DM&IR Hill City Sub: The Depot

Tracy McKibben Dec 18, 2011

  1. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Just in time for the holiday travel peak, Hill City is getting a depot. The lot has been graded and leveled, blueprints finalized, and construction of the foundation has begun. The depot will sit in the front-right corner of the layout, where one of the tracks appears to disappear through the backdrop.
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    I'm hoping to loosely capture the feel of this scene:
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    I love the way the tracks curve away out of sight beyond the depot, but I'm not thrilled with the actual depot itself. I want a depot that will stand out on the layout, a nice 2-story structure. Turns out, such depots were common in Minnesota, such as this one that existed in Lawler, MN, about 40 miles southeast of Hill City, built by the SOO Line.

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    Even more fortunate for me, the March issue of NMRA Magazine features plans for just such a depot.

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    I started construction of the foundation and platform this evening. By the end of the weekend, I should have a good portion of the flooring installed. With a 5-day weekend coming up, followed by a 4-day weekend, AND the wife out of town, I should really put a dent in this thing.
     
  2. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    155 Boards

    155 boards to glue down, 155 boards, glue one down and grab the next one, 154 boards to glue down...

    I'm talking about floor boards for the depot. Between errands, grocery shopping, laundry, and some other housekeeping (wife's out of town, remember?), I managed to get the depot floor framed up and all of the floor boards cut and stained.

    Here's the frame, 36 scale feet wide by 66 scale feet long. The depot itself isn't that large, but this will allow for some open dock areas around the structure:

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    155 floor boards, each 2"x12"x20' (in HO scale, obviously), ready for staining:

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    155 floor boards, stained in a 50% alcohol, 50% India ink solution:

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    The tedium of gluing those 155 boards to the frame has begun:

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    154 boards, glue one down and grab the next one, 153 boards to glue down...
     
  3. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Supporting My Platform

    No, I'm not running for office. I know where Libya is, I have no doubts that Canada is indeed a foreign country, nor do I credit the Founding Fathers with ending slavery. I do, however, have a platform, and after about 4 hours of work, that platform is well supported.


    I'm referring, of course, to my depot platform. The legs are all installed, braced, and stained. All that remains is the level them up with a little sanding, and get the height adjusted.

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  4. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    A Shell Of A Depot

    If you're reading this, you may recall that I have a model railroad. It's been a while since there was any progress to report, so you may have forgotten, I know I almost had. Today, I turned my back on the world and retreated to the basement, and spent some quality time workin' on the railroad.

    Picking up where I left off, I resumed work on the depot. I'm surprised at how much I was able to get done. The four walls of the main depot are framed up, pins installed AND mated to the platform. What's that mean? That means that there are brass pins in the four corners of the depot structure.

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    Those pins align with holes in the platform decking, making it easy to position the structure on the platform.

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    Why is this important? Because the structure will be removable. I will be able to lift the depot off of the platform, revealing a detailed interior. I'm stealing this idea from Gerry Leone, who did the exact same thing with his Lapointe Depot.


    Here's a wider view, showing where the depot will sit in relation to the other structures.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ah. I recognized that photo before even getting down to the drawing. It was used at many, many sites on the MILW. There are a bunch of variations. At one time I had daydreamed about building such as structure as a home. Of course the freight house would have contained my RR empire...

    Will you be scratch building the train order signal? Or is there an HO version available commercially, in mind?
     
  6. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Right now, my intent is to scratchbuild as much as possible. That may or may not include the signal, I'm not sure yet.
     
  7. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Depot Do-Over

    Remember the Atari 2600 video game console, and that nifty reset switch? If a game didn't go the way you wanted it to, you simply hit that reset switch and started over. If only somebody would invent a reset switch for model building. I could sure use it right now.

    Two weeks ago, during the TCD layout tour, I noticed that the walls on my depot had bowed considerably. We had all of the doors and windows in the house open, and it was a bit humid that day, so I blamed that for the warpage. I figure a few days with the A/C running, things would dry out and return to normal. No such luck. This is what the depot looks like right now:

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    She has curves in all the wrong places. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done to fix this, so I'm starting over. Dave Jasper, one of the visitors to the layout, asked a very pointed question. "Why are you building it this way, if the studs won't be visible anyway?" Good question, and the only answer I had was "Just because". I don't have a good reason, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time. I sit here now, though, looking at several hours of effort wasted.

    I've followed the work of Troels Kirk for a long time, and I find it fascinating what he can do with black matte board and paper. I decided to give that a try. I started by cutting my four main walls out of a piece of matte board.

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    Conveniently, the back side of the board is white. On the back of each piece, I draw a grid identical to the stud design of the first model. This made it easy to plot out the window and door openings.

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  8. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Depot Do-Over, part 2

    It turns out that the matte board that I'm using is almost exactly 4 scale inches thick, or about the same thickness as the scale 2"x4" studs that I used in the first model. The new walls won't be any different than the old ones in terms of thickness.

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    Using a brand new knife blade (the safest blade is a sharp blade), and the handy grids that I drew on the wall segments, I cut out all of the window and door openings.

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    A little bit of trusty Elmer's Glue, and the first two wall segments are joined together.

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    The best part? It took less than 2 hours to get this far. The first model, with the framed walls, took about a week of evenings to reach the point shown in that first photo. I might have just found a new favorite construction technique!
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I recognize that style of clamp. Mine are smaller, as I model in N. But very handy tools nonetheless.
     
  10. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    They were cheap. And square. Requirements met. :cool:
     
  11. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Depot 2.0 Takes Shape

    If you read yesterday's post, you know that I started over on the depot. You also know that I'm trying a new construction technique, using matte board instead of scale lumber to frame the walls. I have to say, I'm impressed so far. In 24 hours, I've accomplished more with the matte board than I did in more than a week using the scale lumber.

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    A look at how this might look when placed on the layout...

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  12. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Mixed Results Inside and Out

    Continuing with the paper construction technique, I started installing the clapboard siding on the exterior of the depot. Just as I did with the handcar shed, I'm using scale 6" strips of a heavy paper for the siding boards. However, it's not turning out quite the same. For the handcar shed, I wanted the siding to look worn and "droopy", as if the shed had seen several years of hard use and neglect. That's not the look that I want for the depot, but that's what I'm ending up with. The paper tends to curl when cut, making it difficult to get nice, tidy straight boards.

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    I don't think I'm going to proceed with the paper strips for this structure. I just place a bulk order for some scale 1" lumber in various widths - I'll try using that instead. The siding will have to wait until that order arrives.

    On a positive note - I installed part of the interior of the freight section of the depot. Looks great! You can see a portion of it through the open door in the photo above. Here's another look from the other end.

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    It too is paper, printed on my own printer, using a texture pattern found at http://www.cgtextures.com/. I think this will be quite convincing when viewed through an open door, with some dim interior lighting.
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well, that interior does certainly look like open stud cavity, as I recall such freight houses. Now, if you can simulate the old and crusty musty smell too, you've really got it!
     
  14. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    And In This Corner...

    ...we have planks. Lots and lots of planks. Scale 1"x6" planks to be exact.

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    If there's any doubt that these are each individual boards, notice the color variations. Trust me, they're all individual boards. Every... Single... One...

    You can start to get an idea of what it will look like when finished. Here's are both pieces sitting together on the depot platform.

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    Whew, that's enough work for one day, time for a break. Anyone for checkers?

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Installing Windows

    No, not the PC operating system that we all love to hate, although that title should attract a whole new demographic to the blog. Yes, I've installed that "version" of Windows many times, but that's not what this post is about. This post is about windows that you look through, the type with glass in them.

    There will be 13 windows in the depot, plus the bay window. As with everything else, I'm trying to scratchbuild them instead of buying commercial windows. Yes, I know I could buy something from Grandt Line and be done already, but that's not the point. The point is to challenge myself and improve my modeling skills. Popping a plastic window into a hole in the wall doesn't really do that.


    So, in the interest of challenging myself, I'm doing this the hard way. I'm using scale 1"x2" strip wood to build the upper and lower window sections. Window glass will be added after these are painted.


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    These upper and lower sections will fit into individual window frames, built from scale 1"x6" strip wood.


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    The frames will, in theory, fit into the window openings cut into the depot walls.

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    Obviously, there will be some trimming and sanding needed, and possibly some foul language, to get them to fit just right. I think the results will be well worth it.
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not if I built them.



    My kind of modeling!

    Looks great. Can't wait to see the outcome.
     
  17. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    I saw this thread when you first started it and honestly forgot about, but I must say.... WOW! I like your work, definitely an inspiration for me. (and I needed some of that and I finally have free time at home to get some serious work done)
     
  18. mikelhh

    mikelhh TrainBoard Member

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    This is excellent stuff, Tracy. I'm really enjoying following along.

    Mike
     
  19. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    Plastic Glass

    Another afternoon of guilt-free modeling, thanks to it being 90 million degrees outside - too hot to do anything. I spent the time building a couple of "practice" windows, before finally settling on a technique that I like. The technique is simple - build the upper sash first (the one in the front), then glue top and both sides of the surrounding window frame to the sash. Build the lower sash, glue it in place behind the upper sash, the glue the bottom piece of the window frame in place. For variety, you can build some of the windows with the lower sash partially raised, to create an open window.

    Here's the pick of the litter from today's efforts:

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    The window "glass" is clear plastic, cut from an Atlas turnout package. I've mentioned this in an earlier blog post, but I'll repeat it here for context.


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    Here's how it looks installed in the depot, with the siding partially completed around it.


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    One window done, 12 more to go!
     
  20. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

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    How Long Does It Take...

    ... to build 4 HO scale double-hung windows from scratch? About two weeks, judging from the time since my last post. Ok, that's an exaggeration - I've also finished the siding on the front of the depot.

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    It's actually not that bad building these things, now that I have a system (more on that later) figured out. The hardest part is not rushing things, trying to move too fast without letting the glue dry thoroughly.


    As you can see, with careful measuring and a little filing, they fit nice and flush with the siding.

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    They even have "glass" installed!

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    Now, somebody pass the Windex...
     

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