Nov 14, 2012

Some rockwork progress photos

Here's a few photos of the nearly done rock face, and the initial (and very rough) rock in the deep canyon near Telluride.

Oct 20, 2012

Rock work

See the pictures here - I have been working on a rock wall near Durango's yard lead; basically practicing before moving to the river canyon.

Sep 22, 2012

Canyon plastering !!!

Well - lots of progress on the canyon.  These next few shots show the completed cardboard web.  Although that ridge looks really narrow, sightlines will keep that nearly hidden when finished (I hope).

This is the area leading into the cut, with trestle 42-A just before the cut.  The shot afterwards shows the cut from the other side.
And with basic plaster cloth completed - here's how it looks right now.  Next step - rocks!

This is looking across bridge 42-A, into the river canyon.  The section in front I left incomplete, because the canyon is so steep & narrow, I'll need to install and paint the rockwork on the far wall, before building the near-side wall.

Another view looking across bridge 42-A and into the cut.

 A less interesting shot, I suppose, but this the trackwork leaving Telluride, and running alongside the river, before diving into the canyon proper.  And you can see, the goal of blocking the full view of this little branch is working, and the trackwork here seems far longer than the few feet it really is.
And here's the cut from the far side.  The cardboard web shows badly in parts here - but that'll be addressed and hidden later w/ plaster and rockwork.  Another goal here was keeping the area on the left side - which is really the aisle serving Dolores (off to the left) - interesting as well.  Although the view from this side blocks the entire river canyon, I didn't want a simple wall or hillside - nature is rarely like that, I feel, so I made this an area of little sub-canyons.  Should be fun to fill in w/ more rockwork, trees, etc.

Here's a view holding the camera high, and looking over the ridge, down into the bridge 42-A area

Sep 14, 2012

Canyon work progressing

No pictures this time... but I'm continuing with the cardboard web in the Keystone Hill canyon area.  It's surprising to me how much is actually needed, to get the shapes just right.

I should mention that my benchwork is built in sections of 8' long or so, and then bolted together.  I'm avoiding any structural components from crossing those gaps - thus fascia, roadbed, and now cardboard all have defined edges and support at these section gaps.  Roadbed & rail does cross these gaps, and plaster will as well - but my thinking is that I ever have to move this, I can cut those without having to break the main structural parts.

Anyway... this has been a fun study in prototype modeling - the prototype here being the landforms themselves.  I've not studied cuts and cliffs in such detail before, and the more I study the photos of the RGS in books, the more I have to come back to the canyon and make it more extreme than I'd dared before - higher cliffs, steeper cuts (nearly vertical), etc.

Sep 3, 2012

Most ballasting, and roughing in a canyon

This is another take on ballasting - finer ballast in the center, rockier stuff outside a little.  Per typical narrow-gauge, the center area does have ballast on top of the ties (actually done to encourage water to run to the outside, when ballasting with dirt or other materials).  Notice the two tie colors... after review by other authorities in the house, the tan color will be used for most of the trackwork going forward.

So here's a close-up of some actual trackwork.

My process:
  1. Wash the ties with soapy water and a toothbrush (removes the mold release agents from the plastic ties, for better paint adhesion).  
  2. Paint the ties with grey Gesso (normally used to prime canvas for art paintings).  I've got to paint the visible sides and edges of ties w/ this... rather a pain, but the cost of avoiding fumes from spraying).
  3. Using a brown Sharpy permanent marker to color the rails.  The color isn't too bad, and provides a coat that darkens the rails and helps the real color work (later).
  4. Paint the ties again, with a wash of grey-tan acyrlic.  I'm using Martha Stewart (stop snickering!) Multi-Surface craft paints; that line has a couple of nice warm greys and browns.
  5. Use some other colors and pick up some of the ties, for variety.  I used a second coat of the tan, and a darker brown.  I have a very light tan that's also useful, but that I didn't use here.
  6. Finally, paint the rails again, this time using a Floquil Rail Brown paint pen.  I couldn't get this to cover properly without first using the permanent marker, and the brown shows thru a little sometimes, which looks ok.  Still, I needed two coats w/ the pen.  The result is what you see here.  Odd-looking now, but should look good w/ ballast added.

With the track finally painted, I moved on roughing in the canyon scenery - basically a deep canyon with both the track and a river winding through it. Here's the river (see above photo), running into a deep canyon.  My idea here is to intentionally prevent the view from seeing all of the river, or canyon, at one time.

The river exits under RGS Bridge 42-A.

Above, this shows the river exiting under RGS Bridge 42-A.  There really was a river on Keystone hill, running out under 42-A, but obviously the topography was different.  I'm after interesting visuals here, not an exact duplication of the prototype hillside, which would be less interesting in this greatly compressed space.  The river, from this view, will twist right and out of view behind rock walls (not yet roughed in behind the bridge).

So here's a view looking down the track, thru part of the canyon.
Above is a view looking down the track, thru part of the canyon.  The river is behind and to the right, and bridge 42-A is the center section, without the painted ties.  My idea here is to have a ridge following along the left side of the river, and crossing the track just beyond the bridge, forcing the track to go into a narrow cut.  I'm really trying to create the illusion of trackwork threading the terrain, rather than just having terrain filled in around the track.  Beyond the bridge, the track would pass into a second set of hilly canyons.  The visual here should be looking into the cut to see the track; it'll be somewhat blocked from side viewing in that small cut.

Above is the same section of track, but from the other side.  Here, the river's on the left beyond the cut, and bridge 42-A is at the very top of the track that's visible here.  I'm sticking some of the cardboard very roughly here - just trying to visualize the overall sight lines and view blocks.  I'm using drywall shims, btw - what you see here is less than two 50-piece packages - about $8 or so at Menards.  And a LOT easier than cutting all this cardboard!  It's really strong too.

One last shot - river on the right again

One last shot - river on the right again.  You can see how the river is descending in a canyon that's getting deeper, with rock walls getting very steep.  The hillside along the track is also gradually getting steeper, building to the cut beyond the bridge (just visible as the track curves out of sight to the right in this shot).  And again, although this is only about 10' of track, the curves and view blocks will - hopefully - make it seem much longer.

Aug 29, 2012

Ballast experiments !

Trying several types of ballast; which looks best for old, poorly maintained RGS track?

So, first I painted the ties... using (of all things) a Martha Stewart craft paint called Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Paint.  It dries nearly flat, and adheres well (read that as slightly better) to plastic than other acrylics.  I'm brush-painting, to avoid fumes in the basement, and this is the best option I've found.

There are some good colors available - I purchased a light tan (used below), a light gray, and a very light gray, almost off-white (which I plan on using to highlight specific ties).

I then painted the rails (hard to see here); I like them dark, so I used the Floquil paint markers, using Floquil Paint Markers.  The Rail Tie Brown seemed to work best; the Rail Brown was too light for my tastes.

So that brings us to the ballast options.  This is experimentation here - nothing's weathered or anywhere near final.

This first one used some grout coloring in a charcoal color - which is a very fine material.
The second was finely-sifted rock material, colored a little w/ brown sanded grout. 
The third was less-sifted rock material, mostly gray.
And the fourth was back to the finely-sifted rock, but without any brown added.

Jun 16, 2012

Gravy train a 'running

Working on laying more track, in Dolores and the staging under Ophir.

Jun 13, 2012

Geese gathering for GooseFest

The Geese are arriving at the Colorado RR Museum - all 7 now exist, fully restored (or rebuilt in #1's case).  This coming weekend, 6 of those 7 will be running at the museum.

Here's some pictures:,218781

May 9, 2012

RGS #74 is back

Ending a very long saga, RGS #74 (former C&S #74, former C&N #30) is now back at the Colorado Railroad Museum, being reassembled.

This locomotive was originally on display in Boulder CO, after the RGS ended in 1952.  When the Colorado Historical Society took over operation of the Georgetown Loop Railroad, they needed additional steam power, and arranged for #74 to be evaluated for an operational restoration.  Initially, restoration to operation was approved, but further investigation determined the work would be so extensive that it wasn't practical.  #74 then began a rather long journey to reassembly and cosmetic restoration.

There are details and photos of the locomotive being returned to the CRRM on the Narrow Gauge Discussion page - see this thread.

And, the restoration of RGS #20 continues - and this restoration is to full operation.  It's the most complete rebuild I've been familiar with, and it's been documented extensively on the NGDF; a summary of posts there is on my remains page.

And speaking of that - my RGS Remains Page has tons of details on all the various pieces remaining of the RGS - including all of the Geese, locomotives, and lots of structures, right-of-way sections, etc.  There are lots of details about #20 and #74, especially.

Apr 6, 2012

RGS 20 rebuild continues (w/ photos!)

RGS #20 continues her journey back to life... and it's truly amazing both the scope of the work, and the incredible quality of this VERY complete rebuild.

This is also a rare chance to really see the innards of a steam locomotive - including the firebox, frame components, staybolt details, truck bolsters, and even the inside of the tender tank.

Check out the photos!,213776

Funding is still needed to complete this work - donate to the Colorado Railroad Museum here.

Mar 19, 2012

Tiny LEDs... back to the workbench

So, this week I'm back upstairs at the workbench, and enjoying the sunshine and light warm breezes thru the window.  Just couldn't bring myself to stay in the basement this weekend with spectacular weather like we've been having here in the midwest lately.

I did a lttle updating to my Rio Grande Southern remaining (stuff) page last week, but no further updates this week.  I've also been reading RGS Story v8 (which is truly an amazing work of historical research and photos!) - mostly about Mancos - and have been finding it fascinating.  Most surprising was the discovery that portions of the depot, freight house and section houses still exist!  In fact, here's the freight section of the depot.

A little tidbit I discovered - the RGS had FLOWER GARDENS created at each of its depots; I finally noticed a news item about the Mancos depot noting this, and it syncs with the many photos I've seen of the depots with the little fenced-in area at the end of the depots, away from the freight sections.

I purchased a number of pre-wired 603 golden-white LEDs (from here), and this weekend installed one for the first time.  MAN - these things are tiny!

I've got a bunch of steam locomotives, painted & weathered last fall, all awaiting DCC installs.  Once those is an older Sunset brass 4-8-2.  Being brass, it didn't have any weight inside, and also didn't have a headlight.  So - very nervously I admin - I pulled out a #60 drill and drilled a hole thru the headlight and also through the smokebox front, and ran this tiny 603 LED in there.  After testing (at 12v with a 1k resistor), the effect is really amazing.  I secured it with some Alene's tack glue, and plan to make a lens of Crystal Clear later.

Inside, I've been add weight to every little cranny I can find - a couple open spaces in the frame, between the wheels above the frame, and most of the front section of the boiler.  Added all the wiring as well, which is hard-wired to the decoder in the tender.  Only half done w/ the DCC install on this one, but it's going well so far.

I also completed a DCC install in my Bachmann 4-6-0, which is a beautiful little thing full of fragile parts and piping.  After weathering, it looks great.  Frankly, I was too afraid to disassemble this little fellow, so I'm using the (very poor, very yellow) stock LED for the headlight, and using the connectors between tender & loco.  The color coding in the connectors didn't match NMRA or notes I found online, but I eventually figured them out.  I did hardwire the decoder in the tender, after removing Bachmann's circuit board.

And finally - another first for me - I used Kadee brass coupler sprints (before the whisker couplers), and cut down the little brass plates to build up wipers for each of the 8 tender wheels.  Every wheel has a wiper now, and I've got full pickup from both sides.  This replaced the axle wipers that effectively gave the tender only four-wheel pickup.  I'm using Neolube on the backs of the wheels, but I'm afraid of the drag on the wheels from all the wipers.  I'm new at this wiper thing... but so far it seems to run ok.  I did add a lot of weight to the tender.

I also found (after some forum postings at MRH) ideas to add weight to the locomotive - including on the cab floor, and (using sheet lead) on the cab roof both inside the cab, and on the apron roof over the tender floor outside.

Mar 11, 2012

Amazing photos from Ophir Loop's abandoned trestles

So... I've finally gotten around to updating some aging links, and have been focusing on my Remaining Equipment page (which is actually remaining anything - right-of-way, structures, etc).  Hmmm - maybe I should rename that... any suggestions?

Anyway, my updates led me back to David Dye's amazing work in documenting what's left of the right-of-way and trestles of the Ophir Loop.  Dave's created several pages which I've linked to from my Remains page, but the most amazing is this map - which (if you hover your mouse on the yellow dots) shows close-ups of many of the foundations, cuts, etc of the bridges.

Dave must've done some climbing & hiking, since this location is on the side of a mountain.

Feb 16, 2012

Book sales!

Just a quick note - an Sn3 modeler has passed, and his wife is selling a huge pile of RGS and narrow-gauge books.

There's some great books here.  For reference, I have descriptions for many of these books here:

Ms. Bellos is selling them thru her site:

In other updates, I've been working on adding lighting to the layout - T8 fluorescent strips along the edges, and some LED lighting in the closet / staging area.  Pictures & details soon.  Er, well, eventually!