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Tuesday, May 30, 2017
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ZCS Shoutbox

southernnscale - Sat 20 May - 21:12

Prices changing for the better! but getting models to pass are getting harder for smaller models!

stonysmith - Tue 9 May - 19:47

Shapeways FUD prices are changing - many items will be cheaper.

southernnscale - Mon 8 May - 00:14

Johnathan you need to be more like 220% then you will be good to go! and on the right track!!!

stonysmith - Mon 1 May - 21:34

Catt's Back!!

GNFan - Sat 29 Apr - 21:05

More on Johnathan (Catt) from Facebook: "Hi everyone,the good news is I am finally home.,does it feel good. :-) I'm not 100% closer to 85% but I will take [t]hat for now."

stonysmith - Thu 27 Apr - 11:32

News of Catt from Karen:Good morning everyone John is doing fine. He has been at Mary Free bed. He should be coming home tomorrow (4/28) I hope.

stonysmith - Wed 26 Apr - 23:46

Shapeways Sale: http://www.shapeways.comThursday 4/27/2017:Enter promo code KINGSDAY2017 at checkout to save 15% on Orange, Red, Blue and White StrongFlexible (not FUD)

soccrdad30 - Tue 25 Apr - 20:39

Sorry Walt, I have not heard anything.

southernnscale - Sun 23 Apr - 21:02

Has anyone heard any more about Catt! prayers are with him!

masalowe - Sun 16 Apr - 21:26

I just listed 2 AZL AJIN BRASS engines on Ebay. They are an SD45 Brass Milwaukee RD and an E8/9A New York Central Diesel. Thanks for the privilege of using the shout box. These are beautiful engines.

masalowe - Wed 12 Apr - 14:40

I just listed a Z-Thek Brass Z Scale Electric Freight Railcar ET 194.11 in Wooden Presentation Box on Ebay. If anyone is interested. Lajos was a true Z genius!

masalowe - Sun 9 Apr - 16:13

masalowe has 2 AZL Brass engines on sale on Ebay and 1 Z Thek Brassworks engine. 6 days left on those auctions...

soccrdad30 - Sat 8 Apr - 08:13

Shapeways has a Flash sale. 10% off everything for 48 hours.Shapeways Sale

stonysmith - Wed 29 Mar - 09:07

Johnathan is back in the hospital - this time for heart issues.

soccrdad30 - Sun 26 Mar - 10:43

Our thoughts and prayers goes out to Johnathan and Karen. It will be nice to see the Catt back in Z when he is ready

ejshelton - Sun 26 Mar - 08:17

Prayers for Johnathan and his wife Karen. So glad to hear he is doing well.

stonysmith - Sat 25 Mar - 21:50

Karen: Thank you all for your prayers. I hope he will be home soon. I miss him a lot.

stonysmith - Sat 25 Mar - 21:49

This is Karen again. John is doing great The surgeon drain most the blood out with a small hole in his head. he has a drain tube in head to get the rest out.

southernnscale - Sat 25 Mar - 20:25

I send my prayers to Johnathan (catt) and Karen Edwards.

stonysmith - Fri 24 Mar - 12:31

Our prayers are with you Catt.

stonysmith - Fri 24 Mar - 12:30

From Karin Edwards.. Jonathan (catt) is in the hospital for bleeding on the brain and other complications. He will be having surgery Friday to remove the blood on his brain.

kevsmith - Mon 20 Mar - 16:07

Managed to get the thread posted with one picture O.K. Tried a reply and got the 0404 error message. couldn't save it . tried a simple reply with one picture and it worked. Tried to insert video nogo

soccrdad30 - Sun 19 Mar - 21:37

Rob and Kev, could you please email me a screen shot of the error? I would like to see what exact error message is. Somehow with any firewall update I seem to have to reset the commands. John

ztrack - Sun 19 Mar - 19:59

Kev I have had the same problem repeatedly. It is why I stopped posting on the forum.

kevsmith - Sun 19 Mar - 16:25

Hi all.I trying to put a new thread onto the layouts section about the Z layout I've built for our Brooklyn but it stops me saying something about a pattern a hacker could use, any thoughts?Kev

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First layout photoshops

It's said that people who live with a pet being to look like each other. I wonder if it's true with layouts?

After a little advice with where to start, I'm going to start sharing how I'm about to make my first layout. I'll try to open it up to feedback as much as possible, especially at the beginning when it's most likely to have a big impact. I'm also going to try to rationalize some decisions here, irrationalize others for sometimes rational reasons, and hopefully share some photos of builds. 

Before I begin, I just want to point out that CAD and design tools are great. As someone with quite literally a lifetime using them, I also know when in the design process I shouldn't. Now is one of those times. I tried and tried and tried and have failed for months to come up with a decent small layout. I caught a case of "Not Invented Here" syndrome while focusing on other things. Once diagnosed, the remedy and recovery is quick and simple: find the pro.

David K. Smith has a great description of this plan at his website, but I could't find any examples or mentions of it being built. Reading the description of it made me jump! YES! This is what I've been trying to achieve and here it is, and I don't have to use a CAD tool! That's also how I stumbled on to this site. After a few false starts trying to design one myself, I had finally found a pro who is graciously giving the plans away for free on the internet. David, if you read this, I'll order some more of your fine products ASAP (awesome products, would not be working in z scale without that NZT ruler).

First, the base or source design - "Centraila & Western" by David K. Smith:

Copyright © 2007-2012 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.

 

Since I'm handlaying track, and theming with a greenspace-intensive "industry" centered in the layout, I softened, race tracked, and rotated a bit, resulting in a bit more closely parallel track an relo a building:

I reconfigured the roads too, adding a bit of parking lot to the 50% enlarged building in the middle. I can extend or cut the spurs to any length, and here I'm showing the max. Adding a bit of sand and grass allows me to play with positive and negative a bit. Night-time lighting is going to be fun! My roommate thinks that it should be for the Coney Island cyclones, but I'm pretty sure he just wants to watch me struggle trying to make a working scale ferris wheel with lights.

Thinking about zones in general (power, transit, urban planning, operations) and signals led to this quick sketch:

 

The signals or markers are mostly B.S... I haven't learned how/where they're prototypically positioned yet. Double dots are ends of line, dark blue are mid-point / double and cyan or light blue are single point/direction. I assume the signals are petty close to 99.9% wrong for a block system.

The eastern half may have a city/urban background backdrop bas relief to be determined.

I'd like to keep the elevation and bridge in the layout, but I still have some table-vs-coffee table issues to think about.

Let me know what you think about how I'm starting off, especially with regards to the documentation.

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Suspension of disbelief (and the baseball industry layout)

For the TL;DR - just scroll down an look at photos is useful since it's about architecture :) Feedback appreciated !

I want my layout to have a high level of what's called suspension of disbelief. Context and texture can't be altogether forgotten forever. Light, sound, sense, feel, can't really put my finger on it sort of senses should abound. If you're already feeling engrossed while doing something that occupies your attention, and forgotten about the world, then you know what I mean. It's sorta like a form of escapism. I don't feel good or bad when I see an actor die in a movie after I see it - they're an actor. But I might have felt bad or good for the character during the film.

It's a frequently used term. Coming from an architectural background, my use of the term might be different than yours. I'm usually referring to issues specific to materials used in making models, not the "real thing" when using that term. Think about making realistic z-scale spring grasses, beaches, or asphaltic shingles - that's how I usually think of the term. Similar to the french "Trompe L'Oriel", translates as "Fool the eye". When I am talking about it and the subject isn't a model, it's often in reference to cognitive behavior or psychology such as how Disney uses many varying scale bricks, windows, doors, and tiles on Main Street to make it seem so much bigger than it really is. This form of deception or fooling the brain with the eyes with techniques like large-scale and multi-scale model building is common and normally used in a good way, even being very important for entire artistic movements like op-art or psychedelia. I've heard the term in meetings with architect, interior designers, video game developers, animators, cinematographers, and recently with some advertisers on Madison Ave.  As might be expected for the cynic, the latter were not using it in a positive sense. 

We're just modeling perception. THE rule applies: have fun to win, exceed expectation to win over others. With models, the physical scale rule applies (what works at full scale may or may not at model scale and vise versa, model techniques usually don't scale very well to full size). 

Why Z (1:220) scale for me? Because it's closest to, but larger than my favorite scale for building models (1:240 or 1" = 20'-0"). Also, I live in an apartment where space is always a premium for "permanent layouts" - to the point where Z scale is cheaper than N, except for shelf layouts. Since I have scratch building skills (and materials still lying around) and no preference towards any particular road name or era, the choice for me was easy. It will be my model first designed for moving parts - and also implying my first without a single pre-controlled point of focus.

For my first real layout, I wanted to compose a list of baseball-related and other generic buildings (with a great tip for adding the Hollywood Candy Co. which I've just begun researching). 

1. The pencil factory 

Yes, pencils were made here! A classic NY building well known for tile work and architectural designs on the tops of the columns and pediments. I believe this building is becoming an historic site. The fascade is iconoclastic, and this sort of factory building is slowly being removed from urban areas. It did not have direct access to rail service. This factory is close to the water, and served with ships docked at the piers at Greenpoint. Also, it's an abandoned factory and thanks to architectural irony in stereotypical NY fashion, it has been overrun by artists and in the process of being transformed into lofts - priced at a premium for that neighborhood - no doorman included, yet.

The pencil factory, Brooklyn NY

http://www.fliffa.com/indexcontact.html

 

2. The Louisville Slugger factory

Classic brick architecture, crass modern advertising (hiding the glass anti-contextual architectural extension behind it). Cast iron storefront on a standard double-width factory building from that time. All pretty boring architectural massing and borg details really, including the arch-toped windows on the top floor. It's hard to see the pediment since it's in shadow of the photo, but I would assume it's just as uninspiring as the rest of the building. Hopefully there'd be some cool imagery architrave-like such as some player in stamped tin sliding for home, but I doubt it. Even the set-back modern two story black and glass extension is genericly de-emphasized... this building is all about the bat. It definitely can stand on its own, or stand out by contrasting it to small one and two story buildings. Proof that the prototype can be better than the freelance, without any complexity added (ok, maybe finding a real keychain-sized slugger and doing the scale fencing might be hard). 

The Louisville Slugger Factory, Louisville, KY

http://www.sluggermuseum.com/virtualtour/#big_bat

 

3. The Baseball hall of fame

One part Italian villa, one part Jeffersonian gallery, and one part brick city with factory-like floor to floor heights, this classic configuration of building is pleasing and subdued. Upper windows to allow in light contrasting with nearly solid brick lower with classic wood detailing in the frieze and soffit of this building catch the eye. The entry doors dominate the street front elevation, while not quite as open you would expect an public building such as the MLB Hall of Fame to be, it is still inviting with the semi-public space between the buildings. 

The dreams park is nearby - a gem of very small scenes and structures for parks and green spaces (url below, the subject deserves it's own blog post... Mr. T coaching little league batting practice is just a hint).

The symmetric wings of the building are always visible in photographs while other parts are usually cropped.

http://baseballhall.org/museum/experience/museum  http://www.baseballmomologues.com/?p=280

 

4. Hollywood candy factory

I will continue looking, and also checking out factories along the Centralia rail lines - which I just started learning about yesterday. However, finding a picture of the specific building became totally irrelevant after I read this on wikipedia:

"During the 1950s, the Hollywood Candy Company owned a Crosley Super Sport which was painted to look like the Zero candy bar wrapper and employed a midget, called Zero, to drive around and advertise the candy bar"

Even with an igloo factory, this proves the prototype is superior to freelance. You can't make up stuff like that. Comedy gold. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Candy_Company

 

Do not build one of these unless you need a temporary placeholder

For an example of the opposite, get into the google street view and check out Rawlings (bats and gloves) corporate HQ. I refuse to link it for you. It's 110% suburban office park lowrise mirror glass ugly. A wasteland of architectural potential and space, at best. If you need to add THE suburban office park building to your model, grab a mirror and a sharpie then draw a grid with the ruler. Just use the ruler, both sides in each direction for the grid. You can get creative and measure if you want - and end up with a non-square rectangular grid, but that ruins the design intent of the THE suburban office park building. Bevel the edges of the mirror, then finish by planting the tributary green pingpong ball on a soda straw or toothpick near the entrance to the oversized parking lot. Note that applying the scale rule to models means this might work if scale building mirror glass is tinted, especially if it's real and from a broken shard leftover from one of these monstrosities. Tinted-mirrored acrylic 1/8" thick is also available for purchase in 3" squares from canal plastics for about $2 if you want to try it out.

Any more non-stadium buildings?

I will be doing a separate post on stadiums versus parks. Did you realize it's the difference between observer and participant? If you  have an idea or suggestion for my first and new baseball-themed layout (and it's not a stadium) please let me know in the comments below. Any idea I CAD & lasercut, even if it's not on the final layout, I'll send one to you too! Of course I'll post the files, with cutting instructions for everyone to use. Sports training, workout centers, impromptu/sandlot baseball sites, shoe factory or plate factory... dirt/grass/landscaping... cool cages for batting and pitching... little league on up!

 

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Documenting a build

I've read lots of advice, howto, intro, and helpful things on the internet about modeling railroads.

But nowhere is there any information for the beginner, such as myself, on how to document a build online. A sort of best practices for noobs. Sure I can read about how to blog one place and macro photo in another; there's an article or two published about photographing models every now and then. Composition and framing subjects aside, there isn't much in terms of sharing the process of building itself.

Some options:

  • dedicated site / cms / blog 
  • hosted blog (like this one)
  • facebook / google+
  • flickr / instagram
  • live video stream
They all have their pluses and minuses. For now, it seems like the hosted blog is the best way. They're great for just text and photos with tagging. The only problem with it is the backing up the posts on to a computer I own - an easily solved problem.
 
I'll will try to document my build here ~ if it gets in the way, a webcam and live stream will replace it. 
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O Brother!

     Since NOBODY will be reading this I guess I can vent here.  blog purple

     Same thing other people have griped about in the past, and actually people have said I have been guilty of. It's the "Why don't company X build Y" vs why don't YOU build X yourself. 

     I have NO skills at building, painting or decaling a model railroad car or engine to look like anything but homemade mud. Nope. Never ever going to happen. I will have to buy it ready made and that means either hope that the X I am wishing for gets made, or find someone with the proper skills to make it for me. 

   I am not that skilled with landscaping and a lot of other things dealing with model railroading, but most of those type of things can be redone and mistakes hidden. 

  While poking around on another site that I wont mention by name, I seen where someone wanted a store bought, ready made, modern highway bridge.  He was kind of desperate because he needed it to go further with a project. (I know what that is like, I am stuck because Ii need about 8 dollars worth of MTL parts, and well I am just flat out broke) 

   Now of course I had to throw in my 2 cents, that it could be easily built and would help his modeling skills, but someone else had to throw in 2 more cents and compare building a modern concrete highway bridge with handlaying track or building a steam locomotive from scratch.

   How could anyone compare the 2? I could build a modern bridge from scrap wood and perhaps 5 bucks worth of parts and hit it with some rattle can grey paint, and come up with a pretty decent highway bridge. Of course I cant make a steam engine with the same stuff.

   If you have the skill sets to build a module,  you can build a highway bridge. 

  Why would a company make a highway bridge? Wouldn't they be specific to the terrain, the landscaping, the era, the road, the height, the length, the width and the angle and slope? Would it be adjustable where you could add to it or cut it to size? Would it be only in one size and we now will have to design the layout around the bridge? This seems kind of backwards and silly, not that that has stopped companies from being backwards and silly.

   In the time it took me to write this out, I could have had the span built, with strips of wood or styrene, and would be working on the pylons.  They might take some time if I was being fancy and using dowels, and then the next tricky part would be the sloped concrete abutments. 

  If I had 5000 bucks or so, I guess I could buy me a nice ready built Z scale layout, where all I would have to worry about is putting the cars on the track and turning a knob. 

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Proto vs Fanta-zee

    This is a rant, and you may agree or disagree, but you are welcome to comment.   blog purple

 

     The other night I was in a discussion with some very talented model railroaders, the top people in z scale.

     The subject came up about lighted bumper posts.  I asked the question, is it prototypical?

     The answers I got were the normal responses when that question gets ask. I will throw those out there as well as other comments I have read and heard, when the same question gets asked. 

         It looks cool.  I am sure there is a prototype for it somewhere.  You are a rivet counter. But the OTHER scale do it.  It´s MY railroad, I can do what  I want. 

     Ok I get it. The main thin is number 5. It IS your railroad. You can do what you want. you can run Easter Bunny cars in a tiny loop around Smurfs. You can run German steam engines from the 1920s  pulling American freight cars mixed with Japanese  passenger cars.  Some folks will be fascinated, some impressed. Some will go, hmmm. 

     It looks cool. I have heard this a million times in my other hobby, reenacting. Strapping a WW2 messkit onto a East German bread-bag, and pretending you are in WW1 because it looks cool, does not mean it is accurate. When you dress like a soup sandwich and you stand next to me and the photo is taken, its THOSE guys look like a soup sandwich, not THAT guy. Some people want Z scale to progress beyond the briefcase, a little bit of research goes a long way, and Google is our friend.  This leads us into number 2.

     I am sure there is a prototype for it somewhere.  Again with reenacting. Some guy sticks a feather in his Civil War hat, mainly because it looks cool, and he found a picture of a dude with a feather in same hat.  Next thing you know. everyone is walking around with feathers in their hats. Was this one dude from one unit that did this? Did everyone do this?  Of the hundreds of pictures of dudes wearing the same hat, what percent had feathers.? One word, research. Railroad books and again Google can be our friends.  The CB&Q had a steam engine that they took the pilot wheels off and made into a switch engine. It is in a book. there are several pictures of same engine.  Is it cool to make that engine? Sure. Is it cool to pry off the pilot wheels of every steam engine you have for every railroad and say it is prototype? Maybe not so much.

     Rivet counter. I think that is a cop out. In the reenacting world we call them stitch counters. Can I accurately portray My Great Grandfathers uniform? Nope , not even close.  There is compromises in all scales and perhaps more in our scale. This had been written about ad nauseum.  I try for a happy medium.  My MTL track looks cheesy. It is what I have and what I am using, but I am doing things to try and take away some of the cheesiness, not add to it.  Ballasting, painting, blending, trying to make it look more like a model railroad than a toy railroad.  Adding unneeded accessories that did  not exist, will not give me a better railroad. Using hays bumpers when the the real railroad I model used ties and dirt, can be accepted, because they existed, and was possible, but putting blinky lights on them is beyond me.

     Point 4 is a real thorn in my side. We are trying so hard to be LIKE the other scales, when we have an opportunity to be BETTER than the other scales. Model railroading came from toy trains. Toy trains were meant to play with and a train chasing it´s tail round and round can soon become boring. It needed  play value.

     So accessories were added to the old Lionel 3 railed trains and their brothers.  Over-sized crossing gates, milk cams popping in and out of reefers, cows going down chutes, literally  blinky lights and bells and whistles. Kids dreams spun out in the Monkey Wards Christmas catalogs. Post war, these things were transfused into the HO and later N scales. The Cold War and Space Race added radar and rockets and planes and even satellites on the model trains. Just because thy are found in others scales, does it HAVE to be made in Z?

     Do we need these things in Z? Maybe. If people want to play with toy trains then why not? Why they would do this in Z when there is a whole bunch of toy trains and goodies to play with in other scales is strange to me but, whatever. What I wonder about is all this talent, time, money and effort, being expended on kitsch, when it could be used to produce accurate models of real railroad stuff. Oh it is all about marketing and what would sell I am told. I guess if you build anything in Z scale, weather it existed or not, put the right paint and decals on it, it would sell. I think we are better than this .

    It is all about fun. But is it model railroading, or is it very, very small toy trains? How can we get upset with someone who does not take our modeling seriously, when we don´t  take is serious ourselves. 

 

 

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