True Scene Trials … and Tribulations

A few years ago, I wrote about a scenery product called True Scene. To re-cap, it’s a fibrous material that you mix with water and slather on your layout to give some scenic form and as a base coat for your scenery. This past weekend, I decided to give it a try, as I have a module that needed to be sceniced quickly, for a train show this coming weekend.

module temp

After mixing and coloring the True Scene material per the instructions, I applied the material to the module, and followed it up with my base coat of scenic materials. In the photo above, it’s the right-most section — where the track isn’t ballasted, and all along the back edge.

The True Scene folks say that it takes 24 hours for the material to dry. I finished up on scenery yesterday about 3PM, and so I would expect that by 6:30 this morning, there should be some change in the consistency of the “batter.” However, that is not the case. It still feels just as gooey as it did when I spread it out yesterday. As we know from the past, I’m not the most patient fellow when trying out new things (remember my experiences with Woodland Scenics’ water products?). Although heavier, hydrocal or spackle or Cell-u-clay or any number of other materials would have been fully set up by now, and I’m kinda wishing I’d gone with a known quantity on this.

At this point, I’m hoping against hope that I won’t have to scrape all this stuff off the module and start over when I get home, as I frankly don’t have the time. I still have two other big projects for the show that I need to complete before departing for the show on Thursday morning — converting a Bachmann On30 Davenport to battery operation, and a new 1-hour presentation on Dead Rail.

Diversionary Tactics … Again

Oh, fudge.

Some of you might remember that some time back I had a section of the site that was devoted to HOn30. I’d cooked up a little track plan, and even gathered many of the materials I’d need to build it — including a little HOn30 diesel critter to run on it. I still have all that stuff sitting around in various places, but I decided that I really should concentrate on On30, and I got involved in the whole dead rail thing, and so I deleted all the posts and the HOn30 Diversion section of the web site.

An then, this happened…

HOn30 0-4-0


photo by Rich Brungard

No, I haven’t bought one … yet. But, I hear tell it’s an amazingly good runner, and it’s reasonably priced, and it’s cute as the dickens, and, well, you get my drift.

My friend Rich Brungard has bought a couple, and has been putting them through their paces. As you can see, the loco takes some  really sharp curves with ease.

Rich found a boiler and cab replacement kit from Japan that turns the stock loco into a really nice model, too. At around $65, on top of the cost of the engine, it’s a bit too pricey for a diversion. But it is pretty once it’s done…

HOn30 0-4-0 + Toma

photo by Rich Brungard

And, it could probably be turned into a little Forney, kinda like this…

HOn30 Forney


photo by Keith Pashina

(this is actually a production sample of a Forney the MiniTrains folks plan to release, based on the same mechanism)

So, at some point, I will probably break down and order one of these little buggers, maybe with the passenger cars (the set is almost a bargain). And, I’ll dust off the supplies I laid in to build the little HOn30 layout.

It’ll be fun.

It’ll be The HOn30 Diversion.

Custom Decals

The past few weeks, since the On30 meet up in Milton, PA, I’ve been itching to get back to work on the railroad. I’ve also been working with Newell Sage on getting some custom decals made for my rolling stock. After a few days back and forth, I think we’ve got the first design ironed out.

Corrina & Searsport 28' box car mock-up
Corrina & Searsport 28′ box car mock-up

This design is based on Wiscasset & Quebec practice, and I think it’s a great representative “look” for my Corinna & Searsport. I’ll be mocking up some more car designs over the coming weeks.

At the same time, I’m working with Rich Brungard to get some custom underframes made that will be generic for use on flat cars, low-side gondolas, and boxcars. The next trick there is getting appropriate roof blanks made up, and I can start making some appropriate rolling stock!

Just Playin’ With Trains…

I’ve gotten into a little round-robin group with some fellow narrow-gaugers — Chris McChesney, Gary White, my old friend Matt Matthews, and myself. Of the four of us, three are Maine modelers. We get together on Tuesday nights for dinner, and then work on each others’ layouts, shoot the breeze, or just plain play trains. Last night, we were at Matt’s house, and the evening was spent talking about future plans, and a little impromptu operating session on a nifty little switching layout Matt had built for his son.

Matt’s N-scale “Keeney Creek Lookout” module/switching layout under construction. Photo: Matt Matthews.

The layout is similar to the classic Inglenook Sidings arrangement that’s a whole 1 foot by 4 feet in N-scale. (Yes, last night was old farts switching in N-scale. Man, those couplers are small! And the MicroTrains coupler clones made by Atlas and Bachmann are horrible!).

On Matt’s variation of Inglenook, the main line (where the train “comes in” and “goes out” is the long track curving off to the far right. It’s long enough for a single locomotive, seven hoppers and a caboose. The “track-to-be” in the foreground is the lead, and holds the engine and two cars. The remaining two tracks are coal tipple tracks, and each can just hold seven cars.

It took us about a half hour to run the scenario — our train was to bring in three empty cars and take out seven loads from the tipple. At the beginning of the operating session, one of the tipple tracks had three loaded cars, the other had four. The “rules” dictate that time must be allowed for the brakeman to walk between the switches and cars, and also to set the brakes as needed.

On the way home, it occurred to me to build something along these lines, most likely in a larger scale like HO or On30, for a little operating fun, and as a display layout to show off the dead rail gear in the On30 Guy’s train show booths.

Now There’s a Prototype for Hi-Rail!

There's a prototype for everything -- including 3-rail!
There’s a prototype for everything — including 3-rail! Photo by Treve Kneebone

So, are you an O-gauger running on three-rail track? Are your buddies giving you grief because of it? Well, just show them this picture. It’s Gar-Graves in 1:1 scale!

Sad Day in Portland

The FRA certification on Monson #4 expired at the end of March, and the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum doesn’t know when she’ll be back in service — #4 needs a new boiler before the FRA will re-certify the loco.

You can read the whole story here…