Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nova Rus "Bear" 4x4 Jeep WIP

Here are a few WIP shots of my current project that I hope to take down to Reaper. I'm through with the basic painting at this point and I'm ready to start the weathering. I think the wheels are closest to being finished at this point. This little beauty is from Antenocitis Workshop the Nova Rus "Bear" 4x4 Jeep, a 28mm Sci Fi vehicles from the G.O.T. line.

BNSF at Broadway in Denver

I missed posting these photos of a BNSF coal train from last year. I believe this was a southbound train and these would have been the helper engines at the end. Its been a while since some real diesels have graced these pages.

BNSF 6117 ES44AC

Not a great shot but at least you know where it was taken!
BNSF 6430 ES44AC

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hobbs and Sadie

Hobbs is settling in quite nicely and gets along well with Sadie and ignores the cats. All in all that works out quite well. The cats scatter when they see him, but he really could care less what they do. Eventually one of them will figure out that he has a really soft coat and provides an excellent napping spot. Its been cold and snowy here lately which means he would rather be outside! Sadie, on the other hand, would much rather be inside when its cold.

A rawhide bone and a bed, what more could a dog want?

I still can't believe you are letting him stay!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Railroads for the Old West in 28mm

Trains add a very distinctive look to the gaming table and I feel that its very important for them to have the right look and feel. Whether its a scenario recreating a locomotive chase or a train robbery or as a supporting element to a WWI or WWII game they need to look like they fit in with both our terrain and our miniatures. I have had this discussion of scale and proportion, both with myself (yes, I do talk to myself) and on a couple of forums, before. When we look strictly at scale S Scale (1/64) is the closest scale comparison to our 28mm miniatures. Visually the track is just about perfect, it scales quite nicely with most of the miniatures we use. In other words if we try and pull the old Snidely Whiplash trick of tying our victim to the track their head and feet (sans base) will overhang the rails appropriately. S Scale track is available commercially although it has to be mail ordered. Other components like turnouts and crossings tend to be pretty pricy though. Granted within the context of our games the railroad tends to be very secondary and we are not necessarily interested in putting a lot of track on the table.

Before I get much farther let me define a few things as far as scale and notations are concerned for the gamers out there. HO, S and O (and for O scale I'm referring to American O Scale) refer to specific measuring scales; HO is 1/87, S is 1/64th, and O is 1/48th. Gauge refers to the distance between the rails and I'm going to use US standards here. For American Standard gauge the distance between the rails is 4' 8 1/2". Narrow gauge is anything narrower than this, in general there are two "common" narrow gauge sizes in the US; 36" or 3' (the most common form of narrow gauge in Colorado) between the rails and 24" or 2' (the most popular prototypes being the Maine two-footers) between the rails. There are others but these are the two, more or less, most common narrow gauge sizes. We notate this with the letter "n" followed by a number, like n3 for 3' narrow gauge and n2 for 2' narrow gauge. When you see a notation like this HOn3 we are talking about 3' narrow gauge in HO scale, if HO appears by itself then its always considered to be standard gauge. If you see two digits then the measurement is in inches so n30 denotes rails that are 30" or 2' 6" apart.

A piece of S Scale flex track from Tomalco
When looking for locomotives and rolling stock the problem we run into in S Scale is that there just isn't much available to put on the table other than the track. I have been slowly buying up old American Flyer S Scale passenger cars and engines from their Franklin Frontiersman set as these are pretty much the only source of pre 1900 equipment available in S Scale. I have recently discovered though that the cars are a lot closer to O scale so they are a bit big as is the 4-4-0. The Franklin set is all that is readily (through ebay) available to us in S Scale for our Wild West period.

In the Lead Adventurers forum a number of people have turned to On30, which runs on HO Scale track which is readily available and not particularly expensive especially when compared to S and O scales. On30 is a rare type of narrow gauge but has a good selection of products because it is produced by a major model railroad manufacturer; Bachmann. Bachmann wanted to enter the narrow gauge field but wanted something that would run on their existing HO track so they turned to On30 but used 3' narrow gauge prototypes, the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) being one of them. They make a number of locomotives that are very appropriate to our time period (a 4-4-0 American, and a 2-6-0 Mogul) but they are on the expensive side. You will have to haunt eBay for a while in order to catch one at a good price. Despite O scale being much bigger scale wise than our miniatures the On30 looks pretty good with our miniatures, so why is that? Proportionately narrow gauge equipment is about 2/3rds the size of standard gauge equipment so while the scale is a bit large we discover that the proportions are much closer to our miniatures and make a really good match. There is a fair amount of equipment already available in On30 that fits our Wild West era much better than we find in S Scale.

My immediate thoughts are to take the On30 equipment and swap out the On30 scale trucks (wheels) for S Scale standard trucks, which is a pretty easy conversion. Proportionately this is about bang on for S Scale trucks because Bachmann uses a 3' narrow gauge prototype and really should be running on wider track than HO, S Scale track fits the bill. The difficulty will be with the locomotives, I can't just swap out trucks because we dealing with the drivers and the pony truck (and possibly a trailing truck as well) and there aren't going to be any direct swaps possible. I will have to go in and swap out the axles, which is not the easiest thing to do but certainly possible. Hopefully that will give me the best of both worlds, easily obtainable equipment running on the track that I consider to be proportionately correct for our 28mm miniature scale.

I already have an American Flyer Franklin 4-4-0 and some passenger and baggage cars to go along with it but I should be able to readily dispose of that on eBay and help finance the acquisition of some On30 equipment.
The American Flyer Franklin 4-4-0 and Baggage Car from the Frontiersman set circa 1959-60.

I had posed a question about conversions of other scales to S Scale standard on one of my railroad forums. In between the usual Christmas railroad set conversions (which work just fine, just not to my taste) was reference to a website for something called 55n3. Essentially he follows my own argument about scale versus proportion. Its a very interesting website with a lot of helpful information and if you are interested in the railroad side of things its worth checking out: 55n3

So that's where the railroad for Calamity is headed. Incidentally I found out that the Bachmann 2-6-0 Mogul (In the Bumblebee paint scheme. Incidentally this paint scheme is incorrect for our Wild West period, it wasn't introduced until 1949) is very close to the #1 Engine on the Colorado and Northwestern, the railroad I want to model. So the Colorado history is now subject to my whims and since the location of the town of Calamity itself is somewhat vague I think I may letter the Calamity railroad as the Colorado and Northwestern, time will tell.

Bachmann 4-4-0 American in On30

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Making Signs

I was reading through the blogs I follow this morning and I came across a way to make "decal" signs. Now these are not decals in the way I normally think of them but it is a method of making your inkjet printer do the work for you. Here is a link back to Dave Frary's blog where he described his thoughts on the process along with a few photos of "decals" he had made using it: Trackside Scenary. You should definitely read his comments, the link to the youtube video is there as well, but I'll post it here as a well: Transfer Inkjet Ink on to Wood. I think I'm going to give this a try. I have been playing around with how to add the painted signs that are so prevalent in the west to the building fronts in Calamity. The process doesn't look particularly difficult but it definitely requires some precision when putting the "decal" down in the right spot the first time.
Laser engraved and cut signs like this one are available from most of the manufacturers that make western kits. But there is a large variety of other signs that I would like to reproduce that would have been painted directly on the false front. This technique might work for making those types of signs.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Modeling Calamity - Things are a changing

I have been primarily working on my project for ReaperCon but there are times when I have had an opportunity to mess around with the arrangement of Calamity. I think this shows the effectiveness of making the model in the first place. I also spent 30 minutes or so making another model of my centerpiece building as a mirror image so I could have some more options in placing it. The ability to scrap the clay off and change my roads at will came in quite handy. As you can see in the photographs.

The whole process started with trying to see if there was a better place to locate the railroad which to this point has always been along one of the long edges. It seemed like a good idea when I was doing it, but it never really felt like it was part of the town. So let's take a look at this idea that started the madness.
None of these really appealed to me, right, left, center, top. I want a bridge, because it will be doubling as the gallows.

A longer bridge, maybe something that cuts across the middle.
Interesting, breaks up the scene nicely but leaves to many awkward spaces.

Better, certainly closer to what I want.

Nice, I think this is about exactly what I want. You can see where I have used a knife to work in a different road layout on the west board (left).
Time really work the track into the town. I'm not sure I have enough track for this, it might take another piece.
Nice, I think I can make this work. The road on the west board is a bit more visible. in this picture.
Okay, time to get serious about this. Time to make some changes.
Center board with the track in place and cut to fit.

And let's make the bridges removable now.

Let's run another road out of town on the top edge.

And now with the railroad tracks.

And the west board, with the railroad tracks in place.
Nice, 30 minutes work with the clay and I have the changes worked into the clay. Time to play with the buildings and see what I can come up with.

That has an interesting look, now something from street level

I think I'm getting a lot closer to how I want the town to look. And the versatility of the model is really proving itself, definitely a worthwhile project!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Modeling Calamity Finished...for now

Here is my more or less completed model of Calamity. The boards are finished, the buildings are finished and ultimately that's what I wanted to accomplish with this, something that would allow me to shuffle buildings around and get a better feel for different arrangements will work. The idea is to keep it simple and avoid working in detail that's not necessary to picking an arrangement. I'm not certain that this will be the final version of the model itself as I will probably mess around with some other road arrangements as well which will require the construction of additional boards.

One idea that has been put forward is to have all the roads running at angles on the board, not parallel to the edges like the current board is setup. This is a highly desirable characteristic to work into model railroads to better help establish the illusion of stepping into another world. I have messed around with this concept a bit today on paper, but it tends to actually cut down on the amount of useful space available for the buildings themselves. It leaves some interesting areas that could be modeled into useful terrain features but I would be sacrificing the space for 4 or 5 buildings in order to do this. I'll continue to play around with this concept, and some others, before I final put saw to wood and start construction.

Here are some photos from today's work.

The completed boards
This is the center section featuring the stream. Its not very deep in the mockup but the intent is to have it deep with fast moving water.

The east board

The west board

Bringing it all together

Some different arrangements, it only takes seconds!

This one is in violation of the 2" rule. No building should extend to the 2" zone all around the board edge.

Apparently I keep violating my own rule

Some street views

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Review - A Higher Call

I bought this book based on a passing remark that someone else made. I can't hardly recommend this book enough! This book pivots on the events of Dec 20th, 1943 as a crippled B-17 heads for home and is escorted over the coast by the pilot of a ME-109. This really isn't the central focus of the book though just the event that would eventually bring two WWII vets together. This is one of those rare books that I could not put down. It is primarily about the career of the ME-109. Starting and flying almost his entire career in the ME-109 and ending as part of JV-44 in ME-262s. This is book is something that is going to become increasingly rare, a story told by the veterans themselves. I don't really want to go into much here, this is a great book, just read it!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Modeling Calamity II

Its a been a very busy week around here and last night was the first night I was able to sit back down with the model of Calamity. I played around with the road and stream arrangement a bit and decided to make the first cuts into the boards. After cutting out the roads I glued them in place and put on a layer of clay. I then built the boards up to the road level and layed on a different color of clay for the "off road" portion of the boards. I kept the clay pretty thin so if I need to scrap the clay off I can. If I decide I don't like the road and stream arrangement I'll just make another set of boards. I have plenty of clay left over. The pictures probably say more than I can so let's just show those off.

Here's the initial playing around with the road arrangement.
I wanted the main road to have a slight cosmetic curve, This will partially block the line of sight from end to end and give a nice view for photographs. A shot taken from either end should look the road continues. Will see how that works out.
Gluing the roads down.

The stream has been cut out as well
A few preliminary street scenes

Putting down the clay on the road

Then I built up the surrounding area to the level of the roads and used a different color of clay for that.

I only finished one board to this level. It will be the "west" edge. This is the arrangement I came up with last night. Of course its very easy to change,just move the buildings around! If I decide I don't like the road arrangement I'll have to make a new board, but that's pretty easy to do. Nothing is set in stone at this point...just clay.

I'll have to come up with a little fence to go around the two sides of the livery stable. That's the large purple building sitting by itself at the edge of the board.