CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Railfanning: D&H caboose #10 in Oneonta

My wife and I took a trip to visit her family in Wellsville, New York (that's in western NY) this past weekend, and we had enough time built into our schedule that we could stop along the way to take pictures of things that interested us. As I was driving by the third and last exit for Oneonta, I remembered that D&H bobber caboose #10 was located in nearby Neahwa Park. Not having a smart phone, we used my wife's to navigate to the park.

Ironically, I discovered that the park was only about 30 seconds from where I had stopped last year to photograph a Norfolk Southern train. I had seen it while driving on parallel I-88 and pulled over at the nearest exit and drove around until I found a railroad crossing. I had no idea I was literally at the entrance to the park when I had stopped. But, who keeps a map of Oneonta in their trunk? 

The park has a nice little display set up for the caboose, including an informative sign. The glass enclosure keeps the caboose safe, but makes picture taking a bit difficult.

While my model caboose is finished, I am glad that I finally was able to visit and see its big brother. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

My introduction to Static Grass

Static grass is the new standard for great looking scenery. Over the past 70 years, we have come a long way from dyed sawdust, natural lichen, and ground foam. It is scary to think where we will be in 15 years. Will we plant and grow our own trees on the layout? Kidding aside, I have been studying static grass for years but never had need for it until now. Sadly, it seems that the British are much further ahead than we are when it comes to publishing articles about it. I have a half-dozen American scenery books but none really discuss it. Likewise, I can't recall (and couldn't locate if one exists on their online index) a recent Model Railroader magazine article about specific techniques for applying it. Thankfully, there is the internet. Here is an outstanding video on various static grass techniques

The Noch Grass Master 2.0 is the gold standard when it comes to static grass machines. But, it was recently upgraded to the 3.0 (now there are two options, including the "pro" model) and the price has gone up. And they are somewhat hard to find. So, after waffling enough to make Eggos proud I bought the next best thing, the Woodland Scenics' Static King. It was cheaper, and if it doesn't work I am not out as much. I didn't want to build my own as I have too many other projects going on. But, I did splurge for the A/C power adaptor which should work better than batteries. Though batteries should last a while, I never keep 9 volt batteries on hand. This way, power diminishment will never be an issue. 

My static grass was purchased from Scenic Express which offers a dizzying array of static grass brands, lengths, and colors. Being brand new, I purchase a little of this and that until I had a half-dozen different things. I also ordered some other scenery materials I ran out of, and my order added up to 15 items (see the lead off picture). The woman I worked with (I think her name was Debbie) was beyond helpful, and had their inventory seemingly memorized by catalog item number. 

I transferred each of packages of static grass to its own individual bag, and I labeled and color coded them by size. Just touching the stuff made it go everywhere on my workbench!

The first section of my layout to receive it will be pretty simple: an abandoned rail yard. I want patches of grass to be growing up around and through the train tracks, which seems simple enough. But, I don't want excessive amounts of grass on tops of the ties so I need to be careful with the glue application. So, some experimentation seemed in order. Here is a great Youtube video for modeling an abandoned yard with static grass

I built a simple test section on a pine board and ballasted some track, and laid down some dirt and ground foam on the side. After that dried, I blended equal amounts of 2mm, 4mm, and 6mm static grass in various shades of green and put it through the machine. I first misted the area with rubbing alcohol and then brushed on Elmers wood glue as the base adhesive. It seemed simple so far, and after about 30 minute I vacuumed up the excess with my shop vac. To prevent waste, my wife helped me pick out stockings to go over the shop vac's tube to reclaim the grass. And in the end, the results were... meh.

It was green... there were different shades of green (sort of)... it all stuck up... and was firmly bonded in place. But, despite using different lengths it all seemed to be the same height. It was taller than a mowed lawn, but not at all splotchy or patchy or variegated in appearance. Watching the videos again, I saw that perhaps I should do it in patches myself using different lengths. I also discovered that applying glue to small areas with a paint brush is frustrating. If you use cheap flimsy brushes they can't hold up to the weight of the wood glue. But if you use your good brushes you ruin them. I have lots of old ketchup bottles with pointed caps so I think I may try one of them to apply glue in small areas. I will still use my cheap brushes for larger areas. 

That being said, it was a fun experiment and I am excited about the possibilities of the stuff.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Railfanning: North Albany local

Recently I had been talking with my friend about how hard it was to catch and photograph the local train that worked the Colonie Main. In the past 10 years I can recall only twice seeing it actively switching what is now the propane dealer, and only once going into Surpass. At least a dozen or so times I have seen it tied up on the siding that leads to Surpass, and usually that is at night. And, once I caught the local heading through Menands. But, considering I drive by the tracks usually twice daily I should see it more often. In the old days, I used to keep a disposable Kodak camera (remember those?) in the car for train emergencies but I don't anymore with my digital camera. 

But, I was driving in this morning and while going over the I-90 overpass I saw a train parked in the siding. I just had to take some pictures, but with what? I had no camera. Then I remembered my flip phone. These pictures aren't the best, but I did the best I could walking around in the weeds in my work clothes. Oh well, better than nothing. 

The train wasn't moving and the signals were green indicating that another train might be approaching, hence being tied up in the siding. I would have loved to skip work, go home and grab my camera, and see how it unfolded. 

Note that this area is just north of the "North Albany" section I modeled. If I were to add another section to the layout, it would likely be this one. See this post for more information on this area.

My wife and I both like these white and black tank cars, so I think I need to pick up a couple for the layout. 

I used to have an Atlas blue tank car like the one pictured, but I couldn't believe such a prototype existed. Now I do.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Blogger interface "Updates"

As everyone who uses Blogger knows, they are updating their interface to make it more user friendly to people who write posts with a smart phone or prefer HTML code. They are also offering more sophisticated metrics for monitoring those who view posts, which is useful if you make money from your blog. None of the situations above apply to me, and learning the new system has been slow. Especially the ability to place pictures next to portions of text instead of above/below them. Few do it, but I prefer to read a paragraph AND see the picture next to it instead of having to figure out if a section of text applies to the picture above or below it. A small thing, but there you are. And, inserting pictures and moving them around is already clunky but now it is impossible to understand with the new system.

Until I get this new Blogger figured out, the formatting of my posts going forward might look odd or unusual. If I ever get it mastered, or if Blogger ever reverts back to the "old way," I may go back and reformat things. However, I have a bad feeling about this...

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Painting telephone poles

While working on some scenery I had the reason to dig through my scrap box of collected bits and pieces and I came across a dozen plastic telephone pole castings. I don't recall where I got them from but I think they were a gift from a friend. They might be Bachmann. I had cut off the huge molded base and so now I was just left with the poles themselves. That's fine, as I wouldn't use the base anyway. It is much better to drill holes in the scenery and plant them. I started off by modifying them a bit, cutting off random insulators, a crossmember here or there, and randomly "breaking" some by bending them down. On the D&H, by 1984 they weren't really used and instead were just falling down. No attempt was made to make them look perfect.

I was inspired while reading Mike McNamara's "Northeast Kingdom" and his technique for painting telephone poles. His webpage is here. I really liked his method of painting the insulators with silver paint first, and then overcoating them with Tamiya clear green paint. That way, they give the appearance of actual glass instead of a lump of green plastic. He also painted the metal angle supports silver, which helped them stand out. Following his lead lead, I drilled a bunch of holes in a spare piece of wood and stuck the poles in. They were given random sprays of brown, black, gray, and again brown paint to look like wood. I didn't scribe the masts with a razor saw to give them wood grain as these will be in the background. Then, I painted the insulators and diagonal braces silver. 

Finally, the green went on the insulators. That green paint was really thick, but the effect is neat. I wish I could think of more projects to use it on. Likely the bottle will dry out before some idea comes into my head! I finished them off with by lightly drybrushing rust colored paint onto the metal braces. Anyway, it was a fun project to work into the day and they will get planted here and there on my layout as it progresses.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Structure - Albany Terminal Warehouse

Further down along the west side of the yard beyond Iroquois Millwork was now non-rail served brick Albany Terminal Warehouse building. It originally had rail service and one of the walls curved around where the tracks had diverged from the mainline and traveled perpendicular to the Albany Steel fabrication plant. It had arched, inset masonry windows and doors on the side facing the tracks, though I suspect they were bricked over in 1984. A truck loading dock ran along one side, also with an interesting arched doorway in one place. 

ATW (on left), and vacant lot nextdoor where
Albany Steel was. 
The structure has evolved a bit over the years. It currently has a second story that is sheathed with white siding. In 1984, it looked dark brown so I assume that it was brickwork but who knows? Perhaps it had siding even then but they painted it a dark color. I modeled the rear, aisleway side of the building with plain styrene with access cut-outs for the ground throws. Even though most of the front of the building wouldn’t be visible from the aisle, I tried to capture the shapes and textures of it anyway because it might be seen from limited viewing angles from the entrance way. I eliminated the second story windows on the side as they would require making that portion of the building taller, which would limit operator access over it into the yard behind it.

The ATW has a lot going on. To start, I drew up a full size sketch of how I wanted the main portion (right most) of the building to look. As an aside, I have found that oversize pads of 1/4" ruled graph paper are perfect for this sort of thing. I also did the side of the building with the loading dock, so I could judge the spacing of the doors. One door is arched, and one is rectangular. At least that is how the building currently is. Back in 1984, they might have both been arched with bricks. The pictures didn't show, so I guess-timated. The sketch was useful as I realized I wanted the curved windows on the front side taller.

The core of the structure is built from 0.060" thick styrene. I used some N Scale Architects brick sheet (#50001) which I had leftover from my Albany Tomato Company building (which is still in progress) and laid out the doors and windows. I wasn't using window castings so I could make the openings any size I wanted, and I followed the brick and mortar lines as much as I could. The arches are 1/2" diameter. I then cut the openings on the brick sheet, transferred the dimensions to the 0.060" underlay, and cut them too. I couldn't glue them together and "nibble" them because they were slightly too thick for the tool. Files cleaned up the edges.

After taking it to the layout and staring at it for a while, I sketched out the left portion of the building. In real life, this is curved and it is clear that train tracks evidently went around the building to a different building (that made RCA televisions... a giant "Nipper dog sits on the roof to this day). I didn't model it with a curved wall as it would extend over the benchwork joint. Also, the radius would have to be much sharper than in real life it might look silly. So, instead I set-back that portion of the building and also angled the front slightly. It sort of matches the pictures, and I think it works better with the space I have.

The prototype openings are now bricked shut with a wall of bricks inset a foot or so from the front, so I did the same. I first cut a thin strip of sheet brick and wrapped it around the openings so it extended into the building. Then, I glued more flat brick sheet to the back. It isn't perfect, but from the normal viewing angle of the duck-under entrance way you can't even see them! So, good enough. As noted above, the second-story of the portion on the left had its windows dropped for clearance reasons. The roof peaks were more sheet styrene, though I had to angle the roof on the very left where the building's front angled away from the main structure and getting it all worked out was a bit of trial and error. 

This building had to have its foundation notched in two places for the ground throw control rods to pass through as they head towards the edge of the layout. I was concerned how it might look to put them inside the building, but the only alternative was to make the building shorter by about an inch to leave room along the edge of the layout's fascia. This wouldn't look right at all, so instead I framed the rear edge to have openings where the operators can reach in and throw the ground throws. I made sure to clean up the joints so that it would be presentable, and I also wanted it immediately obvious that no attempt was being made at interior detailing. It was just access, pure and simple. I have never seen anyone do this before (but I bet the British have thought of it first as they love controlling switches like this) so I was making it up as I went.

For the side of the building, I had cut the door openings. Here, I decided to turn to my box of parts and liberated a warehouse door casting from a very old ConCor kit. That worked well for the right, rectangular door. For the left-most door, which is arched, I scratchbuilt something out of styrene. I must admit that not having to build everything from scratch (as I did for my MMR program) is certainly a time saver. I followed the prototype and angled the wooded planks on the door, which added some interest. I made sure the overall threshold of the doorways matched what the loading dock height would be set at.

The building was washed and then given an overall spray of red primer paint, which matched the color of the bricks pretty well. Then, I did a ton of masking and brush painted the upper portions of the front and sides with brown paint. The paint was a little bit too wet and seeped under the paint, so I had to remask and spray with the red primer. The front of the building had a wonderfully faded "Albany Terminal Warehouse" sign painted on the bricks... something that would have been a nice project to experiment with... but it is barely visible from the aisleways and I didn't want to put a lot of effort into something that no one would see.

The prototype roof in the satellite pictures looks like it has some sort of rolled roofing applied, but it also had very definite ridges or seams that run across the roof in a tight spacing. There are also crosswise intermediate ridges that also are visible. I have no idea what type of roof this might be, and there is a good chance that it isn't original to the building or existed in 1984. I used styrene strips to add the seams along the roof of the building (which would have been smart to do before priming it, but oh well). Then, after some more careful masking I sprayed the roof with flat charcoal spray paint. I left it to dry overnight, and then weathered it with a concentrated black oil paint wash. Unfortunately, I missed a step and forgot to seal the charcoal paint with a clear coat, and the mineral spirits lifted the paint away in places.

So, I switched gears and began drybrushing the roof with random patterns of black, dark gray, and light gray craft paint. I used a piece of craft paper to blend the shades as I went along, and made sure not to stop brush strokes mid-way which looked odd. When doing the inner portion of the lower roof where it butts against the second-story wall I was very careful not to streak paint on the dual-colored brick side. Finally, everything was left to dry and sealed with Dullcote. 

Planting the structure involved more dirt and grass. I also installed a small driveway made from styrene and weathered with ink washes, real coal residue, and dirt. I haven't detailed the loading dock yet, but that will come in time. However, for now I am calling this building done.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Railfanning: heavy-duty flat car at the Port of Albany

I had a couple of hours free last weekend, so I drove down to the Port of Albany to see if anything was going on. There was a Norfolk Southern-led train waiting to enter the yard from the South, but it never budged during the three hours I was there. However, in a different portion of the port behind a security fence was this monster of a flat car. The load must be some sort of transformer and it is labeled with General Electric's markings. It would be neat to see it loaded onto a barge or whatever for its next step towards its future destination.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Structure - Albany Steel

There were two steel fabrication companies located in the area near Iroquois Millwork, though I don't believe either was receiving rail service in 1984.  One was Albany Steel, and the other was McKinney Steel. I randomly guessed Albany Steel was here. The pictures I have from that time just show a large pile of red steel pipes. Currently, there is an overgrown weedy concrete pad in that location so I assume it existed in 1984. I see nothing around the pipes such as a fence, nor do I see racks holding the pipes in place. They look just like a pile of pipes. Perhaps the lot was used as a storage or holding area. This is how I set about modeling it.

I started with the concrete foundation which was made by scribing some 0.060" thick styrene with the back of a hobby knife in a 2" x 3" grid. I needed the pad elevated to clear the ground-throw control wire, so I added styrene strips around the edges and in the middle. I also notched out an area for my ground throw. I then sprayed with styrene with Rustoleum Camoflauge "Desert Sand" spray paint, which not only was a good color for old concrete but it also left a rough texture that to my eyes was spot on perfect. After that dried, I applied a wash of India ink and alcohol in a blotchy pattern and it pooled in the cracks nicely.

While that was going on, I set about creating a pile of pipes. I bought three packages of 1/4" diameter styrene pipes from the hobby store (and more online, as I wanted a lot and discovered that they didn't go as far as I had hoped) and cut them down into scale 39' lengths. I have no idea how large pipes normally are, but this size fits into 40' gondolas and onto 40' trailers. So, it seemed reasonable. I kept the shorter scraps too, as in my mind a steel company would have several lengths of pipes lying around. For the cutting, I used a pipe cutter which went quickly but rounded the cut edges. These were cleaned up with an Xacto knife.

I pondered how to paint them. I wanted even coverage all the way around, and I also needed to get inside the ends. I could have taped them to a painting stick but that would take a lot of tape, and a lot of sticks! Casting my eyes at my workbench, I spotted a container of thin nails and a scrap of wood. Bingo... I introduce to you my Pipe Paint-o-matic (patent pending). The pipes were first washed to remove any residue and then they were sprayed with several light coats of red paint. I had to go to the hardware store first to try and get a color that perfectly matched the picture I had. It seems red primer has gone out of fashion, and now everyone uses gray primer. I finished them with a spray of Dullcote, but I didn't weather them further (to my wife's dismay) as the picture didn't seem to show them old and rusted.

I glued the pad down to the layout with Arlene's tacky glue, and let it dry. Next, I used a microbrush to dab tiny bits of my matte medium adhesive onto the cracks in a random pattern. Some were little dots, others were in bunches, and some areas got none. Then, I sifted on Woodland Scenics fine green foam. I let it dry completely and vacuumed off the excess, leaving little weeds and such growing in the cracks. I considered using static grass clumps, but they were too large for a concrete lot that was still actively being used by a company. Perhaps if it had been abandoned for a long time or something.

The pipes were then stacked up in a somewhat organized way and glued down with more of the tacky glue. The pictures I had showed three rows of pipes, which I selectively compressed into two rows. I made sure to leave the ends a little bit askew, and also didn't stack them in a pile that would look like it was ready to fall or roll over. The pile on the left of shorter pipes was especially fun to arrange because I tried to think like a forklift operator who was just dumping pipes here and there. I realized that I didn't have enough pipes to fully cover the pad, and I didn't want a large open area, so I needed to come up with something else to fill the space.

So, off to the hobby store again and this time I picked up some H-columns, made from ABS plastic by Plastruct. They have a lot of interesting architectural shapes and the corners are much crisper in ABS plastic than the comparable ones from Evergreen styrene. I bought five sticks of 1/2" H-columns and cut them up with my razor saw. The ends were deburred, and I sprayed them with light coatings of gray and red primer with a focus more on the red. The ends were dabbed with an orange, rusty colored craft paint. These were also stacked in a pile. These too were piled up in a not-so-random way. 

I searched the internet for HO scale forklifts that would look good here. I found several, and bought two (including a gorgeous Wiking model that I later determined was too modern for my 1984 era). The one I went with was a Kibri "Steinbock" kit #10002. It came in pieces in a tiny plastic case about the size of an old tape cassette. It was an odd way to pack a kit, but the few parts contained therein went together well based on the pictorial assembly drawing. I repainted the orange with a brighter shade, the tire rims were painted a duller yellow, and the hydraulic shaft was picked out in silver. After assembly, it was weathered with an oil wash. I glued some leftover pipes and pieces of chain to to the forklift, and it was done. An operator will come later.

The area between the concrete pad and Iroquois Millwork was a little scene that came together while thinking about what I had seen while driving through the area. Abandoned, rusted tractor trailers are to be found everywhere. Discarded garbage, bushes, weeds, and other visible evidence of neglect abound. I searched through my parts bin for a surplus tractor trailer and patched out the USPS markings. Then, it was weathered and detailed and planted along with dirt, bushes, and junk in the small vacant lot. I carried the dirt and bushes around the concrete pad to firmly plant everything into the ground with no visible gaps, and then I declared the area complete.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Structure - Iroquois Millwork

The green and gray building on the right (1984)
The foreground area of my North Albany section was pretty bare, and I didn't want to do another gravel or dirt lot. There was plenty of that already! The prototype had some industries that were located on this side of the tracks, and a few were even still served by rail. However, the available real estate included an odd wedge-shaped location and I wasn't sure what to put there. The track modeled in front of it included some old but active rail which was blocked by crisscross ties and an out-of-service switch. I had a boxcar in my collection that never ran well, and car spot here that needed a stationary boxcar to look like it was being loaded. Perfect.

The same building on the left in 1986. There are
no traces of the yard at all!
There was a design challenges with a building here: any access to the yard tracks behind it would make it susceptible to damage. And, its height limits the ability to see over it. But, the front is visible while standing in the duck-under access aisleway so the front had to be somewhat detailed. One business that seemed perfect was Iroquois Millwork, which manufactured wooden doors and windows (thanks to Dominic Bourgeois' awesome Bridge Line Freight book). In 1984 it had two boxcars spotted at its two loading doors, and it sported an interesting gray and green paint scheme.

It turns out that I had actually photographed this building, now operated by a small regional paper company, in July of 2010. Most of those pictures were helpful, but I needed a few more to flesh out some details. For example, the building is set on a poured concrete foundation, with walls of concrete blocks, followed by vertical metal corrugated siding. I don't know why it has such an interesting assortment of facade treatments, but modeling it would be fun. And relatively simple too, as aside from the two loading door openings there were no special cuts. The far end of the building had an office with windows but I chose not to model that portion.

I settled on a size of about 16" long and 3.5" tall, which seemed pretty close to the prototype building and yet not overwhelming of the scene. Casting around (get it?) online for some suitable stone block walls led me to Rix Products Concrete Blocks (#541-1004) which are 4" long and 2.125" tall, which matched my building's length perfectly. Their height was within 1/8 of an inch of what I had sketched out. I ordered two packages (4 pieces per package). I also needed some freight car loading doors and found the Walthers "Truck and Railroad Dock" doors (#933-4070) which looked perfect.

The basic core of the structure is 0.060" thick styrene. Because of the angle of the building, there are two right-angle corners and two other angle corner. To make it a little more complex, the Rix concrete block wall pieces are thicker than the corrugated styrene sheet, so I had to compensate by building up the sides of the walls with different thicknesses of styrene overlaid on them so that the end result would be nearly flat in front. I first laid out where the loading doors on the concrete block panels would go and opened them up with drills (in the corners), knife cuts, and files. Everything was perfect and I was feeling pretty smug about how everything was lined up smoothly when...

I realized my math was off in a very bad way. I took my completed wall to my layout and set it next to a boxcar to visualize how they would look together, and discovered to my dismay that I had located the two boxcar loading doors too close together! The boxcar doors were supposed to be 3.5" from the end of the boxcar (and 7" apart), but I didn't double the distance to account for two boxcars coupled together. Though the error might not be noticed by others, I knew it looked stupid so I cut the wall apart and spliced another block section between the cuts. The width of the Rix wall section worked close enough for my purposes, but now there were two vertical lines going down the courses of bricks I would need to disguise.

The structure had to be significantly braced on the inside, both because it might get hit with wayward elbows and I didn't want it to warp. Copious amounts of 1/4" square styrene were used along the edges, and some home-made right-angle corner braces were employed wherever possible. Thank goodness for that 4'x8' sheet of 0.060" thick styrene I bought from the plastic supplier this spring, as I used a lot on this project. For acute-angled joints, I used pieces of interlocking 1/4" square that when welded up with MEK were rock-solid. I also glued braces spanning the center of the building to prevent bowing in the middle, as it would be quite apparent when sighting down the length it.

The corrugated styrene was made by JTT Architectural Model Parts and came in a large sheet. Strips were cut and mounted along the top. This stuff was pretty delicate looking but once glued to the wall became nice and strong. The roof is just more 0.060" styrene supported on the 1/4" square styrene bracing that runs along the top of the building. Some shimming was necessary to get it all level. I then went around the top of the building and used some thin styrene strips to hide the exposes edges of the various styrene pieces that make up the wall. I then washed the model in soap and water in preparation for painting.

Painting was done with spray cans. I first painted it with gray primer, but it was too dark a shade. So, off to the hardware store to purchase the right color of Krylon paint. After two days of drying, I then masked the top and painted it with Rustoleum "Spring Green". In person, the spray can cap looked a bit garish and hideous but the overall color matches the prototype pictures well. I waffled on whether to paint the back (aisle side) of the buildings black or not, but decided to continue the gray/green scheme all the way around. I think it blends in better with the scene, where as a large black backside would draw attention away from the layout behind.

The prototype roof has some sort of tar application on it, and there are visible ridges or seams, but at first I didn't bother to model them. I just brush painted the roof flat black. However, it was too dark and didn't look weathered. Since the pictures showed the roof a faded gray, I cut strips of blue painter's tape (to represent tar paper) and applied them to the roof in rows, and then painted them with gray acrylic craft paint. Once that dried, I liberally applied a black oil paint/mineral spirit wash on the roof. The oil paint "broke" and left black pigment particles in random patterns on the tape, which looked a lot like the satellite image of the roof I had. The prototype currently has small square roof vents, but I used some Pikestuff (#3102) castings that were sprayed flat black and drybrushed with silver.

The rest of the building was also given a black oil paint wash, which pooled in the brick crevices and looked like years of diesel exhaust smoke and grime from the air had settled and collected on the sides. The boxcar loading doors had been recessed into the walls and painted with the same gray primer as the rest of the building's side. The surrounding metal "shroud" was painted a flat charcoal gray, and then I dry-brushed various colors of brown and orange to simulate rust. Rust strikes were also streaked down the side of the building where rainwater would have caused them to stain the bricks. 

I glued the building to the layout with tacky glue, surrounded the foundation with dirt and ground foam to "plant" it, and scattered some random junk and debris to look like discarded garbage. The boxcar is an old Robins Rails kit which I purchased very early on when I got back into HO. It was too complicated for me at the time, and in retrospect I think there may have been some issues with the kit itself. I had modeled it with an open door when I built it, and added some random details inside, but it never ran well so I declared it a non-operational "scenery only" car. I knew it would be perfect for this structure, as it just had to sit in front of the loading doors waiting to be loaded. And with that, Iroquois Millwork was finished.