1, 2, 3, 4.

morley_sask_front_view

In proposing the sketch of the grain elevator layout I found something that I am still really amused by. Something that presented both the layout and the fascia on an almost level field where one was just as interesting to look at as the other: the layout filled with rich visual textures and details begging to be explored yet also providing a source of backlighting for the shadow play arranged by those silhouettes in front. Those sketches and then the mockups that followed also provided me with a chance to explore vertical dimensions like how much height was required by the scene.

3part-1

What if the borders were tightened to provide just enough room to look across a freight car’s roof or to peer underneath? While I didn’t have a place in mind when I sketched that out, those close quarters felt urban. Urban things like people on a crowded sidewalk or the way a train must snake its way between buildings on its trip to work from home.

3part frontelev

What if we cut into the fascia in sections? We might not even arrange each opening in the same orientation or on same elevation or plane. In the above sketch:

  • A is cut open large enough to provide a full side elevation. Rail cars parked by factories. The scene is shallow and its horizontal bias plays on the length of the scene and excuses the height completely.
  • B is the alley. Vertical. It’s taller than A but very narrow. Like seeing a train crossing the street downtown we see it moving between the buildings and that extra height provides a view deeper into the scene.
  • C is cut open, wrapping around the corner.

Initially, I thought this was really neat for the way it played with the scene but, looking at the sketch, I also like the way it plays with definition of the sides and ends of the box itself. A and B are a presentation that might feel more passive as we watch something moving against something else but C, that view from the side and end simultaneously, is a terminal space from things arrive, leave, or rest.

3part planview

In traditional model railway layout design we must provide white space to communicate distance or frame each element. In this concept, that white space isn’t required and we could quite radically tighten up the overall footprint of the layout. Furthermore, since we are more actively managing the view of the scene, we focus our work on modelling only what is required to complete the scene from that one perspective.

As a concept, it’s something that feels like it works as a static display or an exhibition layout and perhaps less well as a traditional model railroad. I may mock this up but don’t believe I have any interest in taking this much further than that. I’ve been trying to invest more time

All things must pass

allthingsmustpass v1-1

The model railroad, designed for operation, where you don’t model either end of the industrial process it is supposed to represent and really only provide enough stage to host an extract of the operating session. Just enough to model the bit I’m interested in:

  1. Engine enters the stage from “C” and moves through the scene to exit at “B”
  2. “B” represents a place where loaded hoppers are retreived. I’m not interested in modelling how they are loaded I just need them to come from somewhere to support the play. Further, by excluding this scene from the layout it can be greatly reduced to only a single track where I add or remove cars from the layout instead of a complex yard of tracks, cars, and scenery – all of which distracts from the purpose of the plan and the intent of the experience.
  3. With the engine shoving from the tail end, a string of hoppers is shoved through the scene. Even though only one motion in one direction, it’s a dance of delicate steps: feeding in enough throttle to maintain inertia but not so much as to break traction on the rails.
  4. Cars are fed into an unloader of some sort located at “A”. Again, not interested in building a model of this and don’t feel I need to.
  5. Repeat from step 1.

Just sawing back and forth through the scene and enjoying just how good it feels to watch and listen to well-made models in action. Not that it demands more detail, but from another page in the sketchbook, I found this page providing some additional detail for the typical operating session:

allthingsmustpass v2

The length of the operating session is determined by the amount of time I feel like attending. When retrieving hoppers, it is just running across the stage. When shoving them through the unloader though, even though the actual unload point is off-stage and not modelled the act of feeding cars through it one at a time is a very important part of the operating session.

  1. The train rests, all three cars and an engine of it, on stage
  2. Grab a notch on the throttle to shove the first hopper into the unloader.
  3. Pause while it’s unloaded and then shove the second into place…then the third. With
  4. With all three now unloaded move back to staging.
  5. Return with as many hoppers need to be unloaded next or if this is a day where we only received three hoppers, bring the engine home and go get on with life.

In terms of reference, the operating session looks one heck of a lot like the second half of this video:

And the sound and look of that little engine is a lot like this:

One Tutorial to Another

While I’ve watched the previously mentioned tutorial on static grass several times and enjoy it so much that I’ll probably watch it a few more times, this I had not. It’s a series of videos that describes making turnouts. I don’t understand what he’s saying but his workflow is logical and easy to follow. Even despite the language barrier, the host is making what feels like professional use of his time in each video and the resulting series is quite pleasant to watch.

 

The turnout he is building appears to make use of a plastic base. It seems interesting and I’m intrigued. While the ties are molded with some beautiful detail in place, including spikes, the rails are simply glued in place. A while ago, I built a turnout using cardboard ties and I used CA adhesive to bond the rails to those ties. My turnout has travelled far off-Island and seldom enjoyed much protection. It’s yet to fall apart and this only furthers my thoughts that you could just glue the rails down.

Anyway, glueing ties is a tangent away from showcasing another nicely done series of tutorial videos. Again, nice camera work and well designed work. I’ve watched the first nine episodes and bookmarked the channel so I can return back later and watch more when I have the time. I see he has others and I’m looking forward to seeing them too.


Sorry for the blog title. Sloan’s One Chord to Another record is a much better use of that combination of words…

Nice tutorial on static grass

 

I understand the appeal of using “static grass” on a model railway and the basic techniques involved. Furthermore, the benefit of using a selection of grasses of different lengths seems equally obvious. What I couldn’t seem to understand was how you were supposed to stick it all down in layers. Often, I’d read or hear about how a modeler stuck down a field’s worth of fibres of one length and then went back and stuck down more later. To my simple mind, I just kept envisioning layers of fibres stuck down over top each other and not the pleasantly varied field we all had in mind.

I know. Once again, it’s me.

I wanted to post the video part to mark how it helped me overcome a simple comprehension issue but more so to showcase what I think is just a very well done tutorial. Despite what ___ insist, every so often someone actually does elect to compose a truly great video on their own and make it publicly available. Good content exists and is worth celebrating. I like the camera work, the length of the video, and I feel that even the soundtrack works.

Well done, thanks!

Chris

Painted track

DSC00004.JPG

I’m unsettled about how this sample turned out but think it’s best to park the work for a moment until I figure out what I’d like to try next. I think I wanted the rails a bit more reddish there’s something with the ties that I’m not settled with. Perhaps a wash of colour this evening?

Coffee’s just about done and it’s really past time to get out the door and off to work.


Track Atlas HO scale code 83 flex track; base colour is Tremclad “Leather Brown” aerosol; rail and ties are dry brushed acrylics.

Coffee Kicking Horse beans I ground and made as an Americano; milk, sugar.

A little out of hand?

I’m finding that I really enjoy working with these full-size mockups. During a period where my hands are restless for a model to work on, this is something I can quickly dive into and satisfy that urge. It’s work with value that is helping me better understand my relationship with my space and will prove invaluable as I try to settle my mind on decisions that will guide changes to the composition of the layout. For a couple dollar’s worth of foamcore and hot glue, this work is proving to be money and time I consider well invested.

Shown above is the latest and, by far, the grandest. I have increased the opening in the front of the layout to eight inches. The structure below the track currently occupies a vertical space of four inches. Though not installed, I see the top frame set at two inches high. This sums to a fourteen inch high model that is about nine inches deep. I like the overall volume and I have something here that I can easily modify to tailor changes (for example: Is there enough room for the scenic elements in front of or behind the track?)

Keeping in the spirit of screwing around, I thought I’d try creating a variation on spline roadbed based on the 3/16″ thick foamcore I’ve been using throughout these projects. It’s surprisingly rigid and I’m impressed.


Foamcore, hot glue; thirty inches long, nine inches deep, fourteen inches tall; based on 1/87 scale models;

May I borrow your camera?

CN 4792 20170304 IMG_3344

CN 4792 in Dartmouth yard – March 5, 2017

CN’s Dartmouth yard, last Sunday, was eerily empty. Not a single car in sight. A pair of GP’s were idling so perhaps this is a moment of silence waiting to be broken. Thank you Émi for loaning me your iPod so I could take the above photo!

Mile 63 Truro NS 20170304_165529

As we rolled toward Truro, I asked if anyone needed tea and if anyone would mind if I checked out the Truro yard. First stop, the Co-op mill on Willow Street. I don’t believe I’ve seen this milepost before. Perhaps another gift from a receding winter?

COOP Feed Mill CN 109899 Truro NS 20170304_165621

I’ve often remarked that the mill itself would make a superb small layout. The line in front used to continue across Willow Street but now stops just before the crossing. I could easily envisage a lean model railway based on exactly this scene. I find, in the strong vertical lines of the mill an appealing backdrop for the scene and imagine it almost filling the lense of the railway. Keeping in mind the previous conversation on composing a scene, I see this with only brief glimpses of sky. Ideally, I’d like to see that layout composed from exactly the perspective in this photo.

CN Brandt Truck Truro NS 20170304_170941

At the Truro yard office, where I expected to find the Truro local engine tied up, a CN Brandt truck was waiting instead. Though it wasn’t tied to the tank car sitting behind it, it was easy to imagine this as a small train arriving. I’ve always dreamed of seeing Saskatchewan’s Southern Rails Co-op and watching their Brandt truck working across a prairie horizon with a long cut of grain hoppers in tow. It still sounds like paradise for me. A scene like the one above feels pretty close and certainly than I’ve ever been so far.

CN 79918 Truro NS 20170304_170914

Once upon a time we’d harbour a private Canadian railfan pride when we’d secretly correct others who might call it a caboose. Today though, cars like CN’s 79918 are “shoving platforms” used to protect the back end of a train on local moves.

With no camera of my own on this trip, I’m relying on those I can borrow and am adding one more “I owe you” to the list for Krista. Her generousity, loaning me her cell phone, is the only reason why I have these photos to mark the memory of a side trip. A tangent that itself is a gift. Thanks guys!