Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Card forwarding


I have studied many forms of card forwarding systems in the past and even had thought of this system many years ago, but had never really developed it fully. Then came the computer and with it an array of car forwarding programs. The one I tried didn’t work well (which may have been the way I input the required information, although the group I railroad with also tried it with the same result). We had tried a card system before, which employed a pocket card for the rolling stock and separate cards for industries. Carrying all the cards and sorting the industry cards and all the required pockets at each town wasn’t what we wanted either. So I dusted off my old system and presented to the group. They of course were hesitant to get new cards made before we discussed it fully. After a little brain storming, it became evident that this just might work. Simplicity is its beauty (although it may not sound like it when I try to explain it). Essentially you make up a card for each piece of rolling stock and mark down 23 locations for it to go to and check off each location as you deliver it there (we use three check off columns, tripling the cards use, we use a left hand slash the first time through, a right hand slash, making it an X the second time and filling it in the last time tripling its use again, for a total of 207 moves). If you have more than one major yard, as with the OWR, (the name of the railroad of our group) every other location should be "YARD" and when you have finished your route at a major yard that is where you will leave all the cards you have started with. Each card will show where the rolling stock was left, be it in the yard of at an industry. My railroad the GPW has only one major yard so I do not have to have "YARD" as every other location. Also on the OWR we have four interchanges, three that feed staging areas and one that feeds a branch line. In these circumstances we have a clip to hold the cards for outbound rolling stock (the cards for inbound rolling stock will be in one of the "YARD" boxes. To make this move, the card will indicate "INTERCHANGE" and the town where it is located (eg. Alsop). In some cases, for instance where you have a yard crew for that town or a separate train for that route, the first location would be "YARD" and the town where it is located (eg. Alsop), then "INTERCHANGE" in that same town (eg. Alsop), then where it is going to (eg. Woodstock, and the card will be left there) and then "INTERCHANGE" (where it started eg. Alsop). One thing to remember is that the last location on the card, should be able to deliver that piece of rolling stock to the first location on the card, when you start checking off the second column. To deliver freight to the stations on the GPW I have a clip at each station, and leave the card there, the next train through picks up the car (if the train is heading toward the next location on that card, and the card, keeping the main line clear.
To fill out the locations on the cards, you should make a list of all the destinations on your railroad and there capacity. Then use these locations proportionately. When you are having a session, and you find a yard is too full, cherry pick cards leaving the yard instead of picking the first ones. If a destination is full, either deliver the car and card to the yard you are going to, if you picked it up at a yard, or check off that destination and take the car to the next one, on the OWR that would be a yard, on the GPW it could be another industry, (which you may have to deliver on your return trip). Cards in the yard pockets, can be shuffled once and a while to keep things random. On the GPW, I use short trains, but have to pick 12 cards, from the front of the deck, to get a train of 3 to 5 cars. This is because some of the cars are to be picked up at industries along the way and some may even be switched in the same town as the yard. On the OWR we have a maximum length of 13 cars, so more cards will have to be picked, but because the main yards are large, more of the cards you pick will be outbound from the yard. For random variety on the OWR, we may make a card out for the work train. If an operator picks that card he would put the other cards back and run the work train to its destination, do the work required and run it back, really mucking up the other train schedules. Yes the OWR still need train schedules. One for each of the staging yards, one for the branch line, one of the coal turn, at least 2 passenger trains, and some locals. One of the benefits of this card system is you do not have to wait on anyone else delivering a certain car, because you can’t have picked a car if some one else has it in their train. Also you will not have a car go between two location in one town, over and over again, unless you enter them that way.
The card at the left shows the car is at Grants Pass Yard, it will next go to CJ (Cave Junction) to the Barrel Factory. The card is about 3 ½ inches by 5 inches, printed on card stock. I set up a template file with four cards on it, I then fill in all four cards and save it as card1 the next are saved as card2 etc. I write on the back of each card, after I cut them out the file name. I also use the back of the card to list any maintenance problems with the car.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finishing up Cave Junctions backdrop

I decided that the hazy forest was way to low, so I painted one above it.  This time it was painted greener.  The blue forest was over painted with white clouds.
No I don't wear pink sweaters, I got my wife to hold the brush to demonstrate how to make lots of far off trees.  This is a 1/2 inch flat brush that has a taper on the end.  With the longest bristles at the top, lightly touch the wall and drag the brush down.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, well you get the idea.  Start with a light green, over lay with a darker green, then overlay that with a light green to build up a forest in layers. The furthest trees can be blue.  You don't have to clean your brush between shades, that way you get even more colours.
A lake was added to the backdrop.  Just like real water avoid diagonal shorelines, instead work the edges back and forth.  Use the flat brush on its side to lay in the grassy shore.  For the reflection below the island paint in some green horizontal lines below the trees and then lightly drag the brush across them to make them smear.
To make the foreground trees are made with the same flat brush, using it to draw a straight line/trunk with black paint.  Starting at the top just touch the trunk, angling your brush down to the left and then to the right as you go down the trunk.  Widen the branches as you go.  When the black is dry you can go back and highlight the branches with a lighter colour, yellow really jump out.
Not liking all the low lying clouds, I painted the mountains down a little and added another row of far off trees.
 Using a fan brush and various earth tones tap in rows of ground cover, vary the colours and overlap them so you don't end up with hedge rows.  I use pastel paints for this as it stands out more.  You can see the tole painted trees are not as bright in the distance, just what you want.
Deciding that there was still too many low clouds, in went more mountains, I had to move Cougar Lumber Co. to get at this last area. Try to make the mountains in the front darker, that brings them forward.  Green valleys were also added to the mountains for more detail.  The hardest part when doing 10 feet of wall is keeping the trees the right size for the spot they are in, step back and check often.  The closest valleys have little trees up in by just touching the wall with the tip of the brush.

I still didn't like all that white, so more of it was painted over.  Note in the green area just left of center, how the darker green lines define distant contours.  These lines are made by loading one edge of your brush with a darker paint and dragging it down hill, just letting the paint come off the top edge of the brush as you go.  You can add lots of these in minutes.  More foreground trees were add.  You can just make out a small clump of these between the tops of the buildings, a nice trick to give the scene more depth.
The scene is complete.  Now I can see why the railroad had to build a tunnel here, its not just a blue wall anymore.
Hope you give it a try.  Remember perspective is everything, light on dark on light, and if you goof up, just paint it white and start again.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cave Junction gets a backdrop

Cave Junction has never had a backdrop.  The wall is painted blue and the trees on the right were a trial of a stamp pad, not so good.  The hardest part in painting a backdrop is starting it, so just jump in.
I took a picture of the blank wall and put it on my computer.  After studying a lot of pictures I added a mountain range using a paint program.  This serves as a template to the finished painting.  I used this rough outline to sketch in the mountains on the wall in blue pastel chalk.
Starting with a used can of white latex paint and a round 3/4 inch stiff bristled brush I started roughing in the clouds. Dip the brush in the paint and wipe off the excess, you don't want the brush too wet. Clouds are built up by dabbing the front and top edge of the cloud, working to the back and bottom as the paint is used up.  The next part of the cloud is layered over the first (I worked from the left to the right).  This will make the clouds fade off to the right. The clouds were built up in this manner. I made sure to paint the cloud past the edge of any mountain it would touch.  If the mountain was to be covered in snow, I added some blue to the white to darken the cloud.  Wispy clouds coming off the top of the mountains, are made by dragging the almost dry brush through the freshly dabbed on paint. To make really light airy clouds use an almost dry brush.  Don't worry, you can rework any cloud that didn't turn out right.  Remember less paint is better and WHITE is your friend.
Continue until you have all the clouds that will touch the top of the mountains painted in.  You can add more above these later.  I like to taper my clouds off in one direction, as if the wind was blowing that way.  All the lightest/brightest parts should be on the same edge, eg. the left in this case.  You can go back and darken up parts of your clouds by adding in some blue to the white, but it easier just to let some of the blue background show through.
Next comes the mountains.  I roughed them in using blue (heartland or colonial blue) and white paint, trying to remember which side was the shady side, eg. away from the sun.  Starting at say the top left side of the mountain, dip the brush in blue paint and drag the blue paint down the edge of the mountain.  Then dip the same brush in white paint and drag it down the mountain just below the line you just painted, working both sides of the mountain as you go.  Make sure to drag the blue and white stripes into each other, from both the top and bottom of the mountain.  You will be surprised at the result.

Switching to a smaller ( 1/4 inch) brush, I started working in some details. With the brush loaded with the blue, held so you are painting with its edge, you can define peaks and ridges, back filling with streaky blue and white as you go from the top to the bottom of the mountain.  Valleys full of snow can be formed by painting back and forth in a little arc, gradually trailing it off down the mountain slope. White can also be used to define a ridge if it is next to a darker area.  The play between the dark and light define the features of the mountain.  Remember the farther away the lighter it should be.

 Then I added some tan to the base of the mountains to help blend them to my scenery.  I then added clouds into the valleys and bases of the mountains, inserting a hazy forest lower down.  To do this you start high up in a valley and dab in the clouds, widening them as you descend the valley.  Once all the valleys are done, join all the clouds together across the base of the mountains.  These clouds should be put in with horizontal strokes and blended by dabbing the edges.  This cloudy area acts as a light background for the foreground scenery to be painted on next.  But I will let this dry for now.  I also added a cloud through the top of one of the mountains for effect.  N.B. I think the hazy forest (made by dabbing on layered shades of blue) should be a little higher, oops.  Hey these mountains remind me of a Coors light can, got to go now.

My version of a manual switch throw

 My version of a manual switch throw.Use a DPDT toggle switch with a flat plastic blade, so you can drill a hole through it to accept the throw linkage. Cut a piece of styrene to fit the application (the one in the picture is 2.25 inches long and 5/8 of an inch wide).  Mark the location for the toggles mounting bolt and drill a hole for it (my toggles require a 1/4 inch hole).  Drill a hole in the scenery and the roadbed large enough to allow the DPDT switch to slide through.  I drill a 1/2 inch hole and then chisel out the corners to make a snug fit for the body of the toggle switch.  Prepare the DPDT toggle switch by soldering on six wires (the extra wires can be used for signals or indicator lights).  I first slide short lengths of coffee stir straws over the wires and then solder them on the terminals.  After the solder has cooled the straws are slid over the joints to insulate them, a twist of the wires bellow the straws will hold them in place.
 Drill a hole in the blade of the toggle at least half way up so as to miss the steel post in the middle of it.  Put the wires and the toggle switch into the hole beside your turnout. Solder one wire from each set of terminals to each of the rails leading to the turnout and the matching center terminal to the insulated frog, thus powering the frog.  Be sure to check that you have the proper wire to each of the lead rails so that when you throw the switch the proper rail is powering the frog.  The styrene is then positioned under the headblocks (the two ties on either side of the throw bar) and the toggle switch is mounted through the 1/4 inch hole in the styrene.  When it is in the correct position the styrene is glued to the headblocks being careful not to glue the throw bar to it, this locks the relative position of the turnout and the toggle switch.  The wire link is test fit.  First make a 1/8 inch bend up to go through the hole in the throw bar.  Then measure the shortest distance to the nut of the togle switch and make another right angle bend up.  Bend the wire to the right and then up again as in the illustration.  This clears the nut of the toggle switch.  Bend the wire at the height of the hole in the toggle switch blade and push it through, this should be a loose fit to allow movement of the wire link.  Bend the wire sticking through the blade down and cut off the excess.  There should be some play where the wire goes through the toggle blade as the distance the toggle switch throws is more than the points of the turnout move.  Needed adjustments can be made by making the bends in the wire sharper.  I glue extra ties on the styrene around the toggle switch for looks and paint it all black as in the finished picture.