Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Since it's been so stinking cold here in Denver, I've spent the last two weeks of free time huddled up in my office building some PBL tank car kits.  One is a narrow frame tank car kit and the other is a "Gramps" frameless tank kit.  I think the frameless tank kit took longer since all of the piping is exposed, there's no place to hide anything.  They're not terribly difficult to build, they just take some time.  The most important step is to sand the parting lines on the top. I usually finish by wet sanding the joint. Eventually I'll get around to painting them.
I bought the Gramps tank kit from my late, good friend Robert Sander's estate. There were quite a few parts missing so I ended up scavenging parts from another Gramps kit that I have.  I'll have PBL send some replacment parts.  PBL is supposed to do a run of these cars in the near future.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Flat Car #3

The flat car syndrome continues.  I finished up #6312 today with some weathering.  When I did the deck, I tried a different technique. After graining the deck with a plumbers brush and adding two Vallejo smoke washes and two washes of Modelflex weathered black, using a fiberglass eraser, I lightly went over the decking.  I was surprised at how well it highlighted the grain.  I think it worked better than drybrushing.
That's the story I'm using.  Actually I had overweathered the deck and I wasn't happy with the way it looked, so I used the fiberglas eraser to remove some of the wash.
Once I had cleaned it up, I went over it again with the black wash. It took just a little more time but I'm glad I re-did my work.  I wouldn't have been happy with just "good enough" on this car.  My friend Derrell Poole is correct, most good modeling is 10% talent and 90% tenacity.
Although the phone camera doesn't take the best photos, I think you can still see the effects.  It looks much better in person.  I'm also glad I built the two #6200 series flats first since this kit doesn't come with directions.  It does come with a large color coded drawing.  An option is to buy the DVD that PBL has for this kit. Since I've built a "few" of their kits I was just fine.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flat Car #2

After building car #6201, I went ahead and built the other 6200 series flat car kit I had, car #6217.  I did a couple things different on this car.  Instead of using the plastic turnbuckle assembly included in the kit, I used brass turnbuckles instead.  I also painted the deck differently. While I still used the "smoke" colored Vallejo paint, I didn't use as much.  Then I painted on a couple washes of Modelflex weathered black instead of the ink.  I got more of a weathered wood look that I think looks better.
Since I'm in a flat car mode, I think I'll start on the two 6300 series flat car kits I have on the shelf.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flat Car

I finished up a PBL flat car kit today.  This was a kit I purchased at the Sn3 Symposium in Albuquerque a year and a half ago.  Now there's room on the shelf to buy another kit.
This was a fun kit to build; the newer PBL kits include brake rigging and turnbuckels molded in plastic. However I still opted to use brass wire for the trussrods.  I don't like using fishing line. For me they either won't keep the paint on, or they eventually sag.  Plus they remind me that I'm not spending enough time on the S Platte River fishing for trout!
The kit went together well, as all PBL kits do.  For the deck, this was the first time I had painted styrene to look like wood.  The deck comes molded in a shiny tan color to look like natural wood.  I had thought of just using basswood and staining it, nothing looks like wood except wood they say, but I figured I should give it a shot.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  After some good modeling tips from my friend Gerald Stlyes, I think the deck turned out just fine.  Using a plumbers brush to scribe the grain, some Vallejo paint and India ink, I'm pretty happy with the results.  Here are two photos, the first is right out of the workshop, the second is after some dust and a flat finish.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Progress

Here is the result after four different color washes on the rock work.  I added coats two and three on Friday and coat four on Saturday morning.  Each one completely drying before the next.  I also painted the bare plaster and added dirt from my bucket o' dirt from Gunnison.  The tunnel portal was to be scratchbuilt, however since the Woodland Scenics portal was close to what I was going to build, I went that way instead.  I did cut it down so it would fit Sn3.  I painted and installed it before I started the rockwork.  I will eventually add the inside of the tunnel, building something out of strip wood.  It's easily accessible from inside the helix. While it is nowhere near being finished, it certainly looks way better than it did a few days ago.  All the basic scenery is now finished on the upper level.  I hope to start adding ground cover, rocks and trees soon.  The water tank in the photo is a stand-in.  It's a model of the tank at Telluride.  It will be replaced once I get around to building one of the several tank kits I have from Crystal River. 

Last Upper Level Rockwork

After a very busy summer, with the wife and kids back in school, I got to head down to the basement.  The goal before the narrow gauge convention was to get the rockwork and other scenery finished on the upper level.  I started the last section of scenery last June and I wanted the upper level done.  
Here is just a grab shot.  I thought I'd try out my new phone for the photo, as you can tell I still need more practice. However, since I haven't posted anything in quite a while, it's better than nothing.  This is just the first paint wash, I will do three to four more to get the final color.  Right now it looks a bit leprous. Once the rockwork is finished I will start adding ground cover and trees. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mount ?
I finally got around to finishing one side of the mountain over the helix.  I hadn't been working on the layout over the past month or so, I was trying to find a vehicle I could start four wheeling in.  I did finally buy an older 4runner that I want to take up in the mountains as soon as the snow melts.  Chasing the Cumbres and Toltec between Antonito and Osier will be much easier now, anyway that's another story.
To get out of my "funk" I called my friend Gerald on a Thursday night a few weeks ago.  Since he wasn't doing anything on his layout that night either, he came over and we slung some plaster around.  I really do enjoy working with the Bragdon molds.  They are so flexible you can form them anywhere.  Well it was just what I needed to get moving again.  We got the one side finished, save for a couple of small molds to fill in some gaps.  After a few days I started coloring the rocks using washes as I had before.  I did manage to paint and add some dirt to the smooth areas, it's not finished by any means, but it's a good start.
Now that I have the rockwork finished on this side, I need to start the rock work over the tunnel.  That will take a bit more effort.
Now I just need to name the mountain, something along the lines of canine, pooch, etc., any ideas?


Friday, March 29, 2013

A Little Foreground Scenery
I added this photo to show some of the foreground scenery I've been working on.  The rocks and dirt were collected just west of Denver from a cut on Highway 285.  Back in the fall I took an afternoon to harvest scenery materials.  After picking up several 5 gallon buckets at Home Depot I headed towards the mountains.  Modeling Colorado is easy when you live here.  By using an old flour sifter I get most of the bigger pieces out, then using two different sizes of screen I can get the dirt down to a fine powder.  The bushes are Woodland Scenics dead and olive green foliage.
The caboose model is a PBL kit that took first place at last year's Sn3 Symposium in Albuquerque, NM.  A brakeman can be seen through the window and the conductor on the rear platform was painted to look like Ron Keiser who worked for 20 years for the Durango and Silverton.  I had a lot of fun detailing the interior with pots and pans on the stove, paperwork on the desk, etc.
I also finished up the trackwork at the mine.  It has been ballasted and I've started the scenery in that area also.  Once I finish the backdrop, I'll start adding a lot more rocks and ground cover to the slope, plus add in a few trees.

Track and Scenery
I finally got the tracks in on the north end of Elizabethtown (Chama), now engines can be serviced as per the prototype.  I also built the ramp to the coaling tower as well as "sinking" the ash pit.  The ramp was made out of three pieces of homosote glued together.  I ripped it to width on the table saw and then after I drew the angle on the side, I cut the angle on the bandsaw.  Then I made cuts every half inch to make it bendable.

Though not on the original plan, I was able to fit the "sheep dip" track in, this will serve as the rip track.  Once all the track was laid, I added some basic scenery.  Now I just need to paint the backdrop, then I can start adding cottonwoods.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year

I was able to get a bit more basic scenery in on the upper level over the holiday season. Even with family functions I found some time to slop around some more plaster.