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A New Hobby, or; Making Trees



Although I’ve been remarking about my “midlife crisis” for almost a decade now… (or at least since I bought the little hotrod back in 2004)… I think this might really be “it” this time as I’ve taken up a new hobby:

Railroad Modeling

I know that most folks would call it “model railroading”… (and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that)… but my interest is far deeper than:

Watch the little train go round and round… whoo-whooo!… look, now it’s going over the bridge…

I not only want to build that bridge to my exacting specifications, but also want to determine the schedules for crossings.


Oh for Heaven’s sake MADG; this is just another sterling example of you trying to escape reality by hyper-focusing on tired and fact-based minutia instead of going along with our progressive, news-as-entertainment, fast-and-loose culture.

Did I mention that I’m doing this in N-scale? (The tiniest American operational ratio {1:160}, with only the Eurocentric fits-in-a-designer-bag Z-scale being smaller and far less popular.) Or that my first layout will be a point-to-point, capitalistic, intermodal freight-shifting operation?

Hmmm…?


Well, we don’t need to get into the politics right now; albeit it should suffice to say that I’m focusing on details… teensy tiny details… such as a dog tinkling on a fire hydrant, blissfully unaware of union-mandated compensation arbitration… and he fits on your littlest fingernail.

Although the fully operational layout is still months away, I’ve been practicing the finer points of design; and have attached an image of what I call my “test diorama”. (See image link below.)

I made most of what you see there.


The base was purchased at a hobby shop. I screened and tested textured paint for the “sandy” road and lot, and think it looks pretty good. I then added the green turf, the forest-floor debris, and the 2 “bushes” up front. (Reindeer moss.)

The 2 deciduous trees on the right are kit-made and I think I picked up on that pretty quick. They’ll have you twisting armatures and tacky-gluing shredded foam; I used markers to add character to the trunks and branches.

I am particularly proud of the 3 conifers on the left side because that’s all me… no kit, no instructions, just… well, I’m not going to give it away… let it suffice to say that they cost almost nothing but time… and even better: You can do it over beers with friends.

(Incidentally, these are just samples for the test diorama… I’ve made about 30 trees so far, and can knock out a handful in just an hour. When it comes to scenery for a model railroad, you can’t have too many trees.)


But just to add some scale, I put some other things on the diorama, like a DIME… a little shack… and OJ’s bloodied white Bronco…



… What? What’s that you say? I’m not as factual and detailed as I like to think I am?



Oh, alright, you caught me, exercising a little artistic license. After all, as everyone can plainly see…





… that’s not a Bronco, it’s an Explorer.


;)

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10 Comments On This Entry

Cute!

mmmm, on an interesting side-note, I've been chest-deep in mid-life crisis for 2 years now, and recently started back into HO-scale modelling myself.... strange coincidence.
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Howsithangin, on Apr 22 2010, 10:09 PM, said:

Cute!

mmmm, on an interesting side-note, I've been chest-deep in mid-life crisis for 2 years now, and recently started back into HO-scale modelling myself.... strange coincidence.

This hobby dies seem to attract mature folks; then again, anything less would be just playing with trains. :clap:
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Love to do that kind of modelling. Several years ago, some friends of mine got heavily into WarHammer 40k. They would pay me to paint their armies and design their tanks and such. I started winning prizes with the work until someone found out that instead of buying the "official" paints, I was buying the off the shelf stuff from Wal-Mart at 1/50 the price.
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cobalt-blue, on Apr 25 2010, 08:32 PM, said:

Love to do that kind of modelling. Several years ago, some friends of mine got heavily into WarHammer 40k. They would pay me to paint their armies and design their tanks and such. I started winning prizes with the work until someone found out that instead of buying the "official" paints, I was buying the off the shelf stuff from Wal-Mart at 1/50 the price.

Tsk tsk... skimping on the paint! B)

Actually, some of the kits I have recommend Wal-mart's paints.
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MADGestic, on Apr 25 2010, 07:40 PM, said:

cobalt-blue, on Apr 25 2010, 08:32 PM, said:

Love to do that kind of modelling. Several years ago, some friends of mine got heavily into WarHammer 40k. They would pay me to paint their armies and design their tanks and such. I started winning prizes with the work until someone found out that instead of buying the "official" paints, I was buying the off the shelf stuff from Wal-Mart at 1/50 the price.

Tsk tsk... skimping on the paint! B)

Actually, some of the kits I have recommend Wal-mart's paints.



I wasn't skimping on the paint. They were no different than the Wal-Mart paints I was buying. It's just that the "official" paints cost about $8 for a tiny little pot. I could get the same color for $0.98 for a bottle five times bigger.
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Very cool. We look forward to updates with pictures as they become available.
I remember using broccoli (sp?) clumps and spraying Clear-cote on 'em, and those were my "trees" for my small train layout. Eventually, I got bored, moved onto WW 2 airplanes (but kept the train layouts). Wish I could find the pictures I took of the German fighter crashed into the train station! B)
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cobalt-blue, on Apr 26 2010, 06:46 AM, said:

MADGestic, on Apr 25 2010, 07:40 PM, said:

cobalt-blue, on Apr 25 2010, 08:32 PM, said:

Love to do that kind of modelling. Several years ago, some friends of mine got heavily into WarHammer 40k. They would pay me to paint their armies and design their tanks and such. I started winning prizes with the work until someone found out that instead of buying the "official" paints, I was buying the off the shelf stuff from Wal-Mart at 1/50 the price.

Tsk tsk... skimping on the paint! B)

Actually, some of the kits I have recommend Wal-mart's paints.

I wasn't skimping on the paint. They were no different than the Wal-Mart paints I was buying. It's just that the "official" paints cost about $8 for a tiny little pot. I could get the same color for $0.98 for a bottle five times bigger.

Sorry, I was just kidding. As they say: “The proof is in the pudding”; and as I say: “Function before form.” If you get the desired results with the less expensive alternative (as you clearly did) then there’s no good reason to not use it.

(Well, unless it has something to do with “rules”… then it’s debatable.) :P
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swede1962, on Apr 27 2010, 12:57 PM, said:

Very cool. We look forward to updates with pictures as they become available.
I remember using broccoli (sp?) clumps and spraying Clear-cote on 'em, and those were my "trees" for my small train layout. Eventually, I got bored, moved onto WW 2 airplanes (but kept the train layouts). Wish I could find the pictures I took of the German fighter crashed into the train station! :P

Progress is slow but steady (on a wide front) as I’m in an informational and skill-building phase; definitely focused more on the “modeling” than the “railroading”. I did finish a few more trees tonight and attached a pic. They’re stuck in scrap styrofoam as I was spraying adhesive and dusting them with accents… and of course the ubiquitous coin is included for scale.

I’m simultaneously working on 2 structures, several vehicles, and a [diaper]-load of details. For example, I just popped open a set of 3 “excursion rail cars”… (slow-moving, open-sided, tourist transportation like you might find in a theme park)… and glued some tiny little sitting figures into the benches. (And I do mean tiny; at least 8 of them could sit around the edge of that penny.) I couldn’t help but bleed some personality into the effort, including 2 gay couples, at least one incident of sexual harassment, and an apparently lost child. B)

Learning, planning, kit-building and -bashing… (my “yard office” kit came with a plain roof; no chimney, no plumbing vents, no antennae, no AC unit or ductwork; who do they think they’re kidding?)… painting and weathering… this venture actually got me working with my camera again. I’ve been taking photos of buildings, trucks, construction equipment and the like; all to get an idea of how things look in RealLife® so I can work at being a better modeler. It’s even changed the way I look at and notice things: weathered brick, dirty rims, the color of concrete… (is it gray or is it tan?... usually it’s both).

The layout is still months away, and I’m okay with that, as I’m still planning/designing the bench-work and wiring etc. In fact, I may do a small tabletop layout as practice (2’X3’) before tackling the big one… (which really isn’t all that big). This is a long-term project for me.


BROCCOLI?!!! Are you kidding?! That stuff stinks when it’s fresh! :P

Modeling wartime, accidents, tragedy… the messier aspects of life… is certainly valid… and difficult. I’ve visited one railroad modeling discussion forum which has (among others) these rules:
  • No discussions about hobos, and
  • No discussions about graffiti.

Okay, “hobos” is kind of archaic… but graffiti? Just this weekend I drove through Pittsfield with my Mom and saw some railcars just off the road:
Hopper… hopper… hopper loaded with big granite blocks… boxcar… boxcar… plywood on a flat… tanker… tanker… eww, gross tanker… hopper…

I particularly noted three things:

  • Number One: The shiniest thing on a railroad is the face of a regularly used rail.
  • Number Two: Everything is dirty if not decrepit, and…
  • Number Three: There’s GRAFFITI everywhere; every car, every signal box, every building near a siding… it’s there.

This is not to say that graffiti is a good thing (it’s not); but when you get a bunch of folks together who are interested in modeling (representing) Reality… then tell them that they can’t talk about graffiti… well that seems kind of self-defeating to me. (I suspect that the Ringling Brothers Circus Train sets are manufactured for those that insist on modeling fantasy/idealism.)


So you go right ahead and model those plane crashes… I’m trying to work a shipwreck into mine.

:P
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To follow up:

I have in front of me “Billboard in a Bag” by Bar Mills (Scale Model Works)… the N – HO scale kit #0035. This kits enables the client to build and customize several billboards; and includes styrene (plastic), paper stock, and brass components. Allow me to quote from the instructions:

Apply several light coats of WHITE primer applied [sic] to the brass lettering sheets… LET THEM DRY THOROUGHLY BETWEEN COATS and you’ll minimize any need to touch-up possible scratches created during assembly. If using a spray can… USE “COLORPLACE” BRAND PRIMER (found at Wal-Mart) for the absolute best results. We’ve found so-called “better quality” primers to go on too thick, “mud-up” the works, and take hours to dry!

(All emphasis in original.)

This is just one example of Wal-Mart spray paint being recommended above all else.

(I would say: “’muck up’ the works”, but that’s just me… although it is comforting to see someone else abusing ellipses as I do.)

:rofl:
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