Friday, January 30, 2009

A troubled bridge part 2

I've spent this week working on the abutments for the rail bridge. A simple task? Oh no. If it had been a simple task this blog entry would have had a totally different title. But as you can see the bridge has definitely been a trouble causer. Perhaps it was because I was brimming with confidence (over confidence) after the lighthouse and putting together the deck so easily, that I just blundered into making the abutments. First thing to do was to cut a slice out of the riverbank to what I thought would be a good size for the abutments as you can see in the picture below. This was easy, a few cuts with a sharp modelling knife and Bingo! Done.So to the abutments themselves. I decided to build them to suit the location as neither site was the same. So I just cobbled together strips of styrene of all sorts of sizes to build them as you can see here. No real problems there.
Until I went back to them 5 days later. I decided they weren't wide enough. They were barely visible around the bridge deck. "
Make them bigger" I thought. "Easy".
So I just started sticking strips of styrene onto the abutments until I got a size that I thought would look OK. Of course this was leading to a rather fragile structure and it wasn't too long before I realised that the better bet would have been to make new ones from scratch. So thats what I did and promptly made the first replacement abutment too short...
It was then I decided to sit back, put on some calming music (My Doctor Who season 4 soundtrack CD had just arrived so that was taken care of) and start again.
Measure twice cut once. If only I'd listened the first time. So this time everything went together perfectly and lead to the bridge looking like it does below.
Only a subtle difference from last time but an essential one.
So, on with the rest of the bridge, and remember. "Measure twice, cut once"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A troubled bridge over water...

Apologies for mangling the title of a truly classic song in the interests of coming up with a title for a blog entry. But the construction of the rail bridge for the layout has indeed been a surprising source of trouble.
I was on something of a high with the success of the lighthouse and wanted to get on with another project. I figured the bridge would be a easy change of pace for me. The inspiration for the bridge was this photograph on the Gonou line website.
Change of pace? Yes. Easy? Well the bridge deck was a doddle. A strip of 1mm thick styrene cut to the size of the deck that I wanted. Braced underneath with some 3.4 mm girder. It was the pillars that caused me problems. I looked all over in my quest to find something suitable for a short cut for the pillars. But I couldn't find anything. I think I've spent longer searching for that that building the model. So in the end I opted for laminations of different thicknesses of 4.8mm styrene strip. That size was chosen as I had some 4.8mm tube to hand that I split lengthways to make the rounded end of the pillars. Once I had that thought out the rest of the way was easy.

Really there's not an awful lot left to do construction wise. Just the handrails (I've got loads of them left from the lighthouse) and some supporting construction on the river banks and that will be it really. I could add those vertical struts that you see on the girders underneath in the prototype photograph but I worked it out I'd need 88 (44 each side) 2.5mm long and .5mm square spaced 4mm apart. I don't know if I want to do that yet. But I do have the strip and chopping the pieces to size is easy. It's just the sticking them in place. But, you know what? After the construction of the lighthouse this "easy" project has almost been a let down. Perhaps I need to put the struts on anyway...

The continuing lighthouse story

Work on my model of Torii Saki lighthouse continues and with the arrival of the ship modelling details from freetime hobbies as mentioned in my last post work is drawing to a close on it.
It was a simple task to paint the ladder and cut it to length and install it on the model. But the handrails were a different proposition. Though they look fragile they do infact take a bit of punishment. I expected them to break if I ever dropped them but they were fine, and I dropped them often enough.... They did bend very easily though. But not where I wanted them to bend. So it was quite the task to get the handrails to bend around the deck on the second floor. Still after about 45 minutes work I had it shaped and a few drops of superglue held it in place.

One final act of lunacy that you can just make out in the pictures above and below is the addition of a watertight door shaped from a piece of .010 styrene sheet.
The next task is to install the light and flashing unit. That will probably wait until just before the model is installed on the layout.
Overall I'm more than happy with the way the model has turned out to here. I pushed my self on it. Trying out new techniques and using new materials. It just goes to show that you never know what you can do until you try.

Friday, January 23, 2009

50 not out.

Readers of this blog, this, is entry number fifty.
I'm quite pleased and amazed by this achievement. I never gave any thought to getting up to 50 entries here concerning T gauge and my layout building escapades.
As if to mark this achievement this week the post office has been very busy delivering T gauge stuff. Today I received a package from Japan. Once again I am amazed. Today it was some packages of boats for the new layout that were to delight me. In my opinion these are some of the best scenic accessories that Eishindo produce.
Pack 1 contains a yacht (that is delightful to look at) a fishing boat, a tug boat and a small pleasure boat. All superb mouldings. Some boats even having handrails.
Pack number 2 defies belief. 4 jetski's two with riders. Two are stand up jetski's and two are seated. Two twin trailers for the watercraft. A rowing boat and gondola each with occupants and an strange swan shaped pedalo thing with occupants. I'm nearly always left speechless by what the manufacturer manages to produce. I wait with baited breath for the cars. I really do. I decided that it was about time to get my first T specific tools. Eishindo produce a small drill and pair of tweezers for positioning their tiny people so I thought I'd try them to see how useful they are.
Also in the mail this week was a package From freetime hobbies of Georgia who stock lots of ship modelling details. Scales like 1:450 are used by ship modellers to model large boats. It was there that I found some handrails (made by a company called Eduard) and ladders (from gold medal models), for the lighthouse specifically, but ladders can be used anywhere and the handrails might find their way onto either the road or rail bridge. Ship modellers will be used to these details. But I'm not so when I first saw these etched details. I was knocked sideways. The ladders are etched from brass and look great. The handrails are from nickel silver and... Well lets just say that they don't look much thicker than a human hair! I just hope that I'm able to work with these items.
This is always my first thought with these small things but if I take my time I don't see to have too much of a problem.
What will I be posting about in another 50 posts time I wonder?

Monday, January 19, 2009

End of the day.

4pm and this is pretty much where I wanted to be. The sea level is stuck in place and the ground level above has been cut to shape and stuck in place. Thus far the layout is phenomenally light. and can know comfortable sit on the table in my "workshop" so I can have it in front of me as I work on it.
To give you an idea of how the scenics will develop I've placed a few other items in place to give you a feel for what Its going to look like. At the front right will be the lighthouse high upon a small rocky island. There will be a walkway between the mainland and the Island as there is at the prototoype Torii Saki. The rail line appears from in a clump of trees and then crosses the mouth of the river with a road and village behind that. The river passes underneath a road bridge and curves away around a corner to the backscene.
On the other side of the river will be the station platform and road running at the base of a cliff that will probably have some kind of temple or shrine at the top surrounded by trees. As the line curves around the corner it will be crossed by the road and then disappear through a tunnel.
That is how I see things developing so far. I'd like to feature a beach scene in there somehow to show off the Eishindo boats and water toys. We'll have to see how that fits in.
Not bad for a day's work.

More progress (and a rant)

Right on we go. Cheered by my success with the baseboard. I headed to my local coffee shop to celebrate. Then on my return I set to on adding the ground work. Actually this first stage will be the sea level. I cut a sheet of 3/4" white foam to fit inside the frame . That actually sounds easier than it was, because of all the bowing inwards of the frame I had to trim slices off to get a good fit. This was then stuck in place with foamboard adhesive and placed under some weights to set for a while. Which is where everything is now. Perhaps I could have used the corkboard surface as the sea level but with the shortcomings thus far with the board I wasn't going to take any chances.
Now for a rant. Yesterday I was in a local hobby shop getting some paint for the lighthouse when I happened upon some woodland scenics expanded polystyrene foam sheets. As I knew I was going to need some for this layout I looked at the price. A 1" thick sheet size 2' x 1' was $4.99. That is an utterly obscene price when you think that I went to Menards not 2 hours later and bought a pack of 6 sheets of 4' x 14" 3/4 thick foam sold as home insulation for exacty the same price. Now perhaps it doesn't look as pristine and nice as the woodland scenics stuff. But heck, it's going to be covered in plaster bandage and spackle and all kinds of scenic materials so you're not going to notice. I love woodland scenics products and will be using them on the rest of the layout but they're really pushing things there with that kind of pricing.

Sanity survived

I did it! I've got a baseboard for the layout and I still have my sanity!
After about 45 minutes under the weights I carefully removed them and decided to screw the 2x1 to the frame.
Very carefully I compared the wood screws I had to my drill bits to find one the right size. I drilled holes in the frame, some were almost vertical some weren't so vertical. Then I screwed the pieces together. By hand mind you. I always, always strip the heads of screws when I try using an electric screwdriver. All of my other wooden baseboards are testament to this fact. So at long last I have learned my lesson and I have a serviceable baseboard. Now I can start to work on the good stuff...

The worst woodworker in the world reports from the frontline

The worst woodworker in the world, that's me. The boy who was in last place in woodwork class at school in his teenage years. Girls beat me.
OK so perhaps I'm not the worst. But my inabilities with wood do severely compromise my baseboard construction. That's why I so often choose foam for my baseboards. I can work with that.
That's one reason why I chose the noticeboard as a baseboard. Ready made. A convenient size so there would be no woodworking to be done. Just slap some foam on there and away we go.
Uh-uh. Not so fast. As I mentioned in my first post of the day. the board was twisted. No problem. I can cut some lengths of 2x1 and pull it straight. Cutting the wood went OK. I even remembered to cut the correct side of my line. Then I placed the wood against the frame and found that the board was narrower in the middle by 1/2" compared to the ends.
So I've slapped loads of glue onto the frame positioned the 2x1 under it and weighted it down as you can see from the photo above. Perhaps the glue will hold and I won't have to screw it together because that give me plenty of opportunity to mess things up by splitting the wood with some screws...

...And we're off...

Finding myself having the day off work. I have decided to start work on Gonou-Son of Hitsu. I will post blog entries through the day as I work on things and find myself with time on my hands as glue sets etc.
Hour zero then, the baseboard. A cork faced notice board bought from Menards. Size 3' x 2'. It is slightly warped. So the first task will be to flatten it out by bracing it with some lengths of 2 x 1.
Back shortly...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More fora...

Is that right? Or is it forums? Fora, forums. Scon or scone... You say to-may-to and I say to-mah-to... Getting way off the point here.
The point is that two more fora/forums for T gauge have appeared over the last few days.
T central station (which I have joined) and
Trainboard has a dedicated T scale list too.
Three fora for a specialist scale such as T? I'm amazed. The membership at Talking T gauge approches 100. We are well on the way to becoming mainstream...
Not really, not yet. But it does show that there really does appear to be quite the interest in T gauge that goes further than I thought it would when I ordered my first set about 6 months ago.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another day...

... and more progress to log.
I have to admit, I think things are going really well with this. Much better than I expected, if I'm to be honest. I expected all kinds of trouble, sticking all these different thicknesses of styrene together. Such small pieces too. But everything has gone together with surprising ease. Of course I've really thought things through before I did everything and there has only been a couple of places in which I've redone something to improve things.
The fact that it isn't a slavishly accurate model helps. I only had one dimension to work with. The height of the tower is 10 metres. So everything was worked from that and I judged the proportions from photographs against sizes of evergreen styrene strip that I had to hand. So all I was doing was sticking different sized lengths of styrene strip together. They were all cut on my Northwest shortlines chopper so all the edges turned out square.
There were no special tools used at all. Just the chopper, a regular modelling knife and a pair of tweezers. So those of you who think that T gauge modelling is for the expert with a vast array of micro modelmaking tools, think again. Yes, I used a magnifier but I'd use that in any scale it makes the job so much easier.

Now, I'm started to get carried away. Its gone beyond a mere model building and into the realms of just how far can I go with this. It was when I was assembling the portico around the ground level door that I realised this fact. I was going to make up the guard rail on the roof level by adapting a plastic N gauge ladder that I had. I think it would have worked quite well. But in the end I decided to order some etched metal handrails in 1:450 scale from a ship modelling suppliers. At the same time I ordered some ladders for the outside of the tower too. These extra pieces should really help to set the model off. I did consider ordering a set of watertight doors so that I would be able to accurately model the door on the ground level. But I only needed one door. Not 20 or so like there is on the sheet. Handrails and ladders I have plenty of use for. Not so watertight doors.
Time is really flying by on this project. It doesn't seem like 3 days work. It hasn't been hard. On the contrary it's been a joy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The story so far

A progress picture of construction to date. After 2 nights work. All it is is a simple assembly of various sizes and thicknesses of styrene strips. The tower is some 4.8mm tube. To give you an idea of size the tower stands 23mm tall.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Lighthouse project

It was pretty easy to find out that the lighthouse featured in the background of the first picture on the Gonou line web page was Torii Saki lighthouse.
I found this out using Misty's Japanese lighthouse tour website. A pretty comprehensive listing of Japanese lighthouses with many, many photographs.
Torii Saki is a pretty unusual looking structure and initially I thought what a fantastic model it would make. Then I took a deep breath and remembered that we're talking T gauge here. This would barely be an inch tall.
So perhaps a rethink is in order. Begin with something a little simpler to construct. There are many to see on Misty's site.
I can't see how getting the light house to work would be that difficult. All it would take is a grain of wheat light bulb (or a white LED) hooked up to a simple flashing circuit. Placed atop a styrene tube tower to hide the wiring. Anyone with any other ideas is welcome to pop them into comment.
That then will be the first job for the layout. Build a working lighthouse on top of a small rocky island...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Meet Gonou

Time to get started on the new layout then. After posting here yesterday I went down to my Local Menards and bought a 3' x 2' cork faced notice board. I've been curious about this as a baseboard material ever since seeing my friend Colin Peake's layout Shifting Sands, and became even more curious about its uses with the appearance of T gauge. So the use of this material has always been at the back of my mind.
After I got the board home I started playing around with the positioning of track on it trying to come up with something. During this process I was guided by the inspirational photos of the Gonou line on the west coast of Japan that I discovered on the internet. As I placed the sections of track on the board I was also looking at the pictures seeing how things could go together and this is what I have come up with (note that this at the moment is at least version 2 of the plan and its not inconceivable that things could change slightly as things progress). I like the arrangement of the elements to form a cohesive whole. The numbers on the sketch correspond to photo's on the website that inspire the scene rather than copy it.A seaside scene will allow me to show off some of the Eishindo range of boats. The rail bridge over the river mouth is a feature I'm very interesting in modelling. The station platform and building from Hitsu will find a home here as will many of the trees. In the bottom left corner you will notice a lighthouse. I would really like to get this to work. Its can't be too difficult to rig up some kind of flashing LED arrangement in the top of the tower.
There we go then. Gonou, son of Hitsu starts here. Keep checking in for progress reports.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Get on with it!

Ok, we're getting nicely in to the new year and things are settling down after the Christmas/New Year rush. So I figured to day was as good as time as any to dismantle Hitsu. So I set to removed all the trees and started to strip the foam baseboard down to the wooden frame ready the chuck it into the dustbin (garbage for you colonials)
Now I expect that there are many of you aghast at this apparent ease and flippancy with which I describe this act.
"How could you? All that time and effort you put in" etc; etc:
Actually I find it easy. Hitsu wasn't right. Difficult to describe the feeling but it just wasn't right. I covered some of the design flaws in an earlier post. So if something isn't right. You change it.
I do this with many layouts. In fact there's only one of the layouts that I've built that I haven't destroyed and that is Purespring Watercress. It is right. There's no way I can destroy it. It will probably stay with me to my grave...
I didn't destroy all the trees I made for Hitsu they will appear on the new layout.
It's cathartic. destroying a layout. It's also very messy...