Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gondola Progress

I'm still reluctant to refer to this as the first piece of T scale freight stock. But no one is rising to put me straight. The nearest I've had is an. "I thought about it but I never got around to doing it"
Carrying on from yesterdays entry. You'll recall that the thing causing me the most concern is how to recreate the ribbing on the sides of the gon.
Today I was in a hobby shop looking at all kinds of styrene strip deciding what would work for the ribbing when I came across a sheet of 2.5mm batten and board embossed sheet. 2.5mm is exactly the spacing I was looking for. The battening didn't look too deep so I thought I'd give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I went home cut a "new kit of parts" for the gon and assembled them. The finished result is seen below.

This most definitely looks like a gondola now though how to do the ribbing on the ends remains a mystery.
An exciting weekend for me then.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A T-scale first?

Is it a first or not? I am wary of making such a claim. But this could very probably be the first scratchbuilt US outline freight car in T scale. When completed, it will be a model of a 65' 6" C&O mill gondola. What possessed me to start on this when I could have built a T scale water tower or depot building or some such?
Well, as is the case with me when I get fired up about an idea there is no rhyme or reason. I go with what I go with and it just so happened that when I awoke on Friday morning with the day off work, I wanted to try to see if building a T scale freight car was practical. Nothing too clever, just a "proof of concept" model to see if I could do it. Many T scalers have talked about doing it. But to date, as far as I am aware, no-one has done it. So, I'd be the first, and boy doesn't my ego love that idea! Plus it also gives me an excuse if anything goes wrong...
I searched through my model railway magazines and the first US outline scale drawing I found was in an old issue of RMC for the mill gondola.
"Great." I thought. "Something pretty easy." I was thankful that I didn't find a grain hopper drawing. So I measured the drawing up and found that I had some suitably sized styrene strip to hand. So I set to and started cutting and gluing.
A set of bogies were removed from an expired class 103 car and simply by drilling a hole into the floor of the gondola the bogies were fitted in place.
When I saw what you see above, I was pretty pleased. No, I was very pleased. So I decided to add some detail to the body to make it look like a gondola. I added a lip to the body as well as end extensions and most importantly side ribs.
I chose .5mm strip for the ribbing. As you can see though, it looks way over scale. So I am on the lookout for some .2mm strip instead. I also need to find a method to accurately locate 3.5mm lengths of .2mm styrene every 2.5mm along the side of the gondola. It might sound a arduous, tedious task. But for the roof of the building on my 7 day model layout I used some styrene sheet that was grooved every 5mm or so that I placed strips of .15mm styrene in and glued in place. I'm not saying I can cut grooves in styrene sheet. But if I can butt a length of strip up against a score line marked on the sides of the gondola that might work. I also think that the ribbing and lip should be added to the sides before assembling the gondola.
In short then. As a "proof of concept", it works. I can do the things necessary to assemble a T scale freight car and I will proceed with making another, better version.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lets go round again (part three of the elevator saga)

So last week we left the grain elevator ready to be painted.
Justifiably proud of my work. I was determined to give the paint job my best shot. So I washed the model and even gave it a coat of primer. Then I set to and painted it. The result is below.
I was distraught. Once again I'd made a real pigs ear of the paint job. I feel it's so bad I don't even want to show it. But it happened and you followers need to know the full story. So after I had picked myself up and sought advice from fellow T scalers at "talking t gauge" I decided to strip the paint off and start again. Alas, my inexperience stripping paint let me down and even though the paint came off quite nicely the styrene softened and the model began to separate. So, once I had picked myself up yet again. I set to and built another one. Below.
I have to admit I'm very, very nervous about painting this one.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meet the press

It's good to see that T scale has made the mainstream Model Railroad press here in the USA. The March Issue of Railroad Model Craftsman features a three page piece as an introduction to the scale.
It's good to see such a positive piece written by someone keen on the possibilities for the scale. Though having read the article its seems clear that quite some time has passed between Tom Knapp, the writer, submitting the article and its publication though. The most obvious omission from the piece being the lack of a mention for "talking t gauge". Perhaps its only me but I'd think that if you're encouraging people to take up a new scale you'd want to tell them where you can find like minded individuals to share your experiences. In this day and age that is an internet forum. But like I said, this omission could still be a result of the time lag between writing and publication.
I have written to the editor to inform him of up to date developments in the scale.
I would hope that as a result of this article more folks are now aware of T and some of them want to have a go.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Favourite waste of time (part two of the elevator saga)

Once I get into a project there can be no stopping me a times. This elevator is a case in point.
Fridays are my half day at work. Once I arrived home I set to and started work on the model.
I felt that I had a grand start on the model and decided to continue with it. I found an excellent Flikr site for Grain Elevators and leafed through that making a note of what a proper elevator looks like and adding bits and pieces here and there to my model. So that my model, though not an exact copy of any one elevator has the look of a typical midwestern grain elevator. I added a couple of extra lean to structures and clad it in .64mm V groove styrene sheet. Here are a couple of views of the progress so far.
(the T scale car is there for a size comparison and also for the auto focus of my camera to hold on to, it didn't like the plain white styrene)
I'm definitely very very happy with the way things are looking. The happier I got the more I did to it. The doors in the lean to structures were formed by cutting out the holes for the doorway and then rotating the cut out piece through 90 degrees so that the vertical planking of the doors contrast with the horizontal planking of the structure.
I started working on the project about 1pm or so and finally finished the session at about 8pm or so. With a 20 minute break for dinner. It's difficult to quantify the exact construction time spent on the model so far. But less the research time spent looking at pictures there has to be close to 7 hours spent on the model to this stage. A figure that I find difficult to believe. Strangely my wife has no trouble believing it. At least now most of the work is done. The next report should see it finished.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Loving an Elevator...

I know you lot. You'll all be expecting me to post about the construction of my T scale doodlebug given my last post on the subject. But you'd be wrong. Oh so terribly wrong.
That would be obvious.
Never do the obvious. So instead I set out to build a grain elevator.
Why a grain elevator? Well, they are pretty much an integral part of the scenery in the Midwest. If I'm going to model a Midwestern railroad scene in T scale there will have to be a grain elevator in it. Another thing is that they are pretty simple looking structures. So they have to be easy to build.
There were plenty of pictures in my new book on the M & StL Railway so, using the dimensions from a drawing in the Kalmbach book "Lineside structures for Model Railroads", I set to and started.
The great thing about working in T scale is you can't ever take everything for granted when making a structure. These things are so small (even this elevator is no more than 2" high) it often pays to look around to see it there is anything that you can use as a short cut. With this model I started out to build a shell of 5mm foam core board. Thinking that would work for the distinctive front profile. This I then covered in a paper wrapper that I printed out on the computer. It kinda, sorta works.
It kinda, sorta works. A bit more care in the assembly would help. But the walls are too flat they need some relief, some texture. Look at this wooden sided elevator in Estherville IA by way of a comparison.
So there were two courses of action open to me:
One: learn how to create that sort of texture on the paper wrapper, or;
Two: Build another one out of embossed styrene. So that is what I did.
I just happened to have some .75mm "V" groove embossed styrene that I could try as an experiment. So I built a shell out of some 1mm styrene sheet and then quickly cut some section of the embossed stuff to cover some sides to see if I liked the effect.
Which I did. It's a tad overscale to my eye. So I'm going on the look out for some .5mm embossed sheet. Which should look better. All in all, for a first serious attempt at a US outline structure it's a pretty good start. Good enough to keep me going.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Well, the inspiration comes thick and fast on the doodlebug front. It's a topic that many folks on talking T gauge are interested in. Mainly because it is felt that it will be the easiest way to get something running in US outline. A page on trainweb lists a lot of online pictures and plans for Doodlebugs. Even a good selection of pages on the M &StL Doodlebugs. Honestly! You want to talk synchronicity? It's a bit difficult to argue against it currently.
Jason's model is not the first T scale Doodlebug. Oh no. It was most remiss of me not to acknowledge this fact earlier, but a T scaler who goes by the name of the other Lionel on his Adventure in T scale blog he shows some pictures of his project. Which rather than making a new body to slide over the Eishindo original he just added bits of styrene to the Class 103 body. It's a great example of what can be done by a creative mind. You can see it a short way down this page of his blog. Once again it's brilliant. A really clever use of bits and pieces.
But wait that still isn't the first one. A short way down this talking t gauge page is the Victorian Railways DERM built by Paul.
Would you believe it? I'm still not finished with railcars. One of the first projects detailed on talking t gauge was the construction of a Budd RDC. You can follow the entire project on this thread.
Seeing work like this makes me proud to be associated with such a creative bunch.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


syn-chro-nic-i-ty (n) coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related.
Now I don't know about you but I don't think I'd ever even given such things a passing thought, apart from that album by the Police back in 1983....
But here's the way things are playing out.
1. Feeling somewhat disappointed with T scale my enthusiasm is re-awakened by Jasons magnificent models.
2. Whilst at the Minnesota History Centre this weekend I was taken with a book "The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway a Photographic History" by Don L Hofsommer. I always flick through railway books you never know what kind of inspiration you'll find in them. I was right. Plenty of inspirational photographs. But nothing that I could justify starting a totally new layout over. Then I turned a page an there it was, a picture of a GE Doodlebug not at all dissimilar to that created by Jason. It wasn't just one picture. Oh no, from then on it was page after page of GE Doodlebugs. It's like someone was shouting at me to create a T scale model of a Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway scene. I hope it wasn't Sting...
So there you go. I don't know if I should listen to that voice. In fact I agonised about buying that book overnight before I finally decided to purchase it. But the book is bought now. So I guess the pictures will scream at me until I do something about it.
Will I? Won't I? If I do, how long will it take me? Will new T scale stock from Eishindo materialise before Christmas?
Too many questions to answer. But what it does seem to show is my T scale days are most definitely NOT over.

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Header Photo

Now that layout is almost finished I thought it about time to add a new updated header photo.
Do you like it?
I sure as heck do. When I look at it I feel pretty proud of what I have achieved in T scale I don't mind telling you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Enthused again

I am very happy to say that my enthusiasm for T has returned.
No. I've not started on a new project layout and no, the new products from K.K. Eishindo have not materialised yet. So what has got me fired up?
This work seen below that recently appeared on talking t gauge. Stunning isn't it? It's the work of Jason who would is the proprietor of fannocreek designs. A provider of Z scale kits. He has become interested in T and has produced some custom laser engraved work for his own T scale project. Look at these and enjoy them. Then realise that the railcar has a cross section no greater than a typical pencil and marvel at the work.

Normally work like this can make me feel like giving up. This has had the total opposite effect I'm fired up. I'm already scheming for some kind of US outline layout. So stay tuned!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm not dead yet...

A recent post from T scale guru David K Smith on his T scale blog got me thinking about my T scaling. I've been away for a good 2 months now and still no new stock has materialised from Messrs Eishindo. So am I done with T? Am I "flatlining"?
You know what? I don't really think so. I look at those pictures from the Granite City Train show and I think to myself. "That was really fun, I want more"
I'm still pretty peeved that no new stock has appeared. But I'm not ready to give up on it yet. New pictures have appeared of the forthcoming items so I still live in hope.
I hope to get some of the new items on their arrival and try them out then we'll see where things go from there.