Saturday, June 24, 2006

First Ground Cover Goes In!

It's a day to remember -- the day the weeds finally came to the layout. I've added basic ground cover to the area around West San Jose.

Here's a couple photos showing the work. First, here's a photo of the West San Jose passenger platform. The passenger car was used as a temporary station in the early 1930's after the track was raised on an embankment and before the new San Jose (aka Diradon) station was built.

Looking the other way from the San Carlos St. overpass, you can see how the tracks near the station are raised above the level of the Del Monte Plant 51 spurs.

Here's also a photo of a train going over the Alameda overpass.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

It's Almost Too Quiet...

It's been a quiet few months; after the burst of effort needed for the LDSIG meet, I spent the winter and spring building freight cars. I needed a bunch more reefers, but I've wanted more detail than the typical Athearn / Accurail car. I really love the Red Caboose Pacific Fruit Express R-30-12 refrigerator cars, but the plastic grab irons and steps quickly get broken in operation.

The solution? Buy a half-dozen Red Caboose cars, and bend wire grab irons to take the place of the plastic ones. Red Caboose still sells these reefers, but they're undecorated and need painting. I also used the opportunity to paint the roofs black as they would have appeared in the 1930's.

The other fun project was an automobile car. Most of the freight cars in the 1930's were small, but the boxcars used for shipping the (relatively light) automobiles and buggies could be huge -- 50 feet long and 2 feet higher than surrounding cars. Tony Thompson's SP Freight Cars volume 3 has photos of a bunch of these, and the A-50-2 -- a 40 foot automobile box -- caught my attention. (One of the neat photos of this car shows it after the ends were repaired; the SP didn't bother to repaint the cars, but just the modified ends, leaving strong boxcar-red ends surrounding weathered wood sides.) This seemed like a fun car to scratchbuild; it used the Bettendorf underframe fabricated from I-beams and used also on the PFE reefers, and the smooth-sheathed walls simplified construction.

I drew up some plans of the car, but decided to test my accuracy by building an O scale version of the car. It was a fun jaunt into another scale, and the completed car now sits on my windowsill at work.

Here's the completed 40 foot O scale car next to a Westerfield 50 foot Union Pacific boxcar.

There's been some other work on the layout (such as building some fast clock kits), but nothing serious. I need to put some effort into the layout again...