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Hey gang! I'm back. The trip to Spain was wonderful. I don't know why people don't talk about Spanish food like they do about Italian and French. The food, the people and the things we did were spectacular. We spent 3.5 days in Barcelona, took the AVE (Alta Velocidad) train to Madrid and spent 3.5 days there until flying home.

AVE Train to Madrid at Max Speed 187 mph

The train was running at 300 KPH for much of the ride (almost 190 mph) and covered the 320 miles in 2.5 hours. The picture shows the speedometer readout in the first class cabin which is in the lead car. Train was manufactured by Talgo. Tickets were $70 Euro/person and that included a beautifully served hot breakfast.

I simply don't understand why Americans aren't clamoring for high speed trains. I know all the reasons why Americans are married to slow trains, annoying airplanes and our highways. I know that to truly install such trains you need dedicated, new infrastructure which little or no grades, and very large turns. And I know that installing new right of ways runs directly against the NIMBY folks who simply want nothing to change. That being said, the thought of being able to go from New York to Chicago, city-center to city-center in 5 hours, which sitting in perfect comfort, eating good food, doing work, or just relaxing is really something good. I believe the biggest problem is that most Americans have never traveled on an AVE, TGV, ICE or Bullet Train. Once you've been in one you don't want to travel any other way. We also walked a lot, I gained 3 pounds and lost 2 of it already.

Now, back to the mountain building. Finished painting rocks, and painted and grassed the existing mountain. As a result, I'm just about ready to start adding cardboard strips and plastering the remaining front slope. Right now the mountain is a grass-covered mound. I need to do more with this terrain, including some trees and shrubbery. But I'm not quite sure what I want to do. Meanwhile, I want to get it buttoned up so I can start running trains again.

Tunnel Cut 2 coloredTunnel Cut 1 coloredRock Cut colored

I was able to use sample paint left over from picking the paint for our family room redo. Painting the Gypsolite requires a lot of dabbing and care to get into all the crevices. I ran out of the first shade of grass I was using and changed colors to a darker green. I spread the darker over the lighter to blend the two colors and hide the difference.

Montjuic grass 1

I also colored the rocks in the mine area. 

Mine rock

The remaining plastering will go pretty fast. I still have to design the actual topography for the incomplete areas. There are some complicated transitions between the completed areas and the remaining space. Regardless, it won't be a problem.


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  • AVE Train to Madrid at Max Speed 187 mph
  • Tunnel Cut 2 colored
  • Tunnel Cut 1 colored
  • Rock Cut colored
  • Montjuic grass 1
  • Mine rock

Thanks all! Glad to be back.

Another good work session today. I got the profile pieces installed for the mountain's front face. At first I was going to use the cardboard form boards as templates to cut Masonite, but after reinforcing the cardboard I decided to go with more "Cardboard Engineering". I also used some strange cardboard packing material that's a thick honeycomb which has some good stiffness. I used this to both stiffen the contour panels themselves and to tie them into the structure and to each other. I was inspired to do this since the all-cardboard structure supporting the left side of the mountain is doing the job quite well once the two layers of Gysolite's there to stabilize the whole deal. I can put some modest weight on that part without having much deflection. And it's really cheap using up all the boxes and packing that I've accumulated for this project. The most expensive part of this mountain was the rock molds.

Cardboard Engineering 3

To do this, I held up the cardboard to their respective surface and marked the contact points. I then drew the contour curve to blend into the existing structure. I had to adjust some of the shapes to give good transitions. I spent a lot of time at the front where the mine's going to go. I ran into a problem. My enlarged drawing of the "Frenda Mine" had the coal chute way too low (about 1.5"). I had to quickly adjust my paper mockup to raise the bottom after bringing in a track and a hopper car. This will require a change in the angle of the lower tipple's floor to make it less oblique. I'll change the formal drawings on Illustrator when I ready to build this. RMC has been running a new article on building this small coal mine. The original article was from 1978. I want the mountain's contours in that area to be right so the model will drop right in.

Cardboard Engineering 5

You can see how I used that cardboard dunnage to stabilize the formers side-to-side. It's surprisingly stiff and will work well when all the cardboard strips are in place (with lots of hot glue). The transition between the rock cut on the right and the rest of the front face will be an interesting and not-very-natural one, but nothing about this mountain is actually like a real one. 

I also used the dunnage to space the wing walls away from the portal. I didn't do this on the left side rock cuts and had to taper the plaster back to connect to the portals. Using the spacers will give me some more leeway. Notice that I reinstalled that last portal.

Tunnel spacing

Tomorrow I'll probably be able to install all the cardboard strips and get plastering underway by Friday at the latest. There much less surface area here to cover than the rest of mountain, so finishing it won't take too long. Big mountains take a long time to build when you're doing it alone. Grandkids are back in school, although they're going to have a couple of days off this week so maybe I can get the younger one to lend a hand. Older grandson's working on the Carrier Yorktown and will probably want to build that in the shop if he has the time.



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  • Cardboard Engineering 3
  • Cardboard Engineering 5
  • Tunnel spacing

Started laying in the cardboard strips in the foreground first. I was making good progress up to about 3:00 p.m. I was attempting to use the big staple gun to tack in a heavy cardboard cross-piece to support the strips that will go into the wide pie-shaped space at the front corner. I was pushing the gun with pressure across my body with my right hand and heard and felt a "pop" in my right shoulder. It felt like it popped out of the socket temporarily. It didn't really hurt right away, but it did feel weird. I tried to use it, but it was painful when lifting and pushing any load, so I quit, went upstairs, took some Advil and sent a message to my orthopedic surgeon son in law. It's not hurting when I'm not doing anything (including when typing this) but it is very hard to lift the laptop off my lap. Hopefully, I just tweaked something and my layout work will continue. I've never had a shoulder injury before other than occasional bursitis. I'm hoping this isn't anything bad. Here's what I got done today. The cardboard piece that I was attempting to staple is just at the lower left edge of the picture.



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It's basket weaving for us guys... I may have a bicep tendon tear which is something that can happen to us old guys. Great! More crap that breaks down when you get old. I was able to work in the shop today if I took it easy and I got the lower front face fully encased in cardboard. The harder parts are up next since I have to lay them in bending over in funny ways. I'm thinking that I'm going to pad out the left hand slope a bit to round out that shape. Now it's just a flat slope (boring) and doesn't transition correctly to the tunnel cut that lies right behind. It's really an exercise in networks showing how a relatively weak substance (corrugated box cardboard) can be structurally sound when interlinked and combined with a strong rigid membrane. It's similar to aluminum ribs and skin in a air craft. Individual they don't have much strength but together... Also metal studs and sheetrock walls.


The cardboard here is a from a Samsung LED TV box. I'm finding that the hot glue doesn't adhere well to the glossy ink side and it's requiring me to scrape some of it off. It holds better that way, but adds a bit more work. Uncoated board would be a better choice.

I'm seeing my orthopedic son in law tonight and will find more about this shoulder business. And to think, I blew it out attempting to use a staple gun. I'm using saws, cutting tools all the time, and am climbing on top of and underneath the layout at all kinds of angles, and I get injured using a freaking staple gun! For crying out loud! That ain't fair... is it?

Can't wait to get the plaster on top. There will also be more opportunities for interesting rock work on that front face.


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Last edited by Trainman2001

Thanks Mark! My son in law doctor thinks that the tendon didn't tear, but it may have popped out of the groove in which it sits. It did feel like it popped out and then back, but to do that it does tear things up a bit which is where all the pain and lack of mobility is coming from. He said to not use the right hand much, lift the arm with the help of the left hand to keep it flexible, and we'll evaluate in a week. It will probably curtail mountain building for a while since the remaining work is going to require a lot more reaching and arm lifting. I'll be working on the B-17 project in the meantime since it requires very little arm movement.

Thanks Al! I could probably plaster the front part that I've finished adding strips, but would have trouble doing the flank since I'd have to raise my right arm above my shoulder and that doesn't feel so good. Today did feel better. Last night my son in law explained that whatever I did to the bicep tendon, it probably won't actually heal. It could stop hurting and would let me use it normally, but it doesn't heal in the true sense of the word. 

Hopefully, your second shot will work, but be prepared that it may not work permanently. The surgery is a pain, but it's completely successful. I have complete mobility, no pain, my wedding ring fits as it used to. So if you need surgery you'll have a couple of weeks of discomfort, but it's a very high success rate.

The fact I injured my arm just using a staple gun at a funny angle instead of when climbing around over and under the layout and using some serious tools, is very ironic and very annoying.

Thank you for asking. It has resolved itself to a classic proximal biceps tendon rupture. My som in law says I will be fine. He's right. I have a new lump on my old biceps and it's still sore, but I can move it in all directions. So when we return from this trip we're on, I think I'll be back on moutain work. I need to get trains running again by Thanksgiving when the granddaughters arrive. 

Meanwhile, I finished and delivered the B-17 "Yankee Lady" that I built for an old friend. The wing stripe decals were home made. 



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Just an update to let you all know what's going on...

Apparently, I did something permanent to my shoulder by having a "Proximal Biceps tendon rupture". I ruptured the long-head tendon on my right bicep. It won't actually heal, but it will stop hurting (as it already is) and, according to son in law, you can live perfectly well with half of your bicep disconnected. It ultimately reduces biceps strength by about 20%, but will not stop me from doing anything. If I was younger and an athlete, they would surgically re-attached the tendon to somewhere at the top of the shoulder, but it's a long recovery and not a particularly successful surgery. Since I'm neither of those categories, surgery will not happen. I may so some limited physical therapy, but in the last weeks I've gained full use of my right shoulder, can do almost anything with my right arm as long as the load is reduced from what I'm used to. I've yet to have it re-examined by son in law so I'm not certain of the path forward. Right now it just a sore part of the top half of my right bicep.

That being said, I plan to start working on the mountain again and see how it goes. attaching cardboard strips and plaster is not too rigorous now that I can raise my right arm above my head and do something useful with it. Thank goodness this happened after all the real heavy work is complete on the railroad. I couldn't have handled that hammer drill putting in the anchor bolts for the back cantilevered braces if my arm was injured then. And if it happened to my left hand (even though I'm right-handed) would have jeopardized my ability to play the guitar since left hand grip and wrist flexing is critical for fretting notes. There's always a silver lining.

Thanks for all the thoughts. I don't need surgery since the arm is functioning well enough that I successfully tried some mountain building. Hooray! I would have even worked longer than I did, but I first cleaned up the shop from the B-17 project, and then did mountain work. I stopped at 4:00 since I also seemed to have caught a cold somewhere on our trip back East and it slowed me down a bit, but the arm didn't. It really worked well.

Here's a rarity... my shop where you can actually see some open work surfaces. Unlike other modelers, I am not a neat worker. Never had been. When I taught shop, I had two rooms to manage: metals and power technology. My classes seemed to alternate between the two and I would often be engaged with the kids and miss the first bell, so clean up often didn't happen. I always thought I was a lousy teacher because of that. I found out from alumni, that the kids had a completely different impression.

Clean Shop

I continued today working in cardboard on the front face. I wanted to improve the contours of the slope coming down to the tunnel portal so I first added some perpendicular cardboard formers to add a hump to the profile and then covered these with lateral strips.

Front Face Strips 2

I'm finding that the coated cardboard stock rejects hot glue somewhat. It's a Samsung TV box that I cut up. It's double thick. I'm having to scrap and rough up the surface to give the hot glue some texture upon which to stick.

Front Face Strips 3

I also put in some strips flanking down the front tying the mountain into the subroadbed. With this part down I have two more bays to strip and then it's onto plastering.

Front Face Strips 4

I'm going to build some lateral contour into these bays also following the patten that I used in the portal one.

So cardboard will be done in a couple of days and I expect that plastering will commence this week. I need to get this whole deal finished before Thanksgiving when my granddaughters come for a visit. The arm got functional just in time. It's quite weird that you can detach one half of your bicep and still have a functional arm. Luckily, the short-head tendon rarely if ever breaks. It probably evolved this way just so you had some redundancy.


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  • Clean Shop
  • Front Face Strips 2
  • Front Face Strips 3
  • Front Face Strips 4

My younger brother called me a "neat-nik" (a takeoff of beatnik) when we were growing up.  40+ years of employment have shown me I am in the minority!  Whatever it takes to get the job done!

The cardboard slope looks realistic, and the forms behind the track look like that slope will be too.  Yes, I can see where hot glue may not stick well to the coated cardboard.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

I don't recall you mentioning the granddaughters before.  How old are they?  It's great the arm came around in time.  I too am surprised your arm can function the way it is now.  Good!

The granddaughters live in State College, PA. who we visit multiple times a year, but they only come to us (and my son's sister) on T'giving. Both girls (ages 8 & 11) are very talented with singing, dance and piano going well. The older one sings the National Anthem at many PSU sporting events and is a regular at the minor league baseball games. They perform in children, student and adult plays and are truly impressive. Both are also very technically literate, not from their dad, but from they super-tech-savvy mom. So they really appreciate the trains and when I've done with them. If you're interested, send me a private note and I'll friend you on Facebook and you can see them perform. I've even coached the older one on how to do some things on SketchUp which she was using in a school program.

Wait a minute!  I have seen them on Facebook, as we are already friends there.  I guess I didn't remember since OGR was out of context.  Yes, I have watched the singing!  Very good!.  

Our younger daughter is similarly gifted.  Didn't get it from me.  She now has a degree in music, sings in the Mendelssohn Choir in Pittsburgh, gives private voice and piano lessons, and plays harp and sings for weddings.  She also performs in an occasional play or musical.  She is 23.  The big thing is she is a go getter; she auditions for anything, even things she doesn't think she can qualify.  I'm not bragging, I'm amazed and too laid back to have the nerve to do what she does.  If your granddaughters want to pursue their talent as a career, they will have to continue getting every opportunity they can; and it looks like they are off to a fine start.

Mark, it's nice to hear about your daughter! You're allowed to brag. My son was a stellar performer in school, but never told anyone about his grades or success, so I took the job of bragging about him. Two years ago Anna auditioned for Mathilda on Broadway. She made it to the 3rd round, but really didn't have the acting experience needed for such a heavy lift. Since then she's been in lots of performances and her talent continues to grow. She really loves it. I mean, seriously, standing on the ice in front of 20,000 people and nailing the Star Spangled Banner. A lot of pros have trouble with that.

Harp eh? I have a harp story. One of the VPs at a company I used to work said that his daughter plays a $750,000 harp. The harp cost $10,000. Then the van he needed to haul it cost $40,000, and the new house with a music room to hold it cost $700,000. It was very funny when he told it.

As manufacturing jobs continue to disappear and the creative ones keep increasing it's good when the kids have talent. The hard part is making a good living at it. There are so many talented people out there, but so few make it big (similar odds for high school sports athletes turning pro). So much depends on happenstance, being there, being discovered, getting the big break, paying your dues, handling rejection, etc.

After playing in the band in college, my wife didn't want me to pursue music at all. She really didn't like the life style that it entailed. Even though it might have been fun (for a while), it was the right decision.

Good for Anna!  Yes, Holly started singing the Star Spangled Banner at high school basketball games, she played in.  Folks were surprised she did so well, then pretty soon they were asking her to do it every home game.  Once she was in college, they couldn't believe a 5' 4" pixie played basketball, until the next year when her high school's star player joined the college team and corroborated the story.

I like the story about the expensive harp!  Holly's grandmother bought the harp before her death.  We hauled it in an old Dodge mini-van and it sat in the corner of the living room of our small house.  Now we can unload the worn out van, as Holly's husband has an SUV, but no one carries the harp but Holly.

I'm very encouraged. I actually used the staple gun in my right hand without freaking out. "When you fall off a horse, get right back on." I only have 3 square feet let to pave with cardboard strips and that should be done tomorrow, which means plastering will commence Friday. 

Again, I put in some intermediate formers to add some more contour on the front face, and add more lateral rigidity to the main formers to better support the plaster ops. In doing this today, I closed off the last bit of space where I could dangle my legs and face forward when working. Once I closed it up, I had to side sideways and work bending at the waist which wasn't comfortable.

Front Face Formers 2

To get better adhesion, I glued the cap strips on top of these formers BEFORE gluing them into place. This enabled me to put more uniform pressure on the strips while the hot glue set. Hot glue is funny... once a joint breaks loose and you put on more glue, it just gets worse. Glue doesn't stick to glue very well and things can go from bad to worst very quickly. 

A tip: I find that when you're getting near the end of the hot glue stick and you're ready to insert another one behind it, it works best if you put a dab of hot glue on the end of the new rod and glue it to the back of the one that's in the gun. It improves the feed from one stick to another.

Front Face formers 1

Here's another cascade of cardboard strips. I like how the contours worked out with those intermediate forms. I used  the staple gun to tie the loose ends of all these strips when I saw that they were pulling up before the glue set. I also glued up longer strips so I could go from top to bottom in one go. It provides a somewhat smoother transition. I also lined the sides of the tunnel cuts in preparation for plastering and some more rock work. Again, the staple gun was used to tack the bottoms of these pieces to the subroadbed.

Front Face Strips 5

Tomorrow I'll finish up the stepping (finally) and get going on plastering this massive undertaking.


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  • Front Face Formers 2
  • Front Face formers 1
  • Front Face Strips 5

I think the progress you have made is wonderful! Are you sure your not a teacher for the rest of us up and coming students of this hobby. You just like some other have so much to teach and with your post you are teaching more then most would ever think about. Please keep up the great work and keep all of us students posted!

Great tutorial you've been presenting here. I could have used this 20+ years ago when i built my mountains and had to rely on the HO mags for how to ideas. I have had a love/hate relationship with hot glue for many a year. I finally started using good old construction adhesive (Liquid Nails) as an alternative; the little extra set up time beats the frustration of hot glue.

Last edited by modeltrainsparts

I really enjoy sharing the information. I too would have liked this much input years ago. It's really no problem for me to capture all this stuff. I kind of like re-reading it every once in a while, since it's easy to forget just how much work it is to create this stuff. When it's all finished, all the work is hidden from view.

Mark, I actually don't have a clue about how much structure to build. I just it want to be able to support the plaster load and an eventual misplaced hand. I've leaned on the finished part to work on this stuff today and it didn't budge. Model Railroader is always working in HO, and frankly there aren't many HO pikes that build 7 foot mountains. That being said, if anyone has ever visited Northlandz, in Flemington, NJ, you'll see HO mountains that are 15 feet high. I don't know what they used in their construction. My entire family has seen Northlandz and, while they were impressed with the scale of the landscaping, they were unimpressed with the actual railroad aspects. A much more impressive pike is the one sponsored by BNSF at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

I think that using structural adhesives is precluded due to the need to clamp all those cardboard pieces in place. Most of the time, the hot glue holds quick enough that clamping isn't necessary. When it is I just attach some of those cheap Chinese spring clamps to secure the troublesome spot for a minute or so and then move on. Hot glue in this application is similar to using CA in flying model aircraft where you can glue up a wing as fast as you can move instead of waiting 24 hours for old style solvent cements to dry. CA too has it's problems if the joint doesn't make properly the first time.

Last edited by Trainman2001

I didn't work on the mountain today, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't doing any "train stuff". First I have to regale you with a very sad story. 

The main reason for heading back East two weeks ago was to go to York for the TCA show and then onto Philly to visit family ending up at State College, PA to visit son and his family. It was going to be a long, 12-day trip so my wife asked if we could cut it short one day by going to York on Saturday instead of our usual Friday. I said, no problem since the show runs from Thursday to Saturday. 

We left our motel in Frostburg, MD and arrived at York just before 1:00 p.m. I was surprised how close we were able to park to the Orange Hall. When got in, the concession area was very quiet and we decided to have some lunch. At 1:15 we went into the "Show". I put "show" in quote because, at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday the show is effectively over. I wanted to meet with three vendors. River Leaf Models, Sunset 3rd Rail and DHS Model Construction Equipment. Of the three, only Andre Garcia of River Leaf was still there. 3rd Rail had left after Friday, and DHS' booth had one box sitting on an empty table. To say I was disappointed was a very big understatement. 

I did get a new MTH catalog for my troubles. And in it was the reissue of their Premiere EMD Santa Fe F-3s and since I sold my Lionel unit last year I've been longing to replace it with one without magna-traction. So after discussion with the CinC, I decided to put in the order at our local train store, Roundhouse Trains. I went there today all set to put the wheels in motion to get a $1,200 loco lash-up. While discussing the order with the proprietor, I noticed an older PS-1 F3 set that was in beautiful condition. I inquired at the price for the A-B-A model and was told $200.00. $200.00!!!

(I just checked in my pile of old MTH catalogs and found this engine in the Volume 1, 1997 and it listed for $600.00)

How the heck could I justify spending another $1,000 for an engine that differed from this one in a few ways: (more detail on the Blomberg trucks, opening doors, LED lighting, spinning roof fans, and the more prototypical freight pilot), chrome plated sides to more reflect the shiny stainless on the real one and PS3. While that's a big deal IF I WAS RUNNING DCS. I ain't, so the PS-3 option doesn't reflect my needs. I called my wife on the phone and asked if it made sense to order the new one or save $1k on the used one. You know what her decision was.

While getting all this packed up, I saw an Atlas SW2 switcher in the case. It was in BNSF livery which wouldn't be a problem since I have the skills to re-color it and it was just $95.00, but after putting it on the test track, the electronics were compromised. I then saw a RailKing SW2 cow and calf set in my colors (UP). It was also pristine like the F3s. The price for the pair was $175. I offered $350 for both engines and the deal was made. I also picked up a beautiful MTH Premiere Centerflo Hopper for $35.00. So for a total of $408 I got two nice engines and a great car. So who needs York??? That will teach them about shutting down at 2:00 on Saturday.

Here's the F3s in front of a mostly-Santa Fe passenger train.

Santa Fe F3 where it belongsNew Acquistion 2

The two new engines side-by-side. 

New Acquisitions

Both engines have battery eliminators installed which Roundhouse does for all their used MTH engines. I'm in the process of upgrading to BCRs in all PS1 and QSI equipped engines. With these new two I'm up to 7, with 10 more to go.

Tomorrow I'll be back building that mountain.


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  • Santa Fe F3 where it belongs
  • New Acquistion 2
  • New Acquisitions

A sad story, but with a happy ending at least.  Why 17?  With deals like that, round it to twenty. That way you can have a yellow bonnet, and a blue bonnet, on it?   I hear its better that way.

Andre still being there is pretty cool, but not totally surprising. He strikes me as committed and courteous. It's nice to know your right about things like that. If you would have made a guessing game out of this I would have beat the odds easy.

   Any business that closes early even fairly regularly loses my business all together. If the hours on the door say 9-5 I had better be able to walk in the door at 4:59 and do 5 minutes worth of business. And that's if you're rushing to leave. Otherwise, buy a new sign that says 9- 4:30 and stay open "late".

A show is only slightly different.  I don't know where some of these folks today got their work ethics but "not worth it" means you shouldn't bother signing on to begin with. If you need to skip a day, fine, don't advertise yourself as being there or be specific about your hours, signs at a table about it and all.

   I know of two shows where if you leave early, you can't reserve space in the future.  You can only show up and hope there is room. Tit for tat, lol. That policy is a good one. Especially if folks are paying an entrance fee. Not at a train show(yet) but I've demanded my money back at auto parts swaps and comic book shows when the place was emptying at noon, but scheduled till 3. "I didn't pay to watch folks pack". I don't like mornings or morning crowds so "get there earlier" is asking me not to attend, and I'll abide, and you'll sell that much less. Fine, but change the sign; false advertising.

OK pictures above are loaded....except the last one. When I'm scrolling its there, if I stop, the frame goes black. And FYI other posters, the attachments at the bottom have been near usueless for viewing since June or July, you can't zoom them and the picture is smaller than "medium", please check off "insert full size". This applied to a PC and 2 androids so it must be aimed at Mac users. Don't worry they can still use it unless you " collapse attachments", that hides them. ............OK half hour to fourty minutes to load  the Chief hunting a buffulo and calf at dusk (with a cannon), kinda worth it . Nice snags TM.


And to pour salt in the wound, it may have cost both missing vendors a sale. I was prepared to pre-order the 3rd rail PAs in Santa Fe livery, and am always interested in buying some construction models from DHS. I like to see them in the flesh before buying. Since they were gone at 1:30, I spent my money at my local train store. In retrospect, it's better to buy from my local train store since it's the only one left in Louisville, and they're doing a nice job.

Once I got to a show within the last 2 hours because I had trouble finding it.  This was decades before GPS for the public.  When I entered, the man at the door told me a few vendors were packing up, so he would let me come in and browse for free.  I don't remember how many were still selling or if I bought anything, but I did think they did right by not charging.  If they had, I may have just gone home.

I spent my money at my local train store. In retrospect, it's better to buy from my local train store since it's the only one left in Louisville, and they're doing a nice job.

I wish I had a "local train store"!! I say: "Good for you".. I have to rely primarily on the bay and the Forum.. I'm going to a train show toward the end of the month in Charleston, SC.. It's about 100 mi., I hope it is worth the trip..


Great point!  For new I like to buy at a local hobby shop, but a lot of what I buy is used.  In fact, besides the Hallmark Santa train I bought for my wife last Christmas, the only other engine I own that I bought brand new is an MTH Premier F unit.  I have bought many cars, track, and my DCS and Z4000 from LHS.  I  have never bought an engine at a show, most have come from Forum members right here.  Kind of like I don't mind buying a foreign car, since I buy used and have never paid more than $10,000.  I realize, the next used car will cost me more than 10 grand, but I have digressed too far.

The real benefit of buying local was the ability to put the engines on the test track. I may have purchased that Atlas SW2 if I hadn't seen the trouble with the electronics. Cosmetically the engine looked okay. They had a lot of other nice engines too. They lean towards Lionel, but have a good MTH representation. The store used to be tiny. Then in 2011, the small publishing company that had adjoining office space moved out, and Roundhouse absorbed all of their space. Now it's this labyrinth of connected rooms filled with goodies. It's really fun to visit since you don't know what's around the corner. They just bought out a huge estate of trains that besides being in the house, filled an entire storage container.

Well being in Detroit during the slow fall of the auto industry I have a tendency for being loyal to local businesses. The loss of one local dollar leads to the loss of the next. When I bought cars new, they were and still would be American. But the air cooled VWs were too interesting to pass up for looks, concept, history, and assembly. I bought 73 and older and surprisingly enough, most replacement parts could be had with a "made in the USA" label on the box.  I had no guilt spanking Ford Mouse-thangs out of the hole in my ratty bugs.

For an extra few bucks, I keep it local without thought. If I don't, I'll be handing it out the window of my car to feed him anyhow. The world economy begins at the bottom of your porch steps, why venture to its extremes.

Despite great product, those folk missing in action must not be hurting for any business or they would have stayed IMO. I never left a comic show early good or bad, never closed the funnel cakelcaeed The whole deal was dealt by karma it seems. Count t

Useless composer won't let me change anything above, cursor lands at the en dddd repeatedly , sorry...

I couldn't agree more! We have a really nice train store here and a terrific full-line hobby shop (Scale Reproductions Inc.) and I really do my best to keep them here.

Today's production was very good. The arm is working better each day and often I forget that it was even injured. Sitting and kneeling/leaning over the mountain probably did more to pull my back out of shape than hurt the arm. I got all the cardboard in place and even got most of the first coat of plaster soaked paper towels onto the mountain.

I brought the strips down below the land line so the terrain leading up to the mountain will merge nicely with that front lip.

Cardboard Complete 2

The contours work pretty well and make the effort to pre-install all those curves worthwhile. For the remaining terrain, I'm going to go back to window screen since it relatively flat with gentle curves to which the screen will conform decently. I chose not to use screen for the mountain for two reasons: 1) it doesn't form compound curves well without buckling, and 2) you need solid support to which to staple it. That would have necessitated using lots of lumber to build the skeleton. Cardboard did the job much better.

I mix my Gypsolite to be about the consistency of thick Pea Soup. It's a sloppy, messy job, and I put a drop cloth under the layout to catch most of the drips (even though the floor's a complete wreck from the previous work). I used nitrile gloves to keep most of it off my hands. BTW: I use heavy leather work gloves when using hot glue. It's really easy to get that stuff on your hands and it will burn you! I find that as I use the plaster, the consistency changes since the paper towels suck out some of the water. I have to spend more time working the plaster into the towels as this consistency changes. It's also where the skimpy plaster towels seem to come from.

Before doing any plastering, I put some masking tape on the tunnel portals. I should have done this with the right side since it made mess of the portals which took a lot of cleaning up.

Front Face Plastering 4

I added a couple of extraneous rock casting to that small vertical surface on the left. I just scooped some plaster to the back and stuck it to the wet paper towels. I never did it this way before and we'll see how well it works.

Front Face Plastering 3

It was dinner time and I finished up my second tank of plaster so it was time to stop until Monday. I did lay out the last of the my paper towels on the remaining areas and cut another 6 pieces to fill out the space. (I just realized that I can enlarge the pics on this forum.... doh!) The areas covered by the towels are it for the mountain.

Front Face Final Paper Towels

I'll have this remaining plastering done in about an hour on Monday. After a couple of days of drying I'll add the second coat. Coloring and rock work will start the end of next week. After that's finished I'll remove the track masking, and re-ballast all the disturbed areas.

When the mountain's done, I get into action and do the terrain work on the remaining open areas on the right side. As I noted above, with screen wire substrate, the plastering work will go quickly. Trains could be running during this work.

It's fun to note how this "real" mountain compares with my artist rendering that I did five years ago. When I drew this I was thinking about buying the B.T.S. Cabin Creek Coal Mine. I've lowered my sights on this and will build a much smaller operation. The bigger models all require multiple tracks under the tipple. Since I only have a single track passing that point, a smaller mine was in order.

New Mountain Detail


Images (5)
  • Cardboard Complete 2
  • Front Face Plastering 4
  • Front Face Plastering 3
  • New Mountain Detail
  • Front Face Final Paper Towels
Last edited by Trainman2001

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