Monday, August 29, 2011

Critter Progress Update

Well, with all the other stuff going on I have been able to spend a few minutes at the work table this past week. Progress continues, albeit slowly, with my critter.

Using the Atlas HO scale S-1 power chassis, I've been spending some enjoyable hours scratch building the super structure for what will be a On30 logging switcher or possibly, with my newly developing layout scheme, the Pier 1 harbor docks switcher.

I don't claim to be an expert scratch builder and this little guy, although a far cry better than attempts at loco conversions from years past, will never pull in a blue ribbon at the modeling contest. But it's not being build to win contests. It's being built to operate and convey the hardscrabble life that early gas-mechanical and Diesel locomotive had in industrial settings. I would never attempt to scratch build a loco in HO scale for my Big Island Rail. Creating a cool, funky 'critter' for a imagined railroad. So far it's been a very fulfilling project and a test of my building and problem solving skills, for sure. Plus, the big challenge is building an locomotive with very few commercially produced, store-bought parts. There isn't a hobby (model train) shop anywhere to be found for miles. And with a very limited budget for trains right now, I've been searching my parts and junk drawers for everything and anything that would work on this engine.

As much as I'd love to spend a hundred bucks on this rebuild with all the "right" detail parts, etc., I'm almost imagineering a proper locomotive with shapes, forms and a few on-hand parts to convey that feeling described above. I have borrowed (scavenged) a few HO scale parts for the project, including air tanks and a pair of SP style barrel headlights which look right on scale with this loco. Everything else is styrene sheet stock and shapes ( "L" angle "I" beams, etc.).

For the loco "crew" I am re-purposing a 1/48-scale (?) Germany Army military seated figure for the engineer. I mean how many logging Hogheads carry side arms? Well, I'm actually going to have a rifle in the cab...just never know when you might encounter a big 'gator sunning itself on the tracks! The brakeman will be a commercially available O-scale figure left over from my On3 modeling days. He'll be leaning back against the cab bulkhead.

With the open cab of this critter, I had to build a three-sided box over the chassis to hide the motor and DCC stuff. It looks OK but does cut down on the spaciousness of the cab's interior. The cab has received a first coat of industrial green that looks pretty good and will hide some of the "flaws." I plan to add a lot of details parts to the interior, like the rifle, oil cans, chain, water jug and tools to help pull the eye to those items and not so much to the big motor box inside. Plus on a logging loco, the more clutter the better, right?

There won't be any "glass" in the window frames of the cab, since in the hot and humid environs of the swamp, the more air circulation the better. I might add some "screen" material to the openings and a tarp or two to help keep the rain out.

I'm installing the handrails now for the side walkways and the front and rear platforms and hand grabs for the cab. So far it's looks pretty good. I've also added some "nut/bolt/washer" details to the frame and pilots, some angle stock to the engine access doors for hinges and an exhaust stack from scrap and a hood air intake (winterization hatch) from one of my HO scale Diesels.

I'm itching to get it finished so I can get a coat of paint on the body. Not sure yet what color...yellow? Maybe orange-reddish? Something that kinda stands out in a realistic way...and certainly not black.

Then all that's has to be done is lengthen the headlight wire s to mount them in the headlight castings, (maybe put a light in the cab?) and install a sound unit and speaker (still scratching my head on how to get that speaker in the cab roof) and my On30 logging/Harbor switcher is ready for revenue service on my new layout!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Determining Layout Height Part 1

Each day brings me closer to a new layout concept coming to reality. So the planning and dreaming continues, tempered with the reality of all the "other things" that will need to get done 'first' before layout reconstruction begins.

Since this proposed "combo pack" layout will be my first double-decker layout and also my first attempt at combining two different scale layouts in the same space, I'm going to be doing a lot of  "...Put that section up there and see how works out..." kind of decision making.

As I've stated in previous posts, I plan on mounting my HO scale Big Island Rail on top and the On30 combo logger/sugar plantation railroad below. I want my HO layout to be about at eye-level, which for me, at 6'3" tall, is way up there compared to most folks. Since I seldom have had visitors to my layouts, I haven't had problems with building my stand alone layouts at a taller height. Currently track height on my HO layout is at 55" and I'm looking at mounting the restructured HO layout at around 63" above the floor. This is a few inches lower than actual eye-level for me.This will help see all the tracks and throw switches without having to feel my way around the layout. I'm probably going to adjust this height as I get in and see how much ceiling room I have and how tall I want the On30 layout to be (more on that in a minute).

How much space I'll end up with below the HO layout's bench work and how tall the new On30 layout will be will, obviously, have to be worked out. How much "Sky" do I need above the On30 layout (for photography, in-person viewing, etc.)? Some thoughts....
I will likely build some roller platforms for myself to stand on so I can work on the taller HO layout and have "height-challenged" visitors stand so they can actually see trains! I think a solid base with those cool retracting rollers like on library step stools would work well. Since the main focus of the new Big Island Rail HO layout is continuous running around the room with limited switching operations,  I'm hoping the taller stature of the narrow shelf-style layout will work just fine. I do plan to have some industries around the HO layout to switch - such as the large bulk sugar trans-load facility that is currently located on the large Hilo Harbor peninsula. I also plan to build a sugar mill complex off the layout room above the work bench that is already in the basement in the new home. This will also contain a few staging tracks for inbound trains and act as a small yard for the sugar mill.

In the past with my taller layouts, I would have loved to have spend hours unending in the train room, building or running trains, but a lot of times the thought of spending a few hours on my feet after working all day (on my feet) just wasn't something I looked forward to. Plus, the older I get, the thought of sitting and running trains sounds better and better all the time! The thought of putting this new On30 layout at rolling stool or drafting chair level is pretty inviting!

More on the new layout to come in Part 2.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chosing the "Right" Era

I've always been a big fan of First Generation Diesels and fascinated by all those industrial gas mechanical critters and switchers. Plus, add to that a selection of steam-powered, oil-burning logging locomotives like Climax, Shay and the massive saddle tank Mallets, the list begins to fill. But I love those plantation tank engines from the glory days of the sugar cane and pineapple industry on the Hawaiian Island...Man, that's a pretty big range of eras and likes.

I'm also a fan of some WWII military vehicles, so mix that all together and what do you get? Obviously my new On30 layout will be set in the post-WWII era.Some brief research these days few days has uncovered that steam and Diesel worked side-by-side into the late 1950's even as late as 1960 on some logging and industrial railroads. In Hawaii a few of the remaining sugar mills and plantations operated railroads up into the late 1950's as well.

Since my "combo" plantation and logging layout concept is placed in "out-of-the-way" locales, time has stood still and the old steamers are still plugging side-by-side with the "newer" Diesels and gas mechanicals on the same narrow gauge rails along thanks to a good loco shop foreman and crew!

So...I'm zeroing-in on 1948 to possibly by birth year of 1955 as the era my railroad will "live" in. We'll see how things progress as all the elements begin to come together in the weeks and months ahead.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Motive Power Ideas In On30

OK - With home ownership yet another step closer after an early morning phone call from our bank's loan officer, the excitement level has peaked once again about the possibilities of the new layout plans. (I have to stay focused and geeked about the "New" layout, otherwise I'll get totally bummed over having to tear-down my current HO scale layout very soon!)

One of the way to stay motivated is to look at some possibilities for motive power on my planned "combo" sugar plantation/swamp logger layout. (I am going to order a couple back issues of the Gazette to read Boone Morrison's 2-part article on the logging railroad that once operated on the Big Island of Hawaii to see if I might want to move in that direction and really tie together the two themes)

I'm planning on having at least a couple steam engines on the layout. I'd like them modified to reflect the tropical locale of my railroads, with open air cabs, etc. like these Backwoods Miniatures conversions kits.  Here's some more "eye candy" of possible engines for the new pike.

For the logging segment of my combo layout. I have a HO scale 2-8-0 that I plan to modify into On30 saddle tanker with tender ( for hiding the DCC and Speaker)

I'm, sorry to say, a bit "burned out" on the Shay nowadays. I love the gearing and flywheel of the Climax. Bachmann's seems like a great loco. This is with the Backwoods Miniature's dress-up kit! But that Bachmann two-truck Shay is pretty neat if modified.

I will need a "mainline" steam engine for the passenger and freight service to the Pier 1 harbor area... A couple suggestions. This one could work as the harbor switcher (below).

For passenger and freight trains maybe one of Bachmann's cool locos like this ol' gal...

Gotta have "Critters" and Diesels on the layout... Love the U.S. Navy open cab loco (above top). Besides the small handful of converted HO Critters on my shelf that need updating, I'm planning to add one based on the Bachmann Gas Mechanical side rod loco.
This Whitcomb model is atop a SW-1500 HO chassis (below).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Swamp Logger Concept Gets Bigger

With a move to our new home becoming more of a reality with each passing day ( the loan is moving swiftly along through all the red tape), my thoughts are grinding away to conceptualize what my new layout room will hold.

Armed with rough basement dimensions, a ream of scratch paper and fist fulla pencils, I have been brain storming and thinking out loud on paper what I want to do with the limited new space I will have for model trains. The little experiment to get back into O scale narrow gauge railroading with a modular logging concept is growing, with my thoughts now locked in on a full-blown On30 layout that combines vintage 1950's-era sugar plantation shortline with my original rough and tumble "Swamp Logger" railroad concept. What about my XXL HO Big Island Rail layout? Well, I will still have that as well, this time converted into a narrow shelf layout, stacked above the floor-standing On30 pike. It's the ol' Combo-Pack I talked about in my previous post.

The more I think about this concept, the more appealing it's becoming to me. I can mix and match sections of my HO scale layout, converting a few into On30 (such as a part of my massive Hilo Pier 1 complex) and retain a couple key "scenes" on my HO layout into the new shelf concept (a detailed single track swing bridge scene and a truss bridge and gulch scene). This is a real change for me, since I've been a "Diesel Guy" for a long time. But with the outstanding (and relatively inexpensive) On30 steam engines on the market from Bachmann, it's hard to pass up. Plus, I blame Troels Kirk's On30 Coast Line RR incredible layout for the change of Diesel heart! Check it out if you haven't already.!/pages/The-Coast-Line-RR-page/127409483958090?sk=wall 

I hope these links work. If not go to Facebook and Search "The Coast Line RR."

Overview Operations in On30
I know it's hard to see in the scan of my pencil trackplan sketch, but this is what I envision for the 12 x 11 foot space with two "wings" at each end for staging. I will utilize the "main" portion of my HO scale "Hilo Pier 1" in the new On30 pike, with the large pier complex anchoring the right side of the layout room. The small yard that is part of the lead tracks to the harbor area will also come along into the On30 layout since all the tracks and switches will work in On30 and all the pier track is buried in "Concrete" and I don't want to destroy all that work. To the "south" (left) of the pier will sit a small depot and a turntable and small locomotive servicing facilities to turn steam engines for the return trip "North" into staging.

Trains will arrive off of the North staging wing (above the washer and dryer) with boxcars and bulkhead flatcars filled with bagged bulk sugar from the sugar mill (not modeled) to Pier 1 for loading onto ships. A warehouse will be located over one of the three pier tracks. A sugar molasses storage tank farm could also be part of the area. I might also add another industry or freight car destination in that area to add some more switching possibilities. A daily passenger train - loco, combine and coach -will also serve this area coming to and from staging, with loco getting turned and taking water before the return trip.

A bridge or wooden trestle will mark the transition between the plantation shortline and the swamp logger areas. On the angled peninsula will be a log dump and single stall engine house. Further up the line a small camp and log loading landing. Continuing from here the track would head around a corner and into a small staging yard.

I plan to "blend" the two railroads, by having railbus passenger service from "the woods" to the harbor depot. The railbus would also pick-up mail, supplies and groceries for camp. Occasional rail shipments of bridge timbers, logging equipment and fuel would arrive for the logging camp at the harbor yard. Logging trains would make the trip to the harbor to pick-up those cars and set out any out-bound cars.

Logging Critter Update

Coming along slow but sure.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Looking At The "Combo Pack" Layout Scheme

I've been spending a lot of time this past week with paper and pencil in hand, doing much head-scratching, racking my brain on how to fit my rather sprawling basement-size HO scale Hawaiian-theme railroad into a drastically reduced new 12x11-foot basement of the home we are buying. (Waiting on all the paperwork to get approved by the bank now.) The more I tried to "save" the sections of layout and fit them into a cohesive, yet smaller new layout space, the more I was drawing a blank. The current 18-foot Kuhio Yard won't fit in 12-feet, no matter how much pencil pushing I do, and the large Hilo Harbor pier complex, a "Y" shaped peninsula, would consume most of the open floor space in the room. What to do?

Well, this idea might change once we get moved in to our new digs, but for this moment I'm going to "Shelf" the HO-scale Big Island Railroad and build a permanent main On30 layout instead. By "shelving" the HO layout, I don't mean getting rid of it totally, I mean put it on eye-level shelves around the layout space, preserve a pair of key layout sections, and build it into a mostly "around-the-room" operations concept with a few industries to switch. This is one of the things lacking in the existing "point-to-point" layout. I want to run a train and let 'er run while I'm working on other projects, and not have to always be "working" the railroad.

For the "main" floor standing On30 layout, I'm thinking about combining into one pike my 1940's-1950's Swamp Logger concept with a similar-era island sugar cane plantation railroad. Since the whole idea of this model railroading hobby is to have "fun," I'm tossing out MY rule book and trying hard to let the creative thinking flow. These two industries - sugar and lumber - are pretty compatible. Actually on the Big Island of Hawaii back in the day, there were several sugar railroads that co-existed with a hardwood logging operation complete with Shay locomotives...Yes, I said in Hawaii!!!

The layout would be divided in two distinct parts connected with a transition section to blend the two. I still love the 'Swamp Logger' concept and will likely continue with this idea in the new permanent layout. I like the mood and the look of the backwater railroad with home-made equipment, "Critter" Diesels and saddle tank steam locomotives winding through moss-draped trees and across low trestles. The "Sugar Plantation" side would have an ocean-island vibe to it. The railroad would use more "mainstream" equipment to bring goods and passengers to the pier over well-maintained track.

Since HO and On30 equipment use the same gauge track, I will be able to use the Pier 1 side of the large harbor complex in the new layout scheme. This will become the new sugar pier. It has three long spurs with the track embedded in the concrete of the pier, with plenty of room for a few O-scale structures. Plantation trains will arrive with boxcars and bulkhead flatcars filled with bagged sugar. The sugar gets transferred onto ocean-going freighters and inter-island ships. I should be able to use a small yard section of the HO layout that connects to this pier section with minimal reworking for On30. I plan to have an open-air passenger depot located near the pier where passengers de-train and walk to the pier to board the inter-island passenger ships. This portion of the layout will also include a molasses transfer facility that recieves the sticky stuff in tankcars,  a turntable and a small engine service facility to get those steam engines ready for the return trip (onto a 2-track stage yard "wing" above the laundry area of the basement.)

The logging side of things will feature a log dump on a slightly angled self-standing peninsula, as well as an engine house, logging camp, log landing and lots of swampy water, fireflies and moss-covered cypress trees. This side of the layout will also have staging that will wind between the HVAC equipment ductwork into another section of the basement about an existing workbench area.

I'll post a rough track plan soon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Old Equipment Will Get New Life In Swamp

I didn't realize just how much 1/4-inch narrow gauge "Logging Stuff" I still had hidden in a bin in the layout room until I started unpacking to 'snoop around.' Several years ago I sold off most of my On3 Westside Lumber-based craftsman kits and made a pile of money on Ebay to put into my HO scale layout. But a handful of O gauge models survived to live again in the swamps of Bayou Country!

After photographing the remnant, I see how my scratch building skills have vastly improved over the years.

 Two logging locos, one of which (the centercab) was featured in a How-To article many years ago in the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette Magazine. They seem rough around the edges compared to my work nowadays. (Good sign) I will need to regauge the locomotive's trucks from converted On3 back to their original HO/On30 gauge. The center cab loco was built over a Bachmann HO chassis and the other engine on an old HO Walthers loco.

A few years ago I got the bug to scratch build a few "plantation-style" boxcars in On30 based on some old shorty HO-scale flatcars. And those look pretty good, so they will head directly onto the new layout, with the possible change to On30 trucks and wheel sets.

And then this On3 logging crew speeder!

This was a example of too many beers before heading to the workbench! This interesting contraption is a WWII German half-track model set on a HO loco power truck (rear) and a dummy loco front truck. At one time I had it filled with loggers heading to the woods. The back is filled with crates of fresh produce heading to the cook shack... I can't remember if it ever actually ran, but I was trying to hook up a headlight to the front hood... I think Gazette editor and publisher Bob Brown is still shaking his head over this article submission!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Building A Critter = FUN!

I have to admit, working on my scratch-built On30 Diesel "critter" locomotive is very enjoyable - dare I say, even...FUN?!?!?!?

Discovering a single vintage photo during a Google search has provided the inspiration to create a very plausible representation of a 30-ton narrow gauge Diesel switcher. What make? What model number? When was it manufactured? You know what? It really doesn't matter. What matters is the 'fun factor' and it has shown me the whole On30 portable, modular layout "exercise" needs to be fun. No pressure, no prototype, no exacting dimensions...just fun.

Using the styrene sheets and a few different structural shapes in styrene I have on hand and that single black and white Internet image, I am creating this little locomotive purely by feel and looks and thinking what could be plausible if it was an actual locomotive built by some long-defunct manufacture in the 1940's, design solely to toll away year after year in the muggy, damp swamps hauling logs, supplies and workers.

Now, mind you I have my O-scale rule firmly in hand to check dimensions and keep things "real" and with-in scale, but for the most part the "critter" is coming together straight from my imagination, and it's actually looking pretty cool. I'm sure the rivet counters would pop an artery, but so what? I'm having fun.

It all is part of an effort on my part to free-up my creativity in the realm of model railroading, which has gotten pretty stuffy the past many months. With the "Swamp Logger" layout concept, I may or may not actually get to build the whole designed modular layout, but so what if I don't? The layout is getting my creative juices flowing once again, which I hope helps my creativity to loosen-up in other areas of my life, such as my photography, my art, music and my radio gig.

I was getting bogged down with my HO scale standard-gauge layout, trying so hard to make each and every loco, car, structure, palm tree a perfect representation of the Big Island of Hawaii, even though the last flanged wheel on rail to roll in revenue service was in the late 1940s. And even though my "what if" layout concept for continuing the legacy of the Hawaii Consolidated Railway is pure conjecture, I have been putting loads of pressure on myself to "get it right!" And with that, I somewhere along the (right-of) way lost my joy and creative freedom.

I'm not going to drop that Hawaiian HO layout for a new On30 swamp pike, but following the possible move to a different home, I will rethink the concept as I rebuild and assemble saved segments of the current layout. Maybe I'll begin to take more artistic license and work some "fun" into the plan.

So back to the work table to finish that cool swamp logger "Critter."  And like they say at the Outback Steakhouse..."No Rules, Just Right!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Move In Our Future

One of the reasons I have put off any progress with my "basement-size" HO-scale modern-day, Hawaiian-themed layout and have been tinkering with my On30 swamp logger modular layout is because of the recent "rumblings" of a possible move out of our rental house and into our very own home somewhere in town. With the thought of an impending move, I put the brakes on any desire to continue building when a move would mean the current layout will have to be dismanteled and reconfigured in it's new location.

Well, it looks like a move may well happen very soon. My wife Kim and I have put an offer in on a vintage home (and basement) in town and we're now waiting for the seller's response. In the meantime, work continues at the bench and out in the garage on On30 projects for the Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co.

The first "mini-module" for the planned portable layout is coming along. This is the 'Enginehouse' module which will feature a detailed, scratch-built single stall wooden engine house with machine shop, locomotive bunker fuel tank with a 1950's-era tanker semi-truck making a delivery, and a hillside water tank for the steam locomotives. Beside these highlights, the 18-inch-wide by 3-foot-long module will include hand-laid ties and code 83 rail, a segment of the namesake Moquito Creek and a good amount of moss covered trees and swamp foliage. A low deck trestle will cross the Mosquito Creek between the enginehouse and the next module.

The landforms have been roughed in with my ceiling tile base and the roadbed is ready for track. The 1/8-inch hardboard backdrop has been painted a grey-sky blue and now in place and "experimental" facia/backdrop support framework is done.

Yes, I'm happy with the progress. Now, about that new basement....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Progress Report - Critter and Layout

The past few days I have been able to get some work done on the scratch-built Diesel critter I'm creating as motive power for the Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. 'Swamp Logger' On30 modular layout. I'm not a blue-ribbon craftsman when it comes to exacting standards...I just build 'em 'til they look good! That's why working in the realm of a fictional Louisiana backwater narrow gauge logging operation in 1/4-inch scale is so fun. With my modern-day HO-scale Big Island & Pacific Railroad Hawaii-based layout, the need to be "within certain realism standards" is desired. ( But with this new venture in On30, the main desire is to have fun, be creative and try new stuff.

The loco is beginning to take shape as I cut, trim and sand the styrene sheets to form the superstructure I'm placing atop an Atlas HO scale Alco S-1 chassis equipped with a DCC decoder and soon to have sound as well.

The first actual On30 module has been the object of a lot of thinking lately and I plan to do a bit more construction on the layout section this afternoon and then begin to get my chops back in hand-laying track! Before the rails go down, I'll need to order a few more track laying tools to help keep everything in gauge... but it's going to be fun! And that's the main point of all this!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Naming My Little Swamp Logger

Naming model railroad layouts can be easy or they can pose a challenge. If you model a prototype railroad that actually exists (or did in the past) naming the line can be relatively simple. HO scale modeler Jim Six is building a branchline of the former New York Central through the Midwest. While researching he discovered the line was actually nicknamed "The Michigan" by the railroaders that worked that section of the NYC. Another outstanding modeler Troels Kirk of Sweden is modeling coastal Maine in the mid-1930's. Troels named his On30 scale work of art "The Coastal Line R.R." His layout concept is from research combining everything he's seen in that area of the eastern U.S. and creating his own world. The name really sets the tone for his model railroad. Without seeing it, you know it's setting is along the rocky coastal waters.

I want my pint-size modular On30 swamp logger's name to convey a feeling of locale as well. After filling a few sheets of scratch paper with brainstormed name ideas and variations of them, I landed on one combination that struck a chord. The name is totally "made-up" but at the same time sounds like it could have been an actual logging railroad. Since for me, that's the main objective to a layout name, I grabbed it as the name for the new pike.

Here's the story behind the name Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. layout.
The moniker comes from a pair of "memories" so to speak from my past and present. The "Blackwater" part of the name comes from the 1975 Classic Rock song from the Doobie Brothers by the same name, always a favorite of mine. And since I work as a DJ for a Classic Rock radio station and play that song, it seemed very appropriate. I did toy with the idea of using a Credence Clearwater Revival song, since John Fogerty's music has that gritty swamp sound, but the titles didn't seem to have the right "ring" to them.

As for the 'mosquito' part, that goes back to a time when I lived on Mosquito Road in Placerville, CA. I also had an logging layout at the time with the Mosquito name. I actually just found a saw blade that I painted back then. (See photo above) That's weird because I finalized the name BEFORE I discovered the saw blade buried in a bin with my old On3 stuff! The Mosquito Creek name also congers-up the mental picture of a dank, dark, steamy swamp filled with millions of the 'man-eating' little buggers. Pity the poor fellow who has to cut timber day-in and day-out in along it's mossy, bug-invested creek banks deep in the backwaters of Louisiana. Plus, now living in Minnesota, it's also appropriate since the unofficial 'state bird' is the mosquito! See, it's all coming together!

So with the name in place, I have created a mental image of what the new swamp logger layout will be like. I love a model railroad that has a distinct mood or feeling to it. I hope the mood of the Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. will seem very obvious when the layout is complete and people are able to see it operate in person at train shows or in photos on-line and in model RR publications.

Monday, August 1, 2011

File Folder Loco Mock-Up

As they say, "When the Narrow Gauge Logging Bug bites, it bites hard." After discovering a vintage photo of a cool Diesel "critter" during a Google search, I had to try and build a On30 version as part of the loco fleet for my under construction Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. On30 modular layout.

Using a HO-scale Atlas Alco S-1 chassis, I built a new deck from sheet styrene which overlays the original HO frame.

That's where I stopped with the styrene and began with file folders to work-up the cab and hoods for the new On30 "Critter." I used an O-scale ruler, pencil, scissors, a hobby knife and tape to form a mock-up of the new loco.

I'll let this sit for a day or so until I feel the dimensions and proportions are they way I want them. Right now I think the cab needs to be trimmed in lenght, narrowed on the sides a bit. Then , when I'm happy with the look, I'll start cutting styrene for the actual superstructure.