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Peter's Model Railroading


This is a hobby web site owned by Peter Vanvliet. Its primary focus is to document the construction of my model railroad, which is accurately based on the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Chartiers" branch as it existed in the summer of 1924. The models are in S-scale (1:64). This web site is updated every Friday. A summary of my past month's activities are shown at the bottom of this page. Most photos contained within this web site can be clicked to view a larger version. All photos on this web site are copyright © Peter Vanvliet, unless otherwise indicated; All Rights Reserved.

The Plan

The current extent of my 'layout', as of July 14, 2023.

My layout is modular/sectional in nature, currently consisting of one module with many more planned. Click "The Layout" button on the left to read the full story, with lots of photos.

The module's framework is made out of Gatorfoam boards. I am very happy with this solution, and will continue to use this for all future ones.

This module is part of a set of modules that are centered around the Hazel coal mine in Canonsburg, PA; its tipple is shown in the photo. The module is finished, but I will be adding more detailing parts and applying some more weathering over time, which is a gradual process. What you are seeing in the photo took me just shy of three years to build, as everything was built from scratch. The building is made out of 1,800 individual pieces.

This Week

I am building a kit that fellow S-scale modeler Jamie Bothwell had created for a clinic of his at a recent NASG Convention. The clinic covered how he designed and created the laser-cut structure, and the participants of the hands-on clinic were able to build it right there, asking questions as they came up. Jamie sent me a kit as a reward for doing this year's NASG Convention web site for his club, who put on the event. The kit builds a Union Fuel Depot which is based on a prototype building found in Pennsylvania.

The Past Month

October 27, 2023
I have been battling the seasonal flu, so after working on my business, there was no time nor energy left for the hobby this week.

November 3, 2023
I am following the step-by-step instructions on how to paint figures in the "Painting Scale Figures" article by George Konrad in the September 1981 issue of Model Railroader magazine. This week I was able to paint the whites of the figures' eyes.

November 10, 2023

Preparing to paint some figures.

The plastic stand with the clips I showed in my October 13th entry (reproduced here on the right), has proven to be less than useful. I wind up having to take the clips out of the stand to paint the figure, and they are hard to insert or remove. Secondly, I had to glue the figures to a roofing nail, because the clips that come with this stand are very strong, and I was concerned about them breaking parts of the figure off.

The new, basic stand.

So, from now on I'll just glue my figures to a roofing nail, and insert them into a block of wood that has holes drilled in it to match those roofing nails. That way the figures can stand up and be kept apart from each other while they dry, but I can quickly grab one and work with it. I drilled the holes in the extra spacing I have available in the staircase-building jig (the key part of that came from Rail Scale Models, but it is very thin, so I glued it to a piece of 3/4" plywood). This week I was able to paint some clothing, hats, shoes, etc. Another hour or so of dedicated time, and I should be done with them. I'll have 13 figures to install on my module.

November 17, 2023

ScaleTrains' S-scale C&O hopper.

I was so busy and distracted this week that I literally did nothing in the hobby. I need to pay more attention to that, to make sure that I devote some time to this great hobby of ours. I did, however, receive my order from ScaleTrains this week. If you are not familiar with this, ScaleTrains bought the S-scale product line from MTH in January of 2021, when Mike Wolf, CEO of MTH, announced that MTH was shutting down. MTH, itself, had previously bought the S-scale product line from the original creators of the product line, S-Helper Service, when SHS had to shut down in 2010. ScaleTrains not only bought out the product line, they also revived the brand name and are now selling their S-scale products under the "S-Helper Service" name. To offset their initial investment, they are essentially doing re-runs of previous releases. Their first S-scale product, the two-bay, peaked ends, fishbelly hopper, arrived in mailboxes this week. I ordered the C&O and N&W hoppers. While these cars fall outside my modeling era (1937 vs. 1924), I wanted to support ScaleTrains, and see their product first-hand. Much like SHS and MTH before them, these are stunningly beautiful models. The models come with the hi-rail versions of the wheels and couplers pre-installed, but the scale version of the wheels and couplers are included in the box, and can be swapped out by the modeler. This approach ensures that all modelers in S are supported, from the toy-train enthusiasts to the pure true-to-scale modelers (I am of the latter "camp"). As you can see in the photo, the box is very eye-catching.

November 24, 2023
Resolving to spend more time on the hobby this week, I was able to wrap up the painting of the dozen or so figures, and then glue them into position on the module. It brings more life to the scene. You can see photos at the bottom of this page. Next, I was able to examine the new ScaleTrains hoppers that arrived last week, and replace the default hi-rail couplers and wheels with the scale couplers and wheels. I have documented both the N&W car and the C&O car.