Saturday, October 7, 2017

Early October Update

Pumpkins, apple cider, fall colors, and model trains.....

Well all of those are true in Texas except the fall colors thing like they have up north. But lets get back to model railroading. October is well underway and the Michigan Interstate St. Clair has been a hive of activity as I prepare for a ops session in early November. Nothing like a set deadline to motivate getting those incomplete projects wrapped up. Lets take a look at what has been done since my last update.

While the town is fictional, my goal is capturing the essence and feel like that of Caro or Vassar. Early on in the planning I had decided to try out new products when constructing. One of the items I really wanted to try was the Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting. I have seen all sorts of reviews, and yes while I could do this myself my time is limited and I am ok with the cost to help save time. When you have a young family time is very precious for working on your model railroad so W.S. makes it pretty dang easy. Drill a hole, insert a coffee straw, feed the wires through, glue light in place, and plug it in.... There are plenty of great reviews on the web, so I didn't want to take away from those, but instead show the product being used on a live layout. 

While night ops is still a dream, I found it much easier to plan and install the lighting as I built the city then trying to go back and add it later. Besides the lamp posts are all apart of the downtown detail. 

Currently Grays Lake hosts 16 lights:
- 3 facility lights at the Propane terminal
- 12 street lights in downtown
- 1 auxiliary light near the railroad diamond

When complete each building will have a lit interior and a few other auxiliary light posts near the fertilizer dealer and east of downtown. All in all it will be 25 to 26 lights operating off the Just Plug system. My local hobby lobby had the light film and block kit for $6.50 each so while again I could make my own for $6.50 I am cool buying the kit. For the interiors I will use a combination of the products in the photo and also try out new lightable interiors from City Classics. Stayed tuned for a future winter post on the install process and results. 

Along with lighting, I needed to finish around the grade crossing in town and overpass scene break between Grays Lake and Gerhard. 

Grays Lake filed a application for a Quiet Zone, and finally the public works contractor got the crossing complete. 
Using styrene I was able to complete a simple but effective quiet zone barrier for Main Street. After cutting the pieces with my NWSL Chopper I used a yellow sharpie to color the posts. These 4' posts were affixed to a curb on 3' spacing. The yellow was a good bright color for the new QZ. 

While work was done on getting the QZ barriers, the road contractor completed paving and striping work on Main Street past the fertilizer dealer. MCIS Signal Dept. lastly installed two new grade crossing gates The road needs a "weathering" still but overall great progress getting this area of the layout closer to completion. 

Having a smaller layout does not mean one should compromise on things like scene integrity or creating "breathing room" between scenes. One way I did this between the close towns of Grays Lake and Gerhard was by installing a highway overpass. Kits like these are great to "break" the scene. I ended up calling the naming the road "Cedarwood Road" in reference to a U2 song I heard and thought "Wow what a good name for that overpass."

The rest of the month will see the highway overpass get its deck complete along with filling in scenery on the cork areas in and around the town bringing everything together. 

Two new business were added downtown off of 1st and Railroad Streets. The unnamed store on the edge of the layout was an interesting build since I ended up cutting 2/3 of the building away. This should make for a interesting interior detail. Across the street is "G's Pizzeria in a former fruit warehouse. Anyone familiar with areas north of Saginaw on the Sunrise side of the state have probably heard of or eaten at a G's. Well what better way to bring modern day authenticity then having one of the layout. 

The back of the restaurant is along the right of way offering a great place to grab a slice of pie and watch trains roll on by. A parking lot will be developed along side of the restaurant and beings it at one time had a railroad spur that went alongside the former dock on the back, maybe I can find a way to bury tracks in the weeds or one the other side of the parking lot to provide historic value. 

A very detailed but brief early month update, check back later this month for more updates and a preview of new business that will be running the St. Clair Subdivision rails. 


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