Thursday, 31 December 2015

Wabash 12 Panel Boxcar Finished

  I finished the Wabash Boxcar earlier this week.  I weathered it lightly with Pan Pastels. I wanted a look where the dirt had accumulated on the panel seams and rivets, but not rusted out. I did not want to over do it, even though this car and paint scheme is a bit early for my time frame. I used black and a dirty greenish brown colour.

  In all reality it hasn't much reason for showing up on the Algonquin, but I liked the car so much I had to have one.  A bit of research has shown that the Grumman Aluminum boat company, makers of the Aluminum Canoe were located in New York State (served by the Wabash in Buffalo).  So I will make up a Waybill for this car, carrying a load of Canoes to the outfitter in Whitney ON.  I may patch it out for N&W which absorbed the Wabash 1964. 

I used Rustoleum Dark Brown Camouflage Paint on the trucks and wheels followed up with some dirt and black Pan Pastels on the truck side frames.  I sealed it all with a dull coat.  The Pan Pastels stick much better than weathering powders and didn't wash off when dull coated to my surprise.  I will be using these more in the future and will be picking up more colours.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Tool Box Tuesday #3

   A recent trip to Lark Spur Line in Merrickville ON provided me with a new tool for the toolbox.  I came away with an old PanaVise.  I should have bought one of these years ago.  It makes the task of working on the end of a car a pleasure rather than an act of frustration.

  I have tried using cups, angle plates etc. for this task, but this thing makes it easy.  The previous owner added some dense black foam to the jaws and mounted it on a nice piece of wood, complete with rubber feet.  This older model also seams much heavier than the current PanaVise offering I checked out at a train show a while back.

 So what's in the Vise?  A Wabash 12 Panel Boxcar from Yarmouth Model Works.  This is a Resin kit, that also features etched metal detail parts, Tichy brake sprue, Kadee Miner Brake details and Kato ASF Trucks. Of special note are the ladders.  They are made up from etchings formed into a angle iron with holes and individual rungs made from Tichy grabs glued on.  They are great looking and were easy to build, following the kits instructions. 

For gluing the rungs I used Loctite 430 Metal Bonder CA.  The instructions suggest using Loctite 496 which is Loctites Industrial strength General Purpose CA.  It should work fine also, but I had the metal bond version so why not use it.

 Do yourself a favour and go check out Loctites Industrial website.  They have dozens of CA glues and even a special primer that you can put on slippery plastics like Delrin and PTFE(Telflon) to join them with CA.  I tested some of this on a PTFE to Derin joint at work and I was surprised how well it held.

Here is a picture of my progress on the Wabash Car.  Its hard to see in the photo, but the sides have simulated warpage from the welded panel joints.  My wife who supports me in the hobby but has little interest in trains herself, noticed this right away after seeing it painted on my workbench.  She even asked if was supposed to be weld warpage.  She, like me is also an engineer and finds enjoyment in the details of manufacturing.

I used Tichy stirrups instead of the etched ones in the kit.  Not that there was anything wrong with the excellent kit ones, but after I installed them I promptly put the car down on them and bent all 4 stirrups.  They were pretty much fubared.  I hope to get it dull coated and weathered this week.

Monday, 2 November 2015

OP sesion #2 and #3

Op Session #2   

About two weeks ago I was joined by fellow modeller and neighbor Doug Curie for an Op session.  My son gave Doug a quick lesson on how to operate with the Digitrax throttle and he was off and running as Engineer.  I acted as Conductor. We ran a train into Whitney and switched a few cars.  The layout operated very well with the only hick up being a few missed couplings.    The Algonquin locos are equipped with Soundtrax decoders, which have the break function enabled.  Basically when you press F5 the loco starts to slow down and the break squeal sound effect comes on. Works great and adds to the fun.  Afterwards it was off to the Feathers pub for dinner and drinks.  It was a great evening and I look forward to our next session Doug.

Op Session #3

Last Friday I was joined by Trevor Marshall and David Woodhead for an Op session.  Since the last Op session with Doug, I have created waybills for about a half dozen freight cars and a switch list. 

While I was creating the paperwork for an individual car I also gave it a tune up and added brake hose or un coupling levers if needed.

Trevor played the role of Conductor and David the Engineer.  The guys ran the train like old hats.  I had a ball just watching them.  We used Wi throttle on my iphone for loco control.  This functioned well, with the only problem being the sleep settings on my computer running Decoder pro.  When it fell asleep the link to the throttle was lost.  After setting the sleep setting to 'never' we experienced no further issues.  Everything ran great with only a couple of missed couples again. This was on freight cars that had yet to receive a tune up.  So I have something to address before the next session.

I also installed a Sound car under the layout with two speakers.  I will write up a separate blog entry for this, so stay tuned.

After the Op session it was off to the Feathers for dinner and drinks, where we were joined by Doug Curie.  A good time was had by all.  Looking forward to our next visit gentlemen.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Internet woes

I'm still here.  Although I have been experiencing some email and internet issues, seems to be fixed up now.  I apologize to all those who I haven't sent a comment reply too and will do so shortly.

Monday, 14 September 2015


Over the weekend I got a start on the operational paper work.

I designed a Waybill and Switch list.

The waybill is my own design, derived from 3 or 4 different waybill examples I found on the internet or had given to me by other modellers.

It has most of the typical information found on a prototypical waybill.  I created it using Apple's 'Numbers' program. I saved a master copy and will make inbound and outbound waybill's for each car on the roster.

I also managed to complete an inbound and outbound waybill for a CN 8 hatch Reefer.  I checked the car wheels for the proper gauge, adjusted the truck screws and replaced a missing air hose.  It is now ready for service.  One down and about 30 or so to go.  If I stay on this project I should have it finished in less than a week.  Well that's the goal anyway.

Inspiration for the Switch List comes from an Algoma Central example.  The clip board is about the size of a half sheet of paper.  I printed the waybills on thick paper and laminated them.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Operations Prep #2

 It's been awhile since my last post.  I have been busy, mostly with non hobby related things.  An unexpected house reno, canoe trip and with hockey playoffs to watch, I haven't got much done.  I did managed to make some head way on my pre op session list from my last post.

 I built a Way Bill box and mounted it to the fascia. Still need to make one in HO scale for the depot.

 This was a fun project and something that my son helped with.  He's only five but really loves working with tools and helping out in the work shop.  Currently my efforts are in teaching him how to measure and he's getting the hang of it.  I have him do tasks such as, set the fence on the table saw,  measure and mark wood pieces to cut, setup the compass and  draw circles.  All in the imperial system.  He can learn metric in school.....

I have made no progress on the Waybills. I have put this off long enough, so the plan is to do one per night and tune up each freight car that it matches.  Maybe if I get on a roll I will get more than one a night done.

I cleaned the track and applied graphite.  What a difference to electrical performance, I highly recommend doing this simple but effective treatment.  I was surprised how little you need to apply, the locomotive and freight cars help to spread the graphite around to all tracks.  For cleaning I use a 900 grit Arkansas Stone.  Is hard, so it slices off any dried glue etc, very easily but such a fine grit that it doesn't wear away at the rail head, rather polishes.

As for modelling, I did manage to finish a couple of things.  I mounted switch stands to all 7 turnouts on the layout.  A nice detail and simple one evening project.

 I finally finished up the Superior Propane Tank Truck.  I had to mill out a pocket on the bottom of the tank in order for it to sit at the right height on the frame.  Once this was complete I painted and applied decals from Microscale  I think it turned out pretty good.  One interesting thing about the yellow paint does bother me though.  The paint under my spray booth light matches the Athearn cab paint very close, but under the layout lighting it looks greenish compared to the cab.  It is something to note for future paint projects.  Make a test paint chip and check under the layout lights.

Next up is to finish the matching Propane Tank that will be part of the Feed & Supply dealer.  

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Preparing for Operations

Over the last few months my modelling efforts have been focussing on completing all of the projects that I started, but have yet to finish.  I managed to get everything completed, save for a coat of Dullcoat on a couple of boxcars I weathered.  I will update the blog with pictures over the next couple of weeks of these recently completed projects.  It feels great to clear the bench and start something fresh.  Going forward I will complete a project before starting something new.  Well at least thats the plan.

I decided to focus on getting the layout better prepared for operations.  Ops on the Algonquin have basically been my son and I switching a train,  in which he decides which cars will go where and we just have fun.  Occasionally my Dad or Father in law helps us with an op session and we run a train a bit more prototypically.  A couple of months ago Trevor Marshall stopped by and we ran a train with a bit of paperwork.  I whipped up a switch list and we scribbled something together that made some sense.  The layout operated ok.  We had four issues I made mental note of, in hopes to correct when I finished up all the projects in limbo.  My goal is to have the layout operate 99.9% of the time.  100% would be better but something will always come up.  To do this I will need to make note of all issues and fix them for good.

Issues I made note of, were the locomotive would stall on one of the turnouts at very slow speeds, one of the boxcars would not couple on one end,  the facia mounted control rods for the switches were tight or rough feeling and we lost complete control of the locomotive after about 40 minutes of running, but recovered when we turned the command station power on and off.

I addressed the issues as follows.

One of the point rods on the turnout had broken off of the circuit board switch rod tie.  It had enough of a lip of solder to push the point back and forth but electrically it was dead.  Out came the soldering iron and after a good clean up of the point rail and circuit board tie plus some liquid flux and the turnout seams to be just fine.

Trevor gave me a tip to try with the coupler.  Basically to polish the face of the knuckle to remove any burrs and allow it to slide into the on coming coupler.  Seams to have worked.  I will add this to my freight car maintenance check list going forward.

The control rods were a bigger issue.  When I built the bench work I decided on a 4" tall fascia to allow enough room for books on the shelf below the layout.  I use Bullfrog turnout machines from Fast Tracks, which are designed to use RC aircraft style pushrods.  The issue was when mounted the vertical distance from the control rod mounting point on the machine was right in line with the bottom of the fascia.  The RC aircraft rods can flex but not by the amount I needed in the short horizontal distance from the fascia to some of the switch machines.   I decided to not use the RC aircraft push rods,  and used a piece of music wire bent to make up the difference of where I wanted the push rods to come through the fascia and the mounting point on the switch machine.    Well the wire I used worked for a while but over time they started to bind and bend.  I needed to find a way to use the RC aircraft style pushrods.  Some of the turnouts are horizontally far enough away from the fascia so I just removed the music wire rods and replaced them with the RC rods.  For the rest I made up some fulcrums that I could mount further from the fascia such that the RC rods could flex the required vertical distance and use a music wire rod to activate the switch machine from the opposite side.  Here is a picture to clear things up.

I also did some tuning on the Bull frog switch machines.  I found that the top of the pivot point on the part that moves was rubbing on the mount so I trimmed a bit off.  I also smoothed out the notches where the ball bearing runs, thus requiring less effort to throw the points.  I found that over time it was just getting harder to rotate.   So far so good,  the new rods are a big improvement and the machines are working much smoother.  I also needed some new pull knobs for the rods.  I found the perfect solution - screw on furniture floor pads.  These are plastic disks you screw to the bottom of a furniture leg and then stick a pad of felt on to protect your floor from scratches.  They cost $3 bucks and come 8 to a pack.  I simply screwed them into the push rods and stuck on the felt.  It gives a nice touch.

I have no idea what cause the locomotive to stop responding but it hasn't happened since,  I am going to believe it was just op session gremlins and leave it at that.  

So whats next?  I have a lot of other things I need to prepare in order to have a proper operating session and will start working on them this week.  Here is the list I came up with.

1. Make a track schematic to help with planning ops.
2. Design a more formal Switch list.
3. Populate waybills for all of my freight cars and give each a tune up as I complete each waybill. This also includes researching where the loads are going and coming from.
4. Fire up decoder pro and tune all three of the Algonquin locomotives speed curves to match so I can operate them in MU if needed.  
5. Clean all the track and apply graphite to help with electrical contact.
6.  Install a pull out shelf so operators have somewhere to fill out paperwork.  
7.  Install way bill boxes on the fascia and the layout.
8. Build a Van for the Algonquin fleet.  (This is the most exciting job on the list for me but I am not going to start until everything else is done or I will never get to them.)

Well I can cross off #4 as I spent Sunday morning tuning the engines with Decoder Pro.  

This is the latest Algonquin power completed.  A Proto 2000 GP7 #711 joins the fleet. 

 I changed the motor out for a Kato unit, shimmed the worms on the gear towers and installed a Sound Traxx Tsunami decoder along with SMD LEDs for the headlights. I detailed the engine with the standard roof mount bell of the Algonquin fleet,  along with torpedo tube air tanks as the engine features a long range fuel tank.  This was a factory painted KCS unit, in which I removed the lettering, using fine sandpaper and applied the Algonquin lettering and herald.  I detailed the trucks with sanding hoses using fine solder,  the truck side frames were replaced with more prototypical units from Athearn.
Brass MU hoses and MU stands round out the detail changes. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Log Loader Part 2

Over the weekend I managed to get the GHQ Log Loader painted.  I learnt the hard way not to prime anything you want to paint yellow, with grey primer.  It took around 10 coats of paint to build up the opacity of the yellow paint.  Next time I will prime with white.  I even painted the figure in the kit.  So far this poor soul is the only figure on the layout.  I guess he will have to run the locomotives and do switchman duties also.  Maybe I should get some some other workers to help him with his workload.

I painted the hydraulic cylinder pistons silver using a silver Sharpie marker.  It covered in one coat and with no paint build up that would make them appear even thicker.  I did a bit of weathering on the radiator grills and wheels.  I may weather it a bit more, but I don't want to over do it.  Tom Patterson asked how big the loader is, so I included a couple of photos of the loader on my cutting mat which has inch graduations.  The loader is 1" wide by 3 3/4" long including the grip forks.  This was one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on for the layout.  So much so that I'm going to order a GHQ front end loader kit.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Log Loader

Over the last two evenings I have been working on a GHQ pewter kit of a log loader.  This is the first time I have built a kit from pewter.  The castings in the kit are almost flash free.  Only a little cleanup was needed.  I put it together with medium CA glue.  I left off the roof, which I will paint when I spray the loader.  Leaving off the roof means, I can install the seat and figure after I spray the loader.  I used a product called MR. Surfacer, to fill in small hair line cracks and a small mismatch line of the casting in the engine area of the loader.  It's similar to putty but you can brush it on.   This is the 1200 version, I believe there is a 600 version which is a bit thicker.  While designed for styrene, it worked well on the pewter.

My son helped me on this model, for his effort I let him decide if we should model the loader with the arm up or down.  He choose up.   I will paint and install the wheels separately.  I will let the filler dry overnight and then sand the model prior to paint.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Rental Canoes and Flange Way Signs

Tonight I built a rack to hold canoes.  The town of Whitney on the east side of Algonquin Park is the last stop for campers to rent a canoe before entering the park.  While my version of Whitney is freelanced I am trying to give it the look and feel of a North Ontario small town.  Pretty much every town in the north has somewhere to rent canoes and purchase fishing bait and tackle.  Whitney on the Algonquin has "Jim's Bait and Tackle"  (named after my Dad.)  To construct the rack, I used scale 4x4's and 2x4's  and stained it with Hunterline Cordovan Brown.  The canoes are from Sylvan Scale Models and come 3 to a pack.  They need another coat of paint and I may pick up another package to fill out the rack.  The ice would still be on the lakes, in the park during early April, so it is unlikely that many canoes would be rented at this time.

I also put together a package of Flange Way signs from Osborn Model Kits.  The kit comes with printed labels for the sign face making these an easy 1 hour project.  I decided to use the CP prototype labels with the white face and black dots.  The kit also comes with the CN version that has the black face and white dots.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Switch Stands and Whistle Posts

Feeling good about finishing the Line Poles yesterday, I decided to tackle two projects this evening.  I started with Switch Stands.  I basically followed the instruction in the Osborn Model Kit package.  Here is the results after assembly and some back paint.

I like the stands and the ease of installing the targets.  The targets are made from yellow stickers, that you fold over the posts.  The only thing is, the targets look like stickers you have folded over the post and not really like targets.  If you look at the prototype photo on the kit packaging you can see that the target is sheet metal and attached to one side of the post.  So the sticker method while easy isn't very prototypical.  I needed to make some new targets.  I grabbed the Magnuson Models package the Tank Truck came in( see my post from 2 days ago), and proceeded to cut, sand and shape new targets from the clear packaging material.  I wasn't being cheap, I just didn't bring any sheet styrene with me.  Here is what I ended up with.  I also decided I like red targets better.  It needs another coat of paint on the target, but it looks much better.  It has the target only on one side of the post.

Here is all six I made up.  I also made an extra target for a stand I have already installed on the layout.

The second project I finished up was sanding and painting a package of whistle posts.  Again from Osborn Model Kits.  ( I have no financial interests in Osborn, I just like supporting a local Canadian hobby business).  Nothing to fancy here, just some black paint in the 'W' and then dry brush on some white paint.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Line Poles

Tonights Project was to put together Line Poles for the right of way along the Algonquin mainline.  I purchased a kit from Osborne Models that includes 12 poles and cross arms with insulators.

The cross arms are laser cut and the poles look like bamboo skewers.  After cutting the cross arms from the fret, I spent an hour sanding and scrapping the edges to remove the burning from the laser.  I also sanded the faces of the cross arms as well as the poles.  I planned to stain the parts and I find sanding the edges makes the stain go on evenly.  The picture below shows the difference between one fresh from the fret and one that has been cleaned up.

The insulators are part of the cross arms and look very two dimensional, as they come in the kit.  I spent some time and sanded each one to a more round profile.  This sounds like a lot of work, but probably took about a half hour to complete 12.  The next step was staining with Hunterline stain.  I like using this product, as it is alcohol based and doesn't warp thin wood parts.  I used Cordovan Brown for both the arms and poles.

While waiting for the stain to dry I decided to consult an article about Line side Poles, in a Model Railroader special Edition called "How to Model the Trackside Scene".  The article pointed out that the top of poles should be cut on an angle to help prevent rot from snow and water damage.  The prototype poles also have a grove cut into the side where the cross arm goes so the weight of the arm is sitting on a solid base and not only held on by fasteners.  I made these modifications to the poles and touched up the staining.

I wanted to have green glass insulators on the cross arms.  I painted them with Tamiya Clear Green paint.  They looked black, not green at all.  I decide to paint hem a light grey and when dry follow up with the Tamiya Clear Green.  The light background colour trick worked and the insulators looked good to me.  This was a great one evening project, more so that they are ready for mounting along the Algonquin mainline. Here is picture of the completed poles.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Taking My Own Advice

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the Copetown Train show with 3 other modellers.  I hadn't attended this show in a couple of years and it was worth the trip yet again.  I met a few other modellers who read my blog and one who's blog I read regularly.  I even managed to pick up some 40' Plano roof walks, that had been holding me up on other projects.  On the drive home a discussion about what Trevor Marshall should tackle next on his layout started.  I don't remember the details other than my suggestion to him was to work on something he hadn't done in a while.  This got my thinking......

I am now off for a week long break from work with the family and this usually means I bring a couple of freight car kits to build in the evening.  Car kits take few tools and aren't to messy to deal with when away from the work bench. I paint and decal them when I get home.  What I have ended up with over the last year is a big pile of built, but not finished car kits.  Over the past few months I have cleared out the pile and only have a bit of weathering and a few re weigh dates to decal.  So before packing up more car kits to build on vacation,  I decided to take my own advice and work on something I haven't done in a long time.

I dug into my box of scenic details and collected everything I have, along with a few tools and paints.  I plan to work on a different project each night and follow up with a blog post.

Scenic Project 1.

Superior Propane delivery Truck.  The feed mill and supply business on the Algonquin also refills propane tanks. I wanted a Truck for deliveries.  I couple of years ago I purchased a Magnuson Models Cast Resin Ford Propane Delivery Truck.   I opened the box the other day when packing and noticed the Cab was solid with no easy way to make see through windows.  They are meant to be painted.  I wasn't really happy with this...... so I made a quick trip to Hornet Hobbies for some paint and maybe some advice on how to deal with painting the windows to look like glass.   Well when I got there the solution presented itself.  I found an Athearn Ford C series Truck with stake bed, painted in UP Armour Yellow with Red wheels hubs.  Somebody wanted me to find this I guess.  (Superior Propane Trucks are yellow).  I grabbed some UP Armour yellow paint to match.  On the way to our vacation destination I stopped in at the Barrie Train Show.  One of the dealers had a set of Microscale Superior Propane Decals.  The stars seam to be aligning on this project.

I started by cutting about 0.540" out of the middle of the frame and gluing it back together, along with shortening the drive shaft.  I braced the frame with short pieces of HO scale 1"x6" styrene.

Next I removed the mud flaps and cut 0.375" from the frame behind the wheels.  I glued the rear sections back on.  I managed to remove the UP Shield by scrapping with a hobby knife.

 I cut the cab mounting tongue from the tank with a razor saw and also removed the cast on fuel tank.  This is where I ran into a road block.  The Magnuson Model tank is also its frame.  When placed on the Athearn frame it sits about 0.125" to high.  I couldn't sand it down, as that would ruin the box extension on the rear of the tank.  I need to cut a channel or slot into the tank sub frame to lower the tank to the correct height.  There is no easy way to do this with the tools I have on hand.  I will use my milling machine to cut a slot when I get home.   So after all this I am going to go home with yet another incomplete project........I guess its just time for  a Brew...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tool Box Tuesday #2

Its been a while, over 2 months since my last post.  I have been Tendon to other things.  No I didn't spell that wrong, but I have been dealing with an on going issue with a Tendon in my arm.   I have pretty much had to shut it down for a couple of months to let it heal.  Its still not 100 percent but getting better slowly.  Anyway, thought I would try to do some work last night and I pulled out my newest tool.  A 5" Hold an Fold from the Small Shop.  I bought it as a Christmas present for myself.  Its used for bending photo etched metal parts.  What a great tool.  Much easier to use than a metal scale and razor blade.  Heres a picture of it along with some Plano running board parts I formed using it.  It comes with both a razor blade and custom made long metal bending blade.

These are very simple parts and could be formed with just tweezers but I wanted to give the new tool a test bend.  Another really useful tool is the Xuron photo etch shears.  Cutting photo etch, especially stainless ones with them is a joy.  Sometimes when cutting the photo etch parts a small tit will still be left on the part.  In the past I would use a file to remove these tits but found the tits get caught in between the teeth of the file, making it difficult to generate a smooth stroke with the file.  I now use a hard tool makers stone to remove these tits.  Stones have no teeth, so there is nothing for the tits to catch on.   Stones can be purchased from Falcon tool company, McMaster Carr or Gesswein.  The 1/8" x 1/4" cross section stone size are my favourites for moddelling.  They come in grits from around 80 up to 600.

So what's the running board going to be installed on?  My latest rolling stock addition, more on it in a later post. Here is a photo of the running board held down with a machinist parallel while the glue dries.