Saturday, March 26, 2016

"Damn it, get up!... You can sleep on the beach!"

The ladies of the household dragged me to Mexico's Riviera Maya last week so I could reprise my role in, "You're so annoying." Far be it for me to say, but I don't understand the logic of waking at dawn to secure a prime beach chair under a hut out of the sun, then slathering on sun block from head to toe for protection from said sun, before dozing off for much of the day. I could achieve the same result staying in my air conditioned room, with a lot less fuss and a lot more ESPN. 

Whatever the case, I reluctantly experienced the beach ambience with my wife and daughter while a favorite RPM commenced in Malvern, PA. No clinics, no models, no layouts, no nothing. Just a bunch of topless European women on holiday with, and I'm guessing here, no interest whatsoever in model railroading. But I did get a hobby fix via an email thread that I will unabashedly share here. 

Jim Dufour enlisted the help of the visiting Randy Laframboise to complete some river scenes on his B&M Cheshire Branch. Due to the river's slope, they  chose Golden Polymer Medium to pour into the previously  modeled river beds, per Glenn Glasstetter's advice.

Tony Koester commented that New England's cleaner waterways present more of a modeling challenge than the Midwest or central Appalachian regions which merely require that modelers fill the undetailed basins with plaster and paint them  pea-soup green, before building up layers of gloss medium.

While the acrylic gel was easy to work with for Jim and Randy, Bernie Kempinski reminded all of the anxiety of dealing with the alternative two-part resin option. He suggests that the most reliable and most foolproof is Magic Water from Unreal Details.
Jim referred to Randy as "ever fearless." in his email. Kip Grant beat everyone else to the quip, "It's easy to be fearless when it's someone else's layout!"  Truth is, we all recognize Randy's talent and his willingness to help, not to mention his ability to throw good-natured verbal jabs of his own when he spots an opening. For today, we'll just say that Dairy Boy done good here, real good.

Well, this is post numero 75 for this blog and it seems like a good number to finish up with as the one year anniversary is a week away. I'll be back on that special day with one more entry. Thanks everyone. We'll see you then.

My daughter, Senorita Wise-Ass, suggested that I post this photo from the local OTC farmacia as a public service to all modelers.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

"Modeling using selective orientation..."

Back in August, I wrote about a design and modeling concept that I referred to as selective representation. I concluded that it is just one aspect of the overall collective idea of selective compression. Now, I'd like to suggest combining that component with what I term, selective orientation. It's about the idea of necessary compromises to re-orient a structure relative to its relationship with the track, or the track's relationship with the benchwork footprint as mandated by room constraints. Everyone still on board so far?

As I play with track arrangements on my completed sub-roadbed, and continually fine-tune my drawings, I realize just how much of a challenge that selective orientation will be on my shelf layout. The photos below tell the story best.

The flour mill at Ellicott City bears off the main at a fairly sharp angle and crosses the river. The building itself is u-shaped and surrounds two spurs making operations difficult for my 1:1 crew. The angle can be reduced, but the building components may need to be staggered to allow decent access for visiting operators switching cars.
At Ellicott City, the track and Patapsco River travel east-west while the distinctive main thoroughfare climbs a hill in a north-south direction. Rotating that perpendicular relationship into more of a parallel one is the only way to depict any portion of the town, even when taking advantage of the depth that an inside corner of the benchwork offers.

One half mile up the river, around a horseshoe bend that would be best suited at the end of my peninsula is the Dickey textile mill in Oella. Alas, too many other layout design factors mandated that Oella end up along a straight portion of the benchwork, but that is the least of my worries. The structure is t-shaped and accepts a spur almost perpendicular to the mainline and river. This would work nicely if my shelf was about 42" deep!

The Dickey mill will need to be selectively represented predicated on its dominant window and brick fenestration, but re-oriented 90 degrees to fit the 20" deep benchwork. The sharp angle will be reduced so the spur can run alongside the front of the structure rather than the side. So exactly when is it that we enter no-longer-prototypical territory?

The Daniels mill complex is distinctive by the horseshoe curve of the river and the massive original building set perpendicular to the mainline. Like at Ellicott City and Oella, Daniels' spurs are severe and surrounded by structure causing headaches for humans bearing uncoupling skewers. And no one wants to be around a frustrated human wielding a skewer.

This axonometric drawing from the early 1900's shows the two original spurs, including a coal trestle, that bear off at about 45 degrees from the main. A third spur was present in 1960 and cut straight across the front of the original building into a 'well' created by the expanded complex. It is evident in the photo above.

Like so many aspects of building a prototype-based layout, compromises become the devil in the details. We continually try to determine the least of the necessary evils. How can we best determine what must be done, and what might be done without compromising things too much? Go too far, for whatever reason, and the layout becomes nothing more than the equivalent of a cheap made-for-television murder mystery, "based on actual events."

I guess we'll see as we move forward. My very first track plan shows my earliest attempt at dealing with each of these LDEs. Some modifications are forthcoming. But for now, work and life in general will waylay me for awhile. See you a bit later, but please comment with your own layout design experiences.
Check out the 2016 issue of Model Railroad Planning for a feature on the Rutland Railroad layout by Randy Laframboise and Mike Sparks that was a very popular post here last summer. Congratulations, boys!

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Have I become the Jerry Lewis... of railroaders?"

I enjoy a good joke as much as anyone, and if it's at my expense, so much the better... usually! I do not take myself, or anyone else, too seriously. But I don't care for unsolved mysteries very much, and there's one that's got me befuddled. Perhaps a fellow blogger or computer savvy reader can help.

Various statistics are available to bloggers regarding their viewership, including country of origin. For the first ten months of this blog's existence, American visitors dominated, accounting for about 75% of all views. Canadians comprised about 15%, Brits 5% and the rest of the world the remaining 5%. No surprises there. But in the past month, French viewership has rivaled that of American... and there is no rhyme or reason to it. It's defies any rationale.

Goofy American comic Jerry Lewis enjoys an unrivaled popularity in France to the point that he was named to the country's Legion of Honor. His work on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association is legendary. He has even earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. But to many Americans, first and foremost, he'll always be the Nutty Professor!

I do not mean to denigrate Mr. Lewis or the French people, but I can not determine what about my blog should be so appealing to a Francophile. I have on occasion used French phrases and even once mentioned the Tour de France in my Sam Posey post, but that simply can't be it. Have hundreds of avid readers collectively relocated to the Cote d'Azur? That would be neat, but doubtful.

Last night at 10 pm EST here in north central New Jersey, there was a greater French audience than American and it was 4 am on the Champs Elysee! Is my blog the sure-fire cure for, how do you say, snooty insomniacs? "Mon dieu!"

Google support has assured me that this cannot be a glitch. Of course not. But then why am I identified as "a visitor from Sugarland, Texas" whenever I click on other blogs? That's a suburb of Houston, more than 1,600 miles from my basement laptop. Anyone? What am I missing?

UPDATE: March 7, 2016
Once again, at 9:45 pm EST, only five views are currently logged in from the United States and 25 views are supposedly logged in from France, where it is 3:45 in the morning! In the past month, more views have allegedly come from France than the US, while in the first ten months of this blog, US views outnumbered those from France by a rate of 6:1. Someone has some real 'splaining to do. This is ridiculous, but enough about this. More model railroading up in our next post.

"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now... and not defer nor neglect it." - Jerry Lewis