Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Look of Things to Come - Carving Foam

Often when I go to the shop it is VERY quiet.  Too quiet.  Music is sometimes a distraction but often I'll pop in an Allen Keller Great Model Railroads tape.  This is a VHS tape because my player is old and I've not switched it to DVD.  Actually, I may not.  I've got tons of tapes and Allen has them on sale for $15 each.  They work fine and they keep me company when I'm downstairs.  You can learn and listen!

I hope that doesn't sound like an advertisement.  My blogs do not sell advertising.  I only mention things that I like and know that they work.  Allen is a good friend and a fantastic modeler.  His products are of the highest quality and have brought me a lot of enjoyment over the years.  One day I'll be on the DVD!

The first project of the night is to clean up the rail car testing center.  I keep losing my little Kadee coupler height gauge, so let's fix that.  I have a powerful magnet here and am going to screw it to the base.

There!  This magnet is VERY powerful so it will serve as a gauge keeper and tool caddy.

Tonight's I'M WITH STUPID award goes to!  Did you know that the metal NMRA standards gauge is NOT MAGNETIC?  Dang!  I wonder why.  Must be aluminum.  I took a metal back clip and now I have the two gauges attached.  Not the best, but will do for now.

And we'll shove the board under the workbench for now.  Yes, that is a Sherline Milling Machine.  Get's a whole lot of use around here...not.

It takes to long to heat up the basement part where I work on these cold days, so I just decided to drag the whole section into the shop where it is warm and the coffee pot is close!  I can work in good hear and light with all my tools close by!

The goal tonight is to give the foam its first trimming.  I wanted this area to be tight against the track so that it can serve as a view block.    This was done using the monostick hot knife.

I have both hot knives warming up.

Yes, this is a switch panel.  The reason I'm showing you this is because this panel has a special function.  The first switch turns off the overhead lights.  The middle switch kills all the power to the right side of the room.  The last switch kills all the power to the left hand side of the room.  Why?  Well, when you have hot knives, soldering irons and other eletronic equipment that makes fire, it is smart to make sure you turn it all off at night.  I think it is an important safety tool.

I'm going to leave the run off area alone since it is a water project and I've not thought it all out yet.

Next, to give the right side a little flatter look, I'll pull off part of the 1" foam.

Here we have the basic shape.  Plaster cloth and plaster will fill in the gaps.

I'm going to put a block retaining wall here mad of Dr. Ben's Baby Building Blocs.  I've used these several times and the affect is astounding.  It will work as a view block to separate the two levels.

This hot knife cuts better than all the rest.  It really gets hot and doesn't cool down as fast.  You can shape the tip to any shape you want!

I start sketching a little road here.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it but it must help keep your eye away from the tunnel.

Since I'm not quite sure what I want the foam to look like from here, I'll put it away and come back to it tomorrow.  For years I've lost every car weight I've bought so this time we're giving them a special cabinet drawer.  Labeling each drawer is CRITICAL or you won't find it again.  I label things mostly so my friends can find things.  Even the drawers in my cabinets are labeled.

When handling lead weights you will get lead dust on your fingers.  Wash this off immediately as it is poison.  Some items say "lead" but really aren't.  Still, wash your hands.

This hand printer will let me type in what I want and print a peel and stick label in any color I want.  They are not cheap, but I've gotten my money's worth.

A little off center, but acceptable.

And the drawer will be given a special place in the drawer cabinet.  I've got five of these handy cabinets and really need two more.  If you buy these get the ones with different sized drawers.

I'm beat, man...headed to bed.


  1. Scott,

    Good stuff - as usual. Have you thought about making the retaining wall by carving a piece of the foam? It only takes a short while and the results can be nice.


  2. Actually, no, that thought had not occured to me! Let me think it over....sounds interesting. thanks!