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Archive for the ‘Other Items of Interest’ Category

Viking Ship

Here is a little model of a viking ship that I have spent over three months working on. It is from a kit from Artisania Latina. The ship is approximately 11″ long from prow to stern and 11″ tall from keel to top of mast. I wanted to build this ship for display in my library, and because I have ancestors who were actual Vikings.

This picture shows the model in one of my lighted display cases.

There were a number of challenges to the construction, which explains the lengthy assembly process. Almost every piece of this kit had to be cut and/or shaped from the raw wood supplied. There were some exceptions like the stand beneath the ship, which was part of a laser-cut sheet.

The most time consuming process was shaping and installing the strakes (boards) along the sides of the ship. Each one of these has between seven and nine points of attachment to the underlying hull formers. The brass nails are only for visual accent; the strakes had to be glued at each of the 7-9 aforementioned points, and I could only do two to three of these points per day. The work had to be clamped and set aside for the glue to harden over night. I usually work on several models at a time, so I can move on to other projects when I have to wait for steps like this. This photo also shows the side tiller at the rear of the ship. This was one of the few steering mechanisms these ships had.

I modified some elements of the kit to create a more realistic model. The most visible modification is the sail. The stripes were my addition. I don’t know of any Viking sails that were not colored or decorated, and a stripe design was the most common. The colors identified the ship’s owner. I also wanted the sail to look like it was billowed out with a nice following wind, so here is what I did. First, I carefully stretched the sail on a flat surface, and drew in the red stripes. I used a permanent marker because the technique for filling the sail with wind would be using water based products. Then I sewed the top of the sail to the yard arm, and blew up a balloon. The sail and yard arm were carefully stretched across and secured to the surface of the inflated balloon. The next step involved using a diluted mixture of white glue and water. I used construction glue so that it would give the “white” surfaces a bit of an eggshell color. In the theatre, this kind of a mixture is called “dutchman glue”. I think this term came from the trade war that was waged between the English and the Dutch in the mid-1600s. At that time the island of Manhattan was a Dutch colony. When the English won the war and took over Manhattan, they either obliterated anything connected with the Dutch, or created derogatory terms for it. We still have sayings like “Dutch-treat” which implies something cheap. I think watered down glue acquired the same kind of demeaning appellation. If you are interested in learning many other fascinating facts that emerged from this period (including how the New York Mets got their colors), I highly recommend reading “The Island at the Center of the World” by Russell Shorto. Back to the sail: I gave it several coats of this glue over many days, and when the glue had thoroughly dried, voila! I popped the balloon and the sail retained its shape! The next picture shows minor modifications I also made to the ship’s rigging to keep the sail positioned properly. I guess you’d have to know a lot about Viking ship rigging to know what’s correct and what isn’t.

The other major modification was to the shields along the sides of the ship. The shields in the kit had no decoration on them. For the Vikings, their decorated shields were part of their pride and their identity, so I found pictures of Viking shields on Google, sized them, and printed them on glossy photo paper. It’s a technique I’ve used before to make signs for structures for my model railroad.

I glued the photo paper to the plain shields. Then I found some small stick-on jewels at Michael’s to create the shield boss on each shield. The shield boss was a cup-like steel projection at the center of the shield that protected the warrior’s hand as he (or she) gripped the back of the shield. The Roman Legionnaire’s shield had the same feature. This boss was also used as a “butting” weapon. The edge of this otherwise wooden shield was then clad in a steel “tire”. I have some little Viking figures on order to complete the scene.

 

 

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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 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 Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad” volunteer program. It should be available for purchase next fall.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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D,D&SRR Update

First of all, I want to apologize to all my readers, both new and ol

First of all, I want to apologize to all my readers, both recent and long standing, for having gone so long without a post.  I have been dealing with some health issues that have not only preoccupied my mind and time, but also kept me out of the train loft.  I have two conditions, spinal stenosis and diabetic neuropathy that cause me sciatic back pain, which results in insomnia.  I have been seeing a dozen doctors for the last several months.  There is no cure for these conditions, short of surgery for the stenosis, which they are not recommending at this time, but I think we are finally getting to a solution that is allowing me to sleep.  I wanted to post my picture here because I am attending the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City next week (September 3-6), and I would love to meet with any of you who follow this site.  My wife and I will be staying at the Hilton Garden Inn, which is right next to the Convention Center.

Here is the current state of the loft on the west end.

Here is the current state of the loft on the west end.  One issue with the railroad is that the more track work I complete, the less storage and work space I will have.  To some extent, things which are now boxed up, will eventually live on the railroad, but I’ll need to make my workbench smaller and more mobile.  In the end, the workbench may have to move to a weatherized space in the garage.

At the eastern end of the pike, I still have Durango on a moveable piece of benchwork.

At the eastern end of the pike, I still have Durango on a moveable piece of bench-work.  This needs to be cross-braced and secured to the 2x2s on the wall.  My Topside Creeper is lower in this picture than it will go; it is possible to position it so that I can reach all of Durango.  It’s not comfortable, but it works.  However, I am still considering bringing all of Durango down a couple of inches.  I can work the elevation into the grade to Silverton without any serious issues, and I just feel it might be more comfortable to access Durango without the Creeper, as in operating sessions, if it were a little lower.

The Durango unit is still more or less a storage piece, although a lot of the track and structure locations are correct for future use.  Bringing Durango down some will also help with the transition to the photo backdrop.

The Durango unit is still more or less a storage piece, although a lot of the track and structure locations are correct for future use. Bringing Durango down some will also help with the transition to the photo backdrop, because it will allow me to create a little berm in the space between the track and the backdrop.

On another note, I have been working with an old high school classmate of mine on some archival audio tapes and Super mm film that he rescued

On another note, I have been working with an old high school classmate of mine (Peoria High School, Peoria, Illinois) on some archival audio tapes and Super 8mm film that he rescued from disposal when an even older friend of his went into assisted care.  The audio and video dates to the 1960s and 1970s, and does include a lot of narrow gauge activity.  I am hoping that some of this material may eventually be available to the public through Yard Goat Images (www.yardgoatimages.com).  When I’m down in Illinois, as I was last week, I usually stay with my sister who lives outside Pekin, Illinois, across the river from Peoria.  Going to Peoria, I always pass this end of a power plant yard, so I stopped to shoot a picture.  Enlarge it to see the incredible detail.

 

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I have completed the 1914 Model T Ford Fire Engine that will go with my Durango Fire Hall.

I have completed the 1914 Model T Ford Fire Engine that will go with my Durango Fire Hall.  It was made from a cast metal kit by National Motor Co., and is about 3.5 inches long.

This kind of fire engine fought fires by pumping a chemical on them, much like forest fires are fought today.

All the parts had to be painted and then assembled with ACC.  This kind of fire engine used a chemical mixture, similar to hand held fire extinguishers, to generate the pressure that propelled the water on to the flames.

The engine was lightly weathered with AIM chalks and Dullcoat.  I have posed the engine in front of the fire hall drawings.

The engine was lightly weathered with AIM chalks and Dullcoat. I have posed it in front of the fire hall drawings I made two weeks ago.

The figure in the driver's seat is from Railroad Avenue.

The figure in the driver’s seat is from Railroad Avenue.  I bought the engine kit on eBay, and it was missing the seat, but fortunately I was able to substitute a seat from an old Matchbox Models of Yesteryear car.  Now I have to work on the horse-drawn fire wagon that will occupy the lean-to part of the fire hall.

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