Sunday, February 28, 2021

TSG Live Crew Lounge Discussion Panel Technology and Model Railroading

Today I participated in a panel discussion about technology and model railroading. As the panelists we geeked out quite a bit over new approaches to control systems like MQTT and comparing that to LCC and traditional systems like Loconet or CMRI. We also discussed subjects like radio control in garden railroading, DCC, JMRI and some its history, cameras for engineer's point of view and remote operations, or control panel designs and tradeoffs of different approaches. A wide range of topics in a fun discussion with friends.

I sat in the operator pit of the Welztalbahn, but facing the camera instead of Emsingen. This limited space for my arms. You can see a few times in the video that I'm bumping my elbows into the fascia boards around me, while trying to show or explain something... Not ideal, but I like showing the layout at opportunities like this.

Saturday, February 27, 2021


It's been a busy week with various model train related arrivals. Can't wait to put them to good use. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Hiking Fortini Trail with Friends

I met with the usual hiking group this morning for our first hike together since Santa Clara went into Purple Tier last November. It was nice to catch up and chat about model railroading and other topics. Oh, ... and the first California Poppies are out!

Santa Teresa County Park is very nice and very green at this time of year. Here's a view across the park towards the south end of Almaden Valley. Coyote Peak is to the left outside of the picture.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Maerklin 46690: Bauzug / Epoch IV

My orders from last year are starting to trickle in. This is a Maerklin Haendler Initiative (mhi) car set of a construction work train. This set will complement the Lima set I picked up a couple years ago. The light weathering on the cars looks very nice. The Ommi 51 is loaded with ballast, and the stake car is loaded with concrete ties.

Here's the train set in place on the Welztalbahn with the Brawa Koef, probably maxing out the pulling capacity of that little engine.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Untergroeningen Locomotive Shed (14)

[ Untergroeningen posts

[ part 13 ]

In the last couple days I focused on the roof and adding some building details. I cut the Auhagen corrugated roof pieces to size, added gutters I made from U-profile ABS, and primed the lot with Tamiya primer.

I used old PollyScale CSX Gray to paint the roof. The paint reacted with the primer and produced a nice irregular weathering pattern. I decided to leave that and followed up with a light application of gray and light brown weathering powders. A strip of 0.060 x 0.080 Evergreen styrene covered with a strip of 0.010 x 0.125 styrene works well as roof ridge.

Next I turned my attention to the roof of the machine shop. After test fitting on the module, I decided that cutting the roof at an angle to line up with the backdrop as originally planned is not necessary and I could cut the roof edge at the long wall of the shed.

Then it was time to face the fact that the wall I made for the machine shop is too short. Close review of the prototype photos confirms that the wall should go all the way up to the wooden part of the water tower. I did not want to redo this part of the model and decided to work around the problem.

I needed to close the gap between the top of the separation wall and the roof. The triangular wall piece I glued to the separation wall is somewhat visible in the photo below.

Finally, the machine shop roof is in place.

I added first details, like gutters, flashing, and faceboards. I'm getting tired of working on this model, so this is good enough for now and I'm turning my attention to a very different project area.

The locomotive shed is now planted on the Untergroeningen module. Some more work is needed around the foundation, so that the building is not floating above ground. I also need to add steps for the side doors.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Untergroeningen Locomotive Shed (13)

Yesterday, I glued together the shed walls, primed and painted the roof trusses and glued them to the walls. I started working on the roof sheets, but before I can fit them, I need to glue the water tower to the building body. And before I can do that, I had one more window I needed to add.

Drilling a hole, and cutting out the window opening with the nibbler is easy, but requires care and attention.

The window frame and support pieces were already painted yesterday, so I just needed to do a few touchups around the frame and the wall opening to make it look nice.

Finally, the big moment gluing the parts together. Contrary to pictures I showed in the last few days the building is now glued into one piece. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Untergroeningen Locomotive Shed (12)

 [ Untergroeningen posts ]

With the window openings cut on the interior walls yesterday, I started today with spray painting the walls a nice faded, yellowish offwhite color.

I mixed this from 12 parts white, 3 parts grey, and 1 part yellow. The airbrush helped with creating the uneven, slighly messy look I was after.

I glued the windows into the walls using Testor's Clear Parts Cement, carefully aligned the interior walls, and glued those as well. A few bottles of paint help keeping everything aligned.

While the glue set on the walls, I painted the inset walls of the water tower in PollyScale Mud. I also painted the wood beams of the shop walls in dark brown, stained the wooden top of the water tower, and painted and installed the side doors.

Next up was building the roof trusses to support the roof. Since I need at least 4 trusses, I made a simple jig from styrene. The trusses are built from Evergreen 0.060 x 0.080 styrene strip.

I temporarily set up the walls and put the trusses in place to get an idea what it looks like. ... Yep. Looking good.

It's a pity that the trusses will be barely visible when the locomotive shed is installed on the module.

The plan so far was to keep the building removable and build walls, water tower, and roof into a single unit. I'm now contemplating to make the roof removable separately. I have a some time before I need to decide that. The large windows and the large door opening allow bystanders a look into the building in any case.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Untergroeningen Locomotive Shed (11)

The locomotive shed has large windows and I'm planning to eventually add interior lights and furnish the inside. For that to look nice, I need to add interior walls, so that the rear side of the Auhagen panels and the window plastic is hidden away. I used the outside wall as template to scribe the outline of the wall and the window openings on 1/8" styrene sheet.

I scribed the lines deeper along a metal edge and cut an X into the window openings to snap off the inside pieces. I cleaned up the edge with the Xacto knife and emory board. 

The view from the "inside" with the windows loosely put in place is coming out exactly as I had hoped for. The 1/8" sheet is thick enough that you can see the inside ledge of the wall through the window from the outside.

With one wall finished, I made the second wall the same way. Now that I was confident in what I was doing this went much faster.

I'm planning to paint the inside wall a dusty off-white. Will need to take a look at my paint stash for a good color match tomorrow.

Lawn Restoration

The lawn in our backyard is not having a fun time. Since the fall, squirrels have been digging holes and hiding pine cones there. Over the winter racoons decided to dig further looking for grubs. Today I tried to repair some of the damage by cleaning up the damaged areas and plant grass seeds. Let's see how that works out ...

Friday, February 12, 2021

Untergroeningen Locomotive Shed (10)

[ part 9 ]

As I was messing around with the mortar wash I decided that the red plastic base was just too red to get the colors I was after during weathering, so off to the paint booth I went and airbrushed the wall panels and water tower. 

I used Vallejo 71.037 as the base, and a light overspray with 71.033. The latter was completely pointless, as you will see in a minute, but looked nice in the paint booth. The insets of the water tower will be brush-painted with PollyScale Mud at a later time.

Then I went to town with washes to create an uneven and varied look for the bricks. I used washes from Mud, Flat Cement, Red, Orange, and Light Rust, starting with 50:50 color to water, and a bit more watery as the experiments went on.

I also varied techniques along the way. At first I wiped off the wet washes of the horizontal panels to get more definition of the mortar lines. Next I let the washes sit for longer periods of time before wiping off. I was not too happy with the results after wiping, due to too much streaking, and too much color ending up in the paper towel. I switched to dabbing on various washes in a camouflage pattern, and carefully picking up the excess with a  paper towel. For the next variation I dabbed on some wash, and moved the panel around so that the wash flows over the surface, creating more varied patterns and color intensities.
Finally, I went over everything with the mud wash again to bring out the mortar lines and "drained" the wash towards the lower side of the panel.

I repeated the same process on the water tower. Finally, I applied a light dusting of PanPastels Light Rust with a makeup sponge to get a slightly warmer brick color. Here's the result on the Untergroeningen module. Next I should use color pencils to mark individual bricks in different colors. I might do that at a later time.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Untergroeningen: Locomotive Shed (9)

[ Untergroeningen posts

[ part 8 ]

This weekend I wanted to make progress on the locomotive shed. I started with sizing out the sidewall for the machine shop behind the shed. I have almost no photos from what the shop looked like in Untergroeningen, but I do have photos of a model of a similar WEG facility, which gave me a better idea of the wood frame pattern used. Sadly, I don't have much space on the module to show much the shop. It will be mostly hidden behind the water tower. I measured the space and cut a template from paper to make sure I got the dimensions right before cutting it from plastic. 

I compared the photo above to a similar perspective at Vergessene Bahnen (bottom of page) and decided that my building is too tall. I knew that before, but it's just too much. So I cut off 6mm brick foundation from the bottom the Auhagen pieces, which is about as much as I can take off before the windows start to look silly. They are still too big compared to the original, but if I wanted to change that, I need to build the whole thing from scratch.

Removing the foundation meant that I had to replace the wall section with the door I made last May and cut a new door opening. Getting the shape of the brick arch above the door right took quite a bit of time. The old section is in the upper right of the photo.

I applied a first wash from thinned Testors Flat Cement for the mortar lines, and let everything dry over night.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Joseph D. Grant County Park

We decided to go on a short hike at Joseph D. Grant County Park today. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot, but the park is large and once we got away from the crowds into the hills we didn't see that many people anymore.

It's nice and quiet in the hills.

Tatjana even found an alligator lizard.

The lizard is amazingly tiny, delicate, and very cool. After we took photos she put it back to where she found it. Have a good life my little friend.