Saturday, June 20, 2015

Structure Build: Walthers Commissary Building Part 10

While some of the updates to the commissary building have been shown in recent posts, this post will be all about the progress on just this structure. It's come along pretty well since the last time I did one of these posts back in December. I now have the roof and awning glued in place and have started mocking up and building the interior.

A look at the front of the commissary building with the awning added.
A look at the top with the roof glued in place.
Although this is supposed to just be a background building, it will be the main attraction on my office shelf layout, so I want it to be as detailed as possible. That said, I've been planning and working on building up the interior so it will be divided into three separate floors. I haven't really decided what will go on each floor, so for now I'm just focusing on getting the rough structure of everything in place.

To do this, I'm using sheet styrene for the floor on each level. The sheet representing the ground floor is held up by some floor joists that I made out of pieces of old cereal boxes and craft wood. Above that I used the same idea to make some walls that will hold up the second and third floors. 

A look at the back of the building showing the three floors in place.
A look at some of the end walls, the top has the printed texture applied to it.
For the ground floor, I searched online and found a nice concrete texture and just printed it off on plain printer paper. Then I glued it onto the styrene sheet and it looks pretty good so far. I'm planning on doing the same thing with the walls and remaining floors. I've never built anything like this before, so I'm kind of just winging it on a lot of this stuff and hoping it works out. Up next will be figuring out how to make a printed wall to stick on to the backdrop so you see more than just a blank sky blue wall when looking inside.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Railfanning the Lake State Railway

I've been on vacation this week and my wife and I decided to go up north for a couple of days to my family's cottage in Harrisville, MI. While we were there we took a trip up to Alpena for a few hours and I drove by the Lake State Railway facilities and was lucky enough to get a quick look at a pair of locomotives recently repainted into LSRC's latest paint scheme. This was the first time I'd ever seen the new paint scheme in person.

Fast forward a few hours and as we were heading into Harrisville, I drove over one of the crossings with LSRC's mainline between Alpena and Bay City. There in the distance I saw some headlights coming my way so I stopped off on the side of the road and waited for the train to come through. I remember watching plenty of D&M / LSRC trains go by this exact same crossing when I was a kid, so it was kind of neat to to be there again.

I'm not sure of the train ID or anything like that, but I do know I was able to get some pictures of LSRC #'s 303 and 4303. After some searching around the internet, I learned that these two are the first GP40-3 Road/Slug set for LSRC and the first two four-axle locomotives to receive the new paint scheme. Click here for a link to what I found on Since this is a railfanning post, I'll let the pictures do the rest, here they are.

A look at the crossing where I watched plenty of trains go by as a kid.
A closer look at the actual grade crossing (the modeler in me was interested in this kind of detail)
You can just barely see the lights coming in this picture.
A little bit closer now, this was a full six minutes after the picture above. It was a pretty slow train.
Another shot for the modeler in me. This is the area just to the north of the crossing.
Finally, a train and we're only six pictures into this.
In the front was LSRC #303
Here is a look at the connection between the two locomotives.
Here is a good look at #303 after it crossed the road.
A look at #4303 running behind #303
Some patched hopper cars that look to be pretty old.
Not sure what exactly to call these with the platforms on each end, but they look cool.
This wasn't completely planned out, so it was kind of nice to be able to get some railfanning in during my vacation. This is the first time I've actually taken pictures of a moving train out in the real world  in at least 15 years. The last time I did I was probably around 10 years old and having my parents take the pictures for me in this exact same location. It definitely has me wanting to get out and do some more though. I'll have to see if I can set aside some time specifically for railfanning the LSRC again the next time I'm up north.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Office Shelf Layout Update

Over Memorial day weekend I was finally able to get some more work done on this project. It's become several different mini-projects right now and I've just been bouncing back and forth between them without really focusing on one specific task. That's not the best way to get things done, but it works for me.

One of the mini-projects lately was building one of my switch stand kits. That part was pretty easy, it was fixing up the track that took the most time. Below is a look at the ties I cut from some old scrap track. The longer ones just have the tie plates and spikes sanded off. To get the wood grain look back I just ran the back of my xacto blade along the top.

Modifications to the turnout.
Once the ties were glued back in place, it was time to add the switch stand and brass rod to connect it to the rails. While I probably could've gotten a thinner piece of brass to look more prototypical, I just used what I had leftover from my road sign project a while back. It might look a little big, but that's fine with me and it is definitely an improvement over the way it looked before. I might be going overboard with some of these small details, but I like it.

A look at the modified turnout and nearly completed switch stand kit.
A look at the complete switch stand kit.
I love how this thing turned out, but now that I think about it, I wish I had not glued it to the ties before painting everything. Now it is stuck on the layout and I was worried about knocking into it, so I decided something needed to be done to protect it. That's why I glued a Dixie cup upside down over it.

Protection for the complete switch stand kit in the form of a Dixie cup.
Another small project was putting together and painting the Pikestuff loading dock kit. The kit went together pretty easily and should work just fine on the layout. This was another mockup I did in the past with cardboard and as the next picture shows, it is just about the exact same as what I already had made up.

Side by side of my mockup and the built up Pikestuff kit.
The tricky part about this was getting the end of the ramp section to meet up with the concrete pad I had leading into the ramp over the track. I ended up using my xacto knife to score the top side enough to where I could snap the end off, just like cutting any other piece of styrene. A little bit of sanding and it butted up nicely to the concrete pad.

A look at the chopped off end of the loading dock ramp.
Since the ramp was only three pieces (there was a back piece that I didn't use), I decided it would be a good idea to cut and glue in some styrene cross members to help keep the piece stable for cutting and sanding. They are never going to be seen and it was done with scrap styrene so it worked out nicely.

Styrene supports added to the underside of the ramp.
Test fitting the loading dock kit on the layout.
After getting the loading dock aligned with the cement pad leading up to it, I decided to paint the bottom edge the same color as the cement. I thought this would help make it look like the dock was built on top of existing cement. At least this way the color transition between the two looks a bit better.

Using Frog Tape to paint the bottom edge of the loading dock and ramp.
I did this with some Frog Tape and the results were pretty good. Here is how the side of the dock looks now. I really like how the loading docks match and are just different enough from the concrete areas to stand out. It would look strange if they were all the exact same color.

A look at the loading dock and ramp after being painted.
While progress has been pretty slow, I really like how this thing is coming along. My next project will probably be getting the DPM walls put together so I can paint them to match the commissary building. I've got a week of vacation starting Monday, so hopefully I can get some good modeling time in over the break and make some progress on this project.