Saturday, March 17, 2018

Time Travel and Train Travel Between Winnipeg and Minneapolis-St. Paul

The Winnipeg Limited.

I was writing a column for my local newspaper about the passing of evangelist Billy Graham, and how the association that bears his name came to choose Winnipeg for its Canadian office.
A representative from the association, which was headquartered in Minneapolis, took an overnight train to Winnipeg in 1953 from that city to set up the office.

While writing it, I thought: Wouldn’t that be something—to be able to take the train from Winnipeg to Minneapolis?
As it turns out,  there was a time when passengers had a choice of not one, but three trains between the two cities.
There was the Great Northern Railway’s Winnipeg Limited, which ran overnight. It began service in the 1930s.
The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad, also known as the SOO Line, offered The Winnipeger, also an overnight train. Service began in 1904.

And for those who wanted a daylight trip, Northern Pacific had an unnamed daily train.
Today, both CP and CN run between the two cities, but of course it is freight only.
As for passenger service, SOO Line stopped The Winnipeger in 1967, and Northern Pacific stopped its service in 1969.
The Winnipeg Limited was discontinued in 1970, although service on a different daylight train continued until 1971 between Grand Forks and Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Limited departs Minneapolis for
St. Paul in 1967.

I don’t know about you, but if time travel was real I’d go back to the early 1950s, to the time of great train travel in North America—the Empire Builder, the Super Chief, the Twentieth Century Limited, and so on.

I'd ride those trains all over the U.S. and Canada. And I’d take a trip or two between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Winnipeg, as well. 
The Winnipeg Limited in 1967.

Top photo by James Herold, from the Mark Perry collection.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Another Update on Using Static Grass

Maybe this will be my final static grass update; not sure how much there is left to say on the topic.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working my way around parts of the layout.

So far, I’d have to say I like the static grass effect. I have to say it looks better close up than far away—but maybe that’s just my eyesight.

Where static grass shines for me is in photos; having taller “grass” in the photo makes it look much more realistic.

One thing I discovered about using static grass is that, in addition to putting it on with an applicator, I can “plant” clumps of grass using my fingers.

This allows me to ensure the grass goes exactly where I want it. After the glue is dry, I can pull it apart to make it look more natural.

Knowing this, I may go back to some areas I did before and plant a few bunches.

(See top photo for an example.)

Also, after looking at the grass in a photo, I realized the larger grass (12 mm) was too uniform in height.

After the glue was try, I went back with a pair of scissors and made some random and uneven cuts to vary the height of the various bits of longer grass,

As for static grass in general, I don’t think I will use it everywhere—just where I want to take photos.

In the meantime, so far so good.

What are your experiences with static grass?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Update on Using Static Grass

In my previous post, I noted that I wanted to vary the colour (add some darker green) and use longer fibres.

I got another package of static grass—darker green, and 12 mm this time. (The first package was 6 mm.)

I experimented with a combination of shorter and longer fibres, and I think I like the effect.

In truth, the longer fibres might be out of scale for the average HO-sized person (about half the size of a 1:87 figure).

But for a full-scale human observer, it gives the sense that the grass is deeper. And it shows up better in photos, too.

(I might take some scissors to the grass and cut the taller fibres at random lengths; they look to uniform right now—in photos, at least. In real life it’s not so noticeable.)

One challenge I had was what to do with the areas where I had already added the shorter static grass.

Smearing glue on it to add the longer fibres wasn’t an option; that would only flatten the existing grass.

Then I remembered how I made my trees, using cheap hairspray to hold the ground foam to the “branches.” (Actually common plants and weeds like spirea and yarrow.)

I tried it on the static grass, and it worked. A spray to wet the scene, add the new fibres, then another light spray to hold everything in place.

(Some websites and how-to videos actually recommend a quick spray of hairspray to make sure everything stays fixed.)

After applying the static grass, I use a home-made vacuum container made by my friend Larry Leavens to vacuum up any other loose fibres. (He also made the applicator—clever guy!)

So far, I think it looks good. But I don’t think I will apply it everywhere. 

I think it will mostly go where I tend to take photos—that’s where static grass helps make scenes look more believable.

Then again, who knows? Maybe once I get on a roll, I’ll keep going.

New Announcements from Bowser

More news from Bowser for Canadian modellers (and modellers of Canadian railways)!

This weekend Lee English is officially announcing new production runs of the SD40-2f and SD40-2 models.

The models are due out by January, 2019.

Additionally, Lee tells me he is planning to make the SD40-3 in the 5100 to 5109 series.

As for models currently in production, Lee says that the SD40 is in tooling, the GP9u will be sent to design at the end of the month, and the GP38-2 will be sent to design in March.

The SD40 is only being made in Canadian roads right now.

The new run of SD40-2F units will be in CP,  B&A, and CM&Q, while the SD40-2 has many new road names, including lease units.

As for future Canadian runs, Lee says that he appreciates so much how “Canadian model railroaders have supported Bowser products” that he is “going to make more Canadian models.”

All I can say is, “thanks, Lee!”

That, and do you think we can give him honorary citizenship?

More information on the Bowser website. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Experimenting with Static Grass

It’s been a long time since I did any scenery on the M & M Sub. Mostly, all I’ve been doing is operate trains, and a bit of weathering here and there.

But I’ve been impressed by photos from other modellers that include static grass. It looks very realistic!

So I bought a couple packages of static grass (Noch and Woodland Scenics) to give it a try.

I also borrowed a handmade applicator from my friend, Larry Leavens.

After a bit of experimentation, I like the effect. But I think I need to vary the height a bit—get some longer fibres to make it stand out more.

I also need to vary the colour—add some darker green.

I don’t think I need to apply it everywhere, just the places I think I’ll do most of my layout photography.

What do you think? Are you using static grass?