It’s been busy in fits and starts here with projects. It’s also been a while since I posted, so there are some things to catch up on.
When last we left the layout, it was a sea of pink foam on top of the benchwork. It’s still lots of pink foam, I have not managed due to a rest requirement from my physician, to get a base color on the layout. However, the roadbed of Flexxbed from Hobby Innovations was laid using a thin layer of gray latex caulk as adhesive. When that dried, I spread another layer of the same caulk and laid the track. I’m using code 125 flex track from Right-O-Way. The detail in the track is fantastic. I’m looking forward to getting joint bars installed, and weathering done on the track in the weeks ahead. In short order, the ‘mud’ will go down on the layout, and I’m looking forward to sharing those photos.
At the Workbench:
It’s been a slow start at the workbench. I am used to HO kits where, for the most part, all the bits and pieces are included, all the right wire sizes are in the box, and if there is bending or making of anything to be done, there are instructions. I have also found that I have made myself some bad habits of hiding things that wouldn’t be seen in HO, or that were done the fast way, not necessarily the most elegant way, simply because in HO scale, nobody would see the mistakes or the pieces I sort of fudged because they’re too small and hidden.
In Proto 48, all of that is out in the open, in plain view. Many kits, like the Northern Pacific boxcar I decided to start with, are “a la carte”, meaning you get the body of the car, some basics and suggestions, and off you go to find parts. Some of that I am sure comes from one kit being buildable into O scale 2 rail (Ow5), 3 rail (if you wanted to), and Proto 48. Including parts doesn’t always serve all 3 properly.
For example here, lets look at the 3 week struggle I’ve had figuring out how to mount the KC brake system under this NP car. In HO, I may have left the brake off completely, like a few friends have, on similar cars, because the side sills are deep and most of the equipment would be hidden. In P48, however, with larger pieces, and with my layout height at 55”, you’ll likely see the equipment hanging, even if minimally. In HO, I might have used a small block of styrene to mount the brake on the sill, and maybe even continued it to the floor of the car for support, simply because it wouldn’t be seen. I’ve struggled with this in P48, because getting the right shape is now something I find necessary. After much discussion with friends, and me being dense at this and struggling to understand, I finally went out to the Illinois Railway Museum a few days ago and crawled under a Fowler car to get a photo of a similar mounting bracket on the brake system of a museum car. Now I know what shape to make the mounting bracket, and what details to add. Yes, I’m aware that this is under the car, and that unless I set it on a mirror, likely I’m the only one who will see this, but some of modeling is like that. It’s you knowing things are three. I’m now in a spot where I can get the bracket made, the KC brake cylinder mounted, and the rest of the brake system installed so I can move on to other parts of the car.
In the end, I’m breaking some bad habits I had developed when building cars in large batches in HO. Fast doesn’t work now. The 15 minutes a day that I’ve been striving at for many years, that is what I believe is going to be the road forward for me. A single part, or a set of grabs, applied to a car, allowed to set. A set of decals applied to one side of a car, allowed to set 24 hours, sealed, then the car turned and another set applied.
This will likely mean several cars or models are in progress all at once, but it also means that things will be done correctly and to the standards I have set for myself. I’m throwing out the timelines I had built for HO car construction along with those habits and adopting a new, it will get done when it’s done right, approach.
While doing all this work, I’ve been somewhat tentative about getting going. My vision had scared me into not trusting my eyes in HO, and getting past the avoiding working sage was a hurdle all of it’s own. I’m quite pleased to report that I have been able, working with the P48 equipment, to remove some magnification from my setup. My headband that I have been using allows me to add a x7 and x10 magnifier on top of my x10 in my prescription glasses. I’ve been able to remove the extra x10 and I’m seeing wonderfully still.
Along the way, I’ve wanted to get some additional practice building, gluing, drilling, etc…. With models. The time away while fighting my eyes had made me question my abilities, I felt rusty. So, I sat down and built. Not with the O scale equipment, because I wanted to get to the point where I had adjusted the vision equipment before starting much there, but with some plastic models for a table top wargame. I’ve learned a few techniques for cleaning up plastic, found a few new tools that I really like, and adjusted my lighting and magnification so that now I’m ready to build the freight cars and structures. If I was going to give some advice to anyone, I’d say this. Build something. Doesn’t have to be a train, but build something, learn some skills, relearn some skills, get comfortable with your tools, THEN go build the models you love building. This is really the struggle I created for myself by resisting a scale change for so long.
There are specific things to share about tools and research, and that will all come here soon. I’ve spent a few weekends volunteering at the Illinois Railway Museum learning about riding, operating, doing things like railroaders do. I’m looking forward to seeing how that experience influences how I approach the models as well. More soon….