Monday, May 20, 2019

Clermont - Painting tracks

Painting track is far to be on top of my list, mainly due to the 3-step process I use. However, all the time invested in this step do pay off later on and it can be fixed later. Thus, it was time to move forward and paint all the shiny tracks in Clermont.


First, tracks are primed in white. To make sure primer will stick during the next step, it is let to dry and cure for about a week.


Then, ties are completely masked with 1/4" tape, leaving only the rails and tie plates visible. When done, a coat of Krylon camouflage brown is sprayed over and the tape removed.

Mask and ventilation required!

Unfortunately for us, it seems our tape was a little bit old and not that much sticky. In some areas, the tape lift and overspray happened. Also, some white primer on ties did lift up.


With a small brush and white paint, I touched up every annoying brown spots until I was satisfied.

Jérôme cleaning up the track... A crucial step!

Jérôme, using MDF blocks and very fine grit sand paper cleaned and polished the rail heads. To make sure we didn't miss any spot, we took our most capricious locomotive - a Rapido 6-axle GMD-1 - and ran it over very piece of track at step 1. Quite slow is you ask me, but only a crawling engine can track every issue with trackwork.

Now, all this paint will be left to dry another week before we apply several oil paint washes to create a convincing weathered wood effect. This step is really worth all the efforts!


Meanwhile, Louis-Marie have been working hard on the topography. He did a terrific job and with minimal sanding, we now have realistic rolling hills and a nice set of streets. Still a lot of work ahead, but the most complicated areas are now done and ready for scenery.


Speaking of scenery, we started to fill all the gaps in scenery with mud (Celluclay + water + flat latex paint). Can't wait to ballast and add vegetation. I'm growing tired of seing plywood and foam. It's time to bring back some life to the layout!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

CN Woodchip Car - Live & Learn

Designing 3D printed product with a goal toward semi-commercial replication isn't something that can be done seamlessly. The learning curve is indeed steep and I had to master 3D modelling in a way I wasn't accustomed to.

Modelling 3D architecture is one thing, but creating solids that will print correctly is another thing. When I ventured into this project, I certainly didn't know the subtle differences between both type of 3D models. In my mind, 3D was 3D. But STL files and 3D printer were quick to teach me otherwise.


It’s not my goal to detail all the problems I encounter, but it was a good occasion to learn about my own ignorance on the subject. I also came to appreciate how 3D modelling isn’t that different from scratchbuilding. Basically, it’s the same process of looking at something, trying to figure out how it is made and then proceeding to create complex assemblies using basic shapes.

Another pitfall for a while was my use of SketchUp. This free software is well-known for its ease of use, but we dealing with solids, it can be tricky. I quickly found out it wasn’t wise to draw to HO scale. The software has a hard time dealing with very small complex shapes. Thus, it is required to work on a larger scale (let’s say 10 times 1:87) to ensure a trouble free experience. I also had to learn using software extensions that made some process easier.

Had I known all that from the start, my life you have been easier and I suspect design time would have been decreased by a fact 4. But you’ve got to start somewhere anyway and I feel this project was simple enough to be tackled yet providing substantial challenges to improve my skills.

With that said, I hope to get some printed parts in my hand by the end of May as promised.
 



Monday, April 29, 2019

CN Woodchip Car - Toward a Second Prototype


I'm glad to report the project is progressing well. To make your life easier finding information about this project, I've added a "CN Woodchip Cars" tag and shortcut on under the blog's header. It will helps tracking relevant information without having scroll down the entire blog.

During the weekend, the 3D models of both cars have been revised and completed. I made the mistake of initially using 36" wheels which brought in a lot of discrepancies until I found out the cars were equipped with 33" wheels. What a beginner's mistake! Fortunately, I was able to rectify this before starting to 3D print the cars. I feel a little bit idiot missing this essential data. It was written on all CN official drawings and even painted on cars themselves!

Also, I've completed the decal artwork. I'm quite satisfied with the result. I also adapted the CN logo so it can fit perfectly on the ribs without cutting or liberal application of decal solution. This is a test and I hope it will work well on the prototype. It may have to be revised later, but I needed to start somewhere.

I'm also glad to report cars 378000 and 379000 are actually getting 3D printed by Bruce Barney. Keep in mind this isn't the actual production models, but prototypes to weed out any gross errors I could have done and test running and operation capabilities (trucks and couplers heights, etc.). It will also be an occasion to find out if and where warpage could happen. These are open cars and it could happen. It must be addressed.

These prototypes will be painted and decalled for promotional purposes. So far, Bruce confirmed parts printed nicely and he's quite positive the models will be very nice.

I wouldn't be surprised if I have painted cars to show by mid-May.

Finally, the next big step will be to understand, then draw, these cars brake rigging. I'm not a pro in brake systems, so I expect it will take some time to figure out everything.


Production and marketing

This is a big project and it means it need to be clearly framed. I'm still trying to figure out how people will have access to this product. Many options are on the table and I've yet to find a way to handle this that will be practical for everybody while not being a prison for me. I'll take the next few months to work it out and hope to start taking orders and start production after summer. It would be quite neat if the cars were available just before Christmas. This is my goal.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Brompton Paper - Breaking Down Operations

I recently revisited my old idea of modelling an entire prototypical mill on a 12" wide shelf recently. While I addressed the track plan, scenery and concept, I didn't venture as far as depicting operations. Meanwhile, I've read some articles about Quebec Central and discovered interesting tidbits of information that makes this layout much more than a small industrial switching layout with a typical scenic staging area.

First, Quebec Central did use to serve this paper mill. It seems there was no industrial switcher working the plant and QC trains en route to Sherbrooke had to do it.

Second, most paper products were shipped via Sherbrooke while some chemicals came from that same direction.


Third, raw supplies including woodchip and other products came from QC interland beyond St- Georges.

Put together, these elements means the staging area is no longer a soulless and practical area, but rather participate to the story. At the beginning of an operation session, some cars would be left on the siding. These would have been dropped by the train coming from Sherbrooke. Typically, we could assume some chemical tank cars, covered hoppers, empty newsprint boxcars and possibly woodpulp. On the mainline would be staged a train coming from QC interland (Vallée-Jonction). This train would have a new supplies and many woodchip boxcars.

Now, our train would have to build a short consist with all inbound cars for Brompton Paper, then move down the spur and switching empties and loads. On the return trip, cars would have to be sorted on the siding according to their final destination. Then, the session would end when the train would be ready to leave East Angus.

Nothing complicated, but enough to model the entire job without compromise.

Finally, the last point would be to decide if the track would be level or if this layout could benefit having a grade between both the paper mill and the interchange. In real life, there was a somewhat steep grade between them. I suspect it could be an interesting challenge if not overdone and a good occasion to put LokSound Full Throttle capabilities into action. But this is the kind of stuff that can quickly become annoying in the long run.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Q.R.L.& P.Co. - What can be done?

Since my early high school days, I've been wondering what could be done with Q.R.L. & P.Co. as a model train layout. This idea haunted my model railroading dreams for years and is still lingering in the back of my mind. Unfortunately, I came preposterously to the conclusion - after many failed efforts - it couldn't be done. Given I've been sporadically visiting this concept over almost 25 years now, one could expect I've ran out of idea. However, it seems there is some hope.

As you know, I'm a freight train guy. I don't care about passenger operations (if not mixed) because they offer very little opportunities if not done properly and with serious efforts at scheduling. Thus, modelling a mainly interurban road like QRL&PCo wasn't an easy task.

However, a recent discussion with Jérôme prompted this "new" idea. He suggested a small layout depicting QRL&PCo iconic traction motors pulling freight consists would be neat. I totally agreed with him! Honestly, it a shame this beloved prototype never got any love from modellers, except for Simon Parent.

Why I've always had a hard time figuring out what should be modelled if the entire line can't be done, I simply don't know why! I suspect I know the prototype too much and can't bring myself to edit out some scenes I find required. Some readers will remember I once proposed, a few years ago, an S scale version of Beaupré including the large bridge and a continuous run. It wasn't a bad idea and I thought it would be worth exploring what could be done in HO scale. I also proposed several time a small switching layout based on Dominion Textile or even a long and narrow shelf layout depicting Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré sprawling yard and shops. One of my first concept back in high school was simply to build a diorama of Limoilou Shops, which I partially built. Last fall I restored my DPM kitbash and hope to turn it into a blog article when the time will be right.

Anyway, many probably recall when I ran a What If article about turning Villeneuve in Beaupré. It wasn't a great idea for our club layout, but many ideas were sound. Consider this new track plan to be somewhat a continuity of this train of thoughts.

I set to myself a few constraints, shelves should not be more than 16 inches wide and if possible, only 12 inches and layout must use as much as possible structures and rolling stock I built over the year. Given I already have Beaupré station as it looked in the 1950s and Beaupré bridge, it was a good start.

I also thought it would be a good idea to have a continuous run. While I like to operate, it is still fun to watch trains going around and simply railfan them. I think some layouts benefit from this compromise.


After taking into account several scenes, it was clear my best bet was to use only stations that were relatively close from one another. Also, I wanted operations to replicate what really happened with freight movement on the line. It was clear Beaupré's industrial district and St. Joachim interchange with CNR would provide a good backbone for actions. Interestingly enough, St. Joachim had a small wye to turn steamers and traction motors. QRL&PCo didn't run double-end motors and had to turn most of their equipment on turntables or wyes.

With that in mind, I tried to see if I could fit Beaupré and St. Joachim in my hobby room... Interestingly enough it did fit! Taking into account freight trains on QRL&PCo were relatively short and stations were quite close, it should work. Also, bear in mind I'm replicating all the trackage from Beaupré and St. Joachim as it was. Only a large expanse of fields between both towns was compressed for obvious reasons. All grade crossings and turnouts are accounted for.

A typical consist would be staged left to the distillery. A traction motor or a small steamer would be used. QRL&PCo #22 2-6-0 steam locomotive was a common sight in interchange work until the early 1950s. From that point on, demoted old CNR power was used, mainly 4-6-0 but notoriously light pacific in freight service! Locomotives such as 5079 were a common sight!

A CNR 4-6-2 pulling an interchange freight train (credit: CABIC)

The train would then switch Seagram Distillery, which received a lot of raw materials and shipped a famous whiskey all over Canada. At Beaupré station, the crew woould work the team track with the locomotive move up and down the bridge in the process.

A train arriving in Beaupré, the bridge is in the background (credit: unknown)

Then, after crossing the river, a string of cars for Price Brothers Paper would be left on the siding waiting to be sorted out on the return trip. Meanwhile, we would have a glimpse of the small 0-4-0 switcher sitting idle on the plant industrial trackage. Finally, our train woul reach St. Joachim. The team track would be worked while cars for Clermont would be swapped with incoming cars in the interchange.

The locomotive would then turn the locomotive at the wye before picking up its consist and waiting their order before proceeding. It should be noted an interurban car could be met there, making things more complicated. On the return trip, Price Brothers would be switched, exchanging cars, then our train would complete its travel back to Quebec City.

Freights meet in Ste.Anne, 1958 (credit: Clark Frazier)

Am I completely satisfied with this layout plan? Well, not completely. The way St. Joachim yard overlap over the room entrance is far to be a great idea. In the best world, the layout should be fully functional even when the continuous run isn't possible. In fact, had the door been located where the door is standing, the layout would have been almost perfect!

However, on a positive note, I feel I've finally caught QRL&PCo soul. A neat mix of rural "Normandy-like" countryside, cute and colorful 19th century stations, powerful rivers and large industrial plants.

St. Joachim station seen from the wye... (credit: unknown)

The fact very little structures are required creates enough empty space to fight against the inevitable compression required between Beaupré and St-Joachim. On a positive note, it is interesting to note distances between in Beaupré and Price Brothers are almost reproduced in scale, meaning I didn't simply smash together stuff I liked. To be honest, I removed a lot of stuff to get this right! Every scene on QRL&PCo is memorable and getting rid of stuff is heartbreaking. I'm glad I succeed in my quest.

EDIT: Interestingly enough, with PECO soon releasing its new code 70 turnout lineup, this project could be doable in a not so far future. Q.R.L.& P.Co. was famous for its lightweight trackage that forced CN to create a specific type of locomotive known as RSC-24. They later had to use 6-axle GMD-1 to perform their duty. I feel using code 83 wouldn't work well with this prototype.

EDIT 2: Very little thing changed in Beaupré and St. Joachim for decades. Same customers, same track arrangement. This layout could be used to stage operation from the late 1920s until the late 1960s. To model the 60s, station buildings could be replaced with versions clad in asbestos shingles and some electric poles could be removed. Definitely, this layout concept has a lot of potential.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Brompton Paper - Revisiting a Layout Concept

As you can guess, Easter holidays have been spent wasting time designing track plans that will never be built. It seams I can escape that fate and will revisit my designs until the end of time!

Joke aside, I thought about refining the last track plan I made of Brompton Paper. As you, this is a small (yet prototypical) paper mill served by only a handful of switches facing the same direction. This is as basic as can be yet, quite interesting. I know from experience operating doing on the club layout that you don't need that much. Also, since we reworked Clermont yard, it has been quite clear the idea of shuffling cars between an interchange point on the railway and the plant is quite an interesting move.


Last time I put any effort on Brompton Paper, I did a mistake by making the track plan far more complicated than it needed to be. Fear got the best of me... I thought it would be a pre-requisite to have a runaround, which doubled the number of turnouts. However, I liked the idea back then that I should have the interchange modelled. It was now time to see if I could streamline the concept in such a way it would fit a very narrow shelf (no more than 12") along the walls of my new hobby room. Also, a key element was that I didn't want any cassette and hidden staging.

So here we are with the new version. The plant is now quite simpler and closer to prototype. I also placed the large steel bridge over St. Francis river where it should have been from the start. Then, a very narrow shelf (not more than 12") link the plant toward the interchange on Quebec Central mainline in East Angus. Since I don't need to turn locomotive around the train, I saved a few turnouts and was able to replicate a real functioning interchange yard based on the prototype. A few small structures including the dilapidated passenger depot gives a sense of place. The team track is there for the show, mainly to let a few cars rot there as background decoration.


However, what I like is exactly the lack of stuff. Between the plant and the interchange, there is nothing to notice. A mundane power line, a minimalist rock cut and a sweeping curve as the branchline connect with the main. I imagine a lot of wooden area, wild grasses, bushes and electric poles. Also, the distance between both location is realistic, about 1800 feet in "real" life. This is the kind of distance often seen on prototypes to reach a plant. Also, the way the layout is arranged in a U-shape makes it easy to feel we are indeed going on the other side of the river to reach a customer.

Worth mentioning is the possibility to only build the mill side of the layout. It would be fully operational without problem. The other part is mainly to give a purpose and a sense of going somewhere.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

CN Woodchip Car - Decals

I started drawing CN woodchip car decals today. I thought it would be harder, but thanks to CNRHA sets of CN fonts, it made my life easier. CN logo was redrawn from specifications. It is not a scale down logo from the web. Artwork was drawn directly in 1:87.


All artwork was done redrawing over actual pictures. I still have to do complete the lube plates and some lettering on the ends, but it shouldn't be to hard.

Interesting notes, when drawing the decals, I spotted a few discrepancies between my model and the prototype. CN 878000 tack boards should be further left and CN 879000 has a slightly fishbelly sill. I'll improve my model before production run, however, I'll have to alter the prototypes which are actually being printed.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

CN Woodchip Gondola - A Second Prototype


Over the last week, I've reworked my prototype of CN 878000 (CN RAIL version) woodchip car. The original 3D model was done about 5 years ago and it was time to upgrade some details and set the bolster and coupler pocket at the right height.


I'm kind of happy both models are now done and they will soon be printed. When assembled, I'll be able to make some fine tuning before going forward with production. Still a lot of work to do, including drawing the photoetched parts and making decal artwork. I suspect I have probably a good month of work in front of me.


Meanwhile, I've discovered some discrepancies between my model and the prototype while reviewing pictures for artwork purpose. It seems series 379000 cars had fishbelly sills. Almost unnoticeable, but once you see it, it can't be undone. I'll have to rework the 3D model accordingly.


Production details


I've yet to decide how much cars will be produced and I'm still trying to figure out the market for such a kit. So far, I know it would be safe to produce a 50-car run for each car, meaning a total production of 100 cars. Cost wise, it would be the threshold to optimize prices.

Another option is doing a 250-car run for each prototype. Kits would feature better detail and a one-piece body, limiting assembly to adding details. From a cost perspective, I could get better prices, meaning the model could be sold at a decent price. It also means modellers would have an easier time building the cars, making it much more attractive.

As for decals, it seems the cost would be about $7,50/car. I would love to bring that price down if possible.

That said, if I'm choosing the semi-industrial route it could be possible some crowd funding would be required. It also means a lot of work on my side to prepare each kit in a decent manner. At this point, it is no longer a hobby, but almost a job, including business risks.

Whatever my final decision regarding the production details, I expect the total cost for a kit being between $45 to $50. It may sounds a lot for some people, but that's about the price you must expect when buying crasftsman resin kits. Given it would include trucks, decals and most details, I suspect it wouldn't be a bad deal at all.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Clermont - Refining The Role of Scenery

Most people must be astounded how slow we are setting the landforms on the layout... It's been more than a month and while we worked every Saturdays for several hours, very little tangible results can be seen... or this is what you could believe.

Scenery is a mysterious thing. Really, this is probably one of model railroading most challenging aspects, at least the most artistic in nature. It means that not only you need a decent mastery of various techniques, but you have to make extremely subjective choices that no one else can make for you.

Desbiens Street crossing...

Replicating a scenery to the perfection is rarely an available option and thus, you can't escape long sessions trying to figure out how elements can be put together in a different way while still being relevant to the emotion you want to transmit.

First, why emotion? Model railroading is, in a large part, a matter of emotion and sensibility. Every railfan has a particular and very personal interaction with trains that define a set of emotions that makes him develop a passion. Most of the time, these emotions are hardly defined and are subconscious in nature. However, take them away and the hobby come to a stall, just like a locomotive losing its priming mover. An interesting thing is how many fans of trains will start to see beauty in industrial, rundown and rough environment and machinery. I'm not just talking about the sheer enjoyment of mechanics, but truly how rust, faded paint, oil spills, under-maintained structures and less than optimal landscape can gain an artistic value by themselves. That is truly the beauty of this hobby, how we can transform a pile of vile things into gold.

For this reason, having a clear vision for Clermont takes time. We have made a small mockup a few week ago of how the 2 slopes converge toward the railway track and have been spending many hours looking at it, trying to improve the look but also the vibe we can get from this scene.

Less houses better frames the vanishing road.

A key ingredient has been to not rush the process. When in doubts, we leave it alone and come back a week later. Last Saturday was interesting. When the session started Jérôme simply said: "I know you'll hate me, but I feel the scene is too much crowded but I can't pinpoint the specific reason." I then removed a house and replaced it with a small garage... Bingo! The visual balance was restored and now, the structures and roads worked perfectly bring creating a real scene of depth and perspective. If we had rushed, we would have never seen it.


Another nice discovery was when I looked at my pictures today. I had shot a consist passing behind the old shed at Desbiens Street without specific goal if not experimenting a new angle to frame my subject. To my surprise the new lower ridge in the middle of the peninsula made Donohue's smoke stacks visibile in the background through the tree line. Without knowledge, I had achieved "shakkei", that Japanese visual concept of reusing and stacking together distant and unrelated objects to create depth to a composition. What should have been a 16 inches shelf became instantly a 1 km deep panorama telling a story. Donohue is indeed visible in many part of Clermont and achieving this was pure serendipity. If we had not removed one house a few hours before, we wouldn't have achieve such a thing.

Donohue far behind the tree line hints at our destination...

Another lesson learned was that a relatively low central ridge separating each side of the peninsula doesn't make immersion into the scenery less efficient. When operating yesterday, it was clear our eyes were mainly focussed on the right of way and everything outside blended together nicely. We thus feel having to create an opaque barrier between scenes isn't required and could, in fact, remove the depth we discovered by chance.


Monday, April 8, 2019

CN Woodchip Gondola - Product Development

I'm happy to announce the CN Woodchip Gondola project is not dead and well alive.

CN 879000-series (should be CN Rail)

Thanks to Justin Babcock, I've been able to refine my 3D models to a level I feel is quite excellent. Now it's time to adapt this quite accurate model into something that can be both printed and cast as a resin kit. Jeff Briggs from Briggs Models has been helping me to figure out how we could realistically make it possible in HO scale. I also want to thank Bruce Barney who kindly gave me many hints about improving a model for 3D printing.

The Model

The first model to go into production would be CN 878000-series. It was the car with the side doors welded shut and lettered with a standard CN wet noodle logo.

CN 878000-series

The kit would features flat parts (sides and ends) and a one part underframe. Small separate details such as brakewheel, air reservoir, valve, etc. would also be supplied. A standard coupler box made to accept most Kadee products would be cast on the underframe. Ladders and platforms would be photo-etched brass and grabirons phosphore bronze.

Due to casting process and price control, the underframe  would feature all the structural members of the prototype, but they will have simplified cross-sections. Since these car sills are quite low, such details aren't visible and I think most people can live with that limitation. However, everything visible would be detailed as best as I can.

Kit won't be supplied with trucks, but it is good to know Rapido is making the correct Barber S-2 100-ton trucks used on the prototype. The model was designed with them in mind.

The goal is to have a kit that can be assembled easily by most modellers within a reasonable time frame without going crazy because you want to build a fleet. Think of something between a Blue Box kit and a craftsman kit that you can improve if you want to (brake rigging, etc.)

For rivet counters, I could put on Shapeways the fully detailed underframe to 3D print. This underframe would fit the resin kit. Be only aware it will cost a lot.

Also, I'm working on CN 879000-series (of "CN Rail" fame).

Decals

A set of decals will be produced for these cars. I still have to contact a trusted decal makers (if possible Canadian) and produce suitable artwork. Feel free to suggest names.

Pricing and production (UPDATED)

Price will vary from $30 to $40 per car depending on quantity produced (based on 25-car and 50-car runs). I can be said the initial run would probably be at least 50 cars.

For this reason, if you are interested in this project, let me know how many cars you would like to have. This will give me a decent idea how much cars to produce. Feel free to leave a comment, contact me on Facebook or via email at matlac@gmail.com.

(you can contact me or leave a comment).

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Clermont - How to Recreate a Complex Scene?

After completing topography around the small creek, we have now moved on one of the biggest scenic challenge on the layout: Clermont itself.

The small creek done and ready to receive scenery later

This scene has been a headache since we decided to include it more than 4 or 5 years ago. The reason is simple: space is lacking, track is curving inward and the scene is mirrored. Given these limitation, it is really easy to overcrowd the area and get a cute little Walthers Catalog village. Not exactly what I have in mind!


Back in the days, we dodged the issue by creating a bogus scene that caught the spirit of the place but was quite nondescript. Now, it's time to figure out a way to make things slightly more prototypical.


Clermont is complex and can be divided in a few key elements that gives it its personality. First, the grade crossing is located at a complex road intersection where two steep roads converge. It results in a very large expanse of asphalt.


Second, a large stone retaining wall is located against the tracks and create a prototypically clearance issue.



Third, a few working class houses are high perched on the hills, hinting at a small industrial town over there.


To conspire against these characteristics are the peninsula limitation. There is about 1 feet of scenery available to work out a road between both tracks there. Not exactly the best place to make a road disappear seamlessly into the woods. Can we manage to do it? Maybe. At least, this partial conclusion was reach after a 5 hour long brainstorming session last night.


After several tries, we concluded the main road should follow the previous road alignment that we built years ago. The reason is simple: it is the only place where your eye is naturally drawn to the scene. Otherwise, it will look weird.


We also came to the conclusion about 3 houses were enough to give an impression the railroad has now reached an urban area. Working with prototype pictures, a few of these houses will be built. They will also be visible from the other side of the layout, but it won't be a problem since a few houses could be seen from there too.


Finally, it was decided the road with the retaining wall wouldn't serve any house so we will have much more space to create the illusion this street is disappearing.


One thing we learned from the exercise was to keep visual elements at minimum. Even the treeline will have to be carefully located. If trees are too high, everything looks cramped. Also, color palette will have to remain extremely limited and toned down to not draw attention to individual elements, but rather creates an impression of unity. Houses will be off white and light gray, covered in cheap materials (vinyl imitation clapboard, non-descript PVC and aluminium windows, generic asphalt shingle roofing).


To get a better sense of the results were are looking forward, we shoot mockup pictures using the sepia mode. It really helped to mute the color palette and better analyze how components work together. The new steep road has also help to recreate an iconic real-life railfanning spot on the layout!

CN Woodchip Cars - Bringing Them to Life


I've been working on-off on this project since 2014. Thanks to fellow modellers Taylor Main, Justin Babcock and Julien Boily, I was able to acquire precise data to refine my models. As of now, both 878000-series and 879000 series are replicated in 3D using SketchUp.

I know there is a lot of interest in this project from many people, both in HO and N scales and I'm eager to finally bring these ubiquitous cars to people who needs them.

If some peoples are interested, I can make the model available on Shapeways. I don't guarantee the printing with be perfect since I did only print my first prototype a few years ago. However, the model respect Shapewars Fine Detail Plastic design guideline and should be OK. Be aware the cost is prohibitive. About $130 per car which is completely absurd if you want to model a fleet. If there is no demand, I won't bother posting the model on Shapeways marketplace.

Toward a Real Product

Having poured countless hours on this project, I must admit I'd like it to go somewhere instead of being buried in my computer files.

Following a discussion on Canadian Railway Modellers Facebook page yesterday, it was evident these cars could be produced efficiently as resin flats to be glued together. Their simplicity makes them ideal choice for an affordable and easy to build kit.

From now on, I'll try to find someone who is interested in producing this line of woodchip cars. I have no idea about the final cost, but if a kit (without couplers and trucks) could be sold at the same price of a quality current RTR model, including decals, it would be acceptable.

Interest?

If you are interested in acquiring these cars, let me know in the comments.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Motive Power Lashup


Slowly the CFC locomotive lashup is taking shape. This roster of engines was used between 2002 and 2011 until freight service was definitely put on hiatus.


So far, GP40-2W is completely done while LLPX 1509 has decoder installed and weathering almost completed (still have to install rock lights). LLPX 1510 will soon receive its decoder and once done, layout operation will resume.


I'm quite satisfied with LLPX1509 weathering. While I believe I went somewhat too far with color shitfing, I believe the level of dirty and paint defects is consistent with the prototype. Drawing the grafitti was a little bit tedious because I wanted it to be an exact replica. Later, when I weathered over it, it almost disappeared and it was required to redraw it yet again. Live and learn!


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Clermont - Yet Again Terraforming

I apologize in advance for my lack of regularity in posting. As stated earlier this year, various reasons have conspired to shrink my hobby time and I can't foresee this situation changing in the course of the next few months. Last winter was quite tough and it took a toll on my old house so budget money will be redirected toward more pressing issues.


With that said, we continue to meet each week (or at least try) and work on the layout. Shaping Clermont is taking much more time than we expected and we often have to redo job done the previous week. Yes, errors are normal and trying to fix them is also a good way to be better modellers. Our mindset is toward quality and not quantity.

You probably recall I recently said I wasn't satisfied with the hills profile. Well, it has been taken care of. A layer of foam was removed and we widened the hill to get a more gentle slope toward the summit. The results are much better and it makes a difference. Interestingly enough, florist foam is a nice material that can be sanded down and smoothed in such a way you can create nicely flowing landforms.

In some area, it wasn't possible to widen the hills because it would interfere with the small creek. Thus, we elected to reuse old rock faces from the previous scenery. These faces are installed in a vertical position, giving more latitude for us to create a rounded top with less material.


While rock faces are somewhat ubiquitous in Charlevoix, they aren't in Clermont. For this reason, we buried them in floral foam to create the illusion of a gentler topography. When covered in dead leaves, twigs and trees, they should be barely noticeable while providing a practical mean to handle ingrate landforms.

We also started to create the creek, which cut its course through sediments in a flat and marshy valley. I'm not that much satisfied with the results. The creek is far to wide to be credible and we will probably have redo the job once again until we feel it is right.

This creek is too wide for its own good.

The lesson of the week is simple. When dealing with aesthetics and arts, you got to work again and again on your subject matter. Taking pauses as one moves forward is the best way to ensure you are indeed controlling your work and making sure it fits your vision. Rushing does no good.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Cheap Trees Are Made of This

The following blog post isn’t about a specific recipe or a short cut to make el cheapo trees but rather a proof of concept. The idea was to create a quick Eastern pine tree and see how it could fit in various scenes and environment. In this regard, my goal was to replicate the shape of the tree and not the correct texture or color.

Not bad when seen from afar...
  
The tree itself was built in about 10 minutes using a wood skewer (not bamboo), small twigs and pre-flocked netting found at a local gardening supplier. I used the true and tried method of drilling holes into the skewer and inserting branches in it. As previously stated, I cared much more about getting the shape right than the colors.

Making this tree proved me a few things I didn’t expect. First, modelling conifers such as pine is indeed as fun as building a structure or a freight car, with a certain dose of artistic freedom. Second, when you get the basics right, using finer texturing methods, improving branches and needles and coloration aren’t that hard.

...but it doesn't hold up under closer scrutiny.

While making this tree was quite fast and yielded surprisingly decent results, it is evident ones would be better off making them with more care. The pre-flocked netting saves a lot of time (applying needles and painting) but the results is not that much realistic and if you start airbrushing more realistic colors, it defeats the gain in speed you are going after. It must also be noted pre-flocked netting isn’t the most geometrically realistic material to use to replicate branches.

Another word of caution is the tree looks quite good on pictures, but is not that great upon closer inspection.  It means depending on your available time and the context of your work, such tree could indeed be a solution. But in most of the cases, taking a few hours working on maybe a half-dozen well done trees would be much meaning in the long term.

Tapered trunk, bark texture, more realistic branches and colors are a few areas that would significantly benefit from improvement. Also, looking at real Eastern pine growing in a nearby park, I found out most of them didn't have a perfect trunk but were a quite asymetrical.

However, given I’ll have to create a very dense forest on the layout, small trees made of netting that are to be hidden and embedded within the vegetation without protruding over the canopy could be a solution to bring some colors among leafless deciduous trees.

OK for background use? Not so sure...

Anyway, point in case, modelling trees is much more interesting than I thought and relaxing too. Given I’ll probably have to create about a dozen of pine maximum; I’m ready to do a better job than trumpet about a half-baked solution.