Tuesday, June 19, 2012

150th Lumber Load Sold

I just packaged up lumber load #150 tonight, for tomorrow's mail.  It's funny to think that I never intended this little project to be more than a way to fill my own empty Red Caboose centerbeam cars.  This is a prime example of how an addiction can turn lethal, and make you do things that you wouldn't ordinarily do.

For those that have invested in my product, I greatly appreciate it.  I have received some great feedback so far, and a few repeat buyers which tells me that I am doing something right.

I just recently created 6 new load versions for the shorter 60' Micro Trains centerbeam, and have already sold a few.  I don't know of any other source for a modern lumber load for these specific cars.

If you are interested, please check out my dedicated lumber load page here on my blog, or check out my current listings on Ebay.

Get them while you can.  Who knows how long I will keep making these before I lose interest and move on to something else.  Or worse yet, a new layout project consumes all of my hobby time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

CNA 86' Boxcar - Progress Photos

I thought I would share some progress photos of a Bluford Shops model 86' boxcar painted in CNA blue.  I want to replicate a fair amount of age, grime, and rust on this version.  I started with a white fade, and sprayed several coats over the bright blue.  I followed the white with a couple coats of the raw sienna tint.  The graffiti decal went on next.  To achieve the surface rust appearance much like the CSX version I did recently, I brushed on a coat of burnt umber oil thinned with mineral spirits.  I let this sit for a short time, and then took most of it off using a cosmetic sponge.  A note here: I have tried the q-tip method for taking off excess oil, but with these larger bodied cars, the sponge seemed to work very effectively, and faster than a q-tip.  The oil builds up around the ribs and in the details of the doors which is exactly what I want.  At this point, the roof hasn't been touched.  You can see the original color in the photos.  In order to get additional grime on the doors, I then added more burnt umber with a brush, but this time more deliberately, and just on the doors.  I again took off the excess with a sponge, and in a few areas with a q-tip.  Lastly, I began working on the roof by adding a layer of burnt sienna oil which you can see on the cardboard pallet in photo 2.  This will be the base coat which I will then apply burnt umber using a dabbing motion with a stiff brush to achieve a well rusted roof top.  The body will get rust streaks, spots, and details, using more burnt umber and a small brush.  I plan to add some more graffiti towards the end, in addition to safety striping.  Any questions?

In this first photo you can see that I have added a bit more burnt umber oil to the right set of doors.  The left set of doors are the result of a single coat of burnt umber applied to the entire car, and then taken off with a cosmetic sponge.  (just like when you are applying your morning make up fella's)

I use a piece of cardboard as a pallet for my oil paints.  The roof was painted with oil straight from the tube.

Here is where the car stands as of this evening when I decided to stop.  I'll pick it up again tomorrow evening after the oils have dried.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!!

Since Omaha is the home of the College World Series, it's almost criminal not to take in an occasional game.  My son and I went down to game 5 today between Florida State and Stony Brook.  We had our general admission tickets and were prepared to become like rotisserie chickens being baked by the sun in the west facing seats.  An NCAA person flagged us down near the ticket booths and said they were looking for father/son pairs to give seat upgrades.  No-brainer right?  After getting inside I quickly realized that we would be sitting behind home plate in the 5th row!  I don't even want to know what people would regularly pay for these seats.

Great game.  Lots of runs.  We were cheering for the underdogs, and although they didn't make it a close game, it was an enjoyable day.  Hope you fathers out there had a great day, and were able to do something special.

Here is a really bad photo taken on my blackberry.  The lens must have been fogged over from being in my pocket.  I'm not a huge baseball fan, but the CWS is a great environment to experience.  Oh, and by the way, UP #844 was sitting just outside, north of the stadium.  We were hot and tired so decided not to check it out this time.  I guess we are too jaded seeing it in action, while chasing it for 100 miles just a few months earlier.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jul/Aug 2012 N Scale Railroading Arrived

I received my contributor copy of the Jul/Aug 2012 NSR in the mail the other day.  Part 5 of the Marias Pass series covers hard shell scenery.  Unless something changes, there will be 11 total parts to this series.  As I reflect on the Marias Pass layout and the work involved to write content and select appropriate photos and captions for the articles, it is really enjoyable watching the whole thing come to fruition when I go to my mailbox every other month.  Being a contributor is a lot of work, but very fulfilling as a modeler.  It also represents a large percentage of the small fortune that I have spent on my hobby over the past few years.  N Scale Railroading has been very good to me, and I will be a loyal contributor and subscriber for years to come.  I would encourage anyone that has a passion for the hobby, some decent writing skills, and a fairly new digital camera to capture some work and share it with the magazine and other N scale enthusiasts.  Or, simply being a subscriber is worthwhile enough.

Having my material represented alongside Mike Danneman's work in the past few issues has been a privilege.  Of course the other contributors do some amazing work too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

CSX & NS (SOU) 86' "Big Ugly" Progress

First, I apologize for all of the unfinished weathering projects I have been sharing lately.  I have a lot of projects in motion, and just need to put the final touches on many of them and put them back into service.  However, I guess it is also beneficial to show some of these weathering victims as they evolve so that I can illustrate the methods I am using for each.  I spent the last few evenings working on a pair of Trainworx 86' boxcars in a CSX blue scheme and NS (SOU reporting marks) scheme.

The CSX version got the "works".  I started with a white fade, then a raw sienna fade, then yellowish/white chalks, sealed, then yellowish/rust chalks, then oil for the roof and streaks.  That seems like a lot of steps, but once the airbrush is out, it goes quick.  The two layers of chalk followed by a seal coat were quick as well.  The oil is still a bit wet in this shot, so it appears shiny.  I will add some safety stripes, and maybe some more detail and this will be ready for a pair of trucks.

The NS received a white fade, then a raw sienna fade, then graffiti and safety stripes.  The first photo is the side yet to receive safety striping.  I also masked off a small rectangle to replicate a repair that had been painted with primer, which is much brighter than the original faded paint.  You can see it under the left graffiti tag.  I don't know what I plan to do with the roof yet, however, this car is a bit cleaner than the rest and will only get a light rust treatment if any.

Here are the original cars before any weathering.  I really enjoy comparing a before and after, especially the darker cars like the CSX version.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NS 86' Box "Thoroughbred" Progress

I started on two more 86' boxcars tonight.  I had pictured them here a couple weeks ago.  I have a CSXT in the 8 door version, and a NS (SOU markings) in the 8 door version as well.  Both of these cars are dark in color, but well faded in reality, so my fade method and tint mixtures are going to get tested, which is good since I need more practice.  I am nearing completion of the grey NS boxcar that I began awhile back.  I used a heavy dose of chalk on this to bring out the rib detail on this light colored car.  I have since added graffiti and yellow safety striping.  It needs a bit more detail work, and a set of weathered trucks and it will be ready for service.

I will share my progress on the CSXT and SOU versions soon.  I have been shopping for some additional "big ugly's" to add to my collection, as I just can't get enough of these.

One note about the NS thoroughbred version.  This is a Bluford N scale model, which is a Pullman Standard design.  Trainworx makes a different version of the 86' boxcar which follows the Thrall design.  I couldn't find a PS prototype photo with the grey NS paint scheme, only a Thrall version.  So it appears that Bluford took some liberty when adding this to their offering.  Through out my limited research of 86' boxcars in general, it appears that both Bluford and Trainworx added some paint schemes to their offerings that don't actually exist on that specific builder's car.  While this isn't a show stopper for me, I also like to find prototype examples of rollingstock that I weather, so that I can at least replicate the general age, condition, and appearance of the item in a current day fashion.

I will say that I have really enjoyed collecting both versions of 86' boxcars, and plan to add more as time permits.

My weathering steps are as follows:
  • Fade with white tinted mixture
  • Black and dark grey chalk on body
  • Sealed with Microflat (I find that when I airbrush dullcoat over chalk, it leaves a white haze on the model.  Perhaps it is going on either too dry or too heavy.  Dullcoat works well over oils and non-chalk applications, in my experience.)
  • Burnt Sienna oil on roof and body (replicate newer/brighter surface rust)
  • Brush black acrylic around door hinges and detail to replicate grease and grime
  • Graffiti and stripe decals
  • Seal with dullcoat

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My N Scale Work Space

What does the working space of an N Scale Addict look like?  For me, it's rather simple and unexciting.  I have a shared space in my garage for my hobby as well as all of my other "man" stuff, which is mainly tools.  It works well since I don't have to worry about spilling paint, making a mess, or using chemicals since I can open the garage door.  It does get uncomfortable in the summer and winter, but I have the ability to move some projects inside as needed.  My air compressor sits under the bench and is a convenient source for my airbrush.  I have a few sheets of poster board next to my working space where I take many of my "object" photos in front of the white background.  I like to print pictures of rollingstock and use them as reference material for my weathering projects.  I simply tack them up in front of my working space.  You can see photos of the grey NS boxcar and RTTX flatcar that I have been working on recently.  As you can tell, I have a lot of projects stacking up, and that is only a small number of the items overall.  All of my other layout building supplies and tools are on shelves on a different wall.  I have plenty of stuff to keep me busy.

Some day I may have a nicer, dedicated studio for my hobby, but for now it works, and I won't complain.

Cosmetic Sponges - Weathering or Wrinkles?

I recently tried using a cosmetic sponge for a BLMA flatcar weathering project, and have to say I really like it.  This isn't a new product to the model railroading space, as I know it has been used before, and even appeared in at least one Model Railroad magazine article that I know of.  I used it mainly on the deck of the RTTX flatcar to remove the brush strokes that appeared after applying layers of oil paint.  I have also tried a sponge on a hopper car, where a dabbing motion was used to apply surface rust.  I find that if paint dries on the end of the sponge, I can cut it off with a scissors, exposing a new fresh edge to work from, extending the life of a single sponge.

I am fortunate to have a wife that uses these and will simply buy some extras for me.  I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea seeing me walking through the make-up selection at the local Super Target or Walmart.  Ironic how these sponges are either used to cover up the "ugly", or making an aged piece of rollingstock look "ugly".

Here is a used sponge with lots of burnt sienna and umber oils on it (try rubbing that on your face).  And a brand new package of sponges, ready for "uglification".

RTTX Flatcar - Weathering Challenge

My latest weathering challenge, besides the 86' boxcars that I have been doing, has been a new BLMA flatcar.  I posted a few weeks back about these after I had just received a set of 6, and they are very fine models.  Of course, it doesn't take long after studying the prototype that these cars are well used, grimed, and rusted.  I have been working on a single car the past several days, and finally put the finishing touches on it tonight.  This was a difficult car to weather since it has a lot of detail.  An airbrush simply can't get into corners and around detail, without putting too much paint on the higher surfaces, so instead, I tried oils and a paint brush.  It took a few layers of oils to reach the amount of grime I was seeking.  I then used a q-tip to take off any excess where appropriate.  This car has taken me several partial working sessions, but I think the effort paid off.  The last bit of oil applied tonight is still a bit wet, but I snapped a few photos anyway.  I'll apply a light dullcoat in the next couple of days, and this flatcar will be ready for service.  I have several 28' pup trailers that are waiting for a weathering application as well, and once complete, will make a fine load for this flatcar.

Overall, with the amount of effort that this has taken, I am glad I only have 6 to complete, especially when you add the effort needed to add weathered trailers.  I may look at other methods to dirty up highly detailed cars such as this.  I do have a few sets of BLMA spine cars as well, and also looking for an effective means to weathering those.  I would be interested to hear from anyone that has some suggestions or examples for these types of rollingstock.

Thank you BLMA for adding yet another fine N scale model to my addiction, I mean collection.


Keeping It Real - Prototype Train Chasing

I am an Nscale addict, and have been for many years.  Something that helps me cope with my condition is chasing some 1:1 trains once in awhile in my local area.  It helps remind me what my 1:160 models are actually suppose to represent.  One area I like to go in particular is just north of Omaha in Fremont, NE.  There is a lot of Union Pacific action on the transcon double mainline, coming and going both to Omaha and Blair.  Recently my train chasing has been an opportunity to study specific prototype cars for my weathering projects, and capture some of my own photos for my rollingstock archive.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Not a great photo as I barely had time to get my camera out to capture this guy.  I wish I had been set up better, and it was moving at a pretty good clip, so getting out in front of it in a different location wasn't realistic that day.

The OMAX (Omaha Public Power) unit trains are a common sight in Omaha.  Here is an eastbound load.

This is the first unit tank train I've ever seen, which was quite a sight.

I have a few tank cars in my collection that I have been earmarking for weathering victims.  I'm not sure when I will get around to that project, but I have lots of good reference material when that time comes.

I shot a few photos of these wrapped lumber stacks since I've been designing and making my own N scale versions.

Of course I was happy to see some "big ugly's" come rolling by since these boxcars have been a favorite weathering project of mine recently.