2013-2014 Sixth Annual International Winter Layout Party

ppuinn Dec 30, 2013

  1. Primavw

    Primavw TrainBoard Member

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    Man, where is everybody?

    Anyway, I don't have any photos right now, but I recently cut and glued risers from 3/4" extruded foam for my track. I decided against using WS risers on this layout since I won't have any grades, and mostly to save money. Yesterday I picked up some ME Code 55 flex and two 80' plate girder bridges. Yesterday evening I began gluing down WS foam track bed. So I have made some strides. I am hoping to pick up some wire and a wiring block to get the track laid and ready to run trains.
     
  2. FLG

    FLG TrainBoard Member

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    update - the 4x8 at the start with the track laydown, initial outline of the ridge on the rural side, and then the scenic base in. It's drying right now and once done, will add the track back in, work on the corner, and add additional details for the scenic ad on and the sand load point.

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  3. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    During Week 3 of the Layout Party, I put in the rest of the highway that runs in front of Hillery Yard, striped the lanes, and added grass on both sides of the pavement. I still have to fine-tune the shoulder on both sides of the road. I'll clean up the yard tracks, but probably won't put on any ballast until I've run trains for a few months to ensure all trackwork is "bullet-proof" and does not need any more adjustments. I'm pleased with the repositioned lights, which I posted about moving earlier in the week. They are visible at the top of this first picture. As finances allow, I hope to get some 2-foot single bulb fixtures to better light the lower shelf near the engine facility
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    I also started to put in backdrop tree flats, Woodland Scenic Fine Foliage trees, MRC/JTT wire trees, lichen trees, and grass behind the CIM Coal Yard tracks and have finished most of the right end of the coal yard.
    This second pic shows the trees behind the coal yard engine pocket.
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    The back of the shelf in these next 2 pics is mostly done.
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  4. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    In the last picture of my post above, I noticed that the trees along the back track are very close to the tracks. I guess I'll have to send in Chain Saw Man to cut off branches too close to the right of way and lop off the tops of the too-tall-tree-trunks.
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    This 4th pic of the CIM Coal Yard shows how close the tracks are to the backdrop. Due to the narrow area, the lichen trees are glued directly onto the background tree flats instead of planting them on toothpicks. I’m not pleased with the color combinations on this tree flat, so this weekend, I’ll make some adjustments…probably by sifting blended turf (grass) over the lichen to make a more uniform color. If that doesn’t improve the appearance enough, I’ll probably replace/reorganize the lichen piece by piece until the colors match in a more natural way.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    This week I finished the trees behind the CIM Coal Yard. The most distant coal hopper is in front of the half-finished tree flat in the final pic in last week's progress report.
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    This pic shows the trees behind the middle of the ramp up to the coal unloading shed.
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    Cardboard mock-ups of the coal unloading shed, scale house (in front), and some other rail-barge facility buildings. If these cardboard mock-ups are anything like the other mock-ups on my layout, they'll still be waiting to be replaced with "real models" in 2024.
    The tracks of the CIM Rail-Barge Facility at Havana are set up as loads in on the elevated track and empties out on the lower track, and the (half) visible staging for the BN Coal trains with loads/empties from/to Wyoming is behind the BN Galesburg Yard. During an operating session, the loads are pushed into the CIM unloading shed at Havana as part of the Havana Local Job, and I'll pull them down to the visible staging tracks behind Galesburg when I set up for the next operating session. Empties are parked in the visible staging behind the Galesburg Yard with the front half of the empties train hidden behind a tree-covered hill. I'll pull the empties forward to the lower track by the unloading shed when I set up for the next operating session.
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    These are the foam bases that will become tree covered hills behind the Galesburg Yard next week.
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    I plan to have some friends over this weekend to help me install the fascia boards along the front of Decatur, Hillery, Mattoon, CIM Coal Yard, CIM Coal Unloading Shed, Galesburg, and Indianapolis.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2014
  6. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Friends were over last Saturday and helped me put fascia boards along the front of the lower shelf leading to Decatur, at Decatur, and at Hillery. We also patched/repaired some existing fascia at Mattoon.
    Decatur:
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    This pic shows Hillery on the lower right, Mattoon on the lower left. On Wednesday, another friend helped me replace the fascia on the upper deck in front of the Kickapoo Yard on the right and in front of the New Keystone Siding on the left. On Monday, I spent most of the morning trying to find a short in the electrical block serving the Kickapoo Yard and the Keystone Steel and Wire Mill (finally found it in some new sidings I'd added when I reconfigured the upper deck to gain better access to the lower deck where I added the new Galesburg staging tracks this winter).
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    Sunday, Monday afternoon, and Tuesday, I completed the fascia boards along the front and back aisles at Indianapolis, in front of the CIM Coal Yard, the CIM Havana Yard and Coal Rail-Barge Facility, and Galesburg Yard.
    On the lower right is Indianapolis (back aisle); Mattoon is in the middle distance; the CIM Coal Yard is on the lower left; and the CIM Havana Yard throat is visible in the lower left of the picture.
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    This next pic shows the completed fascia boards along the front of the BN Galesburg Yard on the lower deck at the left and the CIM Havana Yard and Rail Barge Facility in the distance.
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    Today I finished most of the fascia for my HO switching layout, did some patching/repairing of the upper fascia boards above Galesburg, replaced a direct-wired fluorescent fixture (T12) over the Coal Yard that had a bad ballast with a new plug-in fixture (T8), re-laid the turnouts at the southern end of the Galesburg Yard to improve their reliability, installed about 8 new ground throws at the north end of the Galesburg Yard, and re-installed the 7 ground throws at the southern end.

    I still have some fascia board patching and repairing to do, and a 4x6 foot alcove that needs new fascia boards, but that work will probably get done at a second work session this coming Saturday. Tomorrow I'll spend most of the day cleaning track, adjusting/repairing track allignment (where winter dryness has caused the Homasote to shrink and kink lots of my track), and checking electrical and operating reliability. I also hope I can trim and secure the carpeting to the benches I use for reaching the upper deck, add skirting to the step up benches, finish adding skirting to a few areas under my layout, and install 2 new 4ft fluorescent lights to better illuminate the lower deck at Mapleton and South Pekin.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2014
  7. FLG

    FLG TrainBoard Member

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    progress on the "urban side"....urban for this layout means a taco stand, gas station, an industry, and a ....small farm......urban folks hahaha....pics tonight
     
  8. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    At the work session on Saturday evening, we got the UP5 panels re-installed in the new fascia boards, added fascia boards (and a UP5 panel) to the 4x6 alcove, trimmed a few of the carpet pieces and attached them to the step-up benches used for viewing the upper deck, and added skirting to some of the step-up benches. There are still a dozen more that need some trimming and/or attaching of the carpet pieces and skirting. Yesterday, I cleaned track and did some trouble-shooting of minor electrical issues.

    This week, along with continuing to clean track (24 scale miles of mainline, ?? scale miles of yards and sidings) in preparation for the Feb 15 Operating Session/Open House, I will tackle some more complex electrical trouble-shooting in a fascia control panel for the 12 turnouts near the Pekin Helix. The TOs can be activated by either a throttle sending messages to stationary decoders or by toggle switches in the fascia control panel, and bi-color (red/green) LEDs in the fascia control panel indicate switch alignment. One of the TOs is dead...no light, no activation by throttle or toggle; another works with toggle only; and a third by throttle only. Also, a couple of remote indicator LEDs for the Pekin Helix TOs on the dispatcher's panel or control panels in neighboring blocks are not working. I suspect loose connections for most of these problems, but the rat's nest of wiring in the close confines behind the panel makes it hard to trace connections.

    Sometime between now and 2/15, I also need to do some touch-up of existing scenery and structures, plus set up trains for the operating session. As the deadline approaches, I've been paring down the total number of things I'll get done. New scenery was the first to go...I've already resigned myself to having mostly bare foam hills behind Galesburg; unfinished tree flats and no grass at Galesburg and Decatur; and the 3 highway overpasses at Mattoon, Havana, and Galesburg will not get done. Out of the 5 dozen different trains that could potentially be run on my layout, we'll probably only set up about 2/3 of them, and most of those will have minimal switching of individual cars (mostly, they'll be manifest freight between cities or transfer jobs between the main yard and satellite yards or industries. We'll probably not run any trains on the RI Kellar Branch or the RI Beltline, both of which are local jobs with lots of switching. I'm still hoping to get the 4 major industrial jobs set up for Corn Products, Keystone Steel and Wire Mill, the scrap yard job near the Kickapoo satellite yard, and the TPW Kolbe Job serving the chemical plants in Mapleton...but those industrial switching jobs are the next to be cancelled, if I'm running short on time.
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hoping to see those photos!
     
  10. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    OK, so I finally made some progress. Got my first section of partially weathered unitrack wired and mostly in place. I soldered feeders to every section of track, including each leg of the turnouts. Doesn't look like much but it was pretty tedious work, having to carve out spots on each piece of track to have enough metal to solder a feeder to, etc. I also liquid-electrical-taped everything to minimize the chance of shorts catching the foam on fire. And my soldering leaves something to be desired so I also tested each feeder.

    [​IMG]

    Then I was trying to utilize existing holes from very early on in the building process when I was simply trying to drop feeders and turnout controls to get up and running. In retrospect, it would have been easier just to drill new ones so that's definitely the plan moving forward. Also in the "lessons learned department", I got waaay to scientific with the length of the leads. While they work, I have virtually no room for error so I'm going to be a little less frugal with the wire budget, too.
    :cool:

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    Next steps...
    -Finish carving out space for the wires so nothing is binding and everything is nice and flush.
    -Weather the short piece which replaced another similar length of track.
    -Hand weather the ties and rail around the points. (you can see I've removed the masking tape from two, but the rest are also masked and all need to be painted.
    -Finish weathering the track. (although, this--and the other steps related to painting/weathering--may be tabled for later so I can move forward with wiring.) The weathering so far is simply the base application of paint. I have a multi-pass process for weathering Unitrack so there are a few more steps. You'll notice the darker paint, and that represents the mainline portions while the lighter sections are secondary trackage. If you are familiar with the trackplan you know it's doubletrack all the way around, but the section between this Double XO and the one in front of the yard is visually single track main, even if I will be running trains the full length of the layout for roundy-roundy running. You'll hopefully see soon enough what I'm trying to accomplish, and hopefully it looks good.
    -Tie together the feeders underneath. The track is blocked for detection and signalling (see insulated Unijoiners) so that further complicates things.
    -Gap the two outside rails on the double XO. This is again related to the blocks.
    -Clean the paint of the tops of the rails.
    -Install one DS64 and connect the turnouts. Will probably do this soon, because if I'm gonna have to replace a turnout, now is the time. (as crappy as that would be) I'm planning to test the turnouts individually moving forward before I get this far.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2014
  11. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    I began this week by successfully completing trouble-shooting of the electrical problems with the fascia control panel for turnouts by the Pekin Helix (mentioned in last week's progress report), and, as suspected, all problems were related to loose connections and broken wires (no broken/fried components or lights).

    Earlier in the Party, I had moved some staging tracks to a more accessible location, but this week I got around to disconnecting all related wiring to the stationary decoders that drove the 5 turnouts in the original staging area. While cleaning track and checking TO performance, I realized I now had 5 more slots available in my DS64s, so I switched over 4 turnouts that had been driven by a DS44, which, because it was powered by track power in a power district that routinely had 6 to 8 locos active during operating sessions instead of by a 1.5amp wallwart like the DS64s, was sapping power from the tracks/locos and was moving the TO points verrrrryyyyyy ssllllloooowwwllllyyyy. After the operating session/open house this coming weekend, I'll probably install the DS44 on my HO switching layout (which only has 1 power district, 2 TOs with electric motors activated by toggle switches, and only 1 loco).

    This past week:
    1. I finished up installing and painting all of the remaining short pieces in the new sections of fascia board, and all patches in the old/existing sections of fascia board;
    2. a friend came over this week and got about half of the dry lichen trees spritzed with water and repositioned so the toothpick trunks no longer stick out of the top of the tees;
    3. I re-did 2 small areas of the backdrop (each about 2x8 inches) because I didn't like how my seams had turned out when repaired a few weeks ago;
    4. finished stapling all carpeting to the step-up benches;
    5. re-organized wiring under the layout (cabled wires together where possible/necessary, and secured with cup hooks and/or staples where the original staples had pulled out);
    6. added two 4-foot fluorescent lights to better illuminate the lower deck by Kolbe and South Pekin;
    7. removed all unused lumber and OSB/Masonite/Homasote panels from temporary storage under the layout out to permanent storage in our garage attic;
    8. re-arranged, re-organized, and re-packed storage boxes under the lower deck of the layout, and moved several book shelves, files of model RRing articles, RR magazines, and scenery materials to clear a new space for the dispatcher's desk/materials/panel.
    [​IMG]
    9. cleaned track; tested turnout reliability and made corrections/adjustments as needed; pulled up kinked track, clipped with rail nippers as needed, and re-laid it straight.

    I still have more track to clean and straighten, and more turnouts to test/tweak, as needed.
    By Saturday morning this week, I'd like to have spritzed all of the lichen trees and repositioning them...but I'll probably not have time to replace damaged or deteriorated lichen with fresher pieces of lichen until after next weekend.
    I also hope to check/repair as needed all of my cardboard mock-ups, but, again, will only repair as many as time allows.
    I'd also like to prop any loose painted-but-not-yet-ground foam-covered tree flats against the backdrop; ground foam probably won't be added until after the open house/operating session.
    If time allows, I want to put down black and yellow duct tape to mark the floor under the duck-unders/nod-unders and I want to get some more skirting to put on the step-up benches.
     
  12. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    I spent most of last week cleaning and straightening track, but found time to prop up the half-finished tree flats and put down some yellow duct tape to mark the floor beneath the duck-unders...but I didn't get any of the lichen trees spritzed/repositioned, nor any of the dilapidated cardboard mock-ups of structures repaired. I did get a lot of "stuff" stored under the layout much better organized, and I was able to clean up wiring considerably by using cup hooks to hold bus wires, Loconet cables, track feeders and wires to electric TO motors in straighter/neater lines and closer to the stringers under each deck (so they didn't hang down in an unsightly fashion). The better storage organization also let me do a better job of hiding my boxes, tubs, and containers, because the skirting that I’ve added over the past month or so can hang straight instead of draped over stored items.

    The Saturday afternoon operating session was only attended by a small group who had helped me at my work sessions earlier in the month. But this turned out to be fortuitous, because we encountered several turnouts that worked fine when closed for the main line, but caused serious derailments when thrown toward the diverging routes. The primary problem with the TOs was that Homasote shrinkage from low humidity (22-24%, despite multiple refills each day of my 2-gallon capacity humidifier) led to rails pushing the TO closure rails closer to the guardrails so that wheel flanges on loco trucks (especially 6 wheel trucks) were suddenly slowed or stopped, or else were pinched up and over the points causing a derailment or failing to divert the locos and cars onto the alternate route. When I cleaned the tracks in the days leading up to the operating session/open house, I had straightened obviously serpentine track, and had re-laid and repaired (and, in 2 cases, replaced) about 2 dozen turnouts; however, I still missed 6 that ultimately proved problematic. Anyway, we pulled up, nipped, and re-laid track and turnouts as needed throughout the afternoon.

    We also encountered a few spots with dirty track that slowed or stalled locomotives …and (?!for some strange reason!?) these spots always seemed to be in the sections of the layout that were hardest to see and reach, and/or required moving buildings or tree flats to access them.

    On Sunday, I went to a train show and bought a cable to hook my Digitrax Loconet into my computer so I can use jmri’s free software (DecoderPro, PanelPro, etc). Yesterday, I was homebound by 7 inches of snow, so I hooked it up, and started trying to use it. Setting up the jmri software is more complex than I had anticipated, but several of my local train buddies are already using it on their layouts, so, with coaching available as needed, I hope to get it figured out in the next few weeks.

    During this week of the Layout Party, I’ll probably work on some problem spots we identified but didn’t address on Saturday, and—maybe—get some locos speed matched using DecoderPro.
     
  13. Geep_fan

    Geep_fan TrainBoard Member

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    I'm a little late to join this group. But I'll pitch in.

    My layout is the Santa Fe Shed Division, a 11x12ft switching layout around 2 walls of a room. Its based in the town of Falcon, Colorado during the 1970's. While the Santa Fe never reached Falcon, the Rock Island, and several other smaller roads did.

    MKIITrackSchematic.png
    Track Schematic of the layout. The two staging tracks on the right will hold an engine, 6 cars and a caboose each, however the run around track will only work with 5 cars and a caboose. I do occasionally run trains that are 6 cars long, however it makes switching even more of a puzzle than it already is.

    My layout specs;
    overall size 11'x12'x18" (roughly)
    minimum curve radius: 14 3/4", equates to a 56 degree curve.
    track; mixture of trix C track and atlas code 83 / micro engineering code 55.
    Control: NCE Powercab Pro 2.5Amp system, with one hammerhead cab and a JMRI connection to allow for smartphone operation.



    1909068_10202695649144287_1395723816_o.jpg
    A photo of what I've managed to accomplish in the last weekend. I put up the long awaited Fascia for the layout. Looks pretty cool. I've been waiting on this to get around to starting on much scenery.

    IMAG2068-1.jpg
    An early shot of the beginnings of the layout.



    for this years winter layout party, I plan to:
    1. get some scenery going
    2. finish installing the trim around the fascia.
    3. get two sidings that stopped working, back to being operational.
     
  14. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Welcome to the Party!

    That's a great track schematic, and your fascia is looking very nice.

    FWIW, when I started in N-scale in the 1970s, I had a mixture of track brands that included Atlas and Peco. I had frequent electrical problems wherever the Atlas joiners (designed for Code 80 rails) were used to connect to Peco rails (which had a slightly smaller cross section, but I don't think it was as small as Code 55). Crimping the joiners seldom worked for long, and I only achieved solid operational reliability when I started soldering joins and began soldering power feeds to rails in more than just one or 2 places.
    Are the 2 non-operational sidings having electrical issues...or is their problem related to something else?
     
  15. Geep_fan

    Geep_fan TrainBoard Member

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    Yup, they have electrical issues. I had everything soldered together and then did some adjustments to level the benchwork, which means that I had to disconnect the track, so I have to go back and resolder them.
     
  16. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I want to get in here which is something I should have done before. It's been too long since I worked on the layout and I need to get started again.

    I am trying to finish the wheel yard and adjoining areas. This is my most recent photo of the area. The cover was originally just plain sandbox sand which you can see as the light tan area at the top. The area at the bottom and to the lower left is the classification yard. It is also sand and it was airbrushed some years ago. The actual prototype wheel yard was just dirt and sand. I have no photos of the original, but I was it around 1979 or so. I am now trying to make a base for this using acrylic artist colors paint brushed over the sand. I want to get it closer to the tan color, but I may also spread ground foam in the area. If so, then the color of the soil may not be so important. In any case, I do not like the reddish color here; I need to go back to more raw sienna and tan.

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    The other issue right now is the track. Should I paint the rails? I sort of like it as it is.

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    I alsways remind myself that a nice, light airbrush spray of grimy black will help tie all of this together.
     
  17. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Changed the soil to make it lighter. I do like it better.

    Before:
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    After:
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  18. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Welcome to the Party, Flash! It's never too late to jump in.

    Is the ramp in the last picture made with a retired flat car? Could you post a pic of the ramp viewing it from the side, please?

    I agree with you about painting the track: it looks good just as it is. I also like the variety of colors you've used for the sand/dirt/cinders...it looks much more realistic than everything being just a single uniform color. When you do the final detailing of the soil, will you be adding different textures/sizes of sand/dirt/cinders, too?

    You mentioned adding some ground foam to cover some parts of the soil. Will that be just grass and low shrubs or brambles, or do you plan to add some trees, too?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2014
  19. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The ramp is an old Atlas TOFC flat car. I was thinking of replacing it. If not, I think I will at ;east make a wooden deck on it.

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    The original area was dust, dirt, and mostly dust when it was dry which it mostly is dry. I was going to add some minimal grass and weeds but no trees. This is supposed to be a small, light repair facility for freight cars enroute to somewhere else. Juts a way to make repairs until they get to a bigger facility. As I recall there was a small crane or lifting device and a lot of freight car axles sitting around. These would eventually be loaded onto a flat car to be moved elsewhere.
     
  20. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    Beautiful!!
     

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