N Scale Layout #6 - A Lifetime In Hope (2009-?)
The No Imagination Required RR, Part 20

07/12/20 - More yard work

I finished up this shop/storage building. And as pictured below, I did them a favor by restoring their DM&E sign to legibility -

There's a ton of other stuff going on outside of this thing in terms of detailing, but for now my goal is to just finish up all the basic stuctures so I can get them situated in their final positions. Then I'll worry about all the detailing.

In aid of that, I also built the fence for the eventual electrical substation -

As a side project, I also picked up some cheapie plastic table skirting for my layout -

If you can't see the rat's nest of wiring under the layout, then it's not there, amirite?

07/16/20 - MOWing the yard?

Ugh, sorry about that - I'll show myself out. But anyway, yes, I did finish up the two of pieces of MOW equipment parked next to the shop -

The forklift is a GHQ white metal kit that I gussied up with that blue lift cage thingy. I frankenbuilt the crane truck by taking the back end of a Showcase Miniatures "I Class Crew Cab" crane truck and sticking it onto an Atlas Ford LNT 9000 tractor chassis. Extra details include DME decals, a rotary beacon, and a pair of rearview mirrors (scavenged from an old Con-Cor tractor).

OK, yes, I said I was going to wait on all this detailing. But as it turns out I ran out of a certain kind of window, so the building building is on hold until I can score some more. IE, bring on the details!

07/19/20 - Backdrop finagling

As things have played out, my backdrop mission has evolved significantly over the last month. First off, that trainjunkies "Florida Forest" backdrop was all wrong - the water looked out of place, the trees were way too tall, and the lack of clouds was kind of boring. So, I asked William (my guy at trainjunkies) if he couldn't make a custom version of that backdrop that addressed all those issues. And when I saw how quickly and easily he was able to do just that (remove the water, shrink the trees and add some "Just Corn" style clouds), I started embiggening my ambitions.

Up to now, I've never really considered adding a more permanent backdrop (figuring that my portable backdrop would suffice when it came to picture taking). However, after seeing the possibilities, I began to wonder if it wouldn't be do-able to have a backdrop that ran along the entire back side of the layout. The only problem there is that permanent backdrops tend to become a big pain in the posterior when it came to blocking access to the layout (or at least they would on this layout). However, after a bit of cogitation I came up with a plan for a semi-permanent backdrop that looks workable. Vis -

I started off by adding some "L" support brackets (which slide nicely into the cracks between the layout base and the support tables). Then I got myself some cheapie white foam insulation sheets and glued them together to form two long backdrops (108" wide for the Waseca section and 99" for the Cargill section). Then, I had William make one giant backdrop that placed the revised Florida Forest behind the yard and Just Corn everywhere else -

The brackets (once pushed in) hold the backdrop nice and snug. Better still, they can be pulled right back out should I ever need to remove the backdrop. So, pretty good for a first stab, however there are a few issues that need to be addressed. First off, William sent me a paper backdrop instead of the self-adhesive vinyl that I normally get (communication snafu). Also, the forest wound up being 7" wider than specified (thus bleeding into the non-yard portion of the back side of the layout). Well, no big deal there - a replacement is already on its way. One other problem is that the white foam turned out to be too lumpy and striated to function as backing (what with said irregularities clearly showing through the backdrop). So, it looks like I'm going to have to find something smoother to use when my replacement backdrop arrives (probably the pink stuff, which is what I used on my portable backdrop). It's really too bad about that white stuff because it was absolutely perfect as far as size went (IE just the right height and thickness).

07/19/20 - Getting back to my core competency - modeling piles of generic junk

Yep, they have junk -

And now I do too -

The major news here is that awesome yard light. I had to search high and low to find just the right kind of light (wooden pole with two boxes up top) and eventually scrounged this one up from an outfit called "Layouts4u" in the UK. It was ridiculously cheap (less than $5 US) and got here faster than stuff I've ordered from North American dealers, so 10 out of 10 for those guys.

It's rated for 3 volts, so it plugged right into my streetlight circuit (they also include a resistor should you want to run it on a 12 volt circuit). As delivered, it comes unpainted (gray). And given the rather elaborate base, I'm assuming it's actually supposed to represent a metal pole. However, for mine I went ahead and painted it brown and then simply buried the base in the dirt. Et voila, instant wooden pole.

There's only one lightpole of this type in the prototypical Waseca yard, but since I ordered two of these (just to be on the safe side), I'm definitely going to have to find a spot for another one. They're just that cool!

07/24/20 - Finished detailing the yard shop/storage building

This side is barrel themed (barrels, barrel lids and barrel cradles) -

Meanwhile, just a lot of random junk over here (weeds, tires, pallets, cable coil, Atlas/BLMA electrical box, random pieces of metal) -

This side is all about tanks and hoses. The little air compressor came serendipitously included with my Showcase Miniatures crane truck. And yes, I did briefly consider trying to make a little "Comet" decal for it, but fortunately sanity wound up ruling the day.

The gas cylinders came from Shapeways (Ngineer, as usual) -

07/24/20 - Finished the yard office

I'm really falling in love with these Woodland Scenics flagpoles - they look so much better than the flat ones I had to use back in Hope. I just wish they made a slightly smaller version that I could use to replace all of those old flatties (something in the 10-12' range with an appropriately downsized flag would be perfect)....

OK, if you guessed that that tan smoker's station next to the back door is the top of a folded umbrella... well, wow, you have a very good eye!

Next up, the RIP track -

It's mainly just a bunch of detailing, so lots and lots of little side projects to keep me busy for the next little while.

07/30/20 - Backdrop II

Yep, I got my replacement backdrop from trainjunkies.com -

This time around I tried using 1/2" pink foam sheeting for the mounting - worked out great. And major kudos to William at trainjunkies for being so helpful throughout this process. I had no idea that getting exactly the right backdrop for my layout was going to be so easy, and suffice it to say, I am one super happy camper at the moment

08/04/20 - Finished the RIP track

It looks kind of complicated, but basically it's just a concrete apron, a fall arrest structure, a repurposed container, a couple of cabinets, a workbench, and various bits of junk -

Making an open door for the container was pretty simple - just pop the top off the container and then slice the door off with a razor saw. Then it was just a matter of adding some details to the inside of the door -

And yes, anything worth doing is worth overdoing, amirite?

Remember back when I decided that putting down yard cork that was going to be 1/32" shorter than my Unitrack roadbed wasn't going to be any big deal? Well, I definitely had to pay the piper for that bit of laziness here (vis'a'vis getting that concrete apron snugged up to the rails and also sitting level) -

Yes, I actually scratchbuilt all the jacks and supports (not to mention whatever that green watchamacallit is). However, I wimped out on the cords and hoses (figuring that one wire "hose" was going to be sufficient) -

The cabinets are prefabs from Atlas/BLMA. And having amassed hundreds of spare wheelsets over the years, those were happily contributed to the cause as well -

And now, on to the WPW building.

08/29/20 - Gas delivery day at Klecker's Garage

If buying a Trainworx tanker truck and plunking it down on my layout counts as modeling, then I guess I had a productive week

(10 minutes later after being advised that they always back in) -

04/13/21 - Back at it again! (albeit involuntarily, but whatever)

I've been preoccupied with other activities lately (coding computer games, mainly), so I haven't had a lot of time to devote to model railroading pursuits. And evidently my layout has been feeling neglected because all of a sudden it has decided to start acting out. To wit, huge sections of my Berkshire Junction "EZ Line" have suddenly decided to go all brittle on me! I mean, seriously? This is a thing? I dunno, maybe I got a bad batch or something. But in any case, I've had to spend a stupid amount of time over the past several weeks replacing all of the newly crumbled sections. What an annoyance!

And of course, while dealing with all of that I somehow got sucked into spending time working on the scenery around my perpetually unfinished lake project (adding static grass, some wild flowers, more rushes, etc) -

Well, while looking up my scouting pictures of lake scenery I stumbled across these pictures of a couple of cool old DME snow plows rusting away in Waseca.....

....and before you can "short attention span", I found myself building models of them -

The Russel plow is an Atlas (nee Walthers) with the C&NW graphics stripped off and DME decals in their place -

I tried to replicate as much of the prototypical detailing as possible (air horn, spotlights, brakewheels, roof vent, front coupler, roller bearing trucks, assorted pipes, etc) -

I was thinking I'd use an old Arnold gondola for the other plow (said gondola having a more or less correct panel scheme), but ultimately decided that an Atlas gondola was going to be easier to work with. The plow detail came from Shapeways designer "Keystone Details" (I built the extension upon which it sits out of a piece of discarded caboose chassis and various bits of styrene). I used ditchlight details for all the various spotlights (from eBay seller "cmrproducts_llc") -

And as if that all weren't enough, I also got around to (finally!) finishing yet another wall art project -

I swear, I have been trying to score a decent looking M&StL timetable off of eBay for years. Unfortunately, they just don't show up very often, and most of the ones that do are either in terrible shape or are really boring looking. Well, blow me down if a pristine looking 1909 timetable didn't show up last year that was absolutely perfect. Not only did it have some awesome looking graphics, it also featured the schedule for the newly launched North Star Limited (and with an accompanying ad for the NSL as well). I mean, GTFO, the stuff of my dreams! So, not wanting to miss out, I bid like an absolute maniac. And I tell you, you could've knocked me over with a feather when my $500 bid turned out to be insufficient!

The only upside to that whole situation was that the seller had taken some terrific looking photos (which I dutifully saved). So, fast forward to this year and I finally gave up hope of ever finding anything even remotely as nice as that one and shipped said eBay photos off to my buddy Dave at wall-color.com to see if he couldn't do something with them. And brother, did he ever come through! Thanks Dave, you da man!

So, there ya go. And now that I'm fully engaged once again, I guess it's high time I got back to that model of the Waseca Public Works. Bring on the window punches, I'm ready!

04/16/21 - This 'n' that

I figured I'd better dip my toes back into the modeling pool with some smaller projects before getting started on anything major like the WPW, so I finished up some bits of yard detailing instead. First up, a "No Trespassing" sign for the east end of the yard -

Then a couple of barrels -

Then, another sign and a couple more barrels for the west end -

Next, some pickup trucks for the office. And for the DME truck, I went ahead and added some decals and stuck some maintenance equipment in the back (ala the prototype) -

In preparation for the eventual "Giant Pile O' Junk" project, I put down some static grass weeds and planted a large bush/tree thingy next to the scrap metal shed. I would've liked to have made said thingy a bit bigger, but I still haven't figured out a good way to get WS's "Fine Leaf Foliage" product to do what I want it to do -

Lastly, I got rid of the Kato Unitrack bumper that I had at the end of the RIP siding and replaced it instead with a pile of dirt and a sign (which I guess is how real railroads handle their dead-end tracks - or at least that's how these guys did) -

So, that's that. And I gotta say, this has been all kinds of fun and I think I'll do some more of it

04/18/21 - As promised, more yard detailing

First off, some utility poles for the access road -

And I don't know what these green posts are for, but I have them now -

Next, some "Safety First" signs for either end of the yard -

Next, a Model Power fire hydrant, a couple of "Please don't run over the fire hydrant" safety posts, and a rusty old "Stay the hell off the RIP track" sign -

Lastly, a hose post (I skipped the little scrub brush ) -

04/23/21 - Modeling by credit card

I've had a notion on the back-burner for a while that it would be fun to add a popcorn cart to the car show scene (as a nod to the outdoor movies that Hope used to show in that lot back in the day). Y'know, something along these lines -

Trouble is, nobody makes anything like that in N scale and the idea of scratchbuilding one wasn't really thrilling me all that much (and hence the back-burner). Well, I decided to take another look at what was out there last week, and... still nothing. However, what I did find (tangentially) was just too cool to pass up. Namely, this Oxford weiner wagon -

Way cooler than any half-assed popcorn cart I might've cooked up my own, right? Now I just have to talk Bob into adding popcorn to his menu....

04/24/21 - More modeling by credit card

Uh oh, Woodland Scenics has gone and done it now. I never thought it would happen, but it looks like they've finally come out with an expensive prebuilt that I can actually use!

Basically, it's going to knock a big chunk off of what I need to build for the substation I'd planned for the west end of the yard -

Since what I'd planned on building was going to be a big foobie anyway (as compared to what's actually there in Waseca), I guess I don't feel too guilty about taking the easy way out here. And even with the assist from WS, there's still going to be plenty of opportunity for modeling there. So, it's all good.

05/03/21 - Lots and lots of junk

This was another one of those projects that was going to be pretty much impossible to screw up. I mean, junk is junk, right? I guess my only regret is that I didn't try to get those rails buried a little deeper. But in my defense, I just didn't like my odds of not screwing up the cork base in the process

I think I pretty much nailed all of the little details from my scouting photos - right down to the giant pile of (wtf?) bicycles. For those, I used a few Woodland Scenics "Bicycle Buddies" bikes along with an assortment of GMM etched brass bikes (simply painted rusty brown). The rest consists of pallets, boxes, random bits of styrene and assorted little oddities from my junk box -

Unfortunately, that all was just the tip of the junkberg. Still lots more to do there -

I tell ya, modeling the shiny new CP yard office that recently sprung up in this space probably woulda been a hella lot easier

05/22/21 - A visit to Hope

I drove down to Hope with the idea that I was going to get pictures of all the little railroad signs along the main (thus allowing me to model them). And so -

Unfortunately, said signs turned out to be quite a bit less interesting than I was anticipating (horn instructions and mile markers, whee). And when I got to thinking about all the track cleaning headaches that signs like that were ultimately going to cause me, I decided that it wasn't a project worth pursuing. That said, I did find a sign at the entrance to the SunRich siding that was at least interesting looking -

I don't generally clean the siding track (since I don't ever run locos on it), so that one might be worth replicating - or at least worth putting on the "maybe someday" to-do list.

In other news, the Hopies have been (as is their wont) busy changing things. For starters, Krause's got a new diesel/DEF filling station -

CS Customs got yet another new paint job / color scheme -

The feed grain storage shed got new siding and a start on a new roof -

And, oh no! Evidently Finch's didn't survive the Covid shutdown and is up for sale -

Of course I'm not going to be modeling any of that stuff, but reporting the changes does seem to have become something of an annual tradition around here

05/25/21 - More yard detailing

Over here on the west end of the yard we have a container with some sort of weirdo crane contraption up on top, a pile of dirt and a pile of ballast, a dumpster, and a pile of ties -

Panning to the right, we have a light pole, assorted junk and another pile of dirt -

And finally, more junk -

JTC makes just the right kind of "tex" container, so that part was easy. The Model Tech Studios dumpster was easy as well. The Osborn "Stack O' Ties" kit was a huge pain to assemble and if I ever need something similar I'm going to try something else. Lastly, I built that crane thingy myself -

The rest is just assorted ties, pieces of rail, styrene "concrete" blocks, barrels, etc. I made that little switchstand thingy by sticking a square piece of styrene to a leftover trailer hitch from one of my NH3 trailer kits (lol) and I kludged together that skid steer grader thingy from bits of a Woodland Scenics cement mixer (double lol) -

Still lots more junk to come, but at this point I think I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.

05/30/21 - Hey look, more junk!

I think I'm definitely starting to lose my motivation to accurately model every single stinkin' piece of junk here, so I guess it's a good thing I'm nearing the end of it.

By my reckoning, that just leaves some piles of lumber and old ties and whatnot over on the east end of the yard. And I gotta say, I'm very much looking forward to being able to turn in my junk modeler badge and gun and get on with something else!

06/03/21 - Could it be? Yes, I believe it is! More junk!!

I haven't the faintest idea why they keep all this lumber laying around, but I dutifully modeled it anyway -

Apart from the mysterious tube, it's all just a lot of wood scraps. So, pretty much "falling off a log" easy to replicate -

So yay, that finally wraps it up as far as yard detailing goes. And double yay, that means I finally get to go blow the dust off my WPW project and get back to work on that.

06/05/21 - Progress on the WPW

Even though I've had the basic walls sitting on my workbench since last summer, it wasn't until just today that I finally got around to finishing the tedious business of punching and filing the door and window openings and getting everything glued together -

So, cool. Now I can get on with all the fun stuff!

06/17/21 - Better barrels

As part of the WPW project, I recently acquired a bunch of roadwork safety barrels (from Shapeways designer NScaleAddict). And of course they look about a million times better than the featureless "tube" barrels I inflicted on SunRich last year -

So, one quick swap later -

A small detail, perhaps. But every little bit of added realism helps, right?

Now you'll have to excuse me while I go try to build an N scale generator (grumble, grouse).

06/20/21 - Just about done with the WPW

As interesting as modeling the building in its "under repair" state might have been, I really have no idea what the interior looks like. So, I decided to just go ahead and finish fixing their door for them -

I can't say that I'm altogether thrilled with how everything turned out, but I guess it's at least liveable. Most of the doors and windows are frameless, which means that my openings had to be spot-on perfect (no frames to cover up the oopses). Unfortunately, spot-on perfect isn't really something that I do, so the whole thing is a bit glitchy looking. The light ivory paint scheme wasn't much help either as it tends to highlight pretty much every single gluing miscue. Fortunately, all of the interesting little bits of ground detailing do help to distract attention away from the sloppy building. The safety cone, trash bin and dumpsters are from Shapeways, the ground A/C unit is from All Scale Miniatures, and the rest of it I cooked up using hobby shop styrene.

I gotta say, I do really like the way the generator turned out. My bright idea there was to use decals to simulate vent slits, door latches and door hinges, and I think it worked out ace. Also, the Rust-Oleum "caterpillar yellow" paint I used was a nice match for the prototype and something I wish I'd discovered years ago!

I really like the look of the JTT "Concrete Block" siding that I used (#97463). They advertise it as 1:125 (more or less TT scale), but I think it scans quite well as N scale block -

Next up, a whole lot of road construction foofarah -

And here's my RS-2M for no apparent reason

07/13/21 - I never thought this day would come, and yet here we are....

When we first purchased our house back in 1998, our neighbors were mainly a lot of quiet and considerate retired types. Of course things have completely turned over since that time and now we're surrounded by a lot of noisy families. And this being a post-war / first-tier suburb of a major city, we're all crammed in next to each other like sardines (front, back and sides). Unfortunately, close proximity to all these young people is making for a level of noise and general annoyance that we are finding less and less tolerable as we approach our AARP years (and hey, don't even get me started on all the backyard fire pits that fill our house with smoke every night - when did that become OK??)

Anyway, the upshot of all that is that we've decided it's time to move to a nicer house in a quieter and less densely populated part of town while we're still young enough to pull it off. And check it out, nary a neighbor in sight!

So yeah, we're super excited about the whole thing. The only problem is this giant layout that I've been slaving over for the last 12 years. Frankly, I never thought we'd ever be moving, so of course I spent exactly zero effort on making it movable

At least for now, the plan is to chop it up into four pieces (which will hopefully make it up the stairs and out of my basement). As for putting it back together at the new house? Well, that's going to be one helluva project and likely to keep me busy for quite a while. Fortunately, said new house has an unfinished 21' x 21' shop room in the lower level that I'm going to turn into the model railroading man-cave of my dreams, so it should be a fun journey -

See ya there!

07/24/21 - Ouch!

OK, all chopped up and ready to move -

Closing is on August 6, so I imagine I'll be loading all of this stuff into a truck on August 7 and carting it off to the new house. The only snag is that the guy I've hired to finish the basement workshop for me (flooring, walls, ceiling, lighting, etc) isn't going to be available until probably October. Which means my mangled layout will have to moulder away in the new garage for the foreseeable future

08/19/21 - A new home for Hope

I managed to get my layout moved over to the new house, and with only a modicum of mangulation. A few things did fall off in the process, but I think I managed to snag most (if not all) of them. So, mainly it's just going to be a matter of remembering where everything goes and then gluing it all back down. And fortunately for me, I have this exhaustive blog as a reference.

The really scary part came when I tried assembling the puzzle pieces and found that that big pole in the middle of the room was preventing things from going together. And as it turns out, the problem there was that I was stubbornly trying to align the back corner of the layout with the corner of the room (like I'd had it at my old house). However, after sleeping on the problem, it finally occurred to me that all I really needed to do was rotate the whole thing a bit. So, whew, that was a close call, 'cuz I was literally ready to start tearing things apart and starting over. Fortunately for me, the thought of re-doing that damned soybean field was enough to make me hold off on that decision. And mighty glad am I that I did!

Unfortunately, when basement finisher guy starts his work the whole thing is going to have to move yet again (this time out into the garage). However, that won't happen until October at the earliest, so at least for now it's just going to have sit there in its mangled state. No worries though, between getting my old house ready to sell and my new house ready to occupy, I have more than enough on my plate to keep me busy.

09/05/21 - Because of course

I see that Walthers has come out with a new Cornerstone barn and silo kit that would've been perfect for my "Miller Farm" scene in Hope -

Ah well, twelve years too late

09/08/21 - All revved up and no place to go....

To be continued...

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