Day at the Office (Sort Of…)

Readers will know that a colleague and I have been planning to build a model railroad in a mostly-unused back room at the office. We have been extremely busy lately, so haven’t had time. We’ve collected some materials, though: some 1x4s, a hollow-core door, and some assorted Kato packs.

Over the weekend, one of our employee’s told us that her 15-year-old daughter tried to OD on pills, so will be on suicide watch for a while, as they wait for an opening at a facility for troubled teens. I was asked if she could come into the office today, but given the high-paced work of clinical staff, I was the only one who could keep an eye on her. 

I asked my colleague what we should do. He said, “Why not ask her to help you build that benchwork?” (The alternative would have been to sit in my office bored, or do some menial, fairly pointless tasks with me.) I suggested that idea to our employee, with the promise of running trains when it was completed. She said her daughter thought it sounded alright, and agreed to come.

I plowed through some paperwork over the weekend which freed me up to take an “employee wellness day” today, and we spent the day (six or seven hours) designing and building benchwork, then set up some track. She did most of the benchwork design and most of the construction as well. If you can’t tell, the whole thing folds up against the wall on hinges. 

We had a really good time, and I hope she feels as accomplished as I do. She came in this morning embarrassed and withdrawn, but she opened up over the course of the day. We took a trip to the hardware store, had lunch, listened to some tunes, and talked and joked while building. She left in the evening full of smiles–all because of model trains.

Printed Walls

The office has been taking over my life lately, and we haven’t even had time to start on our new layout there. I’m thinking of bringing my inglenook so that we can at least run something, and maybe help to motivate us to build the layout proper. I think I will make the inglenook compatible with both my future bookcase layout and our compact office layout.

I’ve spent a few minutes here and there contemplating styrene vs. cardstock and wood models. I’ve been researching how to build with styrene, how to paint it, how to weather it. However, I think I’ve finally settled on using card and wood, primarily, if for no other reason than this: it is inexpensive, I don’t need to order supplies online, and I am familiar with its properties. Simply put: less waiting, fewer trial-and-error sessions, more modeling.

This weekend, between my son’s lacrosse games and household chores, I finally got a few hours to tinker with Photoshop, and overlaid the templates I created with a texture acquired from Clever Models. I had been considering a brick texture, but rethought that after noticing that the windows I have are not masonry windows, so wouldn’t look quite right set in brick. So, rather than spend twenty dollars on Tichy masonry windows, and having to rework my templates to fit them, I decided to use a weathered red siding instead. After all, the brewery isn’t one of those megalithic late-19th century German structures. This one is set at the terminus of a rural branchline, and it is probably more realistic as a wooden structure.

I printed the newly textured template on matte photo paper, and will back them with basswood after cutting everything. To get rid of the “too flat” appearance of paper (which bugged me after I finished a commercial cardstock kit last year) I scored lines along the slats with an awl. I tested the windows, and the walls look pretty convincing.

If you look closely, you can see the score-lines. This took some time, but the results are worth it.