Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happy New Year!

I find when I get on a roll making progress, I forget to document it. I missed December altogether, so I will get you up to speed.

First I want to take a look back to a year ago to remind us what the Skally Line looked like then:
Since then I replaced the foam-core mill with the styrene version (still not painted), I finished the engine house and the speeder shed. I have done a bunch of ballasting and ground cover as well. The same scene looks a lot different today:
Taking a step back we can see the park across from the Masonic Lodge. I've started making SuperTrees where appropriate.
Here is the view looking south at the Mill. You can see the north engine house switch that got added just after the prototype last year. I finally got some good PD hoppers for hauling flour, thank you BLMA/Atlas. These are amazing looking cars.
Ivy Farms Creamery has started to take shape just north of the Mill. I still have a building and a half to finish there, but the scene feels more complete already.
Here is a look at the Masonic Lodge before I installed it on the layout. After sitting for two years I finally finished the front stoop, the front door, the fire escape and some other details. I just need to make decals for the signs now.
I'm glad I got the pictures looking back. When you stare at it every day, it doesn't feel like much has happened. But then you look back and see how much you really did get done. I hope this year yields the same amount of progress.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The November Break

In November I have to start making sure I take days off, before New Years hits. I took advantage of the time to make some Skally progress.
I've been working one end of the line to the other... in Rush City I added the roof to the engine house. I need to add some details and then paint it up. I also weathered all the new flour cars, so they don't look so... new.
 I added some sidewalks to 4th St. Now I need to fill in the park and add an artillery piece.
I forgot to mention I also started the electrical substation that sits just North of the Ardent Mill.
 I added the newest customer on the line, Interstate Energy. The LPG cars are already off-loading.
 I scratch built the unloading racks. I'll go back an spruce the scene up later, but it works for now.
 I finally made it back to the Rock Creek bridge. Sorry for the bad exposure on the shot. I hope to get some track permanently set soon on this one.
Tiller, or should I say "Titan-Lansing" now has started to materialize. I mocked up the sand sorting and cleaning tower (to scale) out of foamcore and I built the loadout shed (out of styrene). The construction trailer is there to remind me to finish the scene...
Lots of progress, but nothing done, so it goes.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! A couple of weeks ago I was in North Carolina shooting the Blue Ridge Southern (BLU) and the NS. While photographing the NS near the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, I got a shot of the infamous Pumpkin Car TCMX 20821.
I almost missed the shot on the pumpkin car because I was so focused on the power for the train, it was 4 C44-9Ws, 2 SD40-2s (one of which was NS 1625, one of the last High Hoods) and a GP38-2.
The BLU was one of the highlights of the trip. We caught the T31 in Asheville, interchanging with the NS. They picked up about 30 loaded woodchip cars. My friend Hunter was conductor and gave a friendly wave as he passed us. The train had 3 SD45 bodied SD40M-2s. It reminded me of the Skally with the BLU's knock-off paint scheme.
Here we caught the T31 closing in on Canton, NC. 
Canton is home to a large paper mill. We got to watch the crews switch the plant out, and I got this nice scenic shot of the plant.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Engine Update

Not a lot to report. I made some progress on the LNG facility. On a good note, after an extended hiatus, I've finally gotten back to locomotive building. I scratched one more of the list with the completion of NP 3617. This was a fun build using a 3D printed cab.
Finishing this engine leaves me one SD45 left to do, GN 400. That will probably wait until after I finish some BNSF power.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August Update... In September

I've decided to hard mount some of the modules to the wall in the garage. Which prompted me to think about height. I like the FreemoN 50", but I really like having the layout higher, so I picked up some heavy duty brackets from Rockler and played around with elevation. I settled on 52". Before finalizing, I painted the walls a nice shade of blue, to act as a simple backdrop. Now that I know I like the height, I ordered more brackets for the next wall.
 I'll be moving some of the corners around. I had a wooded corner between Rush City and Tiller. I'm going to modify one of my existing corners and turn it into Interstate Energy, the LPG loadout on the south end of Rush City. This will add a little something to ops session, without causing me to build a massive straight module set, to accomplish the long spur at a 90 degree angle to the main. I will have to hand lay the southern turnout, but what the heck, you only live once.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ardent Flour Mill

A recent arrival got me to make some progress on the permanent Ardent Flour Mill for Rush City. I had a foam core mock up in place for the last year. It was time to start the upgrade. A couple pounds of styrene later, it's starting to come together. I need to detail it and paint it, but it already looks better than the stand in. Next I have to add all the concrete floors inside, the scale on track 6 and the floor grate on track 4. One thing at a time.
In this area I will add the fall protection system over the tracks. It will also get the weather sealing around the loading lock doors and small roofs above each door. In this shot you can see part of the reason for all the progress: the new BLMA PD hoppers (more info below on those).




Inside the north end doors there will be a scale house (yes it's inside, between tracks 5 and 6) as well as a bunch of other mechanical stuff.




The BLMA (now Atlas) hoppers. Wow. I have been in N Scale for 30 years and these take the cake. I got them in three reporting marks, CITX, GACX and TILX. I need to weather them all, but that will be a little ways out.
The cars are fabulous. Body mounted couplers, metal wheels, air hoses, reporting marks stenciled on the trucks, the blue bearing caps.
The trucks are mounted with screws instead of pins. Check out the rear profile on the wheels. You don't see that on FVM.
 The cut lever, etched metal walkways and crossover platforms.
The underbody piping runs to both sides of the car (something Walthers never tried). The pnuematic lines are even painted!
A side shot to show off some of the fine printing. In full disclosure I did have some flash I had to trim inside of one of the couplers to get it to couple just right , but if that is the worst thing that happens, I am one happy camper. 
I'll get all of the ones I bought out of the boxes soon. I picked up 15 total. That helps my layout out pretty well. I'm hoping they rerun the TILX cars so I can add more of those to the fleet, but this set gets me a great flour hauling start.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What Happened To Spring?

The last couple of months flew by faster than expected. I figured I'd fill everyone in on the layout progress.
I have been ballasting Rush City. I need to get going on the Ardent Mill. My new BLMA PD Hoppers have been delayed until June. I'll try to have the scene ready for their arrival.
Next door to the Mill I've added the electrical substation. I still have a lot of details to add, but it a start.
Over at Zinpro, buildings are starting to appear, the spur is ballasted and wheel stops have been added.
I've also added derails in a few spots. Zinpro, Tiller and the North end of the flour tracks at Ardent. I still have to put in the south Ardent derail, but I'll get to that when I ballast that area.
I wish I had more to report, but that's it on the layout for now.