Wednesday, March 27, 2013


     There hasn't been much to do around Port Hood in the last couple weeks, due to a shortage of parts from the states. First it was the South #7LH switch, then it was lack of ballast, and then it was terminal joiners. I say lack of ballast, because I don't want to use the woodland scenics black cinders I have on hand - those are reserved for live coal loads. The terminal joiners were ordered to provide track power, because I don't have access to my soldering station at the moment.

     So this morning on my way to pick up my ballast at the post office, I checked the mailbox and my terminal joiners had arrived as well. After I drilled a few holes in the roadbed to accept the feeder wires, ballast crews (read: me) were dispatched to the site and have been hard at work grading the ROW.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Intermountain Reefers

     Some time ago, dear reader, I told you about the four Intermountain reefers I scooped off of eBay. They've been sitting on my desk, calling out to me for some love and affection since I first sat them there about two weeks ago. Well today I decided to throw one together to see; a.) How hard they were to assemble and b.) How long it would take me to assemble one. I'm pleased to report that it only took me a little over an hour to do and it wasn't all that difficult. Below is the first finished car.

     It currently rides on Micro-Trains trucks, with Atlas low-profile wheels.  I opt for the Atlas wheels when doing replacements because they're brown, which is closer to the rusted wheels we typically see on the prototype, as opposed to the black that are also available. Atlas wheels are also manufactured to match the Atlas code 55 track I've chosen for the layout.

     Just for comparison, I coupled it next to a Micro-Trains 40' plug door box car for these photos and you can see a visible difference in height between them. It sure does look good though. That light grey stands out well against the oxide brown next to it. 

     Now you're probably sitting there wondering why a guy whose railroad hauls thousands of tons of coal every day, would need steel refrigerator cars. Well believe it or not, Nova Scotian farmers once grew vast quantities of apples and blueberries here. Granted, a lot of this produce is/was grown in the Annapolis Valley, much was also grown right here in Inverness County. So much produce in fact, that I've heard Nova Scotia referred to as the Blueberry Capitol Of The World.

     Weather or not that's true, I cannot say for sure, but research I've conducted indicates the period from September to April saw heavy apple traffic on the Dominion Atlantic Railway. Apples from over 150 warehouses were carried to ocean steamers at Halifax, often requiring double-headed specials. I know my grandparents used to go blueberry picking on the mountain behind their house when I was little. The employee timetables I have, also indicate several short sidings on the subdivision with no apparent use or purpose.

     One could certainly surmise these siding were used in the fall to spot a reefer here and there for loading by local farmers. After-all, one could put a hell of a lot of blueberries in a single 40-foot reefer couldn't they. The fact that it would increase my traffic levels during Op Sessions couldn't hurt either. The only question I have now is; do I need an ice house on the layout? Food for thought.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Four trucks and a fence

     Well it's wednesday already, and I was beginning to worry I wouldn't have anything to write this week. As luck would have it though, Canada Post had a couple packages for me this morning, and I have something to share with you. The first package was just another of many hoppers for my growing fleet.

     The second package however, yielded four new Classic Metal Works tractor trailers I picked up from eBay for almost literally, a steal.

      Two are lettered for "Wayne Feeds" and two for "Sealtest Dairy Products". One of the Sealtest units can remain in it's current livery, as the front half of the Port Hood Co-Op always did; and continues to sell groceries. The other Sealtest unit will have to be repainted though. Maybe a Ben's Bakery unit. Milk and bread would likely both be delivered within close proximity to each other first thing in the morning.

     That leaves the two Wayne Feeds units. I'm not sure exactly what to do with those just yet. Part of me says they should be painted for Atlantic Co-Op, obviously in use for local farm deliveries. Yet part of me says they would look better decorated for a large feed retailer like Purina or Shur-Gain. 

      In either case, they make the scene look a lot better around the back of the mill.

"Hurry up and wait." Two drivers sit in line for the Co-Op dock.

A Sealtest driver waits his turn for the dock.

     Now that you're caught up to all the excitement going on over at the mill, I'd like to point out the cheapest fence ever built. It's made up of a hand full of round tooth picks and some sewing thread. I simply cut the tooth picks in half with my wire cutters, pushed them into the foam board and wrapped some sewing thread around them. I guess it took me all of an hour to build and it looks great. All I need now is some dirt to make a driveway and a farmhouse to put at the end of it. Oh, and some trees. Hundreds of friggin' trees.

The Inverness Hopper Fleet Part II

     Well it's friday morning and the weekend is almost here. Time to update you on the status of those hoppers from last thursday. I'm happy to report all 38 hoppers currently on the Inverness and Richmond roster are stripped, and awaiting a trip into the paint shop. Of course that will happen as soon as the weather co-operates, as I only have the balcony to paint on.

     I also spoke to my "corporate artist" last night and things seem to be progressing nicely. He sent me a sample of the cars' data layout and it should look like this:

I. R. R.
CAPY.       130000         HM
LD.LMT.     134500
LT.WT.         34500         H-Q, 9,60
     Of course, one has to imagine the graphics are white on a black car. But you get the idea.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Custom Artwork

     I've mentioned before that I picked the corporate identity of the Inverness & Richmond Railway based on it's historic ownership by CNR, and the many subsidiaries CN owned. This choice allowed me to integrate my model into the CN family next to Central Vermont, and Grand Trunk Western.

     I'm not the first one to do this however. See Marty McGuirk's awesome HO scale Southern New England Boxcars as an example.

     So where does that leave me? Well, I'm currently collaborating with a gentleman on The Rail Wire who has experience with creating artwork and custom decals for model railroads. I may even have a sample JPEG by next weekend. I can only hope they look as good as Marty's.

Monday, March 11, 2013


     So last week I picked up these nifty little reefers on eBay. I bought them because I like the way they look, they'll add a little character to my fleet, and they're perfectly suitable for the Nova Scotia blueberry harvest. In fact I like them so much I'm hunting for about six more. The problem is I cannot find any. 

     They appear to be a custom production run for an outfit called Crowley Scale Models, but his website hasn't seen an update since 2010. So what am I to do? I've posted my query over on The Rail Wire as well so hopefully I find an answer.

     Feel free to leave a comment if you have any intell on these cars.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Inverness Hopper Fleet

     Today I decided it was time I got to work on part of the Inverness hopper fleet. For the last six or eight months, I've been scouring eBay looking for any reasonably priced 55Ton hoppers. As of right now I have about twenty-five hoppers, split 50/50 between Micro-Trains and Atlas. The MTL cars are superior in detail to the Atlas cars, but are twice the cost. Some are flat-end, some are peaked-end, some are arched-end, and some are notched-end, but all are painted for foreign roads that would likely have never shown up in Cape Breton, with the exception of CP 354116.

     Canadian Pacific operated the Dominion & Atlantic Railway for a number of years, so it's quite conceivable that one of their coal hoppers may have been "borrowed" by CNR, or even sent to CNR empty for a load of coal - thus it shall remain in Canadian Pacific Script livery.. but I'm wandering off-topic.

     So into the 99% Isopropyl Alcohol bath the rest of them will go - probably in batches of 9.

     The first group taking a bath.

     About fours hours later, a gentle scrub with an old toothbrush, and I'm left with these:

     They're all ready for paint and decals. Stay tuned for more on that later.