Monday, March 26, 2018

The View Block

The View Block

The middle of the layout is a peninsula with the mainline running along the perimeter. Even with the relatively high benchwork one could see across the entire layout, which destroyed any pretense of a much larger railroad.


I knew even as I designed the track plan that I would need a view block. I just didn't know how I would construct it. And I still didn't have a design for the view block even after I completed the bench work and nearly all the trackage.


Another advantage of the view block would be the availability to two more surfaces on which to mount shallow relief structures.


I started with some cardboard sections just to test the height required. I settled on about ten inches, which would block the view of most people not on the roster of an NBA team. Because the benchwork was an open grid design it would be easy to insert vertical supports for the view block from the underside of the layout, making them stronger that surface-mounted supports.


The final design consisted of 1" x 4" vertical supports with 1" x 4" bases. Three view block assemblies made from quarter inch tempered Masonite panels would be dropped in over the vertical supports. Each assembly had a partial frame made from 1" x 2" boards with a full tongue-and-grove end section that allowed the assemblies to interlock.


I started by gluing Masonite panel side to the partial frame pieces and then clamping this to the vertical supports. Once the glue dried I repeated this with the other panel. When this was dried I removed the section from the vertical supports to screw the panels to the frame pieces. Screws on the surface of the assemblies were countersunk and covered with a spackling compound.


The view block assemblies were test fitted and then primed twice, painted twice with sky blue paint and installed on the layout. One side received mountain and hill scenery that was painted-on using recorded paint formulas matching the existing backdrops. The total length of the view block is just shy of fifteen feet.


The pictures below show much of what is described. After installation I was able to install twenty-one shallow relief structures against the view block. Most of these structures were either full size structures cut down to the appropriate depth or scratch-built.


What would I do differently? Probably I would install the view block earlier, just after installing the track but before scenery and structures. This would have made the process a little easier but not by much.

Vertical Support
Vertical Supports Mounted To Benchwork
Gluing The Frame Pieces To The View Block

Test Fitting The View Block
Test Fitting

View Block Before Scenery Paint
Almost Complete

Friday, March 2, 2018

Recycled Tank Cars On The Layout

As was typical in areas near railroad tracks in the 1950s, there are several recycled freight cars on the layout, including tank cars. I use these recycled tank cars as the focal point of various mini-scenes.


All of the tank cars were purchased at swap meets for a few dollars or less and then weathered as one might expect for a recycled car. Weathering consisted of dry-brushed paints, weathering powders and washes made from diluted paints and alcohol/weathering powder solutions.


The one heavily rusted tank car (below) was an experiment in which I spread a layer of glue on the car body and then sprinkled on rottenstone. I then coated the surface with rust colored weathering powder.


Rottenstone is weathered limestone mixed with various forms of silica. Also known as "tripoli", it is a fine powdered porous rock used as a polishing abrasive for metal and wood finishing. It has applications similar to pumice.


As used on this tank car body the rust effect is extreme and maybe a bit overdone.


Details were added to complete the scenes. I have boxes of detail parts so there always a lot of choices to for finishing each mini-scene.


Below are photos of these mini-scenes.

Monday, February 5, 2018

On-Line Industry: Genco Oilve Oil Company

The inspiration for this on-line industry was the Godfather movie series. Genco was formed by Vito Corleone in the 1920s. It was a front for the family's criminal activities and was named after his childhood friend and consigliere, Genco Abbandando. It eventually grew to become the largest olive-oil importer in the nation.


The brick Genco building on my Citrus Belt Railway is the New York company’s Southern California warehouse and distribution center. Genco is a good railroad customer, consistently receiving boxcar loads of canned and bottled olive oil... and sacks of cement. They occasionally ship out loads of oil drums filled with what probably is just trash.


The building logo was copied from the Internet, printed on very thin paper and glued to the building.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Even Basic Weathering Mkes A Difference

These Atlas tank cars are not quite as good as some of the Tangent Warren tank cars I own, however, at $8.00 each I could not resist. I just wanted to show how a basic weathering job can make such a difference by comparing "before" and "after" side by side.

I've been on a mission to weather all the rolling stock on my layout, even if just slightly. As I model 1956 any cars with a build date of 1956 or late 1955 receive just a tad of weathering. All cars receive painted wheel faces and truck frames and that alone make a real visual difference.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Load Of Scrap

I recently purchased a cast scrap load for an HO scale 65-foot Athearn gondola. I was going to do a pipe load but when I saw the scrap casting I knew it had possibilities.


As purchased the casting was painted a solid rust color. Every item in the casting had the exact same color, which is not very realistic given the dissimilarities of the individual scrap pieces.


So to bring this casting to life all I had to do was to paint the individual scrap pieces with about nine different colors of acrylic and enamel paints, add some crusted rust washes to a few pieces and give the overall casting a dusting with several weathering powders. Very simple stuff.


Take a look at the difference between the before and after photos.

Another Boxcar Acquisition

Over the past two years I have been reducing my fleet of HO scale freight cars. Well over a hundred cars have been given new homes and another large group are being weathered for eventual sale on E-Bay.


I like the more accurate, better detailed freight cars that have come to market in recent years and that is what I moderation.


I tend to purchase a car if it represents something notable and a recent buy is just that. I bought an Accurail West India Fruit & Steamship Company boxcar. Seemingly this would be a bit out of place on my Southern California theme layout. But maybe not.


First, a little about the company. The West India Fruit & Steamship Company operated a railcar ferry service between the Port of Palm Beach, Florida, and Havana, Cuba, from 1946 until worsening relations with the Castro government resulted in a trade embargo by the United States in 1960. I model 1956 so no problem. The company had boxcars and refrigerator cars in its fleet.


Upon further research I discovered that the company also ferried freight cars to New Orleans. By the middle 1950s, up to eighty railroad cars each way per day were being transferred between the United States and Cuba. Inbound freight to the U.S. included tobacco, refined sugar, pineapples, rum, tomatoes, slaughterhouse byproducts, and scrap metal. Cuban bound freight included less-than-carload merchandise, manufactured goods, chemicals, lard, railway equipment, temperate zone fruit such as apples, pears, and grapes, meat, dairy, steel products, and machinery.


These cars traveled all over. Here are photos of boxcars WIF 321 and WIF 106 in Vancouver, British Columbia:




And more research determined their freight cars did indeed travel to Southern California. I even found a photograph of one of their cars in Los Angeles at a Southern Pacific yard:



The boxcar (WIF 233) is just behind the two tank cars. Also notice the Canadian Pacific eight-hatch meat reefer (CP 283285) to the right.


So this gave me a reason to purchase the Accurail car. (Accurail no longer produces this car but they are available on E-Bay and elsewhere.) Now all I have to do is figure out some justifiable loads for this car in order to integrate into my operations.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Steve Mahan's Pacific Coast Lines

The February 2018 issue of Model Railroader has major coverage of Steve Mahan's 42 foot by 57 foot HO scale layout in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The article is by Eric White with photos by Steve Crise.


Steve's layout has never been on one of the Model Railroads of Southern California layout tours. I had Steve scheduled for Tour #9 (February 2008) but he had to withdraw.


I did operate on his layout once and it was a very good experience. Things ran well and there was a good flow to the session. I placed over twenty pictures of scenes which I took in 2008 and 2009 on my Model Railroads of Southern California group:



Pictures of citrus modeling scenes appear on my Railroad Citrus Modeling Group group here:



This is a beautiful layout so be sure and see it on MR.


Bob Chaparro