Weekend Update 29

Trains, Weekend Update

First off, yes posts 3 days in a row… it’s been a crazy snow storm.


You know it’s bad when your snowblower turns into a tunneling machine

Most of my weekend was converting cars to Sergent couplers and making more. I ended up putting together some 64 couplers with only 3 not making the cut (one I forgot a ball bearing, two glued shut but they are soaking in acetone to be redone) I only got 8 cars converted so I’ve got a good stash of couplers ready to go.

I also dug out some long languishing projects, I’m hoping being visible will help them get a little more attention to get done!

Weekend Update 28

Trains, Weekend Update

In my last post I alluded to an issue with my second ScaleTrains SD40-2, rather than detailing it in the post I sent off a note to ScaleTrains support line and ended up in an email conversation with the VP of Product Development well after normal business hours. Huge kudos to ScaleTrains for the great support. That locomotive is still waiting on a decoder but in the meantime I had a friend point out that I had managed to get two BNSF SD40-2s with a number ending in 21. Wasn’t intentional… just made sure I didn’t do the same number.

My friend Mike had an operating session this last week and I took 6821 and it ran exceptionally well which is always nice. I managed to grab some photos of it in the wonderful scenery Mike has done.

On a more local note I’ve been doing a little bit of work on my layout, it hasn’t been much because of being busy, seasonal illness etc but finding some little things to do when I can. I had the idea to 3D print some knobs for my PDC switch machines… and then my imagination got the better of me. First I thought it’d be cool to have a representation of the turnout on the knob. Then I took it to the next logical step, put LEDs in it that light up to show the current route.

Turnout knob.png

I’m sure it would have worked but I’ve come to decide it might be too fiddly and I should probably take a step back and go with something simpler for now at least.

Weekend Update 27

Trains, Weekend Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted as I just haven’t had any motivation to work on modeling stuff for a number of external reasons that aren’t really important here.

In my 3D printing I spend a little bit of time looking over websites like Thingiverse and recently I stumbled on a couple of really cool models, first a 1:32 scale EMD SW1500. I’m pretty sure I’m going to print this just because it’s so cool and massive. Second a more generic 16mm scale Diesel Locomotive. I’m very likely going to print that one as well just because it’s cool.

For a couple months now I’ve been searching all over the train room for the wheels to my fairmont speeder with no luck. More than a month ago I resigned myself to the fact that they were gone and I’d just have to order some new ones but thankfully I didn’t because I finally found them. Turns out they were in the garage in a small container on the garage workbench under a pile of miscellaneous stuff that’s piled up since fall. Now I just have to try to remember where I put the rest of the model, though I’m fairly sure that is still in the train room.

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.

(Pre) Weekend Update 25

Trains, Weekend Update

As it’s likely to be a busy weekend I’m getting this out much earlier than usual. It has been a somewhat busier week so I didn’t really get any big changes tackled. First up is a bell on BN 97 (EMD SW1). It ships black but that seems wrong so a little Vallejo 71.067 Bright Brass and I think it looks pretty stunning. It should probably be weathered whenever I get around to weathering the locomotive.


Next up is something small (and a penny)


Ok, sure that’s just a part of it but it’s a fairly important part of the Sergent coupler.


I was planning on doing a full post but had a bit of a hiccup. Basically the compatible shank (the ones that drop in a standard coupler box) are out of stock until sometime in January but the narrow shank for scale draft boxes like the Accurail #1031 or #1081 are in stock. And I had at least one Accurail piece of rolling stock with scale draft gear not a problem right? Well… I had one that had pre-drilled holes for scale boxes, in frustration I just assembled all six couplers without taking any pictures. Then I found some scale draft gear and was back in business and have converted 2.5 cars for some test operations.

If we zoom out a little on that photo we get this:


Which is another section of track that’s been laid, this means all that’s left is to the left of that picture is two sidings which are to be the primary operation area.

This is my Christmas break project, it’s an Alkem Scale Models Department of Defense 100 ton flat car.. the one that can carry one M1 Abrams tank. This is something that doesn’t really fit my prototype but is really really cool. Modeling northern Minnesota you probably wouldn’t see one but maybe I can just say it’s part of a strategic deployment to keep the Canadians out 🙂

I will say though, I was way more confident looking at the instructions online than actually seeing the brass and acrylic in the flesh. It will definitely be a challenge!

Weekend Update 24

Trains, Weekend Update

As I was collecting things I’d done over the last couple of days for a weekend update I realized I’d worked on a lot of different things.

The biggest achievement size wise was the completion of the first siding on the shelf layout (and cleaning it off enough to take a couple quick shots)

Next up was working on my Soo 320 switcher project. I started with some new hand rails in a lighter wire and painted with a white primer (hopefully sticking to the brass better).


With them drying on the first coat I turned my attention to lights… or at least that was the plan. I ran some test runs to make sure it was running well first and had some pickup problems. This involved completely tearing it apart and making a mess of things but I was starting to see light at the end of the tunnel when this cracked…


Lovely, I’m poking around looking for a donor mechanism or replacement parts. Although the pickup on this locomotive in particular (but to an extend all of them) works way better on the non-weathered rail. It’s all ME code 83 but some of it is the pre-weathered and it gets better when I run a cleaning car over it but it’s still not perfect. Is this common on the pre-weathered rail?

While I was working on the SW1 pickup and had the trucks torn apart I took some Vallejo Matt Varnish (70.520) and painted the faces to give it a flat surface for some weathering powders which I did when dry. It’s not a terribly noticable effect but I like it.


Speaking of track cleaning car, I’ve got a cheap Walthers (I forget which line it comes from, but I paid less than $10 and in a brick and mortar hobby shop and it wasn’t on sale.. and it come with metal wheels) boxcar with a piece of masonite under it. I decided to have a little fun and spuce up the wheels and trucks. The trucks got the vallejo steel metalic colors treatment and Matt Varnish, while the wheel faces got a black varnish and Matt Varnish. Then brushed rust colored Bragdon powders on.


I didn’t cover it with anything (as that tends to turn the powders into a solid paint color) so we’ll see how it lasts with handling.

I also got the RaspberryPi running again with JMRI, I’ve got it hooked up to my Digitrax Zephyr with a PR3 but I don’t think I’ll be installing any UP5s (at least any time soon) and just using Engine Driver on my phone. I do prefer the tactile buttons but the price of wireless is just so much cheaper than Digitrax.

I’ve got a couple interesting projects coming in the next week, and I have some time off after Christmas that should make some fun projects (let’s just say I’m super excited!)

Weekend Update 23

Trains, Weekend Update


With my goals defining what I was going to focus on this month I decided to stock up on the supplies I’d need for the months projects so I took the two older boys up to Scale Model Supplies. I ended up getting some Details West brake gear as my attempt to hand create them didn’t go well, some extra planking for the deck, and some ties for the shelf layout. Today I had a little time to escape to my workbench and got started on the brake gear and started gluing in the grab irons on the brake end.

I’m trying to decide how to handle painting the car and the decking, I want to do the Vallejo Old and New Wood I did on a earlier flat car projects but I’m not sure I want to paint each board individually… or on the flip side do the complex masking after it’s been glued down.

Weekend Update 22

Trains, Weekend Update

Despite having a holiday weekend, and the kids at the grandparents for a whole week I got basically no modeling done this last week. But it was nice today  (40F) so I set up the space heater in the garage for a while and pulled out the pliobond (which has a very strong odor which is why it was in the garage) and put glued down a rail.


It went pretty well hopefully it bonds well. I realized after I put everything out I should have included a reference object like a Dime as I recently took a tie with tie places to work to show an interested coworker and he was blown away with how small it was since all my posted pictures are quite zoomed in. I got a couple spikes in too but I can’t tell if they are far enough down. I suspect the one on the fourth from right tie isn’t down tight. These spikes were ones I’d already painted so I had a little more contrast putting them in.

Weekend Update 21

Trains, Weekend Update

I haven’t had a whole lot of time for modeling as of late but I’ve tried to make the best of what I’ve got. I installed another turnout and switch machine, I also have been doing a test of the chipping fluid on my plow test I mentioned in my previous post. The problem is I’m also testing a yellow color and it takes a few layers to cover steel and rust.

A bigger update would be my wire trees.


I’ve been brushing latex rubber on them as time allows and managed to get one ready for paint. I figured I’d just wing it on the paint so I grabbed the burnt umber that came with my Rust and Steel set (yes I found it amusing that a paint I bought for doing metal I’m using to paint a tree).


My plan is to pull out my other browns and greys once it dries and dry brush it until it looks good and then it’ll be ready for planting since this will be a winter tree

Weekend Update 20

Trains, Weekend Update

When I was last at the hobby shop I found a Walthers Heavy Duty Front End Loader kit (#933-3162 but not in the Walthers catalog, it appears Kibri #405-10756 is an updated version, the Walthers kit appears to be a rebranded Kibri kit anyway). I passed on it but thought it’d make a good flat car load. Once I got home I decided to find more details on it and found it wasn’t terribly easy find anymore (this was before I discovered it was available under the Kibri name now) so I picked one up online and put it together this weekend.


It was a fun build, probably took me about an hour of casual building time and is fairly well detailed. I’d definitely build this one again if I come across another at a good price.

I’ve been fairly busy lately, including preparing for a bunch of family to visit this week. This has required some heavy cleaning of the garage which has the positive advantage of cleaning my garage workbench off so once the family visit is done it’ll be clean enough to use it to try and get my airbrush working again.

I’ve also been doing some thinking on my scratch build flat car project, I think I have some ideas on improving the build process for the next one I build. I’ll probably have a post on that… when I have time to write it.