US Style Track in S - Jameston & Leven River RR

Discussion in 'Techniques' started by JimG, 22 February 2016.

  1. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    That is a magnificent building Jim:thumbs:. To be finished in red brick?

    Not going cobblestone or concrete the area to inset the track :eek:?
  2. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Yes, but a different red to the other buildings at the left hand end next to the car float dock. I'l probably use Halfords red primer as a base for them and the Vallejo primer for this building.

    I've been thinking about that. :) But I'm up against it for time so I'm thinking about the vestiges of cobbles or setts immdately adjacent to the building facade which disppear at the fence line where the tracks begin - with plenty of weeds, nettles and whatever the American equivalent to rose bay willow herb is. :) I also wonder if decrepit American buildings have forsythia growing out of cracks - like here in the Bristol area. :)

  3. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I ploughed on with detailing the buildings.


    The details of the brick arches were cut from thinner 1mm MDF - still a bit thicker than scale but I find that a slight accentuation of depths can look better when viewing at the regulation three foot distance. The window recesses in the bag in the right were cut along with the main sides from the 1.5mm MDF.


    Getting into the American mood. :) With the layout set up in the lounge to work on, a quick temporary workbench is made up from a bit of MDF clamped to a workmate - here in front of the TV on Sunday evening with the NFL Red Zone churning out. Packers lost - not pleased. :'(


    The joints on the MDF are made with glue in the brick interlocks but this is not sufficient since I find the MDF can de-laminate quite easily and an MDF to MDF joint can give way. So the joint is reinforced with a piece of 2mm square stripwood stuck in the corner. The belt and braces are brackets to hold the wall at right angles and I've used my big hot glue gun for this since the hot glue weld covers a fairly large area to avoid delamination. The glue also sets quickly which cuts down the holding time.


    And here's the final, for now, result with all the arch detailing done, the window and door recesses fitted and the brickwork placed in the cornices. I have to create more details for the cornices and the CNC mill might well get involved in that. I've also fitted all the sills, cutting them from 2.5mm MDF in the laser cutter. The next job will be do build a base for this building on the baseboard so that it can be positioned and removed when required. The base has to fit round the fittings for four Tortoise motors and the frog juicers so there will be a bit of fiddling ahead. :)

    I think I will have a "window fest" for all the windows required for the buildings. I think I will be using the same basic principles for all the windows for all the buildings so I can get into gear to churn out a lot of the basic bits and pieces in one go.

    I might even start painting it. :)

  4. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Another week and another pile of bits. :)


    These are all the parts to build the goods shed next to the large building. I'm refining my design as I go along to get better and neater joint work on the MDF. I decided to put some buttress work on this building and my early work with buttresses required a lot of built up support on joints where the brickwork was on the inside of the joint. However I used a method in the previous building whereby I extended one of the walls in the joint and cut holes in the wall to allow the brickwork from the mating wall to be inserted, and I could then put the 2mm square joint strengthener on the non brick side of the joint. The pile of parts show the projecting side of the buttresses stuck to the main wall sections and extended back by a goo0d few millimetres. The one problem with this methoed of construction is the pile of small burnt cubes from the socket holes distributed all over the place until I learned to get the vacuum cleaner on the parts immediately after they had been cut. :)


    In this picture, the 2mm reinforcing of the projections can be seen and the joining up operation has been started on the parts with the cut faces of the buttresses.


    And this is the front face of the above showing the buttress work so far.


    Now the construction has been completed and horizontal 10mm x 6mm bars have been glued into the notches in the backward extensions to firm the whole thing up. Even when the glue has fully set the 1.5mm MDF is still very flexible. Brackets are also hot glued to the end walls to support them fully. I've just noticed one minor problem. The inner extensions go right to the top of the walls - they should have stopped about 10 mm below to allow the roof to be recessed behind the coping walls. A bit of work with a razor saw should rectify that.



    And the building roughly in place in the layout. A loading platform has to be built along the front of the building and there will also be a canopy over this platform.

    The back story on this building is that it was built with the arrival of the railway and the design was a bit more utilitarian than its mid-Victorian neighbour.


    I based it roughly on a mix of the two buildings in the upper centre in this picture of Pensicola warehouses from the Shorpy archive, and added the buttresses to break up the slab sided look of the building. The double-framed arched windows come from the right hand one and the general building style from the left hand one.

    The coming week will be aimed at filling in the last buildings - a power house and another warehouse and loading bay for the factory at the other end of the layout.
    Last edited: 13 October 2018
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  5. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Onwards and upwards - yet another building to plug the remaining gap in the backscene. :)


    ...the Packard factory in Detroit. The attraction of this building was that it was a mix of brick and concrete and it was also of such a design that I could make it in sections and use up a lot of large offcuts of MDF left over from previous buildings.


    This is a section from the top picture showing more detail of the brickwork and concrete...


    ...and this is a section of the upper part showing the construction method with the concrete shuttering. The building was in the process of being extended upwards by two storeys.


    Here are seven of the sections cut out and with the recessed ornamental brick panels and the lower brick panels


    A closer picture of the sections and the ornamental brick panels placed together. The main sections are cut from my usual 1.5mm MDF and the decorative panels are cut using 1mm MDF to give a recess in the case of the ornamental panels and a small projection in the case of the lower brick panels. At the moment I am undecided on whether to use 1mm MDF strips or Plastikard strips to represent the concrete vertical pillars to cover the joins. I might just go with Plastikard and use suede paint to get rid of teh smooth surface.


    All the sections are held together by two lengths of wood - the offcuts from the lengths used in the previous warehouse. :) I'm trying to use up all my odds and ends as I go to prevent the "it might be useful someday" pile increasing. :) I also discovered that my Emblaser was cutting very slightly out of square when joining all these sections together. I've fudged around the slight inaccuracies and I'll have another go at the Emblaser to true it up.



    Here's the building in place, adjoining the decrepit old storehouse. There will be a couple of loading bays next to the siding.

    The last hole to be filled is between this building and the first building and that will be a boiler house for the industry at the far end of the layout and there will be a discharge pit between under the siding for coal. The gondola is sitting just about where the pit will be. I've got a building lined up for that and I'm hoping to get that drawn cut and built by the weekend which will mean that all the basic building work is finished and all (!!!??) that remains is the painting and detailing. :)

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  6. unklian

    unklian Western Thunderer

    Just noticed the name of your layout may have a musical connection .... you're not a Doll by Doll fan by any chance ??;)
  7. simond

    simond Western Thunderer


    This is lovely, I’m interested by your approach, which seems to mirror my own - a Welsh loco shed, here

    Porth Dinllaen in 0 - Page 36 - 7mm+ modelling

    Delighted to chew the fat about lasers and architecture, any time!

  8. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    No musical connection at all I'm afraid :) - just names from the locale I grew up in - the Vale of Leven between Dumbarton and the southern end of Loch Lomond. The river is the Leven and Jameston (locally pronounced as "Jimson" with a glotal "t" between the "s" and "o") is one of the towns in the Vale. I used local names (to me) since I remember seeing a gazeteer of the US way back in my primary school days in the 1950s where about every Scottish town name seemed to have at least one re-incarnation in the States. :)

    Jamestown Village in the Vale of Leven

    Although I always remember the spelling of Jameston as in my layout name, akin to the Scots spelling (Jeamstoun), rather than the anglicised spelling of Jamestown today

  9. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    I'm afraid that my Packard building construction arose from a very Scottish tendency of making use of the leftovers from the previous buildings. :)

    My Emblaser has a maximum cutting area of just over A4 size - 305mm x 210mm - and the sheets of MDF I get from Maple Street come in 500mm x 250mm sizes. So I tend to get at least 40mm strips left along the length of the sheets, and they are usually a good bit wider. So the design philosophy was set by using these long thin strips as best I could. :) If I hadn't had this consideration, I would probably have cut the walls in long <305mm sections with the minimum number of sections. As I mentioned above, working in short sections threw up a problem of the Emblaser cutting very slightly out of square, only becoming a bit noticeable after joining three or four sections together. It is out about 0.25mm in 150mm in the Y axis so not noticeable for most things, but it would be nice to get it spot on.

    But it's all good fun and I'm now getting quite used to using the cutter having now hit all the problems I am ever likely to find. :) I would like a more powerful cutter to minimise the multiple cuts required to cut cleanly through the MDF - like the machine you have - but the simplicity of the Emblaser, which makes it amenable to modification, is an attraction - as well as its cheaper price.

  10. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Thanks Jim,

    If you want to see the history of modifications to my laser, it’s in a separate thread (linked from the PD thread, in the signature). It’s really Odin’s axe, as it has now had a new tube, and complete replacement of the Chinese motion controller with a Smoothieboard. I’m using Lightburn which is several parsecs better than Newly Draw which came with the laser. Still waaaay cheaper than any other option, as far as I know, though it was a bit of a faff.

    Btw, where are you sourcing 1.5mm MDF?

  11. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    Pardon? Je ne sais quois. (I think - bit it's a few years since I've had to use my French (( unless fishing with my scaffolder friends)))

    Forgive me. I'm no further than the Boys book of Computers.

  12. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    Reading the contents page doesn't count... ;):p:D

  13. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I'm usng Cut2D Laser principally because I use Cut2D Desktop for my CNC work and I'm well used to the interface. I think it would probably still be termed a Beta release since I've found one or two small bugs which are annoying and I'm hoping they bring out an update soon to get rid of them. They have just brought out an free update to Cut2D Desktop so there's hope. :)

    As I said in my last message :) , Maple Street. Here's their section of the Hobbys catalogue with the MDF in it

    Maple Street | Page 2 Buy Hobbys Catalogue

    I assume that "Hobbys" is the firm I have known since my boyhood.

    I think I worked out that it was the cheapest when I sourced thin MDF a year or so ago but I think I might want to try some from Hobarts or 4D Modelshop. I find that the Maple Street MDF delaminates quite easily, especially if it has been etched with brickwork or suchlike. If you have to cut brick etched sheet then the etched bricks will break away under even the sharpest blade. It's not so bad with a razor saw but that's not practical for every occasion.

    It would also be interesting to see if I get cut throughs with less passes than the Maple Street MDF. At the moment I get reliable cut throughs on 1.5mm MDF with six passes at 95% (of 4 watts) at 10mm/sec. I use a glass base within my Emblaser and I can see that the laser is penetrating to the underside on the third and subsequent passes, but I can never be guaranteed a successful cut through unless there are six passes. Sometimes five passes can be enough, but can't be relied upon and I now always use six just to be absolutely sure. I've had my experiences of doing long cuts on the machine and not being able to break the parts out cleanly such that they have to be scrapped. It almost seems as if ash or charring is building up in the cut and preventing the laser piercing as far as it should.

  14. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Thanks for that, Jim, sorry, missed the reference to the shop.

    But 2 quid, even for a sheet 250 x 500 is scary.

    I bought a pack of 2mm sheets, 3’ x 4’, from memory, there were 10 or 15 sheets in the pack. I was just trying to find the supplier invoice, & link, but I think when they’re cut down to 12”x 9” (which is just bigger than A4 and fits my laser bed) they came to something like 16p each. Makes you feel less bad about making a b....x of a piece.

    It does help that we have a 4’ guillotine at work...

    The CO2 laser cuts in one pass. In my experience, winding the power up, or making multiple passes doesn’t help. With MDF, I’d agree that there’s a build up of char or maybe ash in the cut, and this seems to absorb the beam, and simply chars more. I tried lots of different settings before working out that turning it down helped. I set up a drawing with a matrix of squares with individual power percentages, and then run these through the laser at different speeds, thus building up a picture of what combinations of speed & power work and what doesn’t.

    It does delaminate sometimes. The tags that I put on the wall sections seem vulnerable to being split when I put them into the Perspex columns, and occasionally I’ve knocked a brick or two off when I’ve been a bit heavy handed.

    And the stuff is not homogenous, you’ll be cutting fine and a different part of the same sheet will simply not cut through. Sometimes you get lucky and a touch with the scalpel sorts it, other times it’s in the bin. But at 16p...

    Perspex is a different matter, it’s like a hot knife through butter. Haven’t had the opportunity to try it on anything more than 3mm yet, but have no doubt it’ll manage far more. Leaves a polished edge, but a noticeable kerf.

    I had a look online, and think the MDF might have been this
    These would work out at around 20p a sheet, plus delivery. I’m sure I paid less, will have a look at work tomorrow, hopefully the delivery note is still on the pack.

    Hope this of interest
  15. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    That pointer to the 2mm sheet would be handy since the price is very good provided I buy a lot. But that thickness would suit some of my 1:32 scale work although I suspect their bulk pack might be overkill. :) I did read somewhere that the thinner 1.5mm and 1mm sheets start off as 2mm or 3mm thick and are sanded down to thickness. This probably accounts for the increased price compared to the thicker sheets.

    When there was a picture framer in our local shopping centre I did get some 2.5mm sheet from him and that was relatively inexpensive. It started off as a large sheet but he kindly chopped it into smaller sheets in his very large guillotine. Unfortunately he retired last year and the premises are now something like a nail parlour. :)

    I do something similar with squares but I found that using small squares gave me inaccurate results when applied to jobs - i.e. the test results with 10mm suqares didn't work well on much larger profiles in a job. I foudn I had to increase the number of passes/drop the cutting speed/increase the laser power to get guaranteed cut-throughs. I suspected that it could have been that there was heat being retained in the cut area in the short perimeters which aided cutting. So I now do tests starting with a largish rectangle and cutting subsequent rectangles inside it at about 2mm offsets. Then at the end I find out how many I can press out easily to give my preferred cut-through settings.

    That's one material I can't cut since the Emblaser's laser diode is not capable of doing it - something about working at the wrong wavelength. I have to cut my perspex in the CNC mill with carbide cutters, which works very well.

    Last edited: 22 October 2018
  16. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    This is probably a lesson in not trying to rush things too much - festina lente as my old Latin teacher often said. :) But I wanted to try and get the last building finished by the weekend just past and went hammer and tongs at it, from starting in CAD to finishing the build. The building was one that I had lit upon quite early on in my Shorpy searches and I wanted to get it in somewhere on the layout. It's the building on the right foreground of this picture...


    ...and a closer picture


    I'm not sure what its purpose might have been but the horse drawn vehicles and a trough next to it suggest that it might have been stables of some sort. But on the layout it is going to be a power house for the factory building next to it.

    I also experimented with another way of doing corners with bricks on the inside in buttresses which didn't require large chunks of MDF. I did this by just elongating bricks.


    The buttress edge from the front...


    ...and from the rear showing the elingated bricks...


    ...which extend through...


    and provide a face for the reinforcing 2mm square wood. It seems to work very well and is quite strong.

    I built the main body of the building first and I tried to keep everything square as I built all the buttresses, but it didn't quite work out as well as I had hoped and this resulted...


    ...a lot of heavy weighting to force things square while I attached the roof before proceeding with the cornice. :)

    And the finished article


    ...complete with problems like the topmost denticles not lining up.


    I thought I had worked tthis out properly, but obviously not. :) It might be better to design in 3D CAD so that I could see the final result but that would mean finding a 3D CAD which was amenable to working with bricks and walls, and I haven't found one yet. :)

    I also boobed in its depth. I omitted to note where the cosmetic turnout operating mechanism would be on the adjacent turnout...

    US-S-SwitchingLayout-X300.jpg I will have to take about 30mm off the depth of the building to make it look a bit nore believable. I also have to carve a lot out of the internal formers in the building to clear the Tortoise which is just peering out of the gloom under the left hand side of the building. I could have tried hacking the 30mm off with a razor saw and chewing away at the inner partitions, but I thought that migh be quite a fight. And there are also one or two other details in the building which are not quite correct, which I might have allowed if the main problems weren't there, but a new build will let me correct them as well.

    So it's off for a new build with all the modifications necessary - festina lente - quite. :)

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  17. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    And it's finished

    US-S-SwitchingLayout-X306.jpg the third attempt. :) Just needing the two doors fitted.


    Here it is with the first attempt and the second aborted attempt. The problem with the second attempt was that I over -corrected my error on the first attempt and the front was now too narrow. :) Basically there are fourteen joins across the front which can all affect the overall width of the lower section and I've now learned the hard way to adjust my building methods to ensure that the lower part matches the single piece cornice.

    Now on to the job I should have started at the beginning of the week.


    ...stripping down the body of an SHS SW1 switcher. This turned out to be a right fight of a job. The main problem was the Boston & Maine decal on the body side - shown here on the other untouched side


    The lettering was no problem but nothing would touch the base of the decal. The red paint came off quite easily, but the white base seemed to be there for keeps. I finished up having to scrape it off with knife and scrapers.

    And after an hour or two using Strip Magic, I got this far


    ...not too bad for a first go over the shell. I was doing it in small areas so there was a fair bit of time sitting around waiting on the Strip Magic to do its job. I will have another go over the complete body to see if I can get rid of some of the paint that is still there.

    And I don't know where the toothbrush came from - probably left over from a visit by grandchildren many years ago (they are now in their twenties) :)

  18. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    I presume the SW1 is a metal body as I found the Strip Magic can attack plastic if left on too long.

    The building is superb Jim - looking forward to seeing it painted ;).
  19. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    It's a plastic moulding so I have to watch out. I did leave some on longer than intended and it had started to mark the plastic - thankfully not too badly that I can't deal with it when re-painting. So I'm tending to do smallish areas to minimise the possibility of damage.

    I'm focussing on locomotives now to get more than one running for the exhibition. The main work is chipping them for DCC and turning the wheels to Code 110 width so that they run through my self-guarding frogs. Both the SW1 and a third loco - an RS-3 - need a fair bit of internal work to fit the chips and the speakers and I'm hoping to get that done during the next week. The loco paint jobs will probably only get as far as basic colour since the line will have its own livery and I am going to experiment with making my own decals and that could take some time. :) So there will be a break from structures and scenery for about a week and then it will be back to ballasting the track and painting the buildings. :)

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  20. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Well, we got there last weekend and the layout worked reasonably well. :)


    TimC of this parish at the controls...


    ...and a shot in the opposite direction.

    Last week was a bit of a disaster. I decided to ballast the track on Monday using some Woodlands Scenics ballast that I had got many years ago and using the "dampen the ballast and drip on dilute PVA" method which I had used before many years ago. I woke up to a disaster on Tuesdah morning when I found that the ballast seemed to have swelled to almost engulf the rails and cover the sleepers after me carefully brushing and persuading the ballast to be level with the sleeper tops. So the next two or three days were spent rescuing the situation and getting the layout back into working order. I had intended to use the rest of the week to start painting some of the buildings but that idea had to be shelved.

    But the layout worked quite well throughout the two days with several members of my club doing the operating. There were one or two niggly faults, some of which I was able to sort out, and some others we just worked around. We also had a peculiarity of my GP9 working well in the morning then starting to derail at one specific point in the afternoon, then reverting to working well again at the end of the day. The standby SW-1 took over and it worked well over the problem area.

    I'm now going to take a breather from American layouts since that's all I seem to have been working on for most of this year. :)

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