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Mike, I believe you... your the first reader who responded three times in a row.


I wasn't in the shop for a couple of days so I did some more design work on the laptop. I'm thinking that after the train station, the engine house would be a good next project. I planning on using 3/16" foam core and brick paper so the cost will be low and size can be large. I printed out my first attempt to get an idea about size and fit. It's printed from CorelDraw in tile format, taped together and mounted on some cardboard. Here's the mock-up set on the layout. I'm forced to scratch build this structure for two reasons: my yard track spacing is 3.5" as a result of using Ross #4 switches, and I have very long engines. One could buy two or more commercial kits and join them end to end for the length, but no one makes one with this door spacing.

 Mockup Trial composite 1

As a result of this test, I'm going to add another inch or so to the length so the bumpers lie within the building. I'm also adding more width so any vertical columns have sufficient clearance from big engines. Speaking of big engines, here's what it looks like when 36" of Pennsy S-1 is stuffed inside. That's the biggest engine that can practically make it. The coal turbine, the Centipede, 3 units of E-8s and all four units of my F-7 diesels are all too long.

 Mockup Trial 04


There's room on the front facing side for a machine shop so I've now added that.

 Machine Shop Front

Lastly, I've started designing the truss system. Here's my rendering showing my Pennsy J1-a inside and a simple overhead gantry crane sitting above. The "J" is 16 scale feet tall (as are all the big engines) so it takes up a lot of the overhead In my estimation, the height could to be at least another 8 feet or else the crane would be pretty useless. Since nothing has been cut or glued, there's time to make all these changes. And using brick paper which I'm printing and foam core, this doesn't affect cost much. Also needed are work platforms and inspection pits.

 Overhead Crane 1

I've subsequently designed a taller structure and also toying with adding a clerestory roof atop of the main roof. It complicates the interior structure, but makes the building more interesting. So here're modified views of the raised building. I need crowd input here... I can often design more than is practical to build with my budget, time and skill.

 Machine Shop side ver 2

 Machine Shop back end ver 2

Overhead Crane 2

3.5" spacing doesn't leave much room in between for work platforms. In the above pic the platforms are just about 2 scale feet wide, so may be impractical. I'm also showing the inspection pits. At first I thought these would be impossible with 3R track, but have seen some Forum members use clever workarounds such as stretching bare copper wire across the middle which is almost invisible yet carries current to the pickup rollers.


There're many windows. I'm going make versus buy. This lends itself to jigs and fixtures. Styrene strip stock is cheaper than a couple dozen Grandt Line or Tichey Group molded windows. Also missing from the drawings are smoke jacks, vents and stacks that will be in the finished model.


Images (7)
  • Mockup Trial 04
  • Machine Shop Front
  • Mockup Trial composite 1
  • Overhead Crane 1
  • Overhead Crane 2
  • Machine Shop back end ver 2
  • Machine Shop side ver 2

I don't mind... just keep reading.


I finished up with the city streets and roads for a while and started working on Ravine 1 (Finally!). To finish the roads I masked the lines to extend them into the new plaster, used some darker gray and dry brushed it over the lighter color to blend, cleaned up the rails a bit more, and painted the back road. My older grandson says he can crawl under the layout to finish up the scenic work in the back if I don't want to after the ravine closes off my normal ingress and egress. I'll take him up on it. With the road painted, I was able to get to work on the ravine.


Road Finish 10

Road Finish 09

Road Finish 08


To prepare for plastering as I noted some time before that I'm putting the fascia boards on first so the plaster/paper towels have a more substantial surface to adhere to. The outside board was a no-brainer since all the mounting surfaces were parallel to ravine opening.


Ravine 1 Fascia 2


For the inside fascia, the side pieces are at an angle to the ravine face so I measured the angle and cut four blocks to serve as a screwing surface. 


Ravine 1 Fascia 1


After looking at these again, I realized that I mounted some of these upside down. The heel of the blocks is sticking into the ravine space. Tomorrow I'll reverse them. I also did some sweeping and put down fresh newspaper. The floor's an ungodly mess and will require scraping, washing and maybe re-painting once this major work is complete.


I wanted to see how well a real train runs through these crossing. I only have one "simple" engine, the Lima Center-cab, that doesn't have multiple trucks or exotic wheel arrangements. But the center cab is a PS-2 engine who's battery is dead so I picked the MTH PS-1 Pennsy GG1. First I had to clean the tracks again and remove more masking tape. It ran, but bumped a lot through the crossings.


I thought maybe the flange ways were too tight for a longer wheelbase/larger diameter wheel set and got worried that I may have to remove all the inter-track filler and reshape them. I have a loose driver set from my 3rd Rail Allegheny (it has a traction tire if you want to convert the engine). After running it through the crossing I realized that engine drivers are a wider thread than the hopper car that I used to test the crossings. The driver was actually running up on the plaster a bit that edges the rail. I will have to grind that down a little further so engine drive wheels don't ride up on the plaster. That also doesn't help on engine grounding either.


While I had the power on I started charging up some engines in the yard. None of them ran well. Between the dirty track and low batteries they were frequently stalling or failing to go into neutral and reverse. I'm not going to worry about it now. The rail hasn't been cleaned and the batteries need to charge overnight before I'll get a valid test.


Images (5)
  • Road Finish 10
  • Road Finish 09
  • Road Finish 08
  • Ravine 1 Fascia 2
  • Ravine 1 Fascia 1
Last edited by Trainman2001

Thanks to all! While I'm still noodling fine details on the engine house, I got back to plastering ravine 1 today. 


Speaking of the engine house, I was doing some research on line last night looking at engine houses, erection shops, and round houses and found the Altoona Railroad Historical Society. They have thousands of pictures many of which I never saw before. Altoona was enormously involved with the Pennsy and employed thousands of people. They built as many locomotives and cars there as the major builders. As it was my design was more or less validated and I'm going with the taller design with the clerestory vents.


Back to the Ravine... I reversed the mounting blocks and then fit, cut and mounted the inner fascia board. I then used cardboard strips to bridge any large gaps to support the plaster soaked Bounty. BTW: Bounty is excellent for plaster soaking since it has pretty good "wet strength" and doesn't fall apart when soaked. I cut the 11" sheet is half on the paper cutter since it's easier to handle the five inch strip. It gets very sloppy. I had both hot glue guns going, using the regular for cardboard to fascia and screen wire, and low temp for cardboard to bead board. They don't have to be too strong since once the plaster cloth hardens their work is pretty much over.


Ravine 1 Fascia 3

Ravine 1 Prep


The big board lying in the ravine is what I stand on when using it as a passageway. As you'll see shortly, I am now no longer able to enter this area that way and have to use the scooter to go under the layout. I put this off as long as possible.


Everything is going faster on this ravine. Even mixing the plaster is going faster. I'm measuring 260 grams of water and putting it into 6 cottage cheese containers. I then measured 320 grams of Gypsolite into another container and added it to the water. I did this 6 times. After it sat a bit, stirred each and poured them into the soaking containers.


I got about 1/3 of the ravine covered with the first plaster batch. I should be done with this phase tomorrow. After a couple of drying days, I'll lay in the sculptamold and carve it to Kentucky limestone strata. Again it takes at least 3 days for it to dry, and then pouring the level base with Hydrostone to form the water level. Painting will take a day and then the 2-part epoxy water goes down. I'm saying all this because I'm anticipating trains running again in about two weeks. 


Overhead looking down into the ravine.

 Ravine 1 Plastering 04

From across the inter-ravine gap.

 Ravine 1 Plastering 03

Speaking of trains... I was having problems with my 3rd Rail Q2. The smokebox front kept falling out and the headlight kept turning on and off. The headlight circuit's ground is the locomotive body so when the smokebox front loosened it would break the circuit. 


I spent some time this morning after waking thinking about how to secure the smokebox front. I figured the easiest approach (Achem's razor...) was to slightly deform the bottom of the boiler edge to reduce the clearance. It worked and the smokebox is now on firmly. And while I was thinking about that I decided to create transparent number boards to fill the open space in the headlight sides. This was an early 3rd Rail engine and it doesn't have the detail level of their later products. I did this for the J1a years ago and since I was messing with the smokebox I figured I'd do this too. 


I measured the space with the digital caliper and used CorelDraw to create it. The font is Clarendon Bold with the numbers in white and the background black. I printed it out on the inkjet using transparency film (left over from my years as corporate trainer), cut them out and glued them to the headlight with CA. When I first printed it, the black wasn't dense enough so I changed the print density setting as the blacks are sufficient to block the light. It's actually better when viewed with human eyes.


With the headlight on it looks terrific, but the iPhone camera couldn't expose the picture with it on.


Q2 Number Boards


Then I just tried to take it with my Canon EOS Rebel (a real camera) and did get a picture. I switched it to manual and kept increasing the shutter speed until the numbers actually were discernible.

 Q2 Number Boards 2


This headlight is also missing the front cover glass. Someday when I have nothing to do I'll make one. I've perfected a "poor man's punch" scheme. 


Here's the steps:

1. Measure the size of the disk you need

2. Take a piece of steel or brass no thicker than .125" and clamp to a drill press table.

3. Using a drill of that size, drill a hole in a piece of brass or steel. Keep it clamped!

4. On the drill's back end, grind a diagonal flat that has sharp edges.

5. Wrap a piece of paper around the fluted end of the drill and insert and clamp it into the drill chuck.

6. If nothing's moved, the "NOW-PUNCH" should re-enter the same hole it drilled.

7. Punch as many circles as you want out of the acetate. You can use a blind hole or you'd never get the disks out. It needs to be a through-and-through hole.


This method works. It can't punch metal since the back end of the drill is not hardened. Also a true punch needs a stripper plate to remove the punched object from the punch. But for a quick emergency job this method is terrific. I used it to make little port hole windows for a major ship building project.  



Images (6)
  • Ravine 1 Fascia 3
  • Ravine 1 Prep
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 04
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 03
  • Q2 Number Boards
  • Q2 Number Boards 2

As scheduled, all the sloppy Gypsolite got done today. I had some extra "soup" left over and put another 'lump' between the tracks in the layout's front. 


I overlapped the sheets more this time than I did before and think it will give me a stronger base for the subsequent layers. Again, I'm happy that I did the fascia boards first. It was much easier to terminate the plaster edges. Previously, it was very ambiguous in deciding what to do when I came to the edge of the screen wire.


Ravine 1 Plastering 06

Ravine 1 Plastering 05


The small indentation at the mid-bottom is intentional. It's where the main waterway is going to be, but I think when I pour the Hydrostone to level it all, I'll let it spread out a bit farther (further?).


Since I had so much plaster left and didn't want to waste it, I took it as an opportunity to build another little rise in the flat between some frontage tracks. First I had to quickly cobble together the cardboard skeleton so I wouldn't waste a ton of plaster and Scupltamold. Pieces are held with hot glue.


New Hump 1


Next I used the usual paper towel/plaster method to fill it all in. 


New Hump 2

There's no strategic reason for this bump other than adding interest. Here's another view with more dramatic lighting.


New Hump 4


I've noticed something when using Gypsolite and paper towels... as I use a batch the consistency changes. It becomes denser and has much more perlite in it. I surmise that the paper towels are very absorbent and suck out the water from the mix in preference to the solids. As the batch is consumed more and more solids are present. The last few pieces are in a plaster that's almost troweling consistency. Incidentally, Gypsolite's recommended mix ratio is about 1 part water to 2.6 parts plaster by weight. That makes a slurry that designed to be troweled on plaster lath walls (vertical surfaces). For paper towel soaking I using 1 part water to 1.5 parts plaster by weight. I measure both the water and plaster on the electronic scale. Whether it's the right mix ratio or not, at least I'm consistent. 


Images (5)
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 06
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 05
  • New Hump 1
  • New Hump 2
  • New Hump 4

With all that plaster drying (after 24 hours it's still has dampness in it) I again got back to working on the train station. Taking the stair stringer jig I was using last week, I added a couple of pieces of wood to make an assembly jig to build the stairs.


Stair Jig


I had purchased some Evergreen strip with the right width and cut them on the Chopper. While my method of cutting the stringers produced a "stair approximation" which ultimately wasn't too accurate. As a result, upon close inspection the variation between the cuts was sufficient that I had to cut a stringer to length and then slide it along the rest of the uncut stringer to find a section where the cuts more or less coincided.


Stair production


Even with careful matching, some of the steps are distinctly crooked compared to the average. This stairway attempt was a proof of concept for me. When (or if) I make another one, I'm going to lay out the cuts before hand so I'll have a guide to position the corner cutter.


Regardless, I did complete a reasonable stairway for the inside of the station. As you read on, you'll realize that this stair is positioned in such a way that no one will ever see the inconsistencies. Viewers will just know that "there's a staircase in there leading to a second story". 


Stair Complete


After fabricating a banister out of rectangular stock similar to that I used for the little watchman's tower I brush painted it with Tamiya brown and then turned my attention back to the wall structure. 


This installation needed to have a raised floor in front of the center door. It's about two steps up so I fabricated them out of styrene. I also added the floor out of 0.040" stock and then covered it with my computer adapted parquet flooring. The parquet is printed on glossy photo paper and looks like a polished wood floor. For the walls I'm using "wall paper". Rather than masking and painting, I printed out a two tone pattern and applied it to the walls. For all of this paper to substrate I'm using MicroMark Pressure Sensitive adhesive. When you paint it on both surfaces thinly and let it dry a bit, it's a great contact cement.


Stair Well


I reinstalled the unfinished wall assembly in the station for the following pictures. It's coming out just like my computer designs and I'm pleased with it.



Stair Installed 3

Stair Installed 2

Stair Installed 1


In one of my designs, I had turned the stair around to have it facing into the waiting room, but it didn't work so I went back to my original design. The walls in front of the restrooms will also get wallpaper which accounts for the not-so-precise painting.


Tomorrow, I'm probably going to back at plastering since the Gypsolite should be sufficiently dry to lay on the Sculptamold. When I get back to the station, I'm going to try and finish up the interior. Meanwhile, I've ordered some material from Grandt Line to replace parts that were lost in the move. I especially need another set of porch posts for the porch that's outside of the door where I took the bottom picture.


Images (7)
  • Stair Jig
  • Stair production
  • Stair Complete
  • Stair Well
  • Stair Installed 3
  • Stair Installed 2
  • Stair Installed 1

Well then... get into action! We were in Louisville for almost 3 years before I started rebuilding the RR. I built the B-17 and then the USS Missouri which all took 26 months of building time. Since then (End April 2012) it's been non-stop layout building. Since fully retiring in June I've really had the quality time to make progress every day. You've got to start. I have a friend who's catatonic about building the layout. Since he can't design it perfectly, he can't seem to begin.


Due to some grandfatherly duties, I had just a couple of hours today. With not much time, I didn't want to get sloppy with Sculptamold so I continued working on the station. I finished the back wall with all the wall paper, baseboards, the door to the store room and a gloss coat of Future floor wax to brighten up the woodwork.


Rear Wall Complete


I need to make some "Ladies and Gentlemen" signs for over the restroom doors. Plus I have to install door knobs. Maybe I'll come up with pictures to hang on the walls. I first did that on my signal tower. There's pictures in Saulena's tavern, but you're going to have to get really close to it to seen them.

 Saulenas insteriorSterling interior

BTW: All the interior furnishing in Saulena's was scratch-built including those bentwood chairs. For all the liquor on the bar shelves I lined up a bunch of bottles on the counter and took a series of pictures. After each shot I rearranged the bottles to create a different look each time. I then scaled them in Corel PhotoPaint and pasted them into the shelves. When viewed from head on they're very convincing.


I end today's session working on the other interior wall panels. Still to be done is the newsstand, waiting room furniture, and maybe the station master's office. I need to furnish the ticket office too. Interiors take a lot more time than the value they produce, but this station has lots of windows, will be lighted and it sits right on the front of the layout so it's worth the effort IMHO. Besides, they're fun. It's "Doll houses for men..."


This morning I spent some computer time attempting to design a way to remotely open and close the doors to the engine house. I was thinking of using an RC servo, but realized that the cost of the servo and a control device may be too costly. I then realized I could probably rig up something mechanical at the fascia near the engine house that could operate the doors. When I finish the design, I'll publish it here.


We're supposed to have awful weather this weekend so I might be in the shop. If so, I get into that plastering.


Images (3)
  • Rear Wall Complete
  • Saulenas insterior
  • Sterling interior

Here's the first attempt at the Engine House door activation system using a flex cable or RC model components. It should be considerably cheaper than trying to adapt a servo and servo controller.


Door Mechanism


All the mechanism will be sleeved in brass tubing and operate under the platform. If anyone has done this before on engine houses please let me know. I tend to over-engineer these things sometimes.


Images (1)
  • Door Mechanism

Thanks! Here's another very short one.


I produced some art work for the station walls in O'scale along with the labels for the rest rooms and other spaces.


Here's the "finalized" wall with the labels attached.


Wall with Pics


For those of you who would like to use the artwork for your own buildings I'm attaching a PDF and an Adobe Illustrator version in addition to the native CorelDraw. I print them out on Avery label paper so they're ready to put right on the model. After printing I give them a shot of Workable Fixative so they hold up a little better. Not shown in this pictures is the light coat of Futura clear coat on the signage and the picture frames. I know, I know strictly anal retentive since no one is ever going to see this level of detail once in the building.


I converted a CorelDraw file into the AI file. The AI file is twice as big. The reason the files are so large is the embedded bit maps. Even though they're small in physical size, their bitmap size is still large. I probably should have resampled them before putting them into the picture frames.


Last edited by Trainman2001

Had an unusual Sunday today... I actually worked on the trains. This didn't come without a cost since my better half wasn't happy about it. It started with the boys sleeping here overnight. Older grandson wanted to work on the trains this morning and his mom said he could give me an hour. This was "approved" time. While he was doing some scenic work, I was getting very engrossed in making the interior wall panels for the train station. I got on a roll! Before I knew it, I was down there for 4 hours and I was getting the 'cold shoulder' treatment. I kind of deserved it since weekend model time is limited.


Building these interior walls is complicated by the haphazard interior bracing that I installed to hold it all together. Plus there are little ledges that will hold up the 2nd floor. As a starter I was using the same drawings that I used to do the original exterior walls, but in reverse so the printed side was facing inwards. Since the inside dimensions are significantly narrower than the exterior, I knew that I had to trim them. But the other pieces made it even trickier. This was what was so engrossing. I didn't finish them all, but got pretty far.


Interior Walls 01

This picture shows how many adjustment cuts had to be made to get it to fit snugly against the windows. This is a printout glued to Bristol Board.


And here's the jig saw puzzle that one wall represents showing the challenging areas.


Interior Walls 02


I have to decide what I'm going to do with those white chunks of styrene sticking out from the corners. If I can match the wall color—produced in an inkjet printer—I'll paint them. Otherwise, I might try to "wall paper" them like the other parts. BTW: when using spray glue to hold paper to styrene permanently, spray both pieces and let them completely dry. Once they make contact with each other, they're stuck for good.


None of these pieces are going to be fastened in now. The entire exterior has to be fainted first, and then glazing goes in. First floor interior goes in next where appropriate, then floors supports, 2nd floor, 1st floor lighting, and finally second floor wall panels.


Images (2)
  • Interior Walls 01
  • Interior Walls 02

With more time to work, there was no excuse but to get hands dirty doing the decorative plaster work on Ravine #1 which I did until I ran out of plaster. I then went back upstairs and did some more computer work completing some more interior wall details for the station project.


Now that I sort of know what I'm doing, getting the rock detail on the bigger Ravine #1 went much faster as expected. It's that old "learning curve" thing. I now have a routine with the Sculptamold.


1. Mix the material on the thick side (more plaster less water) so it holds on vertical surfaces better.

2. Build the initial profile on one vertical column. I get about one column per batch of plaster that I'm mixing.

3. Build initial profile on next vertical column and then go back to the previous one and cut in the major strata definition.

4. Build a third column and by this time, the first two are set enough to engrave the finer strata details. If the plaster's too soft, the fine strata get too deep and disturb too much surrounding plaster.

5. Continue this routine until complete.


Ravine 1 Plastering 10

Ravine 1 Plastering 09

Ravine 1 Plastering 08


The arrangement of rocks at the bottom of the above pic serves two purposes; adding interest and building up a low area. I'm going to pour some "water" into that area as sort of a tidal pool. It's essential to have this second layer of plaster since even with the amount of overlap I tried to include in laying down the Gypsolite/Paper Towels, there were still areas that were weak and thin enough to put an errant finger through. 


The train station's going to have ticket and station master's offices, the insides of which will be viewable through the windows. Instead of pasting on separate details to the walls, I've created the wall paper to include doors and trim, clocks, pictures, and railroad timetables. When looking through the window, there will no way to tell that's it's not 3D. I still have to produce a facsimile of a newsstand and waiting room benches.


Interior Walls


I shaded the lower lefts of the clock and pictures to give them some relief. The roll top desk was drawn from plans I found on Wikipedia. I'm going to make that a little 3D object along with some other furniture I've collected.


When I get the rest of the plaster I'll finish off the terrain work and finish the Station interior while all of that's drying.


Images (4)
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 10
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 09
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 08
  • Interior Walls

Armed with two more bags of Sculptamold, yesterday I finished adding the texture layers to the Ravine 1 and the new hump. After it was done and drying I installed the inside walls for the ticket office.


Today I added the dams at the end of the river in preparation to pour the leveling Hydorstone. While the Liquid Nails foam adhesive was curing I went back to work on the station, cutting out and assembling the Station Master's office that will go in the opposite corner of the waiting room.


Here's Ravine #1 fully sculpted and waiting for paint and "water". The silver cylinder in the foreground is part of my saw support that's pressing against the dam so it conforms to a slight curve in the fascia panel until the foam glue sets.


Ravine 1 Plastering 13

Ravine 1 Plastering 11

I added more rocks at the base of the cliff and when blended with the terrain should look decent.


The center, un-Sculptamolded channel is where the water will actually be and is the part that gets the Hydrostone leveling pour, so it had to be dammed up to keep it in the channel. I think it will be "plaster tight" I probably won't get to pour it until Monday.


Here's the ticket office interior. The doors in this case are artwork. I'm figuring that looking inside this building through windows from 2 feet away people won't know if they're looking at a 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional door. In this case the clock and time table are also part of the original graphic.


Interior 04

Interior Walls 03


By making the door wall scale thickness and putting the door image inside the opening really gives the impression that the door really accesses this space.


For the Station Master's office I originally even printed the artwork directly onto the walls. That was until I totally screwed it up a few times. Luckily, I also had the artwork printed on Avery Label stock.


The first thing I found when I fit the wall sections into the floor plan of the actual station was that my dimensions were all off. I didn't want the walls to end up sitting in the middle of a window so I used the actual plans to position the drawn walls between windows, but on the actual model they ran right into them. I had to trim off about an 1/8" on the wall with the door, and remake the back wall about 3/8" longer which mean messing around with the wall paper.


Interior 05


Since I made the door wall scale thickness again, my back wall pieces were now off since the inside wall paper had to be a wall-thickness narrower than the outer wall. Or conversely, the outer wall now had to be one wall-thickness longer. So I went back to the computer and redrew the long wall. Since the inner wall was blank (for now) I didn't redraw that, but instead used some blank wall stock that I created. 


There's only 4 ways to stick the inner wall paper to the styrene substrate and I actually put it on wrong 3X before getting it right. The spray glue holds well but you can carefully remove stuff to reset it. I know! I did it three times!


And even then, it's not really right since the chair rail doesn't align on the outside corner with the door wall. But at this point, I really don't care. I'm beginning to get an acute case of AMS (Advanced Modelers' Syndrome), defined as seeking to detail things at increasing levels of intensity until you reach a point of diminishing returns that no one but you will ever know about. Again... no one will see this stuff in this way once the second floor is in and the roof goes one.


Interior 06


It sure looks cool looking through the window though... BTW: I have 3 of the 4 locomotives in the PRR calendar picture on the wall. The GG1, Q2, and T1 are in my stable. The EMD engine on the end I have, but in Rock Island colors. I want to get the fourth engine and make my own picture replicating that famous one.


Coming up next is possibly a newsstand for the waiting room. I've downloaded lots of pictures, but again, since the newsstand will be facing into the room, it won't be easy to see and will take some work to replicate. I may just skip it and get to work on the waiting room benches. I'll noodle it a while on the computer and sees what comes up.


Meanwhile, I just drew the plans for the current home in which we're living. I did this one by using a roof shot from Google Earth to get the overall dimensions and using that, a direct frontal shot that I had and measuring some key windows, I was able to scale the whole deal.

Here's a teaser. While it may not be parametrically perfect, it really will look like our house. I now officially have more projects than I am capable of ever getting to, so I should stop designing and keep building.


Newtown House composite


Images (7)
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 13
  • Ravine 1 Plastering 11
  • Interior 04
  • Interior Walls 03
  • Interior 05
  • Interior 06
  • Newtown House composite

It's the weekend so no shop work... but I did design the benches for the waiting room. After downloading a few samples from Google, I chose one with relatively simple lines to be replicated four times for the waiting room. 




Here's the O'scale rendition. I used a seat height of 17" and an equal seat depth (as measured from our kitchen chairs). Based on that I estimated the other dimensions. These dimensions are actual for building in O'scale.

  Waiting Room Bench


This image is almost actual size (just a tad bigger). Making furniture in 1:48 is finicky and rather small, but it's a heck of a lot bigger than HO or N.


I don't know if I'll do it out of styrene, aircraft ply or a combination. Styrene offers advantages in being able to quickly weld the parts together, but wood gives better finishing options. Shaping parts in wood is actually easier since you can use the scroll saw and Dremel to shape the parts. Styrene tends to melt when using power equipment on it. I'll try both and see which one is better.


With the flat back, I'm going to use them in sets of two set back-to-back. Like this:


Waiting Room Floor PlanTomorrow's Monday so it's back to the shop to pour the Hydrostone leveling plaster in the Ravine. I'm going to leave the dams attached through the "water" pouring activity instead of using the clear caulking to keep it in place. I didn't like how that caulking turned out. Another possibility is to run a bead of clear low-temp hot melt glue. It—unlike the "clear" caulking—really is clear when hardened.



Images (3)
  • img-thing
  • Waiting Room Bench
  • Waiting Room Floor Plan
Last edited by Trainman2001


I have been on this forum for about a year and a half, but only looked at this thread today.  Your interiors are really great, and I see you make great plans.  I also skimmed through the past posts and see I have a lot of catching up to do.  What software do you use to make your building plans?  The painted rail at the beginning of the thread looks great.


Another question.  You mentioned your Black and Decker mouse sander.  I looked it up on their Web site.  It looks like it would be handy for small jobs.  How do you like it?


Thank you for keeping this up to date blog of sorts going.  It is very inspirational, and just plain fun to read.

Last edited by Mark Boyce

Thanks Mark!


I use a combination of CorelDraw and CorelPhotoPaint to do the plans. Coreldraw is a vector program where you can define sizes specifically to three decimal places. PhotoPaint is a bitmap program for photo editing. I also use a great screen capture program called Snagit to capture photos off of google and save them as JPEGs for importation into CorelDraw. Snagit is not free, but it saves great amounts of time and effort compared to doing just a screen print on your keyboard. With Snagit you can crop and annotate pictures before you save them. If I want to do any serious work such as taking perspective and distortion out of the pictures, I bring them into PhotoPaint.


The Mouse is a good sander for hobby work. It's a vibratory sander and doesn't leave swirl marks. The sandpaper attaches with velcro and it comes to a point so you can get close to corners with it. For heavy sanding I also have a Skil belt sander, but that is only for doing edges of platforms, rounding out roadbed at the crests of grades, or matching panel edges. In other words, it stays in the box most of the time.


I get a kick out of blogging the daily progress on the pike. It gives me something to do while watching TV at night. I like to multi-task.

Last edited by Trainman2001

I know I've said this before, but you are a true craftsman.  Your work is off the chart and I love reading all of your updates.  You have seriously motivated me to get off my butt and start building a layout.  


I took your advice about getting started and spent a few hours working on my layout room today.  No trains or track, far from starting bench work, but I did get some things done leading up to it.


You blow me away with your scratch building skills.  You've given me lots of ideas.  


Keep up the great work.

Originally Posted by Trainman2001:

Thanks Mark!


I use a combination of CorelDraw and CorelPhotoPaint to do the plans. Coreldraw is a vector program where you can define sizes specifically to three decimal places. PhotoPaint is a bitmap program for photo editing. I also use a great screen capture program called Snagit to capture photos off of google and save them as JPEGs for importation into CorelDraw. Snagit is not free, but it saves great amounts of time and effort compared to doing just a screen print on your keyboard. With Snagit you can crop and annotate pictures before you save them. If I want to do any serious work such as taking perspective and distortion out of the pictures, I bring them into PhotoPaint.


The Mouse is a good sander for hobby work. It's a vibratory sander and doesn't leave swirl marks. The sandpaper attaches with velcro and it comes to a point so you can get close to corners with it. For heavy sanding I also have a Skil belt sander, but that is only for doing edges of platforms, rounding out roadbed at the crests of grades, or matching panel edges. In other words, it stays in the box most of the time.


I get a kick out of blogging the daily progress on the pike. It gives me something to do while watching TV at night. I like to multi-task.

Thank you.  The Corel products certainly do a nice job for you.  Layout building an operating trains is slow for me with other obligations.  By the time I retire, I may be to the point where I would be ready to build some structures, and learning a software product could be advantageous.


I can envision many uses for the Mouse around the layout.


Thank you for your response.

Again, I'm glad I'm getting through to folks.


When I was working full-time, I did get some model work in, but it took place in the evenings when I could barely see straight. In our old house, there was an alcove in the kitchen that faced into the family room where I was able to set up a small table and do most of my structure building. In this way I was still "part of the conversation" and didn't have to abandon my wife. I was sort of "having my cake and eating it too". 


In the new house, while having a much more sophisticated work environment, it is down the basement and when I'm down there, I'm out of communication with the people upstairs. So I limit my shop work to the days and don't do anything downstairs after dinner. It works well.


Having a more advanced shop has enabled me to really up my scratch-building skills. I've not been doing it very long, but am not afraid to try new stuff and keep perfecting techniques. I'm almost 70, but continually learn new stuff. Even with CorelDraw, which I have been using since version 1.0 in the early 90s, I keep learning new stuff. My body's starting to show some aging, but my mind hasn't... I least I think so...Don't ask my wife.


I just commented to her that the feedback I get from you guys keeps me going. She argued that I don't need any feedback. I'll do what I do regardless of who's watching.

Just did one thing today... poured Hydrostone into the river bottom to create a level surface for the epoxy water that will follow.


I had purchased a mixing head from Harbor Freight for my DeWalt, but up until now never used it since my batches were too, small being mixed in cottage cheese containers. Today, I mixed the plaster in a paint container and made good use of the power mixer.


It took five pours to fill the entire cavity, and as you can see in the pictures, because of the plaster's viscosity, the edges are a bit high. I'm going to use some more sculptamold tomorrow to blend the edges into the surrounding terrain...perhaps with some more rocks at the edges.


2nd River Pour 1

 Kind of looks like a lava flow...

2nd River Pour 2


But it is level and reasonably flat. The epoxy "water" will level it some more. 


2nd River Pour 3


Adding more sculptamold tomorrow will push off the painting another day or so. I can work on the station. There's always something to do.


Images (3)
  • 2nd River Pour 2
  • 2nd River Pour 1
  • 2nd River Pour 3

With the leveling plaster hardened, I went back and added more rocks and created a more defined berm to keep the water in the waterway. I wet anywhere new plaster was going. This helps prevent all the water being drawn out of the new plaster before it can properly set.


42nd River Pour 3


Tomorrow, I will paint the whole deal, and once the grandkids finish their Loch Ness Monster that's going into the "water", I'll be able to pour the epoxy.


While that was drying, it was back to the station project. I got a good start on making the waiting room seating.


After temporarily adhering the drawings to 1.8" air craft ply, I cut out the profiles with the scroll saw. I then quickly cut a board to serve as a bench block to support using a jeweler's saw to cut out the detail at the bottom of the seat ends. The block is screwed directly into the work bench.


Waiting Room Seats constr 01 & 02


Then, using a hemostat as a clamp, I put pairs together to do the finish sanding. I used the Dremel with a drum-shaped diamond burr to finish up the cutout section.


Waiting Room Seats constr 03


To facilitate assembly, I put two small braces on the seat ends that support the seat bottom. These aren't shown in the picture. Everything is held together with CA which greatly speeds up assembly. Order of assembly is:

- Seat vertical filler glued to seat

- Mark side pieces using divider to determine seat height and glue little 1/8" sq. wood supports on this line to give more surface area for seat to glue.

- Glue seat to one end, and then glue on other end

- Place seat back between ends and glue to sides and seat bottom

- Measure, cut, taper and glue middle back leg

- Measure, cut and glue center front leg

- Measure 1/8" sq stock and cut arm supports

- Measure and cut arms out of thin strip

- Glue arms to supports and then to seat and back

 Waiting Room Seats constr 04 & 05

My strip stock was too wide so I split the pieces length-wise to use as the arms.


Here's a finished bench next to the picture of the prototype. 


Waiting Room Seats constr 06 & Proto


And here's a couple of them (2 done and 2 to go) sitting in the approximate place in the middle of the waiting room.


Waiting Room Seats constr 07


Two things I did wrong (or not as right as I would have liked to). I forgot to engrave some horizontal lines on the seat and back to simulate the slats on the prototype. No big deal, they won't be seen. I also forgot to pre-stain all the parts before gluing. This one's a bit more troublesome since the CA now will prevent stain from penetrating anywhere there's glue. I was in my usual rush to make something. This means I'll probably have to paint them instead of stain with gloss coat. Oh well...


Images (6)
  • 42nd River Pour 3
  • Waiting Room Seats constr 01 & 02
  • Waiting Room Seats constr 03
  • Waiting Room Seats constr 04 & 05
  • Waiting Room Seats constr 06 & Proto
  • Waiting Room Seats constr 07
Last edited by Trainman2001

I painted the benches after assembling the remaining two. Then, rather than airbrushing some Future floor wax to gloss them, I made the mistake of using my Krylon Low-odor Gloss Spray from a rattle can. It was disaster! It sploched out and made a nice pebbly finish that was totally un-scale-like. I really don't think that anyone will see it since there's going to be a second floor over the waiting room, so the only view will be through styrene windows or an open door if I decide to leave one that way. Or, the obsessive-compulsive me will try and re-finish them and put a decent gloss coat on them.


Waiting Room Seats constr 09

Waiting Room Seats constr 08


Otherwise I'm happy with how they've turned out.


The sculptamold in Ravine #1 is still not fully cured so I continued working on the station. The brackets that hold up the shed roofs are a bit ornate. The HO version of this building that was in the Kalmbach article just used plain stock, but in O'scale I had to attempt to do it.


Here's the detail of the street side of the station. In this instance there are three brackets of equal size and shape. The track side's brackets appear to be three different sizes based on the three different parts of the shed roof.


Bracket Detail


I laid out the various cuts and did two things. For the chamfers I first used a round swiss file to form the ends, then use a small diameter sanding drum with the Dremel for the long ones and just shaved them off with the Xacto.


Shed Bracket 03


Here's the first piece fully formed. The chamfers are too deep. When I do the track side, I'm developing different ways of using the Dremel so it doesn't take off so much stock.


Shed Bracket 02


Gluing was done directly on the plans with a piece of polyethylene sheet to keep things from sticking together.


Shed Bracket 04


Here are the first three brackets completed. 


Shed Bracket 05


When using the Dremel on styrene, use the slowest possible speed. Even then it tends to remove stock by melting instead of grinding. Light pressure or else it will simply melt right through the part.


On the track side, the front bracket is fully drawn in the plans, but the middle and far end is a bit of a guess. I'll figure it out and report on it tomorrow.


My older grandson formed the head of "Nessie" the denizen of Ravine #1 and we baked the Super Sculpey in the toaster over at 275º for 20 minutes. It's now hard and can be finished, painted and glued to the river after that's painted.


Nessie 1


You can barely make it out in this picture, but I colored in the cell phone sitting on Nessie's back. There's a little rectangular piece of clay representing my wife's cell phone that went over the edge of a ravine in Clifty State Park in Madison, IN last Fall. It was the reason we both now have iPhone 5s's. My wife thought my ravines looked just like the place where her phone took the fatal plunge so the kids figured that a sea serpent had it land on its back. 


I'm going to have to name Ravine 1 and 2 something more interesting and descriptive. Perhaps I'll give that to the grandkids to come up with.


Images (8)
  • Bracket Detail
  • Shed Bracket 03
  • Shed Bracket 02
  • Shed Bracket 04
  • Shed Bracket 05
  • Nessie 1
  • Waiting Room Seats constr 09
  • Waiting Room Seats constr 08

Lost an entire work session day wrestling with a new Time Warner Cable DVR that refused to sync up with the proper menus and subscriptions that we have. The women on the phone was very nice and trying very hard, but the programming just wasn't taking and no HD shows were coming through.


All I did was create working drawings for the station's elevated loading dock that wraps around the freight room. The drawing shows prototypical building techniques with stringers, joists and decking. Since you can't see underneath when assembled, making a gazillion joists to support the flooring doesn't make much sense and I may just use styrene sheet goods as an underlayment and plank on top of this. Or... I could just scribe the styrene directly and be done with it. I really need to finish this project since I have some many more to do so I should think about spending time on things that matter and not get hung up on details that, when constructed, will be invisible to the viewer. My wife says, "Prioritize!"


Deck Plan


It was reassuring how nicely the drawing fit the actual model with the drawing made from the original drawings and not from direct measurements of the model.


Since I missed today, maybe I'll get some work in tomorrow (even though it's a Saturday). If so, it will be time to paint Ravine #1.


Images (1)
  • Deck Plan

With lousy weather and a grandson to keep busy I got in a rare Sunday work session. While I worked on the station, he painted Nessie lime green and got one side of the Ravine covered with the first color coat with a rock wash of black, white, gray, yellow, India Ink, water and alcohol. It makes a warm gray wash that gets into all the nooks and crannies (I just had a yen for an English Muffin). 


Ravine 1 Finishing 01


Even without any further coloration or treatment, suddenly all that sculptamold looks like rocks...


While he was doing that I was building the remaining shed roof brackets. While I was holding the longest diagonal brace with all the carving, the part broke right at the narrowest point. It didn't completely sever so I first used a small amount of liquid cement. That got it stuck back together, but not strong enough. Then came a drop of thin CA and hardener. I was still unsure about the joint and this is going to support the shed roof. It needed metal reinforcement. I drilled through the middle about 3/16" into the main body with a .032" drill in a pin vise and then inserted some 0.032" brass rod with a drop of CA. That part will not break at that point again. To make sure the others don't suffer the same fate they too got the metal reinforcement. My son in law orthopedic surgeon does this all the time to peoples femurs.


With that out of the way I finished shaping all the parts and glued them together the same way as I did for the street side brackets. 


Shed Bracket 06


Three very distinctly different sized brackets for the track side.


I held one of the small brackets up to the place where it would go on the building only to realize that there must be one missing. The roof length was too great for just three brackets. After checking the print, sure enough, there are two small brackets holding up the short part of the roof over the ticket office windows. There are four of them!


With one of the small brackets already completed, making another was not difficult. in fact, I'm getting pretty good at them. In this case, I left extra material on the end of the diagonal brace to better hold onto it when shaping. Once the contours were all done, I cut it to length and trued up the angle.


Shed Bracket 07So here are the FOUR track-side brackets completed.



Shed Bracket 08


All of the major parts of the exterior are now complete except for the drainage troughs on the shed roofs that tie into the downspouts. According the print, these roofs did not have normal shaped gutters. I'll add them before installing the roofs. I don't think I'm going to make a newsstand for the interior, so all interior parts are now complete also. 


Next up comes masking and painting the exterior.


I'm going to hold off installing the brackets and the shed roofs. Instead I will mask the places to which they will be glued and paint the entire exterior. I will paint the brackets separately. After that I'll glaze all the windows I'll put down the parquet flooring. On top of that will go the interior walls, and finally I'll construct a second floor.


Lighting will be contained in the second floor. Right now I have 5mm warm white LEDs, but I think they're too bright. I'm going to get some 3mms and try them out. I can always revert back to grain-of-rice bulbs. One of them is already installed to light the outside balcony porch. That light had to be install when I first started this project 7 years ago. These LEDs need current limiting resistors since I'm powering them with a 12 VDC power source. These resistors will be installed in the second story also. I'm only going to light one room on the second floor; the room with the balcony. I have some miniature furniture to use up there which is the Station Master's living space.


When that's all done, then and only then can I install the shed roofs. Lots to do!


Images (4)
  • Ravine 1 Finishing 01
  • Shed Bracket 06
  • Shed Bracket 07
  • Shed Bracket 08

Thanks Mark!


The station is real. It was one of the articles in Kalmbach's Railroad Structures you can build (or something like that). It was a reprint from an older Model Railroader mag and was about how a fellow built this station entirely out of styrene in HO. It included HO scale plans. I decided in 2006 to attempt it in O'Scale. Up to that time, I hadn't done any scratch-building, and the idiot that I was selected a very complicated build. Nothing about this building was simple; walls with multiple set backs, a least two different kinds of Victorian gable treatments, three kinds of wall sheathing using novelty siding and shingles for the gables, plus that roof with the hip roof cutoffs at the ends. Oh... and I forgot that chimney.


This building was the Burnside station on the New York, Ontario and Western and was one of several of the same design. Here's a picture I found of another one. It was converted to a restaurant, but now I think it's abandoned.


2-17-2014 8-49-31 PM


This station's on a different site with a more severe front to back elevation change. There is a pen and ink drawing of the Burnside station in the MR article. This station's colors aren't correct for the NYO&W, but it clearly shows the painting challenge I face to make the half timbers contrast with the siding. You can also see the horizontal and vertical siding changes in the different sections. I'm probably going to paint it something in the theme of the Pennsylvania & Pacific RR (Tuscon Red and Armour Yellow perhaps).


It's O'Scale and it's big so all hardcopy outputs were done tiled and taped together from multiple sheets. I scaled the HO plans after scanning them into the computer. I set the ruler scale in CorelDraw to 1:48 and then enlarged the drawing until one of the 9 foot dimensions on the drawing corresponded to two guidelines set 9 scale feet apart. I then drew detailed construction plans over the scanned in drawings keeping the scan on a different layer so it would keep moving around every time I clicked on some component.


Images (1)
  • 2-17-2014 8-49-31 PM

You're welcome!


Due to more wrestling with Time Warner Cable, I only got a couple of hours in the shop. That DVR we got last week was defective. It was not a software, account issue. I took the thing back to TWC's local store and exchanged it. This one worked as it should and was booted up from central support in about 2 minutes.


Rather than paint plaster I decided to continue working on the station. I'm trying to get everything done before painting begins. Today I attached the gutters to the shed roofs, fixed an area where the freight room roof intersected with the 2nd story, and added some more molding to an area over the freight room overhang.


First the gutters.


Shed Roof 06

Shed Roof 05


After scribing a line showing where the gutter would sit, I had to notch the standing seams so the gutter would glue flush to the roof. I cut small 45º triangles that served as supports and an even smaller set that plugged the ends. I'm thinking that this roof may have been copper so the color's going to be patina green.


I don't know how the error cropped up, but there was a gap where the siding ended and the freight room roof began. I finally bit the bullet and filled this area with 0.080" X .125" slats. Some of this will be further covered with copper counter-flashing so it shouldn't be too noticeable. It took two pieces on the right side and one on the left.


Error Fix


And just before dinner I built up another gingerbread item, an elaborate pyramid molding that sits above the back door overhang next to the freight room. This was assembled with a series of progressively narrower 0.040" strips. After the glue set I cut the miter joint and the relief angle that intersects with the freight roof.


Gingerbread 6


This porch gets more gingerbread and some more turned posts that tie into the elevated freight loading dock. Because of this interaction, I'm afraid I will have to build and attach the loading dock before any painting. I was hoping to avoid this, but in reviewing the drawings I see that those posts and that gingerbread trim would be hard to install AFTER the station is painted.


I ordered more Warm White LEDs in two more sizes; 3mm and 1.8mm along with a slew of resistors to give me options in going series or parallel stringing of the lights. All of the warm white LEDs are bright, possible too bright. Many of these are getting installed in all kinds of room lighting. The owner of LED Switch who I spoke to today said that low light versions are only available if you want to buy 100,000 at a time. I don't think so. My houses are going to be well lit.


Images (4)
  • Shed Roof 06
  • Shed Roof 05
  • Error Fix
  • Gingerbread 6

I appreciate the support. Really! Much of this scratch-build stuff I'm learning as I go. I enjoy the challenge and looking for ways to solve problems. I wrote up the first half of this monster project in the Layout Design forum where I describe the building and wiring of the layout from the ground up. If you haven't read that part yet, you might find it interesting too.

Originally Posted by Trainman2001:

I appreciate the support. Really! Much of this scratch-build stuff I'm learning as I go. I enjoy the challenge and looking for ways to solve problems. I wrote up the first half of this monster project in the Layout Design forum where I describe the building and wiring of the layout from the ground up. If you haven't read that part yet, you might find it interesting too.

Thank you for letting us know you have more in the Layout Design forum.  I will have to tell the boss I need to take the rest of the week off to catch up on my reading.

Thank you again!!

Before heading to the Scale Reproductions (My LHS), I did the rock wash on the other side of Ravine #1 and went over it a couple of time to catch any misses. This first step looks ugly, but it will be fine. I can still see some white spots in some of the strata cuts. I catch them when I do the next coat tomorrow.  

 Ravine Finishing 03

At the hobby shop I bought four packs of Evergreen 0.040" X .188" strips that will form the planking on the freight loading dock, and some color for the exterior painting.


I then added more details. The porch posts for the freight door connect through the loading dock floor down to the base (at least it looks like that on the plans) so I added a plate to bind the poles to. The Grandt Line porch posts were about 3/16" too short. I thought about just gluing a block underneath them to provide a purchase, but then decided to graft a piece of 1/8 square stock onto the end.


To make a secure joint I again drilled and inserted .032" brass wire with some CA and then used liquid cement to bind the styrene parts. When cure it was stronger than the base plastic.


Gingerbread 7


Here's the added graft. Notice also the little extra pieces added to the sides of the post that adds more relief. This detail is also seen on the plans. The posts are not the same contour as the prototype, but it's the best on the market, and I was not going to turn my own... at least not this time.


Gingerbread 8


Here's the posts installed


Gingerbread 9


The NWSL Precision sander is a great tool for gradually removing stock to get a perfect fit while keeping the ends perfectly square.


Now shown with the remaining gingerbread. This gingerbread too is not exactly as original, but it was commercially available from Grandt Line and looks terrific.


Gingerbread 10

Before I forget, I have to drill the 2mm hole in this porch's roof to accept the warm white LED that's going there. When the 2nd story ceiling is in place this spot won't be accessible. 


Just to show you how the posts will intersect wit the freight floor I took the liberty to make another "artist's" impression.


 Porch with Floor


Since the posts are already in place, I'm going to have to fit the planking around the posts... tricky, but not impossible. The end is in sight!


Styrene construction has one terrific advantage. With the highly volatile liquid cements it bonds and welds instantly. Once dry the welded joints are as strong as the native styrene. It make it very easy to make nearly invisible joints. I've worked in bass wood also and the dry times are much longer unless you're using CA. When working in wood I use both Aleen's and CA depending on what it is and how much time I want to spend.







Images (6)
  • Gingerbread 7
  • Gingerbread 8
  • Gingerbread 9
  • Gingerbread 10
  • Porch with Floor
  • Ravine Finishing 03
Last edited by Trainman2001

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