Thursday, March 24, 2022

Fillin' in the Gaps

 Modeling railroading at times is like going to a well-stocked supermarket.  You look around at the store, and there is some of just about everything you'd need to make a series of meals.  You can choose to go any direction you'd like, and as complicated a cooking project as you'd like.   The more time and energy you have, the larger project you can delve into.  And if time is at a premium you can do something small, that still serves to feed you.

Building, operating, maintaining, and sharing a large layout is a lot like that.  Amidst large projects like writing articles, preparing for and hosting operating sessions, and creating video content, it is refreshing sometimes to pick a few of those smaller projects to keep the ball rolling.  Any big project starts with a small step and I've had several in progress for months.  In that light, here's some recently completed projects!

For years I'd admired how people who were good at weathering could 'fade' the paint on models.  Sunlight naturally degrades paint on the prototype, and Conrail's blue tended to fade over time to a lighter shade.  On the new Tangent caboose from last month, I decided to give fading a try.  After the windows were masked I mixed up a diluted white overspray, and with the airbrush I sprayed the thinned white over the whole car.  The results for my first time were amazing!  I followed that up with my usual 'Burnt Sienna' brown overspray for the trucks and frame.

It dried overnight, and the following day I applied oils to simulate rust as well as Tamiya black and brown panel liner washes to bring out the detail.   That too cured and I dull coated the model before finishing with final oils and weathering chalks.  Upon removal of the window masks, I was thrilled - finally, I feel as though I am beginning to understand the fade technique, and the results really do make a difference!  

The other recent small project involves a pair of gondolas that have a story.  These are old 'Roller Bearing Models' resin kits donated by Tim Moses, assembled painted and decaled by Jerry D., and weathered by Lenny Harlos.  True teamwork cars!   The final piece missing was a good load, and thanks to this year's show at Springfield, UncaRalph H found a load manufacturer selling some wares.  

These are truly unique cars for the OC, and I am really excited to see them finally in revenue service.  The detail shots really blow my mind:

So, there's always something for everyone, and you can take what you want to make what you want.  Start something today, and finish it when you have the time and energy to do it.  Little by little, these things add up!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

A Long-Awaited Return to 'Regular' Operations

Everyone knows the slogan: 'You don't know what you've got til you loose it.'

That old cliche was never more true than as the Pandemic of 2020 set in for many people.  So much that we took for granted was suddenly threatened.  

Well, we will take good news as it comes, and as the pandemic has subsided early in 2022 the doors have opened on area layouts for a return to some regularly-scheduled, 'normal' operations.  Sixteen guests came to help bring the Onondaga Cutoff to life in March, and while the layout had a few 'rusty rails' and situations arise, we were able to work through them for a successful session.  I am especially grateful for the opportunity!

Operators arrived and the fast clock began after our usual pizza supper.  The railroad today was representing a September afternoon in 1994, and we began running at 3 p.m. fast time.  

Teddy and Pete have taken a real interest in the layout and especially in operating sessions, when they love joining in the running of trains.  Rich and the rest of the managers have been very patient with their excitement which I appreciate!   

Using the 3:1 fast clock it was only an hour or so until nightfall.

As the darkness deepens, operations continue unabated.  Chris, sitting as Dispatcher, and Rich as Trainmaster work together to coordinate power moves, crew availability, and train sequence across the main line while power is serviced at Island Engine Terminal.  

It is hard to overstate the dramatic change in the feel of railroading once the sun goes down.  Capturing that on the Onondaga Cutoff was an early goal, and as I became more familiar with operations I was surprised how few model nighttime.  Here we are at the westward home signals at CP 280, lined with a medium clear aspect for a westbound move from Track 1 to Track 2 while local power is serviced at Onondaga Engine Terminal.  

Engine Yards are fascinating all the time but especially at night as massive machines idle, awaiting a call to duty.  During the regular cadence of the session, four power sets ended up lined up across the Island, each with lit marker lights.  A fitting end to a session that was 'just another regular session' - except now we know how fortunate we are to be able to continue.