Monday, January 21, 2013

Warehouse Lighting

The first structure that I built for the layout was Johnson's Produce, the large wood-framed produce warehouse.  It will always be one of my favorites, if nothing else because it was the first one I'd ever built from scratch.  However, seeing it there on the layout next to the depot with interior lighting, it seemed to be missing something.  It needed lights!

When I first started this layout, I wasn't sure if Hill City had electricity in 1920.  I've since learned that there was indeed electricity available, which led to me put lights in the depot.  The product warehouse was finished long before this discovery, so it didn't get lighting installed.  Until now.

Complicating the installation of lighting is the removable roof and/or rafters on the warehouse.  I built it so that it can be displayed with no roof at all, or with just the rafters exposed.  I didn't want lighting to interfere with this, or to force me to permanently attach the rafters.  Using small-diameter brass rod, I found a way to install the lighting and keep the roof and rafters removable.

I made power feeders using the brass rod, running the rod along the rafters, just like electrical conduit is done in real life.  Once this is painted with some dark brown paint, it should essentially disappear, blending in to the rafters themselves.

If you look closely at that last photo, you'll notice two pieces of brass rod running vertically down the back wall.  Those are my temporary leads that go down through the floor and to the main layout power.  To facilitate the removable rafter concept, I'm going to replace these with smaller diameter rod.  Where you see these now, I'll be installed two pieces of brass tubing, large enough to accommodate the smaller diameter rod.  The tubing will be attached to the layout power, the rod will be attached to the power grid hidden in the rafters.  When the rafters are on the structure, the rods will go inside the brass tubing, providing the electrical connectivity to power the lights.  When removing the rafters, the rods will simply slide out of the brass tubing.

Hard-Wired Depot

The depot is very nearly done.  Roofing shingles are glued down, the roof has been painted, and has been mounted to the structure itself.  All that remains is to install a chimney, some flashing along the roof/wall joints, and then some weathering.  As soon as those last few things are completed, it will be ready for placement on the layout.  That placement includes hooking up power for the interior lights, which is the topic of this post.

Obviously, due to the amount of work I'm putting into these structures, I want to be able to reuse them on a future layout, or even take them to show at a contest or other event.  For that reason, I won't be permanently mounting any of them to the layout.  I'll also need to be able to easily connect/disconnect any power going to the structures.  After giving this some thought, I've settled on the cheapest and easiest means of doing so that I could come up with - the 9-volt battery connector.

I purchased 50 of these for $3.00, so they fit within my modeling budget.  They're easy to install, and easy to connect or disconnect.

They're also easy to conceal - just dig an extra-large hole under each structure, and stuff the whole thing through the hole.  The building sits on top, completely hiding the wiring and the connector.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Confetti

Like many people, my New Year's Eve celebration involved lots of small bits of paper.  Thanks to the bad cold that I've been fighting, which triggered the occasional cough or sneeze, my bits of paper would occasionally fly through the air, like New Year's confetti.  A few pieces landed where they were supposed to - on the roof of my depot, where they're intended to look like decorative roof shingles.

I started by cutting a piece of plain white printer paper into 1.37 inch (10 scale feet) strips.  Using a special pair of craft scissors, I then cut across those strips, in 1/4-inch intervals, to produce a pile of scalloped strips.

Turning these scalloped strips into roof shingles is a simple matter of gluing (with plain white Elmer's glue) a row of strips across the bottom edge of the roof.  A second row of strips is applied, overlapping and slightly offset from the first row.  Repeat with a third row, then a fourth, and so on until the roof is covered.

As soon as I finish covering the entire roof surface, I'll paint the whole thing a dark gray color, then apply my mix of weathering chalks.  If all goes well, the end result will look like a roof covered with asphalt shingles.