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From June 24th to July 1st, I was in Chama, New Mexico, along with Steve Mitchell of Yard Goat Images. My daughter, and a friend of her’s accompanied us to help with the videography. We were completing shooting on a DVD Steve is going to develop for marketing next spring. The video will focus on the “Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec” program at the C&TS. Volunteers who are interested can sign up to go to the C&TS in the summertime, and spend a week at a time working on the railroad.

 

We had wonderful weather, and came home with hundreds of hours of beautiful video of the trains. We shot the volunteers working on their projects, and did interviews with them in which they discussed their backgrounds and their experiences with the “Friends” program. As far as we know, this will be the first C&TS video that is primarily focused on this extremely important volunteer preservation program.

 

On my birthday, my daughter and her friend and I took the train ride from Antonito to Chama. To do this, we took a short bus ride from Chama to Antonito, and boarded the train there. The train ride lasts from 9:30 in the morning to about 4:00 in the afternoon. I wanted to be traveling from east to west, so that we had the best light for morning photography. This photo is from Osier, Colorado, where the trains from Chama and Antonito meet for a lunch stop.

 

Here our two talented videographers disembark from the train when it arrives in  Chama in the late afternoon.

 

This is the 487, the locomotive we rode behind, waiting in the yard the next morning. It was getting ready to take that day’s train from Chama to Antonito.

 

Out along the line, my daughter and her friend shoot a passing train. It was an incredible trip, and so rewarding to share it with my daughter, who had never been around steam locomotives before. I am really looking forward to the finished video next spring. It will be available at Yard Goat Images.

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Yard Goat Images

 

Yard Goat Images has a change in their web address. Please update your files. You must now use the letter “s” after the “http” at the beginning of the address. We are going back to Colorado at the end of June to complete a video on the C&T Scenic Railroad. It will be focused on their “Friends of the┬áCumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad” volunteer program. It should be available for purchase next fall.

Structure Models

Lest you think I've totally abandoned my model railroading efforts, here are some other things I've been working on this spring. In the late summer of 2013, I attended the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City. This was my first national convention experience, and I had a wonderful time. As you know, these conventions always feature a huge room for vendors, and I came home with a number of kits.

Lest you think I’ve totally abandoned my model railroading efforts, here are some other things I’ve been working on this spring. In the late summer of 2013, I attended the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City. This was my first national convention experience, and I had a wonderful time. As you know, these conventions always feature a huge room for vendors, and I came home with a number of kits. Among the items I purchased were kits in S-scale and HO-scale to use as background buildings on my layout.

This structure (front view above) is the Wild West Scale Model Builders S-scale Assay Office. The kit is lazer cut plywood and basswood, and the footprint is 6.5" by 3.5".

This structure is the Wild West Scale Model Builders S-scale Assay Office. The kit is lazer cut plywood and basswood, and the footprint is 6.5″ by 3.5″. I stained the wooden parts with a mix of Fiebing’s Leather Dye and isopropyl alcohol, and weathered the finished structure with AIM Weathering Powders and Testor’s Dullcote.

The windows with this kit can be built open or closed. I didn't try to avoid hitting the window glass with the weathering powder or the dullcote, since I am not going to add interior details.

The windows with this kit can be built open or closed. I didn’t try to avoid hitting the window glass with the weathering powder or the dullcote, since I am not going to add interior details.

A larger S-scale kit is this Miner's Supply and Exchange complex, also by Wild West Scale Model Builders.

A larger S-scale kit (5″ x 8″ footprint) is this Miner’s Supply and Exchange complex, also by Wild West Scale Model Builders. With all of these kits, I added a wooden foundation to reinforce the lazer-cut flooring sheet that accompanies the kit. Without this bracing, that thin piece of floor would certainly warp.

I used a thin-tipped permanent marker to add some detail to the tar-paper roofing material. I can also see that I need to add some chimney flashing.

I used a thin-tipped permanent marker to add some detail to the tar-paper roofing material. I can also see that I need to add some chimney flashing. There’s nothing like the camera to show you what you overlooked.

The rear of this two-store complex is almost as interesting as the front.

The rear of this two-store complex is almost as interesting as the front.

In HO-scale this kit from RSlaser is for the Deadwood Gazette. I purchased the facade-only version because I knew I wanted to keep the depth of the building to a minimum.

In HO-scale this kit from RSlaser is for the Deadwood Gazette. I purchased the facade-only version because I knew I wanted to keep the depth of the building to a minimum.

I added short side walls with some Grandt Line windows I had in my supplies left over from another project.

I added short side walls with some Grandt Line windows I had in my supplies left over from another project.

The footprint of this structure is 2.5" x 2.0" which will make it easy to fit into the background.

The footprint of this structure is 2.5″ x 2.0″ which will make it easy to fit into the background.

The telegraph office from B.E.S.T also makes a nice tiny, HO-scale background building.

The telegraph office from B.E.S.T also makes a nice tiny, HO-scale background building.

The footprint of this building is 2.0" x 1.75".

The footprint of this building is 2.0″ x 1.75″.

Grandt Line makes a nifty model of the Gomez store that exists in Pagosa Jct., Colorado.

Grandt Line makes a nifty model of the Gomez store that exists in Pagosa Jct., Colorado. If I were replicating this structure as a foreground model, I would certainly build the whole thing, but as a background HO-scale structure on my On30 layout, I wanted to keep it small.

I'll use the remaining parts of the kit for some other small

I’ll use the remaining parts of the kit for some other small building. Here you can see some photos I reduced to fit as displays in the windows. There is also a photo across the rear of the interior that will show when I put lighting into the store.

This building occupies a space of 3.5" x 1.75".

This building occupies a space of 3.5″ x 1.75″.

Here is a representative street scene with the S-scale projects.

Here is a representative street scene with the S-scale projects.

And here are the HO-scale structures.

And here are the HO-scale structures.

Somewhat unrelated, but picked up at the same convention is this Grizzly Mtn. Engineering farmer's wagon in O-scale.

Somewhat unrelated, but picked up at the same convention is this Grizzly Mtn. Engineering farmer’s wagon in O-scale.

As much as I love building these things, I have to be conservative until I see how much room I'm actually going to have on the layout.

As much as I love building these things, I have to be conservative until I see how much room I’m actually going to have on the layout.

This past spring, while not actually doing anything on my layout, I decided to keep my modeling skills sharp by working on some other kinds of models. These were all kits, but required varying degrees of craftsmanship and finishing techniques, all of which transfer quite readily to the model railroading world. Pictured above is a Mantua wood and brass kit made in Italy. The label describes it as "Cannone da Costa USA 1780-1812" or American Coastal Cannon 1780-1812. The base measures 6" long by 4.5" wide, and the cannon is 1:17 scale. To weather the barrel, I used Micro Engineering Rail Weathering solution along with various colors of dry brushed enamels. For coloring the wooden parts, I used the same shoe dye and isopropyl alcohol mixture that I use on basswood on my railroad structures. To pull the surfaces together and give everything a nice finished look, I used Testor's Glosscote.

This past spring, while not actually doing anything on my layout, I decided to keep my modeling skills sharp by working on some other kinds of models. These were all kits, but required varying degrees of craftsmanship and finishing techniques, all of which transfer quite readily to the model railroading world. Pictured above is a Mantua wood and brass kit made in Italy. The label describes it as “Cannone da Costa USA 1780-1812″ or American Coastal Cannon 1780-1812. The base measures 6″ long by 4.5” wide, and the cannon is 1:17 scale. To weather the barrel, I used Micro Engineering Rail Weathering solution along with various colors of dry brushed enamels. For coloring the wooden parts, I used the same shoe dye and isopropyl alcohol mixture that I use on basswood on my railroad structures. To pull the surfaces together and give everything a nice finished look, I used Testor’s Glosscote.

This model of a naval 24 pound cannon is by Palmer Plastics. It is roughly 7" long by 3" wide, but the exact scale was not specified. Plastic models present some different challenges from wood and brass kits, namely that the raw plastic has to be painted to look like other materials. Here the elevating block, the wheels and the ratcheting handle are painted like wood, the barrel is made to look like brass, and the cannon carriage like heavy cast iron. Everything here started out as plastic, and was assembled with Plastruct Plastic Weld solution.

This model of a naval 24 pound cannon is by Palmer Plastics. It is roughly 7″ long by 3″ wide, but the exact scale was not specified. Plastic models present some different challenges from wood and brass kits, namely that the raw plastic has to be painted to look like other materials. Here the elevating block, the wheels and the ratcheting handle are painted like wood, the barrel is made to look like brass, and the cannon carriage like heavy cast iron. Everything here started out as plastic, and was assembled with Plastruct Plastic Weld solution.

Back to another Italian brass and wood kit, this one by Areopiccala-Torino. It is called a "Cannone da Marina" or Marine Cannon. It looks a lot like the cannons that were on the Swedish warship, Vasa, which sank in 1628. The wood parts in these kits are often oak, and require a lot of drilling and edge-finishing in addition to staining. The brass fixtures are all very new and shiny, and require varying degrees of rail weathering solution to make them look more realistic. Another challenge in assembling some of these kits is that the instructions are all in Italian (which I do not speak). A glue which I find that connects wood and metal parts quickly and securely is Aleene's Quick Dry Tacky Glue.

Back to another Italian brass and wood kit, this one by Areopiccala-Torino. It is called a “Cannone da Marina” or Marine Cannon. It looks a lot like the cannons that were on the Swedish warship, Vasa, which sank in 1628. The wood parts in these kits are often oak, and require a lot of drilling and edge-finishing in addition to staining. The brass fixtures are all very new and shiny, and require varying degrees of rail weathering solution to make them look more realistic. Another challenge in assembling some of these kits is that the instructions are all in Italian (which I do not speak). A glue which I find that connects wood and metal parts quickly and securely is Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue.

This is another completely plastic kit by Encore Models for a revolutionary war cannon. Note the different painting techniques for wood, brass and iron. The scale of the model is 1:24 and measures about 8" long by 5" wide.

This is another completely plastic kit by Encore Models for a revolutionary war cannon. Note the different painting techniques for wood, brass and iron. The scale of the model is 1:24 and measures about 8″ long by 5″ wide.

Here is another version of a naval 24 pound cannon, this one by the Italian company, Artisania Latina. The scale was not specified, but the base on which the cannon rests is only 5" long by 2.5" wide. This presents the challenge of working on something which is so diminutive; the cannon balls in the boxes in front of the cannon are about the size of shotgun pellets.

Here is another version of a naval 24 pound cannon, this one by the Italian company, Artisania Latina. The scale was not specified, but the base on which the cannon rests is only 5″ long by 2.5″ wide. This presents the challenge of working on something which is so diminutive; the cannon balls in the boxes in front of the cannon are about the size of shotgun pellets.

These final two kits took the most time to construct. They are sold separately, but go together to form a cannon with its accompanying limber. The 1:16 scale models are by Guns of History/Model Shipways, and represent a James Cannon, 6 pounder, Model 1841. These guns were used in the Civil War. The cannon measures approximately 8" long by 4.25" wide, and has wood, brass and cast metal parts, just like many model railroad craftsman kits.

These final two kits took the most time to construct. They are sold separately, but go together to form a cannon with its accompanying limber. The 1:16 scale models are by Guns of History/Model Shipways, and represent a James Cannon, 6 pounder, Model 1841. These guns were used in the Civil War. The cannon measures approximately 8″ long by 4.25″ wide, and has wood, brass and cast metal parts, just like many model railroad craftsman kits.

The limber was used to harness the horses which pulled the cannon, and to store the materials used to fire the gun....cannon balls, powder charges, etc. The soldiers of the artillery corp also rode on the limber, until they discovered that opposing artillery forces could target the limber, and blow up everything thus rendering the cannon unserviceable for lack of a crew.

The limber was used to harness the horses which pulled the cannon, and to store the materials used to fire the gun….cannon balls, powder charges, etc. The soldiers of the artillery corp also rode on the limber, until they discovered that opposing artillery forces could target the limber, and blow up everything thus rendering the cannon unserviceable for lack of a crew.

 

 

The DVD that Steve Mitchell of Yard Goat Images and I shot last January in Colorado is finally ready for a pre-release. I met with Steve today, and he gave me a number of copies at what he calls his distributor price. He also gave me permission to sell these at a discount to friends and family. For obvious reasons, he requested that I not advertise the discounted price, but if you would like one, please contact me at my e-mail address    Some of you saw the DVD that I made from my video alone; this finished version, with the work of both cameramen, is twice as spectacular.  If you like steam trains and western scenery, this is one DVD you are definitely going to want in your collection.

Here is the other DVD that I am holding in the post above. Steve Mitchell of Yard Goat Images and I shot this in January of 2013 in Colorado. Some of you saw the DVD that I made from my video alone; this finished version, with the work of both cameramen, is twice as spectacular. If you like steam trains and western scenery, this is one DVD you are definitely going to want in your collection.

Mad City Train Show 2016

Last weekend I went with my friend, Steve Mitchell, to the Mad City Model Railroad Show in Madison, Wisconsin. I have sometimes shot video for Steve's DVDs, and I like to help him with these shows. I'm holding two of the videos that I did a lot of work on.

Last weekend I went with my friend, Steve Mitchell, to the Mad City Model Railroad Show in Madison, Wisconsin. I have sometimes shot video for Steve’s DVDs, and I like to help him with these shows. I’m holding two of the videos that I did a lot of work on. I posted articles on both these videos when they first came out, and I have reproduced those postings below.

 

For five years, from 2004 to 2008, I had a Christmas train layout under our tree using Bachmann's On30 equipment. That's where I fell in love with the scale. The only problem was that each January, the layout had to be packed away until the following Christmas season. Although it had a pretty complex track arrangement, and two levels, it was made with Lemax Village buildings and people. Their buildings are OK for what they are, and are generally speaking quarter inch scale, but their figures are closer to G-scale, and I had some 1:32 scale automobiles on it. All in all, it was OK for a Christmas display, but it wasn't a real model railroad. I had done some video pieces of it every year because I like doing that kind of thing. In January of 2009 I knew I was going to be able to start on a real model railroad, so I made a farewell video, using all of the tricks at my command. I arranged special lighting for all of the scenes. I placed theatrical gels over the camera lens to simulate dusk and night. I had a small fog machine that generated a pretty good blowing snow effect, and I did some "camera-on-flatcar" shots. I even plotted the suggestion of a story. Jump forward to July of 2013. My friend Steve Mitchell, of Yard Goat Images, e-mailed me to see if I'd like to make a commercial release of my 2008 Christmas train video. I pounced on the idea, and we spent the next five or six weeks re-editing the video, tightening up the story, re-scoring the music, and adding all new sound effects. The finished product is the DVD, "The Last Train to Christmasville", which is now available on Steve's web site, yardgoatimages.com. The running time is about 30 minutes, and the price is $15.00. The preview of it can be seen on the web site, or at U-Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mbu1Qyr-C3k Young children love to watch trains, and I really think "The Last Train to Christmasville" turned out to be a delightful product for young children, ages toddler up to middle school, so if you have any kids that age in your life, your own, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, I'd strongly urge you to consider it for a Christmas gift.

For five years, from 2004 to 2008, I had a Christmas train layout under our tree using Bachmann’s On30 equipment. That’s where I fell in love with the scale. The only problem was that each January, the layout had to be packed away until the following Christmas season.
Although it had a pretty complex track arrangement, and two levels, it was made with Lemax Village buildings and people. Their buildings are OK for what they are, and are generally speaking quarter inch scale, but their figures are closer to G-scale, and I had some 1:32 scale automobiles on it. All in all, it was OK for a Christmas display, but it wasn’t a real model railroad. I had done some video pieces of it every year because I like doing that kind of thing.
In January of 2009 I knew I was going to be able to start on a real model railroad, so I made a farewell video, using all of the tricks at my command. I arranged special lighting for all of the scenes. I placed theatrical gels over the camera lens to simulate dusk and night. I had a small fog machine that generated a pretty good blowing snow effect, and I did some “camera-on-flatcar” shots. I even plotted the suggestion of a story.
Jump forward to July of 2013. My friend Steve Mitchell, of Yard Goat Images, e-mailed me to see if I’d like to make a commercial release of my 2008 Christmas train video. I pounced on the idea, and we spent the next five or six weeks re-editing the video, tightening up the story, re-scoring the music, and adding all new sound effects. The finished product is the DVD, “The Last Train to Christmasville”, which is now available on Steve’s web site, yardgoatimages.com.
The running time is about 30 minutes, and the price is $15.00.
Young children love to watch trains, and I really think “The Last Train to Christmasville” turned out to be a delightful product for young children, ages toddler up to middle school, so if you have any kids that age in your life, your own, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, I’d strongly urge you to consider it for a Christmas gift.

 

As I promised some weeks ago, I am posting an account of my visit with Troels Kirk on a recent trip to Sweden.

As I promised some weeks ago, I am posting an account of my visit with Troels Kirk on a recent trip to Sweden.

Troels lives in a small village not far from my Swedish cousin, and he graciously received us at his home on Thursday, July 9th. The thrill I got from spending an hour or so with Troels must be somewhat equivalent to the excitement felt by modelers who visited the famous John Allen during the 1970's. I was also reminded of the afternoon I spent with the late Paul Scoles in Seattle in 2013.

Troels lives in a small village not far from my Swedish cousin, and he graciously received us at his home on Thursday, July 9th. The thrill I got from spending an hour or so with Troels must be somewhat equivalent to the excitement felt by modelers who visited the famous John Allen during the 1970’s. I was also reminded of the afternoon I spent with the late Paul Scoles in Seattle in 2013.

Troels beautiful layout, the Coast Line RR, housed in a small out-building, was everything I expected it to be.

Troels beautiful layout, the Coast Line RR, housed in a small out-building, was everything I expected it to be.

Despite living in Europe, he has captured the feel of the Maine seacoast in the 1930's to perfection. An additional attraction for me is that Troels models in the same scale that I do, On30.

Despite living in Europe, he has captured the feel of the Maine seacoast in the 1930’s to perfection. An additional attraction for me is that Troels models in the same scale that I do, On30.

The artistry and craftsmanship of this layout is everything you would expect of a talented painter....

The artistry and craftsmanship of this layout is everything you would expect of a talented painter….

....with imagination.....

….with imagination…..

.....an eye for detail......

…..an eye for detail……

.....and the patience to recreate such a magnificent miniature world.

…..and the patience to recreate such a magnificent miniature world.

The front edge of the walk-around layout is almost exclusively devoted to coastal scenes; the trains generally follow a route through the  middle ground......

The front edge of the walk-around layout is almost exclusively devoted to coastal scenes; the trains generally follow a route through the middle ground……

........and the water modeling is spectacular.

……..and the water modeling is spectacular.

Troels' railroad not only features locomotives with sound, but there is an elaborate system of speakers below the layout to provide sounds for specific scenes. These sound tracks were custom made by a sound artist who worked for the Walt Disney organization. Troels told me an interesting story about seagulls. You would naturally expect the Coast Line RR to feature many calls of these ubiquitous birds, but after having lived on a boat near Paris for some time, he grew so tired of constantly hearing seagulls, that he asked the Disney artist specifically not to include the sound of seagulls. Troels subsequently removed almost all of these birds from his layout. The bird pictured here is one of the few remaining.

Troels’ railroad not only features locomotives with sound, but there is an elaborate system of speakers below the layout to provide sounds for specific scenes. These sound tracks were custom made by a sound artist who worked for the Walt Disney organization. Troels told me an interesting story about seagulls. You would naturally expect the Coast Line RR to feature many calls of these ubiquitous birds, but after having lived on a boat near Paris for some time, he grew so tired of constantly hearing seagulls, that he asked the Disney artist specifically not to include the sound of seagulls. Troels subsequently removed almost all of these birds from his layout. The bird pictured here is one of the few remaining.

All the structures on the layout are scratch-built except for the engine house by the turntable, which is kitbashed. These feature the creative use of card-stock and painted paper. You can see more details about this process on Troels' DVD, "Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling", which is often available on eBay.

All the structures on the layout are scratch-built except for the engine house by the
turntable, which is kit-bashed. The buildings feature the creative use of card-stock and painted paper. You can see more details about this process on Troels’ DVD, “Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling”, which is often available on eBay.

While scenery on the Coast Line RR is virtually complete, Troels continues to re-work certain areas and add details.

While scenery on the Coast Line RR is virtually complete, Troels continues to re-work certain areas and add details.

Troels shared a secret of his for keeping trains running smoothly. I'm not sure I had ever heard of this product, but Troels says he learned about it from a man at a museum who has to keep a large layout running flawlessly. It is applied to both track and wheels.

Troels shared a secret of his for keeping trains running smoothly. I’m not sure I had ever heard of this product, but Troels says he learned about it from a man at a museum who has to keep a large layout running flawlessly. It is applied to both track and wheels.

When I got home, I looked it up on the internet, and found that Home Depot carries what looks to be an American version of the same substance.

When I got home, I looked it up on the internet, and found that Home Depot carries what looks to be an American version of the same substance.

One feature of Troels' railroad I've always admired is his dramatic treatment of the sky. It has an energy that suggests that at any moment it might suddenly storm, or burst forth into radiant sunshine.

One feature of Troels’ railroad I’ve always admired is his dramatic treatment of the sky. It has an energy that suggests that at any moment it might suddenly storm, or burst forth into radiant sunshine.

While Troels uses mainly Bachmann On30 equipment, he paints, weathers and details it in a way that makes it look very much at home in a New England setting.

While Troels uses mainly Bachmann On30 equipment, he paints, weathers and details it in a way that makes it look very much at home in a New England setting.

Forneys and rail buses abound........

Forneys and rail buses abound……..

.....as you might expect.

…..as you might expect.

Small vignettes reveal interesting stories wherever the viewer looks.

Small vignettes reveal interesting stories wherever the viewer looks.

Having spent 60 years of my life in the theatre, I was especially pleased to see his rendition of a small town theatre with the cast for Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" posed on the front steps for an opening night photo.

Having spent 60 years of my life in the theatre, I was especially pleased to see his rendition of a small town theatre with the cast for Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” posed on the front steps for an opening night photo.

After looking over the layout with us for some time, Troels bent over and picked up a small sketch book that was lying on the floor under the bench-work. When he opened it, here were the famous concept sketches that we have all grown accustomed to seeing from him.

After looking over the layout with us for some time, Troels bent over and picked up a small sketch book that was lying on the floor under the bench-work. When he opened it, here were the famous concept sketches that we have all grown accustomed to seeing from him.

Following the better part of an hour in the railroad "house", Troels led us into his painting studio, or atelier to use the French word. It is housed in the shell of an old theatre/movie house.  Entering through the lobby, we passed the ancient ticket office.

Following the better part of an hour in the railroad “house”, Troels led us into his painting studio, or atelier to use the French word. It is housed in the shell of an old theatre/movie house.
Entering through the lobby, we passed the ancient ticket office.

When looking at Troels' paintings I have always admired the amazing realism he conveys with a limited color palette.

When looking at Troels’ paintings I have always admired the amazing realism he conveys with a limited color palette.

His works are Scandinavian scenes, but the connection with his American-based railroad is unmistakable. Incredible though it may seem, Troels says that he gets up at 4:30 in the morning, and paints until around 9:30 at night.

His works are Scandinavian scenes, but the connection with his American-based railroad is unmistakable. Incredible though it may seem, Troels says that he gets up at 4:30 in the morning, and paints until around 9:30 at night.

On the small stage of the former theatre is an elaborate rig that Troels designed to photograph his paintings. He uses these high definition photos of his originals to have prints made for sale.

On the small stage of the former theatre is an elaborate rig that Troels designed to photograph his paintings. He uses these high definition photos of his originals to have prints made for sale.

I'll leave you with a few more of his beautiful paintings.

I’ll leave you with a few more of his beautiful paintings.

His scenes of nature are hauntingly powerful.

His scenes of nature are hauntingly powerful.

I can't wait to return to Sweden, and see what Troels Kirk has got planned for the future.

I can’t wait to return to Sweden, and see what Troels Kirk has got planned for the future.