Friday, March 27, 2015

Prototype Pic of the Day #19

Adrian & Blissfield GP9 #1760 | Image Courtesy of Steven McKay via
Today's picture is another Michigan railroad that I am somewhat familiar with. This picture shows an Adrian & Blissfield GP9 traveling through Mason, MI. What's neat about this is that I know exactly where this picture was taken as I've driven by that location hundreds of times. As a modeler, there is a lot going on in this picture that could easily be incorporated into a nice scene.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Office Shelf Layout Update

Progress has been relatively slow on this project, but with the way my schedule is right now I can only work on it late at night on the weekends, so I get maybe 4-6 hours a weekend to work on modeling projects. I'm not as far as I would like to be, but that's ok as long as I'm always moving at least a little bit forward.

Since my last update, I've gone ahead and glued the cork layer to the baseboard, finished painting the rear track, and almost completed the layout of the paved areas. What I've been doing for this is cutting layers of cardboard, from old cereal boxes, and stacking them up to be level with the top of the rails. There are six layers of cardboard and one layer of poster board, which is red because I happened to have that laying around in the basement. All it needs is a couple of coats of acrylic paint then it will look just like concrete.  

Layout of cardboard and poster board for the paved areas of the layout.
This layering technique for doing paved areas is not the most efficient, but it works for me and that's all that matters. To keep the layers together, I am just using an Elmer's glue stick. I haven't decided how to glue them to the cork just yet, maybe white glue will work. That won't happen for a while though so I can make sure I have the layout of the paved areas just right. I still need to add a location between the tracks on the left side for a loading dock and then another section crossing the tracks for forklift access to the dock.

A closeup look at the layered cardboard method I'm using for my paved areas.
I'm at the point now where I need to order a few things so I can keep going. I need the loading dock for between the tracks at a minimum and I'd like to get some other detail parts to combine shipping and have a few more options to play with for this layout. Below is a picture showing a couple of cars parked on the two tracks in front of the commissary building. The hammer is in there to help keep the corner of the cork down while the glue dried.

A quick mockup of two cars parked on the two tracks.
I'm hoping to get some more time in on the layout this weekend and maybe get the rest of the cardboard cut and glued together for the paved areas under the loading dock. Other than that I really need to think about gluing the track down so things don't move on me. The contour cut of the cardboard follows the track so I don't want that getting messed up.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Prototype Pic of the Day #18

Lake State Railway Alco C425 #1280 | Image courtesy of Ron Cady via
Continuing with the Alco theme again, today's picture is another former Detroit & Mackinac locomotive. This one is a great shot of 1280, also known as "The Blue Devil" and "City of Grayling" running between streets somewhere in northern Michigan. I like the look of the blue sky in the background and the flowers in the foreground make this a perfect picture for this time of year. Now it just needs to actually be as nice outside as this picture looks.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Scratch Building Some Road Signs

Lately I've been thinking of ways I could scratch build some simple items for my office shelf layout and one of the easier things I came up with was to make some road signs. I will need at least two cross buck signs and maybe some other warning signs for the layout, so rather than pay to get a large pack of pre-made ones, I decided to try it for myself.

Some examples of the signs I wanted to try to make.
The first step was doing some research on how big these signs are in real life. After a bit of searching around, I found some good resources and decided to go with 36" diameter for the round yellow sign, 36" x 36" for the stop sign and approximately 50" x 50" for the cross buck. 

Once the sizes were determined, I found some good drawings of each sign online and copied them into my vector graphics program, Inkscape, and resized them to scale. Then it was as simple as creating a few copies of each then printing them on my home printer. I tried printing them on regular copy paper as well as some thicker fancy paper. The latter ended up being the better choice just for the rigidity of the end result. The copy paper just seemed to be too flimsy. Here is a look at one of the printouts.

A look at the printout with some signs already cut out.
One they were printed I just needed to cut out the shapes. The first one I tried was one of the round yellow signs with an xacto knife. That didn't work so well on the round shape so I did the other two with scissors and that seemed to work better. The stop signs were pretty easy, although I kind of messed up the first one and did not include the white trim. The cross buck proved to be difficult just because of the interior corners, but came out looking ok.

Once the sings were cut, I needed something to stick them to. For this I chose to use some 0.010" square brass rod from Hobby Lobby. The only thing I did was cut it to size and paint it silver using a metallic silver paint marker. I then glued the signs to the posts using an Elmer's glue stick. This seemed to work pretty well.

Then to address the issue of the backs being white from the paper, I first tried coloring them in with a silver colored pencil. This worked ok, but was not perfect. I then tired the same idea with the metallic paint marked and that came out much better. In the bottom picture the first two on the left are just the white paper, the two in the center are the colored pencil, and the two on the right are the metallic paint marker.

A look at the front of the first batch of signs.
A look at the back of the first batch of signs.
These turned out much better than I thought they would. There are some things I would like to improve for future attempts, but nothing too major. I think the best thing would be to find a way to cut the circle shapes in one cut with some kind of punch. That would get rid of the rough look to the overall shape.