Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Progress on Armstrong Mill

 I still have a lot of work to do, but it is coming along. Stairs, loading dock, canopies, cupola, chimneys, vents, and scenery base are all ahead of me. The model is still all paper and card except the heavy frame of the elevator, and lots of inside bracing.

Working on a model this size -- about 15" end to end -- small dimensional errors add up. I have had a couple of head scratching moments trying to figure why two corners didn't meet the way I intended. But so far, I'm pleased with the results. My mistakes aren't too conspicuous. 

The model is a mirror-image copy in HO scale of the large building from FOS Scale Models' "Rust Rock Falls." I've named it for a friend, Amy Armstrong, who is an accomplished spinner, knitter, and weaver, and who shares my Scottish heritage.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Armstrong Woolen Mill

 I am scratchbuilding a copy of the large structure from "Rust Rock Falls," a limited edition kit by FOS Scale Models. Working from photographs of the FOS model, I am building mine in paper and as a mirror image of the FOS kit. I made a few changes in the design and I will probably make a few more as I go along, to fit the space I have or to simplify construction. I am only modeling three sides, since the back side won't be visible on the layout. This is a photo of the FOS model from FOS Scale Models' Web site:

Below is the first wall I have completed (mostly) I will add corner trim and eaves trim when the walls are assembled. On the wall shown here, the heavy frame for the elevator is basswood, stained and sponge-painted. Everything else is paper. The walls are a texture sheet from Clever Models that I modified in Photoshop. I print the walls on 65# cardstock, laminate them to 0.5mm card (cereal boxes), and add lots of interior bracing. Windows and doors are from photos of the FOS model or from my "digital parts bin." (I collect digital images of doors and windows the way some people collect stamps.) 

Eventually, the model will be mounted on a hillside with a small dam beside it and a rocky ravine below it. For terrain, I will use chunks of foam, plaster rock castings, and lots of Sculptamold. It will be located about halfway between the two terminals on my U-shaped shelf layout.

The mill is named after Amy Armstrong, a long-time friend and spinner, knitter, and weaver. This mill replaces an earlier design (below) that I never built. I still like this design, and I might build it someday as a diorama. There won't be room for it on the layout.

I will post more photos as I make progress on the model.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Sky Backdrop for My Shelf Layout

 I want a particular kind of backdrop for my shelf layout, and I created this one in Photoshop. Each panel is 150" x 11", and the ends blend according to code (A/B/C). What I have posted here is a small version @ 300ppi & 250kb. You could download this and expand it to full size. At 72ppi, the full-size panels don't look pixelated.

Or you could send me an email address, and I will send you the full-size file -- about 2mb. The height of the file is 36" because that's the size my local print shop uses for banners.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Ceresco & Wolf River Railroad 2.0

My solution to the wiring debacle (see next post below) was to tear everything down and start over. As of today, 14 Nov 21, the new benchwork is mostly up and I have laid, wired, and tested about one third of the track, testing every section as I go. I should have much of the track laid and wired by Thanksgiving.

I'm using Peco Electrofrog switches everywhere, and I'm isolating each switch electrically to ensure that there are no more shorts. The two turnouts I had to discard were both bought used on eBay. I've since spent the money to buy only new turnouts, and so far all of them have been flawless.

The new 9'x17' U-shaped shelf layout is based two published layouts from Model Railroader:  David Leider's "Soo Line on a Shelf" from the June 2008 issue, and Art Fahie's "Wharf Street" S-scale plan that appeared in Great Model Railroads 2014. I condensed the long shelf on the Soo Line layout to 9 feet. I scaled Wharf Street to HO and added a hidden track that will allow continuous running and serve as a small fiddle yard. 

Between the two is about 20 feet of single-track main line running though mostly scenery. I'll put my scratchbuilt version of South River Model Works Martin Machine in a corner, and I'll put my FSM Cartwright's Machine Shop somewhere in the woods. Most of the structures on the layout will be scratchbuilt in paper or FOS Scale Models kits. My scratchbuilt covered railroad bridge has been waiting many years for a favored spot on the line. It will have one now.

I will run short trains to serve the few industries on the line and to interchange with C&NW and Milwaukee Road.

This afternoon, the layout space looks like bomb damage as I clean out the rubble from layout demolition and reconstruction. I will post some photos when I get it cleaned up.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

I HATE Wiring!

 I hate wiring. I HATE IT!! I have the entire module wired and control panel built and installed, and now I have two sections of track that are dead for no reason that I can find, and a turnout that, if I throw it for the siding, EVERTHING goes dead! I'm going to have tear the whole &^%$$#@! thing out and start over. I don't know what else to do.

After a good night's sleep, I woke with a more positive outlook and a plan. I'm going to start over with a much simpler track plan -- fewer turnouts, no reversing wye, maybe a turntable (maybe not). And I will test everything as I go along. I'm not building for operation. Structures and scenery are my favorite pursuits. I won't say I would be satisfied building a basement-sized diorama with no railroad, but a single-track main line with a few sidings, a loop for continuous running, and a few well-detailed scenes will keep me quite happy.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

DIY Tower-Style Manual Turnout Throws

On my next module, I wanted to control turnouts manually using something like the commercial levers pictured below. Then I found out what they cost. When I started breathing again, I sat down and worked out an inexpensive alternative using old SPST toggle switches and some brass stock.

I use Peco Electrofrog switches and DC cab control, so I don't need the levers to route power or to apply tension to the switch rails. I just need the levers to flip easily and hold position. But it would be relatively easy to add power routing, or to control signals with the levers by using DPDT toggles instead.
I will use steel wire to link the levers to the turnouts, and I will mount the levers on (or recessed into) the fascia. With a rigid baseplate, it should be easy to build a bank of 4 or 5 levers (or more) and locate them near my HO scale tower.
I won't take credit for this idea; I probably saw it somewhere, some time ago. I've seen other DIY switch levers, but this seems to be the simplest to build, and I certainly like to keep things simple.

Following a suggestion from someone on Facebook, I have decided to use bicycle shift and brake cables to link the levers to the turnouts. I can buy enough cable and guide for one module for about $10 and it will be easier to rig and adjust.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

My New Bedford Whaleboat is in FineScale Modeler magazine!

 My paper model of a New Bedford Whaleboat is featured in the Reader Gallery of the September 2021 issue of FineScale Modeler. The hull and sails of the model are from Fiddler's Green. Almost everything else is scratch built. The editor's photo caption calls the model a "showstopper." Wowie! Zowie!