Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Drywater Interlude 2

     "See what I mean?" asked Lefty, "it's a nice little engine if you don't mind the rust coming off on your britches."
     Minnesota Pete grumbled. "Pile of junk,you ask me. And that lady,  one I see poking around on it, what's her story?"
     Meat Lonnigan lifted his head enough to see out from under his hat. "Aw, she's kinda nice. She works for the Panamint Locomotive Works, doing some kinda research on this old can. She says they're gonna get it running and put it into revenue service either on the Drywater line or over to Soda Lake."
     "Huh! That what she told you?  I heard she owns both the Soda Lake railroad and the Delirium Route. She just pretends about that historical preservation stuff. She just likes fixing up old engines and laying track. Revenue service, huh! That'll be the day."
     Meat took a swig from the jug and settled back down. "Well anyway, she don't seem to take no never-mind to the likes of us. In fact, I kinda think she likes us hanging around the yard."
     "What makes you think a damn fool thing like that?" asked Pete.
     "Well, she seems to like the state of advanced dilapidation that this here engine so perfectly personifies"
     The other men exchanged looks and scratched their chins.
     "I mean think about it. If she's worried about someone taking a paintbrush to this old can, then she's got nothing to fear from us."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rusting Away

     I finally got up the nerve to start painting my little Mantua engine, and so far I'm really pleased with the results. After thinking long and hard, I decided a mixed media approach was in order.
     First, I painted Floquil reefer white everywhere I wanted rust. Second, I mixed Testors flat sea blue with flat black and used it for the primary color. The subtle blue in the black will make the rust really pop. Third, I went overthe white with Tamiya clear orange. the result you see here.
     Once I finish the orange, I plan to blend it in and tone it down with Testors rust. The bright orange should show through and give a great luminescence. The smoke box will be testors silver. Once it's done, clear coat and weathering to finish it off.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good To Be Back

It's been a while since I've posted, and this is mainly a test of my new fancy Google phone. It looks like I can post to my blog Ok, but typing ob the touchscreen is next to impossiblw. more to follow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Drywater Interlude

     "Wish we could crack that reefer," grumbled Minnesota Pete.
     Lefty Daniels sighed, "How many times I gotta tell ya, just cause it says beer on the outside, don't mean there's beer on the inside. Besides, we got four jugs of Topdown Lightning here, and a barrel of Merced River Pino. What else you need?"
     "Well, it could use a chaser, that's all I'm sayin."
     "Pete, you gotta be more philisophical about the situation, like me for example. I ain't been a hobo half as long as you, but I got it all figured out, you see.  I mean, take a look around, pal. Look at them pines in the smokey haze over cross the river. Why, that's a scene right out of one of them Burt Myers paintings of the Adirondacks. Boy, there's steelhead trout right in that river, and all we gotta do is go fish 'em out, cook em over a fire made out of pine cones. See what I'm gettin at? We collect pine cones and we ain't even gotta chop no wood. This is the life, y'ask me."
     "Yeah, you kids think you got all the answers, don't ya? Take a deep breath, smell the fresh air, and everything's right with the world! I used ta think like that. But some day you wake up, find yourself working a played out delirium mine, wonderin where it all went, and how come you never got your cut of the profits. That's a bucket of cold water in your bedroll that don't never dry out."
     "There you go again, gripin about the delirium all played out. We find a little vein now and again, enough to keep us in good with the scientists. They're happy with whatever little bit we can squeeze out of that old mine, so they keep us in pork'n'beans and we spend most of our time runnin our own enterprise. It's a good life, Pete."
     "Wonder what them eggheads do with the stuff? Looks like plain old fool's gold to me."
     "Well, I ast one once, and he said somethin about how there's deuterium, and there's tritium, but that delirium has it all beat over both of them."
     "Aw hell, he was half swacked by then. What you want to go listenin to them eggheads for anyhow?  Ain't I told you they're all hooptey?"
     "Hooptey or not, they buy more lightning than they do delirium, and that's the more reliable of our incomes anyhow. They got money, them scientists, and they like good lightning when they can find it."
    "Yeah, you kids with all the answers, eh?"
     "Aw, c'mon Pete, it's a beautiful afternoon, and not a watchman in sight. We got fish in that river, boxcars all around, and all the wonders of nature just waitin to be appreciated. Just look at this fine new ballast they brought in here this morning. Nothin spiffs up a railroad yard like a strip of fine new ballast, eh Petey old boy?"
     "Listen to you, goin on about a ton of gravel! You're hooptey, you know that? Too much of this mountain air and you kids go all hooptey! You're just a hobo moonshiner, and that's all you'll ever be, same as me. We dig the mine, we run the still, and where does it get us? Where the hell we ever going to go? You damn kids with all the answers!
     "Yeah, I guess I'm just talkin in the wind is all, and that's fine by me. I like my situation, otherwise I'd catch a car over to Soda Lake and get a job in the borax plant. Good money there, but no, I like it here just fine."
     "Damn kids, that's all I got ta say."
     "Who you callin kid, ya old fart? I'm fifty-three."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Drivin' em In and Tyin' em Down!

I dug out my old digital camera and scrounged up a couple of batteries in hopes of getting a better close-up of my trackwork. And so, voi la!

     I'm learning a lot about spiking rail. Want to learn how to spike rail? Get the materials and give it a try. You will be learning before you know it. Rule one: spike one rail in straight (use a metal straightedge) and then gauge the second rail off of the first. Rule two: push the spikes in at an angle, so that the points of the spikes almost meet under the rail. Rule three: push the spikes in just a little back from the rail, rather than snug up to it. That way you can tighten up later when you fine-tune the gauge.
     I discovered that pre-drilling is rarely necessary. Push 'em in with the pliers. If the sleeper splits, then pull out and drill the hole wider. So far, only one split. Having them glued in makes the difference. And just like that, I'm laying track! It's great fun. So far, I give myself a B- in getting it right. It looks good to me, and the test truck rolls over it beautifully, but the gauge is tight in one spot, and it's too late to correct that section. Lesson learned. But seeing is how I've completed less than a foot of track so far, I'm quite chuffed at my success!

Staining Sleepers

     Taking a cue from our own Jim Lincoln, one of the great Jedi Masters of trackwork, I went to work on the sleepers with a stainless steel brush. If you lean in and go slow, it will gouge out some lovely furrows in the grain. Unfortunately, my little phone camera hasn't got the wherewithal to show that kind of detail, but it really does work. When you apply stain, it goes in the grain quite nicely.
     I experimented with alcohol thinned india ink, which gives a beautiful gray age to the wood, but still leaves it "blonde" underneath. Testors "Rust" thins down to a perfect redwood stain, but looks too fresh. The two together give a close approximation to what I had in mind. I had considered thinning Testors "Flat Green" to simulate a copper sulfate preservative that's popular out here in the west, but I think I'm happy with what I've got so far.
     In the picture you can see my various track gauges, tools, and materials. The bright sleepers are bare basswood, for comparison. I painted the rails with the same rust paint, less thinned. The spikes need to have the heads trimmed down, which you can easily do with your rail nippers. Takes a bit of time, but the way I see it this is a hobby, not a job. This is time well spent. Besides, I figure I'm about as fast as a scale chain-gang, give or take.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gandy Dancing

Planning a layout is a lot of fun for me, but occasionally you gotta drop your pencil and build something, even if your plans have yet to be completed. And so it happens that I took a scrap of MDF baseboard mouldning, covered it in cork roadbed, measured out three lanes of track, and laid a row of ties (or "sleepers" as they're known in much of the world.)

     Before I tackle building stub switches, I want to get a feel for just plain "laying track." I have an abundance of Campbell HO basswood sleepers, a thousand Micro Engineering spikes, and a bundle of ME code 70 rail in 18" lengths. I'll need to pick up some Future floor wax for when it comes time to ballast (we MRR listeners know all about that) but for now I've got enough to get started: sleepers, rails, spikes, gauges, and endless patience.

     I used some old atlas HO sectional track to draw my guidelines on the cork (a sharpie works great) and sorted out a bunch of ties of similar dimensions. The old Campbell ties have a lot of variation, but I got them really cheap, so I don't mind a little fussing. In the future, I think I'll use match sticks instead. The dimensions are almost identical (though they're square in cross section) and they have a nice beat-up texture. Besides, they're soft enough to push spikes through without splitting. Basswood ties I'm probably going to have to drill. and at four spikes per tie, that's a lot of drilling.

     I glued them in with yellow carpenter's glue, letting it pre-dry a little, so as to get nice and tacky. Then I dipped the sleepers in one-at-a-time, eyeballing the spacing so as not to get them too perfect. In hindsight, I think I need to make an actual effort to jog them around a little bit, since I'm naturally meticulous. Once they dry solid, I need to sand the tops down to an even level. In some places, a lot of wood will have to come off.

     So far it's been a lot of fun and very relaxing, almost meditative in fact. The three-track yard is 31" long, and will comprise this stretch of straight track, a Fast-Tracks turnout or two, and right in the middle, my three-way, double stub-switch. In the end it will be a glorified test track, or maybe even a micro layout if I can surround it with some scenic backdrops. Mostly though, it's my practice yard for track laying. I'll keep posting as I go along.