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New to the hobby, scratch building NYC subway anyway

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  • Member since
    February, 2017
  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
  • 29 posts
New to the hobby, scratch building NYC subway anyway
Posted by TheGamp on Friday, February 24, 2017 12:57 PM

Hi folks, 

I have no background in model railroading, but I like diving into new creative projects, especially ones with some level of technical difficulty. I recently had the idea to build a scale model of the White Castle hamburger restaurant in Sunnyside, NY that I used to frequent with my friends from high school thirty years ago. I'll explain that one another time, once I've made some actual progress on the model.

But since the restaurant was/is right across the street from the viaduct over which the IRT Flushing subway line runs, I figured why not try building that too, and the other businesses on the street. And while I'm at it, why not have a #7 train? 

I knew O would be too huge for the space I have and N too small for the figures I want to populate the diorama, so HO was the way to go. Thanks to some reading here and discussions with a guy in the hobby shop near me, I dove into MRR, and started researching what was available in the way of subway trains. I looked at the P1K R17s on ebay, the new MTH models, and the resin shells from IHP and Island Model Works (and what to do to power them). Went to the Amherst train show to get overwhelmed but inspired. I knew I wanted to have R-36 World's Fair redbirds to accurately model 1987, but the only ones I'd found were MTH's in O scale. So with a little skill at Sketchup Make, a few 3D prints under my belt, a few extra snow days, and a huge amount of info from nycsubways.org, I said "how hard could it be?" and threw this together:

I quickly realized that the level of detail couldn't be rendered in a PLA print, so I got everything watertight and sent my STL file off to Shapeways. About a week and $75 or so later (including a two-day stopover in Puerto Rico en route from Queens to suburban Boston), I got this in the mail today:

I've already got my molding silicone, vacuum chamber, and urethane resin to make copies. I still have to design the interior ceiling and base plate, underbody, sideframes, etc. I got one of the P1K R-17's off ebay the other day for dissection, and I'm planning on a photo trip to Queens Borough Hall, where they've preserved an R33 Main Line car (almost all the rest of the redbirds are providing homes to fish off the Delaware coast).

Thanks for letting me share. More as things develop.
Bob

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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, February 24, 2017 1:15 PM

You'll probably get a visit from Brother Elias on these forums soon enough (you'll know him when he posts), but are you just building a diorama of the area around the White Castle or do you plan to expand eventually to a working module?
1987, I was commuting to college on the 7 line back then. Things were pretty cool in Koch-era NYC till the stock crash later that year, then things seemed to have just sort of went into a funk citywide for a fair  number of years.
Oh yeah, I just remembered (and checked wiki to verify) - the 7 line was under reconstruction through-out the late 1980s, no 7 express, and I do remember work trains visible during the day.

  • Member since
    February, 2017
  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
  • 29 posts
Posted by TheGamp on Friday, February 24, 2017 1:36 PM

I find the LION's work mesmerizing.

I don't know how many decades it will take me, but eventually I want to model both sides of Queens Blvd. from 43rd street east to the 46th-Bliss St. station. Then if I haven't gotten kicked out of the house by that point, maybe have things jump to the Corona yard and/or underground to either Times Sq. or Grand Central. But I think I'd also like to do an IND F R-46 train (those are the ones I knew best growing up in Kew Gardens). 

 

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  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, February 24, 2017 3:39 PM

This video was taken from a mini-camera mounted inside the lead car of one of my subways.

Yes, there is sound.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
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  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
  • 29 posts
Posted by TheGamp on Friday, February 24, 2017 4:11 PM
You do stunning work, Mister B!
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Posted by ATSFGuy on Saturday, February 25, 2017 5:58 PM

TheGamp,

Broadway Lion has a subway layout in HO Scale, see if he can help you out.

  • Member since
    February, 2017
  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
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Posted by TheGamp on Thursday, March 09, 2017 12:09 PM

Flubbed my first attempt at making Part 1 of the two-part silicone mold of the shell (I didn't have it anchored on the bottom of the container well enough and it floated up into the middle of the silicone). 

In the meantime, I went ahead and glued together the two sides of the White Castle - the ones I had a photo to work from for door and window positions - and the parapet.  I'll visit the Department of Buildings in a week or two to figure out if they have any drawings/photos/whatever of the other sides or else just wing it. Then I'll putty/sand/paint.

  • Member since
    April, 2007
  • From: Northern Va
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Posted by yougottawanta on Thursday, March 09, 2017 1:04 PM

Bob/Gamp

Welcome to the Hobby and to MRR.Welcome I would also like to invite you to Jeffries diner. Come on over and sit a spell. We talk on and off subject, withing certain rules...I will buy you a cup of Joe. Hope to see you there.

YGW

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: North Dakota
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Posted by BroadwayLion on Friday, March 10, 2017 6:57 AM

Your White Castle is very nice. As big as layout of LION is, very little is store bought, and none of the stations of course. I build out of wood, plastic, cardboard, foam and lots of LEDs.

You must have seen my website and layout. I guess that tells all. LION has never been known for thinking small.

 

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

  • Member since
    February, 2017
  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
  • 29 posts
Posted by TheGamp on Friday, March 10, 2017 8:21 AM

I'm a big fan of LION. Nowhere to put a layout yet, but I've already learned a lot. I saw in one of the threads that you were looking into making a garbage flat. That's on my list too.

Tonight is R-36 silicone mold attempt #2, and tomorrow I head to the makerspace to try printing a chassis.

 

  • Member since
    February, 2017
  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
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Posted by TheGamp on Thursday, May 04, 2017 4:38 PM

After reading some posts clarifying the Weekend Photo Fun discussion, I thought about posting this there but figured it more appropriate to bump the old thread. 

I visited the R33ML car up on blocks in front of Queens Borough Hall, and took photos of the sideframes and underbody details. Then after some quality time with Sketchup Make I printed these out last night at the new makerspace I joined recently.

Sideframe prints

Best photo I have on me of the prototype. I had to guess at the depths since I couldn't get up close with a ruler. I think my third rail shoes have to be bigger, but I'm pretty happy with the level of detail I got without having to ship off to Shapeways.

R33ML Sideframe through a fence

I drive back tomorrow from Massachusetts to see if the Department of Buildings had the blueprints of the White Castle on file or not.

  • Member since
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  • From: Staten Island NY
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Posted by joe323 on Friday, May 05, 2017 6:50 AM

Having grown up in Queens and ridde The Flushing Line as we called the the No 7 train back in the day I am looking forward to seeing your work.  

Although as a consequence of love I live in Staten Island the fogotten borough these days I try not to forget my roots in the other boroughs.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by gthomson on Friday, May 05, 2017 7:02 AM
Wow, Gamp and all others, very impressed. I'm amazed at the detail you are pursuing to replicate a subway system from a specific time frame. And to think I just want to find some kind of subway train out there and hope to throw a decal from the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) ha ha. I didn't know there were so many varieties of subway trains?
  • Member since
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  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
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Posted by TheGamp on Saturday, May 06, 2017 2:11 AM

Thanks G (and Dave and Joe),

Have you checked out Imperial Hobby Productions? If I'm not mistaken they've got some Toronto light rail represented.

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Posted by Autonerd on Monday, May 08, 2017 7:53 AM

Very, very cool!

Don't forget the subway museum in Brooklyn -- they have lots of old cars, though they are at platforms and underbody detail is a little tricky to see (maybe they'd pull the boards that bridge the gap between platform and car and let you take some cell phone photos).

There's a hobby shop in Manhattan (http://www.theredcaboose.com/ 23 W 45th St, in the basement) that has some NYC subway models, though the models are expensive and the store even more so. The guy who runs it is a little strange, but man does he know his stuff. Might be a good source for parts, although you seem to be doing pretty darn well on your own!

Aaron

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  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, May 08, 2017 9:15 AM

Images Replicas has subway cars and also accessories like end gates and subway station entrances.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
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  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
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Posted by TheGamp on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 7:47 PM

The Queens DOB trip on Friday was frustrating. Long story short, they had the circa 1978 White Castle blueprints I wanted on microfiche (and I got to keep the copies of the slides), but they're pretty much illegible. I'll see what I can enhance with a scanner, but I'll probably end up designing the sides I didn't have a photo of from memory. I'm waiting to get shown how to use the laser cutter to redo the building in 3mm acrylic sheet instead of trying to do all those straight cuts in .080" styrene with an X-Acto knife.

Autonerd, I had meant to check out the NY Transit Museum on Saturday morning but traffic from the hotel on LI to Brooklyn looked brutal. I had things to get to back in MA, so figured I'll check it and the Red Caboose out next time I visit. 

For now, I'm enjoying the process of reinventing the wheel and designing all the car parts (other than the NWSL trucks and Kadee #5s) and either sending them to Shapeways or making/printing them myself. Here are some door chains (40 LPI, styrene rod, black acrylic paint) and a first stab at a resin shell. I'm going to redo the mold with more screw holes for the chassis and convert a paint pot to a pressure vessel to get rid of air bubbles.





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Posted by hlwaaser on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 8:41 PM

I spent the first 6 years of my life at 90-03 207th st. between Queens Blvd and Hillside Avenue, one street over from Francis Lewis Blvd.  I don't remember much from those years, but I remember my father taking my brother and I on the Jamaica trolley line on the last day it ran.  I think my mother used the EL to take us to the dentist in closer to the city.

hlwaaser; The Penny Line

  • Member since
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  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
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Posted by TheGamp on Thursday, May 18, 2017 11:27 AM

Welcome from another recent arrival, HL. No more trolleys in Queens by the time I came on the scene in the late sixties :( but I'm eagerly awaiting Rapido to ship their new GMC fishbowl buses. I have an unpainted kit on order that I'm planning to finish in Green Bus Lines finery.

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  • From: Staten Island NY
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Posted by joe323 on Friday, May 19, 2017 6:43 AM

I rode the green line every day when I was in Junior High School.  Please post when you are done A brown Triborough bus would be appropriate too.

Joe Staten Island West 

  • Member since
    February, 2017
  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
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Posted by TheGamp on Friday, May 19, 2017 12:42 PM
Me too, Q60 every weekday 1978-80. Since the same bus passed the White Castle (and as far as I can remember the fishbowls hadn't all been replaced yet by 1987), that's the one I'm going for. I don't recall having an opportunity to ride the Triborough, though I did see them around.
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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, May 19, 2017 1:50 PM

TheGamp
Me too, Q60 every weekday 1978-80. Since the same bus passed the White Castle (and as far as I can remember the fishbowls hadn't all been replaced yet by 1987).


Well, if you hang around eBay enough, look for Pirate Models 1980s era white-metal bus kits (RTS and Flxibles). With some work and careful painting, they can definitely be made into nice 1980s NYCTA bus Not my model, but an example from the 1/87 Galleries
ETA: There are better examples of the Pirate RTS model completed out there, but that image should serve to refresh your memory of Koch-era Queens surface transit. Unfortunately info on Pirate Models, as all too often is the case for smaller manufacturers) is vague. John Gay from the UK is involved, and apparently it was still a going concern in 2014.
While you're there, maybe buy a 1978 CMW Chevy Impala and paint it up as a NYC Taxi Cab (remember taxi cabs back then had the fare rates posted on the doors). You need only one yellow medallion cab since you're modeling an area of the outer-boros NOT near the airports.  As for non-livery/gypsy cabs, well...
I don't recall now, did Queens Blvd have those "Dollar Van" jitneys that other major Queens arteries had?

  • Member since
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  • From: Ayer, MA by way of Queens, NY
  • 29 posts
Posted by TheGamp on Friday, May 19, 2017 5:30 PM

chutton01, thanks for the tips. I never liked the RTS buses much but better to plan ahead for the layout I may have years from now. Repainting the '78 Impala is a good idea. The post-1950s taxicab models I've seen are too contemporary: 2000s-era imports or Crown Vics with goofy paint jobs.

I lived by Union Turnpike/Kew Gardens, near the end of the Q10 route to JFK, so there were plenty of non-medallion conveyances for hire. If memory serves many were simply minivans, and not especially interesting. 

I have scrounged up an NYPD passenger van and a few period cars like an AMC Gremlin. I'm considering someday modeling a Chrysler Cordoba with simulated rich Corinthian leather. But that's on the back burner.

  • Member since
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  • From: Staten Island NY
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Posted by joe323 on Sunday, May 21, 2017 9:41 AM

There was a line of 70s cars in HO a while bac called fresh cherries you might look on ebay.

Joe Staten Island West 

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