June 23, 2016

Rusty Tanks

Focus Stacking with an iPhone
Google street view of similar  scene on prototype
I finished painting the tanks for the Vopak Liquid Bulk Terminal tonight. The white tanks are Walthers kits. The three gray and one green tank are scratch built from PVC pipe. The painting process took much longer than the building process.

I used Vallejo Chipping medium to add peeling paint and rust metal to the green tank. That was a lot of fun. It is an interesting product. I think the next time I try the chipping medium I will use a very thin coat. I think I may have applied it a bit too thick on the green tanks.

I also made a road sign for the foreground based on an actual sign on Fries Ave. The distinctive sign points to the various berths on Mormon Island. It is another clue that this is the Port of Los Angeles.

The top photo is a focus stacked image using an iPhone and hand held. It is amazing how well it came out.

June 20, 2016

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

Looks like a scene from "Fast and Furious IV"

 Robert Frost may have had mixed feelings about his stone walls, but to a person modeling a modern port, fences are a fact of life. And these are not the charming stone walls of Frost's New England, but utilitarian chain link fences frequently topped with  barbed wire. With normally flat land and few places to get an high viewpoint, fences are the bane of railfans looking for photos near the waterfront.

I have been installing fences on the layout using the photoetched kits from Alkem Scale Models. I will toot my own horn here since I developed the product, but they are a breeze to install, and they look great.

I found it is also easy to make the gates operate using 1/32 inch wire and 1/16 inch thin wall tube from K&S. I solder a 1/32nd inch wire to the edge of the gate that extends about 0.75 inches below the gate. Then I insert a length of 0.75 inch 1/16th inch tube in the scenery, predrilling a hole if necessary. Next I slide the wire into the tube and test the fit. If all is well, a dot of CAA on the tube exterior holds it in place being careful to not get glue on the moving wire. That's it! Working gates.

Note that the Alkem Scale Models fence parts are photo etched  stainless steel. When soldering, rosin core solder and rosin flux will not work very well. I recommend the Superior Flux 71 available from H&N Electronics in hobbyist sizes.  Also, get some solid core solder to avoid having the rosin core contaminate your flux. Again, H&N carries what you need.

John Drye stopped by Sunday to do a bit of work on the layout. He was on his way to chaperone a high school girls graduation party, so he only had a brief time available.  He was able to build a tank in about an hour. It was a Walthers Kit. It will reside in the refinery area of the layout.

In case you don't recognize the title of this blog, it is the first line from Mending Wall by Rober Frost.

The security guard tends to the operating gate at Chase Marine Terminal.

Mending Wall

SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:         5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,  10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.  15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.  20
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.  25
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.  30
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down!" I could say "Elves" to him,  35
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,  40
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors

June 16, 2016

Bollards, Mr Rico. Zillions of them!

Reflection in the "water"
I just about done with the wharf pilings and decking. Adding the wood pilings was a bit tedious, but they look good.

Tonight I made a batch of 15 dual pole bollards to use on the dock. Once everything is dry, I'll add the lines to secure the ship to the dock.

The water surface is done. I haven't decided if I will add some waves using acrylic gloss gel.

June 11, 2016

Locomotive Devereux

Ken Montero stopped by today to drop off a framed print of the USMRR engine Devereux. The print formerly belonged to G. William Hammer, a former judge who was also an avid model railroader. He was a legal adviser to the NMRA. The print was originally a gift to Judge Hammer from a group of lawyers as a token of their respect for him.  Judge Hammer passed away at the age of 92. You can find a copy of his obituary here.

Missing from that obituary (because his daughter did not know it when it was submitted) was that, before World War II, Judge Hammer not only was an Able Bodied Seaman on a Great Lakes boat, but also worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad - on one of the Pennsy's watercraft on the Great Lakes.  Judge Hammer told Ken this story one night after they quaffed some certain beverages.  Judge Hammer got into model railroading after he got through law school. His primary interest was narrow gauge logging railroads in the Deep South - steam, of course (he called internal combustion engines "dis-easels", as if it were some contagious disease)

Jane Hammer, G. William's daughter, asked Ken if he could find a home for the print. Ken asked me if I would be interested in it. Of course I said, "Yes." The print is now hanging in the stairwell leading to the layout room. I am planning on adding an engraved plate explaining the provenance of the print.

J.H. Devereux was the USMRR Superintendent of the railroads in Virginia. He also was in charge of the construction of the Presidential passenger car that I have blogged about before.

The USMRR engine J.H. Deveraux was a 4-4-0 locomotive  that operated out of Alexandria, VA.  It was an 1863 product of the New Jersey Locomotive & Machine Works. There are at least two known photos of the locomotive.  Devereux was a respected and admired superintendent, and the locomotive bearing his name was embellished in handsome and colorful form, even more so than was common for the time. With polished brass, polished iron, vivid red and blue paint, fancy lettering, and elaborate portraits of Devereux on the sand dome, the locomotive was the epitome of 1860s decoration.

June 10, 2016

Over a million visits

It happened while I wasn't paying attention, but this blog recently surpassed a million visits.

The chart shows a break down of the top ten countries for those visitors. I'm a bit surprised that 3 of the top 5 countries are not native English language.

France, Germany and Canada are very close. Russia just edged past UK.

The folks down under also are quite frequent guests. Who would have guessed Ukraine would be number 10?

If you are frequent visitor please leave a comment to say hi, perhaps describe why you visit and what you want to see in the way of future coverage.

Of the 736 posts on the blog, the most popular posts were:

Oct 5, 2012, 5 comments
Sep 29, 2015, 4 comments
Sep 9, 2013, 12 comments

I don't know what it all means, but it fun to think about. The internet makes this a smaller world. Hopefully it will be a better world. 

I don't monetize this blog as I don't like the cluttered look of ads. The internet is already full of enough ads and click bait. Hopefully you can visit here and enjoy a glimpse into the projects that keep me off the streets and hopefully out of trouble. 

So to all of you, sincere thanks, merci beaucoup, thanks ehh, vielen danke, благодаряbedanken, Дякую u.

June 9, 2016

The solution where space is at a premium

I am just about finished with the modifications to the Gottwald Crane. It has been a fun job, but the handrails proved very fragile in handling during the construction. The die cast parts are quite heavy compared to the styrene, so any slip and they crunch the delicate plastic parts.  I'll add a few details and move on.

See this video for more information about this type of crane.

June 5, 2016

When it rains, it pours.

It was a busy week. First, MRVP released the video they filmed last fall. Here is the link to the video. The video is 18 minutes long. They did a nice job in filming and editing. They have an interesting format in that the layout owner is the only person shown in the video except for the time lapse B-roll during the ending credits. To see more than just the first minute or so, you have to be a subscriber to MRVP.

On Thursday CBO released a study I had been working on concerning the costs of scanning and imaging shipping containers for nuclear weapons. You can find that study at this link.

On Friday evening I finished the ship model, though more detailing is always possible.  Here is the bow showing the pedestals and arms for the hydraulic folding hatches.

The stern also has folding hatch apparatus as well as racks to hold containers between the hatch and the superstructure. The engine is typically under the deck in this area, that's why the hatch and hold doesn't continue all the way to the superstructure. Next time I try a ship like this I will show some of the hatches open.

Now I need to decide what cargo to display on the ship. I am thinking of windmill parts.

Prototype portal base
Next project is to detail the Gottwald Mobile Harbor crane. I decided to scratch build a new rubber tired portal base for the crane. Terminal designers opt for  portal style bases when the space on the pier or wharf is tight and they need to allow trucks or rail to pass under the crane. Such is the case for Chase Marine Terminal. I have two tracks pier-side that I want to allow access.

WIP on new HO scale base
I laser cut an acrylic base and the sheathed it with 20 thou styrene. Then I used stairs from a Walthers Blast Furnace kit to provide access. I also made hubs for the wheels. I tried making my own tires with laser cut parts but I decided to use tires from a couple container  trainers. that I had excess. A few more parts and it show be ready to go.

June 2, 2016

Prepare to Abandon Ship

I am getting close to finishing the ship model.

I added the bow details. Most of these were castings from the kit and  were pretty good.  I used them with just some clean up.

I scratch built the cranes using photos of an actual ship. I simplified the complex curves  on the base unit that most of the cranes on ships like this have, but I did convey the cantilevered look as the cranes "hang" over the hatches.

I made new parts for  the life boat launching ramp. I also did a bit of detailing to the lifeboat to make it more realistic. The utility raft required some repairs as the casting was broken. I also scratch built the crane as the kit parts were very crude, and too small.

May 22, 2016

The Flying A

Work continues on the ship, book and several other projects.

I started adding the detail parts to the ship and did some weathering. Weathering such a large object was a lot of fun. I focused on weathering the hull, especially the anti-foul paint that was visible. I used my airbrush and paint brushes to add rust and faded paint. I tried spraying  lines on the hull using  soft masks to hint at the underlying frames beneath the hulls panels. I did the same to the hatch covers, spraying a crisscross pattern to simulate the ribs. 

Speaking of the hatch covers, I added laser cut corner castings using self adhesive Bristol Board, painted them yellow, and stuck them on the hatch covers. That was more of a pain in the neck than I expected, but they add a nice detail.

Next I worked on the antennas for the superstructure. I made the main mast out of various pieces of brass tube using a photo of an actual ship as a guide. I like working with brass and this was the perfect opportunity.

The kit comes with two trays of cast fittings and various supplies. Some of the casting as quite good, while some I discarded. The radar mast base was one that I discarded, but the radar's spinning head was good.  The search lights are quite good, as in the DF antenna -are these still in use and appropriate for a modern ship?

Next I painted the stack and added a Alkem Flying A logo.  

In the meantime, I have been writing and working on the book. It is coming along very well. As usual, I have way too much material to use and the challenge is trying to determine what to cut.

I also worked on some projects for other folks. Last weekend I stopped by Paul Dolkos's house to see how the pier shed I have cut for him was coming along.

I also worked on a project for my brother that involved laser cutting some buildings with exaggerated perspective. They are for a bonsai tree exhibition that he is building as a shadow box. It will be interesting to see how that comes out and how the bonsai artist react to a very non-traditional display.

May 11, 2016

Finally, some paint!

Yeah, I finally got to paint the hull in the final colors.

First I gave the whole model an overall coat of Rustoleum flat red primer. I let that dry overnight. Next I masked off the water line and deck area, leaving the area that would be blue uncovered. Then I painted that area with red primer one more time. Why? This helps seal any gaps in the masking tape. Any paint the seeps under the tape will not be visible. I learned this trick many years ago while watching Mike Lech's modeling show on PBS.

After a half hour of drying, I painted the blue parts of the hull with Tamiya Flat Blue  thinned 50-50 with alcohol. This is probably the easiest paint to airbrush, as it flows readily and dries quickly. I used my Grex airbrush with a 0.7mm tip and 20 psi. After spraying about three quarters of the bottle of blue in multiple coats (yes, it is a big model), I set it down to let the paint set. During this time I cleaned the airbrush. With the paint dry, I inspected the finish and it looked good. So I removed the masking tape.

I had some blue overspray in the freeing ports, but I expected that. The next step was to mix up a batch of Vallejo Cavalry Brown thinned with Vallejo thinner. I carefully sprayed from the top down to touch up the overspray and to give the hull deck and hatches the same deck color as the superstructure. The cavalry brown is a bit more red than the flat red primer.  I did not mask the blue. I just made sure I was spraying from angles the would not hit the blue. It helps to use a 0.7mm nozzle with only 20 psi. That helps minimize overspray.

Since this model is too big for my spray booth, I painted it on top of the booth and wore my respirator.

With most of the grunt work on this model done, now the fun begins as I add details and weather it.

May 4, 2016

No Holds Barred

I made the hatch covers and holds  for the ship model. This model will show the hatches in a closed position as I plan to show it loaded with wind mill parts.

I built the holds as a separate assembly since it is essentially a shallow box. I cut the parts with the laser using 1/8th and 1/16th inch acrylic.

I used photos of the prototype MV Jummetor as a guide for the hatch design including the oval shaped reinforcement plates. I think they add a nice bit of visual clutter to the simple hatch design.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Hatch who?
Bless you.

This shot shows a 3 bay covered hopper next to the ship for a size comparison. Also, there is a 20 ft container on the rear of the hold.

May 1, 2016

ProRail East 2016

Paul and John busy operating the layout
While many of our model railroad friends are partaking in ProRail 2016 in San Diego, Paul Dolkos and I decided to have a mini-ProRail East. So this afternoon, John King and Paul Dolkos came by the house to operate the PoLA Layout. John took the throttle while Paul was the conductor. I gave them a brief run down and set them loose. Things appeared to go smoothly. It took Paul a few moments to get accustomed to my switch list. Then they got busy. They reported no major problems, though John suspects that the coupler on the PHL 66 SD-40 is a bit low.  John enjoyed the session and said in his normal deliberate manner, "Well, I made it to LA without having to take an airline flight."

Cutting at the waterline
While they switched the layout, I continued to work on the ship.
Previously, on Friday night in the waning light of the evening I cut off the ship at the water line.

Then I added the hawser reinforcements. I tried adding the bulwark frames, but found that gluing the small pieces of styrene to the fiberglass hull was difficult to do. So I lined the inside of the bulwarks with a layer of 0.020 inch styrene. I had to trim and fit the liner pieces to the complex curves. A little bit of putty was needed to hide the seams. Tomorrow I'll add the frames using styrene glue. That should go much more smoothly.

Hull split in tow

It's starting to look good after a coat of primer.

April 28, 2016

Quarterdeck Modifications

3D test of the new lifeboat launch appliance
I added the quarter deck tonight. Since my superstructure was bigger than the kit plans, I had to make the quarterdeck longer by 1.5 inches to make room for the freefall life boat. This extended the bow edge of  the quarter deck past the curve in the bulwark, so I added to notches to the quarter deck to bring the outside edges back aft. I will put stairs in these locations.   I hope the naval architects don't object too seriously to my mods.

I had to make a new free fall lifeboat appliance as the one that came with the kit one was now too long due to its shallow angle. I based  the lifeboat appliance on a Norsafe design as I was able to download its plans on-line. The photos show a paper and 3D mockup. I will made a more detailed version later.

Next step is to cut away the below waterline part of the hull and get it ready for priming.

Extended quarterdeck and notches.

Paper mock up of the new freefall lifeboat appliance
to check dimensions

April 25, 2016

Deck the hulls with sheets of styrene...

I started adding the decks to the ship. Since this is going to be a static model with the cargo covers closed, I made the deck supports from large pieces of 1/8 inch plywood and basswood strips. In retrospect, I probably should have cut a single piece for the deck supports, but this composite construction with basswood strips and plywood panels is very strong.

I encountered some serious gaps where the forecastle deck meets the hull. I filled the gaps with strips of styrene, then gap filling CA with baking soda. I sanded that down and then put on a skim coat of auto body putty. Once that dries I'll finish sanding.

Some serious gaps - filled with gap filling
CA,  baking soda and styrene strips
Skim coat of bondo