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.


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.

More speeder shed track



I glued down my stretch of track from Now that’s what I call track and used tie alignment jig to line up some ties to finish it out. Then I took my jewelers saw and trimmed them down to follow the angle of the edge.

Next up I started working on the end rail and applying some of the PDC joint bars.


They are really hard to take a picture of and get the detail. Hopefully they’ll be easier to photograph once painted.

Now that’s what I call track


As I mentioned previously I was waiting for some warmer weather to pliobond some more rail down on the Proto87 track. Well today was that day, it hit a balmy 20F/-6.6C and I needed to change the oil in my truck so I put my shorts on and headed out to the garage.


This time I was able to use the fine tip Fast Tracks sells with their pliobond to get precision application on the tie plates themselves rather than a bead along the rail. The idea here was to avoid any glooping on the jig. The moment of truth was when I successfully lifted it straight up and placed it on the diorama for a test fit.


It not running to the end is intentional, I have some PDC joint bars to show off! I plan to put down ties to each end and very carefully cut them to match the edge of the diorama. I’m also going to do the P87 spikes after I glue the ties down just so I’ve got some extra rigidity as I’m pushing them in.

Tie Plates Everywhere!




Was going to use a Dime for scale but the color similarities made it hard to get a good and clear shot


Last night I had a good opportunity to work on some tie plate gluing, the kids were in bed my lovely wife was out with friends and I have today off work so I could work late into the night.

Since the last time I’d done tie plates I’d emailed Andy from Proto87 Stores to ask him about using the syringes for gluing. I’d tried a couple glues but had never been able to draw it into the syringe. It turns out the way to do it is pull out the plunger and load it from the top. I will just say using a 0.008″ syringe needle to apply CA is possibly the best thing ever.

My initial goal was to get the 9″ stretch I’d already started done for tie plates and call it a night, but I really found my groove so to speak. Apply the right amount of glue to the right spot (made way easier with the syringe), drop it in and probably the biggest time saver is do minimal adjustments. I found the more I tried to adjust it the more likely I was to push it out of alignment. Before I knew it I’d not only finished that section I also had a back stock of ties (and several episodes of Dr Who had played in the background).


That may not look like much but it’s good for another 9 inches of track and should be enough with extras for the Speeder Shed diorama.

More Tie Plates


I was able to get some time to work on tie plates this afternoon and managed to get a 9″ section done on one side. My plan is to try glue down one rail before I finish the other side to make sure tie plates are in gauge when I glue them down (or at least that’s the plan)


I was working under my new desk lamp which you might recognize if you read Jeremy Dummler’s 78 Miles to Yosemite blog as he mentioned it in a Modeling Tools post back in October. It’s a LAMPAT Dimmable LED Desk Lamp which sounds like something you might find at Ikea but is actually available on Amazon.

Tie some plates down



I was able to restart my Proto87 track work for my speeder shed diorama tonight. I had ordered some new supplies so I’d have un-painted materials to work with. I’m not sure yet if my pre-painting last time was causing problems with the glue but for sure having things un painted made it way easier to see what I was doing. I only got one row from the fret done (which is why I stopped at an odd number) and don’t think I’ve quite got a good rhythm to it yet but I feel like it’s going better than last time.

I get asked a lot why I torture myself like this, which is a good question… I usually joke that I’m nuts or a gluton for punishment. Those might be true but I think a better answer might be in my day job. The new fancy general term is “knowledge worker” (or so I’ve been told) so I usually spend an inordinate amount of time sitting in an “open workspace” (which is just code for a hard place to concenrate) trying to concentrate and solve problems (that are mostly caused by bad decisions out of my control) and at the end of the work day all I’ve done is shifted some 1s and 0s around and probably given myself a headache.

Model building on the other hand I generally don’t have to think too hard and at the end have something tangible to show for it. This is why I like hand spiking track, I can just sit there and perform a repetitive task. I just look tie plates, scale spikes, and joint bars as taking things to the next level. Doing it isn’t neccesarily fun, but very satisfying.

Durango Press Fairmont Speeder Part 1

Project, Trains

I have a bit of a history with white metal kits, well I started one and did not make it very far and every once in a while I come across the box… one day…

Anyway I needed a Speeder for my Speeder Shed diorama, I also grew up 10 miles from Fairmont Minnesota, home of Fairmont Railway Motors so if I’m going to do a speeder it might as well be a Fairmont. Enter the Durango Press DP-37 white metal kit.

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I was hesitant at first to do another white metal kit but decided a speeder car should be a more simple starter kit, compared to the complex Custom Finishing Models kit I had originally tried.

Basic Prep

This is a fairly simple model without too many parts, first I put them into some little re-sealable ziploc style bags for better storage between steps. Then I started cleaning up any flashing which was mostly windows.

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Paint or Assembly

I took some time to try and decided which to do first, paint or assemble. assembly first might make it harder to paint tighter to get to areas and harder to do some of the more detail things (like the lights). I ended up going with partial assembly and then paint… in large part because I found myself with this:

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Any further and I figured it’d just be harder to paint in part because I’m going to try using a Testors rattle can (because I have it, and I still haven’t fixed my airbrush… and don’t want to wait 🙂 ).

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I took a bit of scrap particle board as a painting surface and some masking tape to hold down the small parts and started spraying away. It’s not the most precise rattle can (the Duplicolor automotive rattle can spray paints are actually pretty good for control and spray… it’d be nice if Testors used the same technology). If figured if it was bad enough I’d scrape it off and start over or just go heavy on the weathering.

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Things didn’t get to a great start (though the lighting in my garage doesn’t really help) so I kept applying light coats… or as light as this rattle can could do to try and give it a smooth finish. and then the rattle can went dry. And by dry I mean leaked a bunch of paint out on my hand and made a big puddle next to the nozzle.. but didn’t spray any of it. Since there wasn’t enough coverage to call it good so out came some matching testors paint and a brush slowly building up paint.

The wheeles were looking good though so I pulled out a Model Masters “steel” color and painted the treads (well half done in this picture).

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I really don’t like the regular testors paint (which is too bad as it’s so easy to find and cheap), the model masters stuff isn’t bad but I’ve fallen in love with the thin Vallejo acrylics but I’ve already started and have it on hand so on I continue.

After this the speeder set on my workbench a while, aside from the wheels I just wasn’t satisfied with out how the paint looked. Actually not satisfied doesn’t even start to describe how disappointed I was with it. I was so frustrated it basically ended up on the shelf most of the summer. This was supposed to be a smallish project that’d be done relatively quickly so rather than a stream of posts I’d just maintain an unpublished post until it was done. Fast forward a couple months and I finally got down to the business of stripping off the old paint.

Based on advise recieved as comments on this blog and searching around the web I ended up with a big container of “Purple Power” and some plastic gloves. It worked so well virtually all the paint had separated from the metal after about 24 hours. In fact even the glue had separated from the model as well so I got to build it again. This time I’m using Vallejo acyrlics not enamel and tonight I started with some primer. This was a chance to test out some airbrush equpiment changes as well. This was going to be one post to the end but I’m thinking it’ll be 2 parts, with final paint and weathering being a separate post.


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Super detailed track, attempt 2


My first attempt at attaching the rail to my ties and tie plates the first time didn’t exactly go swimmingly, the tie plates seemed to go on pretty well but the rail not so much.

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I had some free time this evening after the kids went to bed so I gave it another shot. I found the LED lights for my photo box worked well for iluminating the surface. This time I tried gluing along the rail and then placing it on the ties. That seemed to work at first but it ended up  not really bonding to either. Then I tried doing just a couple ties at a time, and putting the glue directly on the tie plate and using one of the really strong magnets to hold them in place. Hopefully letting them sit like this to cure. If this doesn’t work I’ll probably have to figure out a different glue to use.

See more posts about this project here.

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Some Better Tie Plating… Part 2


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When we last saw our heros… err… ties… a 9″ section was racked up ready for tie plates. I started prepping by cutting out some tie plates to work with. In my first tie plate test I used an X-Acto knife which worked but wasn’t terribly quick or easy so after digging around the Proto87 Stores website I found they recommend using a scissors which ended up working perfectly.

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Next up was preparing a glue syringe, getting the glue (I used a gel super glue) in the syringe was…. well interesting… but I eventually got some in there and I was good to go.

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And with that I was off, as a side note it’s really hard to take pictures of these details with a phone, especially the spikes as we’ll soon find out. I’ll have to see about borrowing my wife’s DSLR and tripod for future detail shots.

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One of the first observations you’ll make doing this is that it’s really hard handle these tie plates because they are so tiny, and you are working with super glue which is not really the most forgiving glue. P87 stores recommends a dental pick type tool which I could definitely see working but as I didn’t have one ended up dabbing just a tiniest bit of superglue on the tip of my X-Acto blade and using that to pick up and place tie plates and when the glue dried on the blade scrape it off and dab another miniscule amount on. Really I was just making it tacky enough to pickup but not sticky enough to be a stronger bond than the glue on the ties.

Gluing itself with the syringe had it’s ups and downs but I’ll admit it might be related to the glue I was using (and it being a little thicker than intended for the syringe). One of the problems I encountered was a siphon effect was created and just sitting there it would start oozing out and then I’d have more on the tip than I’d need for a tie plate and I’d have to use a pin to kind of move glue off the syringe onto the tie. This actually worked pretty well and I might use it instead of the disposable syringes.

My second glue observation was that the amount of glue mattered more than I’d expected. Too much and the template would glue to the tie (happened a couple times but was easy enough to pull off), and too little and the plate would set before I got it positioned right and I’d have to scrape it off and retry.

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Soon I had a whole row of tie plates, my thinking was get one side done. I’ll be honest as I started I wasn’t sure it was something I’d stick to but it got smoother as I went. The next problem is attaching a rail. The tie plates have some vertical definition but not much. I’m not sure if the tie plate itself is supposed to help align the rail very (or if it’s just decorative). Next up I was trying to figure out how to bond the rail to the tie plates, I had gotton some pliobond (I got the idea from the Fast Tracks videos) but on first opening the bottle a gloop of the stuff dropped right on my work space and made a mess but worse of all was quite a noxious smell so I knew I couldn’t work with that inside.

I decided to pick one tie glue it in place and my first attempt of that worked… but it didn’t have a great hold when I tried moving things around so I did it again and this time put in a spike to give an additional mechanical grip. Here is a picture of said spike.

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You probably can’t see it… I couldn’t see it in any pictures. You may be thinking, I think I see it, there is a little silverish dot but that’s just where the rail weathering paint hadn’t adhered properly… but it is near there. Those Proto87 spikes are tiny, it was an interesting challenge getting it in there. Even my smallest needle nose pliers was comically large nosed compared to these spikes. I’m thinking what might be more appropriate is a sturdy set of tweezers or see if there are fine needle nose pliers available at hobby stores for jewlery makers.

Moving forwared I’m going to try and figure out how I’m going to attach that rail before starting the other side. I’ll leave you with a parting shot of the rail and tie on the rest of the ties in the jig… though because it’s a phone picture and the details are super tiny you probably can’t make out the tie plates.

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