Thursday, January 29, 2015

Go Look at Video of a Rarely Modeled Utah Copper Steeple Cab in HO

Tim Schwartz built this HO model of a rarely-modeled 85-ton copper-hauling GE steeple cab using 3D printing techniques. The steeple cab gets a workout with side-dump ore cars in this video. Tim's modeling can be seen on his blog on the Model Railroad Hobbyist web site, and he has made print-on-demand parts for the model available for purchase via the Shapeways 3D printing service. The ability to share a lone modeler's labor of love with lots of other model railroaders? Call that a welcome side-benefit of 21st century craftsmanship.

These locomotives were a staple of a forgotten, or at least especially neglected, category of North American electric railroads. The electric lines that serviced the gigantic copper pits of Utah operated into the eighties with a fleet of brawny GE steeple cabs. A few examples survive in museums and as monuments.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's a New Year at Dunes Junction

All around the model railroading blog-o-verse, new year's resolutions seem to be in fashion. Folks are committing to making regular progress on their layouts and/or posting to their model railroad blogs. Here at Dunes Junction, we'll be adopting this strategy ourselves with an eye to making 2015 a productive year.

I've had an excellent professional year, but that's meant a lot of time on the road away from the layout and Up Dunes Junction.  My plan for my modeling and the blog is to make the blog as much a part of my model railroading the hobby as the models and the layout, and to step up progress with with my modeling.

How will this work? By doing what bloggers like Trevor Marshal at Port Rowan in 1:64 and Mike Cougill at the OST Blog do: by linking, commenting, and reflecting on other blogs and developments in the hobby, as well as their own modeling projects and ideas. Wherever I go in my professional travels, I do end up with significant free time in the evenings and an internet connection--a post or more per week shouldn't be too difficult, and it's a good way for me to stay engaged with the hobby.

But the model railroading community doesn't need another Model Railroader magazine 'Trains of Thought'-style commentary, so Up Dunes Junction will still be focused on my progress on the layout and modeling the South Shore.  Here are 2015's priority projects:
  • Workbench Remediation. To pick up the pace of my progress, I first need to to do something about my workbench.  It tends to become cluttered, and thus discouraging, to progress for short stints of work when I am home from my travels.  Ken Patterson's What's Neat This Week video on Model Railroad Hobbyist's YouTube channel recently covered Ken's workbench. Ken points out that the workbench is the 'nerve center' of his model railroading, allowing us a look at the features that make for productive and enjoyable modeling. Two big points I picked up from Ken: handy vertical tool storage a short reach from the 'main stage' of his building, and smart use of high, back wall storage. I'm workin' on all of this now.

  • Catenary Completion. Dunes Junction needs to start looking' electric, with a web of catenary overhead. The poles are in, all wire and solder supplies are handy--so 2015 will be the year that wire goes up over Dunes Junction.
  • Island Model Works Nippon Sharyo Car(s). One car is nearing construction completion, and another kit and RDC has been procured. Much learned during that first build, but my intention is to have both cars done and ready for paint by the end of 2015.
  • Nickel Plate Products Orange Pullman Heavyweights. This 37-year-old project is where it all began for my South Shore modeling. Now these venerable brass models will be brought into the 21st century, with new power trucks, lighting, DCC, and functional pantographs. Hopefully, these two models will also be ready for paint by the end of the year.
  • Atlas and Bachmann GP7s. The Atlas C&O-based GP7 turned up a couple times here a few years ago, but these models are rare and crazy expensive birds. An alternative approach emerged in the form of Bachmann's B&O GP7, which apparently shares some tooling with the Atlas model. The dudes at Action Hobbies in Ontario show how to turn the B&O geep into a C&O geep, and from there it's just a stone's throw to some South Shore geeps that will put Dunes Junction squarely in the late-70s/early 80s.
  • Freight car construction and weathering. I keep buying freight cars; my strategy is to simply buy the cars I see in reference photos (and my memories) of the late-70s/early 80s South Shore and Northern Indiana roads. Thrall coal gondolas, plug door box cars, coil cars, and covered hoppers are piling up, plus cabooses. Most are re-wheeled and re-couplered but all need weathering, so I plan to figure out how use all these new-fangled and awesome weathering techniques that the kids are into these days.
Ambitious? Yes, sir! But I'm looking forward to a great year for Dunes Junction, and I'm looking forward to sharing it right here on this blog.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oh, the (Grab) Irony: Island Model Works South Shore Car Project Update

Another busy Autumn with lots of work and fun travel slowed--but didn't stop!--progress on the IMW South Shore car build. Check out some grab iron and railings that recently went on the car:

The end grabs and entrance door railings are press fittted in
for easy removal, as this car will get some serious manhandling
 when the lenses and glazing are installed.
I used a 2mm detail removal chisel from Micro Mark to remove the original molded-on grab iron and railing detail. While there was still a shadow of the original details remaining on the model, I marked the holes for drilling with an awl to eliminate any guesswork about where to drill and mount the new railings. Sanding sticks were used to finish and smooth out locations. Masking tap over the corrugations/flutes on the side protected those details from getting scraped or sanded off

For the end grabs, I could have used some pre-formed wire grabs but I wanted to try something new and craftsmanlike, so bent  I my own end grabs and railings using .015 brass wire and Micro Mark's Grab Iron Bending Gauge. (Yeah, I went on a little Micro Mark buying frenzy, which is easy to do when you're out on the road, late at night in a hotel thinking about model railroading and you have a good, reliable Internet connection . . .) Takes a little practice, but that gauge let's you make uniformly shaped grab irons of pretty much any size.

Expensive but worth it: Micro Mark wire bending gauge (top)
and 2mm chisel
The grabs and railings are press-fitted in for the moment, because there will be some more rough handling as I fit the window glazing, drill out and fit lenses for the headlights and marker lights, and I add final details such as windshield wipers and ditch lights. I also anticipate employing a plastic modeling technique to prep this model for final painting, which is to use a special primer called surfacer to find, fill, and sand any flaws--thus my avoidance of actually attaching many of the smaller details such as horns, bells, grabs, etc.

Meanwhile, another one of these IMW South Shore kits has found its way on to my workbench, along with another Walthers RDC drive. The second time around ought to be easier (and better).