Monday, May 28, 2018

WW&F Combine

I received the replacement car sides for the WW&F based combine kit from GME a while ago. While cleaning off the workbench this weekend, I pulled out the new sides and started the kit. Having built two other GME passenger car/combine resin kits, this one went together fairly quickly.

The floor had warped, a common problem with resin kits, but the system I use to make the car sides and roof removable from the bottom helps to hold the bottom flat. No major issues with this build. I'll need to paint the car, then add the "tin" roof and roof details. A few minor touch up's will be required where the resin parts were chipped off. Overall, I think the car looks close enough to the WW&F combine to meet my needs. The trucks are Coronado scale models with Northwest Shortline metal wheelsets.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Demise of Laurel Jct.

I finally got the nerve to cut through the wall separating Laurel from Laurel Jct (staging) on the DC&L Ry. Laurel Junction was never in the original plans and was born from the idea of adding staging below Collins when the Collins extension was built. At the time, I imagined that Laurel Junction was the standard gauge interchange just a few miles below Laurel. This allowed me to limit the opening into staging to one three rail track. I felt strongly that a larger opening would have been an eye sore. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Operations proved otherwise. Building trains in a space where it was difficult to get one's hands was troubling. Also, the tracks were located where I had space and were not ideally located for switching and staging. While staging definitely added to operations, in the sense of more cars and placed to put them, it also REDUCED operations in that trains were staged and ready for operators to leave Laurel Junction and head towards Deer Creek. I never liked this aspect of the staging yard. For such a small layout, I think it is important for operators to be able to make up their trains and head out. Gives them more work to do and assembling one's train is one of the basics of operation, especially on a point to point narrow gauge.

For the last few years, I have been looking for a location for the coal transfer. I finally gave up on trying to find the perfect spot and just decided to located it right at the end of the Laurel yard. The tipple will serve to block the big hole into staging, I hope. We'll see how it all looks. I already like the fact that I can now make up trains in Laurel to head out on the layout. I also now have better staging for the passenger equipment and cabooses. We'll see how it goes over at the next operating session, which of course, means I need to hold one..........

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Times are a Chang'n

Its odd how this May seems to be a strong indication of the times, in the hobby at least. As a O scale narrow gauge modeler, times are definitely a chang'n. This month GrandtLine, a major supplier of parts for O, S, and HO narrow gauge parts has closed it's doors.

I have built several of the Grandt Line 8ton and 18 ton porters, dump cars, etc. but have mainly used their doors, windows, nut/bolt/washer details and many, many other offerings for details in my scratch built and kit-bashed projects. I see their closing as a major loss for scratch-builders. It looks like they may sell their line, but I doubt all the offerings will be available. Let's hope for the best. I'm sure its the end of the line for the wonderfully detailed porters.

When Grandt Line announced their closing, I first ordered a bunch of parts and then looked for future alternatives. Some parts, a few, are available from Tichy, some from Foothillls Models and then some from San Juan Car Company. But, alas, San Juan is for sale!!!

Hopefully, they will find a buyer. While I haven't purchased any of their kits or built up cars, I have found their trucks and parts very useful. Argh!

Then, realizing I'm loosing major suppliers for my hobby, I stopped by the Precision Scale Co website only to find, they have sold and are moving!!! Orders must be in by May 4th. Looks like the parts will be available but who knows if and when the entire line will be available. Quickly ordered some much needed shay parts before they might be gone??

Much of these changes are due to those involved getting older and wishing to retire. I understand. But to me it is also a sign of the times. Less and less folks out there are building things. More and more folks in the hobby want pre-built, ready to run equipment. I was hoping the On30 surge would increase those out there building things but not enough, I guess?

In the end, life is all about change. Company's come and go. I'm glad to have purchased and used what these companies have offered and hope to purchase their parts from new suppliers. I hope that they will be available, as my interest in the hobby is more towards building than running.  May is a tough month for us On3 and On2 modelers. Back to the workbench...............


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tedious 8 Tonner

I've been working on a GrandtLine 8 ton Porter for the last 2-1/2 weeks. I purchased this porter about 15+ years ago from Coronado Scale models at the same time I picked up the 2-foot gauge Merced Gold Mining version of the engine. I built the Merced engine with a bit a difficulty and put this kit away for a rainy day.

For some reason, I pulled it out and decided to give it a go. Easy and smooth sailing for the most part. I went slow and worked a little at a time, using a highlighter to indicate what I had completed in the instructions. There were a few tense moments with some of the tiny details but I managed to get most of them in there. I was quite proud up to almost the end. Then, the motor......

The motor and gearbox are very small and are supposed to sit in the boiler. Fit fine, but work, nope. The boiler was too small, pressing on the side of the motor and the motor wouldn't turn. So, free handing some dremel work, I got the motor to fit. However, the gears weren't lining up appropriately due to some side torque when going in one direction with caused them to move on the drive train. Lots of fussing later, I used a pin (literally, a cut pin) to keep the gear in question from pushing off the shaft. This part was a real pain. I could get the gears and motor running smooth and easy out of the loco but as soon as I put it back together -grrrrrr. Must have had the thing about 50 times and it's not fun putting the rear firebox back on. Then I had to figure out how to hold the motor from moving since the boiler was now widened out so the motor would work. Managed to figure out a fix with styrene.

Finally, she runs with a LookSound decoder, not hooked up to a speaker yet. The decoder and wires are visible in the cab but will be hidden in a coal bunker. Not sure if I'll use the sound decoder as she's really, really noisy going forward. Not quite so bad in reverse but the gear noise is rather audible and would likely just make sound with a small speaker worthless. We'll see. Getting the thing running has been a real trial. I wanted to have the cab removable and smashed the delicate cab. Luckily, I only had to rebuild one of the rear sides. The rebuild looks ok.  I might try to work on the gear alignment a little to see if I can get it quieted down and then decide on a small non-sound decoder or the LookSound decoder with a mini speaker. Not much room for the speaker or decoder much less all those wires. We'll see. Was it a fun build? Well, the first 7/8ths were delightful and fun. The last bit has been a trail of patience and while I'm happy to have the engine running, it's not as quiet or as smooth as hoped.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Some Boulder Valley Model 4 Wheel Cars

This weekend I finished up painting two Boulder Valley On30 4 wheel flat cars. I bought these a while back before they folded up shop. Thought they looked interesting. They were fun and fast to put together. Took me longer to paint them than to build them. I added a short strip of lead weight underneath the deck and body. They roll great. Nice little cars.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Arroyo Tram Gets a Staging Track

This weekend I manged to complete the long awaited staging track for On30 Arroyo Tram module.
I originally built the extension a bit too short to accommodate  a run-around track, which made it less than ideal. Also, it had to propped up with something on one end, which made it impractical. So, I extended it 12-inches, and added foldable legs and wires to power the track.

Wow, does it make operations more enjoyable! The layout/module is now a layout and not a switching puzzle. Before, you had to really watch train length and were limited in moves by the two tail tracks. Now you can use all the length needed, which makes operation much more prototypical and more enjoyable, plus there is somewhere to come from and go to complete the operation session. I should have done this a long time ago. 

The removable staging area will now be used until the layout gets completed and I start Phase II which will have a model of the Gilpin's enginehouse. A "someday" project.

Also, work continues on the On2 WW&F Albion module with slow but continued progress on the Albion station. Till next time........

Monday, February 26, 2018

Heavy Motive Power

Last week our local On30 group had a get together/operations session at Mike's B&H On30 layout. I wanted to bring something to show and have had this loco sitting around 85% complete for quite a while. So, I finished it off and snapped some shots.

My Arroyo lighting is fairly bad for side shots but I think one can get the idea. The locomotive is a Bachmann On30 2-8-0, the one based on the M de M 30-inch line in Mexico. (Hey an actual 30-inch gauge prototype, of course no one models that!) A great locomotive with a tender. I have one that has been supped up to meet the prototype but when I saw the Backwoods Miniatures side tank build kit for the locomotive, I really wanted one. Backwoods no longer is in business but I picked my kit up, well, let's just say a long time ago.

I initially intended to re-gauge the loco to On3, which I did and it ran great! However, once I removed the tender, I just couldn't get the locomotive's electrical pickups to suffice for a 2-8-2T. So, I re-gauged it back to On3 with significant electrical pickup improvement.

The loco has a Soundtrax mini Tsumani with a current keeper and speaker in the cab and coal bunker. She runs very well and looks totally cool. The only problem is those steps are WIDE! My Arroyo module has some tight clearances, and the steps hit some of my turnout throws (Ooops! My bad). She's too big for the Arroyo anyway.

So, I took her down to Mike's for a test run. The last time I had her down there, the pony truck would short out on the cylinders on his 18-inch radius curves. So, I increased it's length by a tiny bit and wanted to see her turn the drivers on a longer run!

She ran quite well as expected but did have a couple of problems. Mike's turnout throws are based on HO clearances and her steps wouldn't clear them (sound familiar?). They also hit scenery on his 18-inch radius curves. I did get her to run well over a large portion of the back section of his layout but. I think she'll need 20-22-inch radius curves and a layout with proper On30 clearance's for scenery and turnouts. She's 98% complete, needs a little touch up painting and a little weathering.

She's looking for a good home.................