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Yup, you can do it online, but there's a $3.00 surcharge, and like an idiot, I'd rather wait in a line (socially distant spaced of course) for almost two hours. That's kind of like a Scrooge McDuck action. Next time, I'm doing it on-line. It's idiotic to make doing it in person less expensive than doing it on-line, don't you think.

Huge progress today. The Sculptamold was almost entirely dry, and those parts that were still a bit damp I used a heat gun to accelerate the process. I then painted the non-path areas with my base brown/tank Behr Paint, called "Burnt Almond". I then liberally sprinkled a mixture of dark brown fine ballast, green fine turf and blended turf. When this set up I fixed any bad spots with wet water, ground cover and finally W-S liquid Scenic Cement.

Here's the first layer of ground cover.

THC Door Side 1st Layer Ground Cover

The second layer was lots of grass colored ground cover. This was wet water, grass and then more wet water and finally liquid glue. I blended the grass cover into the existing ground cover already in the area. The areas around the building are being left bare earth.

THC Door Side Ground Cover

For the path, I took my premixed UP acrylic wall paint yellow, added white, gray, earth tone base and even black (sort of negates the white) until I dulled it down a lot. I then painted the path and applied fine tan ballast to this. In between these steps I vacuumed the loose material so it wouldn't foul the newly applied areas.

Lastly I painted the rock out cropping. I even made flat rock faces in areas that had particularly bumpy plaster underneath.

I placed all the buildings and stuff on the site and took a lot of pictures. 

This shot sets up how it relates to the engine house.

THC On Site 1

Viewed from inside the layout looking outwards.

THC On Site 2

Same view rotated outwards.

THC On Site 3

Looking at the house from eye level for outside the layout.

THC On Site 4

From Outside looking at the site's rear.

THC On Site 5

Shot from a drone flying overhead...

THC On Site 6

Outside shot broadside.

THC On Site 7

Outside oblique view

THC On Site 8

Missing are trees and foliage, which will go on tomorrow. I have to hook up the electricity too. So we're only days away from complexing the Hacker's Cabin. Johnny B. Goode has been shipped from Shapeways, and it looks like I may have to sculpt my own fellas with hatchets and axes who are actually making all those ties. I may do a graphic saying "Goode Ties" or something to that effect.

When I tried closing the gate tightly enough to run trains. The two roads were a little too familiar and were a little proud of the hinge line, keeping the door from fully seating and the rails were mis-aligned.

Here was the interference fit.

THC Door Interference

To removed the stock from both sides of the joint I pulled out my Skil Belt Sander and went at it. I took enough off so it would not interfere again. I don't care that there's a gap in the road. It was more important to be able to run trains.

THC Door Relief

Here's how the tracks aligned after the mod. Trains will run!

THC Correct Alignment

Just to let those that don't do major scenery jobs just how much crap you need to pull it off, here was my work table in the train room at the end before I cleaned it all up.

THC Takes a Lot of Stuff

My timing is perfect in finishing up this project. Stephen Miley informed that he's cutting the HOUSE this week. So probably next week that project will get into the construction phase.


Images (14)
  • THC Door Side 1st Layer Ground Cover
  • THC Door Side Ground Cover
  • THC On Site 1
  • THC On Site 2
  • THC On Site 3
  • THC On Site 4
  • THC On Site 5
  • THC On Site 6
  • THC On Site 7
  • THC On Site 8
  • THC Door Interference
  • THC Door Relief
  • THC Correct Alignment
  • THC Takes a Lot of Stuff

Thanks gents!

Slow news day… Went to the train store to renew my supply of scenic cements, bought a W-S Evergreen Tree kit, and spent some time replacing the teflon vat screen on the printer. Accidentally printed parts for the ALCo instead of the F-M engine, so there's that. I did get a successful F-M pump end and ended up printing two generators, since I changed what was on each print in mid-stream. I picked the best one for the build. I'll start adding greenery to the Cabin tomorrow.

Morning edit:

Yesterday's print with the new FEP was a complete bust. Nothing stuck to the build plate. After checking with a local 3D Printing expert, I may have put the film on too TIGHT. I Normally put a spacer under the film before starting to put in all the clamp screws. I forgot the spacer (raises the film off the work surface and builds in some slack) until I had started putting in the screws. If it's too tight, the resin has to try and release across the entire surface at once. With a little slack, it can peel it off. I'll have to replace it again today.

And look who arrived yesterday? Mister Johnny B. Goode himself. The fact that Shapeways can print that guitar neck (note the perfectly formed Fender headstock) without supports tells me that their machines are superb and very, very expensive. There's just some things I can't make on my little Mars. Here's about an inch tall and will work great. JB was a Black kid so it will be my first figure painting of a non-white individual. The original lyrics had, "Lived a colored boy…", but Chuck Berry changed it to "Country boy", so it would get air time on more radio stations. We live in a strange country. I would love to be able to create good figures on Blender or MeshMixer so I could print them instead of trying and sculpt them. I'm going to go through all the Blender tutorials again and see if I can master it. It could free me up of dealing with Trimble and SketchUp. SketchUp is getting greedy. 

JB Goode


Images (1)
  • JB Goode
Last edited by Trainman2001

Started making trees today using the W-S Pine Tree kits. You have to pull apart the foliage that comes in the plastic bag. The clumps are way too big. You twist the trunks to put all the boughs at varying angles so it looks more "natural". You then apply adhesive to the branches and dip the tree into the batch of "needles" to coat the branches. I first tried W-S Scenic Cement, but it wasn't tacky enough and made a mess. I then applied my go-to MicroMark Pressure Sensitive Adhesive. After applying you let it set and then dip the trees. This worked pretty well. The instructions also say to sprinkle some fine turf on the now-leaved branches. I did this also. The results aren't bad. 

On the right is the bag of foliage and the left is the pulled-apart material. It's in that vat that the tree is dipped. The flush cut pliers are there to cut off the based which are injection molded along side the tree trunk so you can either implant the trunk directly or on its little base if you not building a fully scenicked layout.

THC Tree Stuff

Here is some work-in-process.


And here's a crop ready for planting. I have other trees going in too for variety. JB Goode is waiting patiently for painting. I want to create a path from the lot to the pond and plant some stuff on that side also. Notice the natural erosion lines on the grass slope leading up the cabin. That was completely unintentional. The tree trunks are tall enough that Johnny will be able to sit under them.

THC Some Trees ready to plant

I had a quadruple failure printing yesterday immediately after putting on a new FEP. I thought maybe it was too tight making it harder to pull the printing object off the film, so today I backed off the screws that pull the frame tight under the vat to try and relieve the tension a bit. I tried printing again, and again, a total failure. I will change out this film and figure out what the heck is going on. It doesn't make much sense to me since two of the four parts already printed successfully previously.


Images (3)
  • THC Tree Stuff
  • THC Trees WIP
  • THC Some Trees ready to plant

Thank you as usual...

Went to the LHS today. Wore masks. The owner had a Covid test but no results yet. This concerned me so I just sent an eMail asking him what prompted the test. Doing my own contact tracing...

Picked up my big evergreen trees and cattails that I ordered and my next plastic endeavor. It's the Rye Fields model of the WW2 Sherman Tank, but with a fully detailed interior. My C in C doesn't really like me to build military models, but I missed by the Abrams with the full interior and wanted to get one. Besides the Sherman holds a special place in my heart. It was the first military model I built in the 1950s and was probably Revell's first military model. You know how firsts somehow burn a hole in your memory. It's like that.

Changed out the film again. This time I put on a piece of Elegoo FEP film that I had. And now that I know that Elegoo's film has protective layers on both sides that you need to peel off before putting it on the machine, I should work okay. I made sure I put spacers under the film while tightening all 24 screws that hold it in the primary frame so the film won't be too taut in the machine.

After that I started planting a forest. I have trees from long ago. When I bought Frank Miller's buildings (Water Tower, Watchman's Shanty and the building holding the Appliance Store) I also got a bag of trees that he had made. That was 2005. Then I bought some tall forest deciduous trees from Roundhouse Trains probably around 2012. Then this week I bought the W-S Evergreen Tree kit, and finally today picked up the trees and stuff I ordered from my LHS. 

This combination of stuff let me put together a "forest" with some variety of evergreen and deciduous trees and varying heights. Each one required a different sized drill for the mounting holes, which added to the fun. I didn't put in a ton of trees, but enough to set the scene. I used W-S Scenic Cement to hold the trees in place. When I took the pics nothing was dry yet.

THC the Forest 1

The taller evergreens are the new W-S "Realistic Trees". They're expensive. The trees you see probably represents $60.00 outlay. It really makes the scene and possibly could get some magazine play.

THC The Forest 2THC The Forest 3

Johnny B. Goode is now able to "Sit in the shade and strum to the rhythm that the drivers made". Tomorrow Johnny gets rid of that transparent look. I need to create some forest floor aspects. It needs dead leaves and ground cover bushes. That comes tomorrow too. I didn't want to mess around in there until the tress "took root."

THC Johnny in the Shade

Mike Campbell, was the original creator of the Tie Hacker's Cabin, whose rights were purchased by Walt Gillespie of Rusty Stumps Models. Stephen Miley of Rail Scale Models bought the Rusty Stumps product line and it's from there that I bought it. Mike had a nice firewood pile next to the chimney and I wanted one too. I had purchased W-S's "Dead Fall" which is essentially a box of real twigs of different sizes and shapes. For the smaller twigs, I just threw them onto the forest area, but for the large, I cut them into scale firewood lengths and actually split them with a small chisel. I glued the pile together with Aleen's.

THC Firewood Pile WIP

I careful took the yet-not-dried pile and placed it in position on the vignette. Results are very convincing. Nothing simulates wood like real wood. When the Aleen's dries it will look pretty cool.

THC Firewood Pile

The other thing I picked up was some beautiful cattails. I saw them in Scenic Expresses Catalog, and found out that my LHS could get them for me. Whenever I can, I give them the business. I've said it before, but Scale Reproductions, Inc. is one of the finest hobby shops in the country. Brian Bunger, the proprietor, not only runs a great shop, but he is an expert plastic modeler in his own right. He is also the founding member of the Military Modelers Club of Louisville, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. I was asked to join last year and have enjoyed it immensely. There is some exceptional talent represented there. They're not model railroaders, but they build great models. It's Brian's love of the hobby that makes the shop so well stocked and helpful. They don't do O'gauge. That's left up to an equally wonderful store here in town, Roundhouse Trains. It changed owners a few years ago, and the new owner has injected new life into the store. It serves the toy train market in town. We are blessed here in the Da Ville to have both of these shops within five miles of my house.


I'm going to build a wetlands near the pond and these guys are going there and added to the tall grass around the pond. This whole end of the layout is becoming a nice feature area.

Till tomorrow. And hey, it's Friday again. It's freaking me out just how fast time is going. I didn't think it would be this way when you got older.



Images (7)
  • THC the Forest 1
  • THC The Forest 2
  • THC The Forest 3
  • THC Johnny in the Shade
  • Cattails
  • THC Firewood Pile WIP
  • THC Firewood Pile

Thank you!

Johnny is painted and in place. Still have to finish up with more ground cover. I need a source of miniature dead leaves and pine needles to cover the woodland floor. The paint is way too shiny even though I brush painted Tamiya flat clear on it. I don't mind the hair having a little gloss and painted the Strat with Tamiya gloss clear. I picked out the tuning machines with the Molotow Chrome Pen. All in all, it's exactly what I envisioned.

THC JBGoode 1THC JBGoode2

The iPhone camera can't resolve the tuning machines chrome. It overexposes.


I was also making the sign for the house roof. Of course I screwed this up. I thought I was grabbing Dullcoat, but instead sprayed it with Testor's Wet Look Gloss. And it's really glossy! And to make matters worse, I overloaded part of the it, then it flipped over on the waxed paper, and got blemished. The signage is a custom made decal I drew on CorelDraw. Big decals are a challenge (for me) so I printed four of them even though I only needed two. As it happens one did get folded unto itself and got wrecked, so I used the 3rd one. I have since painted it with Dullcoat and will have the blemished side facing away from the viewers. I also printed a J.B. Goode tag for the RFD mailbox which I have let to craft. I'm making a wood frame for the sign out of stained stock. I will age the sign a bit to make it match the overall condition of the model.

THC Signage

Y'all have a great, safe weekend!



Images (4)
  • THC JBGoode 1
  • THC JBGoode2
  • THC JBGoode CU
  • THC Signage

Today was a bit of messy day. I created the forest floor by first cleaning up a ton of sawdust under the chop saw (made by grandson #1 making legs for a table he's taking to college in the Fall) and then changing that sawdust into a woodland floor. After collecting all the sweepings I first try using a W-S scenic materials bottle as a sieve to remove any of the big, unwanted chunks. That was slow and tedious. I remembered that long ago, I kept an old flour sifter that my wife was discarding. I kept it knowing "One day…". That day was today. I was able to quickly separated the wheat from the chaff (so to speak) and get a reasonable amount of sawdust that would work for a ground covering.

The left hand container is the sifted material. The one on the right is what was extracted.

THC Preparing the Sawdust

I mixed up a brown stain from the Tamiya Panel Accent (brown) that I was using for the wood aging wash, but diluted even more with low-odor mineral spirits. Let me tell you about that "low-odor" part. It may be a lower odor than traditional mineral spirits, but it still has odor. And that odor was immediately picked up by the HVAC air handler in the basement near where I was working, and quickly spread it to upstairs and got me into a lot of trouble. My wife is much more sensitive to solvent odors. Heck! I'm living with that stuff every day and probably am "Nose Blind", a term coined in the Fabreeze ad campaign. Needless to say, it wasn't pleasant. 

After mixing up the tint I soaked a bunch of sawdust in it and spread it out on some paper towels to absorb much of the liquid. It was that step that caused most of the odor generation. For the other color I made an orange mixture of Tamiya Red, Chromate Yellow and Yellow with a lot of IPA. This one didn't smell nearly as bad. I mixed the two after they dried a bit. This is the brown batch.

THC Brown Sawdust Leaves

This is the orange batch.

THC Red Sawduat Leaves

After mixing, I spread them under the forest trees as best as I could. Every time I touch the pines they lost some foliage so I had to be careful. I did not use any binder on this yet. I will wait until it thoroughly dry before attempt to fix it with wet water and scenic cement. The results are pleasing, although maybe not perfectly realistic. It does set off the woods from the meadow surrounding it.

I threw some raw sawdust around the stumps on the property.

THC Forrest FloorTHC Falling leaves

I also added a little leaf cover under the trees surrounding the cabin. 

THC Cabine Leaves

I got the "Goode Ties" sign built and mounted to the cabin. I framed it with the stained 4 X 4 scale lumber using mostly med CA, and some angle braces. The braces needed to be measured in place to get the strange angles correct to tie into the two roofs. I aged the sign with some AK Interactive Gray wash and then removed the excess with Q-tips and some IPA.

THC Signage CUTHC Sign installed

The last thing I did (and almost the last thing to be done) was to make the RFD mailbox with the J.B. Goode name on it. It's a tad bit oversized for 1:48, but it was necessary to make the graphics visible to the viewer on the aisle. I used some 4 X 4 with a cross-lap joint and then fabricated the mailbox out of a lamination of three, 0.060 X 0.188" styrene strip, with a piece on top that I then shaped to an arched shape with a sanding block. I then applied the decals.

THC The Mailbox

I didn't glue it in yet because I want to clear coat the decals. They weren't dry enough for the coating. I toyed with the thought of adding a pull ring on top of the box. I might still do that.

THC Mailbox installed

All that's left is to fasten down the forest floor covering and connecting the lights and it will be DONE.


Images (10)
  • THC Preparing the Sawdust
  • THC Brown Sawdust Leaves
  • THC Red Sawduat Leaves
  • THC Forrest Floor
  • THC Falling leaves
  • THC Cabine Leaves
  • THC Signage CU
  • THC Sign installed
  • THC The Mailbox
  • THC Mailbox installed

I think I am am "Nose Blind" to almost everything.  My wife can ask me about a smell, and I don't smell anything.  Maybe it has to do with chronic sinus infections for the last 40 years.  I don't know what my ENT doctor would say to that theory.  Ha, ha!

The sifter did a great job separating the wheat from the chaff.  I should have grabbed my Mum's old sifter when we were cleaning out their house last year.  Oh well, another missed opportunity.

On to the scene itself.  You are really tying in all the components well!!  The sign and mailbox really turned out nice.  Johnny looks great and has a great place to work and relax with the guitar when he takes it out of the gunny sack!

Last edited by Mark Boyce

Myles, that flour sifters really did the trick. I remember using one in cooking class so long ago to make one of the things the teacher told us to make. I know my mom had one somewhere which I believe didn't have any painted designs on it, had a red wooden knob on it. Heck, no idea where it's got off to. If ever I was to do that, that would be the first thing come to my mind, flour sifter, who knew, Myles did.

Well… maybe Chuck himself. Johnny B. Goode did have an autobiographical bent to it, although Chuck grew up in St. Louis and not the backwoods of Louisiana. But the original lyrics spoke to "In a log cabin made of earth and wood, lived a colored boy, named Johnny B. Goode." He changed "colored" to "country" so it would get air play on more radio stations.

I got more 3D prints correctly done for the Fairbanks-Morse project, which now looks like this. The foundation is missing the right side which was still printing. And both exhaust stacks are ready to glue on. The generator and Blower and not glued either. It's a big motor. Should be finished tomorrow.

FM O'scale Progress

And I got the lighting installed in the cabin. And of course if there was a way to screw it up, I did it. In fact, I screwed up two things before getting it right.

It was a very simple wiring job since the lights are incandescent and I was powering them with 14 VAC. So there was no polarity or current challenges like there are with DC powered LEDs. I found a nearby spot on the non-moving part of the layout (the vignette is on the movable gate) where 14 VAC powers the switch machine at that location. I then soldered the other lead to a nearby common outside rail on the nearest track. 

Simple! Except I screwed up two things before I got it right. Each building had two red, small leads. I screwed a two-wire barrier strip under the platform. I use ferrules for my wire terminations which are a European method that I started using when building the RR Germany. They don’t really fit well in American screw type terminal strips, but you can get two wires into each space on either side of the screw. I was working overhead under the layout and was having difficulty getting the two wires to hold in each slot while I was screwing them in. I finally got them in.
Then I drilled a hole in the layout near the track I was going to tap, put one lead of the zip cord I was using through the hole (but not yet trimmed), and then passed the other lead through the gate hinge joint and around to the place where the voltage tap was. I cut the ferrule off the existing lead going to the switch, and combined this larger gauge wire with the thin lighting lead and secured them with another ferrule. Notice the Euro-style terminal strip.
THC Hot Power Tap
I went back to solder the other lead to the track only to find that I had grabbed that lead (the one now through the hole in the platform) that was going to ground. I had to cut off the hot ferrule again and find the correct wire, re-strip the hot lead and do it all over again. DOH!.
I soldered the ground lead to the rail, and turned on the track power to test the lighting. Nothing! Nada!
I checked voltage at the terminal strip and command track and have 14 VAC, I also had 14 volts at the junction block, but then I noticed that I had connected both leads from each building to one side of the terminal strip. In other words, I had no circuit to either building. DOH X 2! After I reversed the connections and made them proper, I got this to look at.
THC Lit 1THC Lit 2
It took a ridiculous amount of tools that I had to schlepp out to the train room. Besides my regular Weller soldering station to tin the common lead, I had to bring the RSU since it's ideal for soldering leads to tin plated track when you need three hands. I had purchased some RC servo screws to use when fastening terminal strips below the RR, but didn't realize that they were allen head. I didn't have a 5/64" Allen bit for the electric screw driver, so I adapted. I took my good RC plane Allen wrench and chucked it in my monster DeWalt power drill and had an instant small-size power driver to attach the terminal strips.
What to do when you don't have the right allen bit
Here's a short video that I took today with the Super Chief passing the cabin and a look at the Engine House all lit up with its modern lighting. Interesting contrast between the warm incandescent lights of the cabin and the harsh LEDs in the Engine House. It's in the .MOV format which may be Apple only. If you can't view, I'll figure something else out.
I think I'm declaring the Tie Hacker's Cabin complete for all intents and purposes. I did gloss coat the mailbox and glued in the post.


Images (5)
  • FM O'scale Progress
  • THC Hot Power Tap
  • THC Lit 1
  • THC Lit 2
  • What to do when you don't have the right allen bit
Videos (1)
Super Chief Past The Hacker Cabin - HD 1080p

Thanks faithful followers! That was the first movie I directly loaded on the site. I was afraid it wouldn't work since it was created on a MAC. I need to do another GoPro movie. The last one I did was years ago and the railroad is so much more scenic now. My son in law has the camera and I still have the control app on my iPhone. I've even toyed about getting my own camera, but couldn't justify the cost for the few times I would need it. It would be fun to produce a film that has trackside and cab views superimposed to see both points of view.

I have the last part of the F-M done on the printer as I write this. It has a defect. There's a diagonal discontinuity in the part that may or may not be a show stopper. Won't know until I pull it off. It may be repairable.

Meanwhile, the House laser parts will be here today or tomorrow, I'm going to build the Sherman first. The interior is really complete. The kit has over 1,900 parts, 900 of which are comprised in the workable tracks. The remaining 1,000 parts is the tank. I don't know about you, but you can build a Sherman with about 200 parts (or less). The remaining 700 parts are inside. The instructions are 62 pages and fully 75% are just for the interior. It has a little bit of photo etched parts to add complexity.

RFM Sherman Box

Last year, Rye Fields produced an A1 Abrams model also with full interior including its turbine engine. I wanted that one, but missed the boat. They tend to produce finite amounts of these kits and they sell out. I didn't want to miss this one and had them reserve one for me. It's the same era Sherman that was in the movie "Fury". I re-watching it to capture any prototype info that I need. If you haven't seen it, "Fury" is a pretty raw look at what it was like to fight a tank war in the late war. A bit gruesome, but well done. War is gruesome.

I'll keep you all appraised of progress on it and anything else that's going on that's newsworthy. Thanks for watching.



Images (1)
  • RFM Sherman Box

I'm looking forward to the finished Sherman. 

As for "Fury," it has a lot of odd things on that tank you might not have seen much at the end of WW2.

Certainly don't base your crew figures off the movie, as the guy who picked most of their stuff out was a total jack wagon who wanted to make his mark with the most unusual stuff he could find (including RUSSIAN goggles on the Brad Pitt character's helmet and pre war cavlary boots which would have never been seen that late on a tanker crewman). 

That sounds harrowing! My dad tried to enlist, but was rejected due to a perforated ear drum (he has shoved a cherry pit in his ear when he was very little). He served as an air raid warden during the war stateside. Many of my uncles served all over the place. 

My House parts arrived today as I expected, so I now have a plethora of riches, the tank and the House. Life is good!

I finished building the F-M and primed it. Next up will be detail painting and weathering. The engine is huge. There's no wonder why F-M locos were so tall to accommodate these monsters. 

Assembly was challenging due to some printing errors that I have to fix. Last night's print had that strange defect of a diagonally displaced slice through the base plate and up into one of the ribs. I filled them all with Bondic and then filed, ground and sanded the heck out of it to attempt to restore the geometry. When I analyzed the support scheme I realized what happened. On the first base I had added supports all up and down on the flat bottom surface, but on the second one, I failed to add those supports. As a result, the pulling forces on that mid-section exceeded the tensile strength of the just cured resin and it formed a fissure. It was fixable. It's not perfect, but passable. If I was selling this engine, I would have fixed the support scheme and reprinted.

F-M Flaw Repair

I also had some distortion in the lower rear section of one of the engine halves. This too got a lot of Bondic. Don't what I'd do without that stuff. Had to do some custom fitting to get the generator and its frame to nest correctly with the main engine and its frame. I also had a failed print on the little cover plate on the back of the generator that let me hollow out the interior so I wouldn't be printing a huge solid resin block. The cover plate covers the hole. Instead of setting up to print this one parts, I cobbled one together with styrene. It was quicker.

F-M Assembled RtF-M Assembled Lft

Here's the ALCo next to the Fairbanks Morse. The FM towers over the ALCo even though they are off similar lengths and both are basically 8 cylinders long. Bear in mind that the ALCo is not sitting on an engine bed whereas the FM is sitting on a substantial frame.

ALCo vs F-M

I took it outside and painted it Rust-oleum gray gloss primer. 

F-M Primed Rt Side

F-M Primed lft side

Just for fun, I've created a composite of all the engines in my stable. I'm about done with creating big engines. It was a long-term goal of mine to create these in O'scale. Before 3D printing it would have never happened. Two are turbo-charged and two are not. Both FM and EMD are essentially two-strokes requiring blowers to forcibly sending air to scavenge the exhaust and charge with fresh air for the next compression stroke.

Engine Composite




Images (7)
  • F-M Flaw Repair
  • F-M Assembled Rt
  • F-M Assembled Lft
  • ALCo vs F-M
  • F-M Primed Rt Side
  • F-M Primed lft side
  • Engine Composite

Thanks Pat!

I got the engine detail painted and weathered, although the Rust-oleum wasn't completely dry and still a bit tacky.

Exhaust stacks are flat aluminum on the flex coupling, Vallejo shadow flesh on the muffler and then Tamiya Dark Iron on the stacks. I then added black and red rust weathering powders. For the dirt I use panel accent for the seams and IPA/India Ink wash. Since the Rust-oleum is solvent based, the IPA didn't affect it. Normally, when using Tamiya acrylics, I have to seal the surface or the IPA wash will wash the paint off.

FM Finished Rt

I paint the generator commutator copper color (antique gold)

FM Finished Lft

The FM looms over the others in the inventory. It was difficult to repair FM engines due to their size, twin crankshafts and inability to easily get to the lower end. The easier to maintain, by far, was EMD where you could pull the entire power pack (Cylinder, head, valves, piston and connecting rod) directly out of the top of the block with a portable crane that bolts directly to the engine. In a couple of hours you could completely restore a bad cylinder.

FM in position

I started working on the tank. It's one heck of a model. This picture gives you an idea. This is just one tiny area over the driver's compartment. There's five pieces of photo-etched there. The ventilator was six separate parts including a folded PE part. The transparent periscope cores are already in place. They get an opaque wrapper later on. It's a very comprehensive model.

M4A3 Vent Install

I had a tweezers holder that I built last year that was terrible. The Tweezers were in holes in a block of wood and faced upwards. I was constantly sticking myself with them. So I revised it and cobbled this together. Much better.

New Tweezers Rack

I also started finally modifying my work table. This is the one that I bought at an IKEA in Venlo, The Netherlands in 1999 as my hobby work table for our house in Düsseldorf, Germany. I told this crazy story about this years ago in this thread, I think. I paved its surface with cork flooring tiles, but they didn't reach to the back edge. There was a small drop-off and if I put something just right on that inconsistency, they would fall off the back. I finally leveled that surface and tomorrow, I'm going to attached a Masonite fence so stuff will stop falling off.

Workbench Fix

In fact, I'm going to put fences on the backs of all the shelves in this unit. It's a very good work surface, being the perfect height, like a watch-makers bench. The only time I do any of this maintenance is between projects.

I will repeat the IKEA story just for fun. It was Reunification Day in Germany. That's the day that East and West were rejoined after the fall of the Soviet Union. All the stores were closed in Germany, but not in Holland. And all the Germans would go to Holland to shop. I found the perfect bench in IKEA's catalog on-line. My wife was visiting our daughter back in the USA, so I took off on the 45 minute drive to Venlo, a small Dutch town just across the border. I got there about 4:00 p.m. and the parking lot looked like Black Friday in USA. It took me almost 20 minutes to get a parking spot.

I raced into the store and found my item in the flat box stacks, loaded my cart and headed to checkout. I waited in a long line and when I finally got to the clerk to pay, I pulled out my Visa card. The Clerk said, "No credit cards!" So I pulled out my Debit Card, and the Clerk said, "No Debit Cards!" "Cash only". Now for just a minute, can you image any store in the USA that sells entire kitchens only TAKING CASH? Neither could I. And this was pre-Euro, so it had to be Dutch Guilders. I asked if there was a cash machine on the premises? "No!" "Was there one in the immediate area?" "No!" It was about 10 minutes to five and they closed in 10 minutes.

I parked my cart with package, ran out the exit door, got into the car and headed towards Venlo's Centruum, figuring there has to be a cash machine there. There was! It took out 300 guilders and raced back to IKEA. When I got there the store was already closed, but there were still lots of customers at the loading dock and I went in the back door. I got my cart, got back into a still-long line and finally got to the Clerk… the same Clerk. I reeled off the 300 guilders and paid. She looked at me with a very inquisitive look. I said, "Don't ask." I was not going home without that bench!!

Everything in Germany and Holland at that time (20 years ago) was all cash. And I mean all cash. Before we repatriated I bought my wife a very nice Jaeger-Coultre watch at a local jewelry store in our German neighborhood. It was expensive, and I had to go to the cash machine and make three separate transactions to be able to withdraw enough cash from our US account to pay for it. It was ridiculous. It also prevented you from impulse shopping. If you didn't have the cash, you didn't buy it.

The House:

The laser cut parts arrived last night. I did a quick perusal of the contents. There's a lot of parts. I was most concerned at this point about how well the windows fit since this was an error that I picked up after I sent the first set of drawings, and sent a corrected set. The windows fit nicely! There's some clearance, but that's okay. The windows outer flange is quite generous. It will work nicely. I also checked the stairway openings in the upper roofs and that will work too. It will need a bit of stock removal, but that too is fine. I can ALWAYS REMOVE stock. I don't like when I have to ADD it. I'll be working on this after the Sherman project. Stay tuned.

HBTRR Window FitHBTRR Window Trial



Images (8)
  • FM Finished Rt
  • FM Finished Lft
  • FM in position
  • M4A3 Vent Install
  • New Tweezers Rack
  • Workbench Fix
  • HBTRR Window Fit
  • HBTRR Window Trial
Last edited by Trainman2001

Living abroad as a "normal" German citizen (not on a military complex) was a unique and life-changing experience. I can't speak about how it is now since it's been 18 years since we came home. My wife and I lived there for over three years in a German community near the Henkel world headquarters. We actually got out of debt living there. Between the significant increase in pay I got for an overseas assignment, having my housing covered there (we kept out house in PA, but expenses were low), having a company car (turned back two leases), and then there were no credit purchases made a huge difference. We made a strategic error when we were younger. Instead of taking out college loans for our two kids' undergraduate education, we basically covered it by going into credit card debt. And as every American knows, paying off that debt is almost impossible. It's meant to be so. Live and learn.

When I started work there I was given two credit cards, both from Santander Bank. One was my company card to be used for business travel, which I did a lot since I had a global position. The other was just a regular personal credit card. I asked my colleague how the personal card worked. He didn't understand my question. I then elaborated. "If i buy a sofa for 2,000 Deutschmarks how much would the monthly minimum payment be?" I got the look when you speak to a person from Mars. He didn't understand the term, "minimum payment". So I asked him what would happen. He said that the store goes into your checking account and takes out 2000 Deutschmarks. I exclaimed, "THE WHOLE BALANCE???!!" He answered, "Of course. Why would you buy something you don't have the money to pay for it?" I then asked, what happens when you don't have enough in your account? He said they take it negative and you pay interest on the negative amount. But… he added, "You can only do this for three months. Then the German government takes you card since you are no longer a responsible person and cannot manage a credit card." I immediately called my wife and told to never ever touch that card. "It's radioactive!"

When you agree to a German personal credit card you are explicitly giving the lender permission to go into your personal checking account and remove money. In fact, all checking account transactions are electronic and you essentially give the payee permission to go into your account and withdraw money. It's a very different (or was) than US credit policies. It is driven, in part, by the fear of rampant inflation that led up to the Third Reich. It's understandable. It's also why German consumer levels are significantly lower than ours and why recessions there are harder to turn around. Of all the cultural differences between USA and Germany, their spending culture was one of the most distinctly different from ours. And as I said, this was 18 years ago. Whether or not this has loosened up I don't know. I suspect not.

Stores were rarely open after 5 p.m. Never on Sunday! In the neighborhoods, they closed at 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. In the center city they were opened until four. Many stores closed during lunch hour from 12 pm to 1 pm. Sales were only allowed (by the State) twice a year. If a store did it any other time, they would be fined for "unfair trade practices". All of this; Cash economy, restricted discount policies and restrictive store hours made impulse buying almost impossible. If you worked, you only had a few hours a week to shop for essentials. Stores on the weekends were crowded like Christmas shopping year long. Unlike our practices, when the store closed at 4:00, it's doors were shut and the lights were off. In other words, cashiers were cashing out their registers starting at 3:30. Everyone was gone by 4:00. This took some getting used to also. There was no concept of "Customer Service." It was obviously the same in the Netherlands, thus leading to my workbench saga. These are kinds of things that you don't necessarily understand as a tourist. You have to live there.

Back to work. I DID put those backstops on my IKEA bench. I'm surprised that I didn't do this years ago. It only took a few minutes. I used SPAX screws with dress washers to give a firm grip on the Masonite. Now nothing with flop off the back onto the floor. You'd think that after the 50th time that happened, I might have done the fix, but it's always in the middle of a project and I get into a zone and don't like to deviate. If I have to I'll even add fences on the ends as well although I didn't have as much of a gravity challenge on the ends.

Workbench Fences


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  • Workbench Fences

If the US were to stop credit buying to be more like some European countries, we'd be in an instant Depression of biblical proportions. Our entire economy, (including Federal spending) is about instant gratification and deficit spending. The system hinges on it. We have to phase out over generations to keep from creating a massive disruption. And I'm not sure their system's better. I didn't like the governmental intrusion in commerce, but the Germans were perfectly all right about it.

The USA is the easiest country in the world in which to start a business, which is why so many people do it and so many immigrants risk their lives to have a shot at it. It takes a year of approvals to go into business in Germany. In the USA, all you do is say, "Hey… I'm in business." You don't even need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), you just need a SSN. If you make profit for 2 out of 5 years on you income taxes, you're a business, if not, it's a hobby. It's that simple. You don't have to incorporate. That's only for legal protection of personal assets. It's quite amazing actually.

Yeah… at least not that...

Just successfully print the front porch steps for the House, which I decided should be 3D and not fabricated. It produces a better product. Still on the Machine… haven't taken it down yet. Will do tomorrow. There's no rush since I'm probably a good month away from starting it.

The Sherman's going to take some time. I attempted to solder together a photo-etched brush guard for the headlights instead of attempting to glue it together with CA. Didn't go so well and will have to go to plan B.

I also rebuilt out Kohler kitchen faucet for the third time in 11 years. The o-rings in the stem wear out and leak out of the bottom. We have a lot of lime in our city water. This time, instead of abrading the lime out of the stem bear surfaces with a Dremel wire brush, I used the ultrasonic loaded with two bottles of CLR and water. Left it in for 30 minutes and it came out spotless. I doesn't lead and that will last and another couple of years. Eventually, I'll need to get a new faucet. I will get a plumber to install. Too much bending and contorting to get to the back of the underside of the sink.

I finished re-watching "Fury" last night on my laptop. The tank in the movie is the same model M4A3 HVSS 76W as the kit and I wanted to get some details. I was able to pause the movie and take a screen print of the detail… in this case, I wanted to see what colors the periscopes are. It turns out that the scope body is olive drab, but it's incases in an aluminum holding frame. So it's a two-tone affair. I also wanted to see if the underside of the hatches was interior white or O.D. I suspected it was olive drab like the outside since you didn't want that big white target when you were running with the hatch open. It's olive drab on both sides. "Fury" was one heck of a movie that pulled no punches regarding the terror of war. Being in a tank was dangerous and lots of me were lost.

That's today's report.

Remember my caveat… my German info is two decades old. How it has changed since then I don't really know, although I still have a lot of old colleagues back there and could find out.

I got the porch steps cleaned up and ready to go. There's a slight warp. It was worse after the first curing. I then clamped it to a piece of hardened steel to keep it flat and put it in the post-cure chamber for another 15 minutes. It helped a little. Having a little sag in the steps could be prototypical. This is the last piece of 3D printed stuff for the House proper. I still need a raft of furniture and fittings for the interior if I want to go full-obsessive-compulsive and decorate it. Giving how little will be seen I may not go that direction.

HBTRR Porch Stairs


Images (1)
  • HBTRR Porch Stairs

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