Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Progress Continues

Hello, I've been busy with writing a regular column for the Shortline Modelers on-line magazine, in which I've re-posted the first two columns in this blog. Again you can go to the website to check that out at:

This fall I also had an How-To article published in the 2013' On30 Annual, put out by Carstons (same company that publishes Railroad Model Craftsman) describing how I scratch-built the swamp "Critter" diesel. So that was pretty neat! Plus, RMC also published my article on kitbashing an HO-scale Walther's swing bridge this past December 2012 seen below.

As for the On30 Blackwater layout, I've been able to make some pretty good progress, hand laying track and building turnouts from scratch or converting HO scale ones that suffered some damage when removing them from the old layout.
I probably starting laying track in one of the hardest area on the layout, of course. And since I haven't hand laid track since the early 1990s, I was taking on a pretty big chunk...the town of Blackwater! This is where the new town section joins up with the Hilo Pier 1 section from my old HO scale Big Island Rail. Jumping back in with numerous turnouts to build was pretty ambitious. But, as I slowly glue wooden ties down and spike code 83 rail down I'm getting the grove back. I've also had to go and purchase a new soldering iron and a few other items to support all the soldering, and track building! It is definitely worth the efforts. I just LOVE the way hand built track looks! I can't wait to get some dirt and ballast down to really get the full effect! Plus it really slows down my work, in a good sense...allowing me time to think and enjoy my hobby for the process of creating and building, tie-by-tie, rail-by-rail, spike-by-spike.

Living in an area where the nearest train shop is about a 3 hour drive away, I've been doing a lot of on-line shopping for supplies. My track laying came to a stand still last week after running out of ties. The order finally arrived Friday, so, I'm back in the swing again. I stained two large bags of ties this morning and have begun gluing them to the roadbed surface. I have to build a few more switches.

I ordered some lenghts of printed circuit board ties for building the turnouts which has made the task a lot easier. I also had a few On3 turnout components saved from years ago when I did an On3 Logging layout with hand-laid track, so I am adapting and reusing these to build the new On30 turnouts.

Here's what I use for staining my ties...
There's really no exact formula for the mix, other than the main ingredient is the "rubbing" alcohol, with black shoe polish and a squirt of brown acrylic stain from my art supplies. Adding a little brown warms the stain tint just a little which I like for my ties. Older wood structures and track would just get the straight black with the alcohol for that weathered silver look.

I stain a big batch of ties at a time, then they're done and I don't have to deal with that again...until I run out! Here I've mixed the stain in a large plastic ice cream tub. I stir the ties in the "soup" until the color soaks in -  a minute or two. I use gloves to keep my hands from getting stained.
I then lift the ties from the stain and drop onto newspaper to absorb the extra stain, then transfer the ties again to clean, dry newspaper and allow them to dry completely. This takes about 20 minutes in a comfortably warm room.
 After the ties are dry, I dump them back into another container that I keep at the layout to feed the track laying operations.
In the meantime, work is being done to the upper HO scale Big Island Rail layout as well. I'm waiting for the arrival of a few more sections of flex track to complete track work on the BIRR. I've also ordered some more code 83 rail for the On30 layout as well.
That's it for now!
Thanks for reading my blog!

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