Sunday, August 31, 2014

Structure Mock-Up: Walthers Heritage Furniture Building

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the second building I want to include, the Heritage Furniture kit, is a bit taller and has some tricky areas with the covered loading dock. Knowing that, I decided to try something different here and went with simple cardboard. I got that idea from another great modeling channel on YouTube: djstrainsClick here to go right to the video that shows exactly how this process works. 

Walthers Cornerstone Heritage Furniture background building.
To make this build a bit easier, I used a 3D CAD software (Unigraphics NX 9.0) to mock up the rough shape then printed off 1:1 scale views for all the outer pieces I would need to cut. Once I had the prints, I went to work cutting the pieces from recycled Froot Loops and Mini Wheats boxes. 

A look at the scale prints generated from my approximate 3D model of the structure.
The easiest thing I found to do with these was tape them down onto pieces of the cereal boxes and cut around the printed lines. This meant I was cutting through the paper and the cardboard at the same time, so it helped keep things consistent and saved me one step. 

Getting ready to tape down the 2D prints onto pieces of cardboard before cutting.
Once all the pieces were cut, it was pretty easy to assemble them. I just too some masking tape and taped the inner corners together until the full perimeter was secured. The only piece I did differently was the top. I made that out of the poster board I sued for my first mock-up. This gave the whole thing a bit more rigidity, which comes in handy as I constantly move it around trying to come up with the perfect track plan.

A look at the finished structure from the back. 
This one will not be getting any paint. I didn't even cut out all of the windows in the interest of saving time. Even without those, it will serve its purpose in helping me finalize the layout for my shelf project. I'm actually leaning towards not using this one just because of the unknowns that come with getting the clearance right. I don't want to build up my track and realize the cars won't fit into the building. We'll see though, I haven't completely made up my mind yet. 

A look at the finished mock-up on my shelf layout.
While this one may not be as nice looking as the other mock-up, it came out pretty nicely. I really like using these mock-ups before just going out and spending $30 or more on a kit that may or may not even work well with my track plan and layout. I've got one or two more of these to try before I can finish the track plan, so I'm hoping to get to those soon. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Using Google Maps to Help Develop a Prototypical Track Plan

Over the last few months, I've been working on a track plan for my shelf layout and even though its a very small space, it took some time and thinking to come up with something I liked. While it may not be 100% prototypical, it works within the space I've given myself and doesn't seem completely unrealistic. Before I settled on the current track plan, I actually spent some time panning across Michigan on Google Maps looking for examples of track and associated structures. 

While most things I find would have to be scaled to some extent on a model layout, there are still some pretty neat examples out there. Below are some of the locations I found around the state of Michigan. 

Example of an industrial spur in Sterling Heights, MI.
A look at tracks connected to the Ford assembly plant in Sterling Heights, MI.
Example of an industrial spur in Brighton, MI.
Another example of a spur in Brighton, MI.
An example of an industrial spur in Howell, MI.
A look at an industrial spur in Alpena, MI.
If there is one thing these pictures tell me about my shelf layout track plan, its that mine is definitely scaled down a bit more than I would like. I don't see many prototypical sidings as close to the main line as what I have. Oh well, that's what modeling is about though, right, taking something and creating a smaller scaled down version of it? Even if my plan is not perfectly prototypical, that's fine with me. As long as I like it, that's what matters.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prototype Pic of the Day #13

ATSF GE C44-9W #611 | Image courtesy of Steve Schmollinger via
Today's prototype pic of the day may seem a bit random, but it's not. The reason I chose this picture of ATSF #611 from back in 1994 is because I actually have the HO scale model of this same locomotive. It was part of my collection as a kid and now sits on my bookshelf at work as a nice little display piece along with the Sante Fe boxcar I purchased recently. Its kind of neat to see the real life versions of one of my models like this.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

New Rolling Stock: A Pair of Boxcars from the Hobby Shop

The other day I was out and decided to stop by one of my local hobby shops for a look around. I wasn't there to get anything specific, more so just to see what they had that I could maybe use for my office shelf layout. I didn't really find much I needed right now since I'm still in the planning stages, but I did manage to find a few nice pieces of rolling stock in their discount bins. Each one of them only cost $2.99 so it wasn't a bad deal at all. 

The first one is a 40' Santa Fe boxcar that I plan to use as a display piece along with my yet to be finished C44-9W from back when I was a kid. The two will look nice together on the small display track I built a little while back. 

ATSF Boxcar #49277 from Tyco
The other one was a 40' New Haven boxcar that doesn't really have a specific purpose yet. I will either try to weather it or take it and completely redo the paint job when I get around to coming up with a boxcar scheme for my future proto-freelance railroad. That may not be for a while though.

NH Boxcar #35688 from Tyco
Not bad for $6 all in. Another plus of buying from the local hobby shop is avoiding any shipping charges I would get online. Now that I have these two, it makes me want to get out and buy some more rolling stock to help build my collection. I don't have all that much at the moment.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Office Shelf Layout: Revised Track Plan

Well, I've had some time to think about my options for this project and have come up with a new track plan. The change was primarily driven by some of the comments I was getting over on Model Train Forum. They got me thinking that a freight terminal of sorts would be a lot cooler than just a plain old engine house. That being said, I've tried to come up with something simple that will be easy to build and work with. Here is a look at my latest SCARM creation:

SCARM layout option #4
It is pretty simple with a single main line running across the front with a single siding. There will be a single road that crosses both tracks into an industrial/commercial complex. I'd like to have two structures on this one: a freight terminal and an office type building. I have a few ideas that I will be mocking up (similar to the Walthers Commissary building) before deciding which ones to go with. The general layout will likely be the same as I have shown. 

This is what I plan to run with for now. If I run into any problems with it, expect things to be changed up a bit. I don't really anticipate any major issues though, this design is pretty simple and manageable for someone like me just getting back into the swing of things. Now I just need to decide on some more of the smaller details like utility poles, signs, etc.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Railfanning at Greenfield Village

This past weekend my family and I made it out to Greenfield Village and I was able to get some nice pictures of the various locomotives and rolling stock they have on the grounds. While I'm not big on steam, it was still pretty neat to see what they had to offer. Up first us a picture of the train that runs around the park. It pulls several open air passenger cars and makes several stops at different locations in the park.

LSMS 4-4-0 #1 passing through the farm section of Greenfield Village

While we were waiting for the train to arrive at the depot in the back of the park, I was able to get some pictures of some rolling stock they had stored on a siding next to the main line. Then there was also some stuff sitting just outside the turntable and roundhouse.

C&O Boxcar #491556 sitting on a siding in the back of the park.
C&O Boxcar #25038 sitting on a siding in the back of the park.
UTLX Tank Car #1328 sitting on a siding in the back of the park.
More rolling stock featuring some DT&I, C&O, and Cotton Belt on the same siding.

Here are some pictures of the turntable and roundhouse. Interesting that the turntable is man-powered. I wonder how many people it takes to get these items turned around on there. Inside there were some more steam locomotives to check out. It was really cool getting to see them up close like this.

A look at the man-powered turn table in front of the roundhouse.
A look at the front of the roundhouse.
Calumet & Hecla Mining Co. locomotive inside the roundhouse.
This one is a little blurry, but still a pretty nice looking locomotive.
A look at the caboose that was being worked on inside the roundhouse.
Another steam locomotive inside the roundhouse. This one you could walk underneath.
Last but not least was an interesting piece of equipment that I happened to find tucked away on the siding with all the extra rolling stock. It is a Detroit & Mackinac steam locomotive, at least what's left of it. There are no identifying numbers so I can't really say what it is other than the D&M painted on the side. 

I did some searching around online and came across this link that talks about additions to Greenfield Village from the D&M. All it says is that the D&M donated a 1914 Baldwin locomotive, so this has to be it. There is also a YouTube video about it, click here to see it. There are some great closeup shots.

Unknown Detroit & Mackinac steam locomotive sitting on a siding.
Not bad for my first real attempt at railfanning. Now I just need to get out and find some pictures that I can use for my layout projects. I'd really like to get out and get some good shots of the various industries and locations served by the railroads here in south east Michigan.