Wednesday, July 20, 2016


From the ashes arises new and better things!

So, after a location switch, I've finally gotten established in my new home. The modules are set up, the models unpacked and some buildings are out of long term storage.

I'm doing two straight modules, each 6 feet long and 20" wide, The height is rather high at 56" but that was done intentionally. My last layout was rather high and I really liked the effect at looking at the models. Another reason as to why the modules are so high is so that I can fit lots (all the tools and equipment) underneath. 

In the above photo, you can see (from left to right): worktable - with my sheet of glass of cutting, the pressure pot for casting, the air compressor for air brushing and casting (ultra quiet variety), two Ikea storage cabinets for parts and material storage, a metal cabinet for chemical and paint storage, and finally a bookcase with all my traction magazines nicely stashed away. This all fits in a space 20" wide by 12 feet long.

As for space, I certainly do not have a lot. BUT ... never let space get in the way of your modeling! I've decided that modeling and my hobbies are a priority in my life (for my own mental health!) and the modules fit within my lifestyle. A view of my living room:

As long as I keep it orderly, I'm happy to share my living space with my hobby. By the way, it makes for a great conversation piece and all the ladies love it. It shows creativity!

The plan is to do at least one module as Wells Street in the Loop. I'm going to model the Loop style of elevated along with two street car tracks underneath.

Right now, its just great to have my models unpacked and visible.

Goals (in addition to working on this new layout/modules) are:

  • Additional 3D printed cars
  • Using the 3D prints as masters for casting
  • Making molds and casting for Loop elevated structure
  • Making more realistic store fronts and buildings
  • Learning to hand lay track
And, most importantly, all now is 2 RAIL! No more 3 rail for me!

I only have one small problem, the view and outside distractions of my new neighborhood are mighty indeed!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Demolition Derby!

Due to an unfortunate life event, I was forced to take down my layout. Some views of the demolition:

Just has happened in real life, elevated service was ended. A sad day indeed,

All of the buildings were saved, but I wound up only saving the newest section of structure that was the most detailed:

Knowing that I would be downsizing, I built two semi-portable modules, each 6 feet long and approx. 20 inches wide:

I am planning on incorporating both streetcar trackage and elevated structure. Right now the plan is to model a stretch of Wells Street. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

2016 O Scale March Meet Open House

In conjunction with the 2016 O Scale March Meet, I hosted an informal open house for various traction enthusiasts and model railroading celebrities.

Approximately 15 people visited the layout and a great time was had by all.

It was an incredible honor having traction and model railroading celebrities visit the layout.

The below photos courtesy of Terrell Colson:

The below photos are courtesy of Jim Lincoln:

Alas, however, this wound up be a "last run". The layout, as of today, 5/1/2016, has been disassembled/demolished. Stay tuned for more details. The blog isn't going away, I'm just going to switch focus for the next few years. More to come ...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter 2016!

Just some photos taken over the past few weeks of the layout ...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Under pressure, part 1

As was mentioned in my previous post, incorrectly labeled "What's new for March 2017" (whoops on the date), I am going to attempt to cast car parts via pressure casting. And as such, I will need both a vacuum chamber and a pressure pot.

There are a few options available for both vacuum chambers and pressure pots. Most of the vacuum chambers can be sourced via Ebay and consist of a stock pot, a large acrylic lid, fittings and a vacuum pump. The pressure pots fall into two varieties: pots designed especially for casting (expensive) and home brew paint pressure pots turned into casting chambers (cheaper but some hacking needed).

After quite a bit of research, I decided to attempt to kill two birds with one stone and make a combination vacuum / pressure pot. My one major consideration was that the pressure pot would be big enough to hold an O scale car side. 

This requirement immediately ruled out the very popular Harbor Freight pressure pot conversion as the size isn't large enough. That left one option (without resorting to a professional model): the Grizzly Tools 20 Liter (5 gallon) Paint Pressure Pot. I was able to obtain this for the very reasonable price of $190.

As shown in the prior post:

One big advantage of the model (aside from its larger size), is the much more substantial clamping system that this pot has versus the Harbor Freight model. The pot has larger wing nuts that clamp down on metal protrusions from the pot, making a much more secure (and safer) hold on the lid.

One problem with this pot, however, is all the attachments that are installed on the lid, none of which I plan on using. All were easily stripped off with a wrench.

The now stripped top, after all attachments and fittings have been removed:

One large problem is the large hole now left in the center ... which of course is not threaded. The other holes are standard size and are threaded (1/4" and 1/2" in size).

After some internet research, it was shown that a 1" black pipe coupling with two caps and a liberal application of sealant filled the hole.

The view after the holes have been filled:

All but two of the holes have been plugged with caps. One hole holds a 60 psi safety / pressure release valve and the other holds the quick connect, a combination pressure / vacuum gauge and another 60 psi safety / pressure release valve (extra safety here!). I have a wall mounted regulator / moisture trap so that wasn't needed on the lid. Mounted on the inside of the lid is fitting that forces the air out at 90 degree angle. That way, when filling the pot, air won't blow directly on the molds splashing the resin. 

Why the combination vacuum / pressure gauge? With the still in transit vacuum pump I ordered, I'll be able to use the pot as a vacuum chamber to degas my silicone rubber by connecting a hose to the quick disconnect fitting and then to the vacuum pump. Vacuum can be monitored on the gauge. I can then use the air compressor to fill the chamber with air to act as a pressure pot. Double duty!

Right now as I'm still waiting on the vacuum pump I am running a pressure test to see how long the pot will hold air. There are no obvious leaks, so that is good. I don't plan on pressurizing the pot over 50 psi, but started conservatively at 40 psi.

Once I get the vacuum gauge I will test the vacuum potential of the pot. But, I figure that if it can hold air, vacuum shouldn't be an issue.

Also mentioned in my prior post was that I couldn't locate the "in progress" photos of my news stand. Well, I found them so here they are:

I did make the roof removable for easy painting.

And as shown last post, now on the layout painted and with magazines for purchase:

Friday, March 4, 2016

What's new for March 2017

Just some updates on some outstanding projects that I've been working on ...

I've starting painting my three CSL cars, using all Tru-Color paints:

First is the cream
Then red underneath the windows

Red for the letterboards

Brown for the doors
The colors used were (all Tru-Color paints):

  • Passenger Car Interior Cream
  • Caboose Red
  • Sante Fe Brown
  • Pullman Green (for underbody and trucks in bottom photo)
I still need to find an appropriate dark grey for the roof, paint the window sashes and do final touch-ups. But progress has been made!

I've also finally added ground cover to the Sheridan curve along with some background trees:

I still need to "tidy" things up, but a little ground cover is better than bare plywood.

I've also added a magazine stand next to my Southport station house. This was a quick build that was made out of pieces from the scrap box. I can't seem to locate the "in progress" photos so the "semi-finished" photos will do. I've added 50 or so O scale magazines for sale. I just need to add some newspapers now:

I may add some additional magazine racks and some other details. But for now, there is a pretty good selection of periodicals for my O scale citizens. 

I've also begun collecting the necessary equipment for pressure casting. Previously. my mold making and casting was done without vacuuming either the silicon or pressurizing the castings. In order to make better castings of cars, I recently acquired a pressurized paint pot:

I will use this for both vacuuming silicone (vacuum pump has been ordered, just not yet received) and for pressure casting. While used for painting, the pot can be easily adapted to pressure casting.

All the attachments for painting have been removed from the lid. I just need to plug some holes and add my valves and gauges.

Most folks use the 2 1/2 gallon Harbor Freight pressure pot, but this one is larger (approx. 14" wide by 12" deep, necessary to fit an O scale car side) and is much more sturdy in construction. The wing nuts for securing the lid are much more substantial than the Harbor Freight model.

I've also started working on a small brick store front that will go next to my Southport station house.

This was another quick "scrap box" build made of of parts that I had laying around in various scrap boxes. The front of the building is N Scale Architect brick sheeting while the sides and back are JTT Scenery brick sheets. I still need to add stone lintels and other embellishments and clean up some of the mortar, But I did it this way (painting and mortaring before adding stone lintels) as it is much easier to paint. The store front (the white portion) was made separate from the brick and is a press fit. Much easier to paint separately.  

I've also finally attached the trucks to my other Q-Car 4000 series Plushie:

Next up is sending the car to the paint shop.

And finally, some random photos from the layout:

And as always, thanks for visiting!