Thursday, December 31, 2009

What before the Silver Spike: the roadbed !

As an old popular sentence said that “What you do at the end of the year… you do it for all the year”…
My friend Alex Corsico give me a call and we’ve organized a short meeting with the idea to put some tracks down (a silver spike?).

But, as I’ve to dedicate my previous time to more “dirty” jobs as finalize the backdrops walls, fill it with expandable foam ( see my previous post )
…. we have just the occasion to test my “Cork roadbed production jig” and put in place some in preparation of tracks. But, anyway, it was a very good time!
I wonder how much “production” is able to do just a couple of friends…. And always image “how much ... more friends can put together in a couple of hours” !!! ... :)
See here the physical result of this couple of fellows:

And here the “theory” and the Jig to manufacture tons of cork roadbed, using a roll of cheap cork:
I’ve cut a piece of 1 meter long wood stock at 45° on one side, then make a cut in the middle, add a strip of wood in the middle (see picture) and glue the 3 pieces together.
To obtain a piece of roadbed with the proper angled sides, just insert the cork in the slot and using a new blade on the carpet cutter, cut the string. This way you have one side with a good angled shape (if you want a better and clean shape, just pass your “electric file” ( or whatever you call this tool) along the wood jig.
Then rotate the string and file the opposite side. You have a nice /______\ shaped roadbed in a minute.

Just 2 cents if you don’t have a commercial roadbed on hand!
Happy New Year to all ! Sincerely

Monday, November 30, 2009

And he create the ... backdrop walls.

In this economic crisis time, just few bucks of wood will take you busy for a period that can seems you as infinite!
That said, friends, here I’m !
I take the occasion of my last weekend experiences ( and very slow progress ) to announce you :
I’ve discover the wheel again!
    As I was not really happy of the “mechanic” for the removable bridge, that was just a “drop & play” design, I’ve “steal” the idea from a drawer on my desk: just buy two “drawer sliding guide”. Now the bridge have a proper stop when in place, roll nicely up to the out position and never fall on the floor if you catch it with your head! So simple !

    Then I’m thinking to a “cost effective” (how the marketing peoples call the “cheap” one) and at same time sturdy solution, for the backdrop wall in the middle of the peninsulas. This will be in my mind a “Thin wall” (as Bruce  Morden call it ) that separate the outside visible tracks from the inside loop. As a drawing is better than thousand words… see what I’m speaking here right :

    I take the idea from the walls of caravans and campers: basically a simple multi-frame made by 1 cm deep wood, covered by a (well two, one each side) masonite layer, and the empty gap filled by the expandable foam.
    Here is a sample of what I'm speaking :

    You will find this on several home repair shops in a spray big can.
    When you spry the foam is soft and you can shape it, but when dry it become “solid-soft” and contribute to the strength of the wall.
    The result is a very light but sturdy backdrop wall than , if properly fixed to the bench work, is self-supporting.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    The line advance south

    Well friends,
    to mitigate my little envy for all of you that are planning to travel to SLO for the annual SPH&TS convention ( ) … I’ve spend all of my free time on refining the tracks path, optimize some parts for better OP and find better solutions in places where I have doubts for scenery. Here is my effort summary:
    • Mission Bay yard have definitely found a place as a living staging place. This yard will mainly feed and receive freights working the LCL facilities at King and Berry st , but can also be used to store passengers named trains. The commuter cars have a living stage in the coach yard along Townsend st.

    • Enlarged workbench depth at Potrero Tower and the Mission Roundhouse to have place for the prototype Wye from Mission Bay yard. Border-wall distance now is 72cm (28” ) , still good to reach all tracks with my arm, and enough to place a 28 cm radius (11” still too tight , I know, for MT and GS) but at least a switcher with some reefers can go from Visitacion Ice house to Mission Bay yard (staging) and back.
    • Burlingame and Menlo track layout are mostly defined as well some spurs and correspondent indicative industries along the line up to Palo Alto.
    • The branch to Permanente plant and the Kaiser little yard have reach a reasonable and operable shape, but maybe I need to work more on these places. One siding is provided at Los Altos station.
    • A good discussion with a friend, Alex Corsico, takes to a good idea about the backdrop position on the critical area between Mission Roundhouse and the Burlingame-Menlo main line. I will take a shot of a temporary placed “thin wall” to show you.
    Last but not least, the “bulldozers” are progressing down the peninsula!
    I will take some pictures of the “land” in few days, so, stay in tracks!
    You're still in, friends? Well, "later" is ... now! Enjoy!

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Menlo Park depot : a victorian pearl

    it's an hot summer here and I've take the occasion to enhance an already beautiful kit made by Showcase Miniatures to fulfil all main details of this depot during the late ‘47 .
    I’ve done in the past several research on the story of this pearl along the SP commute line from the City to San Jose, and, as you can read here ( I’ve compiled a summary of all modifications that this depot have during the life. Some far friends ( Rob Sarberenyi and Robert Morris ) have support me with pictures of details as you can see here and here
    Given the general dimensions of the Showcase kit are more or less correct ( see the original drawings here what mostly the kit leaves out is the passenger shelter and some details, specially on the roof ).
    I decided to spend some time on my scratchbuild bench, and here are the results.
    Hope you enjoy it!

    These are the final pictures of the depot, here down the step by step pictures.
    • - Flat styrene base shaped around the depot with the passengers shed extension. I’ve glued a second layer of paved styrene ( cut at 45° ) for the floor of the shelter. First spray a base light grey and then dry brush with brick dark red.

    • - Framed the shelter floor with walnut strips and darken with a wash of alcohol & india ink.

    • - brushing some single plates give different shades of wear. Then put in place the depot.

    • - preparing pieces for the shelter : board with styrene framed by nut sticks, columns made by 3 wood pieces ( squared base – column – 45% filed head… glued together … well, next time I will made a resin moulder! Manage these microbes is not so funny )

    • - the top of the shelter done!

    • - and a bird view of all parts before mounting

    • - … and after

    • - Now (another tedious job!) shingles on the roof. I’ve select two types of shapes (cedar squared and diamonds ) to replicate the prototype variation ( see the picture here: ).

    • - To give the impression of the super-elevated roof on the shelter ( see the original here ) I glued some wood sticks on top of the cardstock roof cover, then covered everything with thin paper.

    • - An U squared styrene strip all around and brass wires shaped to simulate water pipes.

    • - Water pipes installed on rail side and shingles on the windows sun covers. Painted the shingles in dark olive green.

    • - A step back to admire your job ( and also note some wrong details too )

    • - And a step forward ( how so crude is the digital picture machine: it enlighten all little miss-alignments and ….. well I know “where”)

    • - OK, now playing with fleas again! The roof corners ornaments are made by …. styrene and brass.

    • - a short cut of U strip contain a piece of brass pipe ( flatten and then filed to have the hearth shape of the point). Then I’ve added 4 little strips of styrene also shaped with a jeweller file.

    • - Station name plates ( 3 different dimensions ) also filed from styrene. One on the shingled roof of the pagoda.

    • - One on top of the Bay window and the last one on the shelter.

    • - I’ve noted on the pre-1964 pictures a little brick chimney positioned on back side of the roof ( not exactly as mine, but … that's what I've found in my scrap box for now!)

    Now I "only" need to search a proper character font ( ) to fill the station name and put some additional details ( as a Timetable on the wall, baggage carriage ..... and so on)

    Compare with the real pictures …. And, please, consider the scale and that on the layout you appreciate the depot from … an airplane point of view!

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    The "bridge" in place

    Well, as I've predicted, what you put on a drawing and seams "perfect" .... when you realize in reality ... never happens ( at least on my construction!).
    I must confirm again... this part of the hobby is not my job.
    The previous mentioned bridge between the two peninsulas was planned as a swing bridge, as the initial shape was a rectangle. During the development of the plan, given the easements and enlarging the curves to obtain a better realistic tracking for 80' passengers cars, the bridge shape was changing to ... an "L" ? See the previous pictures above.
    That said... it was hard to plan an hinge in an appropriate position!
    So, I just shift to a "shift bridge" , or better to a removable module. In fact, discussing with some of the future crew, the need to open the bridge was only to entry to the Dispatcher table at the beginning of the Op session .... and for him.... to reach the bathroom "occasionally" !
    Anyway, here are the hard work steps in the construction, for the few "carpentry lovers" here around.
    Cover the Spiline with plywood: I put some paper (recycle some paper roll already printed on one side from the office?) on top of the Spilines , follow with a pencil the border, then cut the paper and position on the plywood to optimize the wood cut.
    I start with the bridge section, ending where the bridge will "presumably" end:
    Then shape the sections immediately near on the curve:
    Here I'm cutting the bridge at the end:
    The final removable section in place!
    Next ... "Up to the stars ... to the infinite"