Wednesday, January 29, 2014

End of January 2014 Update

I did some more mocking up of two scenes.  The first is Railroad Street, in New Milford.  The building kits are merely taped together at this point so I can get a feel for placement and composition.

This is looking from Rt. 202 toward Bank Street:

This is looking toward Rt. 202, with Bank Street on the left:

Next is some more work mocking up Specialty Minerals in Canaan.  I started building an HO scale "Blue-Star Ready Mix" plant as a pulverised limestone loader.  I still need to scratchbuild catwalks and retractable loading chutes inside the loading bay.  I have about 50% of the structures needed for this built or mocked up.  Still need lots more silos, conveyors, paint and details.

And what will be the scale house for trucks, as well as offices and finishing.  I need to cut out the base of the building behind the truck and build the truck scale in that area, under the overhanging building.

Monday, December 30, 2013

It has been a long time since there was any progress, until now!

Well, I finally made some time to work on my layout.  I figured that I had some time for small projects before the football games started yesterday.  These small projects led to bigger projects, and that all equated to progress on the layout.

I did not like the mock up I had for Becton Dickenson and the track arrangement for switching.  I ripped out the single track from Canaan to the way too short, New Milford siding and extended that siding all the way to Becton Dickenson.  This will make switching out both New Milford and Becton Dickenson much easier.  I added a small deck girder bridge where I had a culvert for more visual interest.  I took the B&D building apart and reconfigured it to better match the prototype (both building and track arrangement).

Proto shot of B&D:

Re-done B&D model (still just the front of the structure).  The rest of the building needs to be completed.  I wanted to capture the unique loading dock area.  This also shows the roughed in bridge, which still needs paint and abutments.

Finally some views of the extended siding and switching area for B&D:

I also finalized the Canaan yard area and the enginehouse/service area.  I ripped out the old track configuration and redid the entire area.  The taped together engine house is a stand in until I can scratchbuild one.  All track is cut and still needs to be attached, wired and painted.  While I was at it, I also ripped out the Specialty Minerals trackage and using satellite photos, laid it out to match the prototype.

Proto view of Specialty Minerals.  As you can see, I still need to build a number of buildings, silos and conveyors!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It has been awhile, but progress has been made!

I have finally had a chance to make some progress on the layout.  I have been scratch building and kitbashing some of the larger industries on the Housatonic RR.  These are primarily in New Milford.  Here are a couple of photos showing Kimberly Clark and Neeltran (Neeltran is not really served by the HRRC, but will be on my layout).  These buildings are a work in progress and need final detailing, paint, etc.

I am also adding a brief video showing these industries, along with the fictional "Letourneau Gorge" which is named after my good Friend Louis, from Montreal.  Louis inspired the steel trestle scene when I saw his version on his layout.  This scene is purely added for scenic value and is not on the prototype.

Kimberly Clark (consumer paper products) The N scale version is 24" x 44" just for the main plant building.

Neeltran (Build and refurbish transformers and power control facilities)

Here is my first attempt at a layout video.  I shot this to try out my new cell phone.  I apologize for the poor depth of field and lighting.  I still have a lot of scenery work to do and have to weather the rolling stock , weather the track and add ballast.

Life is busy and the hobby takes a back seat at times, but I have at least made some progress to share.

Finally, I'm adding a couple of photos showing a very rough idea of what Specialty Minerals will eventually become.  I need to do a whole lot of scratch building and kitbashing here!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WiThrottle for the Housatonic RR!

Quick update.  I have not done a whole lot on the layout recently, but I had some free time yesterday, so I dug out the Lenz USB interface I had stored away and downloaded a new version of JMRI DecoderPro onto our laptop.  I then downloaded the WiThrottle app for my iPhone.  The setup was interesting, since there is little documentation, and the drivers that came with the Lenz USB interface do not work with windows 7.  I managed to find some  drivers online and with some trial and error, I have it working.

This rocks!  I had the hardware already, so I could eventually use DecoderPro to program my decoders, so all I needed was the app.  The app was only $9.99 and that gives me two wireless throttles that I can use to control locomotives, make up consists, throw turnouts, etc.  Nice price and a nice app.

The throttle is very responsive and you can adjust sensitivity. I will still use my regular throttles, but it was a fun toy for only $10. Since I had the iPhone, USB interface and wireless network already in place, it was worth doing.

There are downsides to it. The trains go into idle mode and slow to a stop when you get a phone call or a text on the iPhone. Plus you have to change the computer's sleep mode setting, as the connectivity is lost when the PC with JMRI goes into sleep mode. These are minor issues. Using the WiThrottle will also drain the phone's battery fairly quickly. I used it for about 4 hours and ran the battery down by over half, whereas I can get two days of normal usage between charges.

I am still very happy with it. It is very intuitive. There are selections for two variations of road throttles and two yard throttle options, in addition to the dual throttle mode. It is really easy to switch between locos and consists

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stratas Foods, F/K/A Quality Oils:

Stratas Foods, F/K/A Quality Oils:

One of the Housatonic Railroad’s steady customers in New Milford, CT is Stratas Foods.  This was formerly known as the AH Humko/Quality Oils packaging plant.  It takes in tank cars of vegetable oils and repackages them for various national name and store brands. 

I am disappointed by the small size of most available N scale kits, so I decided that this would be the candidate for my first scratchbuilt building.  I exercised artistic license once again with this project, in relocating the truck loading doors to the gable end of the structure for visual interest.  The doors are located on the side opposite the tracks on the real building.  I also added in box car loading doors for cardboard deliveries and outbound product, even though there are no such loading doors on the prototype building.  This adds to the variety of switching for this industry, which in reality only takes in loaded tank cars. 

The model representation of this building is almost full scale size.   Since this was my very first attempt at scratchbuilding a structure, it was slow going, along with some errors (learning opportunities).  I am pretty happy with the progress so far.  The first photo shows the roughed in building, with roof panels needing trimming and bracing.  The second shot is nearing completion.  I will add final details, like loading dock “pillows” around the truck bays, drain pipes, vegetable oil tanks, with piping, etc, as I get closer to finishing this scene.  I still need to add in the paved areas to bring the trailers up to the proper loading door level and add signage as well.   (Click on the photos for a larger version)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Early Construction

I decided to use shelf brackets to cantilever the layout in a way that left the floor space under it free.  I had to bridge three windows in the room and leave them accessible.  That required removable backdrop panels in front of the windows.  I chose to use tempered masonite for my backdrop.  This was glued to 1x2 furring strips that had been screwed to the wall studs in the room.

Once the masonite was up and dried, I painted the masonite with two coats of a sky blue color.  I added 1x2 supports to the shelf brackets and a stringer running along the side facing into the room to tie it all together and to provide a mounting surface for the future fascia.  1 1/2 inches of extruded foam insulation board was then attached to those supports with adhesive latex caulk.  I was now ready for track, however, the layout languished for about 2 years, as I was never satisfied with my freelanced track plans, nor the code 80 track I was using at the time.

The turning point came when my friend Brian convinced me to look at a prototype, and to convert to Atlas code 55 track.  The die was cast and I now had a focus.

Once I finalized the track plan, it was time to jump in to track laying.  I decide to try to paint a background scene prior to doing any trackwork.  The idea was to represent the rolling hills the Housatonic RR passes through in CT and MA.  I had never painted a landscape before, but figured I could always paint over it and start again. 

I made my own cloud stencils and misted on Rustoleum white primer (no airbrush yet).  I then used green craft paint mixed with the sky blue for distant hills, followed up with closer hills, using the green craft paint only.  I used a fan brush to make indications of a distant tree line, including conifers.  A few suggestions of fields and distant buildings and I was done.  The plan is to have most of the hills hidden by trees, but with distant views appearing here and there between the trees and forground hills.  Since the layout is located near eye level for most viewers, I wanted to keep the horizon low.

I painted the entire 58’ linear backdrop, from clouds to hills and fields in one eight hour marathon session.  Here is the backdrop and foam base, with a coat of tan paint to hide the blue color.

Next up comes the track.

I purchased the needed Atlas code 55 flextrack and turnouts.  Trackwork began in the staging area that would represent the interchange with CSX, in Pittsfield, MA.  There is a through track and four staging tracks in this area.  Here are a few shots of the very first HRRC test train running on the staging area tracks and partial main line.

Since this was the first large layout I had built, there was some trial and error along the way.  At least the layout was finally started.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Track plan

Here's the most recent Phase 1 track plan.  Phase 2 will eventually be the Maybrook line and Danbury on two levels.  (Just click on the plan to enlarge it.)