Monday, January 23, 2012

Emsingen town area

I've been building the support structure for the town of Emsingen over the last week. Since the town will sit on top of the ramps between the layout levels, I'm planning to make it at least partially removable. 

The brown area will house the Emsingen freight shed near the track. Depending on how space constraints work out, it will also support the lower parts of Emsingen, with the upper part of town (including the market square) sitting over the ramps in the corner. I simply used a 3/4" sheet of styrofoam (aka "Styropor") as the base, and cut it to the right shape. Messy as usual. I also reduced thickness a little bit around the freight shed area, so that the floors of cars on the track are at the same height as the loading dock. That said, the shed needs to connect to a small loading ramp that extends along the side of the track. The current arrangement is too diminutive. Maybe also scratch build an extension for the shed?

The "brown area" from below
The support framework will get in the way when cleaning track. I hope that by making the town removable, I can work on the town at the work bench in a somewhat comfortable seating position.

Boo-boo of the week
Oooops. Vertical clearance for the Prechtal staging track (center of photo) is 5 mm too low. That needs to get fixed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The top of a wall

After walking through Andy's Hobbys in Morgan Hill (not much train stuff there, but a good seletion for model car and plane enthusiasts), I picked up a piece of dimensional balsa wood that I figured might work well to top off the wall I added last year.

I managed to bend the balsa just enough to match the curve of the wall, and pinned it in place until the glue sets. I'll find out tomorrow if the glue will be strong enough to hold the piece in place. As it turns out the top is a bit on gracile side compared to the track ties. Oh well.

Eventually, I'll add a steel banister to prevent switch crews from falling off the wall.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Town and Freight area supports

I'm about to fill in the empty corner in the back of the room shared by the freight shed, and the town of Emsingen. The bracing supporting the lower lying freight area and first row of houses is framed and glued in. I really need to get cooking on the layout of the actual town, and the detection sections in Hochwaldtunnel. While the town will be removable, access is starting to become tricky...

Thank you!

Got some nice wine from a co-worker today :-)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Racing Fuel

Seen at a 76 gas station in Saratoga. Yes, that's $7.99 per gallon of Racing Fuel.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

View from the office

From the extended weather forecast, I knew the rain was coming. Yet it was at the same time exciting ("yay. Wind and rain, and I'm in the middle"), and depressing ("urgh. I'm cold and wet. Want to sit by the fire and sip some hot chocolate").

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Seen in the office library.

I love the combination of titles right next to each other.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let it snow

Contrary to last time I was in Cambridge, MA, today we got a real dusting of snow.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Ohne Worte

At the station

As I was waiting for my train home today, a northbound express Caltrain raced through Mountain View's Castro Street station at high speed. Like this ...

... When it had passed there was a lot of excitement on the north-bound platform. A group of teenage girls with their luggage was discussing the experience:

"Oh my God, that was so cool!"
"Yeah, it was ... like ... it almost hit me."
"This was ... like ... so ... like ... soo cool!"
"I was ... like ... standing here, and ... like ... the train was passing here. All that wind, and ... like ... noise. I've never had seen that before."

It's nice to see people ... like ... get excited about trains.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sunday at Point Lobos

Definitely one of my favorite places along the coast...

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hochwaldtunnel, part 2

Before I can permanently mount the "rocks" around Hochwaldtunnel, I need to build the actual tunnel tube.

Hochwaldtunnel portal
The tunnel portal is from Faller's premium series and made from foam. While the visual effect of the stone work is pretty good and it's easy to work with, overall I'm not particularly impressed by this tunnel portal. The foam is quite brittle, and I managed to break the portal near the crown stone. You can see the "fix" in the second photo below.

For the first part of the tunnel liner I'm using Noch granite wall stone paper. Yet another product I'm not impressed with, so I'm wasting it on the insides of tunnels. It has a nice stone structure embossed in the paper (contrary to some of the truly awful Faller stone papers), but the stone color is quite nasty, and to top it of, the sheet has a shiny finish (how lame is that?). When I paint the tunnel portal in the next step, I'll also paint the liner fading to black in the back. After the stone paper is plain old black construction paper, cut to fit. I like using construction paper inside tunnels since it has a flat finish, is reasonably sturdy, while still flexible enough to bend out of the way to gain access in emergencies. And of course, it nicely creates the "pitch black" look of a tunnel as demonstrated in my first tunnel built last summer.

side view
Since Hochwaldtunnel butts up against the room wall, the track inside is curved, and I need to be able to access the tunnel from underneath the layout, the tunnel "tube" is modelled only on the right hand side of the tunnel. The left hand side is open for access. Because of the room wall, one can't see the left hand tunnel wall. I will likely make it just a "curtain" of black construction paper once the tunnel is installed.

top view
The last photo from the top nicely shows the curved arrangement, and how the black construction paper acts as view block for folks attempting to look straight into the tunnel portal. I made the ribs supporting the paper tube from corrugated cardboard this time. The plywood ribs used last time are very sturdy, but the extra sturdiness wasn't really worth the additional effort compared to cardboard. I glued everything with Titebond II, a waterproof wood glue, that develops a good tack quickly, dries clear, and works very well with most porous materials.

Happy New Year

It's beautiful here. 
What will the new year bring?
Let's jump onboard and find out.


First test arrangement of the painted tree bark. It looks quite OK on the right, but the pieces above the tunnel portal are too regular. I'll probably either break or replace the middle piece to get a bit more variety. The gaps between the pieces will be filled in with either Scuptamold or sculpting plaster. The top of both walls will be filled in with plaster and vegetation.

While the inside of the tunnel is pitch-black on the photo, it's not quite as dark in reality. A tunnel liner is in the works.