Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Little Aspley Grows

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I have the trackwork now working for the Cement Silo and the other two industries near it, so today was a bit of scenery work and a lot of running trains on the new tracks. Besides my little bit today, Kev and Ralph were doing a really great rendition of Laurel and Hardy as they were trying to get the measurements of the layout and input them into Kev's laptop computer - it was hilarious and we all reckon the club is fantastic as we never have to pay to see comedians!

B1 was also busy checking out the N scale exhibition layout to make sure it was all in tip top shape for the AMRA show in a week and a half's time.

So back to Little Aspley.

The scenery work was to just tart up three or four square feet of the peninsula currently designated with a little sign as Little Aspley. I got out the 50/50 white glue and water mix, with a few drops of detergent, and brushed it onto the foam. Then I sprinkled on the dirt I have found down at the creek behind the club. This dirt I have crushed up and dried and then sieved it. What came through a tea strainer is what I used today.

I sprinkled it onto the wet 50/50 mix and then got out the grass. I used the Woodland Scenics "Burnt Grass" Fine Turf as the major colour and also used the "Burnt Grass" Fine Turf from JTT which is a tad different in colour as well. This gives a bit of different colouring in spots just like in nature. To add to this I got out the Woodland Scenics "Weeds" Fine Turf and added some spot colour around the place and in particular along the drains either side of the trackage.

Once done, I got out my little Xuron squirt bottle with the hypodermic on the end and squirted on a covering of the 50/50 mix over the top of the foam. Then I did a slight random scattering of the three foams again and that was it!

After lunch I did spot a block of foam I had in the corner that had a pile of trees we'd gotten from WeHonest stuck in it. These trees I had already scattered with a range of Woodland Scenics fine turf foams and held it on with hairspray. So these trees looked lonely and separated from nature, so I grabbed a pig sticker and a pair of needle nose pliers and planted them.

You can check out a low level view in the video I took of driving a train through the cutting.

And for the heck of it, here is one of my EMD SD40-2 locos in Missouri Pacific colours with a short freight heading out of the large cutting.

So till next time, take some time to watch the grass grow.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Much Less Messy Day

Being ANZAC Day it was relatively quiet at the club with all the ex-diggers out with their comrades commemorating that day way back, a hundred years back, that the Aussi's and Kiwi's fought the enemy at Gallipoli. So it was a little quieter than usual down at the club.

So a quiet bit of work was done on the layout. Peter A was there working on the big bridge and also on the send level bridge that will be the nice all metal one he found up at Bundaberg at their train show. That scene is going to look very nice indeed.

I got into those sidings near the Cement Silos. On Wednesday I had glued down the cork for the two sidings and painted it at the silo area itself. Saturday I glued down the track using Liquid Nails - a very thing smear of it and then laid some draft snakes (you know, those round material tubes full of sand that you put at the bottom of the door to keep the wind out) on top to hold it down for 30 minutes. The glue pretty much takes straight away since it is in a very thin layer and almost acts like a contact cement, but the extra weight just makes sure.

While this was drying, I cut the cork for the two sidings at the back and to the left of that area and glued it down with Liquid nails. Not as thin a smear as for the track, as the cork is very porous and hence needs more glue to work best. Once the cork was down I gave it a single coat of grey paint to seal it. This paint is just a plain water based one that takes a couple of hours to go off.

Between talking, doing bits and pieces and drinking coffee, a couple of hours went by and I was then able to glue the track down. So I grabbed some used track that was in good nick and trimmed it to size as well as very lightly filing the ends to smooth them out so track rubbers and clothes wouldn't get caught on any dags. It also makes it easier to slide both the metal and plastic track joiners on. So the then smear of Liquid Nails went on with the paint scrapper doing the dean of smearing. Track was inserted into joiners and pressed down into position and some more snakes added to hold it down.

Thirty minutes later I was able to start drilling holes for the track power droppers and then soldering them into place. I used the trusty Dremel tool with the rotary steel wire brush to clean small spots on the track for the droppers to attach to and then tinned those area with solder. The droppers were cut and their ends also tinned with solder. We are using single stranded wire that is sold as bell wire or detonator wire at Bunnings. It is cheap and very effective as it can be bent and holds the shape of the bend and therefore making it easy to solder up tight and close on the rails.

So when I knocked off for the day at two, the sidings were all complete and power available to all tracks. Maybe on Wednesday I'll take a train down for a test run.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Almost a Doona Day

With the overnight temperature dropping way low, the doona came out last night and replaced the blankets on the bed - so much lighter yet warmer and soooo easy to sleep under. So when the alarm went off, three times I hit that snooze alarm - almost never made it out of bed!

So with my coffee drunk and the news read, it was off to the club for some hobbying. I managed today to get the cork down and painted for the two tracks for the Cement Silos. The track will be able to be glued down on Saturday I reckon.

I then spent some time working out what might suit the area to the left of the Cement Silos. I came up with a number of possibilities, but settled on perhaps these. Maybe we can put the Walthers Imperial Foods building on the first siding ( and maybe the Walthers Centennial Mills building at the back, it being a low relief type structure as well ( I have cut out a white template and pegged it in place for people to look at to see if it suits.

Next bit of work was to do some more gap filling, this time on the road coming down the hill towards the Cement Silos. The mix was no more gaps, water, a pile of foam beads and only some sawdust, and of course some paint.

And just on lunch time I got a half a caulking tube of no more gaps and paint mix down on the back part of the hill to coat a bit of the raw foam.

Now time always tells. So today after some of my gap filler mixes had had quite a while to dry, I found some drawbacks to one component - the sawdust. The mixes with the highest proportion of sawdust in them had shrinkage where a large amount of the "putty" was used. The photo below shows a large amount of the putty being used to fill the side of the track area - it would be about 3/4 of an inch thick and was as much sawdust as could fit in the mix and no foam beads for bulking.

Small amounts of the putty used, caused little to no problem. Also if there were a bit of foam beads to add structural support and bulk, thereby reducing the actual percentage of sawdust in the mix, the cracks were very small indeed.

Compare the above photos to a mix that was almost purely foam beads and no more gaps - no discernible cracks at all.

But really, the cracks are easily fixed by using a small amount of the same mix of no more gaps and sawdust. It would appear that large volumes of the mix drying are the real problem. So I'll do some patching next week and no one will be the wiser... will they?

The advantages of using sawdust to get a nice smooth finish really outweighs the little bit of work a few days later in filling cracks.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Working Bee Day at the Club

Since a WB was on for today at the club for 0900, I decided to hit the club early and get at least some building done before the noon run trains bunch showed up.

So I got in first and got in at 0730 and mixed up a two tube load of No More Gaps with just some water, paint and a pile of sawdust. Then with a selection of paint scrapers I troweled on the oatmeal looking mix into all the remaining gaps on the end of the peninsula. I finished it off a few hours later after the gardening, with a straight tube of No More Gaps and paint. Then to give it a drier surface so the boys playing choo choo's didn't get wet shirts so much, I sprinkled on a pile of the fine sifted dirt I had from my expedition to the creek the other month.

I also then tacked out a drawing Craig M made for me of the Cement Factory and laid out some track - this means on Wednesday I can lay the cork for it and possibly the track.

The gardening we were doing was a fresh load of mulch for all the garden beds. I think we ended up with about 12 metres of it! But the place does look a lot better.

Friday Night Fun

Finally I got to another running session at JK's place - the stars aligned for me.

As usual a great night was had with a drinky or two and some trains being run. It has been a couple of months probably since I got there, but some changes have occurred. John has now got carpet tiles on the floor and they sure make the feet a lot more comfortable.

There is now also a large control board for whoever plays the fat controller to use. This is made of steel and has all the lights and routes on it and the use of magnetic labels shows where are train is. Oh yeh - lights - there are a pile of signal lights on the layout as usual, but more. AND they and now wired back to the control board. So the controller can let you move without the need to yell at you. Mind you, you have to watch your signals - don't you JK?!  John kept not looking and hence not moving his train!

There has also been a lot more detailing on the layout - very nice John, very nice indeed mate. Saw some nice motive power as in some Canadian National running as well - nice.

If I am lucky, there will be another session before I bolt OS for a couple of months in three weeks time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Normal Day

Finally a normal day. The weekend was a long one as Thursday to Sunday I attended another great Australian N Scale Convention which was held in Brisbane - fantastic fun and lots of information gained and ideas thought of.

So today was back to a more normal pace and onto the HO layout for a bit more work. I hooked into installing the two points to cater for the Cement Factory and the Warehouse area. This time I remembered to drill the hole under the point for the point motor to connect to the tie bar at a later date. All track edges were filed and smoothed so that track rubbers and cleaners don't catch and the power droppers all soldered into place about half way along the points. Once I collected all the tools to do the job it really didn't take too long to complete.

After this I gas bagged a lot and B1 got into fixing up the N scale Exhibition layout as we found over the weekend that the join between the engine facility and the factory modules was damaged. The fix was to detach and attach afresh, the hinges and to also chisel out some of the end timber work to allow the Kato adjustable joiners to sit down a little bit more. End result - perfect!

John B was doing some more work down at the left of the station area and it is getting closer to completion of the foam work.

My next job today was to make a large batch of "filler" with my recipe of the day - 2 tubes of No More Gaps, a couple of teaspoons of acrylic poster paint for colour, half a dozen handfuls of sawdust and the same of foam beads. A drop or two of water and all stirred up to a consistency of very thick oatmeal. This I then used to fill a heap of holes, gaps and missing foam on the end of the peninsula I have been working on. This does a number of things for the foam work. First it fills the holes and such, second it it fills all the small imperfections where foam beads have pulled out leaving a fairly rough surface for being a paddock or rolling hill and thirdly it gives a tough skin on the foam to help prevent future damage to it.

There is still more filling required, but by noon I was almost done with the first batch so figured there was no time for a second as the train runners would start playing trains soon. So I cleaned up and then as a last item - placed a sign on the hill.

Dial back the time to yesterday when Greg B came saw me at work (we work in the same building, in fact for the same department). Greg had found an old advertisement while hunting on the web and decided it would make a great sign on the layout - particularly since the end of the peninsula is really only being sceniced temporarily until Keith S can get time to build his township. If we all remember back to the early days on the northside of Brisbane, there was a fella. This fella pretty much appeared to own the northside as he sure did a lot of development and selling of land. The fellas name was Bill Bowden. 

One particular area he did was of course Strathpine. We all remember the slogan: "Little Aspley - that's Strathpine", and that is the sign. So Greg scaled and printed out a sign and added some posts and I decided to plant it today. So I got some dirt, grass and 50/50 water/white glue and planted it all.

So I reckon we have a very appropriate sign and probable name for that end of the peninsula!