Sunday, November 15, 2015

Granite City Train Show report

On November 14th I took the British Oak/ Crigglestone Screens layout to the Granite City Train show in St. Cloud MN. It was two years since the layout had last been there, and when I pulled the layout out of storage I was pleasantly surprised with the condition that it was in. I touched up a few pieces here and there, but for the most part everything was fine. The only real issue, as it was last time was bits of the "coal" bouncing out of the hoppers and onto the track causing derailments. I added some side curtains to the hopper chute in the hope that this would cut that down. It did. But not as much as I'd hoped. There must be another way around this. It might mean a total reconstruction of the loading facility. The structure was going to be rebuilt anyway. We'll have to see. 
Still, it was very reassuring to have the layout operate nigh on perfectly for the length of the show. It does vindicate my decision to build the APA box layout.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Playing catch up.

OK then, here has been much silence on this blog since I began this latest APA project. Basically because I have too many blogs. Blogs on RMWeb, blogs here, then there's my "Ian Holmes and his model foam" on Facebook. Posting to all is a pain in the arse. So some things fell by the wayside. This being one. But as things are getting close to the exhibition deadline for this layout I figured an update was due. 
Let's be honest there's nothing special in the construction or any of the methods used. The structures are my usual foam core shells clad with Scalescenes downloaded paper. The backscene is a product I discovered by accident in my local hobby shop from an outfit called ScenicKing. It fits perfectly inside the APA box.
The big "selling point" of this layout is that I consider the structures to be anonymous enough to enable the layout to be operated with both UK and US outline stock. The pictures seem to bear this idea out.

The exhibition deadline for this layout is the Granite City Train Show at the National Guard Armory, St. Cloud, MN. On November 16th between 10am and 3pm. See you there!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A new APA project - British Oak.

Here's the idea then. The APA box we are all familiar with. If not, review the earlier blog postings.
A Google search for "British Oak coal disposal point" will reveal some remarkable pictures to whet your appetite.
Trackplan wise there's not an awful lot you can do in 25" x 11" and given the industry the plan sort of suggests itself. One road to deliver empties to which are then picked up by a small shunting loco to be loaded at the screens. Yes, really loaded. (You know my beliefs about how small layouts should have working features to keep peoples interest up.) before being returned to the front road to be collected and sent off to the rest of the railway system.
As I got to thinking about this basic idea my attention was caught by my DMIR stock and looking at pictures of loading screens on both sides of the Atlantic I realised they aren't all that different and one structure could easily cover both locales. As this rendering shows.
So, a transatlantic layout could be on the cards then. This would make things very interesting at a show. Bored with operating UK trains? People not interested in British Rail Blue? Change it over to DMIR maroon.
I like this idea.
A lot.
Follow along.
(the more astute of you will notice that this is a duplicate posting of one on the 7daymodelrailroad blog. At the moment I haven't decided where to post the development of this layout. I have too many blogs)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Analysis... Debrief...

Call it what you will. I've now completed two shows with the APA box layout in the period of three weeks and I think its reasonable to sit back and reflect on the idea and its future. Impartial reports on the layout at the two shows can be found here for St. Cloud and here for Alexandria. I never had any real doubts that the layout would work. More concern that it would able to withstand repeated showings without any problems. I even pushed things to the limit by rebuilding one of the fiddle yards in the two weeks between the shows. The layout worked. Two shows in a row. So the concept is a win on that point.
However, I was looking for a scheme where the inadequacies of my woodworking skills would be glossed over by using a prefabricated structure. Not so much of a win on that point. I still had to make conventional fiddle yard baseboards which were subject to my lack of skills and the construction of the APA boxes exacerbated the issue. I will cover that in greater detail later. At the moment I'll just say that the fiddle yard baseboards were very dodgy and joining them to the APA box left much to be desired but they did function. Doubtlessly a better woodworker would make a better job of making the baseboard but then again a better woodworker wouldn't need to take the shortcut of using an APA box to make a baseboard.
Still, I am sufficiently interested in the scheme to carry it to the next stage and add a second section of layout to test the modular capabilities of the concept. Hopefully I will be able to make a better job of the next fiddle yard I construct.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

APA Box construction

This early smallmodelrailwaylayouts posting concerns the actual construction of an APA box...

I've made three APA boxes/baseboards over the past week or so and it got me to thinking.
These boxes are so easy to put together and so rigid. So light and above all easy to construct. I feel that there must be something railway modellers can glean from the techniques that can be transferred to baseboard construction. Model railway baseboard construction has almost become some sort of science lately, with plywood girders and talk about aircraft construction. Modern materials like the pink insulation foam also have their place and indeed have helped me construct baseboards for layouts many a time. But if you're going to take a layout to a show you have to protect that foam and that is where you need some wood involved in the construction. So perhaps with the speed and simplicity of these boxes and more importantly their rigidity we can learn something.
With that in mind, for those who live 200 miles from an IKEA here's a look at APA baseboard construction.
Above: This is all you use to put the baseboard/boxes together and interesting looking screw (Thanks to Gordon on the Gnatterbox forum I now know that these are called Socket Cap Head screws)
Above: Construction in progress
Above: A close up of the corner fixed with one of those screws. I built my first baseboard without gluing the joints. The next two I glued the joints. It does not appear to have made things any more (or even less) rigid.
Above: Bingo! Done. Ten minutes to build the baseboard. A few more minutes to cut and fit the white polystyrene foam to bring the level of the track up to the framework. It will need a layer of cork to bring it up a bit further. But to all intents and purposes that is it.
I'll need to find a method of joining the baseboards together. Likely a coachbolt in the top framing and a couple of hinges with removeable pins at the bottom.
I'll keep you all posted on how that goes.
As you know. I'm no woodworking expert so I don't know how the construction methods used here could translate to a larger sized unit. Perhaps other more skilled people coud take the idea and run with it. If you do, let me know.

The basics

This is a reproduction of the first entry I made on my small model railway layouts blog about my first meeting with the APA.

Those of you who know me will know that I am totally and utterly useless at baseboard construction. My woodworking abilities know no beginning. Indeed, I was once beaten into last place in a school woodworking exam by two girls. That was a good 30 years ago now...
So, I look for any excuse to hide from baseboard woodworking. Pink insulation foam, White expanded polystyrene sheet, Cork faced notice boards even foamcore display board has been subject to my baseboard building experiments. All have been reasonably successful to a degree. Layouts have been built on all these substrates.
In the previous post on this blog you heard me mention the new APA storage cabinet from IKEA and my desire to experiment with it. Well, yesterday I popped into IKEA and purchased one said APA box.
As with most IKEA stuff it comes flat packed in a quiet unassuming box. With all the fixings equipment and instructions to enable you to assemble it.
The package contains 10 parts:
The two ends come ready assembled as does the lid. There are 4 pine rails that are screwed between the ends and then a base and two end pieces that go into place as you assemble the rails. It all goes together very easily and in a matter of 10 minutes I had a storage box.
The box would indeed serve admirably as a stock box. It is remarkably rigid despite how light it is. You'd get quite a bit of stock in most any scale in there. But I was not interested in its rolling stock carrying abilities. Not yet anyway.
The next stage was to remove a front panel and see how it would look as a cabinet for a small diorama style layout.
Ooooo... Look at that. I can feel the schemes building up inside my head right now. The interior dimensions are officially 27.5 " long x 14" deep x 11" tall. The proportions really are very nice with regards to a cabinet style layout. The box did not loose any of its rigidity in having a front removed. I might just pop a bit of woodworking glue in the screwed joins but to be honest I don't feel it needs it.
One thing you can notice is that the base sits a good half inch below the tops of the rails, where you'd expect to run the tracks on top of. So some infill in there would be needed to bring the track up to that height.
Now here's a look at the lid. This too, is an excellent fit into the box and it got me thinking about the possibilities of fitting lighting into the lid to illuminate your scene. Hinging the lid would allow for easy access to change a blown bulb or get access to an awkward spot in the display.
All in all then, this is a superb little box with lots of potential for the woodworking challenged modeller. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

An introduction to APA Box Model Railroading

By now, most of you will know about the APA box for model railroading.
I think it is now fairly safe to say that it was yours truly who discovered the Swedish storage cabinet and first postulated upon its use for railway modellers back in June of last year. The concept took off and modellers all over the world have since used the APA box to make small layouts or even used several in a modular model railroading style.
It took me a while, but I finally jumped on my own bandwagon and built my own APA box layout. Today (April 21st 2012) it attended its first exhibition, the Granite City Train Show in St. Cloud, MN. It was very well received and was also given an invitation to a forthcoming show in Alexandria, MN.
In these past months I have deliberately kept the APA project relatively low key. You will have only known about it it you knew which internet forums to look on. The project was an experiment. A very personal experiment. Others may have built APA box layouts before me. But it was my idea so my personal standards were a bit more exacting than usual.
My standards for the project are still a work in progress and somewhat guarded. But the reception the concept and the layout have received have encouraged me to go public with it so I decided to blog about it.
Those of you who read my blogs regularly will know what to expect. There will be more of the same here. But totally about APA box model railways/railroads. I hope you'll take an interest, follow the blog and perhaps buy an APA box yourself.
In the meantime the first few entries will be going over old material as a refresher for old hands and an introduction for new arrivals.