I Just Couldn’t Leave Well Enough Alone…

Remember the wall and the staging yards? Well, that’s just not going to happen the way I thought it was going to.

This winter has been brutal, and as a result I’ve decided that no one should have to go back in the that cold, unfinished part of the basement during an operating session. There’s no polite way to describe what that would be like.

2013-04-04 15.28.04Now, I know that the wall got finished, but we’re going to re-open the part at the bottom of the stairs (the right end of the wall in the picture), and allow the railroad to run across the bottom of the stairwell and into the adjacent “TV room/crew lounge.” The southern terminus of the railroad (Searsport) and the supporting yard will be in there, running above the entertainment equipment. The movement into the next room will enhance the feeling of “going somewhere,” which is a good thing on a small railroad.

IMG_1951The northern end of the line will also receive an interesting treatment. As you may remember, the north end of Corinna is curved in towards a wall. The original intent had been to widen the doorway and put the Bragg Hill quarry area in the unfinished portion of the basement. Instead, we’re now going to build a “closet” there. The line will run into the closet, loop around and come back out along the shortened wall. Also in the closet, beneath the railroad, will be the dispatcher’s desk.

This will all make much more sense once the work is started — and I’ll be sure to post some pictures. The end result will be a much more pleasant experience for operators, which translates to a more fun operating session.

Eventually, my modeling bench will come in from the cold as well, and the back part of the basement will be used exclusively for storage and “messy” projects. I’ll maintain a bench and my spray booth back there as well, so that I can do paint work without smelling up the house too much.


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C&S Forney #6 Is Now Dead Rail!

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Today, I converted C&S Forney #6 to dead rail operation using a Deltang Rx60-1 receiver. I completely removed the Bachmann electronics to make room for a two-cell LiPo pack and other required electronics. The receiver itself is about 10mm X 15mm X 2mm, but the batteries, charge jack, and power switch take up most of the space in the tender.

I chose #6 because it was the worst runner of my Forneys, suffering from electrical pickup problems and a balky mechanism. Not so any more. She runs very smoothly now…

I still need to figure out how to make the headlight work. There are a few function pads on the receiver board, but I’m not sure which one is the correct one in this case — or the what polarity should be.

[UPDATE 2/17/2014] I wired up the headlight LED through a 680ohm resistor and got in to the programming for the receiver. After a couple of attempts, I finally figured the programming sequence out and got the headlight working. For the moment, it’s programmed so that the light is on by default, and the function button on the transmitter turns the light off.

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Return of Ol’ No. 5


Corinna &Searsport 0-4-4 Forney #5 was returned to service today, and is shown here already back at work shifting cars in Corinna.

I went to Steve Sherrill’s annual mini-meet today, and picked up #5 from Les Davis. Once again, Les has done a superb job of painting and weathering. Also shown here is a quickie composite of part of a background from Trackside Scenery. I got to see one of these backgrounds installed on Steve Sherrill’s layout to day, and they’re fabulous. Joey at Trackside Scenery can do a fair amount of customization of his backgrounds, and I’m thinking that they could be just the right thing for some or all of the layout.

First Roadbed, Now Track

I had a little time this evening to get back down to the basement and play trains a little more. I decided to put down a bit of track on the new roadbed. Yes, I know the support issue still needs to be dealt with, but we’ll discuss that in more detail tomorrow night — heck, we might even do something about it.

Anyway, at this point it’s conceivable that a train might actually leave Corinna, and venture as far south as the station at Plymouth.

I’m trying something new with the track laying. Wish me luck on this. Instead of nailing the track through the cork roadbed and into the plywood subroadbed, I thought I might try using the LocTite Power Grab adhesive to secure the track to the cork. I have been told that this works well — once the stuff gets a hold of something, it just plain doesn’t want to let go. We’ll see how well this actually works. At least the Micro Engineering flex track is not the “springy” kind.

To put the track down, I pre-shape the track piece that’s going in and set it aside. Then I slather about a 1/32″ layer of the adhesive on the cork where the track is supposed to be, carefully connect one end of the track, and set it into place. A little pressure is used to “set” the ties into the glue. It seems to grab pretty well within just a few minutes.

I generally prefer allowing my switches to float a little, so no adhesive is applied in under them, except for about an inch at each end, just to get them to sit still. I rediscovered that the Micro Engineering switches have a bit of a hump to them, so I’ll have to drill through the tie at the center and use a single nail to get that under control.

I’ve let everything alone to set over night. Tomorrow will tell how well this actually works. The guys are coming over tomorrow night, and we should be able to make pretty quick work of the trackage up to the bridge at Mt. Harris/Common Hill, as well as the roadbed beyond the bridge heading into Brooks.

Heck, we may even try to run a train!

Where’d He Go?

Yeah, you’re all probably wondering what happened. A posting fury, and then, nothing. Well, instead of posting, it’s been a very busy few days, and I have been beavering away in the basement.

The realization that it’s only now a couple of weeks until Hickory hit hard, and I am way behind schedule. I promise to post an update on the turntable and engine house very soon.

Catching up on the past few days…

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series North Corinna Bridge
Re-ballasted Corinna yard

I forgot to mention that I had decided to re-ballast the yard at Corinna. Previously, there had been a lot of greenery growing up between the tracks. After going back and looking at some pictures, I realized that there was very little of that on the Maine railroads. I basically just ballasted over the greenery. It’s still not perfect, but it’s better than it was. At some point, I’ll go back and dirty it up a bit, and I think that will help.

I also promised to show you a little of what’s been happening in the creek. As of now, it’s still a touch milky, and it’s going to need at least one more layer of water poured.

I decided that the rocks I had placed previously were not appropriately colored, so I used a couple of shades of gray acrylic paint to correct that. I also placed some more smaller rocks and some additional greenery.

Newly colored rocks, “rapids,” and second water pour.


Today, I moved on to the turntable. I have been considering using tiny Neodymium magnets to align the table with the tracks. But, I was concerned about the accuracy required in placing the magnets. Kevin came up with a great idea — and a new shape magnet — to make it relatively easy!

Most of the magnets we’ve been looking at so far have been tiny flat disks, but Kevin recently received a new, cylindrical magnet.

Magnets used to align turntable bridge with tracks

Magnets are placed in the pit wall, under the center lines of each service track, and under the center line of the bridge track. In this case, the approach track is directly in line with one of the service tracks, so no magnet is needed there.

Kevin’s idea to make the alignment adjustment possible is really simple. We drilled over-sized holes for the magnets, and inserted steel flathead screws. The cylindrical magnets hold to the head, and can be slid around slightly. Once the correct location is found, the holes will be filled with glue.

The magnets hold with enough force to stop the turntable at the appointed spot with authority. In the long run, I’ll be using a motor to drive the turntable, but I think that the magnets will still present enough force to align the tracks.

Parting Shot

I know I promised an updated shot from the creek area, and, even though the water’s still a little murky, it is a lot better. So, here’s another shot of No. 9 crossing the creek:

No. 9, traveling southbound, drifts off the bridge into Corinna

Sneak Peek…

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series North Corinna Bridge

This same shot will look much better tomorrow night or Saturday morning, but I couldn’t resist…

Corinna & Searsport No. 9, with a short freight in tow, edges across the trestle approaching Corinna from the north…

I did a little work on the creek tonight and did a second pour of the water. I probably should have taken this before I poured the water, but … anyway, I’ll take a new shot of this on Saturday morning.

Oh, yeah, I guess I ought to mention that the water product worked correctly this time — it was nice and clear when I went downstairs this evening!

I’m just about ready to move on to the turntable, engine house a coal shed.

The On30 Guy™ at Wednesday Train Nights on 08/03/11

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series North Corinna Bridge

Kevin and I got together for the first Wednesday night gathering, and started working on some water, both on the north end of Corinna and on Kevin’s covered bridge module.

Creek bed painted with Behr Premium “Fedora” paint.

I actually started work in Corinna late in the afternoon, because I wanted the first batch of color to be dry in time to start working with whomever came over. The first step was to paint the base coat on the creek bed. As usual for the base color, I chose the Behr Premium “Fedora” wall paint, and brush it on liberally. To urge the paint to dry a little more quickly, I used a fan, which worked perfectly. By the time Kevin arrived, the paint was completely dry!

Now that the base color was in place, I got out my reference photos and turned on my memory to start to work on the “look” for the water in this scene. One thing about the water in Maine that is striking is that it’s usually very clear. And, the bottoms of most ponds and streams like this have a kind of distinctive rockiness that needed to be captured.

I thought that one way to do this might be to use some “crackle” paint. Crackle paint is a thick, clear, gel-like substance that you paint over a base coat and allow it to partially dry. Then, you paint the still tacky surface carefully with a color that contrasts your base color. The thicker your coating of crackle paint, the larger your splits will be, so I applied a thin coat to the areas near the shoreline, and coming into the creek about 1/3 of the way on each side.

Bits of “Pot Topper” planted at the base of the spillway retaining wall

While waiting for the crackle paint to dry, I started setting in some of the additional flora that would be growing near the base of the spillway. I decided to try another experiment here, this time using bits of “Pot Topper” material to represent the vibrant plant life that often grows near creek beds. I had seen magazine articles about this material, but I was still skeptical until I saw it on the layout. The stuff looks perfect, and is a fraction of the cost of the Silflor products. It looks as if you could either use tiny tufts like I did here, or even plant large chunks wherever you need some bright ground cover.

Mixture of “Slate Gray” and “Concrete” paints swirled onto the crinkle paint

By this point, the crackle paint had been drying for the prescribed length of time, so I applied a light coat of some lighter paint — a swirly mix of Woodland Scenics “Slate Gray” and “Concrete” colors. Initially, I wasn’t too happy with the look, so I added some more water and swirled it around a little more. The result looks fairly wrong here, but once the “water” gets poured on, things tend to darken up a little, so I decided to go with it.

Stones and rocks added to the stream bed

I also decided that a few larger rocks were needed in the stream. In this case, there wouldn’t be a lot, but a few definitely were in order. We selected some of the flatter pieces from a bag of aquarium/terrarium decorative stone, and I placed them in the creek, above the bridge.

While all of this was drying, we turned our attention to Kevin’s bridge module. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any pictures, but the effect we wanted there was a typical central Maryland/Pennsylvania creek. These creeks tend to have a sandy bottom with a jumble of rocks and stones.

For the sandy bottom, we used one of my favorite sand/dirt base materials — sanded grout over the Fedora paint. I tend to treat the grout just like any other scenic texture. I spread it over the still wet paint, and then soak it with “wet water,” and then continue to build on top of that. Once I have the look I’m after, I spray on some more wet water, and then saturate the area with diluted matte medium. For me, this is a tried-and-true method that always produces something that looks good.

By this time, lighter color paint on the Corinna creek bed was dry, but the crackling wasn’t happening. I decided to go ahead and pour the water anyway. And, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to try a material that I had previously had very bad luck with: Woodland Scenics Realistic Water.

First pour of the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water

The Realistic Water pours on a milky gray, and eventually dries clear. I know it’s supposed to. I’ve seen it. Of course, that was not my result the first time I used it, and I ended up having to start over. “On hand” sometimes trumps common sense, however.

One interesting thing happened, though — after the water was poured and had been setting up for a while, the crackling started below the surface. The result was looking almost exactly like what I had in mind.

And, as I headed out the door this morning, I went down and too a peek at the creek. So far, it looks as if it will actually dry clear, although there’s been significant shrinkage. After dinner tonight, I’ll do some more work in the area, and then another pour. And, of course, more pictures!