Sunday, January 3, 2016

"Tie"ing up 2015

I'd like to take a bit and review my model railroading hobby for 2015 and I'd like to show more progress on the layout!

Review of 2015

2015 was a big year for me in terms of model railroading.  I learned so much about this hobby its hard to describe it all.  I'll just hit a few high points.

Model Building

I hadn't built anything in 15+ years.  I had no idea what my skill level was.  So I took a Freight House kit that I built for my club module.  It had a really bad paint job and was barely weathered.  So I took it apart and started over.  And I repainted it.  I repainted everything.  Windows, Doors, trip, roof siding, and platform.  It went from an off colored orange monstrosity into a nicely weathered freight house that from a distance might mistake for a craftsman kit.  I must admit I did not finish it 100%.  I got it about 90% done.  The only thing that remains for me to complete is the interior and the lighting.  But other than that take a look and see what an ol' Tyco Kit looks like when you put a little elbow grease into it.

This is a nice head on shot of the Freight House.


In 2015 I learned what Digital Command Control (DCC) was.  Before I started back into the hobby I had no exposure to DCC.  All I knew about it was that you could control a locomotive with a magic hand held device.  I read a few books, watched a video or two and I caught on to it pretty quickly.  In no time I learned how to apply it.  I got so comfortable with DCC I started hard wiring DCC decoders into non DCC locomotives.  DCC is one of those things that just clicked.  I learned how decoders work and understood how a command center sends information packets to a decoder wired into a locomotive through wires then rails  Check out the link to a DCC decoder install video I uploaded on my Facebook Page for the Mascoutin Valley Railroad!

DCC Decoder Video

2016 and Beyond

I'm not sure what the future will hold but I'm pretty excited.  I feel I have a good grasp of todays model railroading fundamentals.  I am eager to start hand laying my own track and developing a model railroad that can be running trains in the next few months.

Ties, Ties, Everywhere the Ties...

 We've got the track plan transferred to the homasote roadbed and that means its time to start laying ties.  I took the approach of a madman when it came to laying ties.  I took 3/32" square basswood strips and cut them to 8'6" scale foot boards.  Before you call the loony bin, I had help I used a Northwest Shortline "Chopper" with the length set to 8'6" and made railroad ties as I watched TV.

Once I got all of them cut, I loaded up a "Tie Jig" that I made.  Then I took some frog tape (green painters tape) and ripped it into a thin strip.  I then took the tape and laid it on top of the ties in the jig.  It gave me a "string of ties" that I could lay down.  I laid some glue down on the lines from the track plan, spread it out with my finger and laid the ties down on the glue.  Below is a picture of me laying ties down.  I used yellow wood glue to glue down my ties.

Notice the Frog Tape on the strips of ties.
Once I got all the ties down I stained them.  This is pretty self explanatory.  See the picture below.

Once the ties were stained I needed to start weathering them.  I wanted to give the impression that these ties were old, worn out and sun-baked ties.  I took an incremental approach to this.  Add the gray wash first then come in with white highlights when the wash dried.  I made a wash of cheap craft store gray acrylic paint and water.  See the effect it creates in the picture below.
Gray wash applied to a few ties on the lower siding.
After I added the wash I dry brushed some white acrylic paint on the ties.  See the effect achieved in the picture below.
White Dry Brush applied to achieve the UV damage.
Rinse and Repeat to apply it to the entire taconite plant!  I will continue to weather the ties, but this is good enough for now to get some rail laid.

Next time I'll be showing you how I prep the rail and get it ready to spike down and with a little luck we'll get a few feet spiked down.

I want to thank everyone for reading and be sure to check out my facebook page where I post pictures and videos specific to the Mascoutin Valley Model Railroad.  Facebook Page Link.  Post any you comments or questions you have!

Till next time keep 'er in Notch 8!

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