Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy (N)ew Year - Finishing Strong

Only a few hours left in 2011.  The kids are in bed, the wife is reading a book, and I am finishing strong with the addiction...

I have a bunch of ARMN reefers that need graffiti, so I thought this would be a great activity to close out my year.  As I reflect on 2011, it was a great year to be an N scale addict.  I completed a layout, made some progress on my weathering techniques, and had multiple articles published which only fed my addiction.  2012 should be a good year, and will start off strong with the Great Train Expo only 4 weeks away.  I hope this year was also good for all of you fellow N scalers out there. 

I'm going to get to work now, and don't worry, I plan to model responsibly tonight and not overdose on N scale.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Model Railroading Tools - Air Compressor

So Dr. Pepper has been advertising their 10 calorie "man drink" heavily lately which I think is a waste of marketing dollars.  We all know that men are measured by many other more relevant things like the size and quantity of our tools.  That being said, I recently upgraded the gauges on my air compressor to make it more model railroad friendly for my airbrush.  One of the original gauges was broken so I plumbed 2 new larger gauges.  My compressor has a 30 gallon tank, 4 1/2 horsepower motor, and a built in regulator for air pressure adjustment which is necessary for controlling pressure for things such as painting with an airbursh.  I don't have a water trap, but haven't had any issues since I paint with acrylics almost exclusively.  I also have a smaller compressor with a 2 gallon tank that I use for a nail gun, and some painting, but prefer to use the 30 gallon tank since the air will last a long time.  I also added a quick attach coupler on the main air supply so I can easily go between my airbrush and my airhose for general use like filling tires and blowing out my lawn irrigation system. 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Birds Eye View of Marias Pass

I stood up on a ladder with my camera to shoot this birds eye view of the Marias Pass.  It's a very interesting perspective especially with mountain scenery.  It reminds me of the satellite images found on google earth. 

This also illustrates the overall dimensions, configuration of the the table, track plan, and positioning of the backdrop.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marias Pass in HD

So I purchased a new Canon Rebel T2i (Merry Christmas to me) which takes HD quality video as well as stills.  I shot a few minutes of video with it and posted it on youtube.  I am using the manual settings to increase aperture/depth of field and still need to learn the minor adjustments.  I really like the capabilities of the camera so far and see this as yet another form of addiction for me and this hobby.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jan/Feb 2012 N Scale Railroading: Marias Pass Part II

Part 2 of my Marias Pass series just hit the shelves in the Jan/Feb 2012 N Scale Railroading issue.  I really enjoy the bench work phase of building a model railroad.  I discuss how I use plywood for nearly all the lumber materials for this layout.

Friday, December 16, 2011

ARMN 57' & 64' Reefer Comparison, BLMA, Intermountain

The new N scale BLMA 64' reefer made a big splash awhile back, and I have been applying graffiti and weathering to several that I own.  Intermountain also makes a nice 57' version also lettered in ARMN.  While the 64' prototype version is newer than the 57' version, they are both commonly found on the Union Pacific system.  I wanted to use both N scale versions within my collection since they offer unique graffiti and weathering opportunites.  I took a few comparison photos of both models side by side to illustrate the differences and attention to detail that both manufacturers have given to their respective model.  The size difference of the more modern 64' version is quite apparent when it stands next to its smaller cousin.  These are straight out of the box, but I plan to spend a great deal of time applying graffiti and weathering to my entire collection of reefers.




Thursday, December 15, 2011

Union Pacific ex-SP Patch Units on Marias Pass

ok, so it's probably not likely to see a pair of ex-SP patch units on Marias Pass, but I have a decent sized collection of both BNSF and UP equipment, so decided to pose this pair for a photo on the mountain.  Other than the concrete ties, this could probably resemble a Tennessee Pass or other location on the Union Pacific system.  I really like how these turned out.  I have expanded my weathering techniques and feel like I am beginning to have the ability to dictate the results as opposed to "hoping for the best" when I first started.  I used a combination of airbrushing and drybrushing acrylics on both of these.  The updated yellow stripe on #9647 is really sharp and brings the loco up to current standards.  From what I can tell, #9647 is still in active duty wearing the original SP paint and patch, while 9651 has long been repainted into UP colors.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Canon Rebel XS 10.1 MP DSLR Camera For Sale

SOLD - I have been thinking about upgrading the family video camera for awhile now, and after posting some videos of my N scale projects here and on YouTube, decided it was time.  I have really enjoyed my experience with model railroad photography over the past few years, and want to begin making quality videos and my current video cam just isn't cutting it.  Instead of looking at a new dedicated video cam, I am looking to instead upgrade my DSLR to a model that has video capabilities.  That being said, I am looking to sell my Canon Rebel XS and thought I would seek indications of interest here on my blog first.  This camera has taken almost every photo on this blog as well as the material in my printed articles.  Oh, and we've taken some photos of the family too.

This camera was purchased in late April of 2009, and is just 2 1/2 years old, and was an upgrade to our Canon Power Shot point-n-shoot camera.  I made a hard sell to my wife at the time that it would be a great "family" camera, but we both knew the truth.  The camera comes with everything included in the original kit including the stock 18-55mm lens, battery charger, and software.  I added a Sunpak UV filter. 

For anyone wanting to get into model railroad photography, and also want a quality DSLR for general photos, this is a great camera.  Please check out the reviews online, check out what these are going for on auction sites, and make me an offer.

The camera is in great physical and mechanical condition. 



Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Few Features of my Rocky Mountain Sub Model Railroad

As previously mentioned, I have thousands of photos of my N scale projects.  Here are a few illustrating some of the features of the Rocky Mountain Sub (model railroad #2).  Many of these techniques were a first for me at the time, and helped me develop my modeling skills.

I added a deep and cold mountain lake in the middle of the layout and let it drain to the side under the mainline.  The base was a piece of plywood that I painted varying darknesses of grey and black.  The middle is darkest to represent the deepest water.  I then added different sizes of rock and ballast around the edges.  I used Modge Podge painted on with a 1" brush to represent the water.  After a couple of coats, I stippled it to make ripples on the surface.  Modge Podge is really easy to work with and I think the results were very realistic. 



I made my own tunnel portals, and using the Southern Pacific's Donner Pass snowsheds as inspiration, made my own sheds from 1/8" masonite. I painted them concrete and weathered them with grimy black.


Here is a look at some of the rock work I did using Woodland Scenics rock molds and hydrocal.  I painted them with cheap artist acrylics diluted with water.


One item I am proud of is the control panel that I built.  This layout is DC and required toggle switches to contol the 5 blocks and track switches which were automated using Tortoise switch machines.  I simply used MS Paint to create the diagram, text, and logo, and printed it on card stock.  I used two pieces of plexiglass to sandwich the diagram, and then drilled the holes to accept the toggle switches.  This is an easy way to make any model railroad look more professional.


I painted a piece of styrene and some small brass wire black and planted them on one of the mainline curves to represent a flange greaser.  I painted on some oil black using an airbrush to grime up the surrounding rail.

Friday, December 9, 2011

More Photos of my First N Scale Model Railroad

I have thousands of photos of my model railroad projects and will continue to post more here as I have time.  My first model railroad taught me a lot about various aspects of the hobby, from bench work, to laying track, to scenery, to operating rollingstock.  Probably the most important thing I have learned is that completing a project is really satisfying.  This project really was the spring board that started my model railroad building binge.  I look back at this project now and find a lot of flaws (compared to my standards today) but what I learned was invaluable.  Thanks for looking, and enjoy.





I used a plywood cookie cutter style sub roadbed for the track, and then a combination of insulation foam and cardboard mesh covered with plaster cloth and sculptamold.  Other than my Orin Line which was built on a solid sheet of plywood, all of my model railroads have used this method.  I like to lay my track and cork roadbed on plywood since it creates a nice solid surface. 



The scenery is very plain, but the track plan was fun to operate, and would make a nice mountain layout since it has a slight grade and opportunities for tunnels and hidden track.  It would also be possible to incorporate some hidden staging on a lower level if desired.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

N Scale BNSF Orin Line - Video Archive

I found some old video footage of my N scale BNSF Orin Line model railroad that I started back in 2006.  I decided to make a couple videos to share.  I no longer own the layout, but it was a fun project and satisfied my love of unit coal trains.  Even for a small portable layout, I think it did a decent job of replicating the area, both in scenery and train traffic. 



Saturday, December 3, 2011

Paint Caddy

My cousins were recently looking to get rid of their HO scale collection that they had growing up.  I decided to acquire everything that they had which included a few locos, lots of rollingstock, tools, parts, track, a couple power packs, and misc. items.  We grew up together running HO scale and it was fun going through boxes of old stuff.  My son is 7 and has his own HO scale model railroad, so now he has a much larger collection.  One of the items that I am going to use for my own is a paint jar caddy that one of my cousin's built when he was probably 12.  It was made from plywood and a hole saw.  I can't imagine how many hours he must have spent drilling the holes, assembling, and sanding.  Oh well, I'll try to make good use of it for my paint jars.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The N Scale Orin Line that Never Was

When I had completed and sold my n scale Rocky Mountain Sub, I made the decision to build a new model railroad based on the area in Eastern Wyoming known as the Powder River Basin.  I completed the bench work and some of the scenery base, but that is as far as I got.  At the time we were in the middle of moving to a new home, and during that time I changed my mind about the size of the layout.  Instead, I built and completed a 4'x10' design which became the n scale BNSF Orin Line model railroad. 

The original design was 4'x14' and used two sections which came apart in the middle.  I used ripped 1"x6"s for the bench work frame and glued foam insulaton on top to create the scenery surface.  The legs were built to fold for easy transport.  I was fortunate that a friend of mine was able to use the completed bench work, and still operates on it today.  It was transformed into a desert theme, and was later relocated to the desert southwest with a move.








Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great Train Expo - Model Railroad Train Show

To all of you midwestern model railroading enthusiasts, the Great Train Expo is coming to Council Bluffs, Iowa January 28-29 at the Mid America Center.  It has been 2 years since the last show due to the "World's Greatest Hobby" appearing at the Qwest center in Omaha last year.  I have always enjoyed the GTE since the vendors and layouts are in seperate rooms which helps manage the crowd.  I had the Orin Line there 2 years ago, and N scale was well represented overall.  I'm taking the Marias Pass layout this year which will be the very first public appearance for the model railroad.  Stop by and say hi if you attend the show. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

BLMA Reefers - Graffiti Project

After I gave my first 2 reefers a weathering and graffiti treatment a couple months ago, I finally decided to begin work on the remaining 16 cars.  They have been sitting on my work bench for a couple months now, and hadn't even been out of their boxes.  I am going to do these in batches, starting with the graffiti decals and then adding the minimal weathering after removing the trucks.  I am using both Microscale and Blair Line decals.  The reefers are nice cars for large graffiti decals since they are a smooth car.  The only challenge is applying the decals over the sliding door track and the other details that stick out from the car side.  Graffit typically goes to the very bottom of the car so it doesn't look right to start the decal above the track.  It's getting cold in the garage now and I'll be moving my work inside very soon.  I also threw a couple older LBF cars into the project mix.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Inspiration from Mike Danneman

I had the pleasure of using some prototype photos from Mike Danneman in my recent Marias Pass Introduction article in the latest NSR.  The latest Model Railroader magazine featured his N scale Rio Grande model railroad which is truly a work of art. 

I was fortunate enough to see Mike's 5'x7' model railroad in person at N Scale Supply in Denver, CO about 10 years ago.  A few years later I was even more fortunate to be able to visit the model railroad on a frequent basis as a fellow N scaler as well as local friend of mine acquired it.  I can honestly say that this model railroad has been an inspiration to me as well as many other modelers of all scales in our hobby.
Here are a few photos of Mike's 5'x7' model railroad that I shot a couple years ago.  My son was only 5 years old at the time, and had the best seat in the house.  It was made for model railroad photography.





Sunday, November 13, 2011

Marias Pass Model Railroad, Video #4

Here it is: video 4 of 4 in the Marias Pass model railroad series.  This time I am following Amtrak's Empire Builder as it snakes eastbound towards the continental divide.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marias Pass Model Railroad, Video #3 - West Glacier, MT

I've been having a lot of fun shooting video and creating short clips of my Marias Pass model railroad.  My video camera is several years old now and the quality of the video shows.  However, until I find a need to buy a new camera I'll use what I have.  For some reason my wife doesn't think that buying a new video camera for model railroading is a worthwhile investment? 

This video features the opposite side of the divided 4x10 model railroad from my first two videos.  It is modeled after West Glacier, MT which is located on the southern edge of Glacier National Park.  I added some "man" music by AC/DC.  Enjoy!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Pumpkin

Happy Halloween!  Here's a nice photo of a pumpkin on Marias Pass.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Marias Pass - In Action!

I created a very short video tonight of my Marias Pass layout.  Here is a view from the end, looking over the Flathead River and towards the snowshed.  A string of boxcars is pulled by a pair of warbonnets.  My music selection on my PC right now is limited, but it's better than silence.  The resolution isn't great, but it's a start.  I hope to have better video in the future to share.  Enjoy!


video

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gotta love those patch units!

I am working on some more patch units, and completed UP #9651, a former SP dash 9.  Although the prototype has since been repainted into UP colors, my N scale version will continue to wear the worn out grey and red.  The rust on the long hood turned out quite well simply using cheap artist acrylics and a micro brush.  Everything else was a combination of airbrushing and drybrushing.