Monday, November 30, 2015

More puzzling

I never realized how relaxing it is to do a puzzle, and ... I never realized that I have the patience to sit over it for a few hours in the evening after a busy day and think while finding and placing the right pieces.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Working on last year's Christmas puzzle.

First Sunday of Advent

Spending candle light quality time with family in the evening.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let's start with a naked bird...

... open it up, and stick it into the oven butterfly-style. A couple hours later ...


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Emsingen Nebengebaeude scratchbuild

This is my first time, that I build a model completely from scratch, in this case styrene sheets and strips. While I'm really enjoying myself building this model, I can see why people that scratchbuild regularly have a stash of doors and windows. They take forever to build yourself and the result is at best acceptable, unless you are really good (not me), or going for the shabby look with odd angles and pieces that barely hold together.

Anyways, ... here's how far I got since yesterday:

Using paper cutouts from the prototype as a guide, I cut the inside walls from styrene sheet, ...

... and glued them to a box. This is a sturdy base for gluing the outer walls and building doors and windows.

I started with the rear wall, which has only one door, to make the inevitable mistakes face the backdrop, instead of laughing into my face every time I turn on the light in the layout room.

Sure enough, the one-piece v-groove siding below didn't survive in one piece because I managed to cut the door opening several millimeters too large. Measure twice, cut once. Yeah, yeah, I know...

I use basswood strips for the foundation, since these strips are a tiny bit thicker than the styrene siding, giving the foundation a bit more heft. The door is made from various width of 0.010" Evergreen strip styrene (0.080" for the kickboard at the bottom, 0.060" for the door panels, and 0.040" for the groove pattern below the window). The door frame is made from 0.040" x 0.060" strips.    

The other reason I cut the siding in multiple pieces is the horizontal board (0.030" x 0.040" strip) that sits between the door and the skylights just below the roof. By the way, this is the door to the ladies restroom. This is state I left it at late yesterday evening.

Today, confident that I have an idea what I'm doing I started with the front wall. Two doors. One window. Cutting and fitting the siding was straight-forward.

The window was hard. I quickly gave up on the idea of building window sashes and instead dug through the left-overs box to find a window that's close to what I needed. The selection was thin, but I found one window frame that would work if I removed most of the window and just use the interior to get the 6 glass panes I wanted. Now I just needed to cut a clean hole into the inside walls ...

After lots of swearing, tooth gnashing, and generous application of drills, knifes, and a square jeweler's file, the window was set in place.

By now I have the process down for making doors. The NWSL Chopper yet again proofed its worth for making exact length, square cuts, and cuts at 45 degree angles. Here's the completed front wall. The door on the left leads to the wood storage room. The door in the middle accesses the train lamps storage and work shop. The worker even gets some daylight through our shiny new window. The skylight on the right is for the men's urinals.

Here's the blank canvas of the last wall. I already glued the foundation strip in place. A while after I took the photo I noticed that I glued it on backwards and the door is now on the wrong side of the center line, and we'd walk straight into the men's toilet, instead of the room with the urinals.
Oh well, had I not told you, you wouldn't have noticed, right?

The lower siding and the door frame are glued in place and and the upper siding is ready for cutting the skylights to the urinals. Yep, in addition to their toilet, the gentlemen get space for urinals that is at least three times the size of the single toilet room the ladies have. AND, they get 4(!) fancy-shmancy skylights.

I guess around 1900 more men worked on and traveled by rail so the imbalance maybe even makes sense.

Alright, it's late enough. I won't finish the last wall today, but here's a quick peek at what the raw, unfinished building looks like on the layout.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Emsingen Nebengebaeude prototyping

The main station building in Emsingen, based on a prototype building in Trossingen, is rather ornate and fancy. I've kit-bashed the shed on the northside of the station building, and I've been on the lookout for a bland outbuilding ("Nebengebaeude") that would contain restrooms as well as a couple storage rooms for lamps and heating wood. Since I model the Black Forest area, I wanted the building to have a typical Wuerttemberg look. One version of Faller's excellent "Gueglingen" station kit comes with such an outbuilding, but I didn't have a good example to work from.

While searching the Google for plans, photos, footprints, etc. for such building I came across Godwin T. Petermann's site on cardboard modelling. Godwin did ten years ago what I'm still planning to do: Go to the Staatsarchiv in Ludwigsburg and look up the original building plans. What's really cool is that he made various cardboard models from what he found in the archives. The Dettingen building on the web site is quite similar to what I had in mind. Even better, the site has a simplified version of the anxiliary building in Endingen for download, so I printed that, and a few minutes later, a paper outbuilding went up next to the station building.

Errrrm, ... yeah, that's too big. Back to the printer, try again, and build a shortened version that only has the urinals, toilets, and two small storage rooms. There is a floor plan on the gtp Web site, which makes it easy to see the purpose of each door.

Much better. It fits well in the space I have for it, and goes with the flow of the station area. This looks like a viable option with the right dimensions to use as basis for scratch-building a region-appropriate, believable outbuilding. Let's see how that goes...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Shed Floor and Track Ballasting

The area between mainline, gardens, and backdrop is pretty much taken care of now. In the last couple days I built the floor of the Koef shed and ballasted the tracks in the vicinity.

I used cork to raise the shed floor to the height of the track ties inside the shed, and covered them on the outside with styrene sheet. Between the rails I used Evergreen 0.010 x 0.150 styrene strips to cover the gap between rails and the stud contacts. For the gaps between the stud contacts I cut Evergreen 0.010 x 0.040 styrene strips to length with the NWSL Chopper, which allowed quick and accurate production of enough pieces.  The sheets were glued in place with wood glue. Between the rails I used plastic cement. The 0.040 strips are a little bit too thin to match the stud width, but the gap is easily filled with some white glue and paint.

The bright white styrene was painted with Pollyscale Concrete, and later weathered with powdered pigments to create an oiled and dirty effect. I also filled the "under-concrete" gaps between the ties in the floor area with fine ballast. It would probably have been better to use another styrene strip to hide the gap and the rail mounting hardware.

Like in Emsingen I used Woodland Scenics brown medium ballast for the side-tracks and aimed for the "not so well maintained" look here as well. Below is a comparison shot of the Welztalbahn mainline on the left with nicely built up ballast, a ballasted side-track in the middle, and the unballasted track I started with on the right.

One last detail shot below. I need to do another pass and weather the track with a mixture from thinned acrylics to blend the colors together and get rid of the plastic sheen on the ties. I will likely do that only when I have either ballasted Talheim station to the left, or the industry tracks to the right of this scene, and have a large area to mess with.

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Rare Treat

Gloomy, rain, and morning thunderstorms. Pretty much unheard of in the Bay Area. Feels like 5 in the afternoon but it's barely 9am.

Oh yeah, we have hail, too:

And in the afternoon we had a beautiful double-rainbow:

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Blending in the gardens

In my spare time this weekend, the garden spots finally got the greenery treatment. It took several days for the Scuptamold ground shapes to dry.

Below is what the area looked like yesterday morning. The Scuptamold is dry, the rails are painted, and the retaining wall near the turnout is glued in place. That wall is a concession to adding the longer run-around track for switching, and now having a bit less space for the garden spots.

Since I didn't want flock and grass fiber to get into the gardens, or the existing track ballast, everything was covered up with blue painters tape.

Then creative chaos took over, the scenery supplies and tools came out in force, occupying every available square inch around the work area. It might have been a good idea to move the trains out of the way ...

I started off with a base cover made from matte medium and dirt, topped with flock, more matte medium, sand, and static grass. An approach I used elsewhere on the layout.

For the retaining wall I aimed for an "overgrown grass" effect. I loaded a mix of short and long fibers in the grassinator, and shot the mix into glue on the ledge. It didn't quite work the way I intended, but I got some grass cover and left it at that. The rather ridiculous amount of fibers in the ditch between wall and track, as well as all over the wall, is shown below. I scraped and vacuumed off quite a bit of those fibers afterwards.

I used fine Woodland Scenics ballast mix as ground cover for the parking lot and added some fine green turf to represent moss and weeds.

Once I was confident that I would no longer need the grassinator, I carefully took off the blue tape. The scene looks quite presentable already. The grass got a bit too close to the mainline. Time for the weed whackers to come through again.

As expected the area at the wall looks a bit naked and needs more structure. That's where the trees go. Below photo also shows (not quite sharp) that in the end the overgrown wall effect kind of worked out despite my best efforts to mess it up.

The floor for the Koef shed is next, followed by ballast and weathering for the tracks, and some detailing.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Ollivander's workshop

Last night Franziska made magic wands from pencils, hot glue, and marbles. My task was to do the  finishing of the wands.

First a coat of spray primer. Followed by satin brown spray paint.

And here they are, ready for their boxes.

Taking a break

Biking in Santa Teresa County Park