What is Protocrastinator?

A Protocrastinator is a person who puts off finescale Railroad (and railway modelling) for no good reason.
Originally for me it was 1:87 (HO) scale. Problems with acquiring the bits and pieces led to extreme dissatisfaction and the project stalled. Now I've acquired an O scale boxcar and I intend investigating Proto 48 as a finescale project.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Duluth Steam

I've been looking around for structures for this layout. For something that inspires me to want to build it. There is one building that I've always been fascinated with. It's the Duluth Steam plant in, not unsurprisingly, Duluth, MN. For over 80 years the plant has supplied heat to the downtown and Canal Park areas of the city and currently more than 220 buildings are served.
Though the structure is not currently served by rail, the tracks of the North Shore Scenic Railroad pass the building and there is at least one siding to the building. In the past coal would have been delivered there and fly ash would have been shipped out. The fly ash is a by product of the burned coal and is used in the making of cement. There is quite a demand for it. These days the fly ash would be shipped out by truck but the fly ash hopper (the cream coloured thing to the right of the second picture) is directly over the railroad tracks. So there is plenty of justification for having such a rail served industry on this small layout.
I'm sorry that these pictures are so small but for some reason I have lost the originals. I pilfered these from a plan I supplied to Carl Arendts micro layout gallery. I guess that means another trip up to Duluth for research purposes That will not be a hardship...


Well, after two days work, scarily, I have two almost competently built baseboards. They are light strong and rigid. Built from 3/16" ply strips for the sides and 1/4" ply for the top. Glued and pinned.

I plan on adding a little extra bracing underneath. But at the moment it doesn't really feel like it needs it, to be honest.
The next step will be to add the blocks for the hinges so that the baseboards will fold over for storage and transport.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baseboard progress

Yes indeed you read right. Baseboard Progress! Having been an extremely crappy day today, weather wise. I really had no choice but to go and work on the baseboards for the layout. Two identical ones as you will recall from the drawing.
Now I approached this with great trepidation as I am known to be one of the worst woodworkers in the world. So I started work with great care, following my full size template and measuring twice and cutting once.
I am used to rushing through baseboard construction and paying the price later. But this once I seemed relaxed and more careful. My saw cuts were a little less wavy, the corners were square. All in all things are progressing quite well.
I haven't finished yet of course. Which in itself is another miracle. Normally I would have banged these baseboards together in a couple of hours. Today after 4 hours I'm about halfway there.
Why is this? Am I getting mellower in my old age or is it the spectre of the P87 standards staring over my shoulder saying.
"If you don't get it right now then We'll bite you back with stock derailments later"
Strangely, I'm quite happy that I don't have the baseboards finished yet. There's always tomorrow after the England game...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jiggery Pokery

So, feeling like doing little more today than resting my aching limbs after yesterdays marathon. I gave some thought to the baseboards for this little venture. I have, courtesy of my father-in-law, some 16 strips of 13/16" ply 4' long x 3" deep for the purpose of framing a baseboard or two. Bolstered by the fact that the really difficult job of cutting some perfectly, square level and flat has already been done for me I feel that I can safely make some baseboards... (famous last words there)
So the visible section of the layout is planned to consist of two identical baseboards hinged so that one folds on top of the other for easy transportation (what was that I said about things being safe). Perhaps the construction of some sort of jig is in order.
Ahhh now lets see about this. My woodworking skills are suspect, so I expect myself to make a jig to enable myself to make decent baseboards. Somewhere, somehow, this scheme is going to come crashing down in a pile of my own logic...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Exactrail Signature series Waffle side Box car

Those of you familiar with my US outline blogs will know of my liking, nay love, for Exactrail models. Today another one arrived by mail. (I'd like to say arrived in my mailbox but the mail person had just thrown the package on the driveway) . In the package was a NS waffle sided boxcar. I desperately wanted the Southern Railroad version but so, it seems did everyone else, and there is nary one to be found except by paying over the odds on fleabay. So I settled for the NS version.
It is one of the Signature series of models, top of the range and what a gorgeous model it is. Take a look.
Below: The lettering is really tiny and very legible

Above: The end detailing features coupler cut rods and air hoses
Above: More stunning detail.
If I have one criticism of the model it is that the door is moulded as a part of the body and not separately applied as on the Railbox perhaps's that's a production issue. The door actually fooled me as to me it looked as if it might open.
Another great model from Exactrail

Friday, June 4, 2010

First mock up

So not wanting to leave a good idea alone and the fact that its well past 80F in the garden and I don't fancy mowing the lawn in that heat. I set to and mocked up the sketch plan. Though I am a visual person and can see things in my head pretty well I always think that on small layout like this there's no excuse for NOT throwing things down to confirm just how they look to see if there might be any issues with clearances etc:
Above: Here's the plan, you should be able to make out the edge of the baseboard in blue marker. You can see that there is plenty of room between the tracks and the central road will comfortably take four 60 foot cars. I also have a couple of 70' cars and there won't be any issue with them either.
Above: A down the layout view. I think the City classics Smallman Street warehouse is well suited for that location. It's a kit I love and should one find its way onto the layout it will be the 4th layout of mine to feature one. The team track on the front road before the warehouse denoted by the woodchip car is another device to stop folks seeing the trains move across their field of view.
Above: View from the road overbridge. The perspective of the "concrete canyon" between the two buildings is quite pleasing. I don't know if the Walthers Lakeville warehouse used is the right building for the site. Perhaps something different is needed there.
Now to sit on the idea for a while and see what happens...

Plans afoot

Anyway, having spent a lot of the holiday weekend thinking about the concept and how to go about it. I came up with the following scheme.

I have incorporated the idea about the webcam. I don't know how practical it would be as my laptop is a MacBook Air and the screen isn't that big. You certainly couldn't get many people around it, probably not as many as could take in the actual end on view on the layout.
I have also mooted the idea that the central sorting road could be extended onto another baseboard/fiddle yard.
The "end on viewing" concept is stressed by angling the baseboard and the track backwards from the fiddle yard and blocking off up to half the layouts length with industrial buildings in front of the viewer. Thereby forcing the viewer to adopt a more end on view of the layout.
A crazy idea for the structure at the front would be to have a cut-away interior displayed. The viewer could then watch the loco and cars pass by the windows and loading dock doors. Perhaps.
Perhaps that's too crazy.
Right now it seems like a reasonable idea. This is after all, a small shunty-plank (switching layout) and devices would be needed to keep peoples interest up.
Practically speaking. Could I build two baseboards exactly the same and make them fold up with hinges as I've suggested? My carpentry inabilities are legendary.
The siding lengths are designed around my preference for the longer, more modern stock rather than the old fashioned 50 footers beloved of some layout builders who try to shrink layouts to microscopic sizes.
There's nothing wrong with the track plan. It's an Inglenook. Tried and tested proven over 50 plus years of railway modelling. It's all down to how its executed and the industries that I choose. I've got a few ideas on that front. More of them later