Saturday, September 22, 2012

Progress Report 09.22.12

Worked on various projects today.  Around 2:30pm, the CEO called for a cease of all construction projects.  All crews are to assist with preparations for the op session.

Before the CEO called off all projects, crews were busy.  The land was formed on the third leg of Bureau Wye back toward the west Bureau switch.  The road for the trailer park was modified so now it goes up a hill to the mainline track level.

Grass was planted in Bureau and finished up in rural Joliet.  I didn't get any further than that today before deciding it was time to clean up.

Began the clean-up of the room.  It takes a while just to gather all the tools and random items left on top of the layout.  Began vacuuming up the top of the layout as well as the floor.  Wow!  What a mess!  I think our vacuum is about to give up the ghost too.  I'm sure it doesn't help vacuuming in general in the layout room.  A lot of random things get sucked up into it.  I was slowed down as I vacuumed up the debris on the floor down on my knees with a shop vac hose.  Uggh...not efficient at all.

I did manage to make a lot of progress before calling it quits when family came over.  I had cleaned up all the carpet, vacuumed half the top of the layout and was well into organizing my desktop.

I might work on a few small projects this week before the op session, but I really do have to turn my focus toward preparing for operating.  I want to ensure as smooth as possible session with no hiccups if possible.

Progress Report 09.21.12

Today was a day for mini-projects.

Lily the cat, that hangs out with me in the layout room.

This morning I worked on painting roads.  I painted Caldwell Road across Ottawa Yard, the driveway for Peru Power & Water Plant and the road that leads into the industrial area at Blue Island.

This evening, I added telephone poles to rural Joliet, Rock Island, Franklin Farms and between LaSalle and Utica.  

I poured in the Mod Podge for the Belrose Silica quarry.  Fingers crossed that it turns out ok.

I added numerous trees (temporarily) in the bluff cut between LaSalle and Utica.

My wife and I discussed that the bluff should be heavily wooded as in IL.  More trees will be added, but I must ballast first.

Completed adding sidewalks in LaSalle, painted the white lines in the parking lot at the train station.

Added coal mounds and white posts to the Peru Power & Water Plant.

Worked on the field at Franklin Farms.  Painted the pond at Franklin Farms.

Added sidewalks to most of the Blue Island Industrial District.

It was a productive day!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Progress Report 09.20.12

My schedule is different on Thursdays preventing me from working on the layout in the morning.  I was merely planning on relaxing today figuring I would hit it hard again tomorrow.

While the girls were getting ready for bed, I vacuumed up all the excess grass from the grass blitz yesterday.  It's amazing how well that works to lather on paint and apply filtered grass through a strainer.  Unbelievable control and accuracy.  I'm very pleased with that.  The grass looks plain right now, but will improve with bushes, ground cover, trees, etc.

I'm fortunate as the layout room is right off the hallway upstairs.  I can quickly go into the room, do one little quick task and leave.  All those little quick tasks add up.  Anywho, I walked in the room late this evening contemplating completing one of those quick tasks, but ended up working for about 30 minutes.  In those 30 minutes, I sanded Caldwell Road on both sides of the bridge over Ottawa Yard, sanded the driveway for Peru Power & Water, and installed half of the sidewalks in LaSalle.

I then moved to Blue Island, sanding the road into the industrial area.  The vacant storage lot for Midwest Lumber Company caught my eye.  I have some filtered dirt.  I should go ahead and apply the same technique for grass and make a dirt lot.  And, it was so.  While having the dirt out, I decided to go ahead and complete the lot at Joliet Grain Company.  I'll be interested to see how both turn out in the morning when I vacuum up the excess.

So, for an evening planned of no work, I managed to get more done than I expected.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Progress Report 09.19.12

Same scenario as yesterday, but this morning I opted for doing nothing while relaxing in the recliner.

This afternoon was a different story though.  I had much more energy (drugs began to kick in).  I "planted" grass in Peoria, Bureau, Ottawa, Joliet and Blue Island.  That's a lot of grass!!  Not all areas are completely covered, but a lot has been done.  Tomorrow or Friday, I will return with the vacuum of death (hopefully not taking any freight cars this time) to remove the excess grass that didn't stick to the paint.

Finished installing the sidewalks in Bureau, completed the plaster work around the Caldwell Rd Bridge in Ottawa, completed final plaster work on the roads around the Peru Power & Water plant.  Both need to be sanded and painted though.

My projects will be coming to an end this weekend.  The final week before the op session will be spent cleaning up, cleaning track and test running all locomotives.  It's nearly time to ROCK!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Progress Report 09.18.12

Sinus season is upon us again.  Uggh.  I was dragging this morning and had the option to sit in the recliner and watch tv or press on and try to get something done on the layout.  Still motivated by the pending op session, I decided on the latter.

Started off with some light work, sanding and painting the widened neighborhood street in Bureau.  This is looking really nice!  I will post more pics once I complete installing the sidewalks.  Bureau in general is looking great.  A far cry from v1.0.

Paving crews finished up over in LaSalle.  The roads are ready to now receive sidewalks.

I then moved back up to Joliet Grain Company completing the formation of the earth with the wall plaster.  I still need to sand everything down in this area, but it is looking good.

I was just about to put up the wall plaster, but remembered, I needed to give some attention to the newly constructed Peru Power and Water plant.  Built up the earth around the plant including forming the rough driveways and related roads.  I have a vision for this area and will try my best to complete the scene before the op session.

This evening, I painted the interior of Belrose Silica's sand quarry.  I have mixed feelings about the colors.  Of course, I'm color blind.  It could be hot pink for all I know.  LOL!  I will need to call in the assistant foreman for confirmation before continuing that project.

Later in the evening, I continued my civil engineering projects.  I created the earth in the corner between the Federal Paper Mill and Joliet Grain Company.  I also worked on the scenery base from the overpass in Joliet to the road crossing at D&D News in Blue Island.

I'm preparing as much as possible for a grass blitz tomorrow night as I have a solid 2 hour window to work on the layout.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Progress Report 09.17.12

This morning, I worked on filling in some of the gaps in scenery in Bureau.  I was hoping to get more completed, but lacked focus this morning.

This evening, I continued working on installing sidewalks in Bureau.  Residents are demanding a safe area to walk to the park down at Hennepin Canal.  The mayor of Bureau requested that the neighborhood street be widened to allow for proper traffic flow to the park.  Crews obliged and widened the road.  Crews will return tomorrow to smooth out the road and paint.

A civil engineering crew set out to the area by Joliet Grain Company.  The former webbing of cardboard strips was removed and styrofoam was installed.  I lathered on some dry wall compound and began forming the earth.

Construction crews assembled the Peru Power & Water plant.  Now, I can work on the scenery around this structure.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Progress Report 09.16.12

Late last night (after 10pm), I got around to working on the layout.  I really wanted to work on applying grass to the layout so I can begin tree placement.  I had added a few to the completed area in Rock Island and it completely transformed the scene.

I had applied grass on the peninsula in the past using glue.  It was a chore and didn't provide overall control of where the grass went (as the glue followed the rules of gravity).  I wasn't pleased with the process and have since been apprehensive regarding tackling the project again.

So, Friday, I went down to Lowes to pick up a quart of earth brown paint.  Due to an inattentive clerk at the paint desk, I scored a gallon for a quart price.  Anywho, I painted the scenery shell with a thick coat of paint.  I would work in small sections.  While still wet, I sprinkled a grass mixture using a small sifter over the area.  The grass mixture is Woodland scenics green grass, burnt grass and yellow grass.  I didn't like any of the colors by themselves so I just mixed them up until I found something I like.  I believe the end result works well.

Last night, I painted and applied grass to areas in Bureau, LaSalle, Peru, Rock Island and Moline.  I was skipping around to random areas across the layout.

So, today, I went back and vacuumed up the grass off the tracks.  I also held the shop vac about two inches above all the grass areas.  It sucked up the loose grass leaving a perfect finish without having to apply glue!  Awesome!  It was exactly what I was hoping for.

So, here are some pics of the progress.  The Rock Island scene with the unit grain train ballast, grass and a few trees in place is looking awesome!  I'm truly inspired and ready to hit it hard pushing forward with scenery.  Again, this is my first time to ever create scenery as I never had a layout to this stage before.  Everything has been a learning process, but I seem to be fumbling through it ok.

An empty unit grain train returning to Iowa passing through Rock Island

My daughter Sarah in the background helping me place trees.

This scene is coming together really nice.

Grass is coming in at Bureau.

Sidewalks are also going in at Bureau.

I'm not sure what I will do in the area inside the Wye.  For now, it will be just a grass field.

I plan on building a park that overlooks Hennepin Canal hence the parking lot there.

The bluff cut between LaSalle and Peru.

The white area will be painted various shades of gray and will represent a rock cut.

An overall view of the area between LaSalle and Peru.  You can also see the quarry area.  This area will be heavily wooded.