Eholt BC

I built these three buildings for my friend Scott’s layout, which is based on the CPR Boundary Sub in southern BC. Eholt was the junction with the Phoenix branch, and we’re modeling it still active in 1962 – the branch is rising in the background in this view.

Scott took this great photo, which mirrors a prototype photo I worked from.

The loneliness of the location seems to me to come through beautifully in this shot. There is a space here that is so often missing in model railroads, and that space, like silence in music, is every bit as important as the models themselves.

All three models were scratchbuilt in styrene with predominantly Grandt Line and Tichy windows. I built the bulk of the station at a clinic at Trains 2008. The tool shed and section house were constructed at Houten this March. The section house is covered in Insulbrick, a rolled tar paper product similar to shingles, but printed to look like brick.

Greed versus SketchUp!

Ugh! I’ve spent most of the evening battling myself and Google SketchUp! The two of us are formidable foes.

The challenge is this: Shapeways wants a super-clean mesh before they’ll attempt to print. That means normals all have to point the same way, and no hidden faces or lines.

Sadly, SketchUp likes nothing better than creating hidden faces and lines — it works best like this. When you see the slick demos online, rest assured that the resulting model is unprintable.

Doubly sadly, when I started the model, I was seduced by the powerful gestural language that the tool provides, and quickly did things like extruding rounded shapes for the window frames (who knows how they’ll resolve on the printer!), and sloping the window sill so the rain doesn’t run into the car.

So now, we need to make those two surfaces meet cleanly. Should be a simple matter of using the “Intersect” tool in SketchUp, right? Well no, because SketchUp doesn’t like working at the small scale I’m working in at all. I should have realized this was going to be a problem when SketchUp wouldn’t even let me create an arc .015″ in diameter, and I had to draw segments myself.

I probably wasted an hour trying to get it to fill in the odd shape at the foot of the window frames. Finally I gave up, and here is my solution: I drew a rectangle at the foot of the window frame, then bent the bottom of the frame so it fills the rectangle. Voila, the shape on the window sill is easy to fill because it’s all big squares, and the inside will have no hanging surfaces. I haven’t tried to upload yet, but I have high hopes that this will work for me.

Russia Iron

Someone recently asked for my Russia Iron recipe. I thought I would find it in the scratch steam yahoo list, where I thought I described it, but apparently I never did. So here is how I made mine for my 4-4-0. I apologize in advance for the lack of science, or even repeatability.

I first painted the jacket silver. Actually, Poly Scale Stainless Steel, but I don’t imagine the exact species of silver matters too much. If I recall, I gave this a little buffing before the next coats. The next coat was a 1:3 glaze of D&H Avon Blue, which is a nice bright blue (again, I don’t imagine the species matters too much), in gloss. Glazes are tricky, especially if your airbrush wants to clog like mine did, and you have to know when to stop. I stopped when the colour was sort of a sky blue, so I could still see silver through the blue. Finally, I over-sprayed that with a 1:3 glaze of engine black, and I stopped that when I felt it looked good.