samedi 21 juillet 2018

I'am still alive!

It's been a long time since I've published here! Too long...But I'am very busy modelling  (alas not for me!) but for the main french modeling magazine for which I'am a regular contributor.
Every year I published a special issue on different subjects (A First Layout, Modelling the 70's, the 50's, etc...).
You could see a photo of this year subject below. But I can't tell more about...Just French subject, HO scale, beginner in mind...It will be in newstands in late september. But it was a lot of work to build a complete street, shooting hundreds of photos, writing to fill a 100 page issue. It still lack some final details, but..It's vacation time now!

I'll find some time during the vacations to read again (and again...) the "bible" for any Santa Fe Los Angeles enthusiast. Very inspirationnal at least...
Have a good holidays. See ya'

dimanche 29 avril 2018

What's on the worbench this week ?

This last two months were quiet, at least regarding my own modelling. I'am mainly at finishing a batch of flatcars. The one still in bare brass is a Southwind Erie AAR/WPB 53'6" which is very close to a Santa Fe model. I've modified some minor details and he's waiting for priming and painting. The two others are more on the finishing lane. The middle one is a SHS GSC and the first in the row is an American model 46 footer that will mimic a 44'6. Of course all will wear the Santa Fe uniform! As usual in S scale, they're not exact replicas for the ATSF prototypes but close enough and it's OK for me.
I've recently discover that the ATSF GSC have plenty of hooks between the stake pockets. It's a detail I've missed for years and now I realize how important they are. But those were very tiny pieces and my attempts at creating them with brass were unsuccessful. So, they were create in 3 D and printed by Shapeways and yet to be installed. But thanks Hi-Tech for the help!
See ya'

The micro 3 D printed Hooks.

mardi 20 mars 2018

Proto 64?

We've talked yesterday with a friend about Proto-Modelling. He's involved, here in France, in a beautiful layout made in Proto 87 and he's also one of the few remaining S scalers in France, specializing in Rio Grande. And we chatted about the subject of Proto 64. I was tempted some years ago by the challenge and bought some wheels from NWSL. This resurfaced some time ago. While interesting the idea proved to be too challenging, at least for me and my limited capacities. This is not the rolling stock, track or turnouts that made an unsolvable equation. Even diesel engines are not too much of a problem, but I love steam engines. And it's another affair! You can easily guess the work involved in modifying the few existing steam engines or sourcing wheels to do specific models, not speaking of three point suspension... And no supplier support the Proto 64 in any way as opposed to P 48. That said it's not an unreachable goal as our english colleagues of the S Scale Model Railway Society proved regularly. But we reached the conclusion with my friend that it's too much for me and my friend agreed, too much for him also!
And in fact, it's not the width of the wheel tread that bother me or the height of the flange, but the profile and appearance of the wheels.
I 'am not satisfy with the look of the SHS and American Models  wheels. The solution?  I've changed all of them with SSLS (sadly no longer available) or NWSL ones. Their appearance is much more satisfying and I finally forgot the P 64 way.  And it's better! The present NASG standards are finally  good enough for me and much better than the equivalent RP 25 for HO. No more wandering, I must stay stick on my goal...
See ya'

dimanche 4 mars 2018

What's on the workbench this week?

This past two weeks were a bit quiet on the modeling front (at least for my own modeling). I've finished installing Sergent couplers on the steam engine, coach/caboose, and boxcars that needed replacement. What's could have been an easy task take some hours due to the need to paint, assemble, and install the couplers. It's one of the last things we do on a model, and it's sometime a pain. Broken parts, some paint touch up on a model you do years ago and the color doesn't not match, and so on. And some are still on the workbench needing some milling to fit (Cryer Gray Foundry war emergency gondola and River Raisin Models 44 tonner as example). Gone are Kadee 5's, 802's  and Accurail couplers I've formerly used on my rolling stock!
Apart form this I've two boxcars one Reading Xmu (Southwind Models) and ATSF Bx-27 waiting for some detailling and wheathering. But it's the fun part of the job. See ya'

lundi 19 février 2018

Some thoughts around a track plan

Most of the readers of this blog may think I'am primarily a rolling stock modeller as most of the posts recently showed this kind of stuff. And the dreamed layout is just a dream or words... In fact no!
I've drawn the basic track plan for this project around 2013/2014 and polished it ever since. It's not that easy to fit even such a small station into a 12 ' X 12 ' room adjacent to my office/workshop. At first, all the layout occupy only this room. But in 2015, modifying the track plan to include the San Jacinto wye and a staging yard led me to change my plan and the initial drawing. The track to the staging area and one tail of the wye then passed through the wall into my office/workshop. It was one of the wisest decision I've made for years (apart staying in S scale along all of these years!). It made things flowing...or something like that. I know that most of my north american readers may be horryfied by the small size of the room but at first it was planned for a 1/35 scale 2 feet logging layout. In an another life, I was very involved in narrow guage circles till the early 2000 even if I've gathered 1/64 models since 1995 and built some exhibition modules in this scale (see my earliest posts). I could have had larger when I've had my house built but now it's over. I've to cope with what I have and it's 12' x 12'!
At  a second glance, I'am quite happy having not a too big surface to occupy. I don't have that much time to spend in my own modelling and it forces me to be inventive.
Back at the track plan now, I've worked on it with some ATSF station plat obtained from the Santa Fe Historical & Modelling Society (Western Archives) from which I'am a member, one from the 1920's, the other from the late 50's. Add to this an insurance map, photos, books, etc...And here's my layout track plan!
The 1948-1952 track plan have some differences from the one below. The main is that the turnout at the end of the house track was removed probably during the 1948 station remodeling and a new curved storage track was added. Two things I've tried to mimic. The main compromise made was to have a curved turnout at the station entrance. Clearly, I'am not satisfied with this feature but I could no do without.
Another compromise made was to reverse the wye to fit in the available space.
Still too small my tiny station!? Not so, the 1942 Los Angeles Division System Employee Timetable listed only sixteen 40' cars capacity for the sidings at the San Jacinto station. I'am in...
As you could see in the photos below, the staging yard is alive. I've still to permanently lay the track and turnouts, wire the whole but I wish to clean my shelve of old projects and built a small fleet for two consist before. This is my first task at present.. But the benchwork in the layout room, the lighting, the fascia or part of it, etc....are done and just wait for the tracks. We'll talked later in some other posts about all of this...
See ya'

Station plat from 1916 (copy from Hanson and Jennings book, The San Jacinto Valley Railway-All right reserved)

The present trackplan with the third staging track omitted. D, the San Jacinto Packing Co is not drawn, I still have to determine the size of the warehouse.
The staging yard is located just above my workbench.

The storage space of my workshop where part of my paints, tools, waiting projects are located.

Storage space everywhere! The projects queue is partially here (I've since made some progress till then...).

A LED strip give light to the staging tracks.

Jump the cat, the track lifter!

dimanche 11 février 2018

Building a fleet-Part 8

Pennsy, at last! I could not make a consist or at least build a small fleet for my layout without having some Pennsylvania Railroad cars. In the late 40's and early 50's, this company have the largest fleet in the US, equal or nearly equal to the New York Central rival. The ATSF and SP were quite distant second. This said, it seems normal to have Pennsy freight cars everywhere in fair number even on my little So-Cal line. One photo of the 505/506 out of San Bernardino clearly show a Pennsy 50 ft round roof car. Difficult to say if it's an automobile box or not. I've this one on hand, a River Raisin X 33a, already painted when bought and that I wheathered in 2015/2016, so... Couplers and air hoses added, he's now ready for service and it fit the bill. I've two X 29 kit in stock and maybe I could search for a 40 ft X 31 round roof one day (alas the X 26 gons seems to be a tad too long), and my PRR fleet will be OK for me. Piece after piece, my little fleet is taking shape!
See ya'

mardi 6 février 2018

Building a fleet-Part 7

I'am still cleaning the shelves off of the many projects on hold sometimes for years. This Overland brass M 53 boxcar is one of them. It's the kind of box I must have for two reasons. First, it's a real signature boxcar that could be seen everywhere across United States, and due to the B & O sizeable freight car fleet I must have one or two cars of this road (not only a M 53). And second, I've photos of one in a San Jacinto district train. He's typical of a one evening wheathering project. I've bought it decorated, and I've just made the chipping paint and dusting from photos I've gathered on the web. The dusting was made with enamel wash from AK Interactive (one of their dust products. Sadly I don't remember which one...). The finishing done recently was just adding a pair of Sergent couplers, San Juan On3 brake hose, painting and wheathering them, cleaning this little boy a bit and said "good for service"!
See ya'

dimanche 4 février 2018

Scenery Trials

The scenery in the San Jacinto valley is quite different from many places in Southern California as it's mainly agricultural and much more greenier. But here and there along the route typical So-Cal semi-arid scenery take place. I know I've to combine all those elements into my layout. After some limited tests, I've found time this week to do some more trials on a larger scale and used the board with track already in place to do so. The dimensions are 65 x 25 centimeters but the scenery will take place only on the two strips along the track. One side will have general scenery, the other a potatoe field with different stage of crop. So far I've only done a part of the general scenery with not much consistency along this strip. I've tried to crammed much of the cases I could encounter (dried weeds, not so dried weeds, weeds along the tracks, in tracks, etc...).  But it helps as I better see now which way to use or not. Work is halted at present in this state for some times. See ya'

Here and above, some early steps with the basic soil.

A bit dryer

More weedy and greenier like near San Jacinto station (as seen in some photos).

Close up of dried bushes (a bit blurry sorry...)

Overal view

lundi 29 janvier 2018

Building a fleet-Part 6-Tank cars

I need some tank cars for my consists. There were some oil dealers along the district : at least two in Hemet and  one in San Jacinto, and probably some in Perris. Photos evidences shows one or two tank in typical consist of the days, so... S scale is blessed with a nice selection of classic tank cars (thanks to the NASG brass comitee/Overland, WA Drake, Southwind...), curiously as so many lack in some categories...
Like too many of my freight cars, the story began quite a long time ago. Maybe this former SP tank was decalled as Sinclair (CDS transfer) in 2005/2006 and very lightly wheathered. I've also changed the original trucks as mine didn't tracked well with some from American Models. In 2015, it was re-wheathered a bit and I finished it only this week-end. Black is a very difficult color to wheather (light colors like yellow are generaly easier) and it was the case here. I've spent the time of two or three boxcars wheathering on this one only!
I don't have that much photos of real wheathered tank cars in colors so It was a process of trial and errors, mixing acrylic (black), oils (black, raw umber), and enamels paints (AK fuel stains 025, shafts and bearings grease 7012) for the dome and oil traces only. I hope there was a Sinclair dealer along the line to justify the efforts! The next tank will be a yellow Shell 10000 gal tanker with custom decals. I hope it will be easier to do...
See ya'

dimanche 28 janvier 2018

Building a fleet-Part 5

No I don't have only boxcars! If they were during my period the mainstay of many roads (except with some specialized roads like the Norfolk and Western where hoppers averaged two third of the fleet), I have to have some other kind of rolling stock for the branch. I will discuss later, specifically in an other post, how and why I build my modest fleet like I do. At the moment, I'am concentrated to, at least, build a consist or two to run on my layout when this will be possible and try to finish the too many projects I've started years ago. So that's why I've kept this GS gondola in my collection. At one time in the late 90's I've had two more of this kind but in Rio Grande livery. I've sold them at one point in the early/mid 2000 to a friend more involved with this rocky mountain road.
. Two reasons why I kept this one: I must have cars from neighboring southern California roads (SP, UP), and I must have cars for a customer that ship or receive gravel/construction material close to State street crossing on the tail of the san Jacinto wye. This one combined both. Otherwise, the car is a very nice W.A Drake GS Gondola factory painted that I wheathered with my usual techniques. I really miss this brass importer and hope I could gather one of their tank car in the future.
See ya'
A side

B side

jeudi 25 janvier 2018

Something different...again

 It was time to finish this little tractor! Like the water crane, it gathered dust for some time on my shelves unfinished. I began modified and wheathered it in 2015, and due to many good reasons, work on it halted. This is one of the week jobs and I nearly finish it. Maybe some more dusting on the wheels, a chain or rope on the back, some touch up paint on scratches, but not much more...
It's one of the Case DC/DCS issued in 2006 by SpecCast and it's easily the most detailled vintage tractor available in 1/64 th (there's a wealth of stunning modern die cast models but only toys for old tractors). Here, despite some details, we have a real model, not a toy and it's easy to find some on the web. The real ones were produced from 1939 to 1953 so they fit in my time frame well (some other brothers wait to load one of my flat car). The major change I did on it was to remove the horrible cast steering wheel and installed an etched one from Tractorfab.  I removed some levers and made new ones with needles, I've thinned the exhaust upper valve and added a starter crank and that's pretty all I've done in term of modifications to this little beast. After a coat of matt varnish, I wheathered it with some AK Interactive products (dust, grime). The rubber wheels were only sanded to obtain this effect. Last but not the least, an oil painted driver was added. I'am not completely satisfied with him as I've not painted a figure with oil paints for nearly seventeen years and it shows! I need to re-practice but there some much to do, I'll see...
See ya'.


mardi 23 janvier 2018

Something different...

In the flow of cars, it's time for a break and something different. I've took some time this past week-end to finish the concrete pad for my River Raisin Poage water crane. The crane was repainted and wheatered in 2016. Before she was dismantled from the support plate, I know that I need a concrete one to fit. That's what I did. The concrete pad is a 3 mm MDF sheet with Monster Modelworks Cocnrete glued on it. The edge were slightly rounded and the whole was primed with Citadel Corax White primer (a really good primer used by wargamer). Then two thin coats of warm gray acrylic, a followed by a wash of turpentine with a hint of black and raw umber, when dry, a dry brush with undiluted warm gray and Naple yellow, and the basic wheathering was done. The crane was assembled with the pad and the crane base was wheathered with some rust wash. Add some greenish tone here and there for the moss and it was finish.
But why a Water Crane? Did a little terminal ever had such a water crane? Such a detail scream "steam" to me and I'll have steam on my layout. But in the late 40's and early 50's the closest watering point on the district was in Perris. Some photos were made there, and what a marvelous atmosphere that I want to duplicate on my layout. I really want this kind of detail for long. I've bought this crane from BTS back in 1998 during a visit to Florida and she stayed most of the time in her box. Fortunately, all was not lost because a water crane existed in San Jacinto. A track chart from the late 1910's showed one with inspection pit and a carbody next to the track. OK, it's modelling licence for my era but I really need one on my layout! So...
See ya'

The "concrete pad" before painting. The laser engraving from photos of the Monster Modelworks part is incredible.

The first wheathering step

The final wheathering is done. The photo does not shows that the whole is more on the warm side.

dimanche 21 janvier 2018

Building a fleet-Part 4-The end

After a gap due to job assignement, the wheathering process on the Milwaukee 40 footer resumed. It received a wash of Polly Scale Railroad Tie Brown and Engine black diluted with an alcohol window washing product very much like Windex. On the roof Polly Scale Wheathered black was added to the mix to obtain this greyish hue I like (and I've seen on so many 40's and 50's freight cars photos). I don't have invented this technique. I'am really indebted to Jim Six who popularized it on his former blog (on MRH). I've just adapted it to my needs and products availabality on this side of the pond.
Trucks were repainted in Polly Scale Milwaukee Road maroon and then wheathered with AK Interactive products like Light Dust deposit (AK 4082). I've lightly added some of this wash on the lower side sills and on the lower ends to dust them lightly. I've then mounted the Sergent couplers and On3 rubber brake hose and that's pretty much done. Next time something very different is in the pipeline. See ya'