Monday, October 12, 2015

Grain Facility Continued

Had some progress made on the grain elevator in last couple of days. The conveyor belt is now complete, and all the components are now painted. The facility is more or less done, requires just a loading chute for the barges, some grain on the open part of the conveyor and a barge full of grain!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Grain Facility Contnd.

The next step was to add the shades at the end/joint of the each conveyor segment. I had simply cut the appropriate sizes of the corrugated sheets, painted them, and glued them using model cement. Given there are no removable parts, I just used the existing structure as reinforcements for these structures and didn't really waste any time creating reinforcements of their own - after all time is short!

The next phase was to create the hopper car loading facility. Here, I need to mention that like most of  my other structures, this one will also be removable to aide easier maintenance down the line. So, I made a simple structure using the corrugated styrene sheets and glued it to the edge of the concrete base of the coveyor structures using additional cardboard reinforcements and small ABS pillars - this structure doesn't really have a base and when moved will be held in place just by that one edge.

So, here are some photos. My aging Fuji camera is not really in best of its abilities but that's the one I had right on top of the layout - so, just took some quick shots - you have to excuse that extra noise.

The remaining pieces in this facility are the conveyor section to connect the HAC and the elevator tower, connecting the rail car loading section to the elevator tower and finally building the barge loading arm - and of course necessary painting and weathering. Given I will be on vacation the whole of next week, I am assuming this would take at least 2 more weeks to see completion.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Grain Facility - Contnd.

The next step in the conveyor belt portion was to add the 'stairway to heaven!' Pretty straight forward - glue the Plastruct stairs using model cement, and then add the railings. I have used small styrene pieces as the top floor and landings, and some spare parts from the trestle kit to support the first landing from the floor.

The next step was the time consuming painting! However, I have moved away from acrylic in this one (because my matt medium stock is over) and decided to use leftover paint from one of my airfix kits that I built a few days back (A Messerschmitt Bf109 for interested souls). As you can see the humbrol enamel paint does a fantastic job even without an airbrush. I have never achieved this finish with acrylic using paint brush.

as you can see, the wires for lights is in place as well (actual lights yet to be installed).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Grain Facility

I finally forced myself to take some time out to engage in another intricate project. It's going to be 5 years in this November that I started with this layout, and now I really want to see this finished as early as possible. Well the fact that I have been saying that for last 3 years sort of indicates how realistic that is going to be! :)

Anyway, so among the major items that are still pending, I thought of taking up the grain facility as the first one - it's already half done, and is actually the biggest of all the facilities, so finishing it will be a major milestone.

So as you have been seeing for last about 3 years, the silos and the elevator tower is already in place, so is the small pneumatic unloader. To refresh your memories, here is the build description of the unloader:

Now, given the extremely constricted space available and the fact that the rail line goes in between the unloader and the elevator/silo, I decided to approach the model in a little different way - simulate the elevator tower just for the output to barge and hopper cars, and use conveyors for input to the silos.

This required a High Angle Conveyor, or commonly known as HAC. The operation can be visualized as the barges bringing in the grain will be unloaded by the pneumatic unloader, place on a horizontal open conveyor that takes it to HAC, HAC lifts it to the required height, and then another low angle usual conveyor takes it to the silos turning it nearly 180 degrees. The elevator mechanism required for loading barges and hoppers can be imagined to be inside the elevator tower.

Now leaving the technical pieces aside, here are some photos of the progress so far. Due to lack of time, I am not taking photos of each step, only building milestones. Here are a few photos of the HAC progress so far.

Materials are primarily styrene sheets (Yes, a change in my approach from paper for once) and left over runner material from my old trestle kit - after all, I had to use some scrap material to do justice to my approach!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Photo Marathon Contnd...

Some more pictures from the Photo Marathon 10 days ago. For a moment I thought it was last weekend, then I realized it was 10 days ago! Time does fly!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rail-fanning weekend

My friend Rahul is no model railroader but he is very keen about photography. So when he visited this last weekend with his DSLR and a 18-55 mm lens, we had lots of fun trying to take night time photos and trying to reveal as much details as possible. I also put my astro-mod (without the IR cut-off filter) to some good use to see how an astro-mod camera handles model photography.

We had taken a lot of photos and I will be posting some of them over a period of time. For now, here are my picks:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lighted Vehicles

Well, I have noticed that in N scale, it is a rarity to see lighted vehicles in night scenes, hence naturally that was in my list of to-dos from the very beginning. And I am glad to say, 4 years on, I finally achieved it!

Vehicles are not new to those who are following the progress - very humble Kato's Toyota Automobile set (, and one of the woodland scenics Bad Boy bikers ( And as for equipment - Model Expo drill set ( and Circuitron 0.04" optic fiber. Plus I used locally available cheap and thin optic fibers (0.5mm dia) for the bike.

I think the trickiest one was the bike. Those who owned an N scale bike knows that it IS tiny! Moreover, the cheap and fragile local optic fiber kept on breaking or bending resulting in reduced luminosity or no light at all. I actually had ruined the headlight of one of the bikes in the process, the poor tiny 'bad boy' now needs to keep his bike permanently facing the backdrop. The second attempt came out to be satisfactory after a few tweaks.

The cars were pretty easy - just drill a 0.04" hole so that the optic fibers are snug fit to the hole and then bend them through the car's contour. One difficulty was that the Circuitron optic fiber was pretty strong with a lot of elasticity, so straightening it or bending it was a challenge and it would push the light plastic car out of it's place. little fiddly, but nothing that a good model cement cannot handle!

So without further introduction - here are the photos:

I will have to put a couple more lighted cars in the far right corner of the approach (where the cafe is, and a couple of vehicles in the the main port - that will make the night scenes complete.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The town... is served!

Finally! The town scene in the layout and the approach to the port is now complete. The only addition will be a few lighted cars, and some more figures. Time to shift focus to the boat yard so that I can leave that corner alone!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Last bit of track modeled in concrete

All right - guess this is definitely a milestone! Given that I'm building a layout where the tracks are meant to be modeled in concrete, having to finish the last bit of such modeling certainly is a good feeling - a feeling like seeing light at the end of the tunnel! I might be able to complete this project after all. :P

anyway - here is the completed town scene with the last bit of track modeled to be molded in concrete. A little larger area than your typical level crossing as this is still the extension on the port - a small street running sort. All that it needs now is some final detailing, some figure, a few lighted cars - then the town scene is complete. Oh! yes, I almost forgot - the boat yard in the foreground.

The layout certainly looks like it's near to the finish line. Once the town scene is done, the only three remaining sections will be the coal transfer facility, the conveyor belt for the grain elevator and the oil storage facility. I think then I can call this done!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jack.. is back! :P

Finally some progress! Started working on the layout after the longest gap in 4 years - nearly 6 months! Aim is to complete the background scenery and the town scene first. More to come!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Our 2nd Article in N Scale Mag

So we have part 1 of our 2nd article published in N Scale Mag, detailing the process of building the N Scale container crane. Part 2 is releasing on May-June edition.

In the mean time, modeling time is down to all time low for last about 6 months - the last serious effort was the weathering project in September. I am desperately hoping to get back on track soon - pray for me guys!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Another year...

Though 2014 started with some great spirit as far as model railroading is concerned, I was thrown out of the hobby for the whole of last quarter of the year, and continued for the whole of the first month of this year. And this time work was not the main culprit (Though I had changed my job in between), it was primarily another hobby of mine - astronomy. I just graduated from casual observer to a casual astro-photographer, and though it doesn't look like a big change - it actually is!

I managed to clean the layout in the long weekend of Jan 24-26 as I had a friend visiting us with her family, so it was a good excuse to pull up my sock, get my ass moving and get the layout clean and functioning again.

Post my last serious work in weathering in September, all I could do was set up some additional characters and port details on the layout. So tonight, I just spent some time running trains and taking snaps of things that I haven't posted yet. So here are some photos. I hope I get the momentum to start with the pending pieces and get some real progress done soon!

Mike and Andre taking a quick break from their duties as the crane operator lifted the the 2nd 20 ft container from one of the flat cars.

Juan and Jose are two brothers from a family of four brothers and two sisters (and their parents of course). Their family moved to the US from Mexico 10 years back, and unlike many Mexicans in the US, they are actually legal from day one.

At the end of the first shift it's a regular routine among Sam, 'Sully' and Steve to have a lazy, useless conversation about everything under the sun - Union Politics, Vietnam to beer comparison - nothing escaped their warm-up sessions before heading out to the nearby bar every evening.

A general scene of the dock workers in a busy day at the port. We will get introduced to each of them later. :)