No. 102: More Details for Ackley’s South Side

In my last post I mentioned that my friends Lonnie and Mary Bathurst were visiting Europe, and last week they came to visit us in Kaiserslautern.  My wife and I met them at the Hauptbahnhof and took them to our favorite German restaurant in Hohenecken for lunch, beer and conversation.    


After a hearty German meal we went over to Ramstein Air Base for a pre-arranged C-130J tour.  There was no rain in sight until we made the long walk out to the ramp.  Despite the weather the boys from the 37th Airlift Squadron gave us a first-class tour.   They even wheeled out a power cart and we got to tour the jet with power to doors and avionics and everything.

I just happened to lose my cell phone that week so I wasn’t in charge of pictures, but the crew got one of Lon in the left seat.  Lon looks pretty good wearing a Herc.  And yes indeed, the J-model has a HUD.


After a couple of hours at the jet and a long walk back through the wind and rain, we made the short drive to Albersbach where Lon was able to run trains at Ackley for a couple minutes.  

Please note the IC Orange shirt, worn specifically for the boys on the Proto Layouts list on IO.


Before The Visit

Before Lonnie’s visit, I was able to get a little detail work done on the layout.  Here’s a run-down of the improvements.

Below.  A quick and easy project was getting new photo backdrops and some more trees installed on the north side of the layout.  The track disappearing here represents M&StL’s connections to the north such as Mason City and Minneapolis.  In addition to being a major industrial and population center Minneapolis also provided connections to all the big northwest transcons.  

Here’s the north end scene with all the trees ans structures removed, ready for a face-lift.


Below.  Free time doesn’t come easy when you have a busy job and busy family–all of which come before my hobbies.  I don’t watch any television so when I have a spare ten minutes I run upstairs and try to get something accomplished instead.  Here, trees and bushes have been prepared, and new backdrops cut out.  Everything is set up and ready for action. 


I didn’t take any in-progress photos of the new work, but the shot below shows the new backdrops in place with a few trees planted in front to provide some depth to the scene.  It doesn’t look too bad.  The building at left is the Marshall Canning Co. #5 building, the major industry in town. 


The farm girls are from a Preiser “German Farm Workers” set, given to me by my daughter Kirsten a few years back.   


This photo, below, was taken with my iPhone6.  Please ignore the gaping hole in the horizon. 

Speaking of the horizon, I established one-inch as the optimal height of the horizon on my backdrops.  


I also made progress on the three tool houses at the IC-M&StL crossing.  I had completed and painted the buildings some time ago, and brought grey paint home with me from my trip to the U.S. in July.  I painted the trim, windows and details an appropriate shade of dark grey and got most of the details applied in time for Lonnie’s visit.  The shingles are from Minuteman Scale Models.


The tool houses need a little more work and some weathering, but I placed them into the scene for the visit.  The base for the interlocking tower is at right.  There’s a lot to say about this scene, but I’ll save the details for a later post.


This view, below, is the same scene last year, before I made some prototypically-correct improvements.  The view below is pretty sterile.  Above, with the more prototypical ballast contour and details, and the much-improved backdrops, it looks much better.


I built this telephone pole and breaker set using a Walthers kit.  It needs a lot of work still, but it adds a nice touch to the scene.


A few details were finished for the depot too.  The baggage cart is from Grandt Line, the dollies are old white-metal kits I’ve had around for 25-30 years, and the coal bin is another old white metal thing that I’ve had around forever.  The depot will need a lot more details.


Over at the Standard Oil terminal, I finally added a detail I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  Dan Kohlberg suggested I use solder to simulate hoses, and I ordered some solder–I think about .010-inch in diameter–from Amazon.  I pained it with a box car red and laid it under the tracks at Standard Oil to simulate a bottom-unloading hose.  It ain’t perfect but it does the trick.  I also heavily-weathered the track here, first with some artist’s oil color to get the glossy black to simulate a new spill, and then with AIM black powder to simulate old spills.  


The last thing I did was fix a pesky track issue seen below.  Down on the south side there was a spot where the track had risen slightly at a joint, producing some ugly and unprototypical bouncing of cars and engines.  I cut the rail here to provide a gap for signalling but I haven’t installed the detection system yet.  

A close inspection revealed that one of the ties had risen slightly, providing the bump.  Also notice…that despite my best efforts to model highly detailed track, I can’t get around using ghastly rail joiners like those on the right.  And when I soldered the rail joiners, it melted the plastic joint bars I used.  That joint bar looks ridiculous.


I undercut a couple of the ties on each side and that brought the rail down to level.


I spiked the rail into place, then replaced the joint bars.  I like to install joint bars over rail gaps to help hide them.  I used the old Grandt Line O scale Code 70 joint bars for this job.


Then I painted the rail and ties with my color of choice, Testors Rubber.  Unprototypical bumps: Gone.


The last scene, below, this of double-headed M&StL RS-1s at Ackley.  Consisting the engines with the NCE system is fast and easy, and the sound systems seem to differentiate just enough so you can hear both engines.


My blessings to you and your families!  – John G



5 thoughts on “No. 102: More Details for Ackley’s South Side

  1. Fabulous modeling as always. But that is not a REAL C-130, but a computer simulator. A real C-130 has an E after the 130, steam gauges and a highly trained and handsome navigator.

    John Moenius
    former “Trashhauler”


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