Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Backdrop time?

Stevens Institute corner. Sybil's Cave at right (at the power outlet) and the castle at left edge of the panel.

Could it be time to do the backdrop???

Fresh paint and new LEDs.

The wall has been freshly painted behind the whole layout. Color: Sherwin-Williams 7025 Backdrop. I chose this color to help with a gloomy New York Harbor mood. 

Lighting has also been relamped with 6000K LED strips to provide a cold, harsh, gritty realism with winter light that will help to set a gloomy mood. Life in the 50s was hard in Hoboken - especially along the docks. The film On the Waterfront (1954) about rough longshoremen was set and filmed along the Hoboken Shore Railroad with the locomotive in the background in a couple of scenes. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Mockup Update

end of aisle with Maxwell House Coffee (left) andBethShip (right)
End of turnback aisle with Maxwell House Coffee (left) and BethShip (right) both in white. Tan and gray buildings beyond are rowhouses.

Today I finished the last buildings mockup on the layout. These are found in the BethShip (Bethlehem Shipyard) and represent the main office, work areas, storage buildings and boiler house. 

I use white foam core and Elmer's glue with T pins to hold while the glue dries. These are just quick massing models to get a feel for, you guessed it, massing which means an abstract model for checking size, proportions, positioning, and relationship to other things. 

I begin the process by using my overall layout plan and reference materials to locate and size structures in 2 dimensions. Then I mark the footprints directly on the benchwork in pencil, erase, and redraw as needed until I am satisfied with the location and size. 

The intersection of 11th and River Road is another very important signature scene for me. This is where the historic marker for the first recorded professional baseball game sites (upper center). Beautiful cars and Rock Island boxcar by Rick De Candido.

Then I go to the foam core models as a first draft in 3 dimensions. They go together in 30-60 minutes a piece depending on the size and complexity. Here are the latest in situ: 

One of the many times steelworkers and shipbuilders went on strike. Notice the street trackage bottom left to top right along Hudson Street. Today the Hoboken Historical Museum resides in the long gable roofed building.

A signature scene that suffers a little from a lot of compression.
This is where the strikers picket line will be. (see below)

Buildings on the piers at BethShip

Close quarters is the feeling all throughout the HBS as here on the piers of BethShip

View from the BethShip piers

BethShip boiler house with smokestack

Foreground left to right are the BethShip supply building, workshop, and boiler house and shorty smokestack (right). Behind is the larger Maxwell House Coffee plant and American Can buildings.

Open side to a utility building so facilitate operating cars inside just like my dock buildings.

I have a long list for my summer 2022 workplan. Scenery on the Harlem Terminal and backdrop and fascia on the HBS are the top priorities. More on my backdrop musings upcoming. 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

HBS Sweeper Car

HBS track sweeper car with unknown number (in collection of author)

HBS track sweeper car with unknown number on June 13, 1933 (in collection of author)

The HBS tracks ran mostly in the cobblestone and later asphalt streets of Hoboken. In order to keep the rails clear of debris and snow, track cleaner and sweeper cars were employed to keep the railroad running. The two photos above show one of the sweeper cars with no known number and a faded HOBOKEN lettering on the car side. The bottom photo is from a large format negative I just acquired and appears in Benjamin L. Bernhart's Hoboken Shore Railroad book.

The sweeper is fashioned from a trolley car body with two large brushes suspended under the front and rear and sandwiching a lone truck. Outboard blades extend the clearing width of the car. I have not researched what trolley line nor manufacturer this came from.

In Berhart's book, there are two other track cleaners/sweepers shown. One is HBS 350 sweeper built from a rehabilitated interurban trolley, and the other HBS 1 newly constructed using parts from the 350 in 1955-56. The HBS also used a truck with plow attachment after 350 was decommissioned and before HBS 1 was built. For images of those, see Berhart's book pages 12-17.

On my layout, these will provide excellent battery cars for my locomotives. At the moment, I use boxcars that trail my 44 tonner locomotives, but I guess these will have to precede the locomotives. This should assuage the battery haters amongst my friends who don't like operating on my layout with trailing cars!

Thursday, August 12, 2021


Some new exciting additions to the layout by two very good friends from out of town

The most recent is the first shipment of period Sylvan automobiles from Rick De Candido. The colors are fantastic, and have a great softness to them that are not only era specific, but they also fit so well into the gritty mood of Hoboken I am trying to convey with the layout. Rick should do a clinic on the windshield techniques he's tried and now perfected. The wrap around style of the 50s is especially challenging to the process, and the results are impressive. I'm asking Rick to build as many as he wants to. It's such a luxury to have him doing this!

Also in the first photo is a finely crafted Rock Island boxcar by Rick with great weathering and details (and came in its own special foam lined box!)

Busy corner of 11th and Hudson Streets, Hoboken, NJ in 1959
Busy corner of 11th and Hudson Streets, Hoboken, NJ in 1959

The first test build pickup truck across the tracks from Pennsylvania Railroad's Marine ship yard. 
Be alert! billboard from a kit I used to produce.

A few months ago, another very good friend Tom Pearson commented that I could use throttle holders, and then they showed up! These are 3D printed of white PLA with the appropriate logos for the different railroads of the PoNY. At first I thought I'd have to paint the embossed logos in a contrasting color - maybe like pressing into paint like a stamp pad. But it turns out the shadows are more than enough to make the logo legible. The pockets fit both the CVP T5000 and T1300 OPS throttles. One more for the Lehigh Valley 28th Street Station is in the works. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have customized elements on the layout. It really ties the layout together and makes it a more considered environment. Now I just need to do all of the basics like fascias, scenery, backdrop...! 

At the USDA Inspection building along the docks

On the Erie Harlem Station

Hoboken Yard

At the float yard

I have painted most of the track in preparation for installing cobblestone and asphalt streets, which is a direct result of a stream of autos heading my way. I've also been inspired to figure out the fascias since I have nice throttle holders now. These are nice external nudges that encourage me to make progress in the best possible way. 

It's such a pleasure to have the help of good friends. It is a huge boost to my layout morale and inspires me to work on the layout, and it's like being a kid at Christmas when a package arrives. It shows that there are ways to be involved in far-flung layouts in a real and meaningful way. This is especially nice during Covid times when we aren't gathering locally and can't share layout experiences in person. 

Being in the same headspace of a layout with someone is a very rewarding experience even when you can't be there physically. With technology making virtual relationships a larger part of our lives, the shared headspace goes beyond empty casual social interactions on social media. It's the part that came along naturally from being together in the physical space of the layout together and talking about the prototype, working on the layout, and operating. Sharing that headspace makes the message more important than the medium, which is the way it should be. 

And I think Marshall McLuhan would be OK with that in this case.

Monday, March 1, 2021

More Mock Up Buildings and Some Track Realignment

Part of my overall track laying strategy was to temporarily lay track then revise after operating and fitting in buildings. This process continues on the stretch of track at the docks on the 6th and 7th Street piers.

I moved the switch back at 7th St to be able to get the two tracks into the pier headhouse. Of course, there are conflicting accounts in different maps about the exact arrangement - but I'm over that, and I am comfortable taking my best shot at the most prototypical and operationally optimal arrangement. 

Original configuration:

And here's the track with switch moved back and the warehouse with four 40' car capacity.

I also mocked up Campbell Stores at the adjacent 6th St pier to the left and the East Asiatic Import/Export Company (long warehouse) to the right. Some issues with viewing cars and such, of course, so some trial operating will need to be done. The East Asiatic warehouse is especially a problem, so some sort of cut away representation may be in order.

At Campbell Stores, dock doors provide a target spot for operators from the inside. An interesting view point as well as an opportunity to model the interior of the building. Not sure how to handle the section cut yet. 

Along River Road and Hudson Streets, there are several multistory rowhouses that will essentially provide a view block. Because of compression of space, these particular ones will probably represent different buildings on each side. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

More Maxwell House

Buildings 1 and 5 mocked up. Building no. 1 is the tall roasting building with building no. 5 stretching across the tracks housing the American Can Company. Building at right is #2 which is the storage building on the river. Barges would unload there. There are eight total buildings in the complex, but I'll only be able to model 5-6 of them at about 3/4 ish size.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Maxwell House Coffee plant mock up

I mocked up more buildings today and I laid out the grounds for Maxwell House Coffee. There are several building in the complex, and I have to cut a couple of the them due to space.

I'm also having a bit of a think on whether to extend the layout to get in the coffee barges on the river. They are essential to the scene and understanding of how the plant functioned, but I don't want to pinch down my aisle too much. I just need to find the proper balance.