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scott

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FWIW--after thinking over the 1-vs-2 dilemma, I think I've decided to just become a devout Quinntopian.  For now, rather than focusing on one location or the other, I'll probably focus on another theme that I was planning to incorporate--various "sustainable" and "ecological" features. This might include green roofs, lots of bikes on the layout, solar panels on structures, little people doing stream/river restoration projects, more transit/pedestrian stuff than cars/trucks, etc. (Yes, I realize I'm a huge green-weenie, which some people might find laughable, but that's just the way it is. If coal miners can model coal-country trains, why can't I model the kind of stuff that I work on and that interests me?)

 

This means the buildings might be either fairly generic, or might be modern-day "green architecture" designs that could be plausible anywhere.

 

Later, if time, space, and money permit, I could either Japanify or Europanize the big layout and focus a modular layout on the other location. Doing two separate layouts isn't going work right now, and trying to pick one or the other for the current layout isn't making me happy or getting anything done. So maybe a gradual transition will be more enjoyable than a hard-and-fast decision.

 

I feel better already. :rolleyes:

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Photo-updates on tunnel-portal construction (molding, carving, etc.):

 

Photo 1:

Top Left: clay original for mold-making. I'll probably paint this one and use it on the layout

Top Ctr: Plaster cast. It's the one shown above--it was cast plain and painted, and then I carved it to use as an original for a mold.

Top R: clay original, carved after baking, but cuts are too shallow

Bottom L: Plaster cast from top-left original; needs a little cleanup

Bottom Center: plaster cast that bulged in the mold; needs fixing

Bottom right: plaster cast, molded plain, then carved. I think this is my favorite way of doing this, since I can get the basic outline and opening right, but make each stone pattern a little different.

 

Photo 2:

Close-up of two portals that were cast plain and then carved.

 

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CaptOblivious

Wow, painting makes all the difference! These are really fantastic, Scott. You oughta tool up for commercial production of these ;)

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Thanks! And you may joke about going commercial, but if we have any more budget cuts at work, I might have to.  :-P

 

I'm still struggling with getting the molds to come out right. (Plus I'm out of both latex and plaster at the moment...). Some of my cloth-reinforced molds aren't sturdy enough, and bulge under the weight of the plaster. The one I made completely without reinforcement was utterly useless. The next attempt might be to make a somewhat oversized box, glue/tape in a carved piece in the shape of the opening, and just cast in that. Then the blanks could be carved/shaped to match the terrain and have some variation.

 

I suppose I could keep molding plain ones, hand-carve the patterns like I've done the last few, and try to sell them at grossly inflated prices as "Olde Worlde hande-craftsmanshippe." :-)

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That's good! I like seeing people going after things. You are a lot further ahead then me. My to do list is getting longer and longer and I still have no got my LED's yet. Slow boat from China I guess or slowest that is.

 

You need to do it a few more time. For me it creates a learning process that garners refinement. You ask yourself questions and then go for it.

 

Good work.

 

Inobu

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Isn't that exciting?  :grin

 

And you are clearly making progress. Did you try some on your layout to see how they look on location? :)

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Its looking really great Scott!  You should be very proud.  I love your track plan, its very interesting and will look amazing when you're done.  Well done!

 

Also, since 'misery' loves company, I want to 'encourage' you for a similar situation you had with Anders.  I have an 11 year old boy, and I always get nervous when he wants to run trains as I know the track will either be dirty, wires will have gotten disconnected, etc... so we'll both get frustrated (or I'll come up with excuses as to why we can't run trains!) and he will give up on trains (again) and go back to video games!  :sad:

 

I know he (and maybe even my 9 year old daughter, who is now officially 'tool cool' for trains, although her little friends love the layout!  :grin) will be pleased when its all finished, I hope that won't be when they move out of the house!  :cheesy

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And you are clearly making progress. Did you try some on your layout to see how they look on location? :)

 

Not yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I needed to get some plaster etc to build up the hills around the portals first.

 

Its looking really great Scott!  You should be very proud.  I love your track plan, its very interesting and will look amazing when you're done.  Well done!

 

Thanks! That's nice to hear--I'm looking forward to making some progress again soon.

 

Also, since 'misery' loves company, I want to 'encourage' you for a similar situation you had with Anders.  I have an 11 year old boy, and I always get nervous when he wants to run trains as I know the track will either be dirty, wires will have gotten disconnected, etc... so we'll both get frustrated

 

Thanks again--let's hope we both get these things done before we have graduations, weddings, etc. to deal with...

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I have but one (forum-safe) thing to say about ballasting:

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAeeeugghh!

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To com- or ex-plain more articulately--I'm trying to ballast the areas between the lines at our main station. Getting the ballast level before gluing and avoiding getting ballast and/or glue solution on top of the Unitrack is proving to be nigh impossible. Right now my second attempt is drying, and I'm going to have a huge mess to clean up once it's dry. Trying to clean it up while it was wet just seemed to move the problem around.

 

And of course the entire layout is out of commission, since all three lines go through this station, and there's ballast all over the place. :-P

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Scott - Welcome to my least favorite part of model rring! Since I don't use Unitrack I image it's hard to ballast than flex track.

One thing I do before I apply the dilute glue is I take a spray mist bottle of alcohol and coat the ballast, then I apply the glue. The alcohol breaks the surface tension and lets the glue seep through. But I still hate ballasting.

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Martijn Meerts

A spray mist bottle with water and a couple of drops of dishwashing detergent has the same effect of breaking the surface tension. Adding a couple of drops of dishwashing detergent to the actual diluted white glue helps as well.

 

Depending on the surface the ballast is on, the watered ballast will dry either slow or fast. On cork for example, the wet ballast dries pretty fast, as the cork sucks in all the water. In that case, sticking to pieces of about 15-20cm is the safest method. Ballast that's already too dry will clump together when dripping on the glue.

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I've been using detergent--I forgot it until part way through the first try, but immediately saw the difference once I tried it.

 

But I re-did three sections today that were too thin and lumpy. We'll see how they look tomorrow once they've dried. FWIW, we just have Unitrack sitting on foam.

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I

Will

Never

Put

Ballast

On

A

Layout

Again.

Ever.

 

However, except for the interminable cleanup, I think I'm about done with ballasting the main station. But for the amount of time it's put the layout out of commission, the risk of getting grit in motors, and the fact that (due to my lack of skill) it doesn't look all that great, I think I'll try some of my cheesier options next time. From now on, no more layout work that puts the tracks themselves out of commission. (Rule 1.)

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I

Will

Never

Put

Ballast

On

A

Layout

Again.

Ever.

 

 

I'm with you.  I feel painting the roadbed base the ballast color is sufficient.  It's my railroad.   :grin  I'm spending my Saturday digging out a C243 curve.

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Finally, some photos of progress on the layout!

 

Photo 1: Aerial view of the main-station area with ballast and platforms installed. At the top of the picture, you can also see the sketched outline of the station-building floorplan, which matches up with the imaginary tunnel to the stairs and elevators that access the platforms. (You'll see in other pictures perhaps that all the stairs and elevators line up. I had to drill some extra holes in the platforms to get the elevators from the new-style platform accessory kits to go on.)

 

Photo 2: Station view from the south. The yellow striping you can see on the platforms is not the stuff supplied with the Kato platforms. That stuff was hard to work with and had a pretty limp color. I ended up using 1/16" (1.6mm) pinstriping tape intended for aircraft models.

 

Photo 3: Station view from the north. The tower building isn't attached yet, but that's probably where it will go. Also, the stark edges of the ballasting will eventually get hidden with vegetation, soil, etc. The area between the siding at the lower left and the angled ptp line will become some sort of railroad work area. I just realized that the siding isn't connected to the power supply, since the wires connect to the line on the wrong side of the power-routing turnout. That's what I get for making a late change.

 

Photo 4: A poor attempt at a cross-platform view. You can mostly make out the elevators, stairs, and kiosks.

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Mudkip Orange

Two things. First, the ballast was totally worth it. Second, putting the yellow stripes on the basic Kato platforms is a HUGE improvement, and from the distance of your shots they look just as realistic as the newer "flag stop" ones.

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Martijn Meerts

The ballasting doesn't look bad at all. Adding a bit of green here and there should help break the greyness a little.

 

I can (unfortunately) remember my first ballasting attempts quite well ... It ended in trains not running and track being destroyed =)

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Well, we're lucky that we're working with Unitrack, so there's not much risk of ruining the track itself--this ballast is just decorative.

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Those are nice-looking platforms.  Did you paint them at all, or is that the original plastic?  It may just be the photo, but the "asphalt" top looks darker than what I'm used to.

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It's probably just the exposure--they're the normal Kato platforms, and we didn't paint them--I didn't think my painting would improve their appearance.  :grin

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Finally a rainy weekend day, and finally some vegetation on the layout. Robyn helped me, and we got quite a bit done.

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Thanks, Ken.

 

Here's a smaller version of that picture that shouldn't take so long to load--sorry about that. I hadn't realized the first version was so huge.

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