Jul 29, 2018

Beta op session completed!

So, a couple days ago my layout returned to operation, after many months of scenery work.  We located 6 guys willing to give it a try, and it sent pretty well!

Of course, I have a page of notes for tweaks, upgrades, etc - but that's exactly what I was hoping.

Overall, the layout ran well, people seemed to enjoy both the layout and the relaxed narrow-gauge flavored operating scheme.

Here's some of the work at Ridgway, including a small addressing-goof :-)

And there was lots of work on the Enterprise switchbacks, and at Rico:

Telluride also stayed pretty busy:

Here's a train descending the low-line below Ophir:

And the Durango / Hesperus area looked like this:

Jul 5, 2018

More weathering, shelving for Op Sessons

So, I updated the weathering on most of the steam locomotives on the layout.

My philosphy on these is to reveal the detail, as seen under layout lighting, and give the viewer a sense of the complexity and realism of the model.  Somewhat ironically, doing this means I am usually NOT copying the prototype coloring and patterns exactly, but rather working to convey a result that viewer will sense as real.

So, what's all that mean?  I have subtly highlighted most of the piping, in a color just a little lighter than the final weathered gray.  Of course railroads didn't paint the piping like this, but I feel when done right, that the viewer will 'see' the piping detail and not really think about the fact it's not actually the same color as the rest of the loco.  I do this with paint and a fine brush.

For example:

From there, the rest of the weathering is more standard.  Highlighting leaking valves or anywhere water or steam might be, adding some rust along water-dripping locations, or seams, or whereever seems to fit.  And then a liberal dusting of Pan Pastels in a couple of dark grays, a little very dark orange, etc.

I start with a solid coating of Dullcote, to dull down the plastic and give some texture for the Pan Pastels to adhere to.  I used to finish with another coating of Dullcote to seal things, but this removes most of the color.  So, I've just left it.  Hopefully, these locos aren't being handled very often.  And if the weathering comes off - well, it's just a few minutes work with the powders to put it back on.

And - they all have actual coal from the RGS in their tenders!  I know, I'm a geek... :-)  Mike Conder sells sized, sorted RGS coal, if you're interested.  See my RGS Model Kits page for details.

Here's the rest of the locos updated recently (all of these photos were taken on the Rico townsite, on my layout):

I also built some additional shelving, to support operators who are handling car-cards during operating sessions.  I've been to a number of other layouts in the area, which use car cards, and have come to appreciate how handy it is to have some places (besides on the layout!) to see and sort the cards.  I also have boxes built into the fascia, one per track, at all the siding locations.

A key item for me was designing shelving so you could spread out a train's worth of cards for sorting, but also to avoid cluttering up the aisles.  So here's what I created:

So, here's the boxes and shelving for Durango, one of the two main yards on the layout.  There are boxes for card storage (for yard tracks, and others), and a flat shelf for your coffee, soda, or munchies.

Here's the sorting shelf for Rico, a little ways down and across the aisle from Durango.  Card boxes for Rico are (mostly) off to the right, but I moved the shelf here to encourage operators to avoid stand back-to-back in this aisle.

And here's the card boxes at the other end of Rico.

This is Ridgway, the other main yard on the layout.  Off to the left is the flat shelf for previously-mentioned liquid consumables, and some of the card boxes.

And here's the right side of Ridgway, with more boxes and the sorting shelf. During construction work, you can see the boxes are stuffed with cards - simply to get them out of the way for now.

And notice those locomotive cards, with the big arrows?  Those are especially helpful when a train (including a locomotive) is in a hidden staging track.  The cards can be flipped vertically, and thus indicate which direction on the throttle you should choose, and which loco to address, to move the train out of staging.

 This is Dolores - card boxes, munchies / coffee shelf, and sorting shelf:

There's also a few more boxes at the left side of the town, as there are more sidings here, and also a pair of hidden staging tracks representing the branch to the lumber town of McPhee.

Telluride was a little more challenging, space-wise - the operating position here is in a very narrow aisle (the high-line to Ophir is opposite, off to the right in this photo).  The benchwork here is pretty high (Telluride is at 56", and reached by short, but steep 4% climb out of Vance Junction).

My solution was to build the sorting shelf completely under the benchwork, taking no space from the aisle at all.  It's in the shadows a bit, so I added a short length of LED strip lights.  So - again, card boxes on the fascia, and sorting shelf and flat munchies shelf tucked below:

Another view, giving an idea of how narrow the aisle is here.  I think it's about 30".  Beyond lies Vance Junction, and the aisle there swells out to 60", effectively creating a people turn-around spot down at the end.  The 4% grade down to Vance Jct begins here those stock cars, and twists through and around the high rockwork.  The height of those rocks is a visual trick, which hides the climb partially and greatly extends the apparent length of the branch.

And all the way down at the end of the aisle is Vance junction, and here there's only a little shelf for your coffee, and a couple of card boxes.  There's a passing siding, short spur, and the wye at this location.  The branch from Telluride is twisting through a canyon on the other side of the deep fascia on the right.

Nice update on RGS 20's restoration work

Work on Rio Grande Southern's #20 - a sweet little 2-6-0 which was quite overworked, is being completely rebuilt for operation.  It's currently at the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania, and the Colorado Railroad Museum is continuing to raise funds to complete the work.

The tender is back in Colorado, also finishing a rebuild, which includes a completely new stainless steel tank, inside a shell which is being modeled to look like the original riveted tank.

Check it out!!

Jun 16, 2018

Latest roster addition, and obligatory privacy policy

So - business stuff first - per the new EU regulations, I added a privacy policy to my website; it applies to the blog as well.  Basically, other than what Google does and the affliate links, I don't keep any info or use cookies.

Now for a trains update.  I've completed adding a number of shelves to the layout, for easier handling of car cards and paperwork; I'll have photos of those posted shortly (I hope).  I've also completed work on a little 0-6-0 switcher.  This is a Walthers Heritage Proto2k model, older (DC, bulbs for lights, no tender pickups).

I added DCC (TCS Kam4 decoder, with built-in keep alive which is great for a loco this small), replaced the bulbs with LEDs, decaled, weathered (mostly Pan Pastels), Kadee couplers, and added as much weight as I could squeeze in (mostly in the smokebox, under the smokebox, and under the firebox on both sides).

So, here's some photos:

The coal is real, and from the RGS itself no less!  It's Rico coal, a mix of two sizes.  Mike Conder sells (or at least, did sell) this for a very reasonable price.  Details about that are on my RGS Kit Listing page.

May 19, 2018

More podcasting - this time on scenery & structures

 It's time for another podcast, this time a second visit to the Bench Time podcast, where I invited a friend along and we chat about scenery, details, and of course RGS history.


May 15, 2018

New supplier for laser-cut windows, and other updates and trivia for your reading pleasure

So, I haven't really had much time for updates - work has been intense for some months now.

But, I did want to let everyone know of a new hobby manufacturer - Rail Scale Models.  These guys have purchased the laser-cut parts line from Rusty Stumps (who are slowing down a bit).  I've used these parts for windows, doors, and sometimes shingles on my projects, and I really like them.

And Banta Modelworks came out with two new offerings for the RGS - a new HOn3 water tank (will serve for Ridgway or Rico), and a set of yard buildings for Rico.  As usual, all wonderful stuff (and newly added to my wish list!). So I've been working through updating my RGS Models & Kits page as well, for those and other changes.

In other news... well, I've been slowly updating outdated links on my website, and most recently going through all the RGS and related layout listings I have, and updating it with links to YouTube and other locations.  Everyone's moved into the video age, it seems!  And that's a great thing.

I have found some time for layout work as well - finishing up the basic grass scenery over the entire layout, and now working through returning the track to operating condition.  Actually had to 'mow' some of the new static grass in places!  And - also with an eye toward operating sessions - I added new detection in my hidden sections (which involved lots of crawling thru hard-to-reach benchwork).  And then, decided to add frog juicers on my unpowered turnouts... which, yes, involved more crawling thru hard-to-reach benchwork areas.  All that work is nearly complete now.

For the website, it really needs a visual make-over, at the very least for the layout pages.  I have been looking at various options, and discovered Blocs, which I need to check out further, but it looks like a good posibility. I'm still pretty technical, but finding the time to handcode a new website just isn't in the cards.  And I'm just not up to speed on Angular 5 and other modern web tech.  Yet.  :-)

I should probably get some pictures up here, but in the meantime I've got newer photos over on my Steve's RGS Facebook page.

Apr 7, 2018

Big News from the Ridgway Railroad Museum

Briefly - the Ridgway Railroad Museum is partnering with the Ouray County Ranch History Musuem, have purchased a significant chunk of land, and have purchased the actual Ridgway D&RG depot building (formerly a residence, located a few hundred feet from its original location).

The Ridgway museum will eventually move into the depot building.  AND - they are building a 1/2 mile of narrow gauge track (in a loop) and will be operating the replicate Goose #1 there (free rides, btw).  AND - they are recreating (from scratch) one of the smaller RGS steam locomotives, which will also operate on the loop.

It's an amazing development, and I can't be happier for all the work those folks are doing.  They need a lot of volunteer help, so if you're in the area contact them for time and work schedules.

For full details, you'll have to subscribe (free) and get their newsletter - http://ridgwayrailroadmuseum.org/

Mar 10, 2018

Podcast time! (again)

I discovered a new podcast recently, and somehow actually ended up on it.  Check out the Bench Time podcast, where the focus is on structures, details, and scenery.

And episode #10 includes an interview with yours truly.  In spite of that, it's a pretty good podcast, and I highly recommend it.

Feb 4, 2018

First layout video!

Here's a little video I made of a test train... my first-ever layout video.  I didn't edit it, so this isn't really ready for YouTube, but I will share it here.


This begins near the end of the Ophir low line, and shows a train pulling through what will be Vance Junction, then start climbing the 4% grade of Keystone Hill, heading for Telluride.

Jan 19, 2018

Con-Cor has more Geese for sale

See the details here: