CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Saturday, February 27, 2021

D&H Maintenance of Way (MOW) train and coaches

I have been collecting slides of the various cranes, coaches, gondolas, wheel cars, and other assorted things over the years. While most railroads painted everything gray or yellow, I love how the D&H repainted everything in their "blue dip" scheme starting in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, the blue oxidized very quickly and within a few years it looked faded and shabby. But when new, it looked really sharp.

Here is one of their baggage cars, #30123, on 10/10/1981. They even painted the safety handrails and steps yellow, which may have been federally mandated like the corner railings of engines, but it really made them pop.

Fast forward four years to 12/1985, and here is the same car #30123. While everything is faded, it looks like at least portions of the yellow paint have been redone. Also, some white lettering in the lower right corner appears to have been patch-painted on. 

Coach #34402 suffered the same fate. If you look at the windows, it appears that some have been replaced with two-panel aluminum window frames. Why only those windows? Perhaps they broke and the D&H only had the more modern ones in their inventory? It would appear that this car and #30123 regularly traveled together.

Here is a shot of coach #34403 also taken on 12/1985. Look at the windows on this car- half of them appear to be blanked out. Not sure why, but it is an interesting detail. Also, along the lower edge the blue had faded a lot more between the rivet lines and is darker along those joints. Or perhaps it is the old light gray paint from the lightning stripe scheme starting to show through.

The shot below is an odd one. It is dated December 1985, the same as the others, but the cars appear to be a much deeper blue. When I scan my slides I sometimes have to adjust the exposure level but this appears to be correct as the gray on the engines is the right shade. They look as if they were just repainted. Sadly, the car numbers on both are not visible (or perhaps not added yet).

Here are a pair of out of service express cars from June 27, 1979 taken in Colonie yard.. I wonder if the two-tone gray baggage car was #3012.

Here is a shot of the D&H work train from November 1979. It looks like it was taken right before everything was repainted into the blue dip scheme. The coaches and crane are in the lightning stripe scheme. 

Here is one of their maintenance trains in Oneonta on 10/12/1985. Featuring a really beat up Alco C420 pulling a gondola (with cutaways on the sides, so likely a crane tender car), a baggage car and what looks like a coach. I would bet that those are #30123 and #34402. This entire train wouldn't be too difficult to model, and in fact the coaches are my list of things to eventually get to. The tricky part will be weathering all of the blue paint into that chalky, light blue color. 

Here is #30021 with gondola #30013 in Conklin on June 10, 1984. I believe it is an extremely dark blue, not black, in this shot. Maybe the cut the blue with black paint to stretch it.

The same crane just five years later, #30021 is shown with gondola #30088 at Oneonta in April of 1989. By this time D&H pride was rising after the troubled Guilford years and equipment was being refreshed in D&H blue again. I think it looked better with the shield though.

And just for comparison purposes, here is a Boston & Maine M.O.W. train taken in Mechnicville in June 1984. The crane looks black, though I suspect it is the D&H #30022 shown above. You can just sort of make out a yellow shield on the side if you squint. The coach and crane tender/gondola are clearly in the B&M maroon though. Still beats boring old gray.

The plows were also painted in blue. Walthers just released a gorgeous model of Jordan Spreader #35054 in the blue scheme (#920-110121) though I believe this scheme matches the late 1980s as well. I still might pick one up though.

Oddly, though, I haven't seen any pictures of boxcars painted in the blue color scheme and used for MOW services. Either they existed but alluded the cameras, or more likely the D&H just didn't bother to repaint them. Anything stored in the boxcar could also be stored in the baggage car, which had nearly double the capacity of an old 40' boxcar. And, the baggage car's side doors still allowed large things in and out. So who knows? I will still be on the lookout though.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Scenery around Colony Liquor

Over the course of the past two months I have done little things here and there as the mood struck, but I wasn't sure how I wanted this scene to look so I went slow. But, relaying the siding into Colony Liquor to clear the boxcar's roof forced me to tear up the track, and once the putty knife came out there was no turning back. 

I first built a little hill behind Colony Liquor out of some scraps of florist foam. Most of the benefits of the soft foam are lost once a hard shell of ground goop is applied over it, but I had some lying around so I used it for this application.

I wasn't sure how the hill was going to take shape but I knew I could fix any areas or gaps with generous applications of ground goop. The hill should in actuality be much larger and connect to the hill on "Cut Corner" but I wanted to keep the layout sections separate so instead I just made a gently rising blob on the back.

This ground goop was applied, ground foam was added, and it was left to dry for a week. Apparently, Ground goop isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Another application of ground foam hid the cracks formed from the ground goop drying. Had I used a thinner coat, this wouldn't have happened. It wasn't a big deal.

I then started detailing the track next. I painted the tied with acrylic paint, focusing only on the brown and black colors to represent ties that were in more in the shade and less likely to be bleached by the sun.

It was then ballasted with dirt and a lot of fine cinders from Woodland Scenics. Ground foam and a light touch of gray blend ballast here and there to break up the monotony of the look finished it off.

Trains on this track could not travel very far if they rolled off the end of the rails... they would crash into the building! There was no room on my model for a typical style bumping posts that I prefer, so instead I used Tomar Industries brand (H-803) which are smaller in size. They actually had to work, too!

Static grass was then applied to the hill, but I thought it was too dark a shade of green and too monotone. So I went over the top with several different shades and sizes of ground foam and it came out just how I wanted it too. I remember climbing through the grass one summer day in 2010 taking pictures of the various buildings, and it clearly wasn't grass that was mowed.

Next, I sketched out where I wanted the parking lot in the back and the access road to go. I didn't have a lot of options, because everything was so compressed. But, I was able to squeeze in a paved lot and enough clearance room for a decent roadway. The photo also shows how much room on the siding exists for the Agway which will be next door.

The road was marked out on tracing paper, and then transferred to some 0.040" thick styrene. I prefer to use this for roads, even though the top surface is sometimes too smooth to represent beat up old pavement. But it sure is a lot easier than using something like plaster.

I then decided that the entire level of the terrain of the road, parking lot, and the nearby structures needed to be raised a bit. So, I ordered some 1/4" thick cork tiles. I traced the parking lot and road onto the cork, cut it out, and glued it down. It looks like a whale's head, sort of.

The styrene road was first sprayed with gray primer, which not only is a good color for sun-bleached asphalt but it also provides some texture to the smooth styrene. It was then given a wash of black oil paint, and once that dried I Dullcoted it and heavily weathered it with ground black charcoal from the artist supply store. More Dullcote and it was ready to be glued down.

To build up the terrain around the edges of the styrene I first used latex caulk, but it wasn't working the way I wanted it to. After it cured, I then used more Gound Goop to do all the edges. I was careful to try and not get it on the road but the Dullcote sealed it enough that any that did splatter on was easily removed (if quickly) with a wet paper towel.

Then, I applied five or six colors and sizes of dirt and ground foam around the edges. I intentionally brought the last layer over the edge of the styrene so that it would look like the grass and weeds were encroaching onto the pavement. I didn't want a stark edge.

I couldn't use a spray bottle of alcohol (my wetting agent) because it would have turned the Dullcoted styrene really white. (Yes, I know you can respray with Dullcote to fix it but I wasn't positive it would work in this situation). So, I used a cheap plastic pipette to apply alcohol, followed by matte medium, followed by more ground foam, followed by more alcohol, until I had the look I wanted. A little alcohol did get on the pavement and it did turn it white, but later on I did discover that more Dullcote made it disappear. 

Along the back, I hid the building's bottom edge with lots of ground foam and Scenic Express "Super Turf". It has an odd texture that I don't really know what to make of, but when piled amongst ground foam and dirt I thought it looked a lot like overgrown bushes. It requires copious amount of matte medium to secure it, but once dry it is secure and still green. I really like the "Super Turf". I also added some discarded pallets (Preiser #585) and other junk where the track ends. If you lean over the building you can just see into this area. 

I took the tiniest of finished trees that I had made, including those that magically "formed" when a larger tree broke, and planted them onto the hill. They aren't supposed to look like tall trees, but instead small trees and bushes and such. This is the view from the rear with the backdrop removed. 

Along the back of the parking lot even more brush was applied. 

Lines were added to the parking lot using a white paint pen. I had a cheap HO scale car handy as a reference. The lines should probably be closer together but then I would need more cars to fill it! 

I still need to add cars, but cars cost money. I also need to add some trees, but that will be a project for a future day. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Structure - Agway (blue building)

This building was actually started before I had even considered working towards my MMR Structures certificate. However, after drawing up the plans I put in an order for the styrene siding and Rix Products doors and they took forever to get to me. During the delay period, my brain started thinking about other projects and this was set aside until now. However, it is strictly for my layout and not for my MMR certificate as it is much too simplistic.

The next building I decided to work on which is part of the Agway complex is what I am calling the "blue building" for obvious reasons. I would guess that it was used to load trucks with grain or other supplies by having them drive in under the cover of the roof. In the picture below it is the leftmost building. It sticks out towards the tracks nearly as much as the Quonset hut though the trees in the picture don't show this. It didn't look to be a difficult scratchbuilding project, though likely there is already something in the Pikestuff catalog that matched it. 

The side that faces the tracks shows clear evidence the sheathing panels came in pieces which were patched up on the wall. Not the weathering along the joints, and perhaps evidence of a previous loading ramp and doorway in the middle. A human door on the right and a vent at the top complete the look. 

The side facing the aisle has a lot more personality to it, but unfortunately it too will be truncated by the aisle itself and I will only model it as a plain wall. I wonder if that bay window on the left side is where some office is located and the workers wanted to see out into the world?

The side of the building facing away from the Quonset hut has several truck loading doors along the side, and they aren't all the same height.

Note that they also added several human doors too. I wonder if sub-interior walls made it necessary for multiple exit doors within so short a length of wall?

See how these two end truck doors are different? No idea why. Perhaps they got a deal on odd-sized doors. I count four different door types and sizes within a span of about 80 feet!

There is also a gravel roadway here which will be a nice change of pace from modeling pavement and concrete. 

The side that faced the Quonset hut was just a plain wall. I mean really, what would the purpose be of putting doors on this side (or maybe that ran out after putting so many on the other side)?

This project started off with a drawing. I didn't have to compress it much, but I did shorten its length by about half. To model the various sizes of roll-up doors and I ordered an assortment from Pikestuff without really knowing what I would need.

The board and batten siding that was used for my O&W station was actually stuff I purchased for this structure, and I had to plan my cuts for both projects carefully.

The end facing the tracks had a doorway opening cut out and a Pikestuff ventilator casting (#1009) installed. The door is from Walthers and has the mounting flange on the backside, so I used that on this wall where a slightly gap in the door frame wouldn't be seen. It came out perfect though.

I thought that the styrene would be the right length for the walls, but the battens run the short dimension of the styrene sheet and I had to combine two pieces side by side to get the right length. I guess that is the smart way to do it, because if you can't hide a seam in board and batten siding you aren't trying hard enough.

The doorways were cut out and the doors installed. I used a Pikestuff people door on the side where it would be visible as it had a frame on the outside which hid any cutting gaps.

The interior was braced with 1/4" square styrene strips. 

Since I only bought one sheet of the board and batten siding, to get enough length for the roof panels I had to combine five different pieces. 

The underside of the roof was braced as well to prevent sagging.

One of the roof pieces has a seam that I couldn't avoid without buying a brand new sheet. This corner of the building is farthest from the aisle and will be difficult to see.

The smoke vents started off as tubing glued to thin styrene, trimmed, and sanded round. A smaller diameter styrene rod was glued inside it, and it was trimmed to length and glued into the roof.

To paint the model, I used Tamiya "French Blue" (ST-10). Tamiya is a Japanese company, and the Japanese have the saying "Fukai shiko" (meaning "deep thinking") which is what occurs when I build models. For example, I had to use blue making tape to hide the parts of the building that were to stay white, and then sprayed the remainder of the white plastic to turn it blue. Blue keeps white white.

After that cured, I taped off the blue with the blue tape and sprayed everything that was already white with a nice, even coat of white. At this point, my mind was blowing up because blue was keeping blue blue and white was making white white.

The two doors were supposed to stay gray. In some pictures they looked dark gray and in others light gray. I started off by painting one dark gray, but it didn't look right so I painted light gray over it and it ended up a mottled, medium gray. Perfect. The other one on the end was done light gray.

Surprisingly, the prototype building's paint was holding up well when I recently photographed it again, though the end facing the tracks had a lot of peeling and wearing of the blue paint. The other three sides are still in decent shape, and I assume that they looked even better in 1984. As a result, I didn't try to weather this thing to death. I noted various shades of black, brown and gray coloring patterns (and even some yellowish ones on the trackside end) which I replicated with oil paint lightly applied with toothpicks. 

Then I brushed down lightly with mineral spirits. The roof received washes that amounted to whatever was left in the brush after running it through some cleaner. 

The end facing the tracks looks much worse than the other three sides, and overall I am happy with the result. I do wish that there were some buildings on my layout that weren't cut off by the aisle, but when you commit to benchwork only 24" deep these compromises have to be made. There is still only more building that is part of the Agway complex to fabricate, and then I can install them all on my layout.