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.

Aug 3, 2020

RGS #20 lives again!

RGS #20 is restored, and operating.  I never dreamt I'd ever she this old girl run.  Really amazing work.

Apr 26, 2020

Quarantine structures! (and a good bit of history)

Well, here we all are stuck at home.  Thus, on weekends I've had a bit more time than usual, and was able to get around to finally 'planting' some structures at Vance Jct, Ridgway, and Durango.

For some reason, I'd been putting this off for - oh, approximately, forever - because after trying to do some quality work on the structures, I didn't want to have them just 'sitting' on the layout.  Also, with the operating sessions, I needed to test locations to ensure the placement didn't interfere w/ operator hands, elbows, etc - especially at Ridgway.

In addition to the strucure models, I'll include some prototype history as well here.

Vance Junction

This is a model of the old 'depot' at Vance.  It's a Banta Modelworks kit of what was originally RGS coach 254.  It served here as a depot for a while, and once the agent was removed from this location, it was abandoned. I've tried hard to capture the look and placement of the prototype.

Many parts of Vance Junction survived - I have details of the full histories, and links to photos etc - on my Remaining Equipment page.

By 1973, it still existed but was rapidly falling apart:

Amazingly, the coach survived.  For a time it was stored in Monte Vista CO; here are some photos of it there, in 2012 (thanks Tony K for the pics!):

The coach eventually made it to the Colorado RR Museum, looking like this:

Coach 254 was considered for purchase by by the Ridgway Railroad Museum, but was too far gone. My understanding is that it remained at the CRRM for a while, but was apparently dismantled, although some parts were apparently saved as templates for a future project.

There are more pictures of Vance Jct, and lots of other cool remains of the RGS, in this post with photos from 1976.

OK, so returning to the models, here's the speeder shed; this is another Banta kit:

And of course an outhouse (Banta kit again).  There were actually two at the prototype location, one - oddly a 'two-holer' (not sure how that worked).  But on my layout, there's only room for one of them.

This is what used to be D&RG #6, then became RGS RPO #150, eventually ending up at Vance as a bunkhouse of sorts. It too survived for a while at the Colorado RR Musuem but was scrapped around 2012 due to very poor condition.  This posting has a photo of the remains, as well as photo of a sister prototype (from 1887) and other dertails.  A Banta kit.

RGS #150 from the otherwise; this is hard to see on the actual layout (the aisle is to the left).

Moving, here's the next Vance Jct structure - what was formerly a std-gauge D&RG boxcar built in 1895, #13680. It was moved to Vance Jct early, around 1900, apparently for storage.  I'm not sure when little addition was built.  The prototype of this also exists, apparently on private property but owned by the Colorado RR Museum; I think this is a picture of it - restored now.

Here are more photos from 1974, when the structures were still at Vance.  The section house had been torn down, but the other 'structures' remained, at least at that time.

Here's the overall scene.  The prototype had the branch to Telluride (the 'junction' part of the name Vance Junction) leaving the mainline and heading left, in front of the coach, but on my layout that portion is reversed.  There was also a small yard and a coaling pocket on the prototype, but neither fit here.  On my layout, there is a wye to Telluride on the left, a small run-around track, and a short spur in front of the speeder shed.  On the protype, there was a wye at Ames, a small town and power plant, in the valley below Vance Jct, at the lowest point of the branch line to Telluride.

The full section house was a large 2-story building, and remained in operation until nearly the end of the RGS, but only as a 'station' for purposes of dispatching and recording train movements.  At one time, it was a residence for the station agent.


Like Vance, all the kits at Ridgway are from Banta Modelworks. None of the structures here are placed per the prototype; the layout of my Ridgway yard is meant to support operations, and physically I could not copy the legendary shops and engine terminal / roundhouse layout.  Instead, I included some of the prototype buildings wherever there would fit, balancing the flavor of the prototype w/ the needs of the physical and operating model of the yard.

This is the blacksmith shop; I added a number of interior details, and a lighting (which isn't connected yet).  I also added the coal bin to the left and other details, some based on examining photos of the prototype (most of which are in the background of other subjects, so some of my modeling work is guesswork).  I think those two white knobs above the door were electrical feed entry points.

This the paint shop. There's very few good photos of the prototype. On my layout, this is tucked behind the turntable in a corner; no other physical placement really worked.

This is a small storage shed, and a tiny oil storage shed.

Here's one of the many iconic NG boxcars the RGS converted in the sheds all over the route; on the prototype this one was located alongside the roundhouse.

The odd little building is a fueling shed for the Galloping Goose; that square hole allowed a fuel line to come out and be used to fuel the geese.  It's covered in metal for fire protection.

Another veiw of the blacksmith shop.

This is a just a little shed.

This is a model of a yard office once existing at Ridgway; on the prototype this was located closer to the depot.

And of course, one must include outhouses.  This one is equipped for a newspaper for the reading pleasures of the occupants.


Here's the sandhouse at Durango, w/ some sand around the edges to blend it and cover the gap at the floor, but before the grass added. This one is an old Campbell Scale Models kit.

And here's the sandhouse with some static grass added by hand (just placed into glue puddles with a needle-nose pliers); what a difference eh?

Most of these structure have LED lighting, but I haven't connected them yet.  Soon, hopefully. :-)