What Colour Is The Sky?

It turns out that this is not a settled question, even in the real world. Local conditions can affect things enough that opinions will vary by geography, never mind personal perceptions. It also turns out that the Behr Android phone app and I have vastly different perceptions of what that sky blue colour is…

Long story short, I rashly tried once again to match a colour photographed under natural light with the app and did not get satisfactory results. My phone shows a nice sky blue and the paint is downright purple. Even with some added white it is never going to do except for perhaps as a participant in a spectacular western desert sunset.

I ended up finding an online discussion of sky paint colours and, for the record, went with somebody else’s light sky blue: Behr Serene Sky 540C-2. The failed match was Periwinkle P540-4. Interestingly, one of the reported sky colours in the found discussion was a periwinkle although not this one. No photo of the result as far as I could tell so who knows. I will stick to the pale white-ish blue suggesting a hazy summer day.

Here is the colour on first application with the failed contestant represented on the stir stick. You can see the some of the problem because even the sky blue looks purplish which is not representative of the in-person view at all. More photographic experience and fooling with lighting is indicated.

Light Support

I have finally got the non-hobby project out of the shop and am unstuck on the infrastructure to stick the LED light strips to. As I previously discused in Lighting Mockup, I am going with a simply box. Two strips of 1/4″ birch plywood reinforced with some small blocks and held together with screws and glue should be robust enough.

The only downside is that I need to paint the things before I can actually stick on the light strips. Thus, the assembly is the first bit of Comstock Road’s top hamper to get painted. And the only bit that will be white to maximize light reflectivity.

Here is the assembly in progress shot. Note to self, need yet more clamps!

Simple Joys

The last couple of Monday night Zoom calls, I have been working along on a 1:48 water tower kit from Built-Rite Models that I picked up at the 2016 National Narrow Gauge Convention in Augusta, Maine. I put the kit in a bin and lost track of it until that pile until recently. Since I am always looking for things to do at the bench during calls, I opened it up and started in.

The kit consists of a four part laser cut frame for the round tank shape, a whole bunch of strip wood, some thread and a couple of castings. There is a clear and well illustrated instruction booklet to help you along. A well designed kit that gives you the pleasure of board-by-board scratchbuilding without the challenge of assembling the materials and figuring out the methods yourself.

The process of applying boards (previously stained) one by one is something I find restful. It also helps that the results are, like hand laid track, impressive looking disproportional to the actual skill required.

Here is the tank with the side boards on, perched on my sander so I can even up the ends of the boards. Sanding or trimming overlength boards almost always results in a better finish that trying to line up the ends. (Church-Key Brewing Holy Smoke Scotch ale in the background…)IMG_20200831_210105109

I got as far as applying the top boards which are obviously going to require more than a little sanding to get them to length. I am looking forward to carrying on with this kit. I am probably going to need an On30 layout to give me a place to put these various structures that don’t fit Comstock Road. This is the meandering comes in.IMG_20200831_213117188

Modelling Goes To The Cottage

There are good things about a stay in Ontario’s Cottage Country but it does increase the distance to the workbench rather unreasonably. I usually find myself casting about for a project that is self-contained enough to take with me to work on. Or a pile of books. Or both. I take it as a sign of improved intensity of modelling activity that I didn’t have to work too hard to find a project.

The project needs to be:

  • Transportable: can it be contained well enough to survive being packed in the back of a station wagon with everything else up to and including 35kg of soggy dog?
  • Self-contained: can I identify and bring along all the needed tools and supplies?
  • Engaging: is it something I want to work on and will the work last long enough?
  • Relaxing: doing nerve wracking fiddle tasks at the kitchen table in company is not going to happen. A repetitive task that is not mentally tasking is what I want.

The project I elected to take along was the Book Nook. The next step required was applying Das clay to all the surfaces that will become some sort of masonry as well as a bit more work with cardboard to complete the base structures.

Here is the work at about the half way mark. IMG_20200803_164802537

I have added a covered bridge spanning the alley between buildings. It will be some combination of non-masonry to provide some contrast. (Neither it nor the right hand side building/side are attached. Getting in there to work on things would be nigh unto ship-in-a-bottle fiddly.

I created a set of steps out of layered cardboard and started to cover it with spackle for a smoother potentially brick or concrete finish. Not really happy with how that is working, will probably scrap it in favour of a wood base and paint.

The street has been “paved” with PVA and Das and the back wall has been covered. It was a small relief to bury the tie staining stains on that back wall as well as the N-scale flex I am using to suggest an On18 plant railroad.

I did get the whole of the clay layer applied and have just begun scribing stonework. I need to consider how to do the tops of the arched doorway and windows. My initial attempt looks like the mason’s apprentices got into the rum barrel and let loose on the work unsupervised. Other than that, progress made!

 

Lighting Mockup

As stated long ago, I want to light the layout with the actual lighting solution so that I can eliminate variance in light from the colour selection problem and this requires the prerequisite infrastructure. I have happily arrived at that point! Next up is working out how to actually mount the chosen LED strips to the valance/pelmet (I previously referred to it as a pelmet but I am going with valance since it is the more familiar word).

Questions to be answered:

  • One “daylight” strip or a daylight and a warm white?
  • Is one strip bright enough?
  • Can the strip(s) be mounted parallel to the baseboard (facing straight down) or does it need to be angled?
  • Do I need something to shield the back edge to direct light down?

The internet is full of various opinions on these questions with no clear consensus. I thus set out to experiment and determine what works for me. I cut a 4′ long cardboard strip and stuck lengths of both types of strip (the excess not needed from 5m rolls for Comstock Roads less than 4m length). After some practice soldering wires to the pads on the strips, I had a working light.IMG_20200711_140748211

Actual experience was informative. It was immediately obvious that the addition of the warm white strip made the overall effect way too yellow for my taste. (1970’s summer smog is not what I want to remember!)

I am unconvinced that one daylight strip is enough but it is at least adequate. It also has the advantage of only needing the default power brick for a power supply. I have decided include space for a second strip but not delay things on its’ account.

The default straight down mounting seems to be close to enough. The spread of light is more than enough to shine well above the backdrop edge so no need to aim it further back.

Here is the test shot with just single LED strip, no room lights and a car on the front track.IMG_20200711_164101780

You can see in the first photo where I put a bend in the cardboard to simulate some sort of backside restriction of the light arc. The LED strips are bright and nobody looking at the layout from the back is going to appreciate looking in the direction of the strip so something needs to block that. As well, any illumination above the top of the backdrop is wasted and perhaps a distraction anyway.

Here is my makeshift back bend in action. I am not excited by the angled shadows on the tall side boards but I can live with that. If people are looking up there, I have lost their attention anyway. With room lights on, the shadow is also much less prominent.

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After some sketching and pondering, I think I will go with a simple right angle back of appropriate length rather than fooling about with an angled piece. Ease of construction isn’t my usual motivator but perhaps I am undergoing character development!

No Visible Means of Support

Way back when, I set a goal of getting Comstock Road self-illuminated so that I would be choosing the best colours based on the actual light conditions. (Or at least the best that I can). I have finally got the enclosing infrastructure to the point of proving that my light support concept can work. The first dry fit is pictured with a clear span of just over ten and a half feet.

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The only support is the two visible clamps holding the light support to the side wings. Both side wings now have their front flush mounts to transfer weight directly downwards. I will be adding a couple of clips to each end of the top/side joins for the permanent attachment. Also missing is the front layer of hardboard.

The two sections are hinged together on the bottom edge with the biggest strap hinge that would fit which is not as bit as I would like. In place, the hinge is in tension and easily does the job but when moving the piece separately it is prone to twist. Definitely the weak link. A draw latch holds the back face together at the top but the two together are no match for the leverage of a six foot lever on either end if care is not taken.

It looks like it will do for the first iteration but I expect that it won’t take many outings before a second version gets developed.

I Meant To Do That

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When I started this blog, I said I was going to share the mistakes as well as the things that go well. In a non-trivial design oversight, I implemented the above atrocity.  That is the backdrop extending about two inches into the space that the traverser used to travel through. First time operating with the backdrop up was a vocabulary expanding moment.

I cannot claim this was a failure of measurement since I failed to consider the traverser travel altogether. I think the much attentuated construction process allowed me time to forget about such an obvious thing.

On the bright side, the traverser is still usable as-is! The restricted movement means less flexibility and I am not sure that isn’t a good thing. Of the three tracks, the back one can reach the back siding and the runaround track. The center track reaches the runaround and the main and the front track just reaches the main. Effectively, there is a notional runaround with a turnout to the back siding and a storage siding off the main. Much more plausible than the full range of traverser movement. I think I shall keep things as they are and see if I like it. If not, I can rework that backdrop piece to clear things up later.

Another Take on Virtual Gatherings: The Hindsight 20/20 Virtual RPM

This last Saturday I “attended” my first Railroad Prototype Modelers meet all from the social isolation of my comfy chair. Organized by Ted Culotta of Speedwitch Media, Ryan Mendell of National Scale Car and Hunter Hughson, modeller of Penn Central’s Niagara Branch, this eight hour virtual meet was attended by roughly 170 modelers from all across North America and probably beyond.

I have not managed to attend an RPM in the past since the local one always seems to be a calendar conflict for me and I prefer to use my rare travelling attendance on meets with a wider scope. I decided to attend this one largely because it required no travel, no cost and Ryan and Hunter are two of the attendees for Train Night in Canada. My attendance was amply rewarded as I did come away with a number of useful ideas and learned some interesting prototype information that might be useful some day.

I listened to a number of excellent presentations on an assortment of specific prototype modeling topics. The speakers were all excellent although there was the odd technical hiccup as we have all come to expect in this era. Glitches were eventually overcome and all the presentations got delivered. For general historical interest, I particularly enjoyed Roger Chrysler’s  talk on  Lidgerwood and Hart cars. This was a system for bulk unloading of aggregate for ballasting and filling trestles. Picture a winch car at one end of a train pulling a plow the length of the train to push the load out the side doors. I had no idea such a system existed.

For specific usefulness, Jered Slusser’s presentation on USRE 40′ was definitely the winner. Most of my current boxcar fleet are variations on the old Intermountain 1937 AAR 40′ boxcar kit now carried by Atlas as ready-to-run. These would have fit the previous effort, based in the late 1940’s well but would be getting implausibly long in the tooth and rare in the mid 1970’s. Unless they were rebuilt! And now they shall be! Eventually….

The organizers are planning additional instances of their virtual RPM format in the future. If this is something you might be interested in, watching Speedwitch Media’s blog would be the best way to find out in a timely manner.

Flush Mount Clips for Detachable Backdrop

Waaaaay back when, I briefly mentioned flush mount clips in my baseboard plan for Comstock Road. I bought them from Lee Valley Tools and have finally got to the point of actually installing them.

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These clips are only 1/8″ thick when together and provide a rigid enough attachment to keep backdrop sections upright on their own. Any sort of serious lateral force would be a problem, though, so I am making a tradeoff for speed of assembly and disassembly. The sections just drop into place with no fussing around. At least once I figured out the best way to mount them.

The product description specifies #6 screws but the ones available to me don’t fit entirely flush in the holes in the clip or are at least nigh unto impossible to get exactly flush. (The photo above shows the #6’s) The tightness of the fit between the two pieces makes any protruding screw top an problem. I did the first side piece with #6’s and it is a jam fit. I then tried #5’s for the other side and they work a treat. So 5’s it is if you plan on taking things apart often. I will have to redo the first side at some point soon.

Here is the stage left end with a back section propped in place for the photo.IMG_20200527_143937521

The backdrops will take a bit longer than anticipated due to a design oversight. The backdrop is supposed to clip onto the back of the baseboards and span the section gap. (Two 4’6″ pieces will do the visible part before the fiddle yard.) Also spanning that gap on the back is one of the clips holding the sections together… I will have to do something like frame around those points and cut suitable holes. I am not sure what the solution would look like if I planned for this but I have enough leftover 1×2 to bodge up something that will work.

 

 

Back on the Bus

IMG_20200523_215448698One of the non-layout related projects I have started is a David Provan etched brass kit of a Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes railbus. I had always wanted to have a go at a UK etched kit and an On30 North American outline vehicle gives me something more than a display model. (Or at least to the same extent as the rest of my currently un-layouted On30 rolling stock!)

With the recent acquisition of a resistance soldering unit and an increase in time for model building, I decided to have another go. I got stuck back in during our usual Train Night in Canada video call. It was easy to find the project in progress since it resides in one of my storage boxes. Remembering where I was at and what I had worked out about the pieces on the frets is still in progress. Nevertheless, I did get the next bit on although I used my digital iron since the joint wasn’t amenable to soldering tweezers and I haven’t worked out a satisfactory method of grounding for use with the probe.

The only downside of this sort of project during a video call is that it requires focus. I missed some of what others were showing to the camera. I need a call specific project like applying shingles. The modelling equivalent of knitting as it were.