Thursday, July 10, 2014

A New Video

     Seems like all I've done this summer is work 60 hours a week. At least some times I get to shoot trains.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Improving my flatcar fleet with wood Part 1

     Recently I was looking to spruce up the appearance of my five Microtrains 50' steel flat cars, by adding some laser cut wood decks. The cars themselves look quite good, as you'd expect from Microtrains - but there are these really fine mold circles on the deck, that I can only assume are from the injection process.

    I figured I could weather the existing plastic deck, but it would always bug me if those circles were visable. So I googled around a little and found some replacement decks by American Model Builders and ordered them. But because I'm an idiot, I ordered decks cut for Atlas 50' flats - which are shorter:

..and wider:

than Microtrains decks.  So I googled a little more and found some RS Laser wood decks and ordered them. I'll write an update for this project next week when the replacements arrive from the states.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

New youtube video posted

     I posted a new youtube video this morning. Just barely caught this CN local going through Burlington Station @ 15:15 Apr 30. I think this is CN #556, which is a transfer from Aldershot to Oakville - with autoracks for Ford, and tanks for Petro-Canada in Clarkson.

     Leave me a comment if you can point me to the list of train numbers that used to be floating around on the internet.

Edit: I know I posted the video originally, but somehow it went missing. So I've fixed it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Just a short video..

     Shot this short little video with my new T3i today. Sorry it's not something more interesting - like freight traffic - but I was waiting for a westbound GO to get on. I think the quality is pretty good and I look forward to shooting more videos over the summer.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is your modelling season over?

     If you're a regular reader of model railroad blogs and/or message boards; you'll know that with springs' arrival often comes a modelling hiatus. As the urge to get outside and out of the basement pushes railroading to the back burner, most of us don't want to be inside updating blogs or weathering freight cars.

     However, the warmer weather does afford us the ability to indulge in other rail-related hobbies. Garden railroading for example, is likely a lot more fun in the summer months, when you're not prototypically freezing your ass off sweeping out switches.

     Photography is another passion of mine. Although I have a pretty decent camera on my Galaxy SII at 8MP and 1080p video, it's absolutely nothing compared to this Christmas' addition to my modelling toolbox.  The Wife bought me this hefty fellow:

     Last summer The Wife and I spent a great deal of our free time looking at houses in the Niagara Region, so I didn't get any time to go railfanning. What I did do though, was notice things I'd like to photograph this summer. First stop on my agenda is going to be National Steel Car in Hamilton, which is quite visible from both Kenilworth St. and Burlington St. E. The last time I was by their plant it was full of brand new TTX autoracks - some of which were still in various stages of construction.

     Not too far from them is the old Studebaker Assembly Plant, which was obviously closed a long time ago, but still has "STUDEBAKER" painted on the windows. I think it's amazing that this has lasted as long as it has, and I want to get some documentation before it's too late.

     For size comparison, this is an aerial of the plant. You'll notice some sort of courtyard in the middle that looks like it had a rail line in it at some point. Hell maybe it still does. I'll definitely try to get a better look and report back with my findings.

     Anyway that's all for today, but look for more posts over the summer that predominately feature photography as a theme and railroading and/or industrial history as a subject. I find this stuff fascinating and I hope you do too.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Port Hood v2.0

     So after finishing up the yard last week, I still had SCARM open on my laptop and I got to thinking about what other aspects of the layout I could design. Lord knows I certainly can't build anything in this tiny apartment - The Wife would have an effing canary if I did. So I thought for a while..

     ..and then it occurred to me that I haven't really come up with a definitive plan for Port Hood since I scrapped it last year.  Knowing the mistake I made last time - operationally speaking - I moved the sidings around and added an extra spot for the coal dealer that was giving me the run-around (if you'll pardon the pun).

     This time I think I've got it sorted:

     There is now a full time storage/run-around track between the station and the elevator, an extra track opposite the station that ends at the north face of the elevator that will service the fuel dealer via small coal trestle, and the elevator will now be serviced from the opposite side of where it once was. There is also now a dedicated siding for the freight depot.


     I've heard some say a model railway is never quite complete. Sometimes it's a scene that doesn't quite look right, or a track arrangement doesn't quite work out operationally the way it did on paper. Or maybe that West Siding Switch is six inches too far east and it's buggering up train meets. Perhaps you tried to cram too much track into a particular spot. Hell, I'm sure there are thousands of modellers out there that thought;

"Finally, the layout is fully sceniced. I can enjoy the fruits of my labour",

    ..and then a week later some joker introduces static grass to the world. Man does that stuff look real or what? Would you start scenicing your layout all over again? I imagine I would.

     But whatever.

     Back on topic - sometimes the best laid plans don't work out they way you wanted them to. Port Hood was a good example of this, in that I had designed it poorly. What I had originally wanted, was crews to be able to leave the passenger portion of their mixed trains at the station while switching the Co-Op, but the station was in-effect on the run-around track. Well that's no good. I needed both sidings to be on one side of the main line to facilitate this. Luckily I hadn't secured any of the structures just yet, so all I had to do was salvage the track - an easy task with 99% isopropyl alcohol and a putty knife.

     Back to a clean slate.

Inverness Yard v3.0

     So the revisions I played around with this past week, and printed out 1:1 on copy paper, and then taped together come out to around 12 feet. I had to compromise the yards design a little, but it's still pretty faithful to the prototype drawing I have, except for the fact that I added an extra ladder track and a couple of turnouts.

     Compare my final revision:

To the scan I posted a couple weeks ago:

     I'd say they're pretty damn close, and I'm happy with the result.

     This is what it will look built:

     Thirteen sheets at 8 1/2" x 11" is a pretty decent size. As always, comments are welcome.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

...aaaaaaaand a little more..

     So last night ended with me printing out most of the yard and leaving it on the printer. This morning I decided to tape said printout together and see exactly what kind of foot print I was looking at. Well some thirty pages later I had a yard almost 20 feet long. This is not really acceptable as that's half my layout space.

     So it's back to the old drawing board.

     I decided to remove one length of flex from each of the ladder tracks, leaving the shortest of them at two. Using Atlas C55 flex that gives me 60 inches as my shortest yard track, not including the four #10 turnouts at each end.

     Tomorrow I will reprint the yard and see how long the foot print ends up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Inverness Yard gets tweaked, but just a little

      I've spent the last week looking over my plan for the main terminus of the railway and decided I required a couple of minor changes to the yard. They're not major changes, but I decided to go with #10 for all turnouts, instead of just the ones that are off the main track with #7 turnouts everywhere else. I think this will not only look far more appealing, but ensure smoother operations of trains throughout the yard - especially with live coal loads as an operating interest.

     I also decided - in the name of operational interest - to add a curved switch next to the Section House and run a short spur behind the freight house (see blue arrow). I haven't seen any evidence this actually existed, but it would make sense. Port Hood, Mabou, and Inverness received enough express freight to warrant their own separate freight sheds, whereas the other stations on the subdivision only had freight rooms as part of their stations.

     Adding this extra track will allow me to spot express or LCL loads without fouling up the only track into or out of the whole yard.

Inverness Yard v2.0

     The other aspect of changing turnout sizes is that it tightens up the spacing between ladder tracks, thus allowing me to narrow parts of my benchwork. Now some of you may be wondering why I would want to do that, and the reason is to add a peninsula in the center of the room.

     The room that the layout is currently being designed to fit in, is 10' wide and 24' long. If I can limit a couple sections of benchwork to 12" wide or less, I should be able to squeeze in the 30" diameter balloon required at the end of the peninsula.

     Besides, if you look at this Google satellite map of Glencoe, you'll see an almost perfect peninsula. The orange line on the map shows you where the old Inverness Subdivision Right-Of-way is located, and the old train station would have been located somewhere within the blue square.

     If I zoom this in for you a little more, the purple square frames the Glencoe Hall, where many a wedding reception has taken place and I've even been to a couple. I have to think Glencoe Station was located opposite the Hall next to the R-o-W, but I have yet to find any evidence to support that theory.


          The last adjustment I made was to add a switch to the end of the last classification track so that it is now double-ended and not stub-ended. It's shown here with the black arrow:

     I still have a few more details to work out yet, like where the coaling tower and water tower belong. They're conspicuously missing, given that the ash pit is marked on the inbound service track. I also find it interesting that the scale and the scale house were included on the c1919 drawing. I suppose the logical place for them would be in the immediate vicinity of the coal bunker that serviced the stoves in the passenger cars, or just to the left of the ash pit. Drop me a line if you have any ideas.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A bulk oil dealer..

     I'm always on the lookout for traffic sources on the Inverness line, so a couple months ago when I came across a photo of an Irving tank car online I knew I had to use it. Irving is in the petroleum industry in a big way. Everything from retail gas stations to home heating fuel. So when I ran across this little kit from a dealer on eBay:

     I thought "What better a place to ship an 11k gal Irving tank car than this?"

     Although I haven't yet decided where to place it on the layout, I think it's going to go in Port Hood. The Co-op already has a large mill complex, and the Home Hardware, so I think it needs a residential fuel dealer too. I already have a little Walthers coal trestle to go with it.

     I started by assembling the concrete piers and placing the bottom half of each tank in place.This helped keep everything even and square. Then I glued the ends on the tanks, like so:

     After that, I installed the access hatches in the top half of each tank and simply pushed the tops on the tanks with a couple drops of glue.

     Now that I've located my good tweezers I can get to work installing all the little pipes and fittings included in the kit.The black vertical pipes were the hardest to keep in place, but they're in. All I have to do now is give the whole thing a shot of white paint - which isn't going to happen today as the balcony is currently engulfed in a snow storm.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Inverness Yard

     Earlier last week a gentleman on The Rail Wire Bulletinboard posted about a software project he had been working on called SCARM Train Layout Editor (Simple Computer Aided Railway Modeller). It looked promising, it was free and I was anxious to see how it compared to XtrakCad. So I downloaded a copy and gave it a whirl. 

     What you see below is a map of the Inverness & Richmond's main yard at Inverness, from Allister W. D. MacBean's book The Inverness and Richmond Railway. Since I'll be including this yard on my layout as it's northern terminus, I thought I would try and adapt the hand-drawn map to a CAD drawing.

     It's not drawn to scale so I had to 'wing it' as they say, but after about an hour of playing with SCARM, I think I ended up with a pretty good rendition of the yard pictured below. (I'm working on getting a bigger view of this)

     While there are almost 90 different track types to choose from,  most are of European origin like Hornby, Fleischmann, Marklin and Trix. Included however are 9 types from Atlas, and I've chosen to use their Code 55 line of track because I think it has the best appearance.

     So there you have it - Inverness Yard drawn in CAD. I printed it all out in 1:1 scale yesterday, on about 30 sheets of paper that I now have to tape together. I'll show you that later.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Canadian modeller's choice of era

Recently a fellow modeller on the CanModelTrains yahoo group posed the following interesting question:
 "It seems to me the vast majority of Canadian modellers, at least the ones on
this group, are modelling the diesel era, usually from the 1970s onwards.

Steam on this group is rarely mentioned.  It's all diesels and usually
diesels from the 1970s onwards.  Is this because it's just easier, given the
complete lack of affordable Canadian RTR steam?

USA, British even Australian modellers have a good choice of Spectrum
quality steam yet there's nothing like that available to Canadians.

Tell us why did you picked your era"
     It got me to thinking about a trend I hear/read a lot about. The transition era is the most popular theme among model railroaders. This is because we model what we grew up seeing - which makes sense from a nostalgia stand point. But what about guys like me? I'm 35. Hardly a candidate for the transition era. 
     Growing up all I ever saw was Action Red Pac-man SD40-2's and the tail end of C424's in service. Plenty of Canada hoppers and CAST containers on 89ft flats. I completely missed out on the glory days of steam. And 40' box cars. Miles and miles of 40' box cars. Sure 89' autoracks are kinda neat, but they're all the same to me. TTX yellow with a different railroads logo panel on them. Boring.
So I've chosen to model a CN branch line in 1955-60, that was abandoned and ripped up when I was 6 years old. It's the closest thing I'll ever get to seeing it "alive" if you will.

What do you model, and why?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Armchair Modelling

     As some of you may know, I don't have any space for my planned dream layout - but since it's in N scale I have a fair bit of space for little projects like updating rolling stock and Canadian Nationalizing my Bachmann Spectrum fleet.

     The Inverness & Richmond currently rosters three Baldwin 2-8-0 Consolidations, with plans to some day acquire three more. Those of you familiar with these units will know just how wonderful they are, except for the tenders that come with them. For us CNR modellers, the Bachmann tender is about a half inch too long and lacks a major detail - rear foot-boards.

     This image is the stock Spectrum 2-8-0 tender. Note the overall length..

..and missing foot boards.. and that kinda ugly ladder.
      The other details are pretty nice overall though. Wire handrails, all wheel electrical pick-up. Just one glaring issue for me - it doesn't look like this:

     Clearly this is shorter than the Bachmann tender pictured toward the top of the page. A keen eye may also notice the extended height coal bunker that the CNR seems to had affixed to almost all locomotives I've ever seen in pictures. 

     With this in mind, I did some digging around on eBay and found a gentleman in the US that was selling the updated version of Bachmann's short tender. I won't tell you how cheap I got them, lest you all go and clean out his remaining stock, because I'm going to need three more.

     Anyway, they arrived a couple weeks ago and they look spiffy. Bachmann has re-tooled the ladder, added proper foot boards, an uncoupling lever, and elongated the tenders' water hatch. The only thing missing is a headlight, which you would think they would have added given that the tender has all wheel pick-up and a light board IN the tender. Go figure.