Aug 13, 2017

Static grass process

There were some questions on the last post about my methods for static grass, so... here you go:

I started with sifted 'traction sand' from Menards or Home Depot - the smallest stuff is somewhat multi-colored and kinda 'rough'.  I put down a heavy coat of paint, then sift the sand into that.

Then, spray with alcohol/water mix, and ground foams - fine in bright green, and a very dark confier green (uneven), then larger clumps of medium green in a coarse foam.  Sometimes some watered down white glue to help keep that in place.
Before the grass, a heavy soaking coat of watered down white glue.
Next is a 2mm Woodland Scenic static grass, kind of an olive drab color.  Over that some variety of 6mm grass, usually wheat or dry grass color first, then some brighter greens.  At this point, it's usually thick enough that further static grass has trouble sticking, so I might hit it with some pump-style chean Ultrahold hair spray, then just spots of additional static grass - 2mm dry grass (almost gray), or maybe a dash of some other colors.

In swampy spots, I might alter this with ground dried leaves as the first layer, and might try some 10mm grass.  Sometimes hitting that with hairspray, I can get very fine foam VERY lightly sprinkled to sit on top of the static grass, which is a nice effect.  Just tried that once or twice, so far.

I should note I put a nail on my homemade static grass applicator, and just quickly touch it to various areas while putting on the grasses - that allows me to move very quickly over different sections.  Much fast than driving a nail into just one spot, then clipping on the ground lead, etc.

Lots of different grasses, and I use a small blender to loosen up the clumped grass out of the package, and also to grind dried leaves I harvested a couple autums ago:

Even very bright green foam works, when layered under other stuff:

Woodland Scenics 2mm dry grass all clump out of the container.

De-clumping in process!

After de-clumping - better:

Lots of colors of grass and foams (and a very cluttered Dolores townsite for now...)

Aug 7, 2017

Quick scenery update

Not a 'normal' blog post - but here's some quick photos of recent scenery work... a new photo backdrop behind bridge 42-B at Ophir, and more static grass near Vance Junction:

Jul 7, 2017

Galloping Goose #5 runs in July and September of this year!

Goose #5 Excursion Schedule 2017!  ~Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad~

New opportunities for rides are available. Some trips are originating from Chama, NM and some from Antonito, CO!  Join the fun! Ride the Goose! Please tell your friends that these dates are confirmed and seating is available.

Galloping Goose #5 Schedule
~- July and Sept.-Oct., 2017  -~

Thursday – July 27, 2017 Chama to Antonito. Leaves 8:30 a.m.  Bus return.
Friday – July 28, 2017 Antonito to Osier. Leaves 8:30 a.m.
Saturday – July 29, 2017 Antonito to Chama. Leaves 8:30 a.m.  Bus leaves Chama at 7:00 a.m.
Sunday – July 30, 2017 Chama to Cumbres, morning and evening trips. Leaves 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
and September excursions** and October 1st., 2017:

Friday – September 22, 2017 Chama to Antonito. Leaves 8:30 a.m.  Bus return.
Saturday – September 23, 2017 Antonito to Osier and return. Leaves 8:30 a.m.
Sunday – September 24, 2017 Antonito to Chama. Leaves 8:30 a.m.  Bus leaves Chama at 7:00 a.m.
Monday – September 25, 2017 Chama to Osier and return. Leaves 8:30 a.m.

and then**...
Thursday – September 28, 2017 Chama to Antonito. Leaves 8:30 a.m.  Bus return.
Friday – September 29, 2017 Antonito to Osier and return. Leaves 8:30 a.m.
Saturday – September 30, 2017 Antonito to Chama. Leaves 8:30 a.m.  Bus leaves Chama at 7:00 a.m.
Sunday – October 1, 2017 Chama to Cumbres, morning and evening trips. Leaves 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Full Day Excursions: $109/ $89 Adult/Child  (lunch included)
1/2 Day Excursions: $54/ $43
(Note 1: On Full Day trips a motor coach can be used one way.)
(Note 2: All tickets are subject to a 7% Preservation fee.)
For Booking:

Call The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad 1-888-286-2737 for assistance with booking or for more information.

On-line ticket sales for the Galloping Goose on the C&TS website:

Please drop in and visit the Galloping Goose #5 Website and Gift Shop.


For tickets and information call or visit the railroad's website:
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic RR  Call 1-888-286-2737 
Chama, NM and Antonto, CO

**Information about the Fall Color Special at:

Jul 1, 2017

June progress - static grass, scenery, backdrops

June has seen a little more activity outside the house, but some work on the layout as well.

I've finally gotten over my fear of properly using static grass, and have tackled basic ground cover for a significant portion of the layout.  My method turned out pretty simple, once I had tried a bunch of things.  It's all about layers - of course:
  • First, plaster was painted a light tan, matching the soil color of the area (approximately)
  • Then, 'traction sand' (from Menards) was sifted into a couple a grades, and the finest grade was sprinkled into the paint while wet (thickly applied paint, especially on the slopes).
  • I let that dry, then layered in several colors of ground foam, including some pretty bright fine green, a little tan, and spots of darker fine green.
  • This was heavily misted with 'wet' water (water and some alcohol), lthen soaked with diluted white glue (applied out of an old glue container).
  • Next was some spots of course medium green ground foam, pressed into the glue (especially on the slopes; it'd fall off without the glue first)
  • And finally static grass into the still-wet glue - 2mm dry green, followed by 6mm brighter greens, follwed by touches of 6mm wheat and 2mm dry winter grass.  The variation here is key - lusher in valleys, drier in other places.  If the glue started to dry out, I hit it with either more wet water, or hairspray.
    • By the way, I'm using a home-built static applicator, powered with a 9v battery, and have a nail I just touch into the area for grounding.  I use one hand on the nail, the other to shake the grass on - in this way I can move very quickly, moving the nail along as I go.  MUCH faster than fastening the nail into the scenery each time.
A sequence of this (from the Burns Canyon area near Rico) - sand first:

Then ground foam:

Then grass:

Here's some photos from the Hesperus and Ophir areas:

The road through the town of Ophir is very finely sifted 'pavers sand' (from Home Depot); I like the color.  It's just sprinkled into the wet water and diluted glue as described above.

A lot of areas on the RGS along the Ophir high line had large rock talus slopes.  I tried to copy that here by using the 'traction sand' again, but a larger size from my sifting activities.  Here, I started with a really thick coat of tan paint, and sprinkled the rock into that.  I followed it with the finer sifted sand, then finally 'wet' water, diluted glue, and static grass on the flatter bits.

The RGS was not known for a finely crafted roadbed; most of this layout will have pretty ill-maintained track.  But even for the RGS, I've got some cleaning on the railheads to do here before trains run again!

So, as I went along 'grassing' the layout, I finally came to Durango and Rico, and decided these really needed photo backdrops.  Working again with LARC Products, here's the beginning result in those areas.

This first one is a shot of Sunshine Mountain, peeking behind a gap on the Enterprise Branch scenery

And here's what things look like in Durango.  I kept the backdrops here pretty shallow (only 9" tall), mostly to keep the cost down.  Hopefully they'll work as distant scenery behind the yard.

May 27, 2017

Gordon Gravett books on grass, trees - excellent!

Not much layout work in the last week or two - due to lots of work, plus happy stuff like graduations. But I have finally gotten a few books on grass and trees by Gordon Gravett - generally not available in the US but by far the best I've found.
Highly recommended!
And, I'm back exploring photo backdrops, this time for the Durango and Rico areas.  I'm once again working the LARC products - also highly recommended.

May 13, 2017

RGS 455 rides again! Photo charter on the C&TS

Check it out folks -

The Cumbres and Toltec will be re-creating and running RGS 455 in a special photo charter train in Sept 2017.

RGS recreation planned for September 4-6, 2017 on the C&TS following the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Denver, get your tickets now or you may miss out....   

The planning for this event has been a very drawn out affair. Goose #5 had already committed to visit Chama at the end of September and the volunteers were not willing to make a second trip to Chama. We were interested in having Goose #7 but after discussions with the CRM, they decided that they really wanted to keep it home for their convention related activities. The other Geese were considered but mechanical reliability issues ended up taking them off the table. The 315 group had made it clear they were very interested in participating, but until we could get a price commitment from the CATS, it wasn't clear if we could afford them or not. For various reasons, it took until just a few weeks ago before it was confirmed that the 315 would be able to participate.

The basic outline is, Monday, September 4 will be Antonito to Osier and return, with 455 pulling a typical RGS train. I understand that this trip is about 1/2 sold at this point. Tuesday and Wednesday, September 5 & 6 are sold as a package and are about 3/4 sold at this point. Tuesday will be Antonito to Osier and return, with pre dawn and sunset shots. There is a full moon that night, so moonrise over Ferguson's trestle is on the agenda! 315 will participate with 455 this day, possibly with some double heading and with some hind end pusher action. Photos show the RGS used rear pushers quite a bit. 315 was leased to the RGS during the early 1940's but remained in D&RGW lettering. I have attached a photo of D&RGW 340 leading 455 to show how this would look.

Wednesday, September 6 will be Antonito to Cumbres, with a bus return to Antonito. Consists have not been finalized, but the Friends are working on converting one of the old rider box cars into a "stealth" rider car that will look like a box car. RGS caboose 0400 will be used all three days.

Spread the word. This will be a fun and unique event. We are planning for runbys at locations that could double as locations on the RGS.

For pricing and to reserve your ticket(s) contact Tim Tenant at the Friends of the C&TS (at the link above).

Apr 22, 2017

Model Citizens available on Amazon - free for Prime members

This is a great, very professionally done film about the world of model railroading.  If you've been in the hobby for any time at all, you'll recognize many of the people and layouts shown.  If you're new to the hobby, this is a wonderful, engaging film about what there is to discover.

Mar 25, 2017

Mancos structures, and real glass

I've decided to experiment with using real glass for my windows, and first up is a couple of Campbell kits.  The windows on this one are using windows and doors from Rusty Stumps instead of the stock ones supplied with kits.

For the glass, I found some old microscope slides, did some research on the web, and developed my technique.  There's photos below - but basically I purchased a diamond-tipped scriber from Amazon, and create the windows by first scribbing the slides firmly with a straight edge:

To make the break, it works better (some surface tension issue with the glass) to do it underwater.  I just used a little container and a small piece of dowelrod.  Put the rod under the scribbed line, then press gently on either side to make the break:

Here's what I used, but microscope covers (as opposed to slides) are much thinner and probably easier to work with.  But, I already had these handy...

To install the mullions, I found it easier to apply them to the glass first, then put the glass onto the back of the wall.

The final look - nice reflections!

So - for Mancos I needed (operationally) a mine of some sort.  The layout doesn't have room for the prototypical scene (although coal mining did exist near Mancos).  So - and I think this is the only completely non-prototypical section on the layout - I decided to use Campbell's supply warehouse and Silver Spur mine (both kits I had on my shelf) and build a mine warehouse and the mine itself.

Here's the warehouse. For this buiding, I used roofing from Wild West Models instead of the Campbell shingles.  They worked well!  Rusty Stumps has some nice actual cedar-wood shingles which I might try in the future.

And here's the mine itself - all stock Campbell except the windows:

Hmm - um, not sure how this happened - time warp maybe?  :-)