Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sunday, February 11, 2018

February Update

February is in full gear and Valentines is just around the corner so lets see whats happening on the MCIS St. Clair Sub. Towards the end of 2018 I started getting off track with my monthly update posts and quite frankly there was a fair amount of content to discuss in my last consolidated post. Back on track we are going to discuss my next scenic area project that I have started and recap a great operating session I participated in over the weekend. 

Anyone that has spent time in Michigan knows there's alot of water whether its lakes, rivers, or creeks. While one of my major scenes on the lower level portrays a crossing of the navigable Saginaw River, I also wanted to model a river or creek on the layout that would be a little more relaxed.

Prototype crossing of Cass River at North Hurds Corner Road, Michigan

- Setting The Scene
Growing up I spent alot of time around the AuSable River in the northern lower peninsula and I wanted to capture that in this scene so early on in the development of the layout the portion that folks ducked under as they entered the room made for the perfect setup. When its all said and done the banks of this scene will be covered in a think canopy of deciduous trees creating a natural scene break between Upper Huron and Grays Lake. The river will portray a slow but steady flow and of course there will be a pair of canoes following the current. Mike McNamara has done a great job with a similar scene on his Woodsville Terminal fremo that really has provided great inspiration. Go back one post and you will see what I mean. 

- Just Add... Plaster
Around this part of Michigan where the railroad operates between Upper Huron and Grays Lake would be a crossing of the Cass River. Originally I had wanted to use a fictional name of Quincassee Creek but the more it crossed my mind the more I realized establishing this as the Cass only better sets my location. This part of the layout was just extruded foam so in short order a combination of floral foam, extruded foam, and Woodland Scenics plaster gauze got me to the spot depicted in the photos below. 

View west towards Upper Huron (Pardon the angled photo) 

 East Approach going into Grays Lake

 Once the plaster had dried it was painting time with simple flat latex and craft paints

Basic ground painting complete - as you can see i used the craft paint to color the riverbed lighter to signify a sandy bottom. Additionally while the cedar brown was wet i feathered it up the slopes so its not just one color.

- Next Steps
With the basic terrain and color in place I can really get a sense if I need to add any more terrain forming before moving to ground cover. Since I will be using "Magic Water" i do plan on using clear caulk to create a sort of riverbed channel and backfilling slightly with Sculptamold to help channel the resin product. Once the channel is in it will be a matter of adding real dirt, talus, and riverbed sand/rock to continue making progress. 

I had the opportunity over the weekend to attend a session at a local modelers house here in the DFW Metroplex. Mike models the Rock Island from Kansas City (Armourdale Yard) to St. Paul (Inver Grove Yard) in the late 60s with many great scenes and towns in between including Des Moines, Clear Lake Jct., and Albert Lea to name a few. This layout is a stunning double deck around the room with two double track helix's and a double ended staging yards. 

I had the opportunity to operate a two manifests with my first train being #68 from KC to St. Paul and my second being a return southbound back to KC. Average trains ran with 3 to 4 locomotives and 30 to 40 cars. My first train was led by a foursome of Rock Island F7A/Bs and my second train was a Candy Red pair of CB&Q U25Cs. 

Pictures really do not do it justice, but they do show the size and scope of the layout, enjoy!

Train order in hand, I had sometime before the DS let me out so I roamed the room to checkout everything. Mike uses Digitrax radio throttles, which made my life easy being familiar with the throttles. 

St. Paul (Inver Grove Yard) on top - KC (Armourdale Yard) on bottom

 Upper level (L - Mason City / R - Cedar Lake Jct)
Lower Level (Des Moines)

 Cedar Lake Jct. where the Rock crossed the Iowa Traction. This has to be one of my favorite scenes. 

C.King attempting to look busy in the staging room... yes i said room.

Diesel tracks at Inver Grove.... Is that a Missabe SD9... Yes it is! 

Armstrong Yard in KC includes a turntable to turn equipment. 

 Looking inside one of two double track helix's that allowed the operation to "re-stage" the layout. 

A real gaggle at Cedar Lake Jct. with D.Ferris, J. Aust, C. King, and M. Thidemann all looking "busy".

Thanks again to Mike for hosting a great session. The layout is absolutely top notch from the benchwork to the scenic details, truly look forward to returning in the future. 

That wraps up my February update, there is alot to get done before my March post which should come out just in time for school spring break (Mid March). So if you are traveling and need good content to read, there should be a post waiting for you. As an added bonus between this update and March, I do plan to post about the total railcar fleet mix and what it means for the railroad. Giving you guys something to chew on, the layout removed no less than 10 cars in 2017 from active inventory of 204 but now sits in 2018 sits at 237 cars. What is going on.... stay tuned for the answer at the end of February.


Thursday, February 1, 2018