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Mike Boucher

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  • Location
    Lunenburg, MA, USA
  • Interests
    Live Steam, Boston & Maine, East Broad Top, LMS, Model Engineering, 2 rail O scale, Bicycling, Backpacking

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  1. Well, I've been offline for a while, mostly for medical reasons which have also kept me from working onn models. But, I'm back online and noticed my last update never got posted. Here's where I was when I went offline... The HO wreck train I got the couplers mounted and the remainder of the frame/chassis parts installed. In order to make the couplers removable, I had to do some carving away of parts, but it won't be visibe on the track, so I'm not too worried Next is to do the paint and final assembly. Hopefully the boom rigging it easier than on the N scale model. I worked on the On3 drop bottom gon, working on finishing up the brake rodding. Unfortunately, I ran into some snags. Once the vertical brake staff is on, you have to take a delrin chain, attach it to the staff by wrapping the chain around the staff. then it wraps around another staff, and connects to the brake rigging. The problem was that the delrin chain was VERY fragile, it had broken in half on the sprue, and when I tried to wrap it it kept breaking. It got to the point where I didn't have enough lenght to do the work. So, I gave up and ordered some hobby brass chain, 40 links per inch (what I determined the model's chain was at, which works about to about a 1" link in full size. No photos, because the all-black pieces just don't photograph well. Now it was on to a new project, as things are wrapping up on the crane and drop bottom. I decided to work on another O scale covered hopper, this a GATX airslide hopper. The Boston and Maine had 10 of these hoppers, painted in a scheme not seen on any other B&M cars, so I want a model of this. I'll need the decals custom printed, but I have a friend that can do that. I don't have a good prototype photo scanned, but here's an HO model which shows the paint scheme The kit is from American Standard Car Company, which is long out of business. This kit comes as flats which you work on, and then build the box for the body and add details. There's not much for brake rigging, but the rest has a reasonable amount of detail, so I'll need to do a little scratchbuilding there. First is to add the end ladders to the ends of the sides. The ladders are handed, that is, the back of one side is molded at a 45 degrees, to match the ladder at the ends. They were also made for more than one kit, so they were oversize and needed to be trimmed down to size. Next was to add the details to the end of the body. The end for the brakes has a few more pieces. I started working on the chassis ends with the diagonal bracing, but didn't get too far. One end had just wire steps on the end. The brake end has additional platforms. Once these are done, I'll take some photos. So, that's where I was. Right now I'm back in the hospital, but I'm doing better, and I'm hoping to feel well enough to start doing more work in the next day or so. We'll see how I feel. Until next time...
  2. Lot of work for a "static model". Looks amazing. Someone surprised you're not powering it, "just in case"
  3. Hi folks, I've been fairly productive lately, both in the treatment room and at home. Firstly, I finished the remaining roof latching mechanisms. Its looking like I made a mistake with them, as it appears that the eyebolts should have been between the "hooks" instead of outside of them. But, I'm not going to enter this in any contests, and I really don't feel like taking them apart and re-doing them. So, I'll know they're wrong, but I strongly suspect 99.99% of people won't notice nor know they're wrong... 0 The instructions only had two steps left. Install the steps at each corner, and install brake levers. Well every photo which shows the end clearly shows no brake lever going to the right side of the car (if you're looking at the end) and show little evidence of one in the other direction either. And the plans in the instructions dont show a brake lever. So, I decided to skip this step as it'll be invisible when in a train. For example: There is certainly no coupler lever to the top of the coupler pin visible at all. There' probably one at the bottom, and only on the "left side", but I just don't know. The steps are very fragile resin castings, and the part of the casting which represents where the left side attaches to the car frame was so thin it fell off when I went to cut it from the flash. I also decided to insert .015" rods into the tops (the largest size that would fit without breaking thru, and even then I did that at least once!). This is so the steps would have a more secure attachment to the car than a simple (and very small) butt joint. Matching holes were drilled in the bottom of the chassis. I then had to represent where the steps attach to the frame. A few pieces of .015 thick styrene were used, and then I sanded an angle to try to represent the "twist" in the prototype step. (you can see this in the prototype photo above) You can also see a diagonal brace on the end of the car, and I used styrene for this as well. I think the steps look pretty good At this point, I consider construction finished on this model. Time to start painting! Next I worked on the On3 D&RGW drop bottom gondola I put the door operating mechanism on the "other side". At that point, to finish the brake rigging, The instructions say to solder some pieces and anneal some others. Obviously I have to do that at home, so I stopped working on this. Since the "other side" looks the same as the side I've aready done, I didn't take any photos... Now it was time to start working on one of the new projects in the bag... At a train show last year my son and I attended, there was a dealer with about 10 "paper boxes" (that is, boxes that hold about 10 reams of paper) filled with vintage kits. Some wood, some metal sided with a wood core, and a few plastic, all for relatively cheap money. I rummaged through the boxes, and found a "Gould Company" model of the same 120 ton crane I just built in N scale. Since my 14 year old son models in HO scale with his local "Youth in Model Railroading" group, I handed over my $5 for the kit. (BTW - this exact kit was also released by Tichy Train Group, but I don't know which one came first) So, since my son really likes the N scale kit I just built, I figured I would build the HO version for him. It went together pretty quickly, and like the N scale version, you build several sub-assemblies, then paint, and then do the final assembly. I got most of the sub-assemblies done, only one to finish is the chassis. Before you can glue certain parts on, you need to fit the couplers, and I didn't bring any Kaydee #5s. Here's the 5 assemblies, as they sit right now. Taking photos of black items is hard, so I test fit the body over the mechanism, and then angled it so it reflected the light, and took the picture so you can see the level of detail on this kit. Much more detailed than the N scale version (and it has a representation of the boiler!) What you can't see in this photo is the representation of the 3 winding drums between the sides. The opposite side also has a much larger gear attached to the "central shaft" to power that winding drum. Nice level of detail there. So, next time I have 2 goals - finish the crane chassis (should only take 15-20 minutes!) so I can paint at home and finish assembly later - finish the On3 drop bottom gon (might be able to pull this off) if I accomplish both, I'll throw a couple more kits from the "to do" pile into the bag and see what happens. Until next time...
  4. Rapido just announced they're producing "The Canadian" passenger car train in N scale. Looks like they're doing a 10 car set, a 3 car set, and also the dome cars separately. You'll need multiple sets to make the full train, as it usually ran with between 18 and 22 cars. pretty ambitious! No prices yet. https://www.rapidotrains.com/products/n-scale/complete-trains/the-canadian
  5. Didn't get as much done in the Treatment Room yesterday as I hoped. But, I did get another project "finished" and got some good news. Last week, I had some tests to see how the treatment is working. I got the results yesterday, and things are promising. My lymph nodes are shrinking, some are 1/2 the size they were when I started the treatment, but they're still enlarged, and the PET scan showed reduced levels of the bad stuff in my lymph nodes. Needless to say, I'm happy with this news! So, we keep going and see where we get after the scheduled treatments are complete. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was able to get the 4 assemblies of the N scale steam wreck crane painted. So, I started off by assembling this. The first thing to do was to attach the boom to the frame. This was simply gluing in two pins, carefully so the pins get glued to the frame, but the glue doesn't seep to the boom, so the boom can still move vertically. Next was to do the rigging for the boom. This was WAY fiddlier than expected. The string came wound around the weight, so it had "kinks" in it about every inch, which made it hard to work with, and it had to get threaded into some very tight spaces. I had to attach hemostats to each end to give everything some tension, and they kept twisting around each other, and the weight would pull the boom closer to the frame. This "time sink" is why I didn't get as much done. I figured it would take about 5 minutes, it took about an hour of carefully threading everything. Once I was convinced I had it right, and when it was tight the boom was at a good height, I tied off the two ends of the rigging. You can see that the boom doesn't really have enough weight to pull the rigging tight, so you can see one of those kinks I mentioned in the "top" string. You can see the unpainted pins at the boom pivot point. When I got home, I touched that up with a brush. Once that was done, the rest of the assembly was pretty quick, glue the body to the frame, and the screw that assembly to the chassis and glue in the weight. I had to be careful to allow the frame/boom to pivot on the chassis, but not have it too loose. Here's what it looks like all done, sitting on my 20+ year old NTrak module. Now that its assembled, I wish I had scratch-built a representation of a boiler, as when you look closely inside, there's nothing there. Oh well, I'm sure most people won't notice as the wreck train rolls by. Its a pretty detailed little model, and there's no one in my NTrak club with one, so to see a wreck train circling the layout at shows will be fairly unique. With that project done, attention returned to the drop bottom gon. One step I had skipped previously was attaching the couplers, primarily because I was out of stock on Kaydee #803's. I called my local model railroad shop (by local, its about a 25 minute drive) to order some, and amazingly he had some in stock (someone ordered 5 packs, and after 2 months never picked them up, so the proprietor was more than happy to sell me a couple packs) The "lid" for the coupler pocket needed quite a bit of trimming, I suspect I didn't follow the instructions quite right, as you do some things when you're using a Kaydee, and other things when using the Grandt couplers. I suspect I installed a part meant for only the Grandt couplers. In that photo, you can see that I also bent and installed the last grab iron on the end, its a slightly different color. Between sessions, I went to the hobby shop, and the only .015" wire they had was piano wire, $3 for 5 pieces 3' long each. I needed about an inch. Looks like I have plenty of extra for future projects where I need to make grab irons! Once installed, the instructions say to remove until after painting, so I did just that. After a few minutes of studying the instructions, it was time to start installing the operating mechanism. On the prototype, there is a bar which runs along the bottom of the car, with a ratchet lever at each end. Each bar operates 3 doors via chains wrapped around the bar and attached to the door, 2 per door. On the model, you thread the chains, and the mounting blocks for the bar, onto a piece of pre-cut .040 brass wire. You have to pay attention to the order, as some of the chains wrap "to the right" and some "to the left" and the mounting blocks have to go on in the right order as well. Once threaded, you glue the mounting blocks to the car, and the the 3 pieces which make up the ratcheting bar on the end of the car. Once that's done, you have to ACC the chain pieces to the appropriate location on the rod. Then, you slice the lowest link of the chain and push it over a lug on the top of a bar on the doors, so it looks like the chain is looped thru a hole in this lug. Its actually easier than it sounds, but there was definitely some fiddly work. I was able to get both mechanisms installed on one side, but didn't have time to work on the other. Slightly blurry photo, but you can see the gap between the two rods at the center, and also how the chains wrap in different directions. I wasn't able to get a clear, close up photo showing how the chain looks attached to the door. I found it amazing how different the side looks with this mechanism attached. Now that I know what to do, next time installing the mechanism on the other side should go a little quicker. Getting close to assembly complete, I have a couple other projects I can work on, but I want to get this one done first. Also, last weekend I was able to "air erase" the paint off the boom car. Unfortunately, this week is predicted to be rainy until Friday evening, so no painting this week. Hopefully the weekend will be more condusive to getting the other 4 cars for the wreck train painted. Until next time.
  6. The trip to Duluth has been confirmed, and a schedule announced by UP. https://www.up.com/heritage/steam/schedule/index.htm Mike
  7. Not very long. 15-20 minutes. After I finished painting, I cleaned the airbrush first, and then went to remove the tape. I also pull the tape off at a "sharp angle". that is, way more than 90 degrees. (here's the best picture I found, after a quick google search, which shows what I mean...) That's basically the same thing I did with the caboose. And for that, I had to paint the ends, mask them off and paint the sides, and then mask off both and paint the roof. Also, I had to burnish the tape down pretty solidly on the caboose as where the end meets the bottom of the roof is a curve, not a straight line. No peeling whatsoever. Not sure why the tape pulled the gray off the wreck train cars. And the Tamiya tape is made expressly for models, its not like I was using cheap masking tape, or even blue painters tape. I'm expecting the blast from the air eraser will give the plastic a little "tooth", so hopefully I don't hit the same problem the 2nd time I paint them.
  8. Hi folks, We finally had a GLORIOUS weekend, weather-wise, here in Boston, so I took out the airbrush and did a bunch of painting. First, I weathered the 5 intermountain hoppers, added 1.5 oz of weight, and made some coal loads. I applied different levels of weathering to make them not look entirely alike. On two of them, a few the decals "hazed" when I applied the dullcote. Never had that happen before, they looked great, but after dullcote, you could clearly see the decal film. (you can see this in the picture above, look at the "C&O" reporting marks on the one with the big "C&O progress" paint scheme, car #300503) I weathered one of them pretty heavily to hide it as best I could, and the other I'll decided to live with for now. If I ever need to paint/decal/weather more C&O hoppers, I might strip that one and re-do it, but not right now. These are now officially "done". Lot of work on those 5, not sure I would ever do a "bulk build" of these kits again, but I'm glad I got them done. I now have 10 C&O hoppers, and the caboose, to go behind my Allegheny. I figure I need 12-15 more to make a decent train, we'll see if I ever acquire that many more... Next, the wreck train passenger car got painted maroon, with black roof and chassis. I scavenged some trucks from a different project for now... Other than decaling and weathering, this is now done. I still need to have custom decals made, so it might be a while before I get to that. One thing I never had to work on in the treatment room was an undecorated Micro Trains caboose. I painted this in a Boston and Maine inspired scheme, bright "caboose red" ends, and maroon sides (on the coupola as well), with black roof. I painted this as well. Like the passenger car, all I need to do here is some decaling and weathering. I painted the parts of the N scale wrecking train black (sorry, no pictures), so the next treatment I should be able to get that assembled. I painted the boom car, tool car, and crew car a light "Maintenance of way" gray. I then masked the sides to paint the roof and underframe black. However, when I peeled the tape off, Disaster... I used Tamiya tape, which normally peels off nice and clean, but that definitely didn't happen here. (for example, consider the masking job I needed to do on the Micro Trains caboose. Same tape, much better results!). The boom car is the worst, but similar things happened on the crew and tool cars. If I just repaint, the places where the paint peeled will be obvious. I have a "Badger Air Eraser", which I'll have to drag out, strip the paint, and start again. The weather this week isn't looking promising for painting, so it might be a few weeks before I get a chance here. All in all, good progress finishing projects...
  9. Well, after my last treatment, my blood counts wound up WAY too low, and I wound up staying in the hospital for a few days. I didn't bring my "project bag" with me when I was admitted, but my parents brought it in when they came to visit. (stopping by my house was along the way) This gave me a day to make progress on the On3 Drop Bottom Gondola. The first thing, or next thing(?), was to install the drop bottom doors. There are actually 3 different parts for these doors. The left end, the right end, and 4 identical ones in the middle. Each of these has a "stop block" on it, which needs to be added after the door is in place so it aligns with the beams on the chassis. The stop blocks on the end doors are different, as those stop against the truck bolster, while the center doors stop against frame pieces. At the center beam, there were hinges the doors would swing open on, and these hinges are cast into the door pieces. In order for the edges of the doors to line up with the sides, these "hinges" need to be trimmed as you go along. These hinges also need to be aligned with their associated parts cast on the center frame. Once in place, its not obvious that the hinges are trimmed... The end doors needed a little extra modification. As you can see in the previous photos, There is a single plank which runs the width of the car at each end. Because the body isn't tight up against the chassis, also described in the last post, this plank fouled the end doors on one end of the car, so the door wouldn't fit flush against the bottom of the car sides. To fix this, I carved away some of the door, so the door fit flush against the side, but from the inside of the car it looks like the door is flush against the end plank. Another tricky bit with the end doors is to fit it around the outer truss rod. Bit of cut/file/sand to fit there. This is what it looks like from below with all the doors installed. You can't see in the photos, but there are small gaps between each door and the beams which go from the center beam to each side. This initially had me concerned that I would have to extend each door to make a tight joint, until I noticed in the photos in the instructions that these gaps were there. My thinking is if the car built to illustrate the instructions has these small gaps, then its no problem that mine does as well. The next step is to add all the grab irons on the sides and ends. There are a few different types of grabs, 17" straight, 20" straight, 17" offset at one end, and 20" offset at one end. To make the grabs, the kit provides some .015" dia wire and this very nice little bending jig. The right side of the car has 1 20" offset, and the corresponding end has 1 17" offset. Since these go in specific locations, I made and installed them first. To make the 20" long one, you use the part of the jig which makes a 23" long grab, and then put one end in the "ladder grab" location and bend the grab. This perfectly forms the grab to 20" long. (apparently, the D&RGW called these specialized grabs "ladder guards". Here's one of the offset grabs, a photo explains better what they look like. Before you can install the grabs, you need to put the end steps on, as the lowest grab iron is attached through the mounting bracket. There is an angle bracket on the top of each corner which also has to be installed first, for the same reason. And here's what one corner looks like once all the grabs are installed. You can see these "ladder guard" grabs as the lowest one on the side, and the 2nd one up on the end. (no, I have no clue why this unusual grab is on the end) Unfortunately, the kit was just short on wire, I still need to make 1 grab, and I didn't have any .015" wire. I'll have to make this last grab and install it next time. Next, the instructions said it was time to install all the parts on the side which represent the mechanism which raised and lowered the doors. This is not a trivial task, and after reading the instructions a few times, I decided that I needed to think about what needs to be done a little more. So, I skipped ahead a few steps and assembled/mounted the trucks. These have to be removed for painting, so its no big deal that I did this out of order. First, several times I've mentioned in this thread Mr. Cliff Grandt, and how his mold making skills were beyond compare. In the days before CNC, he made some truly amazing molds which are still being used to produce kits to this day. Here's an example of his skill. My understanding is that the brake beams on these cars were made from scrap rail, and this detail is cast into the part. Note that the rail section is "daylighted", that is, this isn't a simple solid piece with a round hole cast into the back, the rail profile is what is used to attach the brake pad/mount casting to the brake beam. Even more amazing when you consider the size of these parts. The trucks are made completely of flexible, slippery "engineering plastic". This stuff is impervious to every solvent I've tried, so they need to be ACC'ed together, and even that isn't a great bond. A few times I had to wait a minute for the ACC to cure before I could attach the next part. And here's an assembled truck. (On the left, you can easily see where the brake pad/mount attaches to the beam using the rail profile) And now I've been able to sit the car on its wheels for the first time. Really looking like a freight car now that the floor, grabs, and trucks are on. Next treatment is scheduled for next week, I'll start on the door hardware then. Until next time...
  10. There are reports of future "Big Boy" excursions. One to southern California, to "reward" the group that gave 4014 back to Uncle Pete... http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2019/05/31-big-boy-excursion-set-for-southern-california?fbclid=IwAR173RbGuECcOiTCuNp1hPHLW_GHik0TobXz9D2-inuOn-x2cu-n4uEutrI There are also reports of a trip east to Duluth Minnesota... http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2019/06/04-minnesota-museum-confirms-big-boy-4014-visit-in-july?fbclid=IwAR2OfPJL4ftJg8_gGhXpWyzhjv-JpdpdYGBEg3advc3TYMFqdtMa7bqh-Cg
  11. Quite a job forming that firebox front/combustion chamber bottom piece. Clearly a craftsman.
  12. This weeks session in the treatment room, I was focused on the drop bottom gon. First, I installed the truss rods. The instructions had a full size template to mark the bends, so that wasn't too hard. What was tricky is that these rods almost don't need to be glued in, they snap into the queen posts, and get threaded around the bolsters. The inner two need glue on top of the coupler pockets, the outer get snapped into pieces on the top of the bolster and the ends. (I glued the ends) The next step was to start working on the floor of the gondola body. There is a transverse piece on each end, forming the first floorboard, and to that is attached a triangular bracket. What I found was that there was a significant gap between the transverse piece and the vertical end braces cast into the ends. Upon inspection, the chassis didn't get glued all the way in. It shouldn't be noticeable when finished, as all the chassis cross members meet the body, but it did leave gaps that needed filling. A little square of .030 styrene took care of it, and once painted you'll really have to look close to see them. After this, the center floor pieces were installed along the top of the chassis. This was made of 2 pieces which needed to be trimmed to fit. I trimmed the ends, so the boards in the center would appear the same width. Next step, the "drop bottom" doors... I do have a couple other projects, which I brought to the latest treatment, which I could start on, but I think I'm going to get as far as I can with the drop bottom gon before I start anything else.
  13. Sounds like a plan to me. Cheyenne and Denver are reasonably close, by Western US standards, at only about a 2 hour drive. You might want to contact the UP and see if you can get in to see the shops if its not under steam. I don't know if it'll work, but its worth a try.
  14. The first few minutes of this "big boy" video certainly fit this topic. Simply a stunning piece of video. (and yes, I already posted it in the "big boy to return to steam" thread...)
  15. This is a seriously beautiful video of 4014 and 844. Well worth the 4-5 minutes. (and amazingly, only 1500 views as of this posting.)
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