Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Some Progress Made But Not Too Much

Downtown Farmington with most of the new structures in places. The roll of paper on the right protects the train order signal from errant spray painters.
The road past Farmington leads down to the agricultural implement dealer and the winery. Static grass has been installed in most of the areas but a few trees, a boardwalk and some other details still need to be added.
By now, I thought I would have Farmington's scenery completed. Unfortunately, my left knee developed some sort of problem which left me sitting around putting ice on it for a couple of weeks. By then, the doc had figured out what needed to be done, gave me some pain pills and, at least, I could sit and do some modeling. Now I'm pretty much back in shape and able to move on. The last few weeks were not totally non-productive, though.
   
The George Fowler Son & Co. car is an old MDC car while the flat car is a Rio Grande Models kit of a 24-foot Virginia & Truckee car.
 By May 1, I had scenicked the rearmost portions of Farmington so the town is starting to look a little more like a town. Since then, I found some neat decals for a refrigerator car and built that up using an old MDC reefer kit. Following that, I found an old kit I had forgotten about and was able to assemble two 24-foot flat cars.
   
The prototype Holt Tractor, a complicated bit of machinery run by steam and
powered by oil
One of my goals for this railroad was to show the distinctive steam traction engine which were made in California in the 1890s. Fortunately for me, the Holt Tractor (made in Stockton) was represented in a kit by Rio Grande Models. I built one of these up to haul oil from the Milton oil storage tank to the mines in the mountains. The tractor kit went together fine even though there were quite a few pieces. The prototype used small three-wheeled trailers with tanks mounted on them to move the oil. Rio Grande Models also made the trailer kits which have been assembled but the tanks have yet to be built. More on those when they are finished.
 
My model of a Holt tractor. It still needs to have some trailers finished to haul the oil but this is a start. The kit is composed of all white metal castings.
 Now to think up something else to do while the knee finishes healing.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Plaster, Cardboard, Painting and a Couple of Cabooses

Since the ground around the real Farmington is pretty flat, there is not much to put on a backdrop so I contented myself with low rolling hills and distant mountains. The Sculptamold will eventually be painted and covered with dirt.
After some family activities which occupied about a week of time which could have been spent on the railroad, I finally got back to it this week.It seems that all of the necessary buildings for Farmington have been constructed and so it was necessary to get on with the scenery. Cork sheets helped to build up the structures so they would be even with the roadbed. Sculptamold was then used to even out some of sharp edges created by chunks of plywood and cork. When covered with dirt and vegetation, the landscape will look fairly realistic. Cardboard strips were laid down to mark where roads will eventually reside. When the Sculptamold is dry, it will be painted the same bland color the rest of the area is painted.
     This morning, I went down to the basement to see what I could do about a backdrop. I have never made claims to being an artist and I only aspire to my backdrops providing the suggestion that there is something beyond the railroad. They don't have to be perfect. After all, I hope the visitors are looking at the trains and structures more than the backdrop. In any case, I managed to get the job done and am reasonably satisfied with the work.
   
Farmington is at the end of an aisle behind the photographer, or will be. Now it's strung out all along the railroad. Once the scenery is done here, there will be a long stretch of track with no unscenicked sections.
After deciding where each structure was going to be placed, I removed them and stacked them on other parts of the railroad. I had no idea that they would take up as much space as they do.
     A few weeks ago, I had finished a grain warehouse but wanted rolled roofing to complete the project. My normal supplier was suffering, as everyone else is, with being confined to his house. It took a few weeks to get the material but it was finished this week and that structure is now ready for placement.
   
Two S&I cabooses awaiting a train for Ione. Now all I have to do is get a couple of working locomotives.
While waiting for roofing and things to dry, I took a quick break and built up a couple of narrow gauge caboose kits for the Stockton & Ione. These were Grandt Line C&S kits I had had for a while. One of them was built per the kit with a cupola. The other I decided to represent as an old car which had yet to be fitted for a cupola. Both were readily assembled even though some of the kit parts are very tiny.
     At least the world situation has allowed me to get some work done and clutter up the railroad while I do it.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Keeping the Dust Settled

The county sprinkler wagon is ready to start settling the dust. The nozzles at the rear of the wagon distribute the water. The tank can be filled through the hatch at the driver's rear or from a hydrant using a hose connected to the water connection just behind the driver.
As summer approaches, the dirt roads of central California turn to dust. Any slight wind or moving carriage will pick up this dust and transfer to such destinations as your clothes, lungs, the wash drying on a clothesline and tonight's dinner. The folks in the nineteenth century were well aware of this problem and had a solution: the sprinkler wagon.
     While there were several companies making this wooden wonder, Studebaker was by far the leader in sales. Always the maker of quality wagons, the Studebaker folks followed through with the sprinkler wagon. Water from the tank would flow by gravity to nozzles just off the ground which would distribute flow in wide fans to cover as much width as possible. On especially hot days, the slow-moving water fans also attracted small children.
   
The main pieces were the chassis, tank, seat and nozzle system. Other parts like the brakes were added with styrene. Wheels and axles are from a Jordan kit.
 I have wanted to make one of these interesting wagons for some time but just how to get a good representation eluded me until I acquired my 3D printer. The model of the Studebaker wagon was based mostly on a prototype found in Angel's Camp, California. For details of the mechanisms, Studebaker catalogs were consulted as were drawings available online. I drew up the components in the Fusion 360 program to get them ready for the printer. After printing and some cleanup, I added a few more details made from styrene and brass wire. The wheels from a Jordan beer wagon kit were used but SS Ltd makes wheels of the correct size as do some folks on Shapeways. I painted it the standard yellow with a red frame and wheels. The end decal was copied from a prototype wagon.
   
 Now, the dust is held down on the roads adjacent to the S&C which makes everyone a lot happier.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Last Structure (I hope) for Farmington

This side of the building faces the main Farmington road. For some reason the prototype wall was angled about 20 degrees from the road. No picture of this side of the building could be found so I imagined how it might appear.
I really do enjoy building structures but doing them in the concentrated fashion that I have been the last few weeks makes me want to do something else. In any case, the last planned structure for Farmington is now completed, the Farmington Warehouse. The prototype of this building was built in 1874 as an assembly hall for the town but was quickly turned into a grain warehouse. The building survived into the 1990s or so. When I finally visited Farmington in the late '90s, it had already been razed with the only left being a foundation wall and some piers. I did have a couple of photos and dimensions from a couple of insurance maps so that would have to be enough.
   
The warehouse will eventually be raised onto a cork base to make it even with the track serving it. In the background are the rest of the buildings destined for this town.
The basic structure for the building is .040" styrene sheet reinforced with 1/8" x 1/4" styrene strips. N Scale Architect brick siding was then glued on these sides with caulk. I 3D printed the warehouse doors while the front doors were Tichy or Grandt Line doors. I figured that, since the building was supposed to be a hall, they would have a bit nicer front doors. After I had gotten everything assembled, I found a distant photo showing more windows in one side. I wish I had seen them early but I was not going to add them at this point.
   
The trackside had two loading doors with small platforms. It does look better than the cardboard box which was here.
 The roofing paper was made by Minuteman Models. I enjoyed making this structure and it will sure look better on the railroad than the cardboard box I was using as a stand-in. The next step is to start scenicking the area to look like there is actually a town here.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Small Structure From a Photo


The Woods Cigar and Newspaper agency taken around the turn of the 20th century.
A couple of weeks ago, while browsing through Facebook, I ran across the above photo of a small Cigar and News shop. These small businesses once thrived through the cities and towns of America and the somewhat fancy signage intrigued me enough that I wanted to model it. Although the photos seems to indicate that the shop was part of a larger building, I modeled it as a stand-along frame structure.
   
My model of the store. The interior photo is not very visible in this view but it suggests that the building is more than just an empty shell.
 My model was built from Evergreen styrene sheets and strips. Estimating from the photo gave me a structure of about 15 feet wide. I modeled it to be about 25 feet long. the interesting parts of the model included the deep-set window with the "Magazine and Papers" sign and the "Laundry" sign protruding from the face of the building. Of course, the main sign seemed, perhaps, a bit fancy for a small business but also added to its appeal for me.
     Construction was straight-forward using Tichy doors and corbels. The molding below the window was half-round stock. Decals were made using Adobe Illustrator and printed on an Alps printer. Since it is such a large window, I located a photo of a typical newstand and sized it to fit inside the building to give it an appropriate interior. While this small building cannot hold both magazines and the steamy atmosphere of washing clothes, many Chinese laundries were outside establishments and will eventually show up behind the shop. This little project was a nice respite from building larger warehouse and other structures for Farmington. Next, I will be constructing another grain warehouse, this one made from brick.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Long and Owen Agricultural

Ready to install on the railroad, Long and Owen will be a nice replacement for what has been just a label for the industry.
One of the industries in Farmington is Long and Owen. They sell farm implements as well as seed, feed and fertilizer, all of which, of course, is delivered by rail. Initially, I was thinking of scratchbuilding this industry but then found a commercial kit which looked pretty much like what I was thinking of. It was the Laser Art Structures George Nickel's Supply company. It turned out to be a fairly easy construction with laser-cut peel-and-stick parts. It went together quickly and was painted, lettered and ready for the railroad in about two days.If the rest of their line is like this one, I highly recommend these as good-luck easy-to-assemble structures which would look good on anyone's railroad.
     It looks like I have two more structures to build for Farmington before I can permanently lay out the city and start scenicking the area. Both are grain warehouses, one frame and the other, brick. Starting the frame building will be today's project.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Another Saloon

A small local saloon with no entertainment other than a mediocre piano player. The multi-colored cable at the distant left of the photo is  what connects the building with the electronics for the sound and lighting.
Some Farmington citizens are a little concerned that a second saloon has worked its way into the life of the town. The place is small, though, with only three tables and the bar. There's only a piano player for entertainment with the room upstairs is occupied by only the owner. It looks like it might be a quiet place for a fellow to have a beer and visit with friends.
     With the Coronavirus isolation, there was plenty of time to work on models. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been assembling an old Master Creations saloon kit. This pile of laser-cut parts was from the early '90s when you had to assemble windows from a bunch of tiny objects you hoped you could find on the parts sheet. It was tedious work but interior details were provided and a sound system with "realistic" saloon sounds plus lighting. I finally finished the thing today and am very ready for something else to work on.
   
The long bar at the Corner Saloon. Note the beer mugs
on the bar and behind the bartender.
Working on the interior was the most fun for me. The wide front windows should allow most of it to be seen when the lights are on. I meant to take photos of it before I glued the building down but, in my haste, forgot it. I did manage to get a few shots through the windows, though, which are featured here.
     Some bottle-shape castings were provided in the kit which were duly painted and installed on the bar but, in my opinion, the nicest pieces were the beer mugs made by Busch. These scale mugs come in both clear (for empty mugs) and amber (for full ones). A touch of white on the top of the amber mugs put a realistic "head" on the brew. A bunch of these were scattered around on the tables and bar.
     1.5 volt light bulbs are installed in the bar, under the eaves, over the signs and in the upstairs room. These are controlled by the electronics. I have yet to see them work but they are supposed to come on in some sequence. It will be interesting to get it all operating.
     A large speaker is mounted in the building to provide the sound effects which seem to be rather dated and cut as opposed to what might actually have been heard in a bar. I think a better scheme could be developed with the more modern devices now available. I will try that in a future project.
Another shot looking through the front door at the piano on the right and bar
on the left. Note the mug on the piano for tips.

     The circuit boards are quite large and will be mounted under the layout. Wires for the speaker and lights will come to the model through a hole beneath it.
     The Corner Saloon was named after the Corner Bar in Virginia City, Nevada at the corner (appropriate enough) of B and Union Streets. The original has been in the same spot since 1875 when Piper's Opera House, in which building it resides, was built. Although there were several years of vacancy in the 20th century, it is back in business. Drop by both Piper's and the Corner Bar the next time you're in Virginia City.










The oversized electronics are on the left with one board sequencing the lights while the other provides the timing and substance for the sound.