Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Downloadable Track Plan

Someone requested that I make my original track plan available for download, so here it is.  You'll need the Atlas Right Track software to open it.

Click HERE for the track plan.

Click HERE for the Atlas software.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Yes Deer

A lot of guys have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks wandering around the woods looking for deer.  I don't have to go any further than my basement, three of them have taken up residence in my forest.

I made a hobby shop run today to look for the December issue of Railroad Model Craftsman (the one with my article), and since I was there, picked up some figures, including these deer.

On Wednesday, I promised that by the end of this long weekend, the layout would look a lot different.  I have one more day off, but errands to run, so there won't be much modeling done on that last day.  That said, I did make significant progress over the weekend.  The layout looks different, there's a lot less unfinished styrofoam to look at.

This spot will be the future home of a water tower:

The sawmill and the Woodenware Factory will sit here.  That unfinished oval section will be the hot water pond used to store logs:

All in all, a productive and RELAXING weekend.  I hope to accomplish just as much over my remaining long weekends before the end of the year.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I hope not, because the forest is closing in.  The treeline along the entire far end of the layout has been planted, as well as the area behind the handcar shed.  Sticking all of these trees into the foam base is slow work, but it's nice to step back and see just how much progress has been made.

The second mirror is roughed-in, I need to do a little more work on hiding the edges.

A couple of shots looking across what I guess would be the west end of Hill City.  Johnson's Produce, the handcar shed, the woodshed, and the mockup of the Lakeside Inn are all visible.

Tomorrow - more planting, and maybe some ballasting for a change of pace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Trip To The Woodshed

One of the structures that I'll be building at some point is the Lakeside Inn, what I imagine was considered a classy joint for Hill City in 1920.  With all those rooms, the inn would be a tough place to keep warm in the winter, and would most likely consume a large amount of firewood.  The proprietor of such a classy place isn't going to want piles and piles of firewood cluttering up the property, spoiling the view for his guests, so he's going to store his firewood somewhere out of sight.  Someplace like this simple woodshed, located at the base of the hill on which the inn resides, safely hidden from the guests by the tree-covered hillside.

If you've been following my progress, you've seen the shed before, it's nothing new.  What is new is the landscaping on the hill.  Over the past couple of nights I finished applying the dirt layer.  Tonight I put down the layer of dead leaves and planted some trees on and around the hillside.  Here you can see the woodshed, the dirt road leading up to the inn, and the cardboard mockup of the inn itself.  The mockup is a bit larger than the actual structure will be.

Here's another look from the far end of the layout.  The unfinished section directly in front of the woodshed is where Johnson's Produce will sit.  At the far left of the photo, you can see the cardboard placeholders for what will become Lake Avenue, a small storefront area that existed in Hill City.

By the end of the weekend, I hope to have all of the trees planted on that far end of the layout, and on the small hill that is partially hiding the handcar shed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For those of us here in the US, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a.k.a. "turkey day".  It also marks the beginning of a 5-day weekend for me.  By this time tomorrow, the house will be filled with the smell of cooked turkey and all the fixin's.  Shortly thereafter, I will be crashed in a recliner, deep in the throes of a turkey-induced coma.

Eventually I will recover, and then it's a marathon of model railroading.  None of that Black Friday nonsense for me, I have all the supplies I need, no reason to leave the house.  If you're into that sort of thing, best of luck to you, but I'll be content here at home, not thinking about work or SQL Server or any of those other grown-up responsibilities.  I'll be thinking about model trains, and by the end of the weekend, the layout should look quite a bit different than it does today.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  It's already been a memorable one for me!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Look At That, I'm An Author!

I just received confirmation that my first magazine article will be in the December issue of Railroad Model Craftsman!  Woohoo!!!!

Grab a copy and turn to page 49.  I'm going to go camp by the mailbox now, somebody bring me some turkey if I'm not back by Thursday....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm Dreaming...

...of brown railroad, just like the proto-typical ones.  Ahem...  Yeah, sorry about that.  The falling snow outside is messing with my head.  We're finally getting some snow here in Minnesota, and I guess I'm a little giddy.

I've been trying to make up my mind as to what to do next on the layout.  There is landscaping to do, more cars to build, more vehicles to build, and more structures to build.  I have several long weekends coming up, including a couple of 5-day breaks, so there's plenty of time, but I haven't decided what the priorities are.  Taking a step back and looking things over, I decided landscaping should be next on the list.  It seems like the logical next step - until it's finished I can't finish ballasting & weathering the track, I can't place structures on the layout, and the overall look of the layout is suffering without landscaping.

With that decision made, I proceeded to create my own brown snowstorm.  If you've read my earlier posts on how I do my landscaping, you know that I use real, natural materials, including real dirt.  I have a container full of dirt that has been baked in the oven and sifted to a fine powder.  After slathering a layer of diluted white matte medium over the target area, I sprinkled a layer of this sifted dirt onto the matte medium.  I followed this with a misting spray of "wet water" (50/50 mix of water and rubbing alcohol), thoroughly saturating the dirt.  This helps the matte medium spread throughout the dirt.  A second final layer of dirt was then sprinkle on top of the saturated material.  Tomorrow, after this has had some time to set, I'll cover selected areas with the ground-up leaf mixture that I use.

Note to others who are planning shelf layouts - contemporary advice is to limit the shelf depth to 24 inches.  I ignored this advice, and today came to regret it.  Three hours hunched over trying to reach the back of a 3-foot deep shelf is too much, my back is killing me!

Enough rambling, let's get to the photos...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Blue Ribbon Buckets

Fun night at the Twin Cities Division meeting last night.  The gears are turning over the possibility of building an N-Trak module.  I picked up some great info on handlaying turnouts.  The highlight of the evening was capturing first place in the modeling contest with my Boxcar Full O' Buckets.  Truly a big surprise for such a simple project!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Needs Horsepower

The title says it all.  This thing needs horsepower.

This is the first non-rail vehicle built for the layout, a horse-drawn delivery wagon.  It's one of the Highway Miniatures kits that I bought for 50 cents a piece.  Even better, with the exception of the wheels, I now know how to scratchbuild more of them.

Here are a couple of staged shots, with the wagon posed next to the boxcar full o' buckets.  Now I just need to find a horse...

Friday, November 4, 2011


Way back, almost a year ago, I mentioned that I was searching for some era-appropriate vehicles for the layout.  At a recent train show/sale, I found a guy selling some really old kits, perfect for my needs.  The best part?  He wanted 50-cents a piece for them!  They're old resin kits, but I have no doubt that I can turn them into some great little vehicles.  Also, it turns out that the company (or at least the brand) still exists, and there are several other vehicles available.