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Ok Myles, now, you’ve really done it again, you have made a City, very nice streets, a good place for a cold beer, a lot of nice stores, and some really cool houses to live in, and best of all, it’s probably pandemic free. Utopia in the making, and the newest house, the multi story mansion looks Fantastic. Your layout is coming alive, it’s simply a lot of fun to see your 3D printer in action, your work is great, and as they say, the scenery, buildings, landscaping is the backdrop, and the trains are the characters going through the settings adding such fun realism, you’ve mastered the process, great workmanship. Thank you for your wisdom on this forum, it’s an education in itself. Keep up the good work, one day when vaccines arrive here in Clarksville Tennessee, we will make a trip to the Roundhouse hobby shop in Louisville. Happy Railroading Everyone

Thanks all! Larry, you always say the nicest things. Mark always does too and Ken and so on.

My curb cut 3D print failed miserably. I just went down to check it (it finished last night) and all that's there is a forrest of supports with no parts attached. I'll have to trouble shoot what happened. Haven't had too many failures like this. For the supports to form so completely the parts must have detached late in the print. Won't know until I empty the vat.

I did a quick job when downstairs. I sawed off the Idaho Base supports that were extending past the perimeter and tried the whole deal in position. Fits pretty good.

I'll be trimming some of the haphazard plaster at the site perimeter. That STM was just slathered there years ago when I first build the city base. It will be much more refined now that I have a real base there.

Idaho Hotel 2nd Fitting 3

This base will be adhered to the foam. I won't fasten down the hotel, but the base needs gluing since it's not sitting flush. The sidewalk's vertical alignment is good especially when I pressed down on the base. The curb end will be filled, sanded, engraved and painted.

Idaho Hotel Base 2nd Fitting 2

If I want a curb cut on that inside curve, I probably will have to simply sand it into the Masonite, since I'm not so sure about drawing a curved curb cut on SketchUp.

Idaho Base 2nd Fitting 1


Images (3)
  • Idaho Hotel 2nd Fitting 3
  • Idaho Hotel Base 2nd Fitting 2
  • Idaho Base 2nd Fitting 1

Happy MLK Monday!

I 3D printed some new lighting heads for those tiny Surface Mount LEDs. I made a math error in the design. I wanted to have a lug projecting out the back to accept a 1/16" piece of aluminum tubing. Unfortunately, SketchUp draws circles based on their radius, and I was working in MMs, 1/16" = 1.57mm. But, I needed to divide that in half and I didn't so the lugs are way oversized. And of course they all printed successfully. I'll redraw and print them again. I wanted an outdoor light head that was smaller than the ones I made before.

This was the "bad" one.

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 6.39.03 PM

And here's the corrected one. With the proper sized lug I put a fillet under it to prevent breakage.

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 7.46.34 PM

It's a quick 25 minute print.

The rest of the day was spent completing the Idaho's base. This was more work than I anticipated, but I got it to where I wanted it. I first had to fill the irregularities in the curved edge. I used a combination of MDF and balsa strips to pack out the low areas.

Idaho Baseplate Filler Strips

To feather these patches in I used a combination of the 4" belt sander and my Dremel with a sanding drum. I was going to put a final capping strip on this so it didn't have to be perfect, but it had to be tight. There will be a curb cut behind Saulena's I plan on using the 3D printed one (version 2 is now on the printer after the failed one) since this is a straight curb. But for the parking lot entrance off the inside curve on the street, I decided to use "brute force". I tried a test piece on the 4" belt to just hog right into the edge holding the piece of a very shallow angle. It seemed to work, so I marked out the place on the base plate and went at it. It worked out okay. It's hard to actually see what's going on in this image since it's cut through both the upper Masonite and the MDF filler pieces below.

Idaho Baseplate Grinding Curb Cut

For the slight gap in the partition piece I used Med CA with a granular filler. I don't know what the filler particles are. I thought they were plastic, but they were absolutely a bear to sand. It was like sanding glass and I had to be careful to not veer off the joint because the Masonite was so much softer and would sand off to nothing. I eventually turned to 60 grit pads on my Harbor Freight Multi-tool. After I broke it down almost flat I was able to use conventional sandpaper with a rubber sanding block. After sanding I used spackle on all the sanded areas including the curb cut.

Idaho Baseplate Curb Cut Spackle

When it dried I sanded it smooth.

Idaho Baseplate Curb Cut Sanded

Here's the panel joints after sanding.

Idaho Baseplate Panel Joint Spackle

I cut some strathmore paper to 1/2" and adhered it to the edge using Aleen's reinforced with strategic CA.

I marked all the pavement lines. I'm going to simulate concrete in the alley way between Saulena's and the Hotel and continued the concrete to the rear of Saulena's to the street. The sidewalk is a continuation of Saulena's which was set by the Bar Mills model, about 6' wide.

I again tried the base onto the layout. I had marked the old plaster and trimmed it so the base sits flat. The curb looks pretty high on the far end,  and I hope it will set down tighter when I glue it all in with a lot of weights. I got the curb fit close enough for Rock and Roll as we used to say in the band when tuning up.

Idaho Baseplate Final Fit 2

I then overcoated the whole panel with the water-based sanding sealer to prepare for painting. This will get another sanding tomorrow (or Wednesday) before painting. I didn't fill the entire panel seam since the unsealed area falls underneath the Idaho Hotel. I'll glue it all down with Liquid Nails.

Idaho Baseplate Sealer Coat


Images (9)
  • Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 6.39.03 PM
  • Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 7.46.34 PM
  • Idaho Baseplate Filler Strips
  • Idaho Baseplate Grinding Curb Cut
  • Idaho Baseplate Curb Cut Sanded
  • Idaho Baseplate Curb Cut Spackle
  • Idaho Baseplate Panel Joint Spackle
  • Idaho Baseplate Final Fit 2
  • Idaho Baseplate Sealer Coat

Mark, I have nothing if not perseverance. I have much more of that than patience.

Today was a good example of why whenever I need to print one of something, I print as many as will fit in the machine. One curb cut was perfect, the other was non-existent. It broke loose early in the print so it was just a flat blob stuck to the FEP that required emptying the vat and popping it off. With the EPAX film I'm using, these stick-ons generally don't wreck the film and I can put it back in use.

Here's the one that was perfect.

Idaho Parking Lot Curb Cut As Printed

After pulling off all the supports I hardened it. Then I sanding the surfaces that had the supports. I traced the part onto the parking surface. I started to cut it out with the scroll saw, but it pinched and broke the blade. I finished it up with the saber saw.

I tried the part in the slot. I had to sacrifice some of the under structure in the cutting and I added it back so the curb would be complete underneath and along side the curb cut part.

Idaho Parking Curb Cut FittingIdaho Parking Curb Cutting

I used some of the same MDF, some thick CA and strategic sanding and it was all fit. I used more thick CA to fill some gaps, then some Bondic and finally some Tamiya fine filler. I trial fit it again into its spot.

Idaho Parking Curb Cut Trial

After I took this pic I finished sanded the whole deal and it's ready for paint tomorrow.

Idaho Parking Curb Cut Filling

I think it's going to need a fence between the lot and the railroad tracks. I could do another chain link since I'm pretty good at that, but I'm thinking a wooden fence might add some variety, a place for some right-of-way trash, maybe some graffiti even. Brennan's has a pretty good wood fence… I'll check it out. Just checked it out. The kit is $25 for 48" of wood fence. I just measured the curved edge and it was exactly 48". That's not good since it would mean no room for failure. Furthermore, most of the run is all curve. Wood fences are hard to build on curves. Even a chain link fence is challenging on a continuous curve since ever junction would need to be angular. I've done this for the refinery and engine house fences, but they weren't all curve like this. I could laminate a ply wall and make it poured concrete, but I won't do it like I did for the gas station. A strathmore double layer wall with wooden spacers in between could work. I'll have to think on this.

After printing the curb cut I print another run of the modified billboard light fixtures. These came out okay, the LED space is a little tight, but I'll make it work and the hole size is dead on. Some didn't come out, but I only need two so far. I've cleaned up four so far and ran out of time. I'm going to make a fairly gaudy "Parking Lot" sign that I want illuminated on both sides. With some of these small complex parts, the failure rate can exceed 50%.

Billboard Lights Print

Here's a closer shot. Looking at the way the Chinese street lights were wired showed me another way to do it. To save space, they have the negative lead soldered across the back of the LED with just a tiny bit of un-insulated wire exposed to solder. The positive lead also heads out the same direction so both wires run parallel and don't need any 180° bends which take room. I haven't designed the sign yet, but that won't take long.

Billboard Light SMLED Fitting

I don't know about you, but for me and my family, today was a happy day. Democracy worked! There were those that tried to stop it, and they almost did, but they failed. Instead, they just behaved like a bunch of mindless vandals. We're better than that. Some TV stations, instead of celebrating were continuing with the BS. Maybe they should get over it. My wife and I killed a bottle of Prosecco and it was good!


Images (7)
  • Idaho Parking Lot Curb Cut As Printed
  • Idaho Parking Curb Cut Fitting
  • Idaho Parking Curb Cutting
  • Idaho Parking Curb Cut Trial
  • Idaho Parking Curb Cut Filling
  • Billboard Lights Print
  • Billboard Light SMLED Fitting
Last edited by Trainman2001

I'm sure you've seen that I've been writing this continuous thread for 8 years. I very rarely wax into politics. I do get philosophical occasionally. Tuesday made a big impression on me. I won't go political for another four years.

The Idaho Hotel parking lot is almost finished. Yesterday I painted the sidewalk, but thought the concrete color I mix was too dark. It also showed some minor gaps that needed filling. I filled this and let it dry overnight.

Idaho Parking Lot Sidewalk 1st Coat

I also designed the graphic for the parking lot sign. I printed the graphic out on clear decal film since I will be applying it over a white substrate. I also printed out a B&W version on plain paper which would serve as a cutting template to make the sign. I always print out as many copies of the decals as the sheet can hold since you never know what's going to happen. In this case, the paper obviously started to move sideways in the printer and smeared the output on the back edge. Didn't matter since I had two good ones.

Idaho Parking Lot Decal Coated

I pasted the template to the 0.015" sheet styrene using PSA, a light coat just around the perimeter. I only wanted to hold the template in place to cut it, not to permanently adhere. In retrospect, this could also have been print out on photo paper and I may still go that route.

After cutting out the flat pieces, I needed to fabricate the sign to make it 3-dimensional. My plan was to have a pipe running through it and the light fixtures built into that pipe. That meant that there needed to be something more substantial inside to give the structure some good support.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Template

I used little 1/8" blocks to support the rim which was 0.040" X .125" styrene strip. As I was bending the styrene around the outer curve I mistakenly used thin CA to reinforce a stubborn part. The CA attacked the styrene and caused it to fracture in three places. I left the existing piece in place and spliced new styrene to it. This time I didn't use the CA. CA can be aggressive… to aggressive. I glued some thick Ross RR Tie wood to made the reinforcements. In this case I did use medium CA, but only on the underside.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Construct

My traced piece for the front side was undersized. I cut it too much on the inside of the line. I then traced this assembly on some fresh sheet stock and cut it out. I glued the pieces together. I then needed to drill a hole down the center of the piece from top to bottom. You can see all the different angles and masses that the drill would have to traverse to get through in the above image.

I drilled first with a 1/16" drill in the Dremel. This picture shows the 1/16" rod passing all the way through.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Pilot Drill

I then put the work piece in the drill press vice and opened up the hole to 3/16" to accept the brass pipe that will make up the stand and conduit for the wiring. This was a bit hairy and didn't quite come out in line. But it's enough in line that I can assemble it.

I painted the whole deal with gloss white in prep for the decals on Monday. The thin styrene came out a bit lumpy, and that's actually pretty cool since it looks like sheet metal which is what the real thing would be made out of.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign ready for decal

Now that you've seen all this, it came to me after working a couple of house on this that I could have 3D printed the sign. Every once in a while I regress and do stuff "old school" where I could do it the "modern" way. I am going to draw and print a nice pedestal for the sign so it's just not sticking in a hole in the parking lot. I'll do that this weekend too.

I remixed a lighter color concrete, sanded yesterday's patches, and then resprayed the new color. I was working on the sign while this was drying. You can see the color change in this image.

Idaho Parking Lot Concrete Color

After the concrete dried, I followed the same procedure as for the Gravely lot: paint the white for the lines (3 coats). When dry use narrow tape for the lines, mask the sidewalk and other concrete areas and then paint the paving with a dark gray mix of artist's tube acrylics.

Idaho Parking Lot Paving Mask

After painting two coats of "asphalt" I put in on the layout to dry and pose for some more pictures. It's a bit shiny and I will Dullcoat it next week. I will also do my usual like weathering. The macadam still looks too black. It looks like it was just paved. That's okay… it's my town. If I say it was recently paved, it was recently paved!

Idaho Parking Lot Drying 1

I need to make parking barriers as before and then deal with the retaining wall/barrier/fence situation. I need to drill some new holes for Saulena's and Idaho's wiring to pass below. You can see the hole for the sign at the top right corner on the paving.

Idaho Parking Lot Front Street View

Parking lots take up a lot of real estate, and all of mine are about 50% too small. In fact, I seriously doubt a real car could put into one of those parking spots without hitting anything. It's the curse of O'scale. Things are just too darn big. The N-Gauge guys have it made in that regard. In the lower right foreground is the last unassigned bare green foam in the town. It's a bit small for a structure and might be a little park with some Scenic Express stuff.

Have a safe, healthy, socially distanced weekend.


Images (10)
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sidewalk 1st Coat
  • Idaho Parking Lot Decal Coated
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Template
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Construct
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Pilot Drill
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign ready for decal
  • Idaho Parking Lot Concrete Color
  • Idaho Parking Lot Paving Mask
  • Idaho Parking Lot Drying 1
  • Idaho Parking Lot Front Street View

"Parking lots take up a lot of real estate, and all of mine are about 50% too small. In fact, I seriously doubt a real car could put into one of those parking spots without hitting anything. It's the curse of O'scale."

Ain't that the truth.  On a prior layout I thought I had allocated an ample amount of space for parking around my passenger station.  After a few minutes playing with cars on it I realized it just wasn't going to work as I planned.  Fortunately after continuing to play with the cars for a few days I was able to find a parking layout that was somewhat plausible.  (Rumors that I was making car noises while doing this are wildly exaggerated.)  If I had done this before I might have laid it out differently.   Chances are that most people who will look at your layout won't notice these things...but you will.

Thanks Mark. The sign's almost as big as the parking lot.

Here's the drawing for the sign post base. It's a little bit large, but there's a 3/16" hole that I needed some wall thickness around. It's entirely accidental that the width and height are the same. I designed it all freehand.

Yes, I was thinking the sign is rather large for the space, but you are correct about the dilemma in modeling in O scale.

Bill, you are right on, too!  I probably won't have room for parking lots at all.  I can spot a car or two at a station or whatever building, and the other cars will be imagined. 

What is Acraglass? I could make a clay form and cast hydrocal which I still have a ton of.

While this wasn't an exercise day, I still didn't get into the shop until almost 3 p.m. I did get some stuff accomplished. I got the parking sign down except for the lighting and got that half done. I successfully printed 6 sign bases. I've said before that the EPAX Non-FEP film is forgiving and today was a perfect example. I had a adhesion failure last print, pulled the vat, peeled off the stuck resin, put a thin film of teflon oil on the film, filled it up and printed it again. And all six printed perfectly. With the Elegoo film, if it had the hazing and bumpiness of this film, I would have had to replace it.

I got a coat of dullcoat on the parking lot and it took off enough sheen to make it quite workable.

Idaho Parking Lot Dullcoat

While I pulled up Saulena's to mark the new power lead hole position, I found that it was falling apart. It was the first craftsman kit I built for the layout in 2005 so it's 15 years old. Everything in the base was delaminating. I mean everything; foam core, play, building 1st floor… you get the picture. I had to apply glue to all the gaps and clamp it so put it back together. I had to put a window back together too. These things don't last forever and all the more reason to NEVER GLUE YOUR BUILDING AND STRUCTURES TO THE LAYOUT. If I had, I couldn't have fixed this.

Saulena's Fixup

I tried using my decals on the parking lot sign. The decal was slightly larger than the side and I didn't like how it looked. Also the color saturation was not so hot. So I went to plan B, which was to reprint the signage on Photo paper, and it was much better. I used 3M Scotch Double-sided Permanent Tape to hold the sign image onto the styrene substrate.

Here was the decal attempt.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Bad Decal Fit

And here was the sign using the photo paper method. Much better.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Photo Version

Here's the sign just stuck in its hole. It won't be this high when finally fixed.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Test

Here are six printed bases in the post-cure box. I'm curing then before finishing off the bottoms. I printed them directly on the plate so there are no support nubs to deal with. The bolt heads rendered perfectly. After sanding off the pre-coat layer on their bottoms I will re-drilled the 3/16" hole to accept the sign post.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Bases

I spent the rest of the afternoon making the two LED lights that will illuminate the sign from both sides. I'm having a problem soldering magnet wire to the Surface Mount LEDs. I keep killing them with the heat. I got one head done successfully after killing one LED, and then killed two more trying to solder the second light head. I just stopped and quit for the day. They're not that expensive, less than a buck per, but it bugs me. Then I thought about simply sacrificing a couple of the street lights which are already wired and working successfully. I don't need 10 of them. I'm going to go that route tomorrow and stop messing around.

I ran into a problem with that new min-chop saw I got from MicroMark. It's suffering the same problem that I've had with other tools of Chinese manufacture. Their Allen screws have lousy metallurgy. I had to replace a set of vat screws on the printer with Torx metric screws of the same size because the hex-holes in the screws rounded out, making them useless. The same thing has happened to the button-head Allen screw that holds on the saw blade. I've only change out the blade two times. And today could not remove the screw because it had cammed out. I sharpened the Allen wrench since it too had rounded over, but it didn't work. Went to a slightly larger inch-sized wrench and it didn't work either. Because it's a button head, there was nothing to grab with the vise-grip. So right now I have no way of changing the saw blade.

I'm a good mechanic. I don't over-tighten things. I've taught hundreds of kids about how NOT to do that. As the saw was cutting it tightened the screw further, which it's supposed to do. But, it should not be removable after only two blade changes. I'm going to contact MicroMark and see what they can do. If you go on Amazon, you see this exact saw being sold by many importers. I guarantee that I'm not the only fellow who's having this problem.


Images (6)
  • Idaho Parking Lot Dullcoat
  • Saulena's Fixup
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Bad Decal Fit
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Photo Version
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Test
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Bases

That's a good idea. I was toying with grinding flats on it, but a slot makes more sense and is easier to do. I've written MicroMark customer service to request a solution from them. I will have to get a better screw when/if I get this one off. This saw is marketed under a myriad of brand names. There's just one factory in China that's churning them out. I'm sure others have had the same problem. There is a different in USA/German/Japanese made products. Chinese tools are where Japanese tools were 25 years ago.

I just had a strange problem. The pictures weren't loading and the post didn't load either. It said it was an invalid page… I will post this short note and if it loads, edit it with today's post.

Today was a real shot-in-the-arm… literally… my wife and I both got our first Phizer shot. We have our next appointment in three weeks. We had it at Norton Health Care's West Louisville clinic. It was perfectly organized and executed. Piece of cake!

Because I got up so early, and it was an exercise day, I was able to get the shot, do my exercise AND get a full day in the shop. And I took advantage of it.

I got the parking lot basically finished and glued in. I finished the parking sign and finished up making the LED driver boards for all the ancillary street lights that I will be installing.

My perseverance paid off. I was able to successfully solder a surface mount LED without cooking it and got the second (and final) parking sign light fixture finished. I got the two aluminum shafts down into the 3/16" shaft and used thick CA to secure it all. I soldered some medium gauge red/jack zip cord to the magnet wire then found it the four leads wouldn't pass through the 3/16" shaft hole in the parking lot. I cut those wires off and soldered on some light gauge wires that I bought in Germany and have been using ever since. The spools are getting a bit sparse, but I think they'll last until the layout is completed. After I took the picture I painted the base. The 3D printed bases came out perfect.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Fin

I glued the parking lot to the green foam sub-base using Liquid Nails and lots of gravity clamps. After it was set I drilled new holes all the way through for Saulena's, Idaho's and the parking lot wires. I have

Idaho Parking Lot Complete


Images (2)
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Fin
  • Idaho Parking Lot Complete
Last edited by Trainman2001

Postus interruptus! You guys are too much, giving praise for a 1/2 finished post. I had to stop writing last night and, due to he forum's habit of timing out after an idle period and losing the pictures, I chose to post it incomplete and finish this morning.

My arm's a little sore this morning, but nothing notable. It's the booster that seems to give the most ill-effects on the 2nd day. It's worth it!

I didn't glue the parking sign into the layout. The base is wide enough and solid so it stays ok un-glued. I still have to create and attach the parking bumpers, and then there's that retaining wall. I've gone through at least five different approaches in my head trying to find one that's, a) decent looking, b) not too much $$$ and c) buildable. The curve really throws me a "curve" so to speak. It makes all the fence options more complicated. I'm now thinking about a couple of 1/8" Masonite strips laminated together to form a curved "concrete-looking" retaining wall. Best of all, I have all the materials in the shop and don't need to go shopping for anything. I could also shape a "concrete" form out of clay and pour hydrocal into it. The challenge with that method is keeping a uniform wall thickness. In the real world, concrete forms have tie bolts that run across the form and they leave those tell-tale holes in their place. The other problem with this is controlling any hydrocal leakage out the bottom. The subsurface is very irregular. It's why the Masonite solution seems to be the most practical. And it can easily bend around that radius.

Here's some more images showing the finished installation. There's the 2nd parking machine next to the sign.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Installed 1

You can see some more of the weathering on the base in this image.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Installed BaseIdaho Parking Lot Sign Installed 3

The curb's a little high, but as you can see in the Saulena's/Idaho sidewalk junction, it's just a tad taller than Saulena's and removing a 1/8" filler piece would have been too much. I would have had to laminate some strathmore make it exact and, obviously, I didn't want to do that. There's also a lot of flexibility in the green foam and Masonite below it. Even with the new base solidly glued to the green foam, it's still got give.

Idaho Parking Lot Sign Installed 2

I also finished 7 DIY LED driver boards. The difference in my construction approach between the first and last is pretty dramatic. I got it so I can solder one of these together in about 15 minutes. All the soldering is done with the RSU.

The first attempt:

Street Light Power Start

And here's number 7: I found that I needed to have that large copper conductor actually touching each leg of the LED driver chip to ensure that it was a good conduction path. I found that soldering the driver just to the foil wasn't giving a good contact. I test each circuit with an LED before attaching the servo mounting tape underneath.

Street Light Power Final

Here're all seven ready for installation today. I know it seems like overkill, but these allow each light pole to be easily pulled from the railroad with a small straight screwdriver. I really, these should have been actual little circuit boards with lead attachment fittings on them. I looked for something, but it would have cost $$$ and these cost me nothing. I had all the stuff sitting around the shop. Those Euro-style connectors came in strips of 12 with a female half. I originally used them to create the barrier separators for the subroadbed panels on the first German iteration of this railroad. I enabled me to separate all the wiring cleanly, and reassemble same back in Pennsylvania.

For the big ground jumper, I realized quickly that none of this needed insulation since nothing could move into contact with anything else, thus bare conductors. Even that heavy copper is old German wiring. I know this because they use blue and brown insulation to denote hot and neutral.

Street Light Led Drivers

Today I'm going to be installing more street lights and getting all the new lighting systems powered up. I will be under and over the layout all afternoon.


Images (7)
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Installed 1
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Installed Base
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Installed 3
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Installed 2
  • Street Light Power Start
  • Street Light Power Final
  • Street Light Led Drivers

Foam is a great idea! I've got foam. I have a large chunk 1" thick that worked! I sliced off 2 foot by 5/16" pieces. It took a couple of trials to get pieces that were consistent. It took 2 full lengths plus a small filler piece to cover the distance. The foam bent around the curve and irregularities with ease. It won't be had to glue it on. I'll use a little STM at the lower edge to blend the terrain up to the wall and redo the ballasting and probably use Liquid Nails to secure it.

Idaho Parking Lot Foam Wall Ft

I used CA to join the pieces, then put on some spackle to clean up the pieces. I have to sand that today. I will pre-paint before installing. Meanwhile, I did get the parking bumpers cut, painted and installed too.

Idaho Parking Lot Foam Wall Fill

The rest of the day was spent installing street lights. They mount with a 3/32" hole. In most cases, I didn't glue them in. Only if they were too loose and drooping did I use some Henkel Pattex All-surface glue that I still have from Germany. It's a clear urethane glue that works for installing things into the layout including chain link fencing. I put six lights in town and three more around the engine house: one on each end of the parking lot and one in the storage yard. To do the install and the following wiring I spent hours on top and underneath the layout. The fact that I can actually move today is a miracle. As I made each connection I had to scoot out from underneath, pull myself up to a standing position to see if the light(s) in question actually lit. In about 1/2 the time, they didn't and I had to go back underneath to fix it.

I had two problems. The first was when I reversed the polarity on my first little driver board. The board ceased to function so I had to replace it. I may have damaged the driver chip. If I did I'll replace it. The second was fixing the very fine gauge solid-strand leads from the street lights. They too small to attach a ferrule, so I had to clamp each wire under the Euro-style connector screw. In at least two cases, one of the leads wasn't actually making contact and the light didn't work. I was able to get all of them working. The result of the today's session: two LEDs on the parking sign and three street lights working. I'll do the rest in the next day or so. I will have to make a couple more driver boards. They worked out well especially have servo tape to mount them to the layout. Here are some shots of the town with more lights on. Oh… I also got Saulena's and Idaho back under lights.

Front Street w Lighting take 2

The fuzzy lights are an artifact from the focus-compression software I'm using (Zerene Stacker). This picture was taken with 15 exposures at different focal points with the Canon EOS.

Front Street With LightsIdaho Parking Lot Sign Lights onIdaho Parking Lot w Street LightFront Street Lighting rev viewHBTRR at NightFront Street Lighting

WIth most of the town's real estate accounted for, I decided to do an audit of the space left on the layout that can be improved with buildings and structures. There's a lot of space, but it's all narrow. The widest is 11". Here's a photo-study of all this space and I'm opening it up for discussion re: what kind of things should go there. It seems to be precluding modeling the two homes I have plans for: our current and previous houses. Our current house is 45 on a side and that's over 11" just for the structure not including any land around it. I was getting worried that I was going to run out of things to build.

This is the space across  "Serpent Gulch".

Layout Other-side-of-the-tracks space 11

This is the inner-track space along the layout back. It's also 11" It's the only raw OSB surface on the entire layout. It's not wide enough for the Korber grain elevator which I originally was going to put there. I will have to scratch-build something. The other problem is getting vehicle access. In the above picture you see the beginnings of the road getting there. It's a lot of grade crossings. It's a very long space so more can go there, but it's a challenge.

Layout Back Space 11

Next up is the space between the back yard tracks and the inner aisle. Not shown in this image and further towards the camera direction is the engine service area with water, coal and sand, so stuff can fit there. I think some yard admin buildings make sense here. There's already road frontage here.

Layout Yard Frontage Space

There's another long narrowish space between the yard and mainline tracks. This to could have yard-related structures.

Layout Inner-yard space

At the tail end of this tract is a wider area that's adjacent to the engine house.

Layout Inner-yard Space extension

Finally, there's a little mound next to the train station. Maybe nothing should go there. If could just be a natural area. I wouldn't want anything tall there so you don't block that splendid view of the House.

Layout Mound Near Station Space


Images (15)
  • Idaho Parking Lot Foam Wall Ft
  • Idaho Parking Lot Foam Wall Fill
  • Front Street w Lighting take 2
  • Front Street With Lights
  • Idaho Parking Lot Sign Lights on
  • Idaho Parking Lot w Street Light
  • Front Street Lighting rev view
  • HBTRR at Night
  • Front Street Lighting
  • Layout Other-side-of-the-tracks space 11
  • Layout Back Space 11
  • Layout Yard Frontage Space
  • Layout Inner-yard space
  • Layout Inner-yard Space extension
  • Layout Mound Near Station Space
Last edited by Trainman2001

In a truncated session today I wrestled with two more street lights and built 3 more LED driver modules. The light didn't go one. I tested the Driver Module with a single LED I had in my pocket so the Module was okay. I climbed onto the layout from the serpent gulch opening and pulled the light and took it back to the bench. Of course it tested OKAY. It must not have made good contact. I put it back into the layout and re-tested the module and it was not working. I changed it out and reconnected the light to the new module and it worked. The next one too was temperamental and took fussing to get the small leads to properly make contact. So that leaves one more pole in the town area and the three at the engine house and this phase will be complete.

Tomorrow I finish up the parking lot wall and get those lights working. Then I'll take another overall picture of the layout since stuff has changed enough to see the difference. Didn't take any pics today since it was just a repeat of yesterdays session.

Oh…. and I killed a driver chip and individual LED. "How?", you ask. I forgot to cut a gap in the copper foil under the driver chip. The extreme end leads should not be connected, Duh.. Anyway, when I went to test my beautiful soldering job, it didn't work. Of course it didn't work. It was a direct short from input to output and I put 12VDC directly onto the test LED. It didn't like it. I'm not sure if the chip was damaged or not since the power just passed beneath it, but I pulled it out and replaced it with a new one. This time I made those modules mass-production style. Getting better at them. I only need them for these isolated light sources. In my buildings I build the driver chips into the building so I can apply any voltage between 5 and 90VDC without worry.

A short across the driver shouldn't have damaged the driver but may have damaged the LED.

The area next to the engine house is adjacent to some yard switches. Maybe a switch tower could go there. I agree with Yard buildings in and along the yard. If you have room, maybe a long skinny REA warehouse. An icing station might fit in a long skinny area but might not fit your layout's timeframe. Diesel fueling station along side the yard tracks is another possibility. Just some thoughts. Maybe they will spark an idea.

All good thoughts. I will keep working it. I have time. The rick house project will take place once the Bradley plastic kit is done. Meanwhile, it's nice to know that I have some real estate to develop and that means projects.

Continued wiring those %#)@*U(* lights! Between working overhead under the layout, the very fine conductors on the light wiring which kept breaking when I tightened the screw on the Euro-style connector block and then there was the two poles that somehow failed. I also painted, weathered and installed the last part of the parking lot project, the faux concrete foam retaining wall.

I painted the retaining wall a concrete color mix which some some parts Tamiya Buff and some other parts Tamiya Neutral Gray. Don't ask me the proportions, I just kept adding gray until it looked right. I brush painted two coats on it while at the bench and then used pastel chalks, dry brush and then wet brush to blend it all an make is quite dirty on the track side. We are talking the age of steam and early diesel and they put out a lot of dirt.

I glued it to the parking lot perimeter using Liquid Nails and held it in place with T-pins. One of the CA'd joints broke open and I used the Liquid Nails and the pins to hold it all together until it cures.

Idaho Parking Gluing Retaining Wall 1

In this shot I just had the LED ceiling spots on and I adjusted the color in post-processing so it looks like a sundown shot. I like how it came out. It was unintentional. The gaps at the base will be filled with the STM and the final grading to take place next week.

Idaho Parking Lot Gluing Retaining Wall 3

Here's an overhead shot showing the lot side of the wall. There's some Liquid Nails leakage that I will deal with when it's cured.

Idaho Parking Gluing Retaining Wall 2

I got all the town street lights running as seen in this shot of Station Avenue. I named it that because the street leads to the train station. Very original… not.

Station Street Lights Done

I went to work on the Engine House light poles. The working angle was terrible mainly because my magnifying head gear kept getting afoul of the layout skirting. When I got my head in such a position so it was in focus, the magnifying hood would bump out of position. It was very annoying. My Varilux regular glasses don't work for overhead work since my neck doesn't bend back that far. I persevered. Something blew out the LED in the first one I did. I changed out the driver module only to find that the light post itself had failed. I pulled it and used the spare. The fine leads kept breaking when I tightened the grub screw to hold them. It took a lot of finesse and I was working with my arms above my head.

Engine House Corner Light

I got that light working. Then went to the opposite corner of the parking lot. This one too had a failed LED in the light pole, and I pulled it to replace it next week. I did get the third and last pole wired and running at the corner of the EH storage yard. These lights aren't that bright or they look bright because the EH lights themselves are so darn bright. But it's done.

Engine House Lot Light

Lastly, just for fun I took telephoto shot of the fire house which you can actually see inside and the pole in the back of the room. I kind of ignore that lovely building...

View of the Fire House

I really want an iPhone 12 Pro because it's camera really can handle night and special photography well. My iPhone 7 is just so-so, and the Canon EOS is even worse.

I've almost reached the point where can put in some more street details like street signs, stop signs, etc. I have some I made years ago that should be put in. I also have a bunch more utility poles that need to go in AND I have some high-tension poles that need to lead to the substation. I've also thought of making a smaller transformer station to provide power to the engine house… Just think'n.

Everyone have a safe, fun and socially distanced weekend. Wear your %)#& masks!


Images (7)
  • Idaho Parking Gluing Retaining Wall 1
  • Idaho Parking Lot Gluing Retaining Wall 3
  • View of the Fire House
  • Idaho Parking Gluing Retaining Wall 2
  • Station Street Lights Done
  • Engine House Corner Light
  • Engine House Lot Light

That is right, you have the rick house and Bradley kit to do.

Oh!  Working with my arms overhead is the worst.  I have trouble seeing like you described as well.  For large things, it doesn't matter if the work is a bit out of focus, but small things is a literal pain in the neck.

As an aside, is that an AMC Pacer in the lot?  I have never seen a model of one.  Also, is that a Citroen in the last photograph?

I always wear my mask around others.  I had to take my '04 Hyundai to the local exhaust shop to get a flex pipe between the manifold and catalytic converter replaced.  There was a sign on the door, no one allowed without a mask.  The early middle aged employees in the cramped waiting room/counter never wore a mask.  I guess they figure the sign on the door puts them in compliance with Governor Wolf's edict. 

I'm afraid last week was the last time I put my car up on ramps to crawl under to see what's going on.  I tweaked my bulging disks again looking for the exhaust rumble, but the back has settled down.  My 3-month checkup with the back doctor is in a little over a week.

Yup! It was placing that tiny LED conductor into the Euro connector at just the right location and depth that was the biggest problem. I had to have perfect focus to have half a chance. And then there's my shaky hands to contend with. All in all I'm happy that I'm mobile today. My back was no worse than it normally is in the morning. I take two Tylenol Arthritis Formula in the morning. I can't take Advil or any other INSAIDs because I'm already on a anti-coagulant (Eliquis) and all the INSAIDs thin blood. So the Tylenol has got to do it all.

And yes… that's an AMC Pacer in the lot. It's a NEO model bought from American Excellence, a great die cast car site. And it's also a 2CV Citroen. Good eyes. I had to buy the Pacer in honor of the singularly worst car we've ever owned. I've purchased 26 cars in my driving career and the Pacer rules the roost of the worst. It was a car that should not have been.

It had a ton of firsts. First electronic ignition, first power rack and pinion steering in an American car. What it wasn't was the first in was the first 2-rotor Wankel engine in a passenger car. It was supposed to be the recipient of the GM rotary engine project. The car was designed around that engine. Then GM dropped the program, leaving AMC with a car without an engine. At that point the Pacer project should have died too, but AMC continued and brought out the car with their crappy, ancient straight 6 engine. The engine was too long for the engine compartment so they built a box into the firewall to accept the back two cylinders. It made changing those two plugs almost impossible. I believe they had to drop the engine to do that. The engine was terrible and probably screwed up the weight balance too.

The electronic ignition had dissimilar metals in the primary connector between the control unit and distributor. This created galvanic corrosion that would intermittently break the connection when you hit a bump of sufficient g-force. Coincidentally, that was the same g-force generated when crossing RR tracks, which caused the engine to suddenly shut off. With the engine off you lost power steering and power brakes. It was also the same g-force from going up a curb cut into a shopping center from a main street. You had to get out of the car, open the hood, separate and remake the connection and then the engine would start. Fun!!!

The paint was so bad that you could wipe pigment on a rag after it rained. They claimed it was due to "Industrial Fallout". The inner door panels kept coming loose. The emergency brake cable broke because it was routed directly on top of the hot exhaust manifold pipe. And the rack and pinion power steering failed due to leakage at both end seals of the power piston. It was as if the car was designed to kill its occupants.

In other words, it was awful.

This is a picture of our 1 (now 46) year-old son in front of said Pacer. The kids loved the car since it had a "Way back" under the big glass lift gate. It was very roomy and fun to drive. It would have been great if it wasn't such a disaster. We traded it less than two years for an Old's Delta 88, which was great car which we kept for 10 years.

Adam 1975

I just replaced an LED puck under-cabinet light. They're supposed to last 50,000 hours. Yes! The LEDs themselves have a very long life span. Unfortunately, there's other components in the circuit that can fail earlier, and in this one they did. It was intermittent between bright and very, very dim, and then all-the-time dim. I couldn't find that same brand I bought a few years ago, so settled for another. They were inexpensive; 3 pucks and control circuits for $18.00 from Amazon. I tested the other puck with my LED test rig and it was very dim and then tested the new one and it was bright, so I made the switch. They're all 12 VDC without current limiters since those are built into the puck, and it's that current limiter that probably failed.

Since I bought the 3-pack I have two spares to replace any others that die. Unfortunately, the new one is not the same brightness of the one on the other side of the stove, but it's better than completely dark. I'm going to continue to look for the original ones I bought so I could replace it with one of equal brightness. So that's my Saturday report. Oh… I pulled the t-pins on the foam wall and it's completely glued. So there's that...


Images (1)
  • Adam 1975
Last edited by Trainman2001

Wow!  That car was more disaster than I thought.  I knew they didn't make the Pacer very long.  I knew one person who had one.  He bought it because he was looking for a commuter car and said it was the only one that gave him enough leg room since he was very tall.  I do not know what problems he had with it since I moved before he had it very long.

I don't think anyone had them for very long. Those were the days before galvanized body panels and penetrating rust proofing. If the finish paint was so bad, you could just imagine how the beast would rust out in 3 or 4 years. I have a coffee table book with the "Worst Cars in the World" and the Pacer and Gremlin are in it.

Today I started planning in earnest for the little park triangle. I scaled a M2A3 Sherman in 1:48 to see how it would fit as a "park relic". It does fit. So I drew and will print some fence monument posts…simple print job…and purchased some nice ornate laser-cut fencing from Rail Scale Models. Some minimal landscaping would finish it off. Tamiya makes a nice line of 1:48 military models including old and new Sherman designs. It will be fun to do this. I will weather it just to fade the heck out of it. The tracks would be completely rusted. Road wheel tires would be a faded gray. I could put some tiny birds sitting on the gun barrel and some guano to emphasize the effect.

In addition to the columns I can draw and print (or purchase) some park benches. I need to get some more people, lots of people.

I had to measure the total perimeter before buying the fencing. It takes three packs. The notch in the lower right corner is relief for the watchman's tower that's in that spot. So even when I'm not in the basement I'm still creating.

Park Design

And my number one grandson thinks I should put a mural on the big white wall of the Woodbourne Gallery. I woke up this morning thinking about how to approach that. I have some ideas, but not sure what way to go. I also have a friend who is an exceptional (professional) illustrated novel artist. I would love to have him do it, but am afraid of how much $$$ he should be paid to do it. I'll give it a shot myself and see if I can do something respectable. If I can't then I'll ask Willie for some help.

I would draw it all by hand, first with sketches, then a color study and then a full color rendering. I'm not comfortable  with attempting to draw it digitally. Even though CorelDraw has the power to do "hand-drawn" styles, it's not where my skills lie. I'm a decent illustrator and DID originally go to Michigan State to be a automobile stylist. It could be fun. Now the question is, "once I have a finished drawing, what's the best way to transfer it to the building?" I can scan it and turn it into a decal(s) depending on how big it is. I could print it on paper and paste it to the wall. If you thin the paper from the back (Bar Mills style) if could conform to the wall and look like it was painted there. Or I could actually paint it directly on the wall… by far the riskiest approach. Let's see what happens.


Images (1)
  • Park Design

And my number one grandson thinks I should put a mural on the big white wall of the Woodbourne Gallery. I woke up this morning thinking about how to approach that. I have some ideas, but not sure what way to go. I also have a friend who is an exceptional (professional) illustrated novel artist. I would love to have him do it, but am afraid of how much $$$ he should be paid to do it. I'll give it a shot myself and see if I can do something respectable. If I can't then I'll ask Willie for some help.

I would draw it all by hand, first with sketches, then a color study and then a full color rendering. I'm not comfortable  with attempting to draw it digitally. Even though CorelDraw has the power to do "hand-drawn" styles, it's not where my skills lie. I'm a decent illustrator and DID originally go to Michigan State to be a automobile stylist. It could be fun. Now the question is, "once I have a finished drawing, what's the best way to transfer it to the building?" I can scan it and turn it into a decal(s) depending on how big it is. I could print it on paper and paste it to the wall. If you thin the paper from the back (Bar Mills style) if could conform to the wall and look like it was painted there. Or I could actually paint it directly on the wall… by far the riskiest approach. Let's see what happens.

You could always find art you like and size and print it, unless of course you want an original. Or is it specific to the site? For an original, I would say do it on paper and apply. if you are a bit rusty, it may take a couple of tries to get something you like.

This is the inner-track space along the layout back. It's also 11" It's the only raw OSB surface on the entire layout. It's not wide enough for the Korber grain elevator which I originally was going to put there. I will have to scratch-build something. The other problem is getting vehicle access. In the above picture you see the beginnings of the road getting there. It's a lot of grade crossings. It's a very long space so more can go there, but it's a challenge.

Layout Back Space 11

I like the idea of a grain elevator. What Korber model is it that doesn't fit? I found this one that looks like it should fit fine.

It will fit… and yes, I will draw it all by hand and do as many versions as it takes.

I've been thinking about getting the iPhone 12 to get rid of my now-ancient iPhone 7. My daughter just picked hers up today and brought it over still in the box. After she set it up we took it downstairs to take some "night" photographs and compare it to the ones I take with the 7. She bought the standard 12 with the two cameras (normal and tele). Without understanding what I was doing, the results were dramatic. I was thinking that I would need the iPhone 12 Pro with the three cameras, but that third lens is ultra wide angle which is not appropriate for model photography since it distorts length so badly. It proved that the Pro is not necessary. There are at least five different setting just for night photography. So here's that comparison between a shot taken with my iPhone 7 and the 12. Remember, I didn't review any instructions and didn't know what the heck I was doing.

iPhone 7:

Front Street With Lights

iPhone 12: Same lighting… just that produced from the models themselves. In the foreground is the triangular lot that's going to house the new park.

IP 12 Shot 2

Here's another shot comparison.

iPhone 7:

IP 7 Test Shot 1

IP 12:

IP 12 Shot 4

IP 7

IP 7 Test Shot 2

IP 12: The sign's not washed out, but you see the buildings behind it. In the above, they're obscured in shadow. The 12's images approach the contrast ratio of human vision.

IP 12 Shot 5

Whaddaya think? I'm sold!


Images (6)
  • Front Street With Lights
  • IP 12 Shot 2
  • IP 7 Test Shot 1
  • IP 12 Shot 4
  • IP 7 Test Shot 2
  • IP 12 Shot 5
Last edited by Trainman2001

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