Article and Photos by Rich Thom
Clinic Chair Rich Blake welcomed 27 members and one new attendee, John Ballay of Coupeville (who we hope will become one of our regulars) to the January program: “Weathering Techniques for Buildings”. Rich reviewed the calendar of upcoming events in the PNR and reminded everyone that, as the new year has arrived, it was a good time to renew NMRA memberships. There being no old or new business, things moved directly into the program.
All had been encouraged to bring a weathered (or possibly not) building to share. Modelers responded by bringing more than two dozen structures in all scales from “N” to “F”, so there were plenty of examples to discuss. Space limitations prevent showing all of them in this report.
Several members described their buildings and construction and weathering methods: Rich Blake, Jack Tingstad, Dick Haines, Terry Kandzor, Susan Gonzales, Al Frasch, Tom Hawkins, John Marshall, and John White. Some common techniques include:
• Use real life: photographs, field trip sketches and notes, internet resources
• Weather wood with razor saw or Micromark “stresser” to create grain
• Stain wood with water or alcohol-based washes made from acrylics, india ink, or leather dyes, or use commercially available stains from Micromark, Builders-in-Scale and others
• Focus on irregularity and repairs: for wood structures built board-by-board, stain boards individually, varying the intensity; put a few new, unpainted boards in an old planked wall; add boarded-up doors and windows, broken trim etc.
• Use chalks for final weathering: Bragdon powders (which contain a binder and need not be fixed in place), Doc O’Brien’s, artists’ chalks from Michael’s
• Instead of chalks apply dry pigments, available from art supply sources e.g. Dick Blick
• Don’t forget roofs: missing shingles, rusted corrugated iron, moss, leaves, foliage
During his remarks, Jack Tingstad passed around copies of the Judges’ Score Sheet for NMRA Model Contests to make the point that weathering can make or break a model earning an achievement award or winning a contest. Of the five qualities of a model that are judged, the fourth, “Finish and Lettering”, which includes weathering and how it was achieved, can earn a maximum of 25 points (out of 125 total possible), which is more than Detail (20 points) or Scratchbuilding (15 points).
Some less common methods:
• Weathering boards: stain or paint as usual, apply turpentine, paint the board before it dries with acrylics, then apply tape and pull it off; when it works (it didn’t tonight!) the resulting worn paint appearance is great (Rich Blake)
• Peeling paint: apply Grumbacher “Miskit” Liquid Frisket over first layer of paint in patches where you want the peeled paint effect; apply second coat of paint; then use an artist’s gum eraser to rub off the top layer and masking material (Jack Tingstad)
• “Chalk Slag”: when weathering a building with chalks, place a large clean sheet of paper underneath the model to collect the residue; the co-mingling of colors creates a great weathering powder for general use (Dick Haines)
• Water staining (literally!): drip small amounts of water, possibly with pigments added, vertically down sides of buildings, on roofs etc. (take care with paper-based or wood structures!) (Dick Haines)
Finally, for those who like to let natural processes do the work for them, Tom Hawkins reminded everyone that just leaving a building on the layout for a few years is very effective. (We assume he wasn’t kidding.) Or as John Marshall suggested, build a garden railway. John brought two 1:20.3 buildings from his Coupeville railroad. One, a German plastic model, has been outside for 20 years and looked it. The second, of wood, is brought indoors over the winter but, protected by wood preservative, is outdoors the rest of the year, and was convincingly weathered, too. Whatever works!
Thanks to all participants, and Event Coordinators Rich Blake and Susan Gonzales, for a great clinic on improving the appearance and realism of our structures.
At the Tacoma Clinic on Thursday, January 8th, 4D Secretary Bill Messecar was presented with Master Model Railroader #543. Presenting Bill with this honor were PNR President Michael Highsmith, PNR Past President Walt Huston, 4D Superintendent Russ Segner, NMRA Director Jack Hamilton and members of the evaluation team, Roger Nulton, Ed Liesse and Ken Liesse.
Bill earned certificates for Author, Scenery, Structures, Volunteer, Dispatcher, Cars, and Prototype Model. Bill models the Santa Fe railroad in Southern California, and those who have seen his HO layout are always amazed at the detail, especially the oranges in their shipping crates. Bill has written several books and articles on modeling the Santa Fe and is active in the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society. His layout has appeared on 4D tours several times. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, make sure you watch for his layout to be on tour.
From the NMRA Achievement Program website: “The Achievement Program is a system of requirements for demonstrating a superior level of skill in various aspects of our hobby. It covers not only building various types of models, but also building other things which are important to the hobby, such as scenery, structures, track work, and wiring. It also recognizes service to the hobby and the NMRA, which are important as well. Use the links on the right to explore the different certificates and requirements.”
“An NMRA member qualifies as a Master Model Railroader when he or she has obtained at least seven of the eleven Achievement Certificates provided that he or she has earned at least one Achievement Certificate in each of the four areas of the Regulations. Earning the title of Master Model Railroader is the ultimate goal for many participants in the Achievement Program.”
Cliff Green, Grab-Iron Editor
If you haven’t made plans to attend the Pacific Science Center Model Railroad show here in Seattle, now’s the time! As noted on the 4th Division PSC web page, the show is Saturday January 17 (today) through Monday January 19 (MLK weekend). More information can be found at the PSC web page for the model railroad show.
There are many helpful clinics and members across the 4th Division (which includes Alaska). I encourage everyone to take advantage of the skill sharing and fellowship available (it’s the main reason I belong to the NMRA). More information can be found on the 4D Clinics Page.
Dave Kreitler Speaks
Yes, you’re hearing it here and it’s big news. The Eastside Get-Together has once again pulled off an amazing feat of obtaining one of the world’s greatest modelers to present at our monthly meeting on Thursday, January 15th at 7:30 pm. We are expecting standing room only (SRO) so come early to get a seat and a donut. We have absolutely no idea what Dave is going to present although based on his international reputation, it will be informative, motivating, electrifying plus there will be great handouts. It has been quoted “Nobody does it like Dave!” Please cancel any other meetings and attend this once in a lifetime opportunity to hear Dave speak.
Plus we’ll have all the usual stuff like “Model of the Month”, door prizes, stuff to buy or sell, free coffee and donuts with donations. Of course we’re having fun with Dave’s introduction, but you seriously don’t want to miss his clinic as he always delivers something special. Happy New Year.
Ralph Oxhandler (my father) passed away on Jan 6, 2015. He was a 4th Division member in the 1960′s and early 1970′s.
Ralph performed publicity functions for the 1972 Seattle NMRA Convention under the name “P. C. Shay”. He also performed publicity for the 1973 Atlanta Convention under the name “The General”.
He attended most of the clinics at Loyal Heights Field House and the Burien Hobby Center. During his time in the Pacific Northwest Region (PNR) of the NMRA he modeled primarily in HO scale but also worked in N, Z and Large Scale. Shay’s were his big thing, having bought one of the first two truck models that Pacific Fast Mail (PFM) imported and was the first to buy the Pacific Coast Shay when they were released. He enjoyed going to the Cass Scenic Railroad many times over the years.
Ralph joined the NMRA while we lived in the Baltimore, MD area with a date of January 1952 and over the years was a member of the PNR, PSR, SSR, LSR, and MER regions.
By Al Babinsky, photos by Chip van Gilder
The first clinic of the year was started on time as usual by MMR Gene Swanson with 44 modelers in attendance. We had two newcomers, one modeling the Santa Fe in HO and the other hoping to model in N scale. Several announcements were made, including a model show at the Museum of Flight (MOF), the online magazine Trackside Model Railroading (TSMRR), featuring several layouts of Tacoma Clinic members, the Sn3 scale symposium, the 2015 NMRA National Convention in Portland, OR, and the 2015 Pacific Science Center Train Show, hosted by the 4th Division. Gene mentioned that our March clinician Steve Young was very ill and had to abandon his live steam 4-8-4 Northern project.
Bill Sandstrom from Tacoma Trains presented “What’s in the Hobby Shop”: an F 45 from Atlas, an FT45 from Arnold, a mechanical reefer, tank train, N scale GP-15 and U-25 from Atlas. Bluford Shops has hoppers, boxcars, and a transfer caboose and Micro Trains sells a Z scale NP passenger set and Kato with UP 844 and 7 car UP passenger set.
“Model of the Month” had several entrants including Chris Clancy with a rail tie load for a gondola, a Green bay and Western gondola and a 0-6-0 tank locomotive. Chip van Gilder brought several 3D printed items, a cider mill, an S scale steam locomotive roof, and hopper flow gates. Kevin Klettke brought a kit bashed wood chip barge. Dale Kraus brought two weathered German railroad gondolas draw-barred to operate as one (matching the prototype). Walt Huston brought background photos for his layout. The “Model of the Month” winner was Kevin Klettke with his wood chip barge.
Our clinic for this month was presented by Steve Cox, the owner of Cascade Rail Supply, featuring roadbed materials and construction. His PowerPoint presentation covered the pros and cons of various types of available roadbed. Most roadbeds, such as cork, have the wrong angle of 45 degrees versus the proper angle of 30 degrees. He showed samples of the types of Homasote roadbed that he manufactures in all the common scales. Homasote seems to be the best product around since it is solid and holds spikes. Note that cutting and sanding Homasote creates large amounts of dust and manufactured roadbed avoids this irritation. It was an informative, well-done, great clinic.
Next month’s clinic will be on February 12th at our usual place, the Pierce County Library Admin. Bldg. at the corner of 112th Street and Waller road at 7:30 PM. The February clinic will cover “Analog and DCC at the Same Time”. Hope to see all of you there and bring a friend, significant other or any one that is into modeling.
Don’t worry, there is still time to volunteer!
Yes, the Pacific Science Center Show still needs volunteers. This is the premier fundraiser for the 4th Division. This year’s show will be a little smaller in size but the need for volunteers is just as great. Any amount of time will be appreciated. So, come join your fellow modelers and help promote the hobby. This is the perfect opportunity for all those armchair model railroaders to become active in this local event. Remember, parking is free and you have access to the Pacific Science Center.
As noted on the 4D PSC web page, the show is Saturday January 17 through Monday January 19 (MLK weekend). On Friday the exhibitor set-up will commence at 5 pm and last till 9 pm. On Saturday the show starts at 8:30 am and lasts till 6 pm. Sunday and Monday the show is from 9 am till 6 pm. After the show on Monday will be layout load out till 9 pm. This year will be critical for help since we will not have one of our load in/load out docks available.
By Jeff Moorman
Hope you are all enjoying the Holidays. You may have noticed that the first Thursday of next month is New Year’s Day.
Sorry. I know this comes as a disappointment to some who cancelled New Year’s Eve party plans in order to be well rested for the clinic, but we will not be meeting on the first.
Thursday, February 5 is our next scheduled clinic date. I’ll post a reminder with more details as that date approaches.
Directions: We meet at the Ronald United Methodist Church, 17839 Aurora Avenue North, Shoreline, WA. That is on the west side of Aurora (State Route 99) between 175th and 185th Streets and more specifically, between the Cadillac dealer on the south and Deseret Industries to the north. Going southbound on Aurora, make a right-hand turn into the church driveway immediately after passing the Deseret location. The parking lot is at the rear of the church. Go up the steps to the main entrance. We meet in the Fireside Room which is immediately to the left inside the door.
Meetings are the first Thursday of each month, usually September – June. However in June we often do something different, so there may be no “regular” meeting. Doors open at 7:00 PM and the program starts at 7:30.
Meeting dates for the rest of the current clinic season are scheduled for the first Thursday of February, March, April, and May 2015. Hope to see you there or at least sometime on down the line.
Bob Stafford, 4D Communications Director
The Tacoma N Scalers meet on the first Thursday of the month at the Fircrest Rec Center, 555 Contra Costa, Fircrest, WA at 7 PM. There is no meeting on January 1st. They will begin 2015 clinics Thursday night February 5th with a clinic titled “What I Got For Christmas and What I Am Going to Do With It”.
The March Clinic will be Thursday night March 5th, “How to Convert to Body Mounted Couplers”. Later in the year there will be clinics on laser structures, electronics, “EZ” trees, setting up operations, and more.
Bob Rorabaugh, 4th Division Membership Chairman
The annual Model Train Exhibit at the Washington State History Museum, Tacoma, Dec 21 to Jan 1 (closed the 24th and Christmas Day), is a wonderful opportunity for all of us who love the hobby and want to grow our ranks. If you plan to attend, would you linger at our NMRA booth for some intentional time? “Each one win one (a new member).” Be the “face” of the hobby and the NMRA. Engage passers-by, perhaps prepared to tell parents with children why you love this hobby.
Reasons to attend:
- It’s the holidays, and your local Sears store doesn’t have a railroad layout on display, but at this show, there’ll be a bunch of modular layouts.
- You’ve got kids in your world. They may be grandchildren, neighbors, a Sunday school class, etc. You can go to the Museum’s website and download a poster. Make the call to a teacher or some parents. Invite them to add this event to their holiday schedule!
- Just because you’d like to grow the NMRA, and would come just to share the booth experience.
Our association is 20,000 strong. Let’s have that many “owner’s reps.” I’m appealing especially to you who live within an hour of the Museum in the ol’ train station, downtown Tacoma. That’s from Seattle to Olympia, and places like Bothell, Puyallup, Snoqualmie, Bremerton, Shoreline, etc. Of course you can come from Mt. Vernon, Centralia and Port Townsend. Don’t be shy. I’ll see if I can get you into the museum for free, so bring your NMRA membership card and mention at the door that you’re serving our NMRA educational exhibit. If you must pay, then be sure to see the rest of this wonderful museum. There’s more to see than trains for you and those you invite.
Thanks for considering this request. Just don’t all come at once.
Ed Liesse, photos by Ed Liesse
JJ Johnston once again welcomed everyone to the Eastside Get Together and, following the script for our meetings, introduced the members of the 4th Division Board of Directors and the Master Model Railroaders (MMRs) in attendance. He then asked if we had any new attendees and Tom Keys from Seattle was welcomed to the group!
Announcements: Russ Segner, as chairman of the upcoming Sn3 Symposium, said they had 112 registration to date and that operating sessions are still available and, as 4th Division Superintendent, that the next Board of Directors meeting would be on Saturday, December 13 at Mitzel’s in Kent at 11:00 AM. 4D has a number of Fast Tracks turnout jigs available for loan to 4D members from the library and Russ is looking for someone to head the video library. David Yadock reminded us of the Pacific Science Center show, which is the 4D money-maker for the year. Volunteers are needed for the three days of the show and can get free parking and admission. Mike Kavanaugh said he has a small HO layout available, free, with trackwork and bridges but no scenery. Rick Jillard announced the availability of an 8’ x 24’ one piece layout in a garage with scenery and track plus car and engines.
The Model of the Month featured David Yadock and CJ Turner. David brought a 4-stall roundhouse where he started using linoleum blocks for walls but changed to Chooch stone walls. The front walls are still carved from the linoleum block, however. Paper shingles are glued to the roof to resemble slate. The interior will be finished later but the lighting is already in place.
CJ Turner brought a DPM kit resembling a 1901 Nordstom store. The store is well detailed with window decorations and a warning from CJ to be careful of what was happening in the upper story front room! See CJ for the answer to that one!
After our usual short break for refreshments JJ introduced John Morrison for a presentation on Swiss Rack Railroads. Because of the mountainous topography in Switzerland, most of the railroads traveling up in the higher elevations use a rack system to traverse steep grades. In addition, railroads in Switzerland are a mix of standard gauge and several different meter gauges. There are two main rack systems, the Riggenbach and the Strub, used mostly in the higher regions. The Strub rack is machined from rail. Various scenes in the presentation give a clear look at the differences between the two types. John also showed several charts of the different meter gauges in use.
CJ Turner was the winner of the Model of the Month.
The December Eastside Get Together will be on December 18. This will be a last opportunity to make our monetary contributions to help some needy members of the church have a merry Christmas! Instead of a presentation, we’ll celebrate with a “Dirty Santa gift exchange” (?). Come join us for some extra fun!
Reminder: Eastside Get Together meets this Thursday, December 18, 7:30 PM. Bring a wrapped gift for our annual “Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Party” and celebrate the Christmas season. There are free donuts along with free coffee. Yes, everyone can help themselves to free donuts compliments of the Eastside Get Together. Bring your Model of the Month and let us see what you’re doing.
Your Santa gift can be around $12 or so, and the rules will be reviewed at the beginning of the exchange. Please wrap your gift and put the scale or gauge on the outside so it can be seen easily.
Oh, by the way – congratulations to Jim Easley and his resident modelers at Emerald Heights in Redmond. They are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their garden railway which Jim started for them shortly after he became a resident. The work now includes 275 feet of track, a train barn, 6 bridges and trestles, 45 structures plus various flowers, trees and shrubs. Jim also has a railroad around his unit to show off his wonderful collection of Swiss (I think) locomotives and rolling stock.
Our annual collection for donations has gone extremely well this year. This collection assists a few church members in need as a way of paying back the church who gives us our space rent free and lets us use their coffee and condiments at no cost. Thanks to all of you who made a generous contribution. If you haven’t had a chance to donate yet, we will pass the hat around one more time at Thursday’s meeting.
See you on Thursday and hope you get a great treasure from Santa.
Article and Photos by Rich Thom
December’s clinic featured an always-popular “Make-and-Take,” with Susan Gonzales leading the group through her process of making windblown trees. Susan’s technique is based on an article, “Windswept Trees from Natural Materials,” in the April 2013 issue of Model Railroader, but she shortened the process and used her own choices of materials, stains, etc.
To inspire everyone for the evening’s tree-making, Susan brought a completed tree:
In this example, sagebrush collected in eastern Washington was used for the trunk, and caspia for the branches. Other twigs you can find in the woods can also be used, but sagebrush produces especially fine windblown trees. The trunk has been stained and also weathered with gray washes. Having examined Susan’s tree, everyone had a chance to try their hand at creating an equally-gnarled tree. Susan brought a large supply of sagebrush and caspia to the clinic — more than five times enough in fact for everyone!
The first step in the process Susan did before the meeting (after gathering a quantity of sagebrush): bleaching the wood. She uses four 5-gallon buckets. The first is filled with a strong solution of bleach, and the other three with rinse water. The twigs are soaked in the bleach solution for one hour, then moved to bucket #2. The wood is swished around in the bucket and soaked for 20 to 30 minutes. This is repeated again in bucket #3, and then #4. The rinse water is changed frequently. Rinsing continues until all bleach odor is gone. The twigs are dried on a tarp or plastic sheeting, preferably outside. A sunny day is even better (good luck with that in western Washington!).
The next step is to “mine” the brush, searching for gnarled and / or curved or otherwise interesting-looking segments for the trunk of your tree. Cut, then pinch off excess branches to get the look you want. The size will obviously depend on your scale and whether it is to be a foreground or background tree. If it’s sagebrush, pick off any thorns. Clean off loose pieces with a wire brush. For a polished, wind-worn look, use 220-grit sandpaper on the trunk.
Color the trunk (optional) with a brown stain, gray washes, or both. Susan uses Folk Art brand maple and cherry stains (hard to find) but your favorites will work, too. She uses Folk Art dove gray and steel gray acrylics for the washes.
The next step is to drill or punch holes in the trunk for the caspia branches. After forming the holes, Susan uses a trick of putting T-pins in them to keep them open (and visible!) until you are ready to glue in the caspia. She uses Aleene’s fast grab or tacky white glue. One of our tree-builders discovered that you shouldn’t squeeze the glue bottle too hard.
Ground foam may be added to the branches, also optional. As a final step, drill hole and glue in a planting pin at the bottom of the trunk
Everyone took home a windblown tree, such as these resulting from the evening’s labors:
Thanks Susan for a fine clinic and inspiring us all to enhance our layouts with these unique trees.
Welcome, new 4th Division NMRA members! I’ve completed updating the Grab-Iron e-mail notification list with the new members from the last two months as well as members that have renewed and changed their e-mail addresses. Any time a Grab-Iron blog post is created and published you will receive an e-mail notification.
Over the last few weeks minor updates have been made to the 4th Div web site (www.4dpnr.org, mostly updating contact and clinic info). In upcoming months more significant updates will happen, including web templates that are more “responsive”, which means it handles smart phones and tablets in a more intelligent manner. More details in future Grab-Iron posts.
There is a wealth of model railroading expertise available in this area, and a good place to encounter it is at one of the 4th Div clinics (see the 4D web site “Clinics” page for more info). I urge everyone to take advantage of it whenever possible. Most of the clinic organizers provide overviews and reports in the Grab-Iron, but reading blog posts can’t compare to attending in person.
Happy holidays to everyone, and I hope you have time to do a bit of model railroading in addition to (or in conjunction with!) family and friend time.
Last year, I was lucky to spend a day at Miniatur Wunderland, one of the world’s great model railroads in Hamburg, Germany. This for-profit operation, which appears to be quite successful, was filled with people at €12 each (about $15). Unfortunate, I learned after I arrived that I could have taken a “backstage” tour. Remember that for when you visit!
I edited my hours of footage down to less than 20 minutes to make this brief video. (Be sure to click the “full screen” button in the lower-right corner to watch in high-definition.)