Modelling the E&N in HO Scale in my basement

Unassigned

Have I neglected my blog or what?

I’ve got a fair bit of time now to bring you guys and girls up to speed if you haven’t been able to see the layout in person, though I don’t know how many photos I have on my phone to share.  Anyhow, here’s the story.

I could have had track completely finished a long time ago.  But I decided that I wanted the trestle at Vancouver Island Gas in a more complete state.  Unfortunately it was not to be.  Cam wanted to figure out the best way to anchor the trestle to the benchwork but still have a good base for the scenery.  The scenery would also dictate the angle bracing on the bents.  So to have the bents actually in and on top of the plywood, and have scenery that drops from track level to much below track level would require some creative fiddling with the blue styrofoam that would support the shell. Here’s Cam checking to see if the work actually gives some level track:

The trestle at Vancouver Island Gas is being built

Meanwhile I had also been working on the track into the former engine house at Port Alberni.  Using two or three different thicknesses of styrene sheet, and a large amount of styrene cement (I was pouring it out of the bottle to get it to laminate the sheets together…) I was able to get the foundation started.  I’ll need to build more up to match the rail height, but for now I just needed to get the only the rail level to what was coming in from outside.  Unfortunate that I didn’t take more progress pictures of that specific detail.  Following that, I wired up the remainder of the yard trackage and the plywood division to the track bus, so the full yard was powered.  But over the week between Christmas and New Years, both Cam and I were off work and we got those two bits of track installed, clean things up and  finalize the trackage between the Plywood Division and the Port Alberni yard.  I of course would leave a few spikes out.

The first day of 2016 would be the final spike ceremony.  Invitations were sent out a couple weeks prior to have a few friends and supporters over to see the final spike being driven into the track.  Kevin Pyle brought a spike maul, used for driving spikes on the prototype, and I figured “why not?”  Using the spike maul and a nail set was a little awkward, but it didn’t take more than three taps with that huge hammer to set the spike in place.

Cam received the honour of driving the final spike.  He initially declined to use the spike maul but decided to use it for the “shiggles” factor.

Here is where I would insert a link to the video that was shot, but stupid me shot Cam’s video upside down and thankfully software exists to rotate the video to be right side up, but I just don’t have time at this time of year to edit it and make a better product so you’ll have to visit this page later to see the video.

After the spikes were set in place, trains were fired up and run over most of the layout.  I say most because quite a few servos were not yet installed into Port Alberni yard so switching there wasn’t done much.

Since that date, more work was done in getting the servos installed and hooked up to the Tam Valley Depot Octopus III controllers.  After some discussion with Kevin Rudko of Signalogic Systems, it was discovered that his switch control panels intended for use with his switch controllers would actually work with the Octopus controllers, with only some slight wiring tweaks.  The only real hitch is that using momentary switch inputs could lead to some undesired action on the servos, but time will tell whether this was going to be a huge concern or not.

The next major event would be the Calgary Model Railway Society’s Layout Tours, happening at the end of February.  Much cleaning was done, trains staged and switch lists generated, and my huge thanks to Dave Chomyn for coming over to run those trains during the six hours that the tour was running.  We had 44 people over to see the layout that Sunday, which for me, was a huge success.  Lots of people left favourable comments in the guest book, one guy who came over with a hatred for multi-deck layouts left quite impressed and now considering the idea has merit, and even a few women were impressed.  Virtually all of them will be back for future tours to see how the scenery is progressing, and see how many of the “thousands upon thousands of trees” I’ve planted!

Of course, I’m also heavily involved in the organizing of SUPERTRAIN, Canada’s Largest Model Train Show.  This year, I’m working on the Registrar duties (thanks to Jim Ironside for being my co-registrar), graphics design and printing, and new this year, organizing the Shuttle Bus operation between a large Transit park and ride lot and the show venue.  Being able to combine my transit-geek and friendships with a bunch of bus drivers to help the show has been quite rewarding.  This show takes up a lot of my time in the few months leading up to the show and I’m thankful for the opportunity to even get downstairs every now and then.

At some point I’ll be able to get back to the GP9’s that are needing to be completed, get some more scenery work done and who knows what else…  Until then, keep your stick on the ice.


Another omnibus update

So it’s again been a while since I’ve posted an update. Seems to be a common theme around here… And admittedly, I’m going from memory here so please excuse me if I forget anything. (Cam, this is your opportunity to comment on anything I’ve forgotten!)

I was quite busy in the lead-up to SUPERTRAIN, ensuring things with the show were taken care of, but also with the layout at home since I knew a few people coming to town for the show would also appreciate an ops session. (Yet another common theme here…) so track cleaning, ensuring the Port Alberni staging yard is operational, motive power is good and that I’ve got rolling stock ready. Also worked on getting the dispatcher’s office somewhat cleaned up so I could use it. The chair was rather dusty!

The ops session went reasonably well, but with some operators being unfamiliar with the layout and the work extra running dead on hours left a few things to be desired. Namely, need to get a car control system in place and while I was thinking of a computerized switch list generator, I’m thinking of going to car cards after discussing things with Grant Eastmam and Cam following the session. Still doesn’t negate the fact I need to renumber a LOT of rolling stock.

Here’s a hint to the manufacturers: more road numbers! Or even better, include a small decal sheet with numbers we can use to renumber the cars with!

Also, need to have operators more familiar with where everything is, and the dispatcher needs to write up clearances before everyone shows up. More preparation in advance of the people showing up is usually a very good thing. And of course, I wish I had a couple more passing sidings, which don’t exist on the prototype because the trains were spaced out a lot more than what they are in an ops session…

Since the ops session, I’ve been working on rolling stock and motive power, including getting a whole ton of GP9’s ready for CP paint. But that will have to wait for another post…my train ride is almost done. See ya!


March 23, 2014

A brief update this time around.

Cam was over yesterday with a mutual friend from the Free-mo group named Carl. The primary reason was to show Carl the layout and the progress since he last saw it several years ago.

After Carl left, I figured we could get “something” done on the layout.

We decided on benchwork… And then proceeded to get the trackboard completed down the hill into Port Alberni, which we successfully completed along with a section of the plywood representing the paper plant and the first part of the yard. We’ll hopefully tackle cork and at least some trackage before SUPERTRAIN, as I’m wanting another ops session with some friends visiting from Toronto just after the show. I’d like to be able to run the Port Freight all the way into Port Alberni instead of just to Arrowsmith…

Cheers!


January 11, 2014

Yes, it’s been a little while, again.

Still busy with SUPERTRAIN stuff, but I have been trying to keep progress going forward in the basement. Maybe not really in the trackwork/benchwork realm but in the rolling stock. I now have three skeleton log flats which are nearly ready for decals and a couple 50′ long flat cars suitable for idler flats. More on the five pack later.

Cam has also been really busy over the week getting all the last details added and painted on 3000 and 3004, in preparation for the ‘Homecoming’. Friday night he escaped from work a little early and came with me to Dave’s place to get some last minute touch-ups and details done. All tested and these things are awesome.

The next day (ie: Saturday/today according to my dating scheme here), I was busy doing a ton of cleaning in preparation for the party. Cam arrived around 1pm and we got to work on niggling issues with the layout…specifically the problem turnouts, at Parksville and ICG Nanaimo. The former was needing rails spiked to the ties and some minor adjustments, the latter needed to be shifted and spiked. Will still need some work, so some flags (aka yellow and green pushpins) were setup and and a Daily Bulletin was issued to advise of the slow order through the turnout.

I also did a thorough vacuuming of the track and thought that would be all. Not quite as it turned out.

Guys started showing up just prior to the appointed time and the layout was deemed okay to turn on (oh yeah, forgot to mention… A fair number of frogs in the staging yard needed gapping) and the locos were fired up, assigned and coupled up to the Courtenay turn and Cam had the Honours to be the engineer to run the train containing a lot of his work (3000 and 3004, as well as the skeleton log flats) out to the end of the line and back.

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That’s Jeff Simpson in the foreground admiring the train with Cam running in the background.

Jeff was accompanied by Josh Soles and Matt Cummins who gladly accepted a throttle and 6101 to run VIA 198 and 199 out to Courtenay and back. A little quickly mind, but at least most of the crews running freights gave the passenger service minimal delays. Chuck Johnstone, Tyler Federoshyn, Dan Hamilton and Kevin Pyle also made appearances and some of them had opportunities to run trains as well. Kevin has built a few of the Kaslo skeleton log flats and agreed that they’re too light to run empty, but he’s got a good means to produce the poles… I’ll be leaning on him for a drill press and his expertise to make the poles I need for the two industries loading them…

All in all, a good day, summed up in this picture of Josh admiring the two GP38AC’s:

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It will be fixed

In some respects, building something gives you knowledge of how something goes together.

It also (hopefully) gives you knowledge of how to repair it.

Due to the cold outside, the non-functioning humidifier on the furnace and the fact the basement is warmer now than in the summer led to another rather nasty kink in a really unfortunate spot: Parksville Junction.

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This shot, taken from above, illustrates what happens when things aren’t allowed to breathe.

The last time this happened, at the ballast spur turnout on the lower deck, I cut the rails and they managed to straighten themselves out.

Sadly, this didn’t happen here. After cutting some gaps, the rails did not return to where they should. As a result, some selective repair will now have to take place.

Here’s the progress on the demolition:

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Wish me luck!


Modelling…

So the past few weeks have been primarily occupied with getting web pages done up for SUPERTRAIN – not so much for the public, but for the people who will bring their displays and wares to the show.

But that’s not to say I haven’t been doing nothing for the layout. Thanks to Dave Bedard for inviting Cam and I down to his place over a few evenings over the past few occasional weekends to do some modelling. He’s worked on some of his locomotives, a couple of mine (those GP38AC’s you saw in Jason Shron’s pictures? Now painted and decoderized, just getting the final details added like handrails, grab irons, lift rings, etc. I’ll fill you in on those, with pictures, once they’re complete.

Actually, that was more Dave and Cam’s work. I’ve been working on a rather unique car that was rather essential for the layout:

The CP skeleton log flats.

These cars are really spindly things, purpose built for carrying logs and poles. I’ll be loading them with the latter, and there in lies the challenge for modelling such a car: there’s nowhere to put weight when the car runs empty. Kaslo made a resin model but resin isn’t a heavy material, and there’s just a tiny cavity in the centre sill to put weight. To operate my layout, properly, I need to be able to deliver empty cars to the two industries in Courtenay, and the resin cars are simply not able to be made heavy enough to operate properly. Solutions were investigated, including photo-etch brass (filled with liquid gravity), shapeways metal, and borrowing the centre sill from an Atlas Trainman bulkhead flat car.

Until Cam found, quite by accident on Walthers, a kit of the very car I need, made entirely from solid cast pewter (aka, metal), from Custom Finishing. In stock for around $27, an order for four cars was quickly placed and picked up when they arrived at Hobbytech.

The kits were produced back in the late 90’s and thankfully didn’t sell out (either that or the molds still function) so I could get them some 15 years later.

They are as old school as you can imagine. Though the direction sheet indicates these are an easy build, nothing could be farther from the truth. The amount of filing and fiddling with these kits is the most I have ever seen…I would charitably say that between Cam and I, we’ve filed about a half-ounce of pewter from the parts that make up a single car.

But the results I think will be more than worth the effort. Especially when I think of how much time I would’ve spent trying to learn and design the car from photos and crude folio drawings, without any assurance of the resulting parts coming out to my satisfaction.

You tell me: doesn’t this partially finished car look pretty good?

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The car is sitting on ExactRail 70 ton trucks (complete with semi-scale 33″ wheels) with Kadee 78 couplers. The kit needs a thorough washing, shimming the two centre bunks and gluing to the sill, but otherwise ready for paint and decals. Two other cars are in process, coming close to the same state, and the fourth hasn’t come out of the bag yet. I’m likely going to leave it like that to get a rough idea what the starting and finishing weights are.

I suppose the caboose deserves mention too. It’s an older Athearn end-cupola steel caboose, factory dipp…err, painted in CP script for international service. That scheme is way old for my layout, so out came the windows, off came the roof walk and cupola. After a good long soak in 99% iso, plus plenty of scrubbing, the car is as you see it now. Cam also plugged the old roof walk holes, and it’ll be seeing a few coats of True Line Trains Action Yellow and decalled for CP Rail. So after that is finished and I have another one arriving from Florida via eBay, I’ll have, I think, enough cabeese to operate the layout. But all of them will be stand-ins.

And that is a bit of a shame. The cupola is wrong, the roof is supposed to be a peaked raised panel roof instead of a curved roof, and the windows are not right. Yes, they’re steel, have the cupola at the end and painted in the right colours. And for now, that will do. There just isn’t a kit (yet) available for the proper caboose, and I’m not going to scratchbuild five of them either. I did have an opportunity to get a proper brass caboose, painted in the right paint scheme, for $300-ish but the wife vetoed that purchase. And in some respect, I’m glad she did. Because what the island had was a consistent fleet of cabeese, and having one correct and several stand-ins would’ve made the correct one stick out like a sore thumb. So until I’m able to do a wholesale replacement, the stand-ins will have to do.

Sorry for the novel on such a tiny aspect of the building, but it’s something to read…

Cheers!


Best photo yet!

I think this photo warrants it’s own post.  Cam (left) and I standing beside a few trains (Arrowsmith on top, Parksville – complete with in-progress units 3000 and 3004, and Mud Bay below) and looking quite thrilled at the progress made on the layout.

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Photo undeniably by Jason Shron, stolen without permission from Rapido Train’s blog.


Trackwork complete in Courtenay!

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July 31, 2012

Spent the evening tonight doing a lot of cleaning up in the basement.  Things were getting out of hand, messes were everywhere and for some reason, that one sweepstick (30″ radius) was still missing.

So, I used some of those shelf brackets, put them up fairly high up on the standards and put the 2″ strips of wood up there, additional standards yet to be installed and some of the additional strips of wood.  The larger pieces all got consolidated as well out of the way and the floor thoroughly swept.

One could say I made a clean sweep, as I did locate the sweepstick on the floor.

Oh yeah, the other major change was the moving of the chop saw.  For quite some time, it resided up against the wall that was soon to have benchwork installed on it.  It’s now in front of Bryn, with a sheet of plastic stretched across the three decks behind the chop saw to protect it from flying debris and a whole ton of sawdust.

All this done to facilitate more work this upcoming long weekend!

Cheers!


Completely unrelated to the model railway

I suppose this is worthy enough of a post, even though the only times I’ve been down to the basement over the past while were to access the contents of the fridge and freezer at the base of the stairs…

The Southern Railway of Vancouver Island and it’s owner, the Island Corridor Foundation, have managed to convince the Federal and Provincial governments to buck up the 15 million to do enough rehabilitation to the railway’s Victoria Sub to reinstate the Dayliner service.  Initially, it’ll run from Nanaimo to Vic West – owing to the removal of the Blue Bridge into Victoria, the railway won’t serve Victoria proper again – but in time, I’m hoping the line all the way to Courtenay will see passenger service again.

It would be a very unsafe bet to make that I don’t travel out to Vancouver Island to ride the train when it comes back into service!

I’m exceedingly happy about this news!


March 25, 2012

I’m sure you’ve visited the blog at least once or twice in the past month wondering whether I’m still alive.

Yes, I am.  Apologies but as of late, haven’t really had much time.  Been busy with getting things ready to go for SUPERTRAIN (I do the design work for all the printed materials, so it’s been a fair bit of work) and just haven’t had any ability/inclination to head downstairs.

Once the show wraps up, will likely head back down to get some more done.

Jon


Smartphone Friendly!

I host my own WordPress site. Until today, that meant a lot of people who view my site on a smartphone or an iPad got to view the regular desktop version of the website. Given the links and intended large size of the screen, this made for a poor user experience. (Those who host their blogs on WordPress.com didn’t have this to worry about…)

But starting today, those who access my site from a small device like an iPhone or an Android device can now see the content in a format much more suited to their screen, and is much better on bandwidth consumed in accessing the site, so your data plan won’t get smacked just from viewing the blog. Note that you will still have access to all the content, just in a different format.

If you have any feedback on this, either leave a comment on this post or send me an email.

Cheers!


I host a prolific manufacturer

Amazing what happens when things fall into place…

A few days ago I contacted Jason Shron of Rapido Trains to advise I had taken a couple days off work to help him out with his “Canadian on tour” while he was here in Calgary. He readily agreed to this and we met up a short distance from my work on Tuesday evening. Things got really interesting from there… To the point that he didn’t want to stay at the hotel he booked for himself and ended up accepting my offer of my guest room when all the other hotel rooms in Calgary were taken up. The full details are available first here:

June 22nd

And here:

June 24th

You can see a couple pictures of me and the layout on Wednesday morning. While Jason’s writing makes it look like it’s all my work, nothing could be further from the truth… This layout is just as much Cam’s as it is mine… It just happens to be in my basement and built with my funds.

Thanks for coming out Jason, and you can come back anytime for a visit. Just make sure you bring warmer clothes. 🙂

And for the rest of you… Do order a Canadian set or two. He alludes to manufacturing an RDC model but it won’t happen unless sales of the Canadian are really, really good…

Cheers!


Work still progressing

So with Taxes (ugh), house cleaning and the various bits of other things that take up my time, I’m remiss with getting updates done.  Oh yeah, and also a few other things like working on Murray’s home layout.

So far, we have completed four turns on the main helix, the majority of the benchwork for the peninsula is in place (Trackboards still need to be cut and secured though) and the amount of track laid has tripled from March.  Of course, that’s easy to do when the helix chews up a lot of track going around and around and around… And unfortunately, Cam and I discovered my work with the 26″ radius 60° arc design was a little flawed.  When the start of the helix construction came around, we discovered the shape didn’t match the 120° arcs and the ready-rod wouldn’t work due to lack of support on many of the inside holes.  So they got pitched and we’ll need a few more 120° 26″ radius arcs cut.  But we’ll likely have enough to connect Parksville with the lower deck, and at some point soon, we’ll be able to run trains from the middle deck to the lower deck.  Not going very far mind you, but it’s still progress.

I’ve also started building the Code 70 turnouts for the visible portions of the layout.  They’ll be needed in a hurry for the Parksville area.

And with that, I think I’m going to build a few more…

 


Updates still coming

I’m finding time I wanted to put updates into WordPress hasn’t quite materialized as I had hoped.

I’m still wanting to post details as to what happened in the three weekends early in March as there was certainly progress on the layout, but I just want to get this live.

Cheers!