Sunday, April 28, 2013

More odds and ends...

This is the HOn30 sugar mill I scratch built for my little plantation railroad. It's made from cardboard covered with Northeastern faux corrugated metal siding. The siding is a hard paper that's been run through a die to make it corrugated. I like it a lot better than dealing with real corrugated aluminum. I used two sizes of windows to force the perspective a little - the larger ones on the lower level and the smaller windows in the clerestory. The model still needs a finish paint job to blend the look of the rust with the color of the metal.

This is Foster's Toothpick Mill in Strong, Maine. I post this photo postcard to show just what a nice kit it would make. It's got everything an old-time industry should have plus it's real. There are way too many Disney-style structures on the market today.

Years ago, on my bucket list, was a visit to Kauai Plantation in Hawaii. I stayed on the island for two of the best vacation weeks ever. 
During my visit they were in the process laying track and restoring the rolling stock. I never did ride on the little train but got a lot of nice photos.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thatcher's Inlet

Here's a picture from the center spread of Railroad Model Craftsman in 1972. It's Thatcher's Inlet. A small waterfront layout modeled in HOn30 (HO scale using N gauge track.) This was a fun little layout to build and, according to the feedback I've received, it influenced many modelers to try HOn30 and to take a closer look at the Maine 2-footers.

With this layout Bob Hayden and I were looking to create a scene reminiscent of several waterfront villages we'd visited in Maine.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Songo Locks

I've always wanted to model a set of locks on my model railroad. Here's a postcard view on the Songo locks in Maine. The locks allowed boaters to traverse from one lake to another even though one was at a higher elevation than the other.

In the early days the locks were operated by water power alone. Nowadays they use electric motors to assist the water turbines. 

This would be an interesting model.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Frary's Fine Furniture

This is a kit from Full Steam Ahead. It's an O-scale craftsman-style kit called Frary's Fine Furniture. I had to build this since it was named after me!

Frary's Furniture is based upon a model that Troels Kirk built on his On30 layout in Sweden. I was honored when I saw the building on his layout. Troel's layout was described in many postings on the Railroad Line.

I guess Full Steam Ahead liked the model also. Seeing it advertised I ordered one. I paid the retail price plus shipping from Canada. I say this because folks think I get everything for nothing. It's not the case - I payed for this one.

I took all the parts to the spray booth and painted the walls a Prairie Grass color (light green) and painted the windows and doors, and the trim a light tan Rustoleum Camouflage color. When dry I added a raw sienna in mineral spirits wash to all the walls to tone them down a bit. Then I added wood grain with a metal-bristled brush. When complete I plan to weather the walls with PanPastels.

Construction started by following the three pages of bracing diagrams. Stripwood is glued to the rear of the building walls to keep them from warping. My first mistake was following these instructions - a lot of the bracing especially at the corners is in the way of fitting the walls together. 

But, I followed the instructions, braced the walls and added the doors and windows. The tops of the side walls have laser-cut paper shingles that are applied using lines on the walls as a guide. I lightly colored all the laser-cut paper shingles while they were flat using a gray and brown camo spray paint.

The rear wall has a loading door and two doors are provided to fit into the opening. I built and added the largest door to the opening and it filled half the opening. The second door was much smaller and if I put it in the opening there would be a 1/8" gap where the doors come together. I left out the smaller door. So now I have a loading door opening that has a door in half of it. Do the manufacturer's even build these kits? I'll ad-lib another door to fill the gap.

Now it was time to add the corner trim and assemble the box. I added the trim where indicated in the photo instruction sheet. But putting the box together was impossible. The bracing from step one was in the way in SIX places! 

So I spent an hour carefully removing the bracing. I use the pink glue from Northeastern Scale Lumber for wood to wood joints. If you've tried to remove wood glued with it then you know it's impossible. So I resorted to using the MicroMark table saw as a dado to carefully mill away the bracing without damaging the front side of the walls. This was a major PITA and took a joyless hour!

Then I sanded the backs of the walls where the bracing was to get them thin enough to make a neat corner. Now I could assemble the four walls. 

A strange thing I found, there's a door inside the front wall on the lower level. When the store front is added this door will be invisible - it's a mystery as to why it's there and why a Grandt Line casting was provided for it. I removed the casting because I plan to decorate inside the front store with some wallpaper and the laser-cut furniture provided with the kit.

I glued paper cut-outs from an art catalog to the back walls - on both floors to create a background to be viewed through the windows.

Pre-cut cardboard is provided for the roof pieces and unlike the shingled side walls there are no lines on the roof surface to make sure the shingles stay straight. The question is why put lines on the sides and not the top? Anyway, I drew lines with a straight edge and a pencil on the roof pieces to help align the laser-cut paper shingles. After the lines were drawn I covered the roof pieces with Scotch double sided tape to hold the shingles in place.

There are no chimneys provided so I made one from a plastic Grandt Line casting and a second from a resin casting. 

This building is too small to be practical and needs an addition - maybe a barn-like furniture factory connected to the rear.

The coloring and weathering of the finished kit is another story. I'll post it here as I complete the steps.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I ordered this two DVD set from Darryl Huffman. It was $33.00 including shipping.

The DVD's were produced by Roger Malinowski of Stoney Creek Designs and they show how Roger uses PanPastel to completely color a wood structure kit. The DVD's are professionally produced and the how-to-do-it video is crystal clear. The total viewing time is nearly three hours.

When the DVD's showed-up I put the first DVD in the player and followed along for two hours of non-stop kit building and then coloring using the PanPastels. 

On the kit building level alone this is the best instructional video I've seen lately. It shows how Roger, a professional model builder, assemblies the 1/4" scale Stoney Creek Boarding House kit.

Then he colors the scale wood using PanPastels. This is a dry powder which is more like pancake make-up than powdered chalk. It stays where you put it and a little goes a long way. After application it can be sealed on the wood surface using a flat acrylic varnish. The varnish will not dull the color.

This is what he says about PanPastels:
• Mixable - mix & layer like paint to create an infinite number of colors
• Low Dust - quick, clean “no mess” alternative to powders and sticks
• Quick & Easy - no drying or prep. time - colors are instantly ready for use
• Erasable - simply erase or clean off color (prior to clear coat)
• Ultra fine - highly pigmented color formulations - like using pure pigment
• Realistic effects - more natural appearance does not look “painted on”
• Compatible - with spray fixatives and other flat finishes
• Easy Application - apply with standard brushes or "Sofft Tools"

He uses PanPastels to color the wood parts of the kit instead of paint. Roger does use alcohol/shoe dye washes to age some of the wood before the PanPastel treatment. Just this tutorial on aging the wood pieces is a technique every model builder should have in their bag of tricks. 

If building kits is the main thrust of your model railroad hobby then you should have this set of DVD's in your library. You'll refer to them time and time again. And, the DVD's are set-up in the chapter format so you can go directly to that chapter and topic without skimming through the whole show.

The two DVD set is a bargain at $30.00. You can either buy it from Roger or from Darryl Huffman. You can tell I enjoyed this presentation and learned a lot. Buy it, you'll like it!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More weekend odds and ends...

While casting about looking for suitable train scenes for the cover of my Scenery Book I shot this scene on Bob Hayden's Carrabasset & Dead River Ry. The layout is HOn30   (HO scale on N gauge track) resided for many years in Bob's basement in Milwaukee, WI. The diesel engine is from Bemo and would pull the string of cars you see in this photo.

Alas, the layout is long gone but Bob tells me he's planning another at his new home in Santa Fe, NM.

Here's a product shot of the Fine Scale Miniatures  Crocker Bros. Feed and Grain. An HO kit produced by George Sellios many years ago. This was a nice kit to build. Very straight forward construction, good instructions producing beautiful results.

This is a section of the large CitiBank display Clark Dunham Studios built many years ago. There were many loops of track producing lots of train action. It was displayed during the Holiday season in New York.

The base of the city in the background is blocks of Styrofoam that all fit together like a puzzle. Each model builder would pull out a block, take it to the workbench and add the structures. It was an interesting idea that allowed many model builders to work on the same scene.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wicked Good Burgers

For many years I was a member of a World Championship BBQ Team called iQUE. We won the Jack Daniels Invitational in 2009. The "Jack" is the World Series of competitive BBQ.

Two of the team members produced the book Wicked Good Barbecue last year and this year their latest offering is better than ever. It's called Wicked Good Burgers and it's a book for everyone who likes to grill.

Wicked Good Burgers is the latest offering from Andy Husbands and Chris Hart. These guys have been cooking together since high school and together founded Tremont 647 - a 20-year old and very successful restaurant in Boston's south end. 

Together they've produced a book full of interesting recipes for burgers and all the accompaniments, even milk shakes.  Wicked Good Burgers is full of interesting ideas for the next time you have a family cookout or get together, or just need a burger fix. 

Wicked Good Burgers contains chapters on:
The basics of burgers
Burgers 101
New American classics
Where's the beef?
Burgers beyond borders
You want fries with that?
That's a frappe

Buy the book, you'll love it. Amazon has it now for $13.64.

BTW, Many of the photos in Wicked Good Burgers were shot last summer during the Harpoon New England BBQ Championship in Windsor, VT. Half the team brought the food, props and lighting equipment to shoot the book photos while the other half of the team (including me) was competing in a BBQ contest - it was crazy busy. As an added perk I got to sample many of the "props" after the photos were taken. These were GREAT burgers!

A photo idea for the book was to show folks enjoying burgers. The team put out a table of condiments (cheese, homemade relishes, pickled ramps, pickled red onions, mushroom duxelle, meat chile, etc) and then brought out baskets full of burgers for the public to try. 

There were thousands of people attending the Harpoon event and the idea was amazingly successful. Everyone loves a free meal and folks helped themselves to burgers and the fixings. Ken Goodman, the photographer, got great photos of folks enjoying the burgers. 

BTW Ken worked as a chef in and around Boston for 15 years before he reinvented himself as a top-notch food and music photographer. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekend Odds and Ends

A 1992 photo of George Sellios' Franklin and South Manchester RR. The photo was one of many that I shot for Model Railroader magazine.

In 1999 Dave Maynard and I built an HO display layout for the Dolls and Trains Museum in Mendon, VT. The layout was 40' long and 9' wide with seven loops of track. Each loop represented a railroad that ran in Vermont. 

Here's the ocean view of the HOn30 Thatcher's Inlet display that Bob Hayden and I built in the late 1970's. This little display was popular with many modelers at the time and got them started in model railroading, especially in HOn30. All of the structures were used again on other projects after the TI was abandoned.