September 29, 2016

Paving PoLA Extension


The unloading tracks for the covered hoppers
can now host 6 cars, same as the prototype.
The tail track and the factory siding are now about twice as long as before.
The piece of pink foam is a mock up of the future Borax factory. It will be
 18 inches long and 3 stories tall.
Over the past few nights I got the track to the PoLA expansion installed, wired and tested. Then I paved the ground surface using my Taskboard technique. It works really well and is the best way I have tried to pave large areas.

Taskboard paving installed. Now waiting
for patching plaster to harden.
I used Patching Plaster to touch up gaps and screw holes. It needs at least 24 hours to cure.  One thing about using Taskboard, you can not sand it when it is wet or even damp. It needs to fully dry before sanding.

The mock up is the foot print of the next ship. It will be based on this ship, Sir Albert (9173355 ), as shown above. This is a "small" bulk carrier  with a DWT of 16,000 Tons. Compare that to some of the monster bulkers that can have DWT of 100,000 to 300,000 tons. Nonetheless, this ship has the "chunky" look (large block coefficient)  that I want to capture in this model.

September 14, 2016

Upcoming Events

The weather has cooled slightly in Northern Virginia and the days are noticeably shorter. That means it's time for....model railroading. I will be travelling to several events in next month to present talks. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.

On October 1 I will be at the MARPM in Fredericksburg, VA presenting a talk entitled, "Down to the Sea in Trains." This will be an overview of how railroads and ships interact at marine terminals from the early days of railroading to the current era of unit trains, double stacks and massive container ships. The talk will complement my next book due out in 2017.


October 13th I will be presenting an update on my USMRR Aquia Line to the American Civil War Railroad Historical Society at the La Quinta Inn on Primacy Parkway in Memphis, TN. This is part of the ACWRRHS annual meeting. There is also a layout visit to Charlie Taylor's O scale civil war era layout and a bus trip to Shiloh planned. For more info see the ACWRRHS Yahoo Group


October 20-23rd I will be presenting three clinics and the keynote address at the 2016 NMRA MER convention in Raleigh, NC. For more info see Tracks to the Triangle website.

September 12, 2016

Getting the Band Back Together

Rail fanning near Ogden 21st Street Yard
Last week I visited Utah for golfing with Alicia, rail fanning, layout work and operation sessions. The golf was great as the thinner air at 7,000 feet makes you feel like Rory McElroy. Alicia and I had a tournament over three rounds that was quite close. We split the first two matches, but I won the rubber match helped by making back-to-back birdies.

Steve Blodget's 1890's layout.
Milton Turn working the cement factory on Spangler's layout
The op sessions were part of Great Basin Getaway 2016. This is the 27th year they have hosted the event (usually every other year). As usual the Utah folks put on a great event. I operated on 3 layouts and visited 5 others.

One of the layout visits was to Steve Blodget. This was my second visit to his 1890's era layout. It is a gorgeous layout that almost no one outside of Utah has heard about. It is  a freelanced railroad set in the 1890s in central Utah.



Post lunch refreshments at Quinton Foster's
N Scale layout
In the op sessions, I was lucky to draw the Milton Turn on Rob Spangler's layout. That was a fun job with lots of switching in two towns.

I also operated on Quintin Foster's N Scale DRGW layout and Ted York's HO scale Cajon Pass layout, and had a great time at each.
Brian painting the base colors

Jake adding distant tree detail














I stayed with Brian Brendel for the last part of the week. We did some rail fanning and work on his layout, primarily backdrop painting.  As usual Michelle cooked some awesome cakes and pies. John Drye and Jake Brendel also joined us, completing the reunion of the February Altoona Railfan Group.



Brian had previously installed the hardboard skyboards and gave them a base coat of bright sky blue paint. I was there to paint the clouds and terrain. In order to expedite the process, I gave Brian and his son Jake a quick lesson in backdrop painting and put them to work. Brian added the base terrain color coats, while Jake painted the far line of distant trees. I added the clouds and closer trees with more detail. I also added some rock out crops, and other details as appropriate.

Overall, the detail on the backdrop will match the scenery techniques that Brian will use. His layout traverses some of the least populated and heavily forested areas of Virginia. He uses a tried and  tested technique that combines Woodland Scenics Foliage Clusters and Supertrees to simulate dense forests. Here is a sample shot from some previous work he has done.

We also discussed some revisions to the track plan that I will update.



Panorama of backdrop work so far. The room lighting was very uneven so getting a good shot was difficult.








That's a lot of locos!










Here are some railfan photos we got during the week.









Morning walk with the dogs-  7,000 steps, 12% grade
and two trains.
Brian lives a short distance from the UP Transcontinental main line, a great morning walk with the dogs.