Weekend Update 26

Trains, Weekend Update

It’s been a slow couple weeks for modeling, just a variety of other things taking up my time. I did get some time last night to work on some painting projects. I’ve been painting the Fairmont Speeder (again… long story) and that’s starting to come together but I’ve realized I lost the wheels. I imagine I’ll find them a week after I finally give up and order replacements.

I’ve also been painting some of the woodwork and pretty happy with how things turned out. I’ve also started working on the little track into the shed and starting to strategize how I want to paint the ties, tie plates, and rail. Easiest option would be to rattle can spray it all brown and try to highlight bits of it later for more color variation. I might also try hand painting it, a lot more time intensive and fiddly but know I can get some pretty good aged wood effects if I do it that way.

Scribing Tool


I mentioned in my last tool post that I’d ordered a scriber (General Tools Etching Pen/Scriber) but it hadn’t arrived yet. Well it did arrive and I finally had a chance to use it last night. My hope in getting it would be that it would be easier/more comfortable to scribe starter lines in styrene pieces than an Xacto blade then using those scribe lines to guide the Xacto blade on subsequent cuts.


So far it’s been working out like I’d expect. The problem I still have with pieces like this are that I don’t have a good way to hold rules in place precisely but a light pass makes it a little easier to stay steady with the rule. What caught me off guard is just how well it works, it shouldn’t have been a surprise as this is marketed for use on “all metals, ceramics, and glass”. On a thin sheet of styrene this could probably be used to cut all the way through in just a few passes. I also found following the scribed path very slowly and lightly with the Xacto blade resulted in a much cleaner and precise cuts just taking longer, but that’s probably a work smarter not harder thing 🙂

Modelling Reads


A while back a commentor suggested the book Modelling Grassland and Landscape Detailing by Gordon Gravett (Was either Chris or Oly from The Model Railways of Oly Turner and Chris Matthews which also is a good blog but I’m not sure which one was commenting).


I managed to find a British retailer that would ship to the states for a good price as the prevailing Amazon price was kind of ridiculous. I’m not really the review type but I found it to be a very inspirational read. Enough so that I kinda wanted to replace my snowy city US based layout with a British country/grassland layout. I’ve resisted.. but future dioramas or projects may end up having a little more grass! (and by may I mean definitely will)


Another book I’ve just started reading is by Rene Gourley of Prembroke:87, “Building an HO steam locomotive in brass and styrene”. So far it’s been a good read, looking forward to getting further into it.


Speeder Shed Track Update



Yesterday while I had my photo box out I took some pictures of the current state of the speeder shed track. I’ve recently finished the main line of track aside from most of the spiking and a couple joint bars. I need to finish the last bit of track perpendicular to the main running into the shed itself.

Speaking of spikes and joint bars I took another stab at close ups of the spikes and this is as close as I could get with my 18-55mm lens before it would refuse to take pictures. Also got a couple of the PDC joint bars in the shot. I’ve switched to a Xuron 450S for the Proto87 spikes over the 450BN. The serrated jaws (the S part of the name) made the difference in having more purchase on the spike. It’s still quite a bit harder than normal spikes but a little easier.



The one on the left might not be all the way in but you can’t really tell with the naked eye


I also pulled the speeder project box and was surprised to find I had started priming it as I thought it was in pieces… again. This thing has been built and disassembled many times usually because of disappointment with the painting or the most recent time too difficult to paint. This time I’m going for partially assembled, paint, then final assembly removing paint where I need to for glue but this way I can easily get those awkward nooks and crannies.

DODX Flat Car Update


I pulled this guy out the other day to make a little bit of progress and ended up basically finishing construction. All that’s left is the cut levers (which I’m waiting on because they are so tiny), cleanup some of the excess glue, paint, and finding a load and doing the chains. I also got the photo box out and was doing some photo practice and managed to get a couple good shots that highlight some of the detail (and some of the sloppy gluing) when you zoom in.

Investing in Tools


Despite not having yet finished my scratch built flat car (which is due to waiting for better weather for airbrushing) I’ve been itching to take another stab at it. To take some of my learnings from round one and improve on it both in better detail and better operations potential (i.e. jamming more weight into it). I’m also at the moment looking at the possibility of scratch building most of the structures on my shelf layout so some good tools will be helpful.

One of my problems was that I didn’t have precision measuring devices that would go to 50ft let alone beyond that. My first scratch built car was 55ft 6in, the next one I’m working on is going to be 53ft 6in because I have a specific prototype in mind but still much to long for my model railroading scale ruler. (side note why oh why did they not start it at the end, it has caught me out too many times)


Shinwa 300mm steel ruler, beam for 53’6″ flat car, and model railroading scale ruler

My digital caliper and all my modeling rulers so far have been too short so I end up with measuring part, marking and measuring from the mark. I decided I wanted to do better and got a Shinwa 300mm steel ruler from Amazon.My American readers may be wondering what’s wrong with me but I’ve found millimeters are easier to work with when converting down. One thing I didn’t expect was pleasantly surprised about is the heft of the thing, it doesn’t look like much but has a substantial feel too it which is probably in part because it’s wider and at least twice as thick as the picture scale ruler.


I’ll be honest, the idea of me getting excited about the heft of a ruler does make me feel a little old…

Another area I tended to have trouble with was cutting the beams in large part because they are so thick but also because I had a hard time keeping a rule lined up for the angled part. To that end I ordered a scriber (which unfortunately is backordered at the moment) and this nifty General Tools 17 Square Head Protractor also available on Amazon.


My hope here is that I’ll be able to use this to reliably reproduce the correct angle as I’m doing my initial scribe to cut the beams. If not I should still be able to make good use of it on larger wood working projects.

I’ve also got a nibbler on it’s way that should be interesting if for no other reason than it’s name… and Trevor Marshall’s post on using one last year has had it on my tool radar for a while.

Goals Follow up February 2017


As I expected I didn’t really get a whole lot done in January, I did get the layout wired and it all seems to be working. I also made some good progress on the speeder shed diorama track but just haven’t had time to get back to it yet.

So what’s up for February? I’m expecting it’ll be another slower month (you know, since it’s so short…)

  • Finish Speeder Shed track
  • Figure out shelf layout operations
  • Finish DODX flat car construction
  • Upgrade SW1 drive shafts

Shelf Layout Track Done… again…


Earlier this week I got the last of the feeders hooked up which meant track and wiring was done. Then I was cleaning things up with the intent of doing a layout tour video and had a point break free of the throw bar. No biggie, grab the soldering iron and reattach it easy peasy. While I’m at it I think I should figure out why cars always derail through the last turnout I installed, should be easy…


The above picture is after I removed all the spikes and wood ties, unsoldered the feeders, unsoldered the throw bar, and it from the layout, filed down the stock rail and started re-installation.

For interested parties the problem was I had not filed enough out of the stock rail on the straight piece so the gauge was just a tiny bit too tight when the wheels first hit the points. The front truck of a car would roll through but without fail the second one would hop the points. This was a turnout I built a couple years ago when I had borrowed a fast tracks fixture from a friend. I made a couple extra left and rights until I had used up the last of my supplies while I had the jig so this one never got tested.