Sunday, 1 August 2021

Drilling mud silos

I was hoping to host an operating session this coming weekend, but due to COVID restrictions I've had to put that off for a week or two.  So I turned my attention to adding the drilling mud silos at Jacobson Concrete. 

Now I just have to add a concrete batching facility, and Jacobson will be "finished".

Thanks for looking,


Monday, 19 July 2021

Operating session 13 July 2021

After a 16 month break mainly due to COVID, we finally had an operating session on the GC&SF last week.  

I was a bit apprehensive about how the layout would perform after such a long break, but apart from some very minor issues it seems to have performed very well. We operators, on the other hand, were all a bit rusty with our skills, so I think it will take me a while to get the layout restaged and ready for the next session.

Here are some photos from the session.

Chris is setting out a string of stock cars at the Pauls Valley stock pens.

John F, Peter K. and Peter S.

Barry is running the northbound Texas Chief through Dougherty.

John F. setting out empty tank cars, and collecting loaded cars at the Wynnewood refinery.

Derek (yardmaster at Pauls Valley) is classifying cars.

Chris, operating a south-bound gravel train, is collecting a string of loaded gondolas at Big Canyon.

Barry (left) is switching Gordon White Lumber Co., while Derek and Bill work a south-bound
through freight at Pauls Valley.  
Rod (on the right) is switching at Wynnewood.

L-R: Barry, Rod and John F. watching as a local freight operated by Rod switches Wynnewood.
(Photo by Derek.)

At Pauls Valley, the locos from the stock train have tied up with the caboose while the stock cars are
loaded (unloaded?). A southbound Fast Freight is crossing from the main to the arrival/departure track.

(Photo by Chris.)

Bill appears to be checking the switch alignment on the house track at Davis, after someone failed to
line a switch for the main, sending his passenger train up the siding. 
The "quonset hut" is a cardboard
mock-up, and t
hat's Wynnewood on the LH side of the photo, on the other side of the backboard.
(Photo by Chris.)

Me, selecting a loco on a DT402D.
(Photo by Chris.)

GP7s setting out stock cars on the Pauls Valley stock yard spur.  I still have to build the stock pens
in the clearing on the left, as well as a concrete batching plant next to the sheds.

(Photo by Chris.)

L-R: Peter K, John F, Derek and Peter S. watching the action at Pauls Valley.
(Photo by Chris.)

Pauls Valley elevator.
(Photo by Chris.)

Jacobson Concrete and the Pauls Valley elevator.
(Photo by Chris.)

My thanks go to the guys for coming over and making this a successful day, and especially to Chris and Derek for allowing me to share the photos that they took.


Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Track cleaning train in action

I've been active in my train room over the past month, but there's not a lot to show for it.

First off, I added a Digitrax UR93 to improve wireless throttle coverage in the train  room. Then I upgraded the firmware on my wireless devices (UR92, UR93, DT402D and UT4D) to provide better operation between the UR93 and the older devices. I'm very happy with the way the system is working, but I'm disappointed that JMRI/DecoderPro doesn't seem to detect the UR93.

I've also spent a lot of time cleaning dust off the layout. The scenery work I did at Gene Autry left a fine layer of dust across the entire layout, and I've had to lift and vacuum every structure and bit of rollingstock, and vacuum the track and other scenery, to remove it. With that job now almost complete, I set my track cleaning train to work to clean the track.

Here's a short, and somewhat shaky video I made of the train in action. At the time I had the switches set to direct the train through the mainline sidings in each of the towns.

I posted more information about the track cleaning train, with photos showing the construction of the masonite sliders here.

I'm almost at the point where I can resume CC&WB operating sessions, and I hope to be calling a crew together by mid to late June.


Sunday, 21 March 2021

Houses for Gene Autry (the town, not the singing cowboy)

In early March I started doing base scenery for Gene Autry, but I encountered a problem with the "dirt" that I was planning to use. (That story is told on my GC&SF FB page )

While pondering what to do about that problem, I decided to build a couple of houses for my Gene Autry folks to live in. I asked my technical advisor Doug (who grew up in Gene Autry) what colour they painted their houses back in the '60s. Doug told me, "White, the rich people had bricks."

So, armed with that information, and some photos from Doug and the internet, I constructed these two houses.

Note that these houses will not be sited in the location shown in the photo. The one on the left is also shallower than it would otherwise be, because these will fit against the backdrop at Gene Autry, where I don't have a lot of depth.



Sunday, 21 February 2021

Cordless, rechargeable airbrush and compressor combo

A few weeks ago I bought a cordless/rechargeable airbrush and compressor combination device, and over the past days I've been trying it out. I initially thought that it might be useful for painting track, and that is what I've been using it for.

About a year ago I used my ancient Badger single-action airbrush and Tamiya acrylic (XF) paint to paint the track at Pauls Valley. The Badger did a great job, but the wide spray pattern used a lot of paint, and the long air-hose was a PITA to work around. So I was keen to see how this "hose-less" device would go. 

My first attempt (last Friday) didn't go as well as I was hoping, but that was mainly due to my inexperience with both the airbrush and the acrylic paint. I thinned the paint to about the same consistency that I'd used to paint the track at Pauls Valley with my Badger, but I failed to consider that I would be using a lower air pressure with this new airbrush. 

The job started well, but about one-quarter of the way through, the nozzle started to give me trouble due to paint clogging. I ran some thinner  through it, and thinned the paint more. But performance continued to get worse, with less and less paint being sprayed. Then, when I was about 90% done, the compressor battery died. I gave the airbrush a thorough clean, put the compressor on charge, and then walked away.

Today I took another look at the work and decided that due to the thinness of the paint it would need a second coat. I decided to try the airbrush/compressor unit again, but this time I did the job correctly, and thinned the paint 2 parts thinner to 1 part paint.

WOW!  What a difference that made.

It took me only about 15 minutes to repaint the track, and at the end I simply ran a few loads of cleaner through the airbrush to clean it up ready for the next job.

On the down side - my combo only operates at a low(ish) pressure (claimed 17 psi and 7 litres/min), so I can't blast large volumes of paint through it as I might if I used my other compressor with a higher pressure setting. And even though the airbrush itself is a dual-action model, it attaches to the compressor without using the air-flow valve, so I can't control the flow of air using the trigger.

Despite those shortcomings I like this device. It's a great bit of kit for working away from an airbrush station, or if (like me) you don't have an airbrush station, or you want to be able to work without disturbing your family.

Would I buy this again?

Well, yes ... and maybe no - possibly not this particular unit, anyway. Since I bought mine the price has gone up about $20 from the same seller, and in the meantime I've found another unit that, for nearly double the price I paid, has a switch that provides a choice of two air pressure settings, and that allows the airflow to be controlled via a valve (in the normal dual-action way.) I would be tempted to try one of those next time.

This is the unit that I bought:

There are many videos on Youtube reviewing these combination units. If you're interested in getting one yourself I recommend that you spend some time watching a few of them. This is the one that got me started:


Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Pauls Valley elevator complex

 I've been working on a model of a small elevator complex located in Pauls Valley. I know very little about the real industry, which existed back in 1960 but is now closed, and I had to eye-ball the dimensions based on photos.

Here are some photos of my model, together with a photo of the real thing that was taken by Rod when he and several other friends visited Pauls Valley more than 20 years ago.

Photo of the real thing taken by Rod. The rail spur followed the gravel road to pass between
the rusty silos and the buildings that are barely visible on the RH side of the photo.
(The silos and buildings belonged to The Jacobson Concrete Co.)


Monday, 16 November 2020

Adding a lift-out, and more scenery.

In my last post I mentioned that my next job was to add scenery to the section of track between Pauls Valley and Wynnewood. 

Before starting on the scenery, I cut a hole in the plywood so that I could build a lift-out hatch to provide access to the north staging yard turnout ladder that is located under this section of the layout. The turnouts were originally installed back in late 2003, and although they've never given me any serious trouble, that might not always be the case (touch wood!).

The base for the scenery was a sheet of extruded styrene foam that was cut and formed to provide the required "landscape", with a removable (lift-out) panel to cover the access hatch in the plywood. I covered the foam with a layer of plaster bandage, and then built up scenery on top of that.

This photo shows the view from just inside the train-room door. Pauls Valley is on the left, and Wynnewood is on the right. The area that I've been working on is along the wall at the far end of the aisle.

This is a closer view of the scenery in the area between Pauls Valley and Wynnewood. I wanted to add a few more trees to better mask trains running between the two towns, but I've run out (again). So that will have to wait until I've made another batch.

These next photos show the layout with the access hatch removed, to reveal the ladder turnouts on the level below.

As usual, I will post better versions of these photos on my GC&SF FB page.

Thanks for following along, and please stay safe.