes and starting-overs. I had it printed, made some decals and had a genuine [model] Davis windmill. Now I've got to print a few more to scatter around the landscape.
   
While building some other boxcars (more about these in a later post), I came across a couple of old items. One of these was a decal set I had made several years back for a Central Valley Superior Detritus car. Back in the 1950s, when Central Valley was building older railroad car kits, George Hook, CV's owner, made a few special kits up for his friends. One of these was for the imaginary Superior Detritus company advertising such things as diacoustic infusoria, frangible ceramics and so on. I have always liked the car so I built a standard CV boxcar and lettered it for the SD Company.

The original cardboard sides and the Central Valley car with the new decals applied.
     The other item was a set of cardboard sides for a Red Ball boxcar. Before high quality decals, screen-printed cardboard sides were very popular and really didn't look too bad. The Red Ball sides advertised the products the Red Ball company made in the style of the nineteenth century. Most of the Red Ball parts (no sides, though) are still being offered through Bitter Creek Models. I did not want to use the printed sides so I scanned them and made up artwork for a decal side which I used.
     These two cars represent the whimsy alluded to in this post's title. There were never any prototype cars such as these run on America's railroads but I enjoyed building them and remembering when I first saw the SDC car at age 12 and the Red Ball car a bit later. After all, as Model Railroader used to say (and sometimes still does), Model Railroading is Fun.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New Combine Added to Roster

Stockton & Copperopolis combine Number 16 photographed just outside Copperopolis.
Due to rising lease costs, the S&C management decided to purchase its own combine for trains running on the Milton branch. It is very similar to those used successfully on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad and is expected to give good service here.
     In reality, for several years now I have not had S&C lettered coaches for the Milton branch and have been using some of my old Moraga Springs Northern equipment. A note that a member of the EarlyRail io-group list wanted to sell an old Central Lines kit prompted the replacement. The Central Lines kits were made in the 1950s, perhaps into the '60s and were crude compared to today's standards. For example, the roof was a milled piece of wood which you were expected to shape into something resembling a clerestory roof. I had noticed a 3D printed roof offered by Eight-Wheeler Models and thought it might be a good substitute.
   
The 1950s Central Lines box with the "high-tech" (for then) roof. The 3D
printed roof looks a lot better.
The point of the kit is that it had very good sides apparently molded in plastic with decent detail. The roof was designed to fit on Model Die Casting Overland passenger cars but I figured that it could be shortened. The trucks were another item listed on Shapeways which I had used on my Long Caboose project a while back.
     I started putting the kit together per the instructions. The platform steps were all right but the end railings leaved something to be desired so I substituted Cal-Scale railings. Truss rods are of .015 inch fishing line. Before I ordered the roof, I checked the width of the MDC cars and they were the same as the Central Lines Kit. Shortening the roof consisted of cutting a piece out of its center and gluing it back with some reinforcement on the underside. Some Testors patching putty was used to smooth out the joints. It did not come with the clerestory windows so I cut those out of some stiff cardboard and glued them in.Since the original kit roof was straight with straight letterboard extensions, I glued a piece of styrene to the sides and shaped the ends to fit the new roof. Roof detail is from Grandt Line parts.
     The lettering was based on the prototype V&T 16 in the California State Railroad Museum. I tried something a bit different for the roof finish this time. In the nineteenth century, the roofing on most passenger cars consisted of sheets of terne metal crimped together. To simulate this, I applied a decal which had lines simulating the standing seams of the prototype. The artwork was borrowed from my friend, John Ott, who developed it for one of his cars. I think it looks pretty nice. Thanks, John.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Depot at Farmington

Although the steps seem to be floating in air, when scenicking is done, they will be flush with the top of the ties. An earth berm will run from the train order signal past the privy .
The Farmington Depot is now complete except for scenicking. It was an interesting project using customary model building techniques combined with laser cutting and 3D printing.
The 3D printed casings fit perfectly around the Tichy
window castings.
The depot has some unusual casing details around the upper part of the window. I drew up some 3D drawings of it sized to fit the Tichy windows and doors I was using and sent them to Shapeways to have the casings printed.
     In the prototype photo shown in my last blog (http://sandcrr.blogspot.com/2018/05/laser-cutting-and-depots.html), you can just barely see the end of a ladder peeking out from behind the depot. This was normally used to access the roof and it seems that most of the Southern Pacific depots had one. I relocated mine to the end of the building so someone might actually see it. The small "bridge" on the platform's end was used to span the gap between the platform and a car to aid in loading or unloading of it.
     Adjacent to the depot is something one sees at almost all of the depot photos, the privy. This one is a standard SP design and is made from two of the Tichy outhouse kits. The lattice work around the privy is also from Tichy.
The privy at Farmington and the model privy. It is a close copy. I realize that the model roof has a steeper pitch and the lattice work is square rather than on an angle. These were modeling considerations I took into account to get the "feel" of the structure rather than make an exact copy. In other words, I was a trifle lazy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Laser Cutting and Depots

Farmington depot circa the 1890s. Note the privy behind the lattice fence at the right and the switch stand.
A few months ago, I bit the bullet and bought a laser cutting machine. It sat in my basement for 2-3 months simply because it was too cold in my shop to work comfortably. I finally started working with it a couple of weeks ago and just cut my first real project, the Farmington depot. The prototype was a board-and-batten structure and was relatively small as depots go. Being smaller in scale made it a good first project.
   
Farmington depot. The window and door openings were sized to accept Grandt Line windows and doors. In the foreground is .010" thick styrene with the gable trim cut out by the laser.
Depot with scallop trim.
Evergreen styrene was used for the basic siding. I always thought that styrene was really not suitable for laser cutting but that is not true. I managed to cut the siding very smoothly, especially the cutouts for the windows and doors. The ends of the depot had some interesting scallop trim that was perfect for the laser. I made a CAD drawing of the trim and the laser made a good job of it.
     The baggage doors were not the right size for either the Tichy or Grandt Line doors so I did another drawing. The doors using were cut from 3/32" acrylic and the trim from a manila file folder.
   
Acrylic baggage doors with trim pieces awaiting paint.
The building is not yet finished but is on its way and the laser has justified its expense (at least in my mind). One of the selling points on getting the machine was being able to cut special templates for my wife's quilting projects. Naturally, the very first project done was some holders on which to wind quilt binding.