Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years to all!

And from last year:

And from 2012:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Urban Renewal

One important part of having a layout is not being afraid of change.

So...the urban renewal department has decided that a change to my block of stores along Sheridan Road is in order. The department decided, in their wisdom, to put up a new building that will no longer block the view of the TV from the workbench!

I've started on the building:

This will be a two story commercial brick building with two storefronts. Luckily, the Wilson Currency Exchange has signed a new lease so they will be occupying one of the stores. Pop's Gyros and Italian Beef may occupy the other, but the details have yet to be worked out.

The current buildings as they stand:

There really isn't anything "wrong" with these buildings, but there were some of the first structures that were erected on the layout. The building on the right is an Ameritown building and the building on the left is my first attempt at scratch building. 

A couple of issues:

- Realism: One thing always lacking is apparent access to the second floor on a lot of model buildings. How do our model citizens ever access these upper floors? On my new building, there will be a center doorway that can be assumed to lead to the upper floor. The Ameritown building lacks this feature as does my scratch built building.

- Repetition: O Scale buildings are a bit sparse in selection. One feature I'd like to have on my layout is all unique buildings. That means I must scratch build. 

- Skills: I hope my skills have improved in the past few years. Therefore, I think I can make a better scene. Never be afraid to change.

- View: This item makes the least sense, but the Ameritown building does block half of the TV when I sit at my workbench....

I scratch build my buildings to fit a specific spot on the layout and generally don't work off of a plan. I just kind of "wing" it as I go along. I'll post more photos as work progresses.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A book review

This week I received "Dispatch Number 5, The Chicago "L's" Great Steel Fleet - The Baldies" by Bruce Moffatt, published by the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society.

I have to honestly say that this is a fantastic book. It is a must have for any Chicago elevated fan. The book clearly details the life of the Cincinnati Car Co. "Baldies". The photographs are clear and crisp, there are a lot of them and the accompanying text is very informative. Best of all, the price is an extremely reasonable $15.95. For the amount of information contained within, this is the bargain of the year. Bruce again shows why he is the preeminent expert on all things Chicago transit related.

I strongly recommend the book. It can be ordered from the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society at

In other news, not a whole lot has been happening on the layout. I did paint the false panel / backdrop that covers the fuse box.

I decided to go with a slightly lighter blue than I used elsewhere on the layout (mostly as I couldn't find the paint can and color code for the other blue). So far, I do like this color. Its less "shockingly" blue than the other backdrops. I thought about repainting ... for about a second. That would entail a large amount of work.

To hide my wooden 2 x 4 TV stand, I worked up some very simple background walls and buildings. It doesn't really camouflage the TV, but its better than looking at bare wood.

I've also removed the three story apartment building that stood in front of the structure. I did this for a few reasons: 1) it blocks the view of the TV when I'm sitting at my workbench and 2) it blocks the view of the structure. I spent a lot of time creating this curve and I do like how it looks. The two tracks curve at a different radius so as to create a space for the Sheridan platform. The apartment building would block this view. I'll just make this an empty lot. 

The view from my workbench:

One of these days I am going to rebuild the currency exchange improve sight lines, of course.