May 23, 2021

Major updates to the online Google RGS right-of-way map!

Some years ago, preparing for an RGS exploration trp, I discovered mapping, on Google maps, and started 'drawing' the RGS right-of-way, looking at satellite imagery, and pairing what I found with the old right-of-way maps in various RGS books.

I got a bit carried away, and started adding lumber branches, bridge locations, and other items.  I took the trip, and it was helpful to find the actual locations.  Then life happened and it sat. That was 2007.

Later though, Jim Marlette discovered it, and started filling in more details, and adjusting the accuracy of specific locations, and also filling some of the gaps.  Then more recently, Dog Bergmann discovered it and spent last fall and winter making massive updates, especially by adding icons and photo links.

It's now a rather amazing resource - check it out!

Feb 21, 2021

Winter 2021 projects

Darn magazines. I read an article in NGSL Gazette about logging turns out of McPhee - the author emulated a prototype practice with 3 loads of logs into McPhee from elsewhere on the layout, and 3 empties back out. 

I was inspired, as that scheme would make a nice addition to my op sessions, but now I've got another 6 flatcars on the workbench! I really, honestly, want to finish up my rolling stock projects and get back to structures, especially finishing up the Ridgway depot.
But alas, the idea of tweaking the balance and flow of traffic in op sessions keeps leading me to rebuilding used rolling stock I've picked up here and there. For winter, I've got about 15 more wood boxcars, (now) 6 flatcars, and a couple of cabeese for good measure. 
Paint, trucks, and re-lettering on nearly all of them is complete; I'm working on trucks & couplers now. Once done, I'll have to wait for warmer weather for dullcote over the decals, and then weathering.

Jan 23, 2021

Layout tour on YouTube!!

Here it is folks - my first YouTube video, giving an overview of the entire layout.


Dec 14, 2020

Some great new structure kit options!

 Merry Christmas everyone!!! In case you weren't aware - Raggs is producing the Dolores JJ Harris warehouse in HO (as well as the previous S). He's taking orders now!  




And, Crystal River Products has their kits in production again - on a made-to-order basis.  These include the Vance Jct coal pocket, stockyards and chutes, and water tanks - in several scales.





Aug 11, 2020

Podcast time again! And Trees, lots of trees.

Podcast time

 I had a chance to visit with Brett and Todd Wiley on their BenchTime podcast last week. We had a great chat about trees, structures, and scenery versus operators. :-)

Bench Time #139: Steven Haworth is BACK | Rio Grande Southern Railroad


Scenery work

Also, it's been a while and I'm overdue for sharing some photos of the work I've been doing.  I went back to a number of completed structures and 'planted' them finally (which for some reason was intimidating, and I dragged my feet on it).  But I'm happy w/ the results - see this older post - or some updates at Vance Jct after adding some bushes:


And, with summer weather, I finally pushed myself to tackle tree-building, and ended up making a pile.  Some of these started as unflocked pines / conifers - which I sprayed and then flocked with fine dark green ground foams.

And the I dug into SuperTrees, taking a few steps:

  • Straightening the sticks / trees (I used steam from a teapot, outside so as not to steam up the entire house)
  • Soaking them in very dilute white glue / water (to strengthen the fragile branches)
  • Painting them (just rattle cans of spray paint, in various browns, grays, dark greenish/black)
  • Then spray glue (Gorilla Heavy Duty Spray Adhesive) and flocking with all kinds of things, including:
    • Super Leafs in various greens (nothing too bright)
    • Dark green ground foam (both course and fine)
    • 4mm static grass (in the darkest color I could find)

Painting SuperTree trunks:


Trees in progress:


Lots of bushes too!

You can judge the results for yourself.  The dark green flocking on the SuperTrees looks like some types of conifer to me (at least for background trees).  And SuperTree material yields all kinds of smaller stuff, so I made a lot of bushes and small trees as well.

Blending trees and photo backdrops:

I'm playing with layers of color and texture here, trying to create depth and blur the distinction between physical models and photos.  And I'm having a blast playing with the effects!

Tracks thru trees:

In these areas, I had to be pretty careful, balancing the look of track running thru dense woods, but also allowing access for my operators, maintenance, track cleaning etc.  The trees also have strategic gaps - not easily noticed I hope - which allow my arm to reach into the scene where needed.  Whenever we can return to operations, we'll see how well it works when people are switching on the branch.