Friday, August 30, 2013

What's In the Box: Island Model Works Nippon Sharyo South Shore/NICTD Coach

Just in from the mailbox is this resin cast Island Model Works Nippon Sharyo South Shore/NICTD coach.

I've been eyeballing this thing on the Island Model Works Web site for the past couple of years but I finally took the plunge and ordered it a few weeks ago. Shortly after paying for it online, Island Model Works sent an email saying, "We're making the kit for you now. We'll ship it as soon as it's ready in a week or two." It arrived exactly two weeks later.
From top to bottom: Island Model Works Decals (old and news styles); a Walthers/Life-Like RDC which will provide drive and lighting board; the main body shell; floor/underbody; truck and bolster adaptation parts; clear and tinted window glazing.
The prototype for this particular model is a late/contemporary version of the Nippon Sharyo (sometimes called Sumitomo) coaches delivered to the South Shore first in the early 80s. Nickel Plate Products imported a small run of HO Nippon Sharyo cars in plated brass sometime in the early to mid 80s. The silver Nickel Plate Products cars are rare and expensive models, so IMW's offering fills an important gap for modelers of the post-orange car South Shore.

The IMW kit represents a car that has been brought up to the late/contemporary standard, which is to say it does not have the large white circuit breaker box on the roof between one of the pantographs and the center of the car, or lettering boards above the windows.  If you're looking to backdate the cars as they appeared in the 80s and 90s, they will need to have these rather prominent details added back on--.005" or .010" styrene ought to do the trick for the lettering boards, and fabricating a streamlined circuit breaker box with styrene sheet shouldn't be too taxing for anyone already tucking into a relatively challenging resin kit like this.

And building this kit will be challenging. The parts are well molded and engineered, but have flaws that will need to filed, sanded, and occasionally filled or replaced--all of which is more or less normal with kits produced in this medium, regardless of subject. 

I have been building resin models for over 20 years now--mostly military and sci-fi models--and can report that this kit is in really good condition right out of the box. The parts are straight and square and there are virtually no pinholes or bubbles in the resin.  Where there are flaws in the molding, they are found mostly around the edges where the parts were separated from their molds.  Most of this can filed and/or sanded smooth, with a minimum of additional filling and smoothing.

Some details are soft or heavy.  The ends have simplified details, particularly the headlights that likely can be improved with some diesel detail parts and good lenses. The 'gong'-type bells on each end are likely to be replaced with Details West parts, and the diaphragms might need some detailing out as well.  The steps are a bit heavy and rough, and if they don't clean up well with sanding and filing, they may be rebuilt with thin styrene or brass.  Handrails and grab irons are molded on, but can be easily removed and replaced with brass wire.

The kit is intended to be enhanced with components furnished by the builder.  The kit is not powered, and does not include instructions, couplers, wheel sets,  or pantographs. IMW does offer separately two different decal sets for this model--the older style with broad orange window stripes, and the newer style with a skinny window stripe.  I ordered both, because I'm indecisive.

The IMW Web site suggests Sommerfeldt 968 pantographs and drive components from the Proto 1000 Budd RDC or the Northwest Shortline Stanton power truck. The floor appears to have holes and slots ready to accept trucks and motor from the Proto 1000 RDC.  Additional bolsters intended to accommodate dummy trucks are included, as well as a stout bolster with an offset that appears to my eye to be an adapter for the NWSL Stanton power truck.

As indicated in the photo, I've rustled up a Walthers Proto 1000 RDC (one of the later DCC ready variety), from which I intend to extract not only the motor and trucks, but also the circuit board. The RDC drive is a real gem, and I especially appreciate that there is a flywheel. The circuit board provides a DCC socket as well as pretty good lighting.  However, I am somewhat concerned about the mechanical properties of the resin--will those curved slots, floor holes, and motor mounts stand up to the weight and torque of the finished car?  

Speaking of weight, I am concerned about adequately weighting the car while also adding the requisite stiffness to that floor--am thinking that a steel weight from an 87' high cube box car might be a good starting point. Meanwhile, an ambitious modeler with machine tools at the ready might even want to consider major milling surgery on the metal Proto 1000 RDC frame to remove all of that diesel underbody detail and and modify the frame ends and above-floor portions to fit the IMW pilots and body shell.

Does this all sound like a lot of work? Maybe, but this level of effort harks back to 30 or 40 years ago when there were still old-school craftsman-style kits to be had.  As late as the early 80s the Walthers catalog showed pages  and pages of heavyweight passenger, North Shore, and Pennsy MP54 'craftsman' kits that featured wooden floors and rooves, soft metal ends, and stamped metal sides--and if pre-streamline passenger, traction, and electrics were your thing, this is how you built out your rolling stock roster. 

This kind of resin kit is, in my estimation, a modern-day craftsman kit. When I started in model railroading in the late 70s, those old craftsman kits were what I aspired to and expected to build after I 'arrived' as a model railroader. It's only fitting that I'm excited about building the 21st century answer to those old kits.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Free-Mo Compatibility for Edge-of-Layout Transition Tracks

Something that's been bugging me for a while has been how the track ends at the edge of the Dunes Junction layout. I had left 1 1/2" of space at the end of the roadbed, into which I had fitted removable lengths of Atlas code 83 section track with a styrene sheet underlay and ballast, with the idea that this gap at each end could easily accommodate transition tracks for staging cassettes or more layout.

Coincidentally, I had been reading up on Free-Mo HO module standards, and a more elegant-looking and mechanically sound transition track idea presented itself: BNM Hobbies printed circuit board tie plates. These tie plates have ties milled into half or so of the ties, with copper soldering pads in place of tie plates.  The other half or so have a channel milled out to accommodate a transition rail fitted with a joiner. The idea here is to use a length of rail to join modules or sections together.
The BNM PC Board tie plate: solder pads for rail on the left in this photo, and a milled-out trench for transition rails on the right.
The completed Tie Plates, ballasted and weathered in. The 1/2" lengths of rail can be easily removed if and when I expand the layout or add staging tracks. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Inspiration Photos: Looking Up and Seeing Your Model Railroading Goals

Put up some prints of South Shore scenes and details--nothing too fancy--that help me visualize what's going on at Dunes Junction, and also give visitors a sense of the 'vision' of the layout . . .

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Finishing Touches for the Mineral Springs Road Flag Stop

Here are two views of the more-or-less complete flag stop at Mineral Springs Road.  The shelter is scratchbuilt from Evergreen styrene siding and strips, with a photo-printed tar paper roof. The public phone is straight off the sprue from Walthers Cornerstone detail set. The guard rail posts are cut from Code 70 rail, and a Blair Line stop sign was the last bit added.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Everything You Ever Need to Know About Beer and Trains

Long-time and/or sharp-eyed readers of Up Dunes Junction have probably figured out that hand-made beer is the other great passion of my life.  Go check out this post at John Longhurst's CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision blog, which features his awesome layout and musings about things like beer and trains.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Catenary Pole Plantin' Progress Program

We've been planting painted Model Memories catenary poles at Dunes Junction. Here's a look at the tools, techniques, and some lessons learned from our pole planting experiences.

Drilling jigs cut from hardwood ready for action. Note the rail alignment lines on the jig
to the left. The 30-degree mitre cuts on the allow the jig to be placed into tight spots,
which resulted from my poor planning of road, structure, and catenary pole placement.
Positioning a drilling jig.  The pushpin on the left marks the spot. A #8
sheet metal screw and a fender washer secure the drilling jig
The drilling jig fixed into place for drilling. The DeWalt right angle adapter
is not only compact, but also allows quick changes between drill and screw-
driving bits.

Adjusting the poles before the 5-Minute Epoxy sets. The
gauge at right ensures a uniform height of 3 3/4". The square
in foreground is essential to ensuring the the poles are set
straight and square.

Poles fitted and epoxied into place. Note the two squares in the foreground.

Unintended consequences: the drill sucked
up Heki and Silflor fibers and jammed the bit,
which needed to be cleared with an X-Acto knife. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Video of Amtrak ACS-64 Testing at the Pueblo Test Track

Feast your eyes: the new Amtrak electric at speed at the Federal Railway Administration's test track in Pueblo, Colorado . . .

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pole Paintin' Progress

Check these out . . . getting done with the painting of the South Shore lattice catenary span bridges. Can hardly wait to install these . . .
Base coats of Floquil Grimy Black (cross arms) and Rail Brown (poles) . . .

. . . And with some raw umber washes and yellow ochre dry brushing.