Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Layout Construction - Update #10

Falls Yard Updates
The yard tracks for Falls have been completed. I guess this means that all trackage for the layout is complete. I probably should have some sort of celebration for a golden spike ceremony, but I am just glad the track work is completed. Now it’s time to begin planning some real operating sessions. I do need to run some trains on a regular basis to discover where the flaws in my track work are and make needed repairs.

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Locomotive Storage Area
Now that operations are ready to begin I needed someplace within easy reach to change out locomotives. Rolling stock is stored in moveable drawers at the far end of the layout. Locomotives were being stored in some additional drawers on the opposite side of the room. A situation that is not very convenient for the person in charge staging trains. To solve this problem I installed small shelves above the staging tracks. This also helps to remind me of  work that needs to be done to some of the locos. Details, DCC decoders, paint, weathering and more are just waiting to done, No more out of sight and out of mind!


Layout Construction - Update #9

Changes to the Helix Entrance and Swing Bridge
Construction of the tunnel portal at the lower helix entrance finally began. This will act as a view block to helix. I decided against building a tunnel liner to allow easier access for derailments. It does kind of ruin the illusion, but easy access sometimes should trump realism.

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I added ballast and static grass to the swing bridge area. That area will not receive much detail. A few bushes and possibly a small tree or two and maybe some telephone poles. The movement of the bridge will prevent much detail. At least it doesn’t seem so naked anymore.


Layout Construction - Update #8

The Milwaukee Scale House
Scale houses were common at terminal/yard tracks along the Milwaukee mainline. I have not been able to verify if Great Falls had a scale house at Falls yard or elsewhere in the area, I’m sure they must have, just no proof. I do have photo documentation of a scale house next to the yard in Lewistown. Unfortunately there is no room in my Lewistown yard for a scale house. I do however have room on the Farmers Union grain elevator track next to Falls yard on the layout. Walthers has produced a kit with two types of scale houses based on Milwaukee Road designs. The hard work has been completed for me. For now I am using the single track design. In the future I plan on building the scale by-pass track.

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Scale House in Lewistown Yard-1978DSC_0072_1


Layout Construction - Update #7

The Cows Are Finally Coming Home


The Northern Montana Line was known for hauling a great deal of wheat and other grain commodities from Montana’s “Golden Triangle”. Up until the mid 1960’s cattle was another commodity that was prevalent on the NML. Even though cattle by rail had stopped during the period that I am modeling on the NML, it is something that I remember well. Growing up along the Milwaukee mainline you would see stock cars in many trains. The photo above was taken from the top of loading gates at the stock yards in Martinsdale, Montana. On the day this photo was taken there were six stock cars waiting to be loaded. The cattle had yet to arrive, so I had free rein of the yards and stock cars. Memories…

My version of the Northern Montana Line will have stock yards located at Denton and Geraldine. Most cattle shipments will be sent to Great Falls where there was large cattle exchange/auction. The Great Northern and Milwaukee supplied cattle to this industry. The cattle pens for Denton and Geraldine will not be to difficult to build. Walthers stock yard kit will produce pens for each town. Stocking these pens with cattle could be expensive. Woodland Scenics makes a nice set of Black Angus cattle. The only problem is out seven pieces only five represent mature cattle for market. While my stock pens are small it would be cost prohibitive to fill with Woodland Scenics sets. Ebay to the rescue! I found company in China that sells a large bag of unpainted cattle for about $25. With a little trimming, paint and time I can fill those stock pens with ease.

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              Tools and supplies ready!                                    Six poses. The horns will have to be trimmed.

                   Ready for painting.                                     The purple cow is in honor of Seth Goddin’s book.

Home made vs. Factory made


Layout Construction - Update #6

Where has the time gone?
I told myself that I wouldn’t let the blog slip into history this year. We’ll so much for keeping promises to myself. It is October and I am on a “forced” vacation. What I mean by “forced” is that we travel once a year to Island Park Village Resort to use our once a year week. The Resort is part of a time-share that we purchased from my in-laws. It is a use it or lose it situation. If you don’t use it you still have to pay for it. Anyway, that’s the reason I’m writing now. The reason I haven’t been updating regularly is ONE: Pure laziness and procrastination. TWO: Work and other activities. Work, unfortunately I have little to no control over. Other activities have been through the local model railroading club (Utah Society of Railroad Modelers) and the Northern Utah NMRA division. I regrettably have cut out most of the club and division activities until work settles down. Hopefully soon! On to the fun stuff!

Playing Mother Nature
Since I built the static grass tool, I have used it only a few times. The following photos show the Denton area where I have filled in a lot of areas around the new depot and in-between tracks. I am using a custom blend of static grass from Scenic Express. The two colors I use are 2mm, 4mm or 6mm Autumn Green and 6mm California Gold. Why so many different sizes of one color? A batch of grass is created when I’m ready to add it to the layout. Each time I mix a batch I will use a different size to create variation in the overall texture. At times I will add more of one color to add more variation.

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Modified by CombineZPIMG_4


Creating Your Own Grass Tufts
I wanted the random tufts of grass to closely match the larger areas of static used elsewhere. Especially in areas like the dirt road and in-between ties. Since the color of grass is custom, I need custom tufts to match. I heard on a podcast that someone made their own tufts by using non-stick aluminum foil. These tufts are made using slightly diluted white glue. If the glue is diluted too much it will bead up into small puddles. Sometimes that is not a problem, but if you want a longer row it can be difficult.

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