Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A layer of plaster and a dab of color

There's always a long pause between updates, but things have been happening, albeit slowly. Mainly on the South Bend section of the layout as that is the closet to being a layout. I've moved forward with mountain building, and finally got the courage to attempt to carve the foam and lay down some of that sweet plaster cloth I bought last year. With the help of a tub of wall spackle, this is the ending result:

 Looks kinda sloppy, but its my first time doing this so I'll take it

Definitely wasn't feeling confident in it once I had finished and it had all dried, but after slapping on some color, it actually doesn't look too bad. at least for a first go. I got some plaster goo on the ship, but hey, nothing a spot of paint cant hide. I also got some retaining walls from a company called Chooch Enterprises. Its a rubbery silicone sheet thing with a self adhesive back that you can slap on where needed. I didn't trust the glue it came with so I spread on some of my trusty adhesive caulk and we were in business. I needed 2 sheets, but I bought 2 different styles by accident, and left an ugly looking seam between them, but since a building is going to be directly in front of that part I'm not too worried.
The next step is to get some ground cover down. I'm thinking kinda shrubby and gravely like a cutting or cliff since to me it looks more like a little piece of a larger mountain. So I'm gonna go light on the trees, heavy of the scrub and see what that looks like.
Its slowly coming together now, and the more I do the more excited I get. I cant wait to start taking some nice scenic pictures!

looking more and more erry day!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Its all coming together

The plastic sheet has been cut and painted, and boy does it look nice to have something resembling roads! I just used a random can of grey primer I found in my paint pile and used it just to get something down, but I'm actually really liking that color. I think I may just seal that and keep the go with it.

 starting to actually look like something for once...

I also made a tunnel portal out of the leftover parts of a bridge and cut them to fit in the mouth of the tunnel. I was having a real problem getting a tunnel portal that fit.
When I initially laid the track, I didn't measure the distance between the rails good enough, and as a result the tunnel mouth ended up way to wide. Visually it doesn't look too bad, but getting a standard tunnel portal to fit in there was pretty much impossible, so I had to bash something up. Doesn't look amazing, but I think once its painted it'll do.

the mountain grew a bit it seems. Cant wait to start planting trees!

I also added a bit more to the mountain. Helps the thing look more like it belongs and isn't just a random large hill. So now there's some more rocks to look at and makes it slightly more believable. Last but not least, the ship/s are finally glued in. which makes the mountain a permanent feature. all that's left now is to wrap that bad boy in plaster cloth and dress her up!

Stay Tuned!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Roads and Zoning

Well, its been a while, but I've finally got a bunch of the materials I need to continue on. Most notably the elevated track sections. A friend gifted me a set of Chicago style EL sections from the lovely people at Imagine That Laser Art. Their kits (of which they have many) are all laser cut plywood and the detail on them is top notch! Having built some laser cut junk before these went together with fairly little problem, though you do have to be careful with the N scale version of them to make sure everything lines up right. 
But any who, I got the first section done which allowed me to finalize the proper height for the trolley station into the mountain, which also allowed me to finally start gluing the the dang thing together!

 The first section coming together. Words of wisdom though, computers aren't good workbenches. 

In this next picture, the actual elevated section is complete and I'm lining up the height of the station with the deck of the platform. The next step is to permanently glue the station into the forming rock face. That long white sheet is actually a hunk of sheet plastic. the plan is to use that as the road base and build up the sidewalks with cardboard. It sounds silly, but I've seen it done else were so Imma give it a try!


This is a stencil I created of the area in the picture above. A full Map of the road/ground. I'll transfer the shape to that plastic sheet and spray it road color. Hopefully I got the shape right because that plastic sheet ain't cheap!

Look at that EL track though! Isn't it awesome? 
But hopefuly I can really start to ramp building up now that I have all the things I need to actually move forward. Which is great, because I'm tired of looking at boring spray painted foam! 

 Ding Ding! next stop, more updates!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fleet Review: BLI Baldwin Centipede

This review is way past due, partly because of my laziness, and partly because of an issue involving the locomotives themselves. But more on that later.
These bad boys are as cool as it gets. Baldwin Locomotive Works started building these beasts back in 1945, to 3 different railroads. On the Pennsylvania they were mostly run in semi-permanent A-A pairs. Resulting in a combined feather light 1.2 million pounds (600 tons), and a hearty 6000hp per pair. These guys were built to haul mass, and the N scale ones do well, in keeping that linage going.

I should get a 4 track signal bridge

First things first though. Paint! Its nice! what more can I say that hasn't been said about nearly any other modern N scale engine. the lines are crisp, wording is legible and the Brunswick Green glistens in the florescent layout lighting like an emerald covered in sharpie ink.
Inside, you have a standard 5-pole motor with 2 hefty flywheels(that work surprisingly well), your DCC board is rear mounted and each unit has 1 lovely speaker in nice little housings that allow it to produce some robust N scale grumble. The chassis is a heavy hunk of cast steel and is not split like some other engines. Lighting is obviously LED and is a nice warm white. Most Broadway Limited engines have dual mode decoders, so for those of you who have no DCC, you can run them on your layout. Just be warned that you will not have access to all the functions. Only the diesel engine and idle sounds. No horn, no bell, no cow and pig loading sounds. 

                                               A unit (back)                                       also A unit (front)

 Even though both engines are technically A units and can be run as 2 separate locos (which I do a lot), they are, specifically the ones Broadway Limited sells in pairs, set up in an A-B fashion. all this basically means is the the front unit, runs all regular like, where as the rear "A" unit is actually set up to run in reverse. So in DCC for the rear unit, reverse is forward and forward is reverse. This is slightly more annoying in DC mode as if you get it wrong you may have to pick up the damn things and physically switch em around.

 the draw-bar is on the left, wheels are in the baggie

Inside the box you get 4 extra little driver sets with traction tires. you have to fiddle with the trucks to install them but as long as you take it slow and follow the directions BLI has on their website its a piece of cake. I only used 2 of them, the engines together pull more cars than I own, and are fairly beefy without them.
You also get a little draw bar in the box along with a pair of micro-trains couplers. The draw-bar permanently couples the engines together, which is arguably best if you plan to keep then planted on your layout and double head them(as per the prototype). It screws into the coupler pocket just like the MT knuckles do. Though, kind of annoying for me, was that no screws are provided, and I don't have any just laying around so I had to improvise with some watch screws. so heads up there.

 There's a reason its called a centipede

As for pick up? Its great, you got 16 wheels picking up juice, so there should be no problems in that regard. That is however if you get a set of second run centipedes. when I first received my set, they ran, well...awful. pick up was trash, stalling every few inches, maybe I would get a foot or 2 if I was lucky. It was incredibly frustrating. especially because I dropped a pretty penny on them, and I felt like I just blew a nice wad of cash. I'm not very good with electronics, and I was kinda scared I would make what ever the problem was worse. So since they were under warranty I gave BLI a call and sent em' back. Turns out that the production run I just so happen to have bought was for some odd reason greased up with non conductive lube, and was the source of all that stalling. But! after a 3 week wait, they came back and run like champs. I wouldn't expect this problem with every unit, but its a minor one and easy to fix. But just be wary of that when you buy.
Oh, and for those of you who run code 55 track, have fun regauging  all 24 of those wheels!

A N5 caboose and a centipede. what else do you need?

All in all, despite all that hoopla with the lube, these are good engines and run(and sound) just as nice as they look. They pull like mule/s and definitely turn heads where ever they run. They come in Southern, Mexican, UP(fantasy) and Pennsy paint jobs, but I'm sure many people will find an excuse to buy at least one, there just too cool not too!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

DCC, Lights, and cars

 Not too exciting of an update really. No major progress has been done scenically to the layout, but I have acquired some neat new toys.
The biggest of which is an NCE powercab DCC system. I have yet to permanently hook it up to the trackwork, but ultimately I would like to be able to switch between DCC and DC so I can run all my dumb junk in circles for hours! I've been slowly getting more DCC equipped stuff so having a way to run it other than at the club is really nice. I have it a ramshackle set up for now, but I'm having a lot of fun with this thing.
one remote to control them all...

Aside from that I mentioned last post I had put lights in the ship but didn't have any pictures to prove it, so there ya go! Sure does look cool. I cant wait till I have more buildings and scenery in place!

the last train of the day, speeds through Southbend before nightfall

 I also got my mits on some really nice resin vehicles with a retro future sci-fi vibe to them.
there 10mm wargamming scenery pieces from the awesome guys at Hawk Wargames. The vehicles are surprisingly detailed, and being 10mm are roughly N scale. putting them next to other "true to scale" cars and trucks they do seem a tad small, but I think that once they are mixed in with other cars and trucks it will be much less noticeable. Paint would also most likely help

 I ended up with 2 bags of cars, 2 bags of trucks and buses, one post-apocalyptic double-decker bus, and one completely unrelated light cruiser class spacecraft. The picture on the right is a comparison with some actual N scale cars. Well, hover cars, I like to mess around but you get the idea.
Got a few more fleet reviews in the works so expect some new stuff up soonish (whenever I stop being lazy).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Some Progress

Updates have been slow, but I have been working on the layout! Its getting to the point where I really need to start looking at buying buildings and scenery. The city deck is, well its gonna take a long time just because the type of buildings I want take a few paychecks to acquire. but the other end, which as of this post I am dubbing 'Southbend' is coming along nicely.

So in the mountain department, the SS Eisenhower Hotel and Casino is done. Like done done. No mas. Is even lighted now using some LED strip lights I swiped Purchased legally at my local car store.

DONE!!(just the boat tho)

Also in is the long awaited trolley station, A Walthers Union Crane and Shovel kit. its painted, weathered and in place where it needs to be. It is not however fixed yet because I need to make sure it is the right height to the EL line, the girder sections of which should be coming in sooner(hopefully) rather than later. After that its plaster cloth and scenery time.

Southbend in all its glory

As you might be able to also tell from the above picture, I've started to plan out some of the roads and were buildings will go. Because of the sub docks taking up much of the scene in Southbend, theres likely going to be less buildings than I originally intended, but I'm hoping that once the trolley line goes in it'll fill up some space and look more dense. I just gotta figure out what I want to be there!
But all in all, its starting to look more layouty...well at least one end is, but that good! Its come a long way from a door I stole from the garbage with pink foam on top!

Its getting there!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fleet Review: Atlas 2-6-0 Mogul

Another new addition to my ever growing US Civil War era rolling stock. This big boy(for its time) was made by Atlas and Micro-Ace. I believe the model itself was designed by Micro-Ace and then imported to the states by Atlas, But don't quote me on that!
This particular one I bought unpainted at the same time I bought the C56 for the same price no less. I decided on painting it for the Baltimore Ohio Railroad in freight colors. I took a few liberties with painting as well as naming(a common thing for locos at the time) because even though I wanted to do the B&O, I...well, I didn't like their 'rules' so to speak.
I did some research and found that the B&O was one of the few railroads at the time who followed a uniform paint scheme for passenger and freight locomotives. It was also common for railroads in the early and mid 19th century to name locomotives in a similar manner to ships, but the B&O put an end to that pretty early (around 1850ish) and opted to use numbers because of how many engines they were acquiring. I decided that it needed a name anyways, and I changed up the tender lettering a bit too. Because oh well...

 I decided to name it 'Firefly'

As far as running goes, its actually quite amazing given the whole size of the thing. For pickup its got 4 of the drivers pulling power, the rear set being equipped with traction tires and being geared. The tender also provides pickup from all 4 axles and has a nice heft to it to keep contact with the rails. For power we have a teeny tiny 5 pole motor squeezed into the cab, so unlike other smaller engines (most notably the bachmann 4-4-0) there is no driveshaft coming out of the tender.
There also is a working directional headlight with is pretty amazing that Micro-Ace/Atlas managed to fit that stupid thing in there. Its not very bright but hey, its there! Also, a thing to note, the tender boogies are actually fixed into place. Don't be alarmed as the tender is so short, that this causes no problems taking turns and the engine will happily make a 9.75 radius curve. This is also actually something even the the prototype had believe it or not!

 sexy rear shot! $5 if you can guess what kind of coupler that is

Out of the box it comes equipped with a pretty standard MT knuckle, but I swapped that out for something else.
One thing to note though, is that this engine, just like the C56 needed to be drowned in oil to get it to work smooth. It was very dry and ran like poop as a result of that. So if you ever get one make sure you lube literally everything that moves. It will increase performance by 100%. This makes 2/2 Micro-Ace locos that came un-oiled so it may be a thing with them, but I'm not certain for sure yet.

Back to the couplers, Micro Trains makes a lot of CWE(civil war era) stuff and as such offers link and pin type couplers for older era trains. Since I started to grow my CWE fleet I though I would try them out. They couple very close and actually look pretty good. almost unnoticeable unless you point them out. they kinda snap into the supplied coupler boxes where you fit a little pin into a hole. though you can get away without using the pin, it actually expands the thin plastic that the link snaps to and creates a stronger hold. pretty reliable and since they don't easily come apart, they make derailments pretty interesting! 

 Not too bad...

The picture to the left is what they actually look like out of the box. from left to right: the draft box, the link itself, and the pins. the picture above is how it all goes together. Only thing I don't like about them is that they are very unforgiving of up and down movement, and I discovered that some of my cars are actually slightly too high and physically lifted the Moguls tender off the track making pickup an issue. But over all not bad and a neat accessory for older era stock. Though on a side note, I bet it could work really well with some European stuff too. Would definitely look better than those boxy rapidos!

So yea, I really like this thing a lot. And once you lube it up it runs near flawless. I would love to get more but they are kinda rare, but for those of you who model CWE railroads in N scale this thing is a definite to add some heavy freight to your roster!

From front to back: 2-6-0 'Firefly', 4-4-0 'William Mason', 4-4-0 'Alas', 4-4-0 CP 'Jupiter'