Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"Wordless Wednesday Wrap-up... Numero Uno"

My relative reluctance to embrace the often-used feature, "Wordless Wednesdays," that many bloggers employ may have been evident in that I dipped my toe into the shallow end by running a photograph of ... words. But while I may have had my tongue firmly planted in cheek, I should provide an explanation of that signage, since I'm always asked about it... even if it is a year later!

It's a sign that I made from some scraps that I had in the garage, most specifically old fence pickets that had been out in the weather for many years. When we replaced some sections of our 6' stockade style fencing, I saved a few pickets just in case I needed some here and there in the future. Well, the future has rapidly rushed by and at this point the next act regarding several hundred feet of fencing will be a total replacement. So little pickets, come to poppa.

The homemade sign measures just under 8" x 60" and graces the more visible side of my workbench. It was designed and built quite quickly out in my garage workshop from entirely on-hand materials, with the exception of the letters.

I showcased the real imperfections of the pickets for 'character and realism.' The 3-1/2" high wood letters were purchased at Hobby Lobby and given a spray of flat black before being glued in place. I chickened out when considering whether to distress them.

I ran each of the four pickets down my table saw, ripping off the rounded face so three would lie flat against a 1/4" hardboard backing for easy gluing and screwing. The fourth was then  further ripped into a suitably proportioned surrounding frame. The backside of each picket is what is actually visible.

Any clean edge of the frame that had been ripped on the saw was given an alcohol and ink wash and blended with the twenty year old fencing better than I could have hoped. 

Full disclosure here. I had originally planned to wash the background in white and the surrounding frame in black to more closely approximate a depot sign, but I decided against it for two reasons. One is that I really liked how this looked as is, especially in contrast against my workbench wall. And two is that I really, really didn't want to screw this up trying to weather and age at a 1:1 scale!

Overall though, I'm pleased with the result and the ambience it contributes to the train lounge. I have built a second, similar one from my last remaining pickets and am contemplating how to finish that, including lettering. But I promise to be more adventurous with that one whenever I do get around to it.



Oooops!... seems that some careless CSX track construction caused flooding in this lovely historic town twice within a week. At least it's not on the order of Ellicott City's woes further down the line.

Friday, August 3, 2018

"Too hip to be square?... Nope, that not be us!"

Has it really been a year? Well, it has been a rough one for our family, but nevertheless, I simply cannot let the Old Main Line reach "one year ago" on the blog list. So without further ado, allow me to actually post something that has been sitting offline in my drafts folder for quite sometime.

The Garden State Division of the NMRA has conducted several meets featuring "works in progress" or WIPs that have been very popular for both clinicians and attendees. The low key, informal setting is relaxing for the clinician and extremely engaging for the attendee. A real win-win as they say.
Craig Bisgeier did a nice clinic on tools and techniques for kitbashing and scratchbuilding. But what really captured everyone's attention was the sanding square that he built to guarantee clean,  square  edges for cut materials.

The sanding jig is about 15" square and is predominantly made of 1/2" MDF. It relies on a glued block as a stop, or fence, set at a 90 degree angle to a sliding sander.

The H-shaped sliding sander sits inside a double track that is routed out of the MDF to guarantee an even, consistent sanding to the 90 degree fence.

Like an excited schoolboy at 3 pm, I dashed right home and built my own with a few modest variations in overall size and features using the same 1/2" MDF material. It's 12" square so I could maximize the use of a 24" x 48" piece of MDF.

Rather than routing out the MDF, I simply used two layers overall to create the tracks. All of the MDF pieces were glued and screwed together for a really strong and rigid bond. Plus I preferred the extra heft that the additional layering gave me for added stability.

I used double sided tape to hold the sandpaper to the slider and actually used two different grades on the two sides for added flexibility.

While squaring up corners is crucial in modeling structures, my main use will be in butting together multiple side pieces since I am replicating three major mill structures that require multiple kits to be kitbashed.

Since this was a relatively easy task, and since I had an excess of clear pine from assorted benchwork adventures, I decided to mass produce a dozen 8" x 8" sanding jigs. I used the leftover 1/2" MDF as a base and 3/4" clear pine for the sander and fence. In a moment of sheer madness, I gifted them to my fellow GSD board members as a gesture of kindness.

Even made a few for lefthanded modelers. We're a full service that aims to please!

The underside shows the screw placement to hold the double layer. The four corner self-adhesive bumpers are reinforced with a dab of Goo for better adhesion.

I believe that there are similar jigs available commercially, and knowing Craig, he probably just wanted to save a few bucks while sticking it to the man. But one must admit, it's a neat, little project. I'm considering a few options on how best to build a second sanding slider that will give me a 45 degree angle for corners.

But that's it for now. Back to life's challenges. My hope is to have some energy to more regularly update this blog, because although postings have seriously lagged, work on the layout has only modestly been affected. Later!


We may live just 25 miles from the media capital of the world, but the editors of a local monthly may want to work on tweaking some of their headlines. Duh!... ya think?