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.

Foam Cradle

As I embark on various couple and truck installations, a simple product purchased on a whim is turning out to be very handy. I bought this foam cradle from MicroMark as an afterthought to some order or other. This is one of those things you can almost certainly make for yourself but I guess I succumbed to the lure of convenience or aspiration or both.

In any case, both I and the foam block have redeemed that aspiration and I am finding it essential for installing the new couplers, especially on the loco which tips the scales at over 5 pounds. Holding that upside down in one hand while attempting to tap a whole is not a great idea. Haven’t broken a tap yet, don’t want to start. I will take all advantages I can get given my record on ham-handed damage while handling rolling stock. I will keep this handy on my workbench to discourage any hasty corner cutting.IMG_20200502_204502804_HDR

I Knew I Would Need That Eventually

I found the previously mentioned Campbell profile shingle kit after a gratifyingly short amount of hunting. Multiple winnowing passes of the supply stash over the years has reduced the height of the pile more than I thought. Apparently some of that pile is psychological. 🙂

In this case, over the years is almost an understatement. I purchased this shingle kit sometime in my teens which makes it on the order of 40 years ago. I am conflicted about how to feel about finally finding a use for it. It is not like I have never constructed a structure in the last four decades but never one in HO that required a shingle roof. Let this be a caution against purchasing materials on vague contingency. Or an exhortation to get out this sort of thing and create a use for it. Take your pick.

On the actual usage, the decades have caused some disarray in the reel and, I presume, some curling and taking a set. The adhesive on the back is still viable but, being a belt and suspenders sort of guy, I used double sided tape to attach it with judicious adhesive activation via water and small brush as required.

Side trimming still in progress but the result is satisfactory but does suggest some general weathering will be required to get things to blend.IMG_20200401_104914344

Book Nook Mockup

It appears that I have some time on my hands in the next few weeks so I intend have a go at my proposed railway themed shelf insert. I cut the pieces for a 8.5x11x6″ wide box from 1/4″ plywood on my new table saw(more on that later). In my enthusiasm, I glued one side to the back before I realized that one would generally find it easier to build up the scene before enclosing it inside a box…

So, last night I took some salvaged foamcore and mocked up an alley. The black colour makes the jog in to the right hard to pick out but, like a bare plywood baseboard, I can see the intended result in my head. The major point was to check lines of sight which were satisfactory.

Next step is permanently glueing the foamcore together (currently held with straight pins) and attaching each section to the appropriate wall. I haven’t committed to scale and gauge yet but, as the bit of N scale flex indicates, On18 is a possibility. This would put me in the neighbourhood of the Guinness brewery railway’s 22″.


A Small Infrastructure Investment

This afternoon I built a slot cutting jig for my router. The idea is that the collar (round silver thing in the photo) goes on the bottom of the router and fits into the slot between the two boards which are both parallel to each other and perpendicular to the end boards. You line up the reference slot in the end board and just run the router along in the slot.


What does this have to do with model building? I have acquired a couple more  substantial tools over the last couple of months and my free bench top real estate has shrunk to the point of paralysis. All this preparation for slot cutting is so I can install 1/4″ plywood dividers into some DIY modular tool storage. The first unit will have pigeon holes for such things as:

  • digital soldering station
  • resistance soldering unit
  • sander
  • NWSL tools (chopper, duplicutter)
  • some categories of tools that I want handy like measuring (rules, squares) and metal working (bending bars, drop riveter, big files)

Hopefully I can have a result to report by the end of the long weekend.


“You can never have too many clamps” is an axiom of wood workers and probably most everybody else who engages in activities requiring clamps. As I alluded to in my previous post, the Rite-Way magnetic clamps are dandy for assembling wood structures. I also have an assortment of other clamps but there is always a point where you either have already used all the appropriate clamps or have none that work in the first place.

Like the Mad Hatter said, you have way more un-birthdays than birthdays. You also have way more things that aren’t clamps than clamps. And some of them can be used for clamping. I have employed a flock of pint paint cans as weights when glueing down sheet goods, for instance. Recently, I have (probably late to the party as usual) taken a shine to painters tape as a clamp substitute.

The latest instance was getting the shed attached to the Willy’s main building. The Rite-Way clamps just wouldn’t fit. Sometime you can use elastic bands but none were handy. But I have a roll of painters tape! IMG_20191204_214731836

There are also macro uses for the stuff. When I couldn’t get a clamp usefully applied to the top corner of the plywood I was installing to protect the foam on a corner of Comstock Road, it was again, tape to the rescue.IMG_20191102_122552879_HDR

There is definitely a limit to the holding power but the gentle adhesive doesn’t leave residue (that I have noticed) and it is easy to get off after things cure.

Using Photo Textures in Structure Modeling

As previously noted, I spent most of the scheduled clinic time at  NNGC 2019 sitting in a chair, trying to learn something more about the hobby. One of the highlight clinics for me was Scott Robertson’s clinic Creating and Using Photo Textures for Structures. Scott is a talented and highly productive modeler who uses textured papers for structure modeling in both On30 and G. Being local to Sacramento, Scott’s layout was on the tour the very next day and I made it a point to see the results in person.

Here is what I took away from Scott’s clinic:

  • Paper textures are a material that can be very effective when used appropriately.
  • Appropriate is walls and other flat surfaces. Less convincing are folded up attempts to produce in paper what wood, styrene or metal is better for.
  • A textured wall is far harder to detect when detailed with trim and window castings as per usual.
  • The glossy finish laser printers produce is less effective than the matte finish you get with an ink jet.
  • Teasing up edges and such can enhance realism but you don’t want to viewer to be able to see the texture edge on. For something like that, if you use actual corrugated roofing or whatever, the viewer will assume the rest of it is 3D, too.

Scott stated that he regularly catches people touching structures to see if it is a texture or not. While not one to commit such an atrocity, I did start out trying to spot textures on Scott’s layout but even at a distance of a foot or so, I did not have much success. I was initially frustrated but then I realized that that was the key lesson! We don’t use styrene for structures in hopes of the viewer being able to tell what material we used. Photo textured paper should be the same, results not material is the goal. (We won’t get into the whole leaving your expensive brass locos lacquered raw metal thing. 🙂 )

Here are some of my photos of Scott’s Never Done and Always Changing Railroad in On30 and G.