Thursday, September 30, 2021

Building Momentum

This the time of the year that the days get a bit shorter, and a familiar and welcome chill is present in the air overnight.  I have always found autumn full of promise and splendor, a recalibration from summertime and it's interesting to see how that changes as a parent and manager at work. In the wake of the pandemic most activities have resumed and the schedule is full, very full, of nearly all good things.  Momentum is building for the month of October which is one of the busiest on the calendar in years. 

I used some of that energy to focus on smaller, achievable projects on the layout, squeezed into a few hours here and there leading up to a guest operating session back on September 17.  In contrast to the bridge deck earlier this month, these were smaller scenes but added a lot of visual improvement.  

The first one was one the kids wanted to help with over at Island Yard - just some ballast and some foreground static grass, but a huge change to the brown paint that was there for the last few years.  

One of the best parts of this one is it's a small area, but a neat new place to take photos.

Another quick hit was needed up on the M&E at the Crucible Chemical switch.  That siding was in place for years with just a few tacks holding it down while I waited to decide how it should look.  With the deadline approaching for the session, I made a few decisions, and to my eye it came out nicely.

I even added a working derail to the siding from the Alexander Models kit, which worked better than I thought it would and adds a neat aspect to switching for the M&E jobs.  Ballast and weeds finished the job.

Also, given the remnants of Hurricane Ida as well as three other storms that in total dumped nearly a foot of rain in August and early September, I have been dealing with more water in the basement than usual.  It is designed to drain out and we had no floods per se, but three separate times I had to pull up the floor tiles and set up fans to dry things out.  

All in all, though, we are in great shape.  The layout is poised for some serious improvement over the next few months - lots as always to look forward to and be excited about.  And so the other thing that is building momentum is my gratitude for my wife and kids, whose patience allows so much of this to become reality and whose support makes it all fun!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Finishing Touches: Woodchuck Hill Road overpass

 It's always nice to 'finish' a scene on the layout.  Any modeler will tell you that no model is ever really finished, per se; while a scene can appear complete, there is always room for more weathering whether subtle or harsh, for more detail, and for more depth.  Many scenes are good enough for now but over time may present opportunities for change.  

Still, to bring a scene to a state of completion is satisfying and compelling.  Such is the case with Woodchuck Hill Road, which was completed recently in time for a guest operating weekend on the Onondaga Cutoff.

There is nothing like a good deadline to force my hand for progress.  I learned early in life that I am not smart or driven enough to procrastinate - if I have an idea or a vision, it requires immediate action to ensure sufficient time to finish.  So, a deadline looms on my brain from its announcement until it is past, and the announcement itself is enough to keep me pushing.  

We had finished the roadway itself in the last update, now it was time to mount it on the layout!  The deck and sidewalk were glued in place with canopy glue, after a few test fits on the layout.  I used Sculptamold to fill the area below the styrene roadway on both sides of the bridge, seen above, smoothing it to shape with a putty knife and blending it into the surrounding areas.  While that cured, I went back to the workbench to finish the scratchbuilding of the New York State DOT 'box rail' guardrails that will further help tie the scene to the locale.  

Making the railings required lots of careful measuring and selecting a scale 6"x6" cross-section strip, which was available from Evergreen Styrene.

Once cured up, I painted the whole thing silver and then gave it an overcoat of dullcoat which yields a nice silver-gray look that reminds me of the galvanized finish on the railings.  

Before setting the railings, though, I had to blend in the fresh Sculptamold with the surrounding turf.  So, I painted it mud brown mixed with black, and went over the fresh wet paint immediately with a blend of static grass, which nicely blended the two together.  

I touched up the gray fascia area as well, then added the railings carefully with canopy glue - and the result really is a big upgrade.

There is a clear CNY lineage to this bridge, now, even more than before.  I am thrilled with how it turned out and excited for the upgrade.  All we need now is a few railfans on that sidewalk waiting for westbound trains - I guess a scene really never is 'finished', right? 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Highs, and Lows - All Part of the Experience

 Life in my 40's really is a remarkable collection of emotions and energy.  From amazing highs to some very challenging lows, it does swing back and forth quite a bit and offer a lot of opportunity for perspective and for contrast.  

On the heels of hosting US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigeig, on August 31 we were given notice that the Governor of the State of New Jersey wanted a personal tour of progress at Newark Penn Station, my most important station at my 'day job.'  A lot of prep work went in to buttoning up the construction progress there and sure enough, I would be relied upon to give a tour of the history and progress of the station to date, with others handling the larger construction plans.  

Governor Phil Murphy arrived and we gave him the full tour, captured here in photos by Gevon Servo at NJ TRANSIT.  We walked through the main concourse, after reviewing progress on the benches in the main waiting room:

The Governor was focused and interested, and gave clear direction how important this work is to his vision for Newark and for the traveling public.  Some of the press releases are as well as

It is exciting to be part of such a high-profile initiative and I am grateful that this station is starting to get the capital attention it needs to remain so busy for so many years to come.  When the spotlight turns on, we better be dancing, and my team did a fantastic job with that at Newark Penn Station!