Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Coming up with a Paint Scheme for my Freelance Model Railroad

Now that I've kind of come up with a name for my future freelance model railroad (Michigan Consolidated), I've been working on some ideas for the paint scheme I would like the locomotives to have. I'd like to get to the point where I can do the painting and detail work myself, but that will take time so I may end up outsourcing some of the work at first. We'll see though, this is going to be a very long term project, so who knows when I will even be at the point where I can think about painting locomotives. All I can do for now is come up with ideas of what I might want.

To do this I started by searching for drawings of locomotives that I could use as template files. That led me to an excellent resource in Trainiax.net, where there are hundreds of great drawings to choose from. Once I had one I liked, I imported it into my vector graphics program, Inkscape, and started putting some ideas down.

I decided to start with a GP50 since I happen to have one I could use as a test subject for trying out some painting and decals. To get some inspiration, I got onto RailPicutres.net and found as many photos of the prototype as possible with all types of paint schemes. I wanted to make sure I didn't design something that could not be easily painted onto an actual locomotive, more specifically a model locomotive, so I can bring it to life someday. 

After a lot of searching I decided to go for something that was very inspired by the paint scheme that Detroit & Mackinac used on their four Alco century series locomotives. Click here for an example. I didn't want to copy it completely, so I changed a few things up and created a hybrid design that looked good as a first draft. Here it is:

My first concept paint scheme for my Michigan Consolidated project
If you are familiar at all with the D&M scheme I was referring to, then you can really see the resemblance. I kept the same striping on the front and rear ends because I liked the way it stood out from the rest. Other than that the biggest similarity is the stripe running down the center, although here it runs all the way past the cab and onto the short hood.

I've got a couple more of these in the works for Michigan Consolidated including a Dash 9-44 CW and an SD40-2. Right now they are basically the same thing as the GP50 just so I could get an idea of how it would look on multiple types of locomotives. The next step though will be getting my GP50 model ready for some paint and decal trials to see if I can come up with something even close to this on my own.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Detroit & Mackinac Stone Depot in Harrisville, MI

Harrisville, Michigan is a place that will always be a great memory from my childhood. In addition to it being my family's summer vacation spot, it was where I first encountered the Detroit & Mackinac. Harrisville is home to one of D&M's older passenger stations. I remember going to see it all the time to watch the trains go by and search the grounds for any little piece of discarded railroad equipment we could find. I know my dad has a nice collection of spikes and date nails hidden away somewhere. I'll have to see if I can get some of them to show off here one of these days. 

Back to the depot, according to the sign out front it was built in 1901 and that is backed up by the information I've been able to find on the internet. This link has some great background about the depot and a neat story from 1902 about how it ended up being constructed with stone donated by the townspeople of Harrisville. It would be in service for 50 years until passenger service on the D&M was stopped in 1951. 

It sat virtually unused since the 1960's until renovations were started sometime in the early 2000's, I'll have to do some more digging on that one as I don't have any details about the project. From the outside, you can tell the roof and windows have been replaced, while most of the original stone structure appears to be intact. It is not open to the public, so it was hard to get a good look at the inside, but from what I read it is still in decent shape.

This past weekend I was in Harrisville vacationing with my family and made sure I set aside some time for a trip to the old depot. It's nice than I remember because the last time I saw it was before any of the renovations took place. I still remember the roof being partially caved in and all of the windows broken out. It was nice to see it looking so much better. Here are some of the pictures I was able to get.

A look at the front of the stone depot in Harrisville, MI
A look at the sign out in front of the depot.
A look at the south end of the building.
A look at the southwest corner of the building.
A look at the west side of the building closest to the tracks.
A look at the north side of the building.
A close-up of the Harrisville sign above the door on the east side.
It is really an amazing piece of architecture, something you don't see everyday. Just the fact that it was built 113 years ago is impressive in itself. With a little bit more work, this would make for an excellent tourist attraction. It is marked as an Alcona County historical site, so hopefully it remains standing for the foreseeable future. Here are a few pictures of the current LSRC line that runs by the depot.

Current LSRC line headed south toward downtown Harrisville.
Current LSRC line headed north toward Alpena, MI.
That's all I have for right now. This has got me wanting to head back up there and get some more pictures of the old D&M line between Tawas and Alpena. This is the area I was around the most as a kid. On the plus side, I may even be able to capture some LSRC trains running this route.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Structure Mock-Up: Walthers Industry Office

This is the third Walthers building I've thought about including on my small office shelf layout. I found it while searching for the others and thought it might be a nice addition to one of the corners of the layout opposite of whichever large building I decide to go with. Plus, this is a really cheap kit so it might be a good one for me to practice with.

Walthers Industry Office building kit.
Instead of making prints with the computer, I decided to do it the old fashioned way this time and got out some graph paper and a pencil. I took the overall dimensions listed above and started drawing the four sides of the building. Since I was unable to get very detailed dimensions from anywhere on the internet, I was assumed the back is flat and the steps on the front are not parts of the 4.75" dimension. For a mock up, I think this will be alright, but I know there is going to be some discrepancy between mine and the real thing. I will just have to hope its close enough. I did find a YouTube video showing this kit being assembled and it looks like there is a storage shack that sticks off the back a bit, so I could probably leave that out if I really need to so I can squeeze it onto the layout.

A look at the four sides of the building drawn on paper.
Once I had everything drawn out, I cut the paper down a bit and glued it onto the back of another cereal box. The next step was cutting the pieces out with an Xacto knife. I used a straight edge to help keep everything nice and square. The only difficult part about this step was working with a well-used blade, so some of the cuts did not come out as clean as I had hoped. Its only a mockup, so its not all that critical anyway.

Starting to cut the pieces out with an Xacto knife.
The easy part was doing the outside perimeter cuts. The hard part was getting to the doors and windows I decided to put on the front and sides of the building. I know I don't really need them, but it seemed more fun to do it with them. Once I had the four pieces, I glued them together with some Gorilla glue, which led me to my first real problem: there was noting to keep the walls from bending and collapsing this way. To fix that, I cut and glued in a piece of styrene poster board at the bottom. This gave it some structure as well as a nice flat bottom.

A look at the four sidewalls glued to the styrene poster board base.
The next step was putting the roof on. I thought this would be easy until I realized I actually needed it to be set down just under the tops of the side walls. That led me to cutting some support pieces out of some extra wooded barbeque skewers I had laying around. These worked pretty well to support the roof piece once everything was glued in place.

A look at the supports I added for the roof.
The rest was easy, all I had to do was cut the roof piece to size and glue it in place. Again, this is only supposed to be a mockup so I don't need any real level of detail. I just needed to have something to place on the layout to see if this is in fact a kit I would like to include. Here is how it looks on the layout.

A look at the finished mockup on the actual layout.
That's it for this one. I'm thinking I want to go ahead and buy this kit just to have something to try out. It sells for around $15 so I may even end up with two just in case I mess something up. Now I just need to decide if I want to look into any other structures, or call it good and go with this and the Commissary building so I can get moving on this thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Original Detroit & Mackinac 35mm Slide

There are positives and negatives to being a fan of a small railroad like the Detroit & Mackinac. The negatives mostly being the fact that it has ceased to exist for the last 20 years now. On the other hand, when it comes to memorabilia and other related items, there isn't exactly a lot to go around, so it becomes that much more exciting each time I come across something new to possibly add to my collection. 

In addition to searching for HO scale models on eBay, I've been on the lookout for anything and everything related to the D&M. I've found things like playing cards, drinking glasses, and postcards. Beyond that, the one thing that has gotten my attention lately is 35mm slides and the photos generated from them. These are the small transparent images mounted in a small cardboard frame from back before the digital cameras of today. While its not the same as owning an acutal photo, its pretty neat to have an original slide. 

Here is a look at the first slide for my collection:

35mm Kodachrome slide of DM974
This one features one of D&M's old RS3 units shown in Alpena, MI during the summer of 1993. This would have been after they were sold and became the LSRC, but the locomotive still has its D&M paint scheme. Below is a copy of the full size image that the seller posted in the eBay listing.

The full size final image from the slide shown above
While this is an ancient technology in today's society, it's pretty neat to have one of these. There are a ton more of them out there for sale, so maybe I will try to start a D&M slide collection moving forward. The only thing I would have to do is find my own way of extracting the true high-quality images from the slides. After some searching online, it would involve buying an expensive scanner or camera attachment, so that may have to wait.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Workbench in the Train Cave

As I mentioned in my very first post on here, I am working out of my basement in what we are calling the man cave, or as I've been calling it lately, the train cave. In reality, it is just a corner of our basement that I decided to take over as my own when we moved in. This space is home to all of my hockey cards and memorabilia as well as my train stuff. 

Back when I was working on my nursery wall layout project, I built a simple work table with a piece of plywood resting on top of two plastic saw horses. That worked for a while, but just wasn't all that appealing to me. The surface of the plywood was rough and covered in newspaper. Since I happened to have a good amount of pine board sitting around, I decided last weekend to finally cut it up and piece together a quick shelf to put up on top of the saw horses. I may build some legs and storage areas onto the bottom eventually, but plan to keep it as is for now.

A look at my newly built work space in the train cave. 
This new work space has already gotten me more motivated to work on several projects that have been sitting idle for a while. It gives me some more space to work, a nice clean and smooth surface to work on, and more importantly a place to store more supplies and tools. The best part is that I made it myself and didn't just buy it off the shelf and assemble it.