Ralph's Layout Self-improvement Blog
#1
The modeling by Big Blue members inspires me! I often see images of other people's work and think that I would like to improve my own. Sometimes I am pretty happy with things I've made. Other times I look at a photo of something I've posted and become dissatisfied with my results. This has happened a few times lately but it has motivated me to take a photo inventory of my layout (the camera is an objective critic) so I can make a list of projects I want to redo or improvements I may wish to make. This blog is really a way to motivate myself to make my layout better but you all are certainly invited to take a look and comment if you'd like.

An over all shot of my U-shaped folded dogbone with its return loops superimposed on each other on different levels to the left.
[Image: IMG_1872.jpg]

I'm happy with the overall track plan although I'd design it differently if I were starting over. I'd want less visible track and a lot more staging. Still, my current design offers a long mainline run. It takes five minutes fora train to complete a circuit on the layout and I can run two trains on the same track and power pack very easily. It creates a lot of pleasing visual action when I just want to watch trains go around. There are enough tunnels and hidden track that guests are surprised when a train appears at certain times, which is fun. From an operational stand point the current plan allows me some hidden staging and enough sidings and spurs to do sufficient switching. The improvements I'm imagining are more cosmetic than structural. I'm not changing the layout design...but I do hope to improve the scenes on it.

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#2
Taking a photo tour from left to right...

[Image: IMG_1867.jpg]
I'm fairly happy with this section. I like the forest of trees and the farm scenery. That cheap plastic barn has got to go though. I would like to scratchbuild a good looking barn...perhaps one that has started to deteriorate. I need to install a tunnel portal on the far left. The swimming pool will remain forever as it was a gift from my Godson and I like it!. Smile The house was a kitbash of mine. Not bad. Could use some details.....

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#3
A little farther down the line...

[Image: IMG_1868.jpg]
I like the little collection of buildings that make the business district of West Mill and I like the grade crossing. I've added some signs to the buildings but I may have over done it with the enormous ice cream cone on the small grocery store and the billboard supports could be more realistic for all of the signs.

[Image: IMG_1790.jpg]
The very large Hudson Cement Company is not based on any observations of prototype companies...its just busy looking. It also hides some track behind it that is easily accessed if need be by removing the building segments. Sometimes I flirt with the idea of redoing the entire cement plant to make it look a bit more like the real thing.

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#4
A little farther...

[Image: IMG_1803.jpg]
I like the car float and its supporting yard. The tug, on the other hand, is not really based on any prototype. I scratchbuilt it from simple materials like a block of wood, cardboard, a plastic tube, and the pilot house was made from a miniature oval box I found for a buck at Micheal's Arts and Crafts. I'd like to build a better one that more closely resembles those I've seen in photos of actual rail/water service. I'm quite happy with my gloss medium water effects and the murky gray green color of the water.

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#5
Turing the corner....

[Image: IMG_1869.jpg]
Egad! Atlas electrical components. Yeah, I hate electrical work but I am SO admiring of nice looking control panels that I may bite the bullet sometime and create something with push buttons and a schematic track plan. I'm OK with the background scenery. I like my Catskill mountains on the backdrop. The abandoned station and water tower are OK.

[Image: IMG_1854.jpg]
The small ready mix company though is another project I'd like to redo. Much like the tug boat it is not based on any prototype and is only an impression such plants that I've seen. It seems toy-like to me despite efforts to weather it into reality. Smile There is an excellent example of a real company near my work that I would like to photograph and try to replicate as much as possible as a replacement for this structure.

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#6
Moving on along the middle section....

[Image: IMG_1873.jpg]

I like my salvage yard and car shredder scene. I think the piles of rusted cars look good. The large Gern plant helps cover some hidden track. Its essentially a foam care box with some windows glued to it along with some other details. From a distance it looks OK. I'm not sure it stands up to close scrutiny though. I needed a large space covered quickly so I constructed it this way. I think the Gern plant will some day be re-done but its not a top priority.

The tunnels below it need help. The portals are not very good looking. I'll admit to making them in a hurry and they will definitely be on the redo list!

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#7
I see nothing wrong...


but replace this

[Image: LKwok_Penn_Central.png]

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. this

[Image: conrail-6.gif]

Popcornbeer
Tom

Model Conrail

PM me to get a hold of me.
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#8
Turning the next corner....

[Image: IMG_1874.jpg]

This may be the weakest part of the layout. The ball field is very selectively compressed. It needs details like light towers...and ball players for crying out loud! Big Grin The buildings in the background are all paper. The large brick mill was from a paper model book that created a three dimensional mill. I just stretched it out flat to make it twice the size. The black windows don't add to the realism. The highway bridge to the right of the ballfield needs help too.

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#9
Ha! Tom, you startled me when I hit the submit post button and saw yours! Smile

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#10
And we continue...

I by passed the site of the to be newly reworked Canton Box Co. That's actually my Structure Challenge project. Just beyond it is the Volstead's Bar area.
[Image: IMG_1378.jpg]

I like the little cardboard structure. It needs more details and signs. The underpass to its right is a favorite photo spot on my layout.
[Image: IMG_1370.jpg]


OK...I need to stop or now but I'll post a couple more shots to finish the photo inventory. Thanks for looking. Oh, and Tom, thanks for the recommendation that all that is needed is a journey forward in time...but ...you know! Goldth

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#11
Ralph Wrote:Ha! Tom, you startled me when I hit the submit post button and saw yours! Smile
hehehe!!



But back to suggestions, the tug, looks great, and I bet you could chop the back off where it meets the cab and add about 6-8inches to the hull and it would be more to what youre looking for, if you have a photo from the side I could photochop it so you see what i mean..

something like this:

[Image: tugboat.jpg]

with the longer back
Tom

Model Conrail

PM me to get a hold of me.
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#12
Great overview of your layout. I hope to one day be in a position to "upgrade" scenes that I have already completed. I anxiously await your progress.
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Kevin
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#13
Ralph,
Thanks for the tour. I like your layout. Hopefully in the upcoming months we (yes we, as in all of the gauge and myself) will be planning my new layout. I will be watching this blog, as I do all of your threads Ralph, for Ideas.
Dave
-Dave
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#14
RALPH!

Thank you very much for the scenic tour of your layout. Although I came aboard Big Blue before the Z, I don't remember having ever seen the entire layout, just bits and pieces. I never realized it was so big! And you have done a great job on the room, very impressive.

I'm going to tell you that the layout looks great in the photos. Including the paper buildings. And the other day when you posted a photo of the ball field with the buildings behind it, I was very much drawn to the field. You did excellent work on it, the infield dirt and warning track, the outfield grass, really nice!

I kind of agree with you on the Redy-Mix plant, but still, it ain't bad. Definitely looking forward to seeing your new work.

How long ago did you start on this layout? You've obviously put a ton of effort into it.
Three Foot Rule In Effect At All Times
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#15
Thanks for the comments guys! Tom, I do like that tug.

I'll finish the photo inventory. Moving beyond the underpass we see the river scene with the oil company and barge. Flat buildings line the backdrop as we approach Kings Port Steel. I'm pretty happy with this area right now. I've altered that river front scene three times. Smile

[Image: IMG_1871.jpg]

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