Sunday, May 15, 2016

Usambara Railroad: Sarissa Freight Cars

So I'm back with a few freight cars for my rail line. These are the Sarissa low aggregate and goods wagons. Despite my complaints about some of their other railroad products, these are two products I quite like and would recommend to others.

First up is the aggregate wagon:
This wagon is an unmodified kit (excluding sanding down some of the hard edges) and was quite easy to assemble. For the paint scheme, I've gone with an early 1900's color from Germany.  I've also added some rub on lettering from Woodland Scenics to give the wagon  a bit more character.  The font isn't correct for German trains and I've not added the full compliment of markings (I got lazy cutting out letters and numbers), but I think it gets the job done. Weathering was done with chestnut ink, Vallejo smoke, and some bleached sand paint.

Next up is the goods wagon:
Again I've gone with the same 1900's German color scheme and weathering.  I've made one modification in terms of steps going up one side of the wagon.  These are Precision Scale cast steel steps (PSH-40599)with brass rod handrails supported by cast stanchions (PSH-4098).  The prototypes I looked at showed the handrails curling over the roof, but I decided not to do that so the roof would remain removable. 
The roof is made of greyboard with interior MDF supports. I'm a bit worried on how it will hold up over time, but we'll see how it goes. It fits well on the wagon and will make it much easier to put figures or cargo inside. The doors are also made of greyboard and can be glued in either closed or open. 

To link the cars, you use small MDF linker chains.  You get 2 per wagon, so with a larger train you'll have a fair amount of spares in case some go missing. I've sanded my chain hooks to give them rounded edges, so the chain segments fit on quite well. 

As I mentioned in the beginning, these are well done products and will look good on the table if you give them a little attention.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sarissa MDF Train Track

The Usambara Railway project is slowly moving along, with the addition of some track from Sarissa. The track is made from the usual 2mm MDF board, where you lay a rail strip over a linked set of ties. The rail strip is not very tall, so there is very little clearance if you want to add a rock bed under the track. With the exception of the two end ties, the rest of the ties are uniform in shape and there was no attempt to burn in any wood grain texture. Overall, it's rather bland looking and I had concerns on how sturdy it would be in the long run. 

The connections between the track sections are overly complicated and not very good looking. You use small linker sections that fit into the end ties, and leave a visible section of MDF between the ties.  The connections are fiddly and I managed to break a few bits merely by disconnecting the track.  The connector design also prevents you from laying a bed under the track and still have the pieces able to disconnect. 

As such, I decided to cut up the connector pieces and redo the connections to allow a card/rock bed and reduce the chances of the pieces snapping during regular use.  Overall it seems to work well, though the height of the rails are problematic as predicted in terms of clearance. But as I won't be rolling the train along the tracks, I'm not worried and I think the visual improvement and increased strength are worth it.

My final assessment is that it's not a great product on its own, but will be serviceable with modifications.