Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Late Summer Details

As winter continues here in New Jersey, and the chaos of young children, middle management at work, and household maintenance grind along, I am making time later in the evenings for the slow and steady progress that has moved the railroad forward.   Lately, I have been finishing some details along the newly installed embankment east of CP 280.

As has been pointed out by some viewers, railroad right-of-way is rarely clean and well-groomed.  The Onondaga Cutoff is no exception - but, the trash comes after the grass!   Some old pallets and tires help to suggest unkempt railroad property, while the green weeds and browning wild grass help to suggest late summer in Central New York.  

Here, SEIN running late comes around the corner into CP280, to start his work at Onondaga Yard.  That's his pick up next to him on the East Lead.

The addition of the new scenery has started to open up some neat viewing angles across aisles.  Here, I am looking from the new embankment across the aisle to the M&E, where their Alcos are idling and waiting for the next crew to arrive.   Summer evening back light helps lend a warm feel to this image.

Some new locomotives are on the workbench and will be added to the roster soon, bringing some 'plain jane' presence as well as a few rare birds, which are as much fun to build and weather as they are to run.   Long evenings help keep things progressing and moving on the OC!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Complete, but not Finished - and the Onondaga Cutoff, In Print!

Big news lately on the Onondaga Cutoff - first, Model Railroad Planning 2018 arrived! As expected on page 44 my article appears.  Kalmbach did a beautiful job putting it together! 

It is such an honor to see this in print, and to see it next to names that I grew up admiring through these pages and those of Model Railroader magazine.  What a rush!

I also have some smaller success to report on the railroad itself.  While waiting for MRP to arrive, I made a big push to complete the scene on which I have been working for several months.  (I had series of late nights in the last week or two.)  The results are what I'd hoped - the scenery was completed ahead of the most recent operating session, and now the railroad has scenic greenery all the way from CP282 and the Syracuse skyline along Onondaga Yard, around the big turn to the east past the dairy farm, to the automatic signals on the bridge at MP 278.8!

First I taped off the areas along the main line where I didn't want grass - the maintenance road, and the track areas.  Once that was in place I installed a mix of static grass as a scenic base.

Once the grass was down, and not yet dry, I proceeded to put down a layer of cinders for the shoulders of the ballast area, and then the ballast itself as shown.

Ballast is spread by the time-tested manner of a brush, with my own addition also of some foam cut to fit which I use as a sort of regulator along the tracks.  Moving this gently back and forth knocks the dust and stones off the rail web and base, and helps to smooth the profile overall, ensuring most ballast stones are down between the ties where they belong.

Here's the profiled ballast before the glue process.   As I have noted here years ago, some of the chalky dustiness will go away after the ballast is soaked with isopropyl rubbing alcohol and diluted white glue (or matte medium).  Once it is soaked it needs to dry for about 36-48 hours to harden.

And, here's the result!  What a change from the earlier photo above.  

Here is the ballasted area beneath the overpass to the east of Onondaga Yard, with all the new scenery in place besides it.  Some details have yet to be added but this gives a good feel for the general look of things.  To some degree, the new scenery seems to belie the amount of thought and planning that went into the scene - this appears as though it has always been this way.  

It's been a great start to 2018, here's to the next few steps on the Onondaga Cutoff - some overdue equipment maintenance and getting a few new locomotives into service.  It's nice to be able to look at this progress each day!


Monday, January 8, 2018

A Disappearing Act

I am watching the mail each day for the arrival of Model Railroad Planning 2018 - I am very excited to see the Onondaga Cutoff in print!   Thanks for your support - see for details!

As regular readers know, recent scenery progress has centered upon the area where the Cazenovia Industrial track comes down to duck under the main line.   With the embankment constructed and painted, it was now time to finish the foliage that can provide the view block, completing the illusion that helps keep this scene from getting too busy.

First, I taped off the track of the branch, since scenery is messy work - static grass can get all over the place and it's easier to clean with the track protected.  I selected various tans, browns, and greens to get the desired early fall look of dried-out wildgrass.  I also planted some wildflowers and shrubs.

Next, while the new turf cured overnight, I made another group of SuperTrees.  I had started these over New Years Weekend at the Station Inn in Cresson, PA, sitting next to a window overlooking the snowfall and NS mainline action while trimming trees and curing them in glycerin to add some flexibility.   Once home, they were spray painted, and then sprayed with adhesive and covered with flock.  Here's a shot of that operation:

Once the trees dried, I drilled 3/16" holes to accommodate the trunks, and planted the trees strategically to blend together with the backdrop but also to hide the 'tunnel entrance' for the Cazenovia Industrial. While up on the layout I also added yard ballast to the backshop tracks and some basic ground cover in that area too.   A broadside view:

A tighter view, showing a closer photo down the embankment:

Finally, a telephoto view from the iPhone showing the view east along the Cazenovia Industrial Track as it leaves Onondaga Yard and passes by the engine facility.  I am really excited at how these tie the scene together and complete the illusion from all viewing angles - trains down the branch will disappear, and reappear without distracting from the main scene.

The winter months have arrived, with lots of darkness (and this year, three weeks of real oldschool cold and some snow!).  That's a lot of good time to spend on the OC keeping scenery moving, and beginning to get some new power in service too.  

Happy New Year, with lots yet to come in 2018 on the Onondaga Cutoff!