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 An Old Man Contemplates an Old Man's Layout

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Dan Posted - 08/09/2017 : 3:40:42 PM
Over the years, I had become complacent about the scenery streaming past the Pullman windows on the train ride of life. I hardly noticed being switched down the Old Fart Branch until the train slowed for a flag-stop station that had an unusual name. Its sign board read "Superannuate." What really got my attention was when I checked the schedule and the next station stop would be "Elderly" followed by the one at "Geriatric." For all intents and purposes, the latter will be the end of the line.

This prompted me to take a look at where I am now and where I will most likely be in the near future. I am currently living in a house with space for building a layout. However, all too soon, i will be downsized into a modest senior's apartment or, in a worst case scenario, into a care facility.

Therefore, if I am going to build a layout, I had better start now, but I do not want it to be a major project. I think "unpretentious, but fulfilling" would be an apt description. I envision a small, semi-permanent layout, one with graceful curves and prototype operations, that can easily be relocated whenever the need arises.

While dreamers of big layouts yearn for homes with suitable basements, I am hoping for a senior's apartment with a walk-in closet that can accommodate the proposed layout. If that does not work out, the layout is going to occupy prime living space.

To be ready for either situation, it should emulate a piece of furniture. Actually, a real piece of furniture, a suitable "bar height" or "pub height" table, is a layout option. However ADA compliant doorways, which are thirty-two inches wide, can limit the size of a table-top layout.

Layout height and ADA doorways are both mentioned because, as one gets older, debilitating medical conditions can occur at any time. Therefore, to compliment the interior of the new apartment, the layout should also be handicapped accessible, for the lack of a better term.

Ideally, the layout should follow most of the ADA recommendations for wheelchair use. This means that it can be operated, without assistance, from a sitting position using a seat height of nineteen inches. In addition, it should have a clear access path, thirty-six inches wide, to the operating position.

The average wheelchair eye level is forty-seven inches. According to the recommendations of the NMRA, our layouts tend to look better when viewed from near eye level, so an appropriate layout height would be about forty inches. This height also allows a comfortable forward reach from a wheelchair, thereby providing easy access to the front of the layout.

Having been around full sized trains for most of my life, the urge to build a large layout never materialized. My previous attempt to build an On30 layout was four feet wide by two feet deep, with nine inch radius curves. While the layout itself could not be considered a success, it was a learning experience and a test bed for different types of layout construction.

The layout sat on a pedestal made from the bottom three shelves of a plastic storage unit that was approximately thirty-six inches wide by eighteen inches deep. It was fitted with furniture casters for ease of moving it around. The lightweight, but sturdy pedestal proved so successful that current plans are to adapt it to the new layout.

Diminutive Davenport gas-mechanicals, manufactured by Bachmann, were the motive power on the old layout. However, work on the layout ground to a halt, literally, due to the "Great Gear Debacle." Quite frankly, Bachmann's attitude toward the problem and their products put me off the hobby for a while.

Over the years, Bachmann attempted to make amends with a new Whitcomb double truck, diesel-electric locomotive plus re-engineered versions of two of its smaller steamers; the 0-4-2 and the 2-6-0. They are all good runners and, so far, there are no reported signs of mechanical vicissitudes. While under-the-layout sound and pulse-power DC was used before, the decision was made to switch over to DCC and on-board sound for the new layout.

To accommodate the 2-6-0, which requires curves of fifteen inch radius, the size of the layout will be increased to four feet wide by three feet deep. This will require a somewhat larger pedestal, three feet wide by two feet deep. The lower shelves of a steel wire shelf unit, factory equipped with wheels, will provide an acceptable, living space substitute for the previous plastic shelf pedestal.

The heart of the new layout will be a single, two inch thick slab of FOAMULAR XPS rigid foam insulation - aka the pink stuff. An extra thickness will be glued around the edges, forming a socket that will hold the top of the pedestal. As the layout and the pedestal will need to be moved separately, the two will be held together by just the force of gravity.

Although XPS is not rated as structural, the six inches of foamboard overhanging the pedestal on each side should not pose a problem. What may be a problem is, while most foamboard glues will attach fascia boards and backdrop supports to the laminated edges of the layout, these decorative attachments will be subjected to mechanical stress when moving the layout. Therefore, a more secure mounting method needs to be devised.

The scenery will also need to be secured so the separated layout can be turned vertically to avoid running afoul of ADA doorways. With track, scenery and attachments, the layout itself will weigh about twenty-five pounds; light enough to be easily handled by an old codger and a codgette.

To facilitate moving, the layout wiring should be easily disconnected from the DCC supply mounted on the pedestal. The wiring should also be suitably modified to facilitate operating from a wheelchair. For example, a rare but annoying problem is when a locomotive enters the frog end of a turnout with the points set against it, thereby causing a short circuit that brings operations to a halt.

If the turnout motor is DCC controlled and powered from the DCC track supply, the loco must be physically moved beyond the turnout to clear the short, something that cannot always be done from a wheelchair. However, by putting the track power and the turnout controller power on separate feeds and providing a convenient means for disconnecting the track, the power can be restored to the turnout controller and the points reset. As the tracks will be electrically isolated from the DCC supply, a DC power supply can be connected and used to run the trains.

An unintended bonus for senior citizens is a part of the layout construction. If an episode of unsteadiness (you know the type - "I've fallen and I can't get up!") occurs in the presence of the layout, it may result in some serious scenery damage. However, the forgiving nature of the foam insulation and its loose mounting to a movable pedestal should minimize the damage to the senior citizen.

Speaking of unsteadiness, an unintentional quirk is also a part of the layout construction. When using the pedestal, the Rock of Gibraltar stability of a traditional layout will be replaced with the equivalent of San Andreas quaking. While initially disconcerting, the lack of rigidity will not affect layout operations.

If running trains is desired in a care facility, one must keep one's options open. Speaking from experience, a layout without a working locomotive is a diorama and a boring one at that. However, a locomotive without a layout can provide both sound and motion stimulation to an active imagination.

Perhaps a test stand thing-a-ma-jig, with roller assemblies for under the drivers, complete with scenery and a bit of backdrop, would make a minimalist layout for the above situation. One that is about fourteen inches wide and four inches deep will accommodate the 2-6-0 and its tender. In anticipating future needs, the scenic thing-a-ma-jig can be built concurrent with the layout. In the interim, it can serve as a picturesque programming track.

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Dan Posted - 05/30/2020 : 08:01:58 AM
Spring Is Sprung; The Grass Is Riz; I Wonder Where The Spray Paint Is?

Now that the sun is getting higher in the sky and the normal temperatures are in the mid-seventies and getting ever higher, it is time to move my spray painting projects outside. During the winter, I don't mind painting small objects in the basement and then bringing them upstairs to finish drying with the aid of hot water radiator heat, but the larger and more complex, as well as odoriferous projects, need to be done out of doors, where they can be left to dry and air out in the sun.

While they tend to add some "texture" to the overall paint job, I don't know which is worse, putting up with the dust sifting down from the floor joists in the basement ceiling or the plague of miniscule no-see-ums buzzing around outside. What ever happened to those umbrella like, gauze covered wire frames that were used to keep the flying bugs off of the food on the picnic table? Aha! They are available on e-Bay with free shipping. At 17" by 17" and 11" tall, these dome shaped covers should be big enough for most of the things that I have to paint.

Dan Posted - 05/21/2020 : 07:48:04 AM
Step Up! Step Up! See The Amazing Barney Eating Locomotive!

Here is the barney in its natural habitat...

With a flick of the wrist while uttering the magic words, "Geez it hurts when I do that!" the barney is ingested by the much larger loco...

But Wait! It is all a parlor trick, as the barney is just hiding inside the loco...

Tada! (Insert applause sound here.)
Dan Posted - 05/20/2020 : 7:56:59 PM
Learning To Work Around The Adverse Effects Of Being Elderly

Currently, I no longer have the fine tactile feedback in my fingers that facilitates manipulating lightweight objects. Not willing to give up on the idea of having replaceable parts on the layout, such as the aforementioned Power-Tread and the bashed steam winch, I found that by adding some weight to them, about a half ounce each, there is less likelihood for them to slip out of my grasp.

The diminutive as well as fragile, flyweight barney is the most difficult to handle, so it requires a different approach. It will be permanently mounted in a suitable position on the layout. Exploiting the size difference between the barney and its replacement loco and using a bit of tinplate magic, instead of being physically replaced by the mine loco, the barney will be engulfed by it.

The hollow space between the mine loco frames is wide enough to accept the width of the barney; however, the barney length will not fit within its rigid wheelbase. Nevertheless, the angle of viewing is such that the loco wheels are completely hidden by the outside frames and this allows the front wheelset to be removed. Serendipitously, a shallow bracket on each frame, just ahead of the former front axle position, provides the means to install a cross frame bracket. This bracket allows the front half of the mine loco to rest upon the top of the stationary barney.

Dan Posted - 05/19/2020 : 3:24:52 PM
Bashing A Barney

As the photos show, the barney model started out as an old HOn30 small dump car from several decades ago. For a size reference, the coin in the photos is a U.S. Quarter. Nowadays, this size is about as small as I can manage. The four wheel dump car chassis will work for the barney as it is suitably short as well as narrow enough to fit between the running rails as per the prototype and its height is such that its storage pit only has to be about a scale foot and a half deep.

The thirty year old plastic is unstable, so extra care was needed to forestall disintegration. The wheelsets were carefully removed and the wheels flipped around on the axles so the wheelsets are now outside flanged to run on the existing tramrail. The chassis was then stripped down and a stout pushing timber was attached on the centerline of the chassis. Variations in the unstable plastic makes the timber look twisted when viewed from one end, but this is not noticeable when on the layout.

The final photos show a piece of four rail track (a piece of HO code 83 sectional track combines with a piece of N, which has most of its ties removed). The barney is shown pushing against a wood buffer block attached to the rear end of the kiln cart and the usual coupler knuckle on a loco hauled car.

The kiln cart started out life as a Bachmann side dump car, as in the last two photos, which took a catastrophic fall onto a concrete floor. The U shaped body was salvaged and it is set directly on a T25 Central Valley HO passenger truck for a classic On30 bash.

Through such bashes as the above, I am using up my decades old accretion of odd parts.

Dan Posted - 05/17/2020 : 2:43:49 PM
Some Ideas Ruminate For Less Time Than Others

I am referring to finding a newer replacement for the layout's ancient barney operation, using a storage battery powered mine locomotive. While something more suitable may appear at sometime in the future, squirted out by a computer like toothpaste from a tube, at the present time the only suitable loco kit that is available is the classic 3053 made by Grandt Line. The loco is a big one, about a five tonner, so it must operate on the regular thirty-inch running rails.

I made only one minor modification to the Grandt Line kit. I centered the battery box over the axles. This requires the "operator" (in this case Waving Guy) to be standing up, instead of hunkered down behind the battery box, which had been required for close clearance mine work.

The problem with Grandt Line products is their exquisite level of detail, making the rest of my layout appear somewhat shabby. However, much of this detail will disappear due to the effects of my usual, ham-handed paint job, which will soon be applied; so two minuses can make a plus. It's all in how you look at it.

The small, people powered, ash collecting cars will continue to operate on the tramway rails. "Vanishing Coal Mines Of Pingxi Valley" is a most remarkable YouTube video. The scene that immediately follows the big truck hauling a load of coal, documents how similar cars were being used until quite recently (1993). With our mostly automated, mechanized industry, who would think that such a simple operation could get the job done so effectively. The rest of the video is full of things that really ring my chimes, but alas, there are no battery powered mine locomotives.

Dan Posted - 05/16/2020 : 03:16:19 AM
A Make Believe Barney

This posting is not about the onetime purple dinosaur that graced our TV screens beginning a generation ago. Personally, I much prefer the childhood lessons learned from watching Sesame Street.

In the early morning hours, after the usual old man's journey to the can and back, while lolling on the bed, waiting for the analgesics to kick in (analgesics is a fancy medical term for a couple of aspirin), I sometimes think of things to do with the layout. Not all of this cogitation will bear fruit and this is why the posted subjects appear to be at random. The recent Tread-Power project began as one of these nocturnal ruminations. Its success, in turn, inspired thinking about the use of a barney.

If the kiln cart were hooked directly to the Tread-Power, there would not be enough work to keep the horse busy. One or two round trips in a typical workday is all that would be necessary. As the outside flange, tramway rails are already a part of the layout, using them as a barney track would give them additional utility, something with a longer life than the previous explanation about collecting wood ashes during WWI, although that idea is still historically viable.

A barney is a cable hauled, flanged wheel carriage, running on separate narrow gauge tracks set between the normal running rails. As the loco hauled trains consist of three rock cars and a cordwood car, the individual cars and the kiln cart will need to be moved by the barney, multiple times in any given workday, thereby keeping the horse employed. Most of this, of course, has to be imaginary, but the visual presence of the model barney, as it shoves the kiln cart, demonstrates the feasibility of the situation, thereby satisfying the layout goals of prototypicality and plausibility.

In theory, inbound the yard at the factory is powered by gravity and outbound it is barney powered, with the level bits being people powered. When the cable reel at the Tread-Power end (it replaced the original pushpin capstan spool) is set to freewheel, the barney runs downgrade to the factory, paying out cable as it goes. There the barney ducks down into a pit between the running rails, awaiting its next assignment. This allows the regular loco hauled cars and the kiln cart to pass over it, as needed, in the yard.

When a car or the cart is ready to move upgrade, it is positioned ahead of the barney pit. When the Tread-Power cable reel is mechanically engaged and the horse starts to walk, the cable is pulled tight. The barney then rises up behind the positioned vehicle and shoves against its rear. For loco hauled cars, the barney only needs to come part way up the grade, where a turnout in the running rails diverts the empty cars to a level pick up track. To reach the kilns, the cart runs straight on the running tracks and the barney continues on.

Following a prototypical layout timeline, the look of the layout can be changed as desired. Both the Tread-Power and the horse will wear out and they will be replaced by a steam powered winch, bashed from a Bachmann Log Skidder, with the barney installation serving the both of them. Further down the timeline, the steam winch and the unseen sheaves and pullies for the barney cable system would also wear out and they will be replaced in toto by a battery powered mining locomotive, possibly running on the old barney tracks. However, this radical idea is still in the ruminating stage.

Dan Posted - 05/08/2020 : 10:11:14 AM
Thanks Mike,

I am always on the prowl; looking for real world things that are adaptable for layout use.

All the best.

friscomike Posted - 05/07/2020 : 6:12:16 PM
Those stones would make good landscaping for bushes around a house. Good eye to catch them.

Originally posted by Dan

I Bought A Bag Of Tribbles At The Dollar Store

My local dollar store has managed to stay open during the current pandemic, so I visit there often, mostly out of boredom. In this spring's floral garden section, there is something that is potentially usable as cheap scenery for the layout. It is a bag of Faux Moss Stones and they remind me of the Tribbles from an old Star Trek TV episode.

In O-scale, the stones look like fuzzy green boulders of moderate size. If the flattest side is sanded down (inside there is a shaped lump of common bead board), the result simulates a mounding bush so often found in nature. While I wouldn't use them in the foreground, I see a role for them as understory shrubbery in the background. The photo shows waving guy between an unmodified fuzzy boulder on the left and a simulated background shrub on the right.

At the price of one dollar for a bag of ten stones, there is little to lose financially and sanding them down by hand will give my arthritic, Godzilla upper extremities something low impact and safe to do while watching old shows on TV and railroad videos on YouTube.


Dan Posted - 05/07/2020 : 4:22:27 PM
Skinny Square Structures For The Layout

In working up the scenery, I found that the layout needed two skinny square structures, each with a footprint of about one and three eighths inches per side, preferably of two different designs.

The structure on the left is for the yard, next to the front legs of the rock bin. This noticeably vacant space is the ideal location for another fire hose shed and this need is readily filled by an A M Models 902 Shed kit. Consisting of just six injection molded plastic parts, it was easy to put together.

There are no windows on this kit, just an entry door cast into one side. Normally, the existence of the door would cause a major problem, as I cannot hand paint straight line details, like door and window frames, even if my life depended on it. However, to indicate the presence of firefighting equipment, the entire building is coated with red spray paint, which effectively eliminates the door painting problem.

The structure on the right is a shelter out by the kilns for the operator of the cable winch, either horse or steam powered, that moves the kiln cart. It was bashed from a Berkshire Valley Models Outhouse Kit #860, which is a petite laser cut wood kit with walls consisting of multiple layers of rather thin stock. As the separate door and corner trim work of this kit was neither pre-colored nor self adhesive, as with some other wood structure kits, these fragile parts were hand painted before being removed from their laser cut sheet. In fact, unlike my previous attempts at precut wood kits, where the walls were spray painted with the contents of rattle cans, everything in this kit was hand painted with acrylics.

In a nightmare scenario, the delicate wood parts spontaneously bent into a variety of potato chip shapes when first coated with the water based paint, but when evenly pressed under heavy books, the parts straightened out again as they dried. For this purpose, my recent train show purchase of the Silver San Juan, a large and hefty tome, found an unexpected, nonreading use. With multiple layers of fragile wood parts needing to be precisely aligned, while being assembled by my wonky digits, the kit turned out to be an adventure.

Nevertheless, the right side wall and front wall, the ones that are seen from the the front of the layout, look rather good (when viewed from a distance), while the others are fair to middling. The roof turned out to be the best of the lot. In building the other layout structures, I dreamt of of buying several of the same kit, so that by the last one I would have learned the pitfalls in their assembly and could do an excellent job, but this illusory idea was economically unfeasible. Instead, I strive for acceptability on the viewable faces, while using the others for practice runs.

Dan Posted - 04/29/2020 : 06:46:56 AM
I Bought A Bag Of Tribbles At The Dollar Store

My local dollar store has managed to stay open during the current pandemic, so I visit there often, mostly out of boredom. In this spring's floral garden section, there is something that is potentially usable as cheap scenery for the layout. It is a bag of Faux Moss Stones and they remind me of the Tribbles from an old Star Trek TV episode.

In O-scale, the stones look like fuzzy green boulders of moderate size. If the flattest side is sanded down (inside there is a shaped lump of common bead board), the result simulates a mounding bush so often found in nature. While I wouldn't use them in the foreground, I see a role for them as understory shrubbery in the background. The photo shows waving guy between an unmodified fuzzy boulder on the left and a simulated background shrub on the right.

At the price of one dollar for a bag of ten stones, there is little to lose financially and sanding them down by hand will give my arthritic, Godzilla upper extremities something low impact and safe to do while watching old shows on TV and railroad videos on YouTube.

Dan Posted - 04/26/2020 : 06:24:09 AM
By George I think I've Got It -- Another Attempt At Building A Tread-Power Model

My previous model of a horse powered treadmill came out looking more like a cattle loading chute for railroad cars, so I decided to try again. Built by a septuagenarian, whose basic model building skills are from another age, it looks about as good as can be expected for an attempt at traditional On30 scratch building.

Continuing with the age-old premise of using only stuff found around the house, this time I modeled a treadmill unit equipped with coffee stirrer treads and pieces cut from the wooden handle of a dollar store paint brush for the treadmill end drums. For the framework, this time I used an ancient piece of strip wood, old enough to be considered household detritus, instead of the oversize present-day matchsticks. The only metal parts are sewing pins for the treadmill axles and an old pushpin found in a desk drawer, which became the capstan spool.

This newer version of a Tread-Power model is longer, narrower as well as taller. Its treadmill surface is so high it needs a ramp to provide a way for the horse to get on and off, which is prototypical. The plank floor from the original attempt was salvaged and converted into the needed ramp.

Dan Posted - 04/22/2020 : 12:00:49 PM
Now For Something Really Strange

Finding myself basically bored out of my gourd, I tried building something using the methods and materials from fifty years ago, when On30 was just starting. Such things as cereal box cardboard, the wooden sticks from popsicles and other salvaged household things were then the basic materials. A razor saw, a single edge razor blade and a scrap of fine sandpaper were the usual tools.

While prowling around the house to find some present day model building materials, I found a box of oversized wooden matches (used to light fireplaces and outdoor grills) and a box of thin wooden coffee stirring sticks. The square matches scaled out to be about eight inches on a side, but they have a rather rough surface, so they need to have the faces lightly sanded. The coffee stirrers are generally eight inches wide by two inches thick. The matches and stirrers used together would make something that has a heavy framework...but what?

With model horses still on the brain, I decided to try to make a horse powered treadmill, also known by the commercial term of a "Tread-Power." At the turn of the last century, they were popular for agricultural as well as other uses and a variety of types and sizes were manufactured, with the largest being three or four horses wide. Most of them were set up at an incline with a pitch of one foot in four, as is this single horse model.

Basically, while the horse occupied a stall shaped enclosure, it would walk uphill on a treadmill. To the uninitiated, this situation looks rather odd. A power take off was available at the treadmill axles. It seems that horses liked this kind of work, as no heavy harness or reins were required. A loose loop of rope around the horses neck will guide it onto the treadmill, where it would just walk normally, with G'yup and Whoa as the simple commands.

As I did not have the means to make a simulated treadmill, the floor of the stall shaped enclosure was filled in with planks. However, I made the floor removable, just in case I wanted to install a treadmill later on. As the horses occupy the rear third of the layout, this allows the use of a visual tinplate trick and the lack of a simulated treadmill should not be noticeable.

The prototype agricultural treadmills were generally compact and light in weight to facilitate moving them where needed in the farmer's fields. With only the equivalent of heavy timbers available, the model treadmill was enlarged to be a stationary industrial size. The total building time from an idea to the present state was most of a day, during which time pleasant memories were invoked and my lagging creativity was suitably stimulated.

Whenever I make or buy and then install a small horizontal capstan spool, this Tread-Power model will be assigned to pull the kiln cart into position via a rope. This is visually more interesting than just a horse pulling a cart, plus it will, in theory, keep the horsey byproducts away from the workers in the kiln area.

Dan Posted - 04/11/2020 : 4:02:16 PM
Another Product For The Layout Industry

Pandemic prodded research from period reference books revealed an interesting new product for the layout industry that fits the twin themes of prototypicality and plausibility. That product was used to make potash, which itself was extensively used in manufacturing as well as farming.

In the Edwardian Era, most of the world's supply of potash was exported from Germany and the import price in the U.S. was eight to ten dollars a ton. When WWI started, the German supply was cut off and the import price suddenly rose to one hundred and fifty dollars a ton.

At that point, it was not only patriotic to manufacture potash, but it was also profitable at a windfall level by converting wood ash into the needed potash and "asheries" sprung up almost overnight. This domestic market rapidly collapsed after the war was over and the German export level returned to normal.

Back on page 6 of this Forum posting, there is an explanation on making four rail, dual gauge track and the reasons for needing it. I like the look of this rather unusual, but prototypically correct track, so I wanted to display a bit of it on the layout. The potash famine of WWI provides a suitable excuse to literally piggyback wood ash production onto the original production of refractory bricks. The previous photos of the Jutland horse show the four rail track installation.

In the layout scenario, the kilns burned cordwood. With the resulting ashes, normally a worthless byproduct, selling for a prototype price of a thousand dollars a ton in today's money, they were collected and were sold to a local ashery.

To facilitate this wartime operation, eighteen inch gauge rails were installed between the rails of the thirty in gauge tracks that serviced the kilns. As previously explained, the small industrial cars used for handling the ashes were equipped with outside flange wheels, so the two gauges shared the same flangeway.

Dan Posted - 04/04/2020 : 9:16:55 PM
Layout Horses-Continued

Here are the grey and dark brown horses with their manes, tails and hooves painted. The reddish brown horse only had its hooves painted.

The next photos show the reason for experimenting on the other three horses. It shows a Jutland draft horse with a Dutch Collar harness pulling the loaded kiln cart to supply the layout's refractory brick ovens.

The real Jutlands were docile and intelligent and were trained to respond to voice commands, so the model requires no bridle. If a regular horse collar is tried on the horse, it would be nearly horizontal and therefore almost useless, so the much simpler Dutch Collar harnesses were used instead.

Closeup photographs are not very forgiving (I see I still need to touch up the tail), so the models of the horse and the cart look better from a few feet away. Little by little, the layout is getting finished.


Dan Posted - 04/03/2020 : 12:41:09 PM
The South End View Of A Northbound Horse

For anyone who has taken a carriage ride or has worked with draft horses, this rather unphotogenic view is what is often seen. Needless to say, this is not a view that is normally modeled on a layout.

Way back on Page 5 and again on Page 7, I posted some information on horses for the layout. Now hunkered down for the duration on the current pandemic, I am attempting to do some Equus modeling. As would be expected, the dollar store horses are a bit on the crude side, so some of the Toob horses from the craft store (the ones that were recommended for use as cupcake toppers) were selected for the layout.

The problem with the horses is they are molded from PVC. While the coats of real horses can have a subdued natural sheen, the models look like they were covered in carnauba wax and buffed to a high gloss worthy of a show car, so this clearly excessive sheen needs to be toned down. The models are also molded in the same color, a golden tan that simulates the Chestnut color of real horses.

Equipped with a handful of suitable horses and the flat primer contents of several used rattle cans, I started careful experimentation. Due to the majority of panic buying consumers in my area hording every bit of paint removing (and germ killing) isopropyl alcohol, I need to conserve the small hobby supply that I have on hand and that means not screwing up the horse painting project.

Studying horse color charts, there are more combinations than you can shake a stick at, provided that is your idea of having a good time. The grey, dark brown and reddish brown spray can primer colors are actually pretty good matches to real horses. The brown based primers started out flat, but picked up the natural oils from my fingers during handling, giving the coat of the model horse a prototypical sheen (more serendipity).

As sometimes happens with old spray paint, the dregs of flat grey primer from an almost empty can dried to a shiny finish. In desperation, the model was given a brushed on coat of matte, dark grey, acrylic paint. Normally, my painting skills are such that the things I do by hand look like they were dipped in paint and brushed with a whisk broom, but this humble grey horse turned out pretty good.

Much like with show dogs, horses are now bred for specific traits, such as color combinations, but with ordinary draft animals of the Edwardian Era the mane and tail often matched the color of the horse's coat, so these laboring beasts were rather drab looking. Regrettably, the monochromatic models, although prototypical, made the layout pasture look like a modern sculpture garden with an equine theme.

As all of the local "non-essential" stores have been ordered closed, including hobby shops and craft stores, I am using up what is on hand. Ancient jars of Testors flat enamels (as long as the caps are screwed on tight, they never seem to go bad) are available to apply contrasting mane and tail colors. However, this means hand painting some rather small details. With only a limited supply of paint removing alcohol, the pressure is on to do well!

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