MECO Show and Sale

MECO Show and Sale
2016 Show & Sale will be the Saturday 14th May 2016 held at the Peachland Community Centre in Peachland BC. contact person Barb Janes-Yeo at 250-757-2842

Sunday, 3 February 2013

I've Been Working On The Railroad...

E9A #932 similar to the EMD F3 Diesel Passenger Train from the 1950's Featured Today
Literally all the live long day. I started back making my train set yesterday morning, worked on it most of the day except for a brief interlude to run an errand, worked until 2200 hours before retiring, up at 0700 hours, finally completing it now. On a side note,  I once went in to a sleep doctor for a problem with insomnia.  The doctor recommended "try to do a craft before you go to bed to calm your mind and trigger your brain's sleep centre". Suffice it to say, obviously this man had never met a miniaturist on a mission. 

Of course, this isn't to say I haven't appreciated something to do, what with all that hubbub about some sporting event or other this weekend. 
" I think its called the "splendid ball" sir..."

Awesome. Lets get this trip underway! Where we left off, I had cut and glued my buildings, but didn't have my trains done yet.

Passenger Car Before Excision

Passenger Car In Progress

Although tiny, this was a well thought out design for a printie -  one caveat was the instructions were written on some of the cars and not others, but if you did the unlabelled cars first and used the others as a guide, things went smoothly. I by and large ignored the instructions (okay, so I usually do anyway), as I found that with the way the cars were designed it was fairly straight forward in how things were put together anyway. The passenger car was essentially a box again, but the roof was rounded. I used a paint brush handle to get the appropriate curve. 

Passenger Cars Assembled
I did find the last few tabs to be glued in to be a pain, mostly because there was no way to actually push the tab against the inner wall as there was no access at that point. I stopped scoring the last tabs for that reason, because then the paper would push itself into the right position once the tab was inserted. 

The engine was a tad more challenging, in that it had the main engine piece, the nose cone, and the front panel. The engine itself was barely an inch long, the nose cone and front panel were probably 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in size... obviously, this led to some challenges in actually holding on to the pieces long enough to get them glued, and before that inevitable moment where the piece springs out of your hand and lands in the pile of waste paper that is now littered around your feet, and of course EVERYTHING looks the same as your "good" piece of paper. Good times, good times. 

Little Engine with Passenger Car
Train with Passenger Cars

Town and Train Put Together
 You would think that now the tiny structures and trains are put together, that is the fussy bit done, right? Wrongo! Remember all those pictures with the track? It was time to cut all that out. 

Making Tracks

Admittedly, I went a little overboard with the track, in the end I only needed a small percentage of what I did excise, but was thankful I had extra track when I needed to modify angles and such. It took me several hours, however, of very tedious cutting. We were given in our project package enough trains and buildings to do a second one, so maybe I will make a different lay out with a different theme at some other time. 

Picture of Where We Want To End Up

The Town Layout
 I found the layout didn't quite match the angles of some of the tracks, but that was okay as I eventually went ahead and landscaped around any strange ghosts of track later. 


 This is what happens when you carry your project bag upside down. Isn't it odd that you can struggle with a plastic sleeve to give up its contents, but the minute you aren't looking everything falls out with no effort at all? Murphy, that wag, has been making rules again. 

Layout with "River"  Cut Out

To give the river depth,  I cut the water out of the layout, traced where it would be on my foamcore, and crushed that area to form a river bed. 

River Bed Traced

Making Geography With A Blunt Object

Once this was done, I used some blue paper (provided in our project bag) and glued that into the depression I had just made. I glued the layout on top of that. 

Layout, and My Feet, Apparently
 I didn't like the flat blue appearance of the paper, so I went in with my Prussian Blue, Metallic Silver, and Black paints, and gave it a little paint job. To simulate water, I used "Triple Thick" varnish, so called is triple thick varnish. Sometimes product names just aren't all that inventive. 

Triple Thick Varnish By DecoArt
 If you do a lot of small work, this is a great product to have, as you can simulate water, give depth to a window pane, etc. It could be used in lieu of a more vaporous concoction for drink contents, etc., for that matter as well.  

Fitting the Train Set to The Layout
 It is always good to "get the lay of the land". This is post-track application, and technically "finished". I wanted to make sure that I had enough room for the buildings and for the trains to be sitting on the tracks, and also how things would fit together before I was rash enough to glue anything down. As it turns out, there was going to be a need for a short passenger train coming into this town, an engine and one car. Somehow,  I didn't see that train getting around some of those corners easily without derailing itself if it was any longer than I made them. 


 When I finished getting the track down, and my town in place, I looked at it thought ... well, that is boring. I realized that a) the track was a "closed" track and b) everything looked a little "flat" in colour. 

To deal with the first problem - what do I mean by "closed" track? Simply put, before track modification my train (if it was real system) would simply follow two loops around the town, but never be able to go anywhere. Fine for a child's toy, I suppose, but an adult enthusiast just wouldn't have this happen. It does not make sense that layout with such a small downtown shopping area would have two big engines and 3 passenger cars serving it, along with a fairly good sized depot. The train would never leave the areadoomed to circle around the town only a couple of blocks long. I mean, who do they think will be riding this train in a town that would take 10 minutes to walk across? Just getting to the depot, you are liable to walk past your destination anyway, and guess where you would end up getting off the train? Yup, at the *depot*.  It just wouldn't happen, and if it did, someone in the city planning department would be getting fired, unless they were lucky enough to be the mayor's nephew, and even then it might be touch and go. So, I put some extra track down so it leads off out of town (I included 2 traffic paths on one side of town, and two on the other). That way, the eye can resolve the fact that this isn't really bad city planning, and gives the whole thing a feeling of movement, which is the heart stone in the model train genre. 

For the second problem, I decided to landscape my layout and give it some colour, some interest, some "pop", if you will, so a  flat paper project that looks like a flat paper project turns into a diorama that tells a story. 

Rail Bed
 I applied some tiny Woodland Scenics ballast that I had kicking around. It was very tiny fine grade, and from the smell of it, it is clay based (as it smelled like cheap kitty litter, before fluffy gets to it). This brand of course isn't necessary, although it is common enough in hobby stores that sell model trains. I have also found land scaping "kits" in certain box stores that shall remain named after one or two members of the Monkees.  I probably could have gone as fine as sand if I wanted, but this gave a nice texture, and i wanted the sand for the river bank proper. I applied glue to small areas, took pinches of my ballast between thumb and forefinger, and sprinkled it over the glue. I tapped the ballast down into the glue, shook off the rest (if you have to vacuum, probably best to do that evil chore *after* you play with landscaping supplies), and groomed the edges a bit with the toothpick.  You don't want to do too much glue, nor too long of an area, as to avoid globs of ballast and glue not holding the rocks. 

A word on toothpicks. If you can find plastic ones, it can make the gluing easier because a) plastic doesn't swell with moisture like the wooden toothpicks do and b) you can wipe off the glue boogie (that sounds like a dance, doesn't it? Everyone do the  Glue Boogie!)  that inevitably forms and causes too much glue to be applied.

Track with Ballast
 Already the track is gaining character. I have also added sand to the river banks in this shot.
Landscaping complete!

 The "grass" went on a bit faster, as I could "paint" larger areas with glue and sprinkle on the "grass" quite quickly. The "grass" is actually very finely chopped flocking. This is NOT a product which you want to breathe in, as there is something called "Flock Worker's Lung", and can be serious.  Take care that you aren't getting this stuff airborne, and use in controlled settings. If you use this a lot, you might actually invest in a mask Isn't it amazing how dangerous a miniaturist's life can be?
Town Glued Down
 Here it is! With the greenery and ballast, it does pop quite a bit, as I hoped. All done, the end. 

WAIT. You say, where is the little red caboose? There has gotta be a little red caboose, otherwise what is life for?  Wondered that myself, actually. From what I can see, this 1950 era passenger train either didn't have one, or not a red one, at least (the bright colour, by the way, had a function, it was to make sure the train was visible from other approaching trains). A caboose may appear on a side track eventually here,  but I may have to figure out how to make one as one wasn't included in the kit. All the printies I can find at the moment usually include happy smiling little children's trains  and it just won't do (although admittedly,   when I was a kid, I hated anthropomorphizing non-living things anyway, even then I wanted realism, so a train with a face is just plain wrong -  sorry Thomas).  Cabooses were originally places for the conductor to do his paperwork, and this was its doom - once computers came into play for controls and the conductor wasn't as responsible for the paperwork that comes with running a railroad, the caboose faded from existence, as its importance faded.  They were technically phased out sometime in the 1980's, although I am sure I have seen cabooses once or twice since then. Until I can figure this out...and I *will* figure this out... here is a little red caboose moment so we know the train has finished passing


 Until next time, fellow travellers!

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