No. 69: Portugal…and Progress on Portage, Nov 2017

Portage Structure Progress
This week I put most of the finishing touches on the tool houses and interlocking tower for the Portage, Iowa scene on Mike Moore’s Illinois Central layout.  I installed shingles from Minuteman Models on all the buildings and, after a little trial and error, ended up staining them black with a Sharpie pen.  Below are the photos of the “shingling” in progress.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I attempted to paint the shingles black because I accidentally ordered light gray shingles instead of dark gray or black, but painting them did not work well.  A sharpie pen seemed to work well.
I added doors made from styrene sheet and door hinges from the ever-popular Grandt Line door hinge set.  I added stove vents from my parts box (can’t recall where I got the parts) and a little weathering using a brush and Tamiya flat black.
Above.  The doors have been cut and fitted, and now they’re getting paint.  Meanwhile, below, I “painted” the shingles black on all the buildings and got that done.
Once everything dried I sprayed all the buildings with a light coat of weathering along the bottom of each structure and then sealed it all with Testors Dullcote with a few drops of Testors flat black mixed in,  That took off the sheen and helped blend all the colors together nicely.
Above.  The tool house.  Below, the coal house.
Above. The second tool house.  Below, the interlocking tower.  I am NOT happy with the top trim and may replace it with paper.
I noticed in the prototype photos that the 1965-era tower had green window shades, so I cut small pieces out of a green file folder and taped them to the inside of the windows.  I thought that gave me the right color for the shades.
I still need to add a portion of a telephone pole and a few other small things, and just ordered lampshades tonight.  Once they’re all installed I’m going to call the project complete and send everything off to Mike.  While I wait, I have time to build the screen door I have seen on all the prototype photos, and add the Portage signs.  After three months we’re almost done.
Prototype for the Tyco Trolley
We spent Memorial Day Weekend 2017 in Portugal.  Our kids’ swim team had a meet in Lisbon so we used that event as an excuse for a long weekend trip.  I don’t think I would’ve ever chosen to visit Lisbon given the choice, but I’m really happy we went.  Lisbon is now one of my favorite places in the world.  The swim meet went great, and the food, beaches, historic sights, and sunny, warm weather–70 degrees–all made for a great trip.
There’s not much railfanning one can do in Lisbon with the family in tow.  Luckily, the most famous and popular railfanning activity in the city comes to you—sort of.
Brill built a number of small, single truck, four wheel trolleys for use in downtown Lisbon in the 1920s, and today 45 of these little trolleys are still in daily use.  The Brill manufacturing plant was on the PRR mainline in Philadelphia, a bit north of 30th Street Station.
According to a couple of websites I visited, the cars have been rebuilt at least twice, but they still run around downtown Lisbon where the streets are narrow and the turns are tight.  They can run on pantograph or trolley poles depending on which line they’re on.  Just the trackwork itself is fascinating, with complex crossings through intersections, gantlet tracks of every type, curves criss-crossing over each other and tracks going up and down the hilly streets.  The trackwork is beautiful.  I am not much of a traction fan but this was some really, really cool stuff.
If you have a few minutes, Google “Lisbon Trolleys” and check out the images.
It was very difficult to get photos because we only went into the city once, and that was on a Friday evening when traffic was insane I was behind the wheel.  I did manage to catch one of the more rare red cars at the Rua Augusta, where the main walking street begins downtown.  Most of the cars are yellow, but at least five of them are red.
On two other occasions we were set up perfectly for photos, but our technology let us down.  On one occasion three cars passed right in front of me at the exact time that my not-so-smart-phone died.  Then, as we were leaving the city for the night, we paced a car perfectly down street—and it was perfect—but the only iPhone that had power remaining had no storage space left for photos.  How do you like that!
I hope you guys all have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!  – John G

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