Roofs and Shingles ~ Tuesday, June 04, 2013
The lasercut house and garage kits I've been working on both come with some paper to represent tar-paper roofing. There's nothing wrong with it, but I decided to give them both matching wood shingles. I've had some peel-and-stick paper shingles from Republic Locomotive Works (I can't find this on their current catalog, though) sitting around my parts box for several years, and this seemed like the time to try them.
Putting on each row, and making them all line up, is painstaking work. Sometimes when I work from home I end up just watching a computer to see if a program is going to eventually crash. This is a good time to work on this sort of thing.
At the ridge lines, I put a strip of individual shingles squares, cut off from the unsegmented strip that's supposed to hold them together (that in other rows is covered up by the next row up). This was the trickiest part. They didn't want to hold on that well like that, and tended to get caught on things and come off in handling, so I soaked them with some super/crazy glue. This has the effect of making paper into a hard and fairly permanent shape. There were also a few places where the shingle stickers didn't hold on very well (perhaps the sticky backing has lost some effectiveness during the 5+ years the shingle sheets have been sitting in my garage!), so I glued them down a bit there too.
When the shingles were finally all applied, it was time to color them. Since they were paper, it occurred to me to try just using ink. I have a set of wood touch-up pens from a hardware store (note: if you go looking for these, they seem to vary pretty widely in price, so if the first place you find them at lists them exhorbitantly, keep looking). This was almost a brilliant idea.
I used the lightest color pen from the set, and the results were pretty reasonable. The only problem was that wherever I had used superglue, the ink just didn't soak in. It occurred to me later I could have colored all the shingles very conveniently while they were still on the sheet! Oh well. In the case of the main roof of the house, I ended up spraying on a coat of white primer, and then tried using the marker on top of that. It sort of worked. Eventually I just put a wash of Floquil "dirt" (from the railroad weathering set) on all the roofs, a little more on the main roof than the others. The results are ok.
Generally, adding colors in more than one pass is good for materials like this that are actually made up of a combination of colors in real life. I'm considering drybrushing on a darker brown, which will make the shingles like they've been on the roof a few more years. After that I need to add a stovepipe and all the various other things that stick up out of the roofs of houses.share:
These Have to be Good for Something ~ Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I got a new shirt for work (or to be more accurate, my wife ordered me some new shirts--thanks, Hon!). Anyway, button-up shirts seem to no longer come with those nasty little pins that are easy to miss, and thereby poke yourself on the first attempt to wear them. Instead this shirt was held in place by these little clamps:
I'm not sure what I'm going to use them for, but they look like they might be helpful for some future modelling project, so they're in the toolbox now.share:
Quietschvergnügt ~ Sunday, May 19, 2013
Is a word meaning something like "squeakingly/squealingly jolly" (the only other time I've encountered it was in a description of happy piglets), and is the tile of an article in Berliner Zeitung about the Centennial of the Woltersdorfer Straßenbahn, described as one of Germany's shortest streetcar lines. It is notable not just for its short length (5.6 km), but for the facts that is mostly runs through a forest (connecting the town of Woltersdorf with a nearby station of the Berlin commuter rail network), and runs exclusively vintage equipment.
Dream Machines ~ Monday, April 29, 2013
Last weekend, Nate, my Dad, and I visited the Pacific Coast Dream Machines show in Half Moon Bay, which features cars, planes, and other vintage machinery.
There were quite a few cars there of appropriate vintage to inspire future models, or for double-checking models I've already built.
The airplane side featured a DC-4 that served in the Berlin Airlift, and this P51 Mustang.
Ok, now for the good stuff. The Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association had a display of vintage engines running pumps, power tools, and things like that.
Best of all, Roots of Motive Power, a museum from Willits, CA (aka, the eastern terminal of the Skunk train), had several large pieces of steamed-up and operating equipment, like this Case tractor and tender/trailer:
And a Willammette steam donkey, plus an extra steam winch powered off of the donkey's boiler.
There was also a Mack truck, both a classic in its own right, and immediately obvious to railfans as a cousin to Mack's early railbusses, like the original Skunk.
There was also food, music, and some just out-and-out fun stuff. Nate was disappointed that he was too little to try the zipline, but this "zorbs in water" thing was pretty cool:
45° Sanding Jig ~ Friday, March 22, 2013
Looking at real-life equivalents to my current laser-cut house kit project, I almost always see a small extension on the back. I haven't asked the occupants for a look around inside, but I think in a lot of cases these extensions are bathrooms. I don't think many of these houses go back as far as the "outhouse era", but the designs might, especially if they were "1:1 structure kits", aka, catalog houses.
Sometimes the extension looks like it was part of the original construction, but maybe an addendum to the design:
And sometimes it's pretty clearly a literal add-on:
The Drayton house kit's instructions include a floor plan from an original catalog ad, which shows living room, dininig room, bedroom and kitchen, but no bathroom. I decided mine needed an "upgrade". After all, the place has a garage, and at least in cities and towns, my hunch is that a bathroom comes sooner on ones list of desiderata than a car. So I decided to build a little addition. It needed to be pretty minimal, because I'm trying to limit structures to a standardized city lot, and a bathroom extension big enough for a jacuzzi just won't fit!
I picked up a sheet of scribed wood at our local hobby shop. We modellers always try to give our buildings a little variety, and any time one has an addition, it's fun to make it obvious that it's an addition by making the style a little different from the main part of the structure. So I made the boards vertical, and decided to leave the corners without trim.
Untrimmed corners mean that walls have to fit precisely, since there's nothing to hide any mismatches. I tried filing the edges of walls at a 45° angle, but doing this just by hand didn't produce the kind of neat results I wanted. So put together a jig with some scrap pieces of hardwood (cut at a 45° angle with a mitre box) and a clamp:
Here you can compare my jig-assisted and freehand attempts at the addition.
Even with the jig, things don't match up perfectly (plastic might be a better material than wood, since wood flakes and crumbles if you work it down too thin), but glue and paint can help. Here's the final results.
The back (kitchen) door and steps are another bit of kitbashing; the kit originally just had a window there.share:
Electric Clock Repair ~ Sunday, March 10, 2013
We have this clock on the wall, which looks nice, but always runs down and starts going slower and slower.
I've long suspected that it's because the "mechanism", which is one of those little single-AA-battery ones you find behind lots of littler clocks, like this silly Ikea bee clock we have in Nathan's room,
just is a tad overstrained by the larger hands of our world map clock; or at least the single battery is. So I tried an experiment, adding a second AA battery in parallel (which will keep the same voltage, but provide twice the "oomph", to use the technical term--don't put them in series or you'll double the voltage and the clock will run twice as fast, or maybe explode...)
That was a week ago, and changing the time this morning (never mind that spring forward/fall back crap; just set your wall clocks according to your cellphone...) I noticed that the big clock seems to be keeping time now.share:
Firetruck, Boat, Iron Monster ~ Saturday, March 09, 2013
Nate and I made another transit-oriented trip to the City, starting at Millbrae. Next to the Millbrae BART/CalTrain/SamTrans station is the original Millbrae SP depot, now a museum where you can see railway artifacts, like these diesel control stands:
And a preserved sleeper from the UP's City of San Francisco:
Kids are always amused by the, uh, fixtures on this car.
Having a phone on a train was pretty spiffy for 1941, too.
There's also a nicely-restored Railway Express truck:
And today there was a fire truck on display, too:
Which visitors were invited to ride today:
The volunteer driver was kind enough to drop us off at the end of the parking lot closest to the CalTrain station, since our train was imminent. Next we headed to the City, and specifically the Cable Car museum via train, bus, and plenty of walking, and then walked downhill through Chinatown to Ferry Plaza. It's warmed up enough that the walk-through fountain was on.
We visited The Market St Ry's little museum nearby, which has a reconstructed front end of a streetcar--another chance for Nate to try out a full-sized controller:
On the way over we noticed the Blackpool Boat parked around the corner, waiting for its run down the Embarcadero. The museum has a screen with a customized NextBus.com map, but a volunteer advised me that the boat is not GPS enabled. So we patiently waited at the car stop in front of the Ferry Building, and eventually got to ride on what is now Nathan's favorite trolley.
The conductor was pretty into into his job, occasionally even saying "arrr". He hassled some passengers for not looking enough like they were having enough fun; he was satisfied with Nate's enthusiasm to the extent that he high-fived him.
We rode back on another old favorite, "Iron Monster" #162:
World's Greatest Hobby Show ~ Thursday, March 07, 2013
Last weekend, the World's Greatest Hobby show visited San Mateo, Nate, my Dad, and I went to see it.
There were (duh) lots of trains.
Nathan really really liked this push-cart ride.
There were some nice models, and good rummaging. There wasn't too much trolleyish, though a Bay Area NTrak club did have some operating N scale traction. The picture below is a On30 Model T railtruck on a Central Coast club's layout--it caught my attention since we once lived in the neighborhood of the former Pacific Coast Railway, on which the original of this model ran.
Little Green House and Garage ~ Tuesday, March 05, 2013
There are actually quite a few examples around Redwood City, including this place that I regularly pass on my way to the station.
Putting together my models, I made a few modifications. I dug around my scrapbox and found some old Period Miniatures castings, and decided to give the house a bigger living room window, and a fancier back door. I also backdated the garage door (the one in the kit looks like a roll-up kind) with a wooden "barn door" type one from Grandt Line.
I made another small change to the kit based on an observation that a review in RMC made about another Laser-Art kit: the glue on strips of plastic brick material that come with the kit, which you're supposed to attach to the base of the walls are fairly stick, and visibly stick out--but real foundations are typically set back (inwards) from the wood siding. So dug in my scrapbox again and found some really thin plastic brick sheet. It's still stuck on top of the wood siding, but it's so thin it's not noticeable.
The project is coming along pretty well.
It's painted with a combination of proper "hobby" paint and cheap "craft" paint. The basic green color is the latter ("Christmas green"). For any model (typically structures) that aren't supposed to be shiny, craft paint works well for basic wall colors (I usually apply a spray-can primer coat first, especially on wood models, to keep the water-based craft paint from warping the wood).
Now I just have to shingle the roof, add some details like stovepipes, add lighting, put the models on a base, add some landscaping to the that, and it'll be done. I don't think I'll go as far as a full interior but some curtains would be nice.share:
Steampunk Computer ~ Wednesday, February 27, 2013
We came across an old mechanical adding machine in a local thrift shop (Savers, in downtown Redwood City) last night:
I thought it was kind of cool, and so did Nate. Seems to still work. Ultimately had to pass on this since it was kind of pricey (in the scale of thrift store items, at least; I think it was $30), pretty heavy, and since our house is already full of junk bought because I thought it was kind of cool.
This was just last night, so if any local readers collect antique computing devices, you probably still have time to snap it up.share: