Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Tom builds a country store kit.........

 Got this kit from Bill Davis several years ago.....he told me it was Rail-Scale-Models first kit and he had brought a couple of them up to my place for a small narrow gauge meet among friends.

I liked it, bought it and put it on my "to build someday" shelf in the closet.  I found it a month ago and thought it would be fun to get it built, thinking maybe I could fit it into the town of Strong, Maine where I had some room.

The kit was really well done and included a lot of neat castings (individual coke bottles and the old wood cases to hold the empties!) Lot's of signage I only used about 10% of what was supplied!

I like the way the kit built up but I wonder if it looks a little too much like a NC country store rather than a Maine country store....time will tell.

Thursday, August 4, 2022


 August has arrived in the "low country" and brought high temps and humidity with the frequent afternoon downpour. I know understand why we don't see our neighbors very frequently during the summer months!

I started on my new garden railway earlier in the Spring, but humidity has kept progress at bay. Do you change your clothing 2-3 times a day! :^)

I decided to simplify roadbed construction and went with an approach I used in Va Beach years ago.  Pressure treated fence boards cut with a mitered edge to form my curves and using 8" cement block to get it up off the ground.  Not the most astetic but it got the trains running. I plan on backfilling as time goes on. My goal is more the "English country garden rwy." rather than a detailed, fine scale railroad line.

I've been collecting Japanese Maples for years and moved a lot of them down from Va. Beach when we retired to Charleston. Most have done well, but a few of the yellow leave varieties are suffering at the hands of the strong afternoon sun here. The reds are doing just fine.

I've been doing a lot of research on the 3' gauge railways in Ireland. There were many of them both in the North and the Free State. They were somewhat unique in their rolling stock and passenger carriages. Motive power usually came from England.  I converted a Bachmann Big Hauler 4-6-0 to a "close enough" model of the B&L #106, an 0-6-0 tank engine.  It was a lot of fun knowing it was not going to have to be a "scale" model, but look enough to satisfy from the patio. (with a nice glass of wine or a "cuppa")

The garden line will serve as my fall/winter modeling as the heat of summer keeps me in the garage/layout room working on my SR&RL's line.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Franklin & Megantic RR gets a new combine......

 Couple of months ago I purchased a kit from Portland Loco Works for a Franklin & Megantic combine that would later become SR&RL's No. 11.  The kit features laser cut walls and underbody floor framing.

My kit came with white metal castings for the end platforms. For some reason my two end platforms were slightly different heights??  I ask PLW for the correct replacement but was told he didn't have any more......so I had to use what I had gotten in the kit.

Most interesting was the kit's one piece 3-D printed clerestory roof!  It was nicely formed but had a couple of issues to work around. First, the resin itself was not of the best quality available today and was a little rough when it came to the top letter boards. I had to do a lot of sanding to get them smooth enough for paint and decals.

Second the small rectangular ventilation windows along the clerestory were printed solid (closed). I debated opening each of them up and installing clear styrene, but gave up when I saw how difficult a job it would be given fraility of 3-D printed parts.

I ended up painted them with a light green wash and followed up with a light orange rust wash to give it a bit of a colored glass look. (only moderately successful here)

In the end, while a lot of time was spent on the kit, it was a pleasant build. I painted it a mixture of green/black paint with the standard SR red roof.  I lettered it for the Franklin & Megantic Railway, as this was the name of the railroad just before being absorbed in the SR in the consolidation in 1892.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Catching up a little on my blog......

 Been doing a lot of work on the railway over the last month.  I'm in the layout room (garage) most days working on the layout itself ......scenery.......making adjustments to the track work gauge wise etc.

Also building additional rolling stock from some older Sandy River Car Shop kits I've had tucked away.

I'm running out of wheel sets, as the ones I'm using are/were made by "Railboxx" and they seem to have dissapeared.  They had short axel HO wheel sets  which fit the Grandt Line 2' gauge trucks perfectly. (I'm modeling the SR&RL using 30" gauge). Going to have to hunt up a new supplier or start swapping out my old kit bashed Bachmann rolling stock (mostly Boxcars) as I build up some new ones.  I had gone to the trouble of narrowing the Bmann cars to 6' widths in line with SR box car widths. They served well enough, but they were only 24' cars instead of the normal 28' prototype cars.  The other BIG issue was that the doors on the Bmann cars slide to the left side of the car......I believe they were based on a prototype narrow gauge rr car, but they were a bit of an oddity in practice.

When I started modeling Maine 2' I knew I would be "proto-freelancing" and called the railroad the Sheepscot and Sandy River Rwy.  It was a good choice because I was interested in both the WW&F and the SR&RL's. My previous layout had more of a Wisscasset look to it.

 Since the move to Charleston SC, I've designed the layout to follow the Sandy River from Farmington to Strong to Phillips on the mainline and will build a second level featuring the branch to  Kingfield, Carrabassett and Bigelow (the old Franklin & Megantic RR).

The dilemma of what to call the railway continues because there are only 2 Bmann engines (inside and outside frame Forneys) that are close to prototype.  I will need more than SR&RL's #8 and #9 to run the railroad so compromise is in order!  I have two BLI D&RGW C-16's that I'm in the process of converting to resemble what "could have been" motive power wise had the SR continued past 1935.  I left one a 2-8-0 but lowered the cab down to SR 2' height. I had to cut the plastic boiler shell to allow the cab to slide down.

I cut the tender down a bit (I believe it was a tender that came from a slightly larger C-19 class) but it still looks way to tall in my eyes.)

The second "connie" was a much more involved rebuild.........I eliminated the the 3rd blind driver and replaced it with the 4th flanged driver. That gave me a good start on making it a Prairie type.  Problem was all the SR prairies were built with outside frames. "Close but no cigar"......but maybe a somewhat "usable" cigar!

 I did a lot of cutting and bashing on this one, cutting down the height of the domes and moving them to new locations on the boiler; cutting new running boards where needed and removing all the cast on piping in favor of brass piping to the appliances. I moved the air pump and added an additional air tank to try to resemble engines #23 and #24 which came later from Baldwin.  The cab was lowered as much as I could get it and I replaced the larger/wider C-16 cab with a Forney cab which I had extended lengthwise.


On to the tender.....with just a little refitting I was able to remove the C-19 tender shell and replaced it with a Bachmann shell from their Outside frame 2-8-0.  

Added a better looking coal load, a crew in the cab and a couple of toolboxes and called it "done".

Monday, January 17, 2022

Retirement allows steady progress......

 Retirement has meant a should have a lot more time to keep this blog current.......but in fact it hasn't worked out that way.

I find I'm just as busy doing a lot of things that take time out of each day. Drive times to stores etc. has increased significantly from my Va Beach digs.  Living just south of Charleston (Ravenel SC) means dealing with a lot of traffic at times during the day. I'm not complaining......just a reality.

I have spent a good amount of time on my new On30 layout, modeling the section of the Sandy River from Phillips to Farmington. This is the first time I've decided to devote a lot more physical space to "scenic runs" rather than filling the space with more and more trackage. I like the way it's turning out.

As an example, here is my rendition of the Barker Stream bridge near Maplewood. I've devoted about 8' of space to try to get a train to look good crossing it.  There were a lot of photos taken from this spot and it is pictured in most of the books published on the SR&RL's. Have to change to lettering/numbering  on the engine and some rolling stock back to original SR as they were lettered for my previous freelanced layout.

I've enjoyed doing this type of scenery modeling. I'm trying to replicate actual photo locations whenever possible. Most all the Maine 2' enthusiasts have read the same books I did, so it's nice to have a common connection with them as they see the layout.

Friday, January 1, 2021

An End of Year Progress report

 Well I'm sure a lot of you will agree to saying "Good Riddance" to 2020 and hopefully the good times return quickly in 2021!

I've been making progress on the layout in a couple of areas......

Scenery has gone in north of Farmington......I've only got room to model the "upper" yard and the area around the station. The upper yard is where the pulpwood and board lumber were loaded onto Maine Central cars for the trip to the paper mills and south to Portland. 

A train of empty pulpwood racks is leaving the upper yard heading to Strong.

Just north of the yard is the box shop......I was able to reuse some of the structures from my previous layout to represent the mill.  The road on the right is Rt. 4 out of Farmington.

My goal is to capture as much "flavor" of the real SR&RL's as possible. I'll continue using structures from the old layout if they "fit"well. The object is to get the layout up and operating and then continue to enhance the scenes with new work. I'm trying to have my scenes look like the photos taken in years past along the Sandy River.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Starting over in Charleston.....

 I've been actively building my new layout in 1/2 of a "conditioned" garage. The split HVAC system I had installed as part of our retirement home in Charleston has been keeping the garage at a nice cool 72 degrees over the hot summer......so lot's of work has been done.

I'm continuing modeling Maine narrow gauge using a 30" gauge.  This version of the S&SR is based on (as closely as possible) the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes.  I've got enough room to model from Farmington (the Maine Central connection) up through the junction at Strong with the line continuing north of Phillips (staging).

The junction at Strong was a very busy place with trains passing up and down the mainline to Farmington and the connecting trains coming off the Bigelow branch (the old Franklin & Megantic RR.). Right now, the branch is a staging track but I have plans for a second level which will model the line north to Kingfield and then on to Carrabasset and and finally to the mill town of Bigelow.

(The red outlines represent lighting fixtures.)

Nothing too fancy construction wise, just 1x4" frames covered with 1/2" plywood and black board sheathing that I painted with a heavy coating of white latex primer to seal it. (I painted both sides). I've used this product before when I couldn't get Homosote and it seems to work well for me.  I dropped a section of the benchwork to allow for a bridge scene that I wanted to include (Barker Stream, north of Farmington)

I was able to get this far by the end of the summer. In the fall I finished up the track work and get my Digitrax system working and made a start on scenery.