Saturday, September 24, 2016

CATOOSA - Mantua Rebuild

I have embarked on the next addition to the W&A stable of locomotives, the Catoosa. She was a Norris built locomotive, same manufacturer as the Yonah. As always, a key reference for the Mantua General alterations is Al Mueller's manual...
One of the more prominent elements to his rebuild is his  idea on making room in the tender for a new motor, decoder, speaker and capacitor. Once the tender top is removed, grinding away some of the frame is needed to accommodate these parts. And since the original model comes with a plastic wood load, that is not acceptable for a fine scale model replication. Here's a page from Al's manual on preparing the form for the wood load. 
Now here's the result of my attempt to replicate his instruction. You can see that I added a brass plate and water tank cap; the cap is from Precision Scale.
These next two photos show the tender interior exposed. By being able to remove the wood load there is easier access to the motor section without needing to remove the entire tender. It also allows for more ventilation. The black tip coming out of the tender front is a drive shat cup from NWSL. The drive shat mechanism is another redesign element also offered in Al's manual.

I use a motor from a fella named "Motorman" who restores and rebuilds a wide variety of motors and can be found on the internet. He operates via eBay usually. This motor is a Swiss Maxon 13 mm 7 pole coreless motor-High torque (150731330992). They run about $45. My locos are able to pull 12-18 car trains which is quite a feat given that the Mantua General's are not known for their pulling power. Of course I weigh my cars below the NMRA standard to about 30 grams. 
The decoder is a Tsunami Micro. But these have been discontinued. Their replacement decoder is called Econami. Al has installed one or two and vouches for their reliability and easier programming as well as installation; these are slightly smaller believe it or not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Turntable Discussions Episode 3 with Al Mueller

One common theme with these discussions is that my guests who model railroads of the American Civil War are all remote. Al is from the Milwaukee area. This is from my visit in February. As this was a rare opportunity to visit with him, I spontaneously decided to use a portion of time to shoot the next episode of Turntable Discussions. This is my first attempt using Adobe Premier Elements video editing. I want to apologize first for the blurriness in some footage. I used my iPhone 4S as well as trying to shoot while I was mobile. LOTS of lessons learned! The entire interview ran about 45 minutes. I edited much in order to meet the less-than-15-minutes allowed via blogspot. Additional footage will be posted at a future date.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

KENNESAW ENTRENCHMENTS

Brief reminder that my railroad is set in the summer of 1863. The Confederate Army of Tennessee is bracing for an encounter with the Union Army of the Cumberland, led by William S. Rosecrans, around the rail hub of Chattanooga. September would see the battle of Chickamauga, the one great victory in the west for the Rebel army. However, they would experience a colossal defeat that November and retreat further south around another rail hub, Corinth Mississippi. William Tecumseh Sherman would lead two Union Armies, of the Cumberland and of the Ohio, into Georgia for one of the final phases of the Civil War. Sometime late 1863 through early 1864 defensive works were being constructed along the W&A, especially around Atlanta. We have created two specific scenes depicting the type of entrenchments based on period photos such as these. The first photo is around the base of Kennesaw Mountain. There is a terrific painting by Don Troiani of this area.
This scene below is a version of a signal tower of which there were many types depending on the terrain. Figures are Musket Miniatures and Prieser, the latter being modified as a Confederate soldier.
Here you see a few soldier boys constructing a "shebang", slang for a impromptu shelter from the elements. These were quite common in both armies, especially if the troops were stationed for a period of time.
A typical gun emplacement below. Notice the planks supporting the gun to avoid wheels being stuck in mud and for a steady foundation. The barricade is made from what is known as "gabions". These cylinders of wicker were filled with dirt and stone. This scene and the ones prior were built by D.C. Cebula.
Lastly is a "redoubt" or breastwork usually outside of a fortification. There were many of these along the perimeter of Atlanta. This was built by LeBron Matthews. Most figures and all the fortification details of all these photos are from Musket Miniatures and Models.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chattanooga to Tunnel Hill

My good friend Andy Salcius was here a few weeks ago and posted this video he took of the most recent excursion through Georgia on the W&A. A few things to note is that the landscape and structures are period in that they have been extensively researched. Most structures are either scratch built from period photos, illustrations and/or diagrams. The time is summer 1863. Chattanooga was on the verge of being captured by the Union Army of the Cumberland, led by General Rosecrans. Locals were evacuating to points south while Confederate troops and military supplies were be transported both north, from Georgia, and south from Virginia to meet the Yankee incursion. They were to eventually meet the Union army at a place called Chickamauga Creek were the south would experience its only clear victory in the western theater of war.

 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

W&A Roundhouse - Pano

New fun with the iPhone camera. My good friend  Andy Salcius was here for a couple of days. His first project was setting up this blog. He has taken many photos and videos subsequently of the layout. For this visit we experimented with panoramic photography for something slightly different to experience. He started with the idea to make a small pivotable jig. After several renditions we landed on this rig. It appears to be on a platform/flat car. That is correct! It was the first scratch built car I attempted about 25 years ago. The base however was two angled bolsters which caused it to tip left or right. He added the four posts to stabilize and high enough to hold his iPhone. Inside the car is an inverted deck made 3D by Andy when he worked for Makerbot. The inverted deck being too unstable I found the car as a sturdier base. 




Here is photo of the jig in service that Andy created. We added a few shims to ensure stability.
 
Photo below is about the 10th shot after experimenting with different Jerry-rigged jigs and using the one shown above.
Of course this view is premature in that my research continues to find some information on what the interior may have looked like during the war years. So far, thanks to the folks at the B&O Museum, the Savannah Railroad Museum and a period photo from Dave Bright (csa-railroads.com) of the Petersburg Roundhouse, I am ready to begin adding elements. These will include one or two winches in bays, gas lamps in some of the bays, a load of work benches, shelving and more debris from general maintenance.


Friday, March 4, 2016

STRUCTURES & SIGNS

With much of the layout completed, I am now focusing more on structure colors and sign designs. As many of you probably know, color is one of the most challenging, and sometimes perplexing, elements to recreate. In addition to cruising model railroad blogs and sites, one source for ideas has been "The Civil War In Color". Here is one taken on PA Avenue during the Grand Army review at the  end of the war.
This one below is a store near Ford's Theater. There are several very cool details to consider. One is adding small signs as on the columns. Another is adding a larger sign such as the one saying "Family Circle". Then there are the drapes and the green balcony railing,  One other consideration is attaching a gas lamp as shown below. Another element is the fogged window panes. Makes it easy to avoid detailing an interior!

Although one could challenge the accuracy of either or any, such is the case in most colorized or even suggested colors in any period photo. However, these provide enough plausibility to copy for my purposes. I also read that most structures of this type had three colors, making for some fun combinations.

My town of Dalton now has my attention as there are several buildings that have been waiting for an identity! Below are two buildings that have made the transition.
For the Cherokee Insurance Banking Co. I decided on these darker colors since this is a formal business structure. To construct the sign, I first  measured the space dimensions on the building. I then perused many font options that I had seen in other photos and came up with Algerian. It took a few tries to get the font size to a correct height. After a few test fits the sign was printed on my computer using typical copy paper. It was then cut to size measured earlier. Next was to cut a piece of Evergreen styrene for the backing. I chose .010. I then framed it with .040x.040 strips which provided a frame for the actual sign. The next to-do's are window treatments, and then the next challenge - what to do for the show windows on the ground floor! One idea is to find a color photo that could give the illusion of an interior that is simply pasted or glued onto the inner side of the window. Another option of course is to add an interior with a light. Hmmm?
Photo below is a paper flat that DC Cebula expanded upon adding a chimney on the right. He then built a slight addition to give it a 3D perspective. One most attractive additions is his detailing of the roof trim. The sign was made in a similar fashion to the Cherokee Insurance Co above. 
Both signs are black lettering on white paper. The frames were painted black with craft paint. I weathered both with Doc O'Brien's powders. For this one I used brown and yellow.

 Next in line is this Drug Store and barber Shop. I am considering a third color but not sure which. Of course these windows need their treatments and some semblance of an interior. The building to the right is a residence of one of the town doctors. We will add a small front yard and fence, perhaps a flower bed. 
Another source for signs is the movie 'Horse Soldiers'. In particular are the scenes at Newton Station. There are at least a dozen signs shown. Some are painted directly onto the building. Others are on a framed placard and there's one or two hanging. You'll see a few store windows painted with such titles as BAR. I'd guess that there is also eight or so different fonts. I am currently surfing the web to find font sources. However those that come with Windows have provided a decent variety for now. In addition to the Algerian I also use GungsuhChe, Bell MT, Baskerville Old and High Tower Text. 
You can look for other font types on our civil war railroads yahoo site by John Ott. 
Lastly, I have been having TOO much fun making signs now that I have found a few more ideas for working with decals. This brings me to sharing with you a fabulous HOW TO book by Kalmbach by two of the best and well known model railroaders, Dave Frary and Bob Hayden. I Most enthusiastically post the cover here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Roundhouse Flooring Completed!

If you have visited prior postings of my ambition to add flooring, here is a photo of the final result! If you have not seen the build up, my research showed that roundhouses at this  time did have wood flooring. I thank the folks at the Savannah RR Museum for their assistance. After many hours of fitting the scribed siding, I am pleased to show its completion...


Above you can see two tracks with pits installed. Of course these were to conduct maintenance on the under belly of the locomotives. 
There is one photo of the Georgia roundhouse, below, revealing that each track had a maintenance pit. I considered reproducing this element... until I did one and immediately did a 180 on that decision. Hence, I did only two to simply offer the idea as to how these would have looked.


Re-purposing Car Weights

Building an authentic replica of a civil war railroad requires LOTS of scratch building. The use of various weights has always been helpful to hold pieces in place as glue dries or to hold them as you measure for accuracy. I have purchased a few from Micro Mark for this reason. Last year I needed additional weights IMMEDIATELY. As necessity can be the mother of invention, I recalled that over the years I accumulated Mantua car weights, removed to reduce the weight of cars in order to enhance pulling capacity for my Mantua General's. Although prior to the war, train consists were 2 to 4 cars, many railroad buffs think that during the war locomotives did not pull more than maybe half dozen. However, during the war requirements for materials and troops pushed their limits. Records show that train consists topped 20 even 23 cars. Often these were loaded and sometimes requiring double-headed power. 
Twelve to fifteen years ago only Mantua cars were available. Today we now have several manufacturers that produce very authentic laser kits for a variety of rolling stock, such as BTS and ALKEM. However, enticed by this opportunity to operate longer consists, I replaced the heavier weights in the Mantua cars with lighter ones. 
Nearly two dozen cars later I had a stack of these long, rectangular pieces of metal that I'd use two or three at a time. Then the bulb lit! 




To wrap these in any stack configuration with good, ole, reliable duct tape!
As you can imagine, any car weights can be re-purposed for such a tool...

HAPPY RAILS!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

M&C RR Update

I know, I know, not much of the W&A recently. However, I can not pass up the opportunity to show the latest progress on Charlie Taylor's O scale M&C. Below is one of two photo updates showing the Memphis Depot.

The extraordinary aspect of this and the next photo of the Huntsville Roundhouse is that I initially thought these were laser cut as are several of the M&C structures. Actually these are scratch built. Charlie Curro is the master craftsman who has done many of the M&C buildings. The doorway detail is truly spectacular.
This one below is the Huntsville Roundhouse, also scratch built. Please note that the roof is metal!
Next post will be a tip for discarded car weights and recent photos of work on my W&A Roundhouse.