Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Work Continues on Groveton Paper Mill

Inspired by my efforts on the brick facade representing a portion of the overall paper mill in Groveton, I looked over other kits and materials on hand, and also spent some time studying the layout area and planning what might fit where.

I had picked up one of the great Robertson Paper buildings from Monster Model Works when it came out. I did not have a specific location in mind for this building, for which the prototype is located in Bellows Falls VT. Looking at the space and the building kit, I realized I could fit it in as a stand alone building between the tracks and the larger background buildings.

I broke out the kit and spent a few hours with it. Th kit is tremendous to work with and the detail within the brick is outstanding. If you have not tried any of their products, I would highly recommend checking them out. The instructions are terrific also.

The main 4 walls require a little sanding on the ends and then a special corner piece with brick detail is used to join them seamlessly. I used Canopy glue and clamps with good results. The laser cut window components are shown here prior to painting.

After painting the window components (by brush, which does take longer), I started assembling them. These go together great as well, with peel and stick backing to secure the laser cut glazing. Completed window parts are in the upper right. I left the tissue backing on the back sides until I am ready to install them, to help prevent fingerprints and scratches. I did this while watching some railfan videos on YouTube.
After adding internal bracing, I brush painted the walls with craft acrylic paint, as specified in the instructions. I used a color called Heritage Brick which has a nice look and will contrast to the DPM wall I previously built. This building will represent a much older part of the mill. After letting it dry, there was small areas not totally covered and these were touched up. I used a second brick-like color to make some contrast here and there. The walls are ready for mortar next. The kit instructions mention using weathering powder and alcohol. This will be a new technique. I will start with the wall not facing the layout to see how it looks!

Down on the layout, I decided to build 2 larger structures, next to each side of the brick section I just built. These will be built up with styrene, other brick wall components and some concrete block components. More on that later.

To provide a sub-structure base for these walls, I used foam core board. A friend, who is a model railroader and also a developer, has provided many large sheets of this to local model railroaders. These were left over from various projects, having architectural drawings on one side, but empty on the back. I built up the wall sections, added bracing and supports so they would stand on their own, and determined openings for the tracks.

The overall scene changes dramatically with the building sections in place blocking the hidden trackage. To the left is the larger building, 8 inches by 42 inches. This will be concrete block on the lower half, and vertical metal siding above. I will build out sheds to partially cover the tracks leading into the building. These will help hide the view behind. Each track holds three 50' boxcars. To the right will be another section, brick on the bottom and then metal siding above to look like a smaller building expanded in height. The area in front of that will be the location of the standalone kit mentioned above.

In the center will be an older brick section of the mill. The idea is that the mill started smaller in the center area and expanded in each direction over the years. This view from my eye level indicates that I will need a little bit of roof added to better conceal the tracks behind.

Taking a cue from the prototype, I will paint the metal siding a greenish color, which seemed to show up on many buildings of this type in that time period.

Although the Groveton mill closed in 2007 and has since been torn down and the site remediated, there are a number of older pictures to use for ideas and reference.

An overall view from the river side of the mill. The rail served the opposite side. The combination of brick and metal siding is on display here.
The small building to the left gave me the idea to include stand alone building(s). The metal siding shows a number of interesting details that can be added.
A picture from the 1990s of the truck loading area shows the metal siding color and the concrete brick painted white.
In the 1990s, after the Maine Central and Boston & Maine (Guilford by that time) pulled out of the area, the New Hampshire & Vermont provided rail service. Here a GP38 idles next to the mill building.

The Berlin Mills boxcar is in a similar color to the metal siding. Again, more interesting details that can be added to the exterior of these parts of my models.

The taller structure with stacks will not be seen on my model as I have the upper deck limiting the height I can model. Here is the successor to the Grand Trunk, the St. Lawrence & Atlantic, switching the mill. The mill was served by both the B&M and the GT. I replicate some interchange at Groveton between the BM and GT, but I only include the BM servicing the mill in my operations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Groveton Paper Mill

I have been doing some layout work away from the layout recently. I have made use of our kitchen island to work on various projects in the past, and this I decided is also a good place to work on the structures related to the Groveton paper mill, served by the Boston and Maine. A large flat surface with good lighting really helps!

I am ready to do some scenery work around the Crawford station now that the full platform is in place, but that has to be done at the layout. I was looking for some work to do upstairs, besides locomotives or freight cars, and I realized I have a lot of what I need for Groveton already on hand, and just need to start building it.

The mill area will contain a number of buildings, flats, storage tanks, small structures, etc. to capture the rail served area of the mill. Having a large amount of Design Preservation Models (DPM) wall components on hand, I decided to start with one large simple building flat to get started. The area behind Groveton has 3 hidden tracks that should not be easily seen, but still have access if needed. I plan to have a number of flats to run along the approximately 60" length of this area. Some will just be flat only, others will have extensions out into the foreground. The idea is to not have just one long building flat, but a series of connected buildings built at different times to look more visually appealing. I am not following the prototype mill in Groveton exactly, but instead I will combine parts of mills I have captured in pictures and research, to best fit my available space.

The first flat will be a basic brick wall section tall enough to adequately screen the hidden tracks. I'll jump ahead here and show you the built up wall, partially completed and basically in the right place. It is not installed, just positioned to see how it will look.

The wall section for one building flat. It uses 16 wall components and includes cornice trim at the top for additional height. It will sit up a little higher and a little bit more forward to be out of the shadow from above, the shelf for North Stratford.
As can be seen, additional buildings will be needed to the left and right to adequately screen the tracks behind and also convey that this is a large industry.

It has been a while since I worked on a styrene structure or with DPM parts. It is a lot of fun, but the key is in the finish and weathering. Most of the pictures I have of New Hampshire brick buildings such as this show an almost brown color to the brick and usually quite a bit of staining from various elements.

After laying out and gluing the wall sections and adding a long .040" strip along the seam to solidify the joint between the top and bottom sections, I sprayed the wall with Rustoleum Rusty Metal primer, a pretty nice looking dark reddish brown paint. Next. I tried a mortar technique using Pan Pastel neutral gray and an alcohol wash. In short, I did not get good results. I know others have used this technique successfully but I was just not getting the look I wanted. Perhaps with more practice, but for now, I wanted to keep the project rolling.

So I went with mixing up a plaster wash, rubbing it into the the wall sections, letting it sit a bit to settle into the joints and dry a little, and then wiping it with a paper towel. This is similar to a technique I used before with water putty, but not able to find that in the house, I used some plaster instead. Here is a look at the painted wall, a wall covered in plaster and then a wall that has been wiped at the right.

The plaster is quite wet here on the center sections. It is best to let it sit a bit before wiping it off so that enough plaster is left behind in the joints. The straight Rustoleum paint color can be seen to the left.
It is fairly easy and the results look good. If an area has too little mortar for your liking, you can apply some more and wipe off again after a bit. As long as you don't let it set up too much, there should not be an issue.

To achieve some of the staining and color variations I saw in pictures, I did go back to pan pastels, using various red and brown colors and some black too. I did this once the surface was dry. I had more time to work and instead of waiting overnight for the plaster to fully set up and dry, I moved ahead. I did not have any issues. Here are some of the results after the Pan Pastels were applied. Further work was done after this but captures the basic effect.

I liked how I was able to show some streaking from the windows and add a little dirtiness around the lower sections of the walls. The reds and browns also helped vary the brick color a bit.
After finishing up and then letting it dry overnight, the color changed just a little and blended nicely overall. As I liked the look and do not think the structure will get much handling, I decided not to apply a flat finish. I'm not sure how that might change the look. I don't see any real issues handling it as I continue to work on it. I think on a future building I will prepare a separate section and do all the same work, but then apply the flat finish to see exactly how that affects the overall look, if at all.

Last night I did more work, but pictures will be posted later. I want to brick in all the upper windows as this was a common look in most pictures I have in my time period. I used a very old piece of Holgate and Reynolds brick sheet to carefully cut pieces to fit into the arched windows. This was not easy and took a bit of filing and trimming to get right, Doing all 12 took most of the evening. As this is very thin sheet, my pieces actually are a little bigger to go over the openings and leave no gap. I brush painted these pieces with a more reddish color to show a different type of brick, and then used inexpensive craft store acrylic paint, a white and a tan mixed together, and wiped it on and off the pieces with a paper towel. The lower windows and door were painted a tarnished black and glued in place. I'll apply clear glazing to these windows and then "frost" it from behind with a flat finish. The large door I plan to model as a roll up door that will be partially open. I'll build a black box behind it and add some interior details. This will help hide the overall flat look of the building. and add interest.

More pictures on this work will be posted next time.

Additional buildings for the mill will be from steel, as well as a brick and steel combination I have seen. The angled paper loading tracks will be partially covered by steel structures as well to add more a 3 dimensional look to the overall flat structures. I have some Evergreen sheet ready to go for this.

I also have some room out front for another conventional (4 sided) building kit I want to use, and I'll add some wood chip piles to the far right. But that is future work. For now, I want to get this first building done and start planning the next one to be placed to the left of it. This flat will butt up against the walls of adjacent buildings, so I won't need any actual sides for this flat. And I do not think I will need any roof either because of the restricted sight lines and the upper level shelf above.

For reference, here is an older picture of the Groveton area, with the hidden trackage above slightly behind the scene.

Taken about 3 years ago, it will be nice to get some structures and scenery in place at Groveton!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

TBT - 1980's Detail Parts

I was doing some cleaning up around the workbench and came across 2 items purchased a while ago to help with freight car detailing and modeling in the 1980's. Back then of course we did not have as many options with prototype specific freight cars and modifying existing kits was necessary to push towards more accurate models.

The first item addressed a need to duplicate what the real railroads have been doing over the past decade of the 1970's - removing roof walks from boxcars. Many older 40 and 50 foot boxcars had their ladders lowered and roof walks removed, so it was natural to model that as well if you were a "current" era modeler, which I was at the time.

But removing the roof walk of an Athearn boxcar left you with 4 rather large holes to fill in. Hence the introduction of "Roofwalk Plugs" by I believe CM Shops.

These 4 plugs fit nicely into the Athearn roof, and have a matching rib detail to help blend the roof.
Not a lot of use for these now as more accurate "modernized" 40' boxcars can be purchased in model form already without the roofwalk. Even some older models with roof walks have such small holes that plugging them is not a big deal. Not sure if you can even find this product any more, except buried deep in an older hobby shop perhaps.

Next up was a cool add on for hopper cars. It seems the capacity of some older cars with flat sides were increased with the addition of side panel extensions that protruded between the ribs, as shown here on this D&H model:

An older issue of Model Railroading had a cool picture of a Central Vermont hopper car with some of these panel extensions added, but not completely on every panel. It was a cool effect, and I know I wanted to model that.

To model that appearance, a company (maybe Tichy?) produced styrene panels that you could glue to the sides of existing Athearn rib side coal hoppers. Here a look at some of them I came across:

These parts fit in specific locations between the ribs of the coal hopper to duplicate the look of the D&H car shown above.
It was pretty neat coming across these older parts which really helped you create unique models that were otherwise unavailable. I doubt I'll be using these parts, although I believe in a box somewhere is the CV hopper replicating the look of the car that did not have all the panels. That would explain why I only came across some of the panels from the original detail part. So maybe I'll dig that out and finish it one day.

Monday, May 02, 2016

What's Up with Intermountain Trucks?

I can't imagine I'm the only one who has had this issue. I have some nice Intermountain cars that came ready-to-run. For some reason, and without any obvious cause, I have had a truck on more than one of these cars just fall apart. Looking closely I can see one of the truck side frames seems to have broken off from whatever helps hold the pin into the center section.

There does not appear to be any fix for this that I can figure out. Pressing the side frame back on does not hold it in place and gluing it is not really an option, and probably would cause tracking issues with half of the truck being rigid and the other half having some flexibility.

Anyone else have this issue and know what is going on?

A good truck still on the car, and this one where the side came of the center section. The pin on the side frame no longer holds the piece together.
I replaced the truck with another manufacturer.

Otherwise the trucks are great. Just until they disintegrate.