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.
This is a test of some photos I took with my iPad2. It's all z-scale stuff - code 40 ME unweathered rail with z- and n-scale PCB ties from handlaidtrack.com. Not really sure if this componentized variant of trackwork is considered handlaid, but considering all the extra work required versus popping some snap track into place - it should be considered handlaid. The n-scale ties are for throwbars (not yet installed in photos).
The inner rail radius on the curves (bright blue line) is about 7-3/4", the turnout is a number 6 without the throwbar. The curves were done by pre-bending one rail, using a mainline straight jig to solder the inner rail to the PCB's, popping it out of the jig and then finishing with gauges to attach the pre-bent outer rail. This results in some natural hyperelevation in the curves which can be removed when the rail is attached to roadbed/substrate.
Right now, the complete build-time for a turnout is about 2-3 hours, and I'm laying curved or straight track about 6" an hour, just taking my time. 99% of the time is prepping the PCB ties - making all the stock, diverging, frog, point rails is easy in comparison (with the jigs and filing guides) to trying to sand down 1/16"square by 1/2" long copper-clad fiberglass sticks. I spent about an hour and half prepping 100 of the copper ties (28 per 90-degree arc) followed by another 20 mins soldering the rails.
I expect that as my skills and technique increase, I should be able to build a turnout in about an hour, or lay close to 1 foot of track.
Quick note - Flickr sucks right now, but I hope it won't always. Good luck to MM trying to clean the suck out of Yahoo!
I'll take some more photos later with a better camera. Let me know what you think!
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.
The more I research the buildings involved in baseball, the industry, the more I realize two things.
1. The types and variety of buildings reflect all kinds of architectural styles, from colonial farmhouse factory to strip mall. The rather simple vocabularies of these buildings should be easy to manipulate in order to create the "right-sized" buildings and still maintain their familiar character.
2. Manufacturing is now done overseas. Many of the old buildings are in the process or have already been converted to lofts. In terms of architecture models, all this means is cleaner roofs with fewer chimneys and more reflective windows with beefier fire-escapes bolted on. And all the shrubs... condo dwellers love hedging, I guess.
Probably the main difference between the time the factory was running and now is the the windows. The originals were probably clear glass in a simple grid rather than the 90's bowtop-infill-specials currently installed. The low ground level seems to indicate the original building design probably had power generation or other extremely heavy equipment located on the lower floors. This building does not have direct rail connection.
Not every industry has to look industrial. Some can look downright commercial. Simple sign and awning combo can be a winner, unless it's time square. Also, great telegraph poles down the right side of the photograph.
That's about all I have for now. If you have any buildings or ideas for industries (retail or commercial), please let me know. I'm looking at clothing factories, base plates and helmet factories, and probably some green houses too.
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).
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
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
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.
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.
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.