Thursday, May 29, 2014

Scratch built platforms - Part 2

I had 4 new packages of the Plastruct HO scale ladder stock plus a few scraps that I air brushed Floquil engine black to match the hand railings on the small Green Max station.  Doing this at this point with the air brush would ensure that all the odd angles would get covered but there will still need to be some touch up by hand later.

The full sections were cut so that the joints would meet on one of the raised sections of the platform as shown in this photo.  Medium CA was used to make these bonds.

Once all of the hand rails were in place, I added an .040 half round all along on the top.  This was to add some strength to the joints and give it a more unified look.  This half round stock was bonded to railings with Plastruct solvent.

Here are the platforms after all of the half round tops of the railings and anyplace else that needed it had been touched up with a brush.

Next steps will include some yellow striping along the track side of the platforms and maybe some light posts or small shelters.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Scratch built platforms - Part 1

For the Hot Springs Junction station I wanted to have side platforms with the foot bridge connecting them.  I had considered starting with either the Green Max side platform kits or several sections of Kato Island platforms left over from the Musashi-Koyama station.  The platforms would need to be narrow but one would flair out at one end to mate up with the station and the other would need a wider section for the foot bridge stairway.  With the amount of modification needed, I decided to scratch build the platforms.

The platforms were built of .020 styrene sheet with strips and angles added on the outside to appear similar to how the Kato platforms look.  I also added short lengths of .040 x .060 of styrene strip material along the outside edges of the surface of the platforms that will support some railings that will be added later.

I had first sprayed a coat of Floquil concrete from the bottom so it would cover all of overhang angles. Then I brush painted two coats on the top with Polly Scale SP Dark Lark Gray, the color I most often use for asphalt.

The next day after everything had dried well, I masked off the top of the platforms but left a .060 wide strip all the way around exposed.

Next, another application of Floquil concrete, this time from the top.  After removing the tape, this is what it looks like.


I have used Plastruct HO scale ladder stock for railings on a number of projects and it turned out that they are a very good match to the railings that were already on the small Green Max station.

So I bought several packages of these to extend the stations railings out to the platforms.

These will first be painted Floquil engine black to with the air brush before being installed on the platforms.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Painting the Green Max foot bridge

The same general color scheme that was used on the Green Max Station was used on this covered foot bridge.  Floquil Antique White for the walls and Oxide Red for the roofs were applied with an air brush.

There is a large amount of bracing that could have been painted as trim in a contrasting color but I decided not to thinking the railroad would not have done this due to cost.  I also plan to weather this structure and that should bring out the detail.

There are two protection plates that come with this kit.  I believe the purpose of these is to protect the structure itself from being hit by the electric wire.

These were brush painted Model Master Gull Gray before being installed on the structure.

The instructions seem to show these parts just being glued to the frame of the structure but on the front of the box the drawing shows them being suspended by wires and not actually touching the structure.  What I did to simulate this look was to make spacers from scraps of the column material and .060 x .020 styrene.  This was then glued to the bottom of the floor and a small space between the protection plate and the structure.

Before attaching the roofs, I brush painted the stairs with Floquil Concrete.  I only went about half way up the stairs as that is all that is going to show when the roof is on.

I've noticed recently that Testors has discontinued the entire Floquil Railroad Colors line so I'm going to have to find an alternative to their concrete colored paints that I've been using for many years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Building the Green Max foot bridge

As April ended and May began, we had a bit of a heat wave in the Bay Area with the temperatures reaching about 90 degrees F for a couple of days.  When I built the train room in the garage last year I was quite concerned about keeping the temperatures as cool as possible without the use of an air conditioner.  I had added attic ventilation to the garage and of course insulated the walls and ceiling.  During the cooler months, it was hard to get the room warmed up with a small electric heater so I added a damper to control the ventilation and that helped some.  I am generally OK if the temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees.  With the recent hot weather, the train room got it's first real test of keeping cool and I am happy with the results.

With the train room being the most comfortable place to be, and the need to finish many little projects on the Hot Springs Junction module, I pulled out a kit that I have been looking forward to starting.  Green Max kit # 17, the covered foot bridge.

Bridges like this were at one time quite common in Japan and I have clear memories of using them on my first couple of trips.  As things have become more modernized with escalators and elevators becoming standard, this older type of bridge is disappearing.

I assembled the structure as directed except for the support columns.   The support columns that came with the kit are meant to be resting on the same level as the stairs but I needed to have them extend to the ground level so I made new longer ones from Plastruct styrene columns and the cross bracing from the kit.

I planned to have three pairs of columns with the center pair being right in the center of the structure and between the two tracks.  At the center of the bridge, there is a floor brace that is about .040  x .040 in size.  By notching the tops of this pair of columns, the top of the columns fit right over the brace.

Another .040 x .060 brace was added at the top of each column just below the notch.  I also added an .040 x .040 floor brace at both ends and notched the other two pairs of column tops.

Here is the assembled bridge ready for paint.  A short section of angle on the inside corners and a bit of sheet styrene to the inside of the outer walls where the sections meet were added for strength.  These won't show after the roof is put on.

The roof sections will be painted separately then attached to the structure later.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What's next for the Hot Springs Junction module ?

Every year in September for the past several years, either Peninsula Ntrak or AsiaNrail has had a layout at the annual Los Altos Train Days event.  We have again been invited and the plan is to do a combined layout this time.  This means my focus this summer will be to finish all the scenery on the Hot Springs Junction module.  Briefly, here is the list of the projects related to this module.
  • Finish the river scenery
  • Install permanent Ntrak tracks with concrete ties
  • Ballast all track and install overhead electric wire poles
  • Finish and install remaining retaining walls along Ntrak lines
  • Kit bash or scratch build platforms for station
  • Build covered overhead passenger bridge to connect platforms
  • Finish road bridge over river
  • Finish Hot Springs hotel scene

A multi-mode module

Additionally, after operating the module for over a week it became apparent that the module could also be in an AsiaNrail layout if legs were available to get it to the 51 inch height.  For the Hiller exhibit I had used the legs for my other 4ft Ntrak module so will be building some special legs for this module that  can be adjusted between Ntrak and AsiaNrail height.  Also, additional adapter modules would be needed to connect the mountain division lines to AsiaNrail modules.  I also borrowed the cover from the other module so I need to build another one of those as well.  In an AsiaNrail only layout, I would display the module without the sky board so need to add a fascia board to the back that will still allow the sky board to be attached for Ntrak layouts.

Plenty to keep me busy.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We don't need no stinkin rail joiners !

I have long admired the modular N Scale layouts that have track that runs right up to the modules edge and don't require that a connecting section of track and rail joiners be installed at each module junction.

Ntrak and AsiaNrail standards use a set back of the track from the module edge and then a short section of flex or sectional track to connect modules. Installing these and their rail joiners is tedious and takes quite a bit of time during set up.

The Hot Springs junction module was going to need a special transition module to allow for mechanical connection to the AsiaNrail modules.  When I posted about building this small module I left off just before laying the track.   As these to modules would always have to be used together, I thought this would be a good place to try a joiner less track connection.

AsiaNrail uses Peco code 55 track, which has a code 80 sized rail embedded into the plastic molded ties.  This provides for a very stable rail.  Also, because there is only one track in this case, I am able to adjust the alignment of the modules to line up the rails.  I'm not so sure how well this would work on something like a multiple track staging yard.

When I installed the track I slightly rounded the top edges at the end of the rails.  This photo shows a closeup of this.

During the recent 8 day long run many 2 to 3 car trains passed over this joint and no derailments at all were reported.