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Krackel Hopper

KenS - In progress thread

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KenS

Well, all construction projects start with the existing location.  Usually it's a field, or an old building to be torn down.  In my case it's a plain of pink extruded polystyrene insulation foam alongside the "river" part of what I call my Riverside Station scene.  The Commuter Line station I'll be building for the contest is intended to evoke images of JR East's Ochanomizu Station where the Chuo Main (Rapid) Line and Chuo-Sobu Lines come together, just west of Akihabara, although it's not intended to be a re-creation of that station.

 

I'll post some initial plans/thoughts this weekend on my discussion thread.  For now, here's a photo showing the current state of the "pink plain".  It's about a 6-foot (2-meter) area perhaps a foot (30 cm) deep along the back of two 2-foot x 4-foot tables.  The tracks in the foreground (under the protective layer of paper) and crossing the river at the far left are the Subway line, which isn't part of the station, except that I need to model the subway tunnel entrance at the far left since it's going to be under the station entrance building (I think), and thus part of the scene.  The photo backdrop is presently just some test images taped up, likely to be changed, rearranged, or discarded before I'm done.

 

And yes, I'd said earlier I'd planned to have the topography and track in place by today.  You can see how far those plans went...  :sad:

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Hobby Dreamer

Nice start!!

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KenS

Well, it's been three weeks; I'm overdue for a progress report.

 

Progress: none.  Okay, that was quick.

 

Well, I should say a bit more. Very little progress has been made, but it's not none. I've mostly been working on the front half of the table, which isn't part of the station (it's the subway station and the express tracks above it).  I'll post something over in the Personal Projects thread when I get that to a semi-done state (which is close).  Meanwhile, I've mostly been planning (which is to say, staring off into space with a blank look on my face).

 

I do have a plan for the edging of the foam (that pink wall on the left in the photo below, and the white wall on the right) which involves making a retaining wall master in styrene and casting sections I can cut to height and glue to the foam. It's going to look like the wall in the reference photo I posted earlier: concrete pillars and upper cross-bar, with large stones between the uprights. A simple wall, but one with some character. Supplies have been acquired to begin construction of the master shortly. I hope to do some casting this week.  I've never done that before, so it will be a learning experience.

 

But mostly I’ve been staring at the tracks and going “what should the station look like?”. Below are three test mock-ups reflecting my current thinking:

 

Photo #1 has the green-roofed station entrance on the left (it's moved back in front of the tracks), a staircase (gray roof) up to a walkway that crosses the tracks, and the green roofed station building.  The problem with this design is that the height is wrong to use the green-roofed stairs down to the platforms, so I need to use the gray-roofed one that came with the pedestrian overpass.  Unfortunately, I’d need three of these, and have two, so I’d need to buy another overpass. Not a serious problem, but I want to be sure of my plans before I do. BTW, the platform in the foreground, spanning the subway tracks, is just temporary. The eventual support legs will go down to the subway tunnel roof (which has yet to be built), whatever I do.

 

Photo 2 is similar, except that the building mounts atop the platforms. That makes it a bit high relative to the trains, but lets me used the green-roofed stairs (I’m left with an alignment problem with the pedestrian walkway, but I can put that at an angle, or build an angled junction with the station building to imply interior stairs. 

 

Photo 3 gets rid of the large building, and just uses the entrance building and pedestrian tunnel. The alignment problem can be fixed by cutting the green-roofed stairs a bit short.  Hmm, I suppose I can do that for #1 also.

 

Of these, I’m inclined towards #1. As an urban station, I really need more of a station building than just the little one off to the left.  Plus it emphasizes the vertical aspect of the station to have the station building above the tracks, which are above the subway, above the river.  And, aside from the river embankment, this scene is short on “vertical”.

 

Whatever I do, the buildings will undergo a bit of surgery to make all the bits fit together, and will be disassembled and painted to get a flatter, less plastic look and a uniform color scheme (I do like the green roof, so I may go with something like that).  I’ll also give the interior a couple of coats of paint (black for opacity, then some bland color as wallpaper), add some figures where they can be seen through windows, and at least one white LED per building for lighting. Exterior signs in a couple of places where they’d be visible are also planned.

 

The photo backdrop is still the temporary one I put up with tape a few weeks ago. I’m still not sure I like the backdrop photo.  I may replace it with something else, if I can find something else I like better (more of a close-up panorama, shot from ground level or close to it).

 

Photos 4 & 5 show another bit I fixed.  I'd forgotten to make the embankment for the track that crosses from the far end of the station tracks over to the subway.  I made a couple of small ones separately, and will glue them down once I get the upper foam and other material in place, and the whole thing painted (I don't want to risk getting paint on the river, again, and having to paint it, again).

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KenS

Not much progress (none, really).  I spent the last week working on the front part of the table, roofing in the subway and getting that foam glued down.  It's going slowly, and I expect to continue working on it most of this week.

 

I did start planning the specific dimensions of the abutments I'm going to cast.  There will be two of them.  One for the part left of the subway where the height is level (55mm, to be precise), and one which can be used as a repeating element to the right of the subway crossing, with a 2% slope on the top, so it will be level with the sloping track. I can saw off increasing amounts of the bottom of the casting as I move further to the right.

 

The photo shows a mock up (done with graph paper) of the abutments I plan to cast for the left side. Before I go to all the work of building the master, I want to see how it will look proportional to the rest of the scene. It’s hard to tell, but the top will be level with the pink foam (I’ll add a fence along the edge, I think). I think it looks good. See the photo on the discussion thread for a reference of what I want it to look like.

 

I continue to waffle about the station design.  Do I want the entrance building in front of the tracks, as shown in the earlier photos, or behind, as shown here?  In front has the benefit of drawing the eye away from the backdrop. Placing it behind opens up the view of the crossover and switches, and also makes placement of the escape switch (shown below) better. I don't know the real name for these, but I've seen them in a number of photos. It appears that if a train without a “clear” (green) indication overruns the signal, rather than fouling the other line, it’s run into a dead end (usually a big pile of gravel leading to a solid concrete end-of-track bumper in photos I've seen online).

 

As an example, see the switch that diverges to the left just before the tunnel entrance:

 

Sasaguri Tunnel

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marknewton

Ken, here in Australia they're called catchpoints, or colloquially, "jacks". As you correctly surmised, they prevent an opposing movement occuring by diverting any train that passes a signal without authority away from any oncoming train.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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KenS

Thanks, Mark.  I've never seen anything like it here in the U.S.  It was such an obvious idea once I saw it, that I'm wondering why it isn't more common.

 

I suppose the extra switch and interlocking it with the signal are not an insignificant cost, but compared to the liability of an accident involving passengers that would seem relatively minor.

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CaptOblivious

Thanks, Mark.  I've never seen anything like it here in the U.S.  It was such an obvious idea once I saw it, that I'm wondering why it isn't more common.

 

I suppose the extra switch and interlocking it with the signal are not an insignificant cost, but compared to the liability of an accident involving passengers that would seem relatively minor.

 

 

You do see similar devices called "derails" on freight lines, especially where sidings converge with main lines. Rather than completely diverting a train moving against a signal, they just force the foremost car into the ballast, bringing it to a halt. I understand they're mostly for runaway freight cars.

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KenS

Brief update: still working on the mold for the first retaining wall.  The master is done, and covered with several coats of latex, with more to go.  I expect I'll be ready to cast the first one by the weekend, assuming the mold comes out okay.  Once the first casting is done, I'll post some photos.

 

About derails: I hadn't thought about that, but derails do serve much the same purpose.  I've seen them used where a branch line intersects a main. Most of the time they're independent of the signal, often just a simple hand-thrown casting that can be padlocked either on or off the rail, although I have seen ones that were remotely controlled or mechanically interconnected to a switch, so there can be an interlock with the signaling system.

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marknewton

Here's what happens when you pass a signal at stop and it has interlocked catchpoints...  :sad:

 

MGalleryItem.php?id=1026

 

MGalleryItem.php?id=1027

 

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MGalleryItem.php?id=1025

 

This happened on Monday, at the Drayton mine near Muswellbrook, NSW.

 

One wag suggested to  me that the loco class letters "TT" stand for Tilt Train!

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David

It's good that we can all laugh about that thanks to that kind of safety feature. It was just earlier today that I was reading through the NTSB's report on the 2002 BNSF collision between a 6000 foot coal train and a 7000 foot container train. The engineer on the coal train was making calls on his cell phone while approaching a siding - the one given on his after arrival warrant. While on the phone he missed the siding and continued on for another 7 miles before the head-on collision that killed the other engineer. In response BNSF changed their rules for issuing after arrival warrants (a seperate incident also led to a ban on cell phones) and the NTSB again stated the need for positive control safety systems.

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KenS

At last, some real progress to report.  Not on the station itself, but at least I'm on the right side of the river now.  :grin

 

I spent the last week (and a bit) making a mold for a cast plaster retaining wall segment to go at one end of the scene.  I need two sections, and they can be identical, so a mold, while not required, was a good method to use, and it gave me practice for the angled retaining wall along the station platforms themselves, which is going to need a large number of sections and will definitely benefit from using castings.

 

This wall is the one that separates the higher track of the station from the lower level of foam that carries the subway tracks.  There wasn't room to make a natural-looking slope (or even a compressed one), and retaining walls are common in Japan, including at Ochanomizu station, which is my inspiration for this scene.

 

Making a mold and casting plaster (actually Woodland Scenics lightweight hydrocal in my case) is well documented online, and you can find a number of explanations and lots of advice, some of it conflicting, through google).  I followed WS's instructions on the packages to start, then did a bit of online research mid-process.

 

Photo 1: Here's my photo reference (which comes from Flickr). Details to note here are that the angled stone block faces are darker, and stained with what looks like streaks of rust.  The concrete is a gray color, and stained with what is probably just water (it looks like a rainy day), but this does provide a bit of texture.  I'm not trying to exactly re-create this (that's beyond my current skill level), but this is the general impression I'm aiming to give. I added reinforcement in a number of places to make it solid, so it wouldn't deform when making the mold.

 

Photo 2:  First I made a scale drawing on graph paper and cut it out, to see how it looked in terms of proportions once set into the scene.

 

Photo 3: With that settled, I cut out a whole lot of plastic, using Evergreen sheet styrene (1 mm) for the pillars and rock faces, and strip styrene (mostly 0.75 mm, some 0.5 mm) for everything else.  This needed to be a box with a solid front and sides, about 1/4 inch (5-6 mm) deep.  It was eventually glued to a larger sheet of 1mm plastic to make a flange for the back of the mold.

 

Photo 4: the parts were glued together, working on a sheet of glass laid atop my cutting surface so glue wouldn't stick to it, and everything would be (hopefully) level.

 

Photo 5: throughout the process, I checked and re-checked to ensure the master stayed square.

 

Photo 6: The styrene I had cut out to make the openings between the pillars was re-used as the rock faces.  I used my scribing tool (used for grooving plastic to snap it in a straight line) to cut grooves to represent the stones, then I made a couple of vertical passes with 100-grit sandpaper to provide some texture to the "stone", and lightly sanded the result with 220-grit sandpaper to remove any fragments of styrene. When glued in place, I made sure that the top wasn't all the way at the back, so that there would be several mm of thickness in the eventual plaster there.

 

Photo 7: Finally, I patched the holes where things didn't quite meet up with model putty.  This turned out to be a mistake, as this particular putty uses a Toluene-based solvent, the same compound used in styrene glue.  And while it's probably fine in small quantities, after it dried I discovered the master wasn't quite square anymore.  Viewed from the front, one end had lifted about 2mm above "level".  I wasn't pleased, but decided this could be hidden by scenery if necessary, and I didn't want to throw out several evenings of work and start over.  But lesson learned for next time: keep the gaps small, and patch with plastic if at all possible (you can also use plaster itself to patch holes, but then you have to paint the surface before applying the latex.

 

I'm going to post a second set of photos in a couple of minutes showing the mold and the first two castings.

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KenS

And now for the casting.  I taped the flange of the master to my sheet of glass, to keep it from moving around. Then I made the mold by coating the master with several layers of WS Latex Rubber, painted on using a disposable paint brush for each layer (my local craft store has cheap 1-inch bristle paint brushes for $0.59; I wouldn't use them with actual paint, as the bristles are quite irregular, but they work fine for this).  The third or fourth layer (I forget which) was actually a layer of latex with cut-out sections of handi-wipes pressed into it, then painted over with another layer of latex before being left to dry (for two nights). You can also use gauze bandage or a number of other things, but I found the handi-wipes tip online, and these worked very well as a thin but strong porous reinforcing layer.

 

One important point: the first layer should be really thin, so you can ensure it coats everything, but see any bubbles or gaps where it didn't contact the master.  Some people apply a really light dusting of talcum powder to the master as a mold release, then blow most of it off.  I didn't, and really didn't have much trouble removing the latex, but my surface was pretty flat.  I can see where this might be necessary with a master having lots of fine detail and depth, as my latex did tear slightly in a couple of the gaps (not enough to compromise the mold, or to obscure any important detail).

 

Photo 1: with the latex dry, I removed it from the master and washed it off in a bucket of water (which is why part of it appears white in this photo) to remove any residue it picked up from the plastic.  You can see where a few chunks remained in the master, where the latex had gotten into small grooves or corners and tore on removal.

 

Photo 2: to keep the mold from distorting, I propped it up with a pair of paint-stirring sticks top and bottom (the sides are short enough that I wasn't worried about them belling out).  I also put some cut cardboard under part of the angled faces, to try to keep them from distorting under the weight of the plaster.  This wasn't all that successful, and I probably need to do something a bit more sophisticated for the next mold, although it was "good enough" for these two castings.

 

Photo 3: With the mold ready, I mixed a small batch of WS Lightweight Hydrocal, and poured it into the mold, leaving it to set for 24 hours. The first attempt came out badly.  I had several areas where the plaster had turned crumbly (possibly due to poor mixing of the material, or too much air getting mixed in) and it was more fragile than I'd expected (the broken off end was deliberate; I wanted to see how strong it was in general, after deciding that this casting was a reject: it took a bit of force to snap it, but not as much as I'd expected from past experience with Plaster of Paris, but that was long ago and my memory may be fooling me).

 

Photo 4: The second attempt came out much better.  Here it is posed in place, after having the rough edges filed and sanded. I also smoothed the back (the top of the pour) by rubbing it on a sheet of sandpaper wrapped around a board.  I did several things differently this time.  First, I tried to do less stirring of the plaster, but got my fingers into it to look for rough chunks and do a final stir.  Second, I sprayed the mold with "wet water" (water with a drop of dish detergent in about a quart of water) to reduce the surface tension of the plaster against the mold (and once wet, I shook the mold to remove any large amounts of water than had pooled in it; I just wanted a damp surface). Third, I poured the plaster carefully along the edges, rather than in the center has I had done the first time, then I filled in the center after the edges had settled down a bit. Finally, immediately after pouring, I took a small strip of cardboard (about 1-inch square) and used it to probe gently down into all of the corners and edges, to ensure plaster was pushed down into them, and no bubbles had formed under it.

 

Photo 5: And finally, I painted it.  This used WS "concrete" for the verticals and "stone gray" for the rock faces (which was a bit darker than my test painting had suggested; I think I need to dilute it a bit).  After the paint dried (and I did a couple of coats for completeness), I dry brushed WS "burnt umber" vertically down the rock faces to suggest rust streaks, and a diluted black ink solution was dry-brushed onto the concrete to darken it and provide texture.  I'm not sure the ink worked very well, and I may re-paint that, but otherwise I'm satisfied with the result.

 

BTW, the platform on its side in the back isn't just resting there.  It's a test to see how a fence or retaining wall offset from the backdrop would look as a way to visually break the foreground from the backdrop.  It's better than nothing, but I'm not really satisfied with the result.

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KenS

Less than a week to go, and I haven't even started on the "station" part of what I call the Riverside Station scene.  It's pretty clear I'm not going to complete my contest entry (I'll be lucky to start it).

 

Despite that, I wouldn't call this a bust for me.  The contest, and the thought of posting a weekly update, has kept me motivated to work on the other parts of this scene that form the pre-requisite (or at least I think so) to working on the station itself.

 

The last several weeks went to getting a roof over the subway tracks (seen in the foreground of the first photo below, with the Rapid/Shinkansen tracks laid atop the roof). That's now done, and I'll be finishing wiring up the Rapid/Shinkansen tracks this weekend, and hopefully running some trains. The roof is 2mm styrene, with WS roadbed glued atop it, and a 2% incline along about half (Liquid Nails glues WS foam to styrene quite well, and plaster cloth will cover both if you "lip" it around the edge of the styrene). And it turned out to be rigid enough to bridge the 5" (125mm) gap of the subway tunnel without noticeable flex.

 

I also finished up the two cast plaster retaining walls for the end of the scene where the houses go, although I'm still uncertain about how to paint them.  The right one has "rust" streaks, but I think they are misplaced here since there's nothing above to rust, while the left one lacks those, but looks too "flat", perhaps I need some vines growing up them to break up the expanse of stone a bit.  More thought required there.

 

So, still no station, and not much prospect of even starting it this week, but I'm still glad I made the attempt, however lame the result.

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quinntopia

Hi Ken!  Nice to see your progress on this  layout!  Is this part of a larger layout, or a separate section that will be removed for exhibitions (you mentioned a contest in your first post on this I believe).  Regardless, I like the dimensions of the layout and how you are combining a river with multiple lines and stations.  Has a great feel to it!

 

Here's a potential solution for your backdrop.  I've been looking at these products, but haven't made a choice yet.  As near as I can tell, they're about the best choice for urban settings that I've seen (mostly US focused though).

http://backdropwarehouse.com/SkCommrclCitiesGrp.htm#167B

 

I haven't ordered anything from them as 1) they're expensive and 2) navigating the site is a headache.

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cteno4

One warning with this website is that i tried to buy some of these for domino (they did not want to ship to europe) and the order went in and then went poof. was really hard to get them to respond and they went round and round and finally said they just had no record of the order when i had a final order response page printed out. they were of little help and took pushing to get responses.

 

it turns out they have a few different portals to their system and projects and thats probably where things went poof. It was hard to tease out which was the base company and which was a portal--it was all a bit circular. i do gobs of internet ordering and very few problems overall, but this was the most frustrating i have had for a while!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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KenS

Hi Ken!  Nice to see your progress on this  layout!  Is this part of a larger layout, or a separate section that will be removed for exhibitions (you mentioned a contest in your first post on this I believe).  Regardless, I like the dimensions of the layout and how you are combining a river with multiple lines and stations.  Has a great feel to it!

 

The contest I was referencing was this one.  And both the layout and this part of it are "stay at home" layouts.

 

The station is part of my Sumida Crossing layout, which is a simple 16' x 4' oval (well, three double-track ovals), divided into three large "scenes", described more fullly on my thread on the Personal Projects forum, or at my website. I have given some thought to making this something I could easily adapt in the future if I had more room (e.g., making the two linear scenes part of an "along the wall" layout), but this would require significant work.  Right now, I'm quite constrained on available space, although I have thought about converting this into an L-shape by replacing the "unsceniced" end, but I'd need to clean out the basement a bit to do that, and discard what is left of my old HO layout tables (stacked in a corner right now), and I'm not quite ready to do that yet.

 

Thanks for the pointer to the backdrop supplier, I'll check them out.

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quinntopia
One warning with this website is that i tried to buy some of these for domino (they did not want to ship to europe) and the order went in and then went poof. was really hard to get them to respond and they went round and round and finally said they just had no record of the order when i had a final order response page printed out. they were of little help and took pushing to get responses.

 

it turns out they have a few different portals to their system and projects and thats probably where things went poof. It was hard to tease out which was the base company and which was a portal--it was all a bit circular. i do gobs of internet ordering and very few problems overall, but this was the most frustrating i have had for a while!

 

Jeff, that doesn't surprise me based on the Byzantine 'organization' of their website.  The website is probably one of the most confusing ever created.  There are so many blue text links that aren't textlinks, and 'fake buttons' that you don't know where you are or where to click; and then you wind up at a different 'portal' altogether!  It appears they do the photo backdrop thing really well, but they really need to hire a professional designer to straighten out that site!

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