Delivery Day


George’s N scale railroad still isn’t finished, but the clock was running out on my borrowed workbench, so I had to deliver what I had. George indicated that he was quite happy to accept delivery, so long as he could run trains on it.

I dragged my compressor in Tuesday night, and did some touch-up work—things like the earthen cut at the east end, tire tracks on the road, and some remaining white spots of unpainted Sculptamold. I kept squirting paint into the color cup of my airbrush to get various shades of brown, and aimed it at whatever needed that color. I love the way an airbrush can deliver subtlety of color. Take a road, spray on tire tracks in a slightly different shade of brown, and suddenly, it comes alive. You can manipulate colors in ways that most people won’t notice consciously, but add to the realism.

I took a “sore thumbs” approach to the painting work (if it sticks out like a sore thumb, do something about it), and called it a night before it got absurdly late. The railroad got loaded into the car the next day, just minutes before a stained-glass class was due to begin using the space. On Thursday after work, I propped it on sawhorses in the driveway. I wiped off the remaining glue and tape residue, vacuumed off some loose foam, and took a few more photos. Then, back into the car, and off to George’s.

A 3-by-5 railroad is a little large for a single person to move, particularly if you don’t want to bang it into things. George can’t do heavy lifting, but thanks to the Styrofoam construction, the railroad isn’t really all that heavy. We got it into his living room without drama. (His old N scale layout was set up on the other side of the room. A small HO layout covered his dining table. A G scale train filled his mantle. Ah, the bachelor life!) I connected his power pack, and he handed me a pair of Baldwin Sharknose diesels and some heavyweight passenger cars for a test run. The first few laps revealed a few glue spots still on the rails, but once those were scraped off, the train ran beautifully.

We then gave George’s Kato SD-70MAC a try. This locomotive is jinxed, I swear, but I’ll save the coupler adventure for another post. Every other piece of rolling stock, mine or George’s, that has been run on this layout has performed perfectly. Not the SD-70MAC. It found a rail joint on a curve it didn’t like, and put a wheel over the outside rail every time. A closer examination with the NMRA gauge revealed that the track gauge was, in fact, tight at that spot. The NMRA gauge never lies. On my next visit, I gave the offending joint a prod with a hot soldering iron to spread things out a little, and that fixed it.

With the track officially deemed trainworthy, it’s time for ballast. In the meantime, I have an electronics project that needs to show some progress. More about that soon.