Thursday 27 November 2014

LED Headlights

I recently finished installing LED headlights into Algonquin RS3 401.  It was my first time using Ngineering Micro LEDs.  These things are small (1.6mm x 0.8mm).  Small enough to fit into the Custom Finishing Models headlight casting I used on this locomotive.  The picture above shows the Ngineering LED in the RS3 as well as AGN 502.  The 502t has a regular 3mm barrel LED installed in place of the bulb the RS-10 came with.  Even though its small, the micro LED is super bright. 

Below is a picture of the all the tools required to solder leads to the Ngineering LED's.  Not shown is liquid flux which I also used.  Ngineering recommends using their soldering fixture and so do I.  Trying to solder leads to the micro LEDs without it, would be almost impossible.  Its worth the $10 bucks.  I followed the soldering instructions on their website and had no issues.  The LED is the small yellow spec just in front of the tweezers.  The bulb I am replacing is just above the LED.   I also recommend getting a 1/64 inch tip for your soldering iron.  The solder is Ngineering low temp silver bearing solder, but is made by Kester.

Rather than solder the LED to magnet wire as Ngineering recommends, I was lazy and just cut off the 1.5V bulbs from their respective leads and soldered the LEDS to them.  The bulb leads are bigger than the magnet wire but I was still able to easily solder them to the LEDs.  Here is a picture of the wires soldered to the LED.  I also added some Micro Kristal Clear to the wires/back of the LED to insulate the wires from each other. The insulation on the wires had melted back a bit when I soldered them.  To install the LED's in the headlight casting I just pushed them in and added a dab of Micro Kristal Clear to hold them in place.

This last picture shows the Locomotives from the other end.  The LEDs in both locomotives are the  yellow glow type but from different manufactures.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Tool Box Tuesday

I thought I would start a new weekly blog entry.  I figure it will help me make more regular posts to the Blog.  Some of the blog's I read have a Wordless Wednesday and recently a Freight Car Friday was started.  So here's my contribution.  Tool Box Tuesday.  I will try to post something each week, about something in my tool box (Ok tool boxes to be correct).  I will confess I am a tool hound.  I have yet to find a type of tool I don't need.  I'm always on the look out for new and better tools for both my hobbies and professional career.  So to start off, I thought I would show a few vises that I have in my collection.

At the top of the photo below is a small hand vise.  It's is actually a vise/handle for Swiss pattern files.(Or needle files).  It is show with a file mounted.  The clamp screw has a hole in it as does the handle to allow the file shaft to fit down inside.  I got it at Lee Valley Tools. I rarely use it for holding files but when you have a lot of material to remove the handle does help with the ergonomics.  I usually use it to hold small parts while filing them.

In the middle of the photo is a small 1 inch wide vice I made.  Its great for holding small parts to be cut with a razor saw, or clamping parts for gluing. I also use it as a mini press to push parts together.  Such as pressing locomotive wheels into axle gears.  I sometimes put it into the machine vise on my Mini Mill to hold small parts that could easily be crushed by the larger machining vise.

At the bottom is a Starret hand Vise along with a table clamp to turn it into a mini tool makers vise. (The wood handle unscrews) This was my Grandfathers vise.  Years ago the table clamp was misplaced.  I called Starret and they replied with the part number to order a replacement.  Even though the clamp and vise were made about 70 years apart, they still fit perfectly together.  Starret is my favourite tool maker.  Everything they make is high quality, and parts are available for just about any tool they have ever made.  Here is a picture of the Starret vise in Table mount mode.  They are not inexpensive but will last several generations or more. 

Thursday 6 November 2014

Halloween is over...but the Trolls are still out there

I just finished reading a post about 'Trolls', over on Trevor Marshalls Port Rowan blog.

Here is a link.  Go and read it if you haven't already.

All I can say is wow.  What type of person does stuff like that....

People like Jim Gore who are willing to share there work and hobby should be applauded not picked on by Trolls.

Jim thanks for sharing your layout in Model Railroader, I think it looks great and a I bet it was a lot of fun to build.  If you do expand the layout I hope you will continue to share it with all of us who appreciate it.

Friday 24 October 2014

CN Aluminum Covered Hopper

My layout features a feed mill and the Algonquin Railway delivers the grain.  To get the grain there I started collecting and building some freight cars for this online customer.

About a year ago I started to build a Sylvan Scale Models Flat top Cylindrical hopper kit.  I actually found two of them at a train show but have only built one.  This was my first resin kit.  It was PITA to put together.  Nothing against Sylvan (they make some great models) but the ladders in the kit are not usable, they represent a banana more than a ladder.  I tried to straighten them with hot water and some weights, but they just kept going back to their banana shape.

I ended up making them up by modifying Tichy ladders and bits of styrene.  The roof walk was also not usable, do to warpage.  I modified a Plano roof walk designed for a ACF cylindrical hopper model.

Kadee 158's, cut levers, brake hoses and Branchline 70 ton Barber S-2 trucks were also added.

The decals in the kit were old and cracking. A coat of Microscale liquid decal film fixed them right up.  I weathered the car using my airbrush, with paint thinned about 8/1 with thiner.  Artist olils were used for the white streaking.  I used a picture from the excellent Canadian Rail Car Pictorial books for reference.

I think it turned out pretty good.  I really enjoy weathering cars, although I find it easy to over do it.  I tried to practice some restraint on this car.  I think it's my best effort yet, compared to the look of the prototype.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday 14 October 2014


Over the thanksgiving long weekend in Canada I kitbashed an Ontario Northland boxcar.  It's based on a prototype built by National Steel Car in 1948, using an Atlas 1937 AAR 10' high kit.  Here is a link to a picture I used for inspiration.,%2040'%20Single%20Door%20Boxcar,%202542ONT,%20Ontario%20Northland,%2040'%20Single%20Door%20Boxcar,%202542,%20September%2028th,%201988,%20Cochrane,%20Ontario.jpg

The Atlas kit has moulded on details, so I started by shaving them off.  I tried to minimize the paint damage but it happens.

Next up was to add canadian style ladders, 8 rung with attached stirrups. These are from Tichy.  I added a small pc of styrene at the top of the car to support the ladder.  The Tichy ladders have 4 standoffs and I feel they need an extra support right at the top.

I also added Details Associates Bracket Grabs(Not Shown).  While the glue was drying on the ladders I drilled out the roof walk holes and plugged them with styrene rod.  These were sanded flush with the roof support ribs.

The next step was to build the ends.  I used Sylvan Scale Models detail parts for the NSC 2 Ends which have the correct rib shape for the prototype car.  Here is a picture with all the parts on, ready to install on the Atlas Car.  I used Tichy turnbuckles to attach the brake rod to the chain and to the fulcrum at the bottom.  This is something I learned from Pierre Oliver's Blog (Elgin Car Shops).  This is a great idea and much easier than any other method I have tried.

After this I assembled the car, painted the ends, doors and touched up the roof with CNW Green from PolyScale.  I added "no running board decals", COTS and ACI plaques as well as the car end numbers.  This was followed up with a coat of Valleo matt finish.  

I painted the trucks and wheels with Rustoleum Camaflage brown and cleaned up the wheel treads with a wire brush in my Dremel tool.  This was the first time I used the Dremel for this and I was surprised how well and quickly it worked.  Weathering was done with a white wash with a bit of green added in using acrylics.  Next up was rust spots and streaks using artists oils.  I finished off with a coat of dark streaking grime from AK on the roof.  I  put it on as a wash.  I then did some streaks on the side using the AK streaking grime with a fan brush at the top edge and a 5/0 brush for the streaks at the end of the door tracks.  The bottom of the car was given a wash of AK rust streaking effects.  The trucks were given a treatment with powders to rust and dirty them up a bit.  Overall I am happy with how things turned out.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Algonquin RS3 #401

I just finished up the newest addition to the Algonquin Loco fleet.  RS3 #401 started out as a factory decorated Atlas model featuring the companies 40th Anniversary theme.    I picked up the model at the Springfield show.  I am pretty sure the vendor did a happy dance after I left his booth, he couldn't believe someone wanted it, let alone pay for it!.  After a few hours in alcohol the gold paint was gone.  I added and upgraded many detail parts to this model.  Such as:

Single round headlamp castings
Marker lights, with MV lenses
Roof top bell
CPR style High Mount Horn (Nathan M3)
Forward Facing Number Boards
Rubber Brake Lines
MU Hoses
Axle speed recorder
Sanding lines
Brake chain and mounts
Brake wheel
Exhaust stack
Etched radiator grill
Windshield wipers

I also installed a Soundtraxx Tsunami Decoder.  This turned out to be an easy install, as the board just drops in.  I had to mill the two weights above the trucks to acomodate the capacitor and speaker.  More details on the installation can be found here.

I painted the model with Tru-Color paint.  I used weathered black.  This was great paint to spray and went on very smooth.  But is sure smells, as it is solvent based.  I sprayed it in my vented spray booth.  The Algonquin decals were custom made for me by Bill Brillinger who I met on the MRH forum. The numbers are from Microscale sets.

The model is weathered with oils, AK streaking effects, Pan Pastels and Bragdon Chalks.  It was fun making it look old and beet up.  I painted one of the truck bearings yellow to suggest it had been recently replaced.

One thing that gave me trouble on this project was the white frame stripe.  I first used frame stripes from a microscale set but the kept flaking off when working on the running boards.  The running boards are separate from the many body on this Atlas model and are made from a flexible plastic.  Basically they would flex and the decal would start to crack and peel off.  I considered painting them but decided to try some Automotive stripping tape first.  I purchased a role at Canadian Tire.  I applied it and then trimmed it at lower edge of the frame.  This was easy, looks great and really sticks.

 Next is to setup a Consist in Decoder Pro so it can run with AGN RS-10 502.  The dual Alco 244 prime movers should sound great together.  I still also need to install the brake chain.

Friday 12 September 2014

Eastern White Pines

Over the last two weekends I have been making up a batch of trees.  The Algonquin region of Ontario I model is full of Eastern White Pines, Hemlocks, Cedars and Spruces for Evergreens.  To model these I have used a few different techniques.  For the Eastern White Pines or (EWP's) I make them one at a time branch by branch per the method developed by Mike Confalone in his Modelling outside the Box DVD's.  I start with a basswood dowel and taper the top 1/3 of it with a block plane and sandpaper.  The next step is to drill the holes for the branches.  I made a V-block out of a scrap piece of pine by making to angled cuts along its length with my table saw.  I then lay the trunk into the groove and drill holes though the trunk with my drill press and a 1/32"  bit.  I try to be random with the placement, but I put about 6-8 right near the top.  Having extra holes here helps to form the crown on the top of the EWP.

The next step is to add texture to the trunk.  I pull the dowels along a fine pitch hack saw blade.  This also removes any wood burs kicked up from drilling the holes.

Now for the branches.  Using the plant Caspia which can be purchased at flower shops or a craft store like Michaels, I cut off branches that don't have any buds on them.  These are then glued into the holes with Alien's Tacky Glue.  At the top of the tree I use short branches that sort of curl up to form the crown.  Moving down the trunk I use longer and longer branches until about half way down the branch section of the tree when I start using consistent length branches to fill out the rest of the tree.  For the last few branches I use twigs that don't have much of the fine branch structure like the rest of the tree.  This gives the effect of broken off branches typical of the lower part of the EWP.   I finish off by trimming any funny looking branches to shape the tree.  EWP's can have some branches extending for from the trunk so I do try to leave some like this.

From here its off to the paint both for a coat of Krylon Camouflage brown.  This is my favourite paint, I use it for all sorts of projects.  Track painting, freight car bottoms and trucks etc... Be sure to use this paint in a properly vented booth or outside. It is solvent based and makes lots of fumes.  I also wear a mask.  I leave the tree armatures to dry over night.

For flocking I use a mixture of Woodland Scenics and Noch static grass.  Basically a random mix of both company's darkest green. This is applied with the Noch grass master and hair spray as fixative.  Here is a picture showing my latest batch along with some other pines I will describe shortly just before planting.

A word or warning.  Making the EWP's is very time consuming.  This last batch of 6  took around 8 hours of actual working time to make. These are not something you can make dozens of in a hour or so, as with other methods.  But I think the EWP's look great and are a lot of fun to make.

To represent cedars and what I call 'other pines' I use super tree armatures, painted with the Camouflage brown paint and flocked with dark green Woodland Scenics static grass.  Again applied with the grass master and hair spray.

For spruces I use a commercial tree made by Cataract Creek Model Railway of Arnprior Ontario.  They are a bottle brush style tree.  They come in packs of 6 large, or 12 with 4 each of small, medium and tiny.  They also come with either a straight green colour or one with a hint of primer red dusted on.  I have used both on the Algonquin.

Here is a picture of the bottle brush trees.

Hemlocks......So far I have not attempted to make any hemlocks.  When I was at the Springfield show last January, I stopped by the Sterling Models booth.  They make some great looking trees.  One of which is a Hemlock.  I may order a few in a 9"-12" range.  Or I could make these myself from Caspia branches.  From studying the Sterling Models trees, I think the best method would be to use the branches with the buds. Gluing them into basswood trunks with the buds and the branches pointing down.  I would then flock them with fine ground foam and dust them with a Hunter Green spray bomb.


Armed with a decent supply of trees I decided to plant them into two different areas on the layout.  The layout is the shape of 'U', with a separate two track staging yard.  One of these days I will publish a track plan.  The areas I am working on right now are the two inside corners of the 'U'.  Each corner has a scene which requires a forested area.  Due to limited space the corners are not coved.  I need the space for the forest and structures.  Yet I needed a way to hide the sharp corner transitions.  On one corner the two backdrop sides have photo backdrops.  The other corner has one photo backdrop and one painted with a background forest using dark grey/brown paint with brush dabs at the top giving the illusion of tree tops.  To hide the corners I made two huge bottle brush trees and flocked them with dark Green static grass.  They look like giant spruces I guess.

Here are a couple of before shots of the scenes with the huge bottle brush trees and deciduous trees planted.

And here are a couple of photos of the scenes after planting.

I need to get one more large EWP and a couple of hemlocks into each scene to call the forest in these areas done, but overall I am happy with the how things are developing.

Friday 15 August 2014

EL 70368

I while ago I finished up this EL Boxcar.  Its an Intermountain 10'6" AAR kit. I used decals from Highball Graphics and painted it to match a proto photo on the Highball website.  Here is a Link to the photo.

I think I got it pretty close but maybe a bit heavy on the black streaking.  I am still learning to use a lite touch when streaking with oils.  The white dusting was done with oils and white weathering powders. I omitted the roof walk and shortened the ladders on the A end.  I also left off the U-1 wheel inspection dot labels as these were not in use until 1978 and I'm modelling April 1977. Kadee #158 's were also installed.  I still need to install brake hoses and cut levers.  Back when I built this I hadn't come up with a standard for my freight cars and they are not all finished to the same detail level.  I save my freight cat standard for another post.


Sunday 27 April 2014

RS-10 502 gets dirty

Over the last week I decided to take a crack at weathering one of my Algonquin Locomotives.  In this case #502.  I used powders, artists oils and AK Interactive streaking effects.  I started with a coat of dullcote from the airbrush.  I mix it 50/50 with lacquer thinner.  It goes on better when thinned and a bottle lasts longer.  I printed out a couple of photos of Rs-10's to see how they weathered and got to work.  I used full strength black artist oil around the exhaust and on the sills to represent thick black oil spills.  Then I used dark rust, black and white powders to make the rest of the roof look beaten up.  I used the Ak Interactive rust streaking effects along the sill and on all the lovers.  I basically dry brushed it on.  I finished the fuel tank up with gray and burnt umber pan pastels and Ak Interactive dark streaking effects around the fuel filler.  I don't remember how I did the trucks as I weathered then about a year ago.

One thing I'm not happy with is the factory mu hoses on this unit.  They stick out way too much.  I'm going to change them out with some Cal scale brass ones.

Thanks for looking.

Friday 18 April 2014

End of Car Lettering

I have always detested applying decals to the ends of rolling stock.  I always struggle to find a way to hold the car vertical.  I have tried putting it in various containers like cups and such, propping it up in my foam cradle etc.  Well last night I got out the machinist tools.  In this case, a right angle grinding plate.  I used a storage container as a spacer and a mini quick clamp to hold the loco shell to the angle plate.  Its a lot easier to apply decals when the shell isn't moving all over the place.

In this case I'm going to attempt to put on the loco numbers using dry transfers.  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Rolling Stock

This week I finished up my first 2 home road cars.  Two P2k 52'6 Gondolas.  I stripped both of them of their paint to start.  Next up was to add some dents to the top rail by heating the top edge up with a candle and deforming the plastic with the end of an X-Acto knife handle.  Next I modified the shell by removing the material along the lower edge.  Gondolas built by National Steel Car sloped down over the distance between two ribs, along the lower edge.  On the P2k cars it is between three ribs, based on the American prototype the model represents.  By removing all the material between these areas it better represents the Canadian prototype.  Here are a couple of photos of the models.  I still need to weather the models and add brake hoses.  The models sport ACI labels and Consolated Lube plates typical of cars from the 70's.


The Algonquin Railway (AGN) is an HO scale layout representing a free-lanced railroad set in Northern Ontario, on the east side of Algonquin Park, in April 1977.   My goal is to share the construction of the layout and modelling of the locomotives and rolling stock.  I also hope to meet some like minded modellers.  Here are some pictures to start things off.

Enjoy!  More to come..