If you have ever worked within the beverage industry you know the fierce rivalry between Coke and Pepsi. I had a summer job at the beach delivering Coca-Cola syrup and I learned the intensity of the rivalry. Like Michigan vs. Ohio State, you don’t ever mention the competitor’s name, let alone give them any credit for anything. I believe the B&O vs. PRR rivalry was similar, at least in my family with my grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, and myself all working for the B&O. We’re talking about back over 100 years to just after the First World War.
I live on the NCR Trail, a rail trail that extends over 40 miles from Ashland, MD (Cockeysville) to York, PA. It follows the right of way of the Northern Central Railway, later a part of the PRR. My wife loves to run so this was the perfect location when we moved back north from North Carolina. A few hundred yards from my house is mile zero on the trail just north about a 1/3 of mile north is railroad mile marker 16 from Baltimore with mile 122 on the other side of the marker.
Across the former tracks at trail marker zero was the Ashland Furnace, chartered in 1844 and by 1850 its annual output was 4,300 tons of pig iron. It was served by a siding on the south side of the line. In 1887 the Pennsylvania Steel Company purchased the works but sold it for scrap value in 1892 when they realized their Sparrows Point Plant was more cost-effective. Some of the original village housing and the original Post Office survive today.
Heading north toward York from trail mile zero, the line crosses Paper Mill Road and the first artifact you come upon is a Lime Kiln built into the side of a hill.
Phoenix, MD is the next town on the right of way and a historical marker show the location and a photo of the Phoenix Cotton Mill. This mill was water powered and was served by the NCR.
North of Phoenix, on the east side of the old line there appears to an abandoned quarry. You really have to slow down and look for it and it is most visible in the winter. The granite face is still exposed and extends about 100 yards from the line to a steep cliff guarded by a fence at the top. This area is just north of milepost 19/119
Further north, Sparks, MD is a small village with an impressive stone bank building and access from Sparks Road. There is no sign of a station, but with such an impressive bank, there might have been one in the area at some point.
Glencoe Road is the next crossing. A building called Glencoe Station was torn down in either 2017 or 2018. Some work to restore it seemed to have started and then it was torn down. The station must have served the Oldfields School, a girl’s boarding school, just west on Glencoe Road. The road crosses the Little Gunpowder River on a temporary metal one lane bridge. On the east side of the trail is a well preserved old structure that was reported to be a resort in the early 1900s for folks wanting to get out of the city heat in the summer. Just north of here the line starts a climb that extends to just past Monkton Station.
Corbett is a small village with a several buildings, one close to the line may have served the railroad. Possibly there was an local agent of the railroad in the structure, this was not uncommon in small farming communities in Maryland. Pure conjecture on my part as I don’t see remnants of a station, but rail is still intact near the crossing at Corbett Road.
Monkton Station is a well preserved station at Monkton Road just about a mile north of Corbett. There are several other buildings in the crossing area, though the town of Monkton now incorporates a much larger area and is easily accessible from York Road by a modern road. That is not the usual case for roads that cross this lower part of the NCR Trail. Some are now part of the park lands that encompass the river that feeds the Loch Raven Reservoir, part of the City of Baltimore water system. These park lands allow me to live within blocks of busy York Road, while being able to go a few blocks in the other direction to access the trail and the river that is stocked with trout in spring for fly-fishing.
North and down the hill from Monkton is a small two-story stone building that looks like part of a larger installation. It is rumored to have been a home for a track maintenance person. That does not seem likely as railroads in the east didn’t often provide housing for track maintenance employees and this is very close to Monkton Station, with other private homes nearby and available for use by employees.
Heading north from the Monkton, after the stone building ruins, the line ascends slightly and there a siding on a deck girder bridge branches off the mainline. This is after railroad mile marker 24/114, mile 8 on the modern trail mile markers. I have never followed this siding, but it seems to head northwest to a quarry.
The first road crossing north of Monkton is Bluemont Road, up the hill from the grade crossing is a beautiful farm house.
After trail marker 10 and an ascent, the trail enters White Hall and flattens out. This small village has a post office and a gas station. It, like many towns along the line had sturdy bank building, now sitting in somewhat disrepair. In the town, the old gas station is on the to the north end and past what might have been railroad station location and what appears to have been a coal dump.
The trail, and the old rail line, heading up to Parkton follows the river closely and crosses tributaries. At some points the valley is narrow and in other places if widens out and the river runs smoothly south and east.
When the right of way arrives near Parkton, MD, there are two grade crossings, the first being Frederick Road and the second being Dairy Road. Between these two roads State Park signage indicates there were sidings used for maintenance and a wye to turn locomotives.
From Parkton it is about 7 miles to the Pennsylvania line and a little beyond that is New Freedom, PA. I will add another post with photos and some information about that part of the line in the future.
Post-publishing edit: I forgot about a video i shot a few years ago while traversing the 40 miles of the NCR trail from Ashland, MD to York, PA. This video was taken north of New Freedom, PA where the excursion train is based as the Northern Central Railway of York.
The one thing I have noticed that is absent from model railroad blogs is painting and modifying HO scale figures. I never paid much attention to them and then I realized from photos of other’s layouts that they add an important dimension. Scale. Nothing makes a steam locomotive look larger than than life in HO scale, then a ground level photo with a figure being dwarfed by the driving wheels.
When modeling a figure for my layout, the first thing I do is add a piece of very stiff K&N .015 steel music wire into one of the figure’s feet. I drill a hole and use ACC glue to add a short piece to make it easy to stick the figure into a block of rigid foam board insulation for painting and when complete, into the layout scenery. The steel wire is sturdy enough to push through many scenery materials to allow the figures to be repositioned when desired.
There are only a few railroad figures available that are a good fit for my summer 1950 era layout. The main change I am making to the figures available is to the hat, nothing says eastern railroader like a blue-striped cap with a blue band and bill, though individual style was always important and variation abounded. Clothing colors were lighter than one might have expected in some cases, so dark blue denim overalls are not always the only choice. And I find it helps to emphasize shadows on the figure’s clothing if I give them a thin wash of Tamiya 87131 Panel Line Accent Color Black or 87199 Dark Gray depending on the clothing color.
While some railroad specific figures come with hats that look appropriate, others do not. This one’s hat looks like it belongs on a fishing boat in the Mediterranean, not the look I want. So I am using a little Vallejo Plastic Putty 70.401. It is acrylic and a little thinner than Squadron Green Putty. It is also meant for thin coats, so don’t put it too thick or it won’t dry. After a little shaping with a sanding stick and paint, he is ready to help an engineer couple to a string of boxcars.
I call this guy lunchbox guy. Is he done for the day or just starting? I don’t have a visible terminal on my layout so I needed to repurpose him and his twin. One quick change was to add a flag made of thin brass sheet and rod to allow him to become the Way Freight’s flagman setting off from the caboose to protect the rear of the train and enjoy the coffee in his thermos lunchbox.
Another modification I have made is with standardizing my Caucasian flesh tone. I like Vallejo Model Color Basic Flesh Tone 70.815 for a base and will lighten and darken it for shadows. I tried using a pin wash of dark gray but it was too dark, I got better results doing the wash first and then using several thin layers of the flesh tone overtop. It also helps if the figure is well sculpted, as seen in the photo of the guy leaning on the truck. This Preiser figure has excellent facial features that can be highlighted with thin washes of color.
One final figure project. I found this rotund gentlemen with a tie, that could be a stand-in for the Station Agent in the photo below, though he needs the straw hat.
To build a straw hat for the Station Agent I used some hole punches and some thin brass sheet to create a hat brim.
In larger scales military modelers have created techniques to paint more realistic faces on their figures. I may try that in the future, but for now, these few basic upgrades allow me to add a few figures to the layout and give casual viewer a better sense of the scale of the models.
The last time I gave a photo tour of the first two modules in July, 2019 (link to previous post) there was a lot of plywood showing, no fascia, a little backdrop, and no construction on the next three modules leading into the return loop.
The Patapsco River in the first photo is dry, the station isn’t complete, and no fascia has been added. Since then I have finished the river, realized the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water material is a very thick fluid, even when “cured”, and is very, very slowly spilling over the edge of the layout. That will be a new project. The station is complete and mounted on a “concrete” foundation like the prototype after a later 40’s reconstruction project. I have started on the adjacent small freight house, I need to complete the roofing and the boards enclosing the raised platform. I will add a short blog on building that structure in the future.
I’ve been able to build four more modules and get the layout moved against the wall to allow the Ilchester Tunnel to reach staging in the unfinished part of the basement. One of the new modules is inline with the first two and the next three are set perpendicular to create the return loop that will take my Old Main Line back behind the backdrop to two modeled areas and then into the remote staging location and its return loop. This will allow continuous running.
I was able to add fascia to about 40% of the layout. I used 1/8″ masonite as it can be bent to fit the curves of the layout. The layout is designed to follow the curving Patapsco River, just like the Old Main Line that was laid out to follow the river through gaps in the hills and mountains west of Baltimore. I wanted a smooth finish so I used Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty, it is a one-part product, don’t use the two-part product that is too hard to sand similarly to the masonite and is too thick for thin gap filling (two part glazing putty has a resin and a hardener like an epoxy, not great for this application). The Spot and Glazing Putty product works great on wood trim for the house also, it is red and hard to cover with paint, but doesn’t shrink over time and crack.
I intend to build the very large Doughnut Corporation of America milling and manufacturing plant using an ITLA modular building system. I developed a mock up of the building that is less than 50% of the actual size, but it is large enough to portray the imposing size of the building. And it substantiates the need for a two track yard to serve it and the two track siding within the plant. It will be the primary operating feature for the 1950 Way Freight as it heads west every other day. And I presume it was serviced on all days, so it may be switched on the opposite, every other day east bound trip of the Way Freight. It was a priority customer over time, so it might have even rated a special train from Baltimore when needed. I need to find some more contemporary operations sources.
Behind the backdrop of my peninsula layout is the second half of the visible layout of the Old Main Line. Beside Ilchester, my favorite layout element is Sykesville, Maryland. I was based from the old passenger station in Sykesville when I worked on the track gang during summers in college. The base for the Life-Lke Main Line station injection molded plastic kit is seen in the photo below in an approximate location. It was modeled after the Sykesville Station and I bought one when it was released many years ago, knowing I would have a spot on a layout someday. I haven’t planned out the entire area and need more information about Sykesville in 1950. I need to build the station next and would love to have a color photo of the station from the 40s or 50s, if anyone knows of any, please drop me a message.
Finally, I decided to “brand’ my layout by developing a name for the layout, calling it “the Original Old Main Line” referencing it’s setting on the B&Os Old Main Line, the original part of the United States’ first common carrier railroad.
I am always looking on eBay for a bargain Q-1 or Q-4 Mikado to back-up the Q-7f that most often will run the Old Main Line Peddler on my layout. Recently I found an older PFM/United B&O E-27 Consolidation at a great price. It was tarnished and tired looking, but the drivers looked good, so I took a chance. This locomotive type was not often seen on the Old Main Line in the late 40s and early 50s but it would provide a great learning platform and test bed for me. I need to add DCC and sound to my brass Q-7f that is well painted and runs great. I am already adding sound and DCC to a pair of Life-Like Proto 2000 FA-2s as a test bed for future upgrades to my Kato and BLI F-units. That experience has shown me that “practice makes better” as I have already gained a lot of knowledge from mistakes made.
With a little bit of research I realized the tarnished boiler was not a big problem and I could media blast it with my $20 baking soda media blaster to smooth out the finish.
I disassembled the model, but left the drivers and running gear connected as I did not want to mess them up too badly by my lack of experience. After getting the major body parts away from the running gear, I blasted them with baking soda, gave them a hour bath in dilute vinegar, and then after dry, hit them with Tamiya red primer from a can. The frame and running gear was spared this abuse and cleaned with WD-40 300554 Specialist Contact Cleaner Spray, the same polar solvent I use to keep my track clean. It is a good solvent and supports clean conductive surfaces. It cleaned the grease and dust from the running mechanism and left it dry and easy moving. I little Labelle #108 light oil was used to re-oil the bearings and joints on the mechanism. I did this before painting to insure the joints were well oiled and as they are mostly hidden I did not worry about great paint adhesion.
I wasn’t sure if there was a lacquer coating or gold paint on the model, so I tested the base of the tender overnight in a paint remover and found no change. The vinegar bath did dissolve some type of topcoat as the solder joints became more visible. I have read that some modelers soak in a vinegar and water bath overnight, I used about a 25% solution for an hour and like the results. The metal is smooth and accepted the primer well for a very smooth undercoat.
The tender will receive the bulk of the DCC and sound updates and there is enough room to add a capacitor to keep the locomotive running over any gaps on my layout track.
The one area that is least familiar to me is upgrading the motor, tuning the gearbox, and making sure the mechanism is as smooth as a Swiss watch. Other smaller challenges to the locomotive/boiler include adding lighting, a working front coupler, and possibly changing the air pump (I didn’t make this change). Knowing my weakness I put a request for help on the B&O listserve. The results were fantastic, more on that later.
When I am unsure, I start with the more familiar and for me that is now painting with my airbrush, speaker installation, and DCC wiring. All new skills but more familiar than motor and gearbox work. For this project, like my P2K FA-2s, I felt I had room for a large speaker and all the DCC tools I wanted in the tender. This probably won’t be the case for my Q-7f Mike, but I am learning while having fun!
With all of the DCC and sound in the tender, I started to work there. First decision, where to mount the speaker. The coal bunker is already a flat piece, ready for a shallow coal load so no need create a false bottom as recommended by Soundtraxx for a tender speaker install. Soundtraxx has become my decoder of choice, based primarily on local availability and support from my local hobby shop, Pro Custom Hobbies. I had already purchased the latest Tsunami2 Steam2 decoder for my Q-7f, so I diverted its installation to the E-27. I used a large 28mm speaker because I had one on hand and the bigger the better with speakers, for the most part. Using the Soundtrax enclosure for that speaker allowed me to be less concerned about sealing the tender joints to create an air-tight speaker enclosure. The enclosure kit has a mount which I used as a template to drill and tap two 2-56 holes from the top so I could secure it from below. I also drilled some holes for the speaker. As long as it is a sealed unit and securely mounted I don’t need to worry about a gasket for tight mounting or sealing the openings in the tender for quality sound. I used the same setup in my FA-2s and the sound is pretty close to full range and booming.
As brass steam engines often rely on pickup from the tender wheels for one pole and the locomotive for the other pole, stalling is a possible concern. I am adding a Soundtraxx 810140 CurrentKeeper to hopefully help the short model traverse rough spots. It fits neatly into the upper, rear fireman’s side corner of the tender and does not interfere with other parts of the DCC and sound install. It comes with a plug that goes directly into the Soundtraxx decoder, so an easy add. Some high quality 3M double sided tape will secure it to the underside of the tender deck.
The coal load covers the speaker so it has to be fairly sound transparent. A tried and true is method is black foam. I got a piece from a box and trimmed it fit. It doesn’t look bad plain, but an application of thinned white glue and some Woodland Scenics coal and I have a great looking, sound translucent coal load over the speaker.
The next step for the tender was a coat of Vallejo Model Air 71.157 Black. I taped off the loco to tender connector and a previously soldered spot on the tender base to keep them paint free for better soldering later. I painted the two pieces separately, along with the trucks.
Next I brush painted some Pledge Floor Finish on the tender sides and rear to be decaled and added decals from Ed Sauers’ excellent set (available from Bill Hanley, email him at wmhanley at verizon dot net). This included the main lettering on the side, engine number on the tender beam, capacity data on the tender rear, along with the tender frame number centered on the lower side of the frame. I chose to do this before adding the DCC parts to allow me to add two coats of Testors DullCote. I wanted the clear layer in place to protect the finish, as I was soldering wires and adding parts to the interior. I also brush painted Vallejo Train Color 73.003 Steel in the tender light opening. This was repeated for the locomotive light.
The next big step is putting the electronics in the tender. It is a tight fit as a chose a big speaker, important for excellent sound. I am using a Soundtraxx 810153 28mm (1″) Round Speaker with the 810110 28mm Baffle Kit. In the photo you see the Soundtraxx 810140 Sound CurrentKeeper on the bottom left. It is plugged into the decoder which is opposite, in the top left of the photograph. I first added a micro LED for the rear light with a 1k ohm resister on one leg. I tested it with a 9 volt battery to make sure it is still working after being installed. It has one the black wire which goes from the rear of the tender (left) to the Tsunami 2200 yellow wire which is the rear light negative. The common positive for lights is the blue wire which is T-spliced with the gray rear light LED wire and then connected to the locomotive female side of the connector (Soundtraxx DBX-9000). The black left side track pickup is soldered to the base of the tender.I repeatedly checked the continuity from the wheel treads to the frame to insure good pickup from the track.
The DBX-9000 female connector is soldered to the wires from the decoder. I marked there location on a diagram and the photograph below that will be stored in the engine’s box. On the connector that is part of the locomotive I labeled the wires with there decoder wire colors to help with final installation. They are all black wires so marking them is important for installation and any future maintenance.
Things are coming together and the mechanism was cleaned with contact cleaner to remove old grease and to make sure there is minimal resistance in the rotating parts. With NWSL on temporary hold for motors, I was very fortunate to have a fellow B&O modeler offer me a Mashima flat can motor from his private stock. He also gave me three inches of thick walled tubing for the motor to gearbox coupling. Thanks Ed.
The motor had a small mount on it and I was able to add it to the plastic, insulated side of the motor and it lined up well with original gearbox. The negative wire is attached to the bottom of the motor and seen in the photo below. After adding a new 2-56 threaded hole in the original mount between the frame rails the new motor mounted firmly. Capton tape will be added the motor case to insure contact between the case and the frame do not cause a possible short. The tubing was cut to length and holds the gearbox firmly in place in both directions. So far it runs like a dream on the test track with leads connected directly to the motor. I am also constantly checking the continuity of the pick wheels on the locomotive and the tender to insure they are solid when I connect the decoder.
With the most of the electronics in the tender, the connector will have five wires used in the locomotive. I added a rectangular slot in the vertical plate behind the cab (photo below).
Painting and weathering is another comfort zone for me to fallback on when the modeling gets difficult. I wanted to experiment with a well weathered smokebox, so I gave is a shot of Vallejo ModelAir 71.050 light gray paint and then gave it several washes of Tamiya 87131 Black Panel Line Accent Color.
The firebox was painted the same grey and then along with the smokebox taped over with Tamiya thin masking tape. This tape makes a nice edge, sticks well, and it’s thin width helps seal off small areas. I think I cut fifty small pieces to go over and under pipes and railings.
Not sure all the taping was worth it but here is the initial result. I used a fine brush to touch up the pipes with black paint.
Something I have noticed in black and white photos of steam locomotives compared to color is the finish. In many color photos the whole locomotive looks black, one color, b&w photography seems to catch or show tones of black. Maybe tone isn’t the correct word, but the boiler looks a different color than the cab and tender, I am guessing this is related to temperature of the metal or how heat affects the paint. Either way, I want to see if I can capture this with paint. After spraying the smokebox and firebox with gray to represent the graphite finish on these hot areas, I sprayed the rest of the engine with black. But to finish, I am overspraying the cab to match the rather “cooler” tender with a gloss coat and then Testors dullcote. The boiler, after masking off the cab, will get a gray flat over finish to attempt to capture the variation seen in b&w photos. it may not make a difference, but this a platform for experimentation.
The front coupler on brass locomotives always seems to be a challenge. The dummy coupler was removed from the detailed brass coupler pocket on the pilot beam with some heat from a soldering iron. I used wet paper towels to keep the surrounding surfaces cool while heating up the pin that held it in place. After removal I had a well detailed coupler pocket that I could add a cut-off Kadee coupler by using the same technique as it came with, a shortened shank with a pin through it, marginally functional. I chose to add a full Kadee #178 coupler and pocket instead. I felt it would provide better operation to a locomotive that will be used in switching. Using a cutoff wheel in my Dremel, I trimmed out a wider opening in the pilot beam all the way up the bottom of the pilot deck. This left a little bit of the prototype looking draft gear in place. I shimmed the underside of the pilot deck with styrene to allow me to screw the #178 draft gear in place and provide a mechanically strong connection. I didn’t want to try to drill and tap a blind hole into the pilot deck. The styrene was epoxied in place and tapped for a 1-80 screw to attach the Kadee draft gear.
Lighting is always something I want add to my locomotive fleet though I have learned the B&O didn’t require the use of a light during daylight operations in 1950. For the tender I used an LED from Woodland Scenics as size wasn’t extremely important as the light is mounted into the tender body. A Details Associates 14 1/2 inch headlight lens is the finishing touch for the rear light. One was used on the headlight also.
Final Tender details included adding a Kadee scale coupler and Hi Tech Details brake hose to the back of the tender.
Weathering is light with an undesrpray of light gray-grime.
Which prototype to follow? One of the reasons I bought this locomotive as a test bed was my experience on John King’s prototype operating layout of the B&O Branchline to Winchester, VA. I wanted to commemorate that great experience. I got to run an E-27 on the local through the layout with the help of an experienced conductor. I have never been interested in layout operations, but this experience changed my perspective. I was also very lucky as the other operators on that day were very experienced, one literally wrote the book, and they were all gracious and encouraging.
I asked John which E-27 could have possibly run on the Old Main Line. He gave me a quick lesson on the E-27 and how many had their cabs shortened thus limiting the prototypes for the model I possessed, unless I wanted to do some major rebuilding. He offered photos of 2712 which had the longer cab. Some other details don’t match, but I am proceeding with this number as it was in Brunswick and might have traveled down the OML, maybe on a work train or for some other plausible reason. Thanks John, this one model that is more than a replica of a former prototype, it is a memory of a great day.
I have written before about my switch to acrylic paints, specifically Vallejo paints for airbrushing. To keep down the mess in the house, I wanted a cheap, lightweight spray booth with lots of light and an exhaust system for the particles and slight odor. I have been airbrushing inside with a cardboard box and a respirator to catch particles before the entered my body. It had its limitations.
I started with the idea of using a plastic storage crate about the size of my cardboard box. The plastic was hard to work with as it was brittle and my search for an inline exhaust fan didn’t work out. I was hoping the clear plastic could help with lighting inside the booth, be lightweight, and portable for future moves.
I live on top of a large granite and marble deposit, one of the revenue sources for the NCR that run through this area starting back in the 1830s. These deposits off gas low level radiation, so my house is fitted with a radon removal system. It is basically a hole in the basement slab with an extraction fan outside of the house to pull the radiation up and away from the house. When I first moved in seven years ago, the exhaust fan on the side of the house wasn’t working, so I found the same fan model and replaced it. Just last month the fan started to vibrate, maybe a bearing was wearing, and it caused a reverberation throughout the house. A new fan was sourced for about $150 and the replacement (a new model number with slight design changes) ended the house-wide vibrations. Then I realized I had a fan that could pull 160+ cfm that works, but with a slight vibration. Paint booth dreams were again alive. And one big advantage is this fan is that it is meant to connect with 4″ PVC pipe and easily adapted to use flexible, metal 4″ dryer hose connections.
The main lesson that I can share from this experience is that lightweight construction is possible on a budget. A little time woodworking with a table saw can provide a strong frame and the walls can be thin and lightweight. Like the walls on the inside of a house, the framing provides the structure and the skin can be weak. Having enjoyed the size of my cardboard box, I used it for a start and created the main structural members from 3/4″x 2″ poplar. You can use another wood, but I was lucky to have access to some hardwood stocks that a friend was willing to share. I created two 18″x !8″ frames for the sides and used half-lap joints with glue, then a light spray to polyurethane to seal the wood. A glued half-lap joint is very strong and provides the main structure for the booth. The width between the two sides was determined by the width of a roll of easel paper. I saw this online, someone used a roll of drawing paper hung at the top, back of their paint booth to allow for a renewable white background for painting and possibly photography. The rolls are available through Amazon and much cheaper at many craft stores for $6, they are used for children’s art easels.
For the bottom of the box I used a thin piece of plywood lying around in the garage. It was 1/4″ pine, which helped with keeping the box light. I added a second piece of 1/4″ under the front lip for dimensional stability. My second choice was a piece of 1/2″ birch plywood left over from layout framing. The width was 20″ to allow for the paper roll to fit within the side frames. The depth was set at 22 1/2″ to give me a little lip on the front of the box for paint bottles, cleaning supplies, and the spray-out pot I use to clear my airbrush. The side frames were screwed from the bottom of the plywood base. I skipped glue here in case I want to take it apart or adjust the size. The added a lip also gave a place for the paper roll to be slid under and secured.
I wanted the top to be clear or translucent to allow light to enter the box and possibly add lighting from outside the box. I was leaning toward buying some plexiglas to cover the 20″x 18″ top of the box. I didn’t need a solid piece of plywood like the bottom foundation, so I was thinking of just using some 20″ wide scrap strip to the keep the sides from moving too much with the plastic to fill the space. Once again a scrap piece of material came to mind. I had several 12″x 12″ pieces of glass from former wall decorations that I had saved to use for my modeling bench as replaceable smooth work surfaces. A couple of pieces of the poplar hardwood I received had reliefs cut into them so two 18″ pieces became the top braces, along with another scrap piece for the back edge. I was going to screw the glass in place as the pieces had holes in the corners, but I decided to use two more pieces of the same trim to capture them in place within a frame, a few thin screws helped hold this together and make it removable should the glass become to covered in overspray.
For lighting I am using a simple metal, portable flood light sitting on top of the glass and two short screws into the cross braces to keep it from moving and stay above the glass. The light fixture is fitted with a 5000k LED floodlight bulb which operates cool to the touch and is the same bulb used over my layout. Do not try this with an incandescent bulb, they are way too hot and a possible fire hazard being in contact with cardboard and finished wood! The 5000k bulb should help with having the paint applied in the booth look the same as it would on the layout.
A simple dowel was used to hang the roll snugly between the sides. I mounted it as high and as far back in the box as possible. The roll I bought is 75′ long so I need to remember to buy the same size in a few years as I have seen much longer rolls with larger diameters available. The cardboard used for the back wall is visible.
Adding white cardboard or foam-core is just the covering for the back and the sides, it provides no structure, but keeps the negative pressure pulling air from the front of the booth (where is protects the user) and white allows for better light reflection inside the box and thus more light on the paint subject. It is just stapled in place so that it is easy to replace. We’ll see how this works over time.
The radon fan needed a mount as in its primary use it is attached to braced 4″ PVC pipe with rubber collars on the outside of the house. (insert photo of fan outside house). Here again I took advantage of scrap lumber, this time a 24″x 24″ piece of birch 1/2″ plywood left over from my layout’s modular structure construction. I built a shelf 10″x 10″ to be as wide as the fan and used a jigsaw to cut a 5″ hole in the center to allow the fan body to sit down into the shelf. To mount the shelf to the cinder block wall of my basement I cut a mounting bracket with a dado cut to fit the shelf and then added some angles from the shelf down to the bottom of the mounting bracket. I gave this a light spray of polyurethane to give it some dimensionally stability over time. After attaching the mounting bracket to the wall with three Tapcon concrete screws, I added a couple of drops of acrylic adhesive caulk to attach the fan housing to the bracket and keep it from moving around, while providing a soft mount to keep vibrations to a minimum. I only used a couple of drops of adhesive as I want to be able to cut the fan free should it fail in service.
Venting the booth outside house is always a challenge. A window can be a great option. I didn’t have this option in the unfinished side of my basement. Then I caught a lucky break that not one in a million modelers gets, I found an unused dryer vent to the outside just seven feet from my intended booth location. It still goes outside and was plugged with expanding foam to keep out small animals. I can’t figure out why it is there, the washer-dryer is fifteen away and there are no nearby plumbing connections to suggest the washer-dryer had been moved at any point. I can’t help you if you are not that fortunate, but I can say the radon fan will push some air as it is sized to move a lot of air two stories up, so a longer run on the exhaust side of the fan is practical. Keep in mind this is only for use with non-flammable solvent paints and finishes, don’t try this with flammable solvent based paints!!! If it doesn’t clean up with water, I don’t use it.
This is a design-build project, so I had a general sketch or two in place and set out to build it to meet the design intent with the materials on hand, adjusting as needed. And I am writing this blog as I am building it, so one of the last details to complete was how to connect the duct work to the side of the box. In the original plastic storage crate design I was going to use a 14″x 14″ filter in front of the fan connection at the back. I realized a side mount fan would be better for my new box design and allow the booth to sit closer to the wall and more out of the way. I knew this wasn’t a good a design to get the best laminar flow across the face of the paint booth, but with 160 cfm pulling through the fan, I was going to exchange all of the air in the box about once every two seconds. Adequate air flow shouldn’t be a problem. The plan was to put a 4″ coupling for flex duct on the top edge, near the back of the side nearest the fan and use some type of filter to protect the fan from paint particles. So far I have only invested time, as all the materials were on hand. I grabbed the 14″x 14″ inch furnace filter to see how I could attach it to a side frame or maybe consider something else. Serendipity struck again and the filter fits perfectly into the popular side frame opening. It was a press fit! I would like to say that was planned, but it was per luck. With the fan pulling through one corner of the filter, I actually think I can get four times the filter life as I will rotate it periodically to put a fresh corner of the filter closest to the fan intake. So next I attached a coupling connection to a 5″x 5″ piece of the 1/4″ plywood with a 4″ hole and…
The finished box, now a paint booth, needed to be attached to the wall and/or held up on legs. I wanted the booth at layout height so I was painting models at the height they would be viewed. I decided to use some plastic shelves from Lowes that are 18″ wide. I attached them to the wall with 1-1/2″ conduit clips to keep it in place. It was a little top heavy. The $20 shelves gave me a place for paint and thinners. A nice bonus.
I connected the flex dryer hose to the connector and hit a few gaps with duct tape for some and caulk for permanent connections. I may add a piece of plexiglas across top front to increase air movement through the box. It pull the fumes away, but you can never have too much ventilation.
This was a fun project and added a little professional touch to my modeling. It doesn’t hurt to have nice tools and this one was low cost. Model on ya’ll.