Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: In Honor of Grandpa Franklin - Franklin Farms Update

When I was growing up as a kid, I never knew my Grandpa Robert Howell.  He passed away when I was five years old.  I have no memories of being with him, but have numerous photos of me sitting on his lap.  I've been told that he adored me very much.  I liked to build things when I was a kid.  As I became older, I remember asking for my first power tool for Christmas when I was 13.  That year, my dad bought me a Skil Circular Saw.  Years past and I developed my skills some more and was often told by family that I was much like my Grandpa Howell (as he was a carpenter) and he would be very proud of me.

Years later, I was fortunate to meet not only my wife Carrie, but my best friend in life.  Heck, she even had the last name.  LOL!  I know what you are thinking, but we are not related!  As our family size was dwindling due to the passing of much of the older generation, I gained my wife's very large family.  I had more cousins than you can shake a stick at!  I loved it!  The true jewel I found was my wife's Grandpa Eulice Franklin.  

I found Grandpa to be a quiet soul.  It was quite evident he had earned great respect by everyone around him.  When he talked, everyone would take notice and listen intently.  I learned that Grandpa had worked many jobs throughout his life.  One that was most interesting to me, was that he was a bridge painter for the Norfolk & Western Railroad.  He worked painting the lift bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri.

After a period, my wife suggested I should go to have coffee with him and her dad at the local restaurant in town.  I wasn't a coffee drinker, but after a little persuasion, I decided to go.  I woke up at 5:55am on vacation and drive the two blocks over to the local restaurant in town for breakfast.  The restaurant changed over the years, but the people attending (my father-in-law Randy, family friend Ronnie and Grandpa Eulice) and the stories they told were always the same.  This quickly became a tradition for me when home visiting Carrie's family.  One that I cherish very much.

I got to know Grandpa pretty good.  As years went by, I realized that Grandpa Eulice had filled the void of my Grandpa Howell.  Not only did I adopt him as my Grandpa, but he had adopted me as one of his grandkids.  He always loved, cared and inquired about me as if I was one of his own.  That meant the world to me.  He filled the void of me not knowing my Grandpa Howell.

One of my fondest memories of him was when we drove up to Illinois secretly to surprise my mother-in-law for her 50th Birthday.  We drove straight arriving late in the night.  The following morning, I got up and walked out back of the old farmhouse where they lived.  Sitting in the backyard smoking a cigarette, Grandpa greeted me with a smile.  We hung outside talking and enjoying the spectacular September morning.  My girls (only four of five at the time), came running out to hug on Grandpa.  The biggest smile would appear on his face when the great grandkids came around.  The silence of the rural farm was broken as excited screams and laughter from my girls filled the air as Grandpa would pull them around in an old wagon.  That day could have lasted forever as far as I'm concerned.

On my first layout, I created a section of the layout called Franklin Farms to honor my wife's Grandpa.  With the construction of the new layout, I wanted to continue with this idea.  Tonight, I worked on the scene and made a lot of progress.  I'm very pleased.  I still have more work to do like adding the barbed wire fence and more details, but when I view the scene, it takes me back to the wonderful Fall day hanging out at the farm visiting with Grandpa.  It holds a very special place in my heart.

Here is what I started with a few days ago...

I introduce to you Franklin Farms....

A funny side story....
Remember that Skil saw I was telling you about earlier?  Well, it died a few years back.  Being a little crazy myself, I wrote up an obituary for it on Facebook.  I was reminded of this when typing earlier so I decided to share.

Skil Saw R.I.P. December 25th, 1986 - May 9th, 2009

R.I.P. Skil Saw
I'm sad to report there was a death in the family. The Skil saw that my dad gave me for Christmas when I was 13 sadly passed away this evening. It was my first power tool that I cherished greatly. When I started cutting the lumber for the train layout, I smelled the distinct smell of an electrical motor fire. I pressed on figuring that the old saw was just tired as it hadn't been used in a while. Before long a lot of smoke started pouring out of the vent. Sadness. Halfway through its last cut, a large puff of blue smoke (its last gasp) and then it flat lined. I kept hitting the trigger, but nothing. I checked all cords and tried again. No response. Sadness! The time of death was 7:23pm. After 23 years of use, the Skil saw was dead. :-( The old saw was nothing fancy, but a true workhorse. It will be sorely missed. The saw is survived by its electrical counterparts: the Ridgid family including regular drill, impact drill, sawzall (saw o' death), and cordless circular saw, and the Dewalt family including the biscuit joiner, jig saw and compound miter saw. 

The Skil Saw worked hard for its owner including numerous projects over the years: the deck at my parents house, multiple model train layouts in the garage, large plant stand, various garden (timber walls) projects, the famous bridge to nowhere (at my parent's house), multiple desks in the apartment including the original 8ft wide desk and then the infamous J-shaped two level desk, the deck in Huntersville, and the fence to just name a few. Not to mention numerous contract jobs for various parties including Marcus' layout, large desk complex at Tommy's house, and multiple projects at Ruby's house. The saw has done it all. What a sad day.

The family requests instead of flowers that friends & family make donations to the "Buy Steven a Replacement Saw" fund.

The viewing will be tonight between 5:15pm and 5:30pm before the ceremonial cutting of the cord and descension into the garbage roll out can. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Factory Construction & Farm Update

Factory Construction Update
Today, I reviewed the requirements to build the Ottawa Silica Company main building.  It looks like I will use a combination of Evergreen Scale Seam Roof Styrene (3/8" spacing) #4523 (the same I plan on using for LOF structure) along with Windows from a Walthers George Roberts Printing kit.  Why using that kit for so many things?  Well, the kit is very versatile.  As far as Westclox goes, the brick/concrete walls and window arrangement is a very close match to the prototype.  As far as LOF and Ottawa Silica structuers, the factory style windows work well, plus the extra dock doors and stairwells are perfect for what I need.  Added with the Evergreen Seam Roof Styrene, I have everything I need.

Farm Report
Late last night, I found a small bag of Silflor static grass I had in stock.  This evening, I worked on the cow pasture to the right of the Franklin farm house.  I added a few tufts of random tall grass as well.  Dropped in a few farm animals and I have a basic scene.  I would like to add a barbed wire fence as well.  I have ideas for that.  I'm pretty pleased with it.  The trees are temporary.  I just threw in a few to add to the photo.  I'll determine what trees and how many to add permanently after I add the fencing.


After - Nice to see some green instead of the plywood.

I need to clean up my cows feet.  They still have some glue residue from v1.0 layout.

Looking west.

In front of Franklin Farms looking toward the CB&Q line.

Looks like the local is sitting at the station.

A view from south of the mainline looking at Franklin Farms.

Old man Franklin's car in front of the house.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Factory Construction + Farm Report

Factory Construction Report
Today, I pulled out my collection of styrene sheets, measured off the space for the Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF) #7 Factory plant and started reviewing options for the structure.  I'm unable to model the plant accurately due to its immense size, but there are a few features I would like to capture (see circled below).

  1. LOF # 5 and #7 buildings will look the same (sheet metal siding, large factory windows)
  2. The large smoke stack.
  3. The silica sand storage silos with headhouse.  
For the #7 Building (the one closest to the aisle) and largest of the two structures, I was thinking of building something like this.

The two loading tracks in the foreground are for loading float glass on to 50' box cars.
The chemical track on the far side of the building receives in limestone via 3-bay covered hoppers.

Drawing of the face of the factory as seen from the aisle.  Four dock bays spread out to match 50' box car loading on two tracks.  All windows above the loading tracks.  I would also add two exit doors with staircases down to the ground level.  

Actually, after laying out the window pieces, I think I will space them out more like this, but with sheet metal siding.

This evening, I rummaged through my building parts to see what I can use for the factory windows.  I have enough windows, rail dock and truck dock doors leftover from the numerous Walthers George Roberts Printing kits to use for LOF.  This still leaves me plenty for the Westclox building.  I went ahead and cut out those parts to make sure.  The LOF #7 structure is 21" long on the aisle side and 20" long long on the far wall side due to the plant sitting at an angle.  

Farm Report:
Today, I received my order from Scenic Express, but I don't like the Silflor mats I purchased.  They look nice online, but are way too thick with the backing and look toyish on the N Scale layout.  I was hoping to use these as a quick way to add the rest of the static grass I need, but I'm not so lucky.  I will return it to Scenic Express and just purchase more static grass.  I'll be glad when this chore is done.  Static grass gets EVERYWHERE!

I attempted to apply some Woodland Scenics static grass tonight.  No such luck.  I've tried with it before and tonight tried again.  It just doesn't do near as well as the Silflor static grass.  I ended up scraping it all up and will start over again when I have more in stock.

It seems like everything I tried to do this evening failed miserably (Silflor mats = failure, Woodland Scenics static grass = failure, dishwasher acting goofy, iPhone acting crazy not allowing me to log in iMessage, and couldn't access my own wireless network for while, but everyone else in the house could.   By the end of the evening, I was just in a foul mood as nothing was going like I would have hoped this evening.  I guess I did manage to sort out the design of the LOF plant plus found some useful stuff for the Ottawa Silica plant buildings, but I was really hoping to make some serious progress with scenery.  That was a complete failure.   I guess I will just try again tomorrow and hope for better results.