Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Line side poles

Look at a photo of any 20th century railroad line and you will see line side poles of some kind. These have been used to carry the wires that have done many things for the railroad including telegraph, telephone, signal control, remote turnout control, etc.  As the railroads adopted newer technology many of these overhead wires were no longer needed.  Often the poles have remained.

After working with a few different types of poles I over the years on various layouts I have decided to used the Atlas 2801 Telephone pole sets as line side poles on this layout. 

 As I have known I would need quite a few of these poles on this layout, I always have my eye out for any deals on ebay or at train shows for the Atlas 2801 telephone pole set.

Recently I found a stash of Atlas poles at a train show which I ended up paying $1.25 per box.  The boxes were quite beat up but the poles were just fine.


The Atlas set has 12 poles.  Some have transformers and trolley wire supports which I don't need.  The trolley wire supports are easy to cut off but I have not been able to remove the transformers without damaging the two top cross arms.
I normally combine multiple sets in a single box to save space.  The color of the stock poles vary from set to set which can be seen in this photo so I paint them Testors roof brown.




Before painting I cut off the trolley wire supports on the poles that have them and clean up any mold lines for flash.  Then I run my razor saw down the length of pole to give it a more wood look.





Here are three poles at different stages of work.  First I paint the top half brown, then after that has dried overnight hold it by the cross arms and paint the bottom half.  The after that dries I paint the insulators and cross arm braces. As a last step I then apply some high gloss to the insulators.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Finishing the river at Gloconda

After touching up the base scenery around the bridge abutments and adding a few rock outcroppings I decided to finish the river with a coat of gloss medium.  The blending of different color shades when painting the river bed gives the illusion of depth.

I have been trying out the Silfourettes grass tufts from Scenic Express and really like them.  Some of the greener ones were placed along the waters edge.







I took this photo after securing the Gloconda section into it's place in the layout  and with the bridges set temporarily in place to see what it would look with the backdrop behind it.





Saturday, February 11, 2017

Finishing the concrete bridge at Gloconda

Finishing the segmented concrete trestle on the SP line required a bit more work than the thru truss bridge on the WP line.

A printout of this photo has been posted above the work area as a reference for me to follow.
The 3 bents that I had started got trimmed to fit into place under the layout.  Because this bridge is on a slight grade, each bent is a different length and the marks on the top indicate their relative position under the bridge. The bents and bridge were air brushed Testors aged concrete and after drying for a couple days were glued into their positions.
A layer of Hydrocal plaster was poured into the river that was deep enough to cover the cross bracing on the bottom of the pilings so it appears that they are driven into the riverbed.  The bents were covered with sensitive surface painters tape to protect them from getting any plaster on them.

When I removed the painters tape from the bents some of the paint was pulled off and had to be touched up with a brush.

The bents, deck, and abutments are being weathered with acrylic washes and powders.

At this point the bridge deck fits nicely into place but can be easily removed for working on the river and the areas around the river under the bridge.  When I am satisfied with those things, the bridge deck and track can be installed.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Finishing the thru truss bridge at Gloconda

Last summer in the post First crossing of the Humboldt River I had started building a Central Valley Models thru truss bridge for the WP line and was scratch building a segmented concrete trestle for the SP line to match the bridges in this photo that I show again here as reference.




Completing the area around the river is a combination of several different projects including the two bridges that are all interrelated.  In this post I will cover the the finishing of the Western Pacific thru truss bridge which is in the foreground of the scene.

After assembling the Central Valley Model Works bridge,  the abutments that it would rest on were made from 1/4 inch plastic material and installed into the scenery on each side of the river.  They were then brush painted with Testors aged concrete.  One of those is shown in this photo.

I have always noticed that none of the bridge model kits include the bridge shoes that attach the ends of the bridge to the abutments.  I found a set on the KD Models Shapeways shop designed by Dwayne Ward who is modeling the Texas and Pacific in N Scale and has a blog for his T&P layout.



The bridge structure itself was then air brushed with Floquil Old Silver. After drying overnight it was given a wash of Testors black acrylic weathering wash.  The weathering wash really brings out the details such as rivets and the year of construction that is cut into the top plate on each end of the bridge.

I am now applying some weathering powers to highlight some areas of rust.

Here is the same abutment shown in the earlier photo after the same weathering wash had been applied.

Those bridge feet seemed understated until they also received the weathering wash when the bridge was done, now I think they really show off nicely.  I will be ordering more of these for my other bridges.



The ties were removed from the middle of a section of Micro Engineering flex track and the bridge ties that came with the kit were popped into place after ACC was applied to the rail bottoms.
This assembly will be air brushed a rail tie brown color and be ready when the time comes to install the bridge.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Train Board winter layout party

Regular followers may have noticed quite an increase in the frequency of my posts lately.  That is because I have been participating in the annual Trainboard.com winter layout party.

The idea is to focus on some particular goals for a layout and then post on the progress regularly on Trainboard's Layout Design forum.  This event started at the end of December and will run to March 9th.

If you are not already familiar with Trainboard.com, check it out.  There are many different forums of all scales as well as a large photo library.

Monday, January 30, 2017

First trains reach Wesso from the staging yard

With all the track connected from the staging yards through the helix and the Wesso sections of the layout, it was time to run some test trains trains.  There is a limited amount of track east of Wesso junction but short trains can be run through the cross overs and return on a different line than they went up on.

A pair of UP GP40's will start from the upper staging yard and a pair of SP SD35's will start from the lower staging yard.  Each pair of locos has an Aztec track cleaning car in between them.

The SP train goes out first.

After climbing the helix the SP train arrives at Wesso and takes the cross overs from the SP line to the east bound paired track.


The UP train leaves next, starting it's climb up the helix.  Because the upper level staging yard is one helix turn higher than the lower yard, this line has a one turn shorter run in the helix.

The UP train leaves the helix, passes through the  small Winnemucca section which does not have scenery yet and approaches Wesso junction.

The UP train takes the cross over from the WP / UP line to the west bound paired track.

After passing through the cross overs, both trains arrive at the end of line both in terms of track and scenery just past the dry creek area.  The UP train on the west bound track and the SP train on the east bound track.

After all of the points of the cross overs have been aligned, both trains begin moving west bound to return to the staging level.  This time the UP train is entering the SP track to the lower level and the SP train is on the WP / UP track to the upper level.

On the trip down to the staging yard the UP train has the smaller radius and moves ahead of the SP train.  The SP train however will leave the helix one turn before the UP train so they both end up in the staging yard at about the same time.

Here we are back at staging with the trains in opposite yards from where they started.

For the first time there is a connection between the two staging yards although it still requires a reverse move in one direction.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Connecting M/E code 55 to Atlas code 80 track

The Wesso section has been bolted into place and the cork road bed installed on both line connecting the road bed between the helix and the Wesso section and it was time to make the track connections. The Atlas code 80 track from the helix would need to be connected to the Micro Engineering code 55 on the visible parts of the layout.  There would also need to be a gap in the rails at the point were the helix and main line DCC power districts meet.

This was the first time I had connected Atlas code 80 track to Micro Engineering code 55 track.  I started by making a plate from PC board material as I had done for track gaps in the staging yard, but this time I added a pair of .020 thick brass strips on one end.

The brass strips brought the code 55 rail up to the height of the code 80 rail.  Then it was just a matter of aligning and soldering in place on the plate.

It is not pretty but it works.  These will be out of view behind the sky board near the helix.

The isolation gaps between DCC power districts on both lines will be in the visible areas of the layout on the code 55 track.   For that I am using a product called Gapmaster from the American Tie and Timber Company.  These are 4 tie sections made from PC board material with a gap in the middle of each tie.

In the case of the WP line shown in this photo, I had two sections of M/E code 55 track where I used the Gapmaster instead of rail joiners. Then just a couple of passes with my razor saw to remove the PC board plating and complete the gap.

On the SP line I removed 4 ties and replaced them with the Gapmaster, then sawed through the rails.

I had already used the Gapmaster with very good results on the double crossovers at Wesso.

This photo shows one of those after the track was painted and ballast was applied.  After the ties are painted they blend in with the rest of the ties.