Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More on the Industrial TTrak Module

While I've been waiting for the wall panel parts to arrive, I have been checking out the structures using the paper templates. That's when I discovered that I may have miscounted the DPM sections. Oh, well, I guess the three story building on the left may have to be five stories tall. I can live with that :-).

As for the Walthers panels, there will be a few extras there as well. So, in all likelyhood, one or both of the right pair of buildings will get a smaller extra area on the roof.

The decision to make them separate buildings is final. I like the open end of the siding, rather than a dead end 'box canyon' appearance. So, a connector walkway was added between them.

The two glue bottles on the left front are stand-ins for some fuel oil or chemical storage tanks. Otherwise, the pictorial tour around the module should pretty well speak for itself.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Module progress

The long-awaited Tomix 30º crossing came in today, so I "had" to play with it. The first picture shows the final arrangement of the tracks on a module for an industrial park. Overall, I did have to cut three pieces of track, the Kato 15º crossing, a piece of Kato straight track, and a short piece of Tomix. The cut Tomix piece is between the LH turnout and the 30º crossing.
Cutting both brands is very easy, takes about 5-10 minutes, start to finish.

The Kato adapter between the 15º crossing and the 30º crossing is stock length, but had to have a little of the roadbed 'wing' relieved to accommodate the Tomix crossing's other leg. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one finishes out. The sidings ought to be a bit of fun at shows, eh? One (maybe both?) sidings will enter warehouse type building(s).

The other pictures show the current state of the middle-income apartment complex. Man, the apartment kits have been time consumers, for sure. Finally, today, I got the staircases assembled. Some black paper for a view block, the roofs, and figures will finish them out.

And, you should have a pretty good idea of where I'm going with the module. A two-lane street will be where the vehicles sit. There should be a bus lane about where the green semi sits. Some sidewalks, trees and grass will just about finish it off.

In the back is a Greenmax footbridge kit. It has two in there, but I will build them as a long single crossing the road and tracks to a linear park along the outside edge.

Yesterday I worked in 9th grade English. The kids were pretty good to me. Tomorrow, it's French class, and Friday it's World Geography. I guess I'm just a man of few talents, and master of none . . .



Saturday, October 31, 2009

Progress on new modules

Here I continue to go, working on several modules in parallel. I guess I get
bored with sticking to one or two at a time. So, for an update, here goes.
Did I send you links to the videos I shot at the club play day Oct. 17?

The Arkham Hospital module is finished, and made a successful debut at
the play day. The helicopter took a bit of finger damage, but it is repairable.
I received some good comments from club member and visitor alike.

The rest of the modules I used are old ones, with a few details added, such
as figures, cars, etc.

The high rise corner is on its last phase. The final detail parts are in from
Hong Kong, and I should be able to wrap it up rather soon.

The second corner has a pair of the upscale Tomix condos, and a few other
structures. I wasn't liking something about the arrangement on it, so I grabbed
the Tomix 4015 pair of corner shops. It will look better with one of them in that
troublesome spot. Other than streets and a bit of bare ground behind the buildings,
next to the tracks, nothing much more than plop 'em down and go on.

The third corner is the middle income apartment complex. Those dang Greenmax
buildings are finally painted. I tried to over do the details, and had to strip and
repaint a number of parts. Assembly has started, so progress should move
right along there, too. There will be an overhead walkway from the apartments,
across the street and tracks, to a linear park and trail on the outside edge.
Remember, I beveled all outer corners, so there's not much width to work with
outside the ROW.

The fourth corner module is the tenement (low rent) corner. After moving the
buildings around quite a bit, I returned to an arrangement close to what I had
drawn in the planning phase. The sidewalks are laid and painted, along with
the street. I still need to join the tenement buildings back-to-back. It won't
be any problem. After that, it's grass, bare dirt, and details, details. It will
take a little while, but it should be show ready before long.

Arkham Hospital is one of four straights in this new set. Straight #2 in an
industrial area. I'll get back to it in a minute. Straight #3 will have the Tomix
4020 as a cornerstone of the module, the Tomytec Cylindrical Office building,
and one of the pair of Kato 23-408 convenience store buildings, and a grade
crossing. The 4020 will have a large parking lot. It will become a retail superstore
or a cinema. I haven't settled on that one just yet.

The fourth straight is another office collection. I'm thinking the Greenmax 46-6
and 46-7 with the elevator towers between pairs of buildings. That's four buildings
sandwiching two towers. So, there are two towers for elsewhere . . . And, a
couple of the Tomix 4051's for good measure. I have two of the sets, and that
gives me a couple buildings left over there, too. One will go to corner #2.

The modules are all boxed out and primed. Where pre-built structures are used,
I've test fitted them and am pretty well satisfied how they are working out, well
enough to have confidence in the sketches involving kits still in the box. And,
that pile is slowly shrinking, too.

Back to straight #2, the industrial area. I want to have sidings here to give a
chance of doing a little switching during a show. I figured out that the Kato 15º
long crossing would make it interesting, and worked out the arrangement of picture
#1. As soon as the tracks leave the turnout proper, they convert to Tomix for a
different appearance on the sidings. The Kato adapters will need to be shortened,
no big deal. The Tomix 30º crossing on order will fill the needs here, along with
a bit more straight track.

The structures to go here should come out of the Walthers 3-in-1 building kits.
I got both versions of them at a sale in Dallas a while back. It was a case of the
right place at the right time. I wasn't sure just where they'd be used, but structures
in hand are never wrong, eh? I figure the shorter siding may enter a building, the
longer, well, who knows? Stay tuned, details eventually, when I find out what they

The rest of the pictures show how I bashed the long crossing so that it would fit
the TTrak 33mm spacing. It didn't take long. The turnouts are #4's. The plan is
to always the through them as trailing point devices. That should minimize any
problems that could occur. And, I will to apply the John Sing tuneups to them
as well.

As a stand alone set, this will be a square about 1240mm on a side. That will
sit nicely on a pair of side-by-side 6' banquet tables. To use them with the other
modules (Allen, Darrell, Cal and mine) I'm also queuing up a pair of the transition

Transition #1 will have a Tomix 4023 substation inside one curve (my oldest
Tomix kit, by several years) fed by a high line using the Heljan/Kato 23-401
towers stretching across the module. Inside the other curve, A Kato 23-310
building overlooks a set of sewage treatment tanks. This would be used next
to the tenement corner . . .

The other transition may well get an idea I saw at a showing by the Clovis, NM
club. A corner in their HO layout had the track raised above the low landscape
on earth fills. The inside and outside were connected by a vehicle tunnel. The
whole lower area was a campground. That should make a very nice scene, you

There is, also, an overhead station scene with the tram loop under it. That
has become a separate project of its own. The design has pretty well settled
down into a pair of 930mm sections. Together, that forms a 6x scene. However,
I want to clear out these other pieces before starting on them.. I do feel very
good about the design.

Altogether, I'll have about 30 TTrak modules. That's about twice as many as I
can transport at one time in my truck. You, know, I may be building all the proof
needed to have me committed . . . not to mention the several left over structures.

I guess I've rambled on too long. G'night, and remember to reset your clocks tonight.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I did a count of modules around here today. I really hadn't been keeping track.
I counted the ones firmly planned as well, as I have all the structures on hand
and the scenery settled for them.




Two are TxOutlawOn30. Three are TTrak-HO. 30 are TTrak-N. And when
I say "finished" I mean showable, but probably could use a few more details,
such as figures, etc.

One On30 is finished and the other well on its way. When I get back to it,
it will get a coastal treatment. Most parts are on hand, if not all.

Two HO are finished and the other only needs the scenery details (figures,
vehicles, etc.) applied. All parts are on hand. Darrell Puckett did the scenery
on one, but I supplied many of the details, base and track. And, I store it.

16 are from what I refer to as 'Set 1' of the N modules. Most are finished.
Several could use some 'sweetening,' which is what I am concentrating on
these days. These form a complete showable layout from a 2½ foot circle
to a 2½ foot by 14½ foot loop, and can be configured in an "L" shape
as well.

The others form 'Set 2.' 12 of the final 14 are in various stages. All these
module bases built, scenery planned, and structures on hand. The high rise
corner, the 45° beach corner and the hospital are the first of these.

The final two have been the hardest to figure out, but I think I'm there. In
TTrak, the roadbed base is at least 2¾" above the lowest part of the module
box. In that interval, the plan is to install a tram loop to run around some
under track stores. If I don't have all the pieces, all that I will need is a bit
more Tomix N track. I have the structures, trams (neat little buggers!) and
a micro controller for it. However, the module boxes haven't been started
while I figured out exactly what it would take. These will be a pair of three
foot sections forming a six foot module.

I'm tempted to build it as a single six foot piece, but I probably shouldn't.
I already have a pair of six footers is Set 1, the yard.

Hopefully, no more. No more. Right now, I don't even want to supply
anyone else with blank bases. I've done that about eight or ten times so
far. Enough, already.

At least, I have been building storage and transport frames as I built the
bases, so it is easy to stack and store them. Maybe that's why I didn't realize
just how many I have . . .

Oh, man, put me out of my misery.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In process projects . . .

Several years ago, I accumulated a box of 8 1/2" x 11" cardboard sheets. I use them, with masking tape, to hold small items for painting. Sometimes, large items, too.

Lately, I've been able to make myself be a bit slower about cutting parts off the molding sprues. By seeing that there are several parts on a sprue that will be the same color, I can mount the sprue vertically and spray both sides, if needed. Much faster.

So, with it being a bit cool and quite a bit humid, I'm not painting, but I am
prepping for a painting binge. I have 21 (yes, 21!) cardboard sheets with parts
from three kits ready to go. These are multiple structures per kit, so there are
a total of 11 structures involved. Or 12, depending on how you want to count.

Two of them will be bashed into a single item, so I count it as 11.

For some silly reason, I generally don't like the 'out-of-the-box' color. Even if
molded in gray, and I want gray, I have to paint it just to change it a bit. Call
it what you will, I still do it.

And, quite often lately, strip and repaint. Hopefully, not so much in the future.
That really slows down progress.

I have one of my new N corners nearly showable. A few details should arrive
this week, such as decorative fencing. The rest of these structures are for the
other three corners in the set. There are a few pre-assembled structures. They
look okay to me, so I won't be trying to do anything major to them.

To be presentable for shows, I'll need a pair of straights, too. One in about 3/4
done, I think. Another is still bare, but for track. So far, it hasn't "revealed itself" to me so I can landscape and scenic it. If it doesn't hurry, I may force a sewage treatment plant on it.

There is plenty to do, and finally it seems that things are beginning to flow. I'm
having more fun now than back in the summer.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's the end of August and since it's been a while, an updateis overdue. I've been
working on several modules at once, all for the large radius curve, double track. In
addition, there was a 'just for fun' bash. More about that later.

But first, the modules. The lesser of these is the hospital straight. While there are no
pics at this time, the hospital itself is shaping up. The outer paint job is about finished.
Since it is a rather flexible building, I am adding floors to it for stiffness. Taking
advantage of that, the floors are painted black except for sections that will be rooms
behind the windows. These areas are white. I plan to have figures in the windows of
the rooms. It is progressing pretty well, I think. Pictures in a few days.

The greater module is the high rise corner, the 'upscale' end of the city. It features
three tall buildings around a central plaza. I still have quie a bit of details to add, but
with today's arrival of the palm trees, it is coming together quite like I have envisioned

The small pieces (cars, plaza items) as well as the buildings are not glued down yet.
The cars, yes, they will be permanent. The buildings never will be, for transport and
storage ease and safety. I'm considering not gluing the plaza items as well, so that they
can be rearranged whenever the mood strikes. BTW, the pergola will get benches.
And, obviously, people everywhere.

I want to add scenes to the two shorter building roofs. On one I want a swimming
pool, and a small tennis court (singles size) on the other. Time, all I need is time and
cooler weather.

Among the details still to go will be flowers, a shrubery hedge along the grass above
the tracks (for safety,) yada-yada-yada. The white around the tree bases is still-wet
glue. It should disappear as it dries. The small, empty parking between the buildings
will get bicycles and racks. As soon as I build the racks, that is.

The fun project is a high railer tow truck. I couldn't help myself, I wanted to use Tow
Mater from the movie "Cars." He works out quite well for On30.

He will get a tow bar with a coupler on the back. With it, he can be pushed by a loco
and look like he's towing it in for repair. It should make for a fun scene on the club
layout, eh?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mid-August Update

No pictures this time, just a quick update. Lately, I've helped a couple of others with their modules. Also, I delivered a 2x TTrak-HO blank module to Cole, a high school member of the club.

Progress has been made on the first tow of the city scene modules. The high-rise corner is coming along rather well, I think. As I write this, paint and glue is drying on it. Also, paint is drying on the hospital, a 2x straight module. In addition, I painted the black fascia on both of those, as well as the three other new corners. Small steps, but positive steps.

The hospital structure has given me some fits, but it is beginning to cooperate now and I don't think it'll be long until it's nearly finished, too.

When I say finished, I really mean "good enough" to show. Nothing showing bare blue foam or plywood, etc. I don't think that most of my modules are ever completely finished. There's always a few details that can be added, a mini-scene slipped in, etc.

Finally, the mainline terminal and local tram module scene is getting a solid feel to the design. I wanted it to be ready by the October show, but now I'm aiming for next spring.

Allen and I are kicking around the idea of generating a "Did you find ... ?" type list. It'd be a list of little scenes within scenes in the modules. One such example I have is "Did you find Fonzie guarding the fireworks stand?"

Summer is broiling right along, with 100F yesterday and 96F today here in West Texas. Tomorrow, a cool front is supposed to drop us to a balmy 92F - ha! And, the humidity seems to be staying higher than average, too.

School starts next Monday, the 24Th. Right now, I don't have any substitute assignments, but some do occur early, even on the first day. No one likes it that way, but sometimes it happens like that.

That's about it for now. Keep cool, it's still hot out there.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

45-Degree Modules

Here's a little project that's been festering in the back on my mind.

Lately, we have been getting away from the 'going nowhere' loops to "W-shaped" layouts with small loops of modules on the ends. These show the layout as it was for the July club meeting/fajita fest at a member's place. There seems to be a real pleasure factor in watching medium and long trains snake around a layout. These pictures are sequenced from right to left across the layout.

However, there is a need to handle the 12' yard (two 6x modules) and the as yet unbuilt terminal with passing sidings that will be 6' (two 3x modules) within a show setup. In the "W" arrangement, modules that long will require a bit of space sticking out from a wall. This is problematic in that we try to include as many layouts as we can, and still make the safety people happy with the aisle widths.

After giving it some thought these seemed to offer a solution. By placing the long modules flat against a wall, a pair of small 45-degree corners would then give a 'kick-out' and allow the ends to zig-zag in the "W" shape. I decided to build a pair of small, reversable 45-degree corners for use with the setups. Here's a couple of pics of the two new modules.

I am looking forward to a chance to use these in the future. When, I don't know. Due to insurance reasons, we have lost the large space that had been used in the past for public showing "Playday" setups. I will go ahead and add simple scenery in the meantime.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An update on the structure progress being made in the shop. With the cooler weather 69F rather than 105+F) I finally got my general contractor (me) up and doing something.

The two tenement buildings (two Walthers kits) are progressing together. Everything seen here is glued in, except the roof. I'm leaving that for later. The stairs and storm gutters are next.

Finally, finished as defined by Walthers. Walthers calls these "background" buildings. Since they are meant to go near or against a skyboard or backdrop. So, they have no rear walls. I am making rear walls from Plastruct brick sheet. Before they are installed, I am considering the installation of partial floors and interiors behind some windows, possibly with lighting.

Certainly, they will need figures on the landings and stairs. Maybe elsewhere, too. I have a couple of the 'Roof Accessories' packages. Right now I'm thinking a large A/C system for the building. That would require a wood walkway from the hatch to the unit. And, that would require a sunbather laying on a towel, eh?

A decision as to whether the basement stairs will be installed will have to wait. That would require cutting a hole in the mounting surface. Right now, I don't know if that surface will be the plywood or a layer of foam on it.

The next set of four buildings is a single kit from Greenmax, kit #46-4. They are three-story buildings. The kit has four different front facades, and an assortment of side and rear walls. The facades not only have different styles, but different textures as well.

A nice set to work with, and certainly good bashing material. I chose to paint each building a different color, as all were styrene grey.

There are quite a few detail parts to add to the roof, too, making each one unique.

The final six two-story buildings are a single Greenmax kit as well, #33. The walls are a mix-and match system.

There are 24 wall panels, and six front facades in three styles, cast in gray and white.

Also, there are six separate gables for the walls. A variety of roofs are included.

Looking inside the preliminary assembly, note the small stubs on the walls. These are to align the gables. However, the wall is deeply scored, indicating that it can easily be shortened to one story.

And, the stubs look like good supports for an interior floor, too. Again, I think this is good bashing material.

I painted all the side and rear walls a light sand color to resemble stucco. When I get really, really industrious, I may paint the trim on each.

The facades were each painted a different color to brighten up the scene. How bright depends on how much weathering I do. Probably a lot, to look like a dingy, lower-income area.

So, the structures for the city scenes are starting to come out of the boxes. Once some more of these progress to 'adequately finished,' I will attack the next ones. The sequence should be directed by the order I decide to use in 'finishing' modules. Nothing is ever really finished, is it?

For now, I need to check into interiors and lighting. If I do go that way, the interior walls will need a layer of flat black to stop any light leak-through.

Enough rambling for today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some more module progress

Here are a few pictures to show the small progress I think I'm making out in the shop.

I built eight (!) 2x modules, but Darrell took two, and Cal gets one of these, so only five
are left for me. That's great, because now there are four TTrak-N modelers out here!
I think I'll only need four to start with (and
maybe finish?) so there is a spare. Since I
was going to build so many, I just mass
produced as many as I had material for at
the time. It was much quicker that way.
One saw setup, several passes, and a whole
pile of module kits fall out of the sawdust.

I got to thinking again. Sometimes it just happens. Oh, well. Anyway, it occurred to me that
the high rise buildings on the first of the corner modules would look a bit more imposing if
they were on a raised surface. I looked around the shop and found a scrap piece of 3/4" blue
foam. I cut it to size and shape, and tried a train around it. No good, the cars would scrape
the wall. So, a bit of knife time beveling the slope and the cars now clear fine.

I set the Tomix 4018's on there and looked at it from all sides. I decided the front edge needed
some elevation, too, so another scrap was cut out.

Next, the train was placed in the trench, and given a good look. Something still didn't look
quite right. While I like the low ridge in front of the tracks, it seemed to undo the elevation
of the buildings.

So, a few more foam scraps, and the buildings were elevated another 3/4".

The train was placed back in the trench, and that looked better to me, so this is what I will
go with.

The foam piece will be glued down to the module top, and another piece will be cut to fit on
top of it.

This new piece will have a vertical wall to match the top of the lower piece's outline at the
top of the taper. Since I'm about out of 3/4" foam, the new top piece will probably be 1" thick.
I really like the look from 'pedestrian level' at the base of the buildings.

Finally, I set out to join the two 6x straight modules. Part of the idea for these long modules
is to span between tables. So, they were framed with 1-2" cabinet grade plywood. Even so,
they are fairly light weight, even when handled together. At the last show, we found that,
as separate pieces across a table gap, they were too easily bumped and slid around under
the track. All was new, nothing fastened at the time.

The metal rulers are shown aligned with the
front edge of the front track. Conversations
with the others in the club raised the option
of using them as we did, a 12x long through
yard, or as a pair of 6x stub yards separated
around a layout.

So, I thought about all that, and decided to try this solution. The two sections are bolted
together, when desired, by 1/4"-20 tap bolts. These are the same type I use for the
adjusting feet.

To accommodate the need for track overhang when the modules are separated, and for
snug spacing when joined, I placed a shim plate between the sections. The plate is a piece
of 3/32" ply from the R/C aircraft corner of the LHS.

My plan is to lay track starting from this junction. I will place the initial track joints centered
over the plate. Then, when separated, there is a slight overhang for module joining, and with
the spacer, all can be rigidly bolted tight.

I aligned the modules by standing them on their rear
face, making sure the tops were flush, much like I'd have
to do at a show. Then, after clamping them securely, a
pair of 9/32" holes were drilled through both ends and
the shim plate. Installing a pair of tee-nuts completed
the job. The assembly is rigid, showing no flexing when
handled, and easily picked up by one person.

For tonight, I am storing it on end along one side wall
of my shop.

I still haven't figured out exactly what little landscaping
I'll use. There will be a few structures, but not many.
Currently, I have a Pola single stall brick engine house
and a Stewart diesel servicing facility for fuel, water,
and sand. These will go at one end, where a couple of
stub sidings will be placed. Look at the pictures in a
previous blog for details.

Somewhere along a siding will be a Greenmax car washing station. It'll probably be on the
rearmost, but that's not a given. I may move it in one track for survivability during transport.
More on that in a minute.

At the far end, if I can figure a way to incorporate it, will be a small steam facilities, but that's
in the distant future.

As for transport and storage, I'm going to cut a pair of plywood panels the same width as
the modules (12") and 18" tall. They will be attached with bolts, stacking the two modules.
At 18" tall and just over 72" length, they will fit the bed of my F-150 with the solid cover

So, that's about it for now. I'm starting to look into the structure kits I stockpiled over the
winter and spring, getting ready for the summer work season while school's out.
Sooo many toys, sooo little time, sooo many honey-do's ...