Modelling the E&N in HO Scale in my basement


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.


February 19 & 20, 2012

I have an 8″ wide by 8′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood which unexpectedly got designated as a ‘holder of stuff’… Glue, contact cement, foam brushes, and various tools that never quite seem to make it back into the toolbox, but yet rarely used. It first started out on the benchwork that initially became Bryn, and when Bryn’s track was laid, we moved that sheet down. And then we moved it up when we laid track to Union Bay.

Well, this weekend we needed to move the shelf once again…This time to where we can keep it until scenery starts!



Cam came over on Saturday and Sunday and we finished off the trackwork out of the helix (yay! All helicies are done for trackwork!) and laid track to Arrowsmith siding. I hastily built a couple turnouts for the siding and then we got to benchwork. And did we ever go far!

Wrapped all the way around the end of the peninsula, and down the hill towards Port Alberni. Of particular interest is the fact it’s all supposed to be on a 1.7% grade from just past Arrowsmith all the way down to Port Alberni. I fully expect the port freight to really work but it’s going to be able to do the job without doubling the hill on account of the helix being a much heavier (and curvier) grade than the run up to the summit.

You’ll note I said “supposed to be”… Well, with what tools we possess, a digital angle indicator from Micromark, a really good vernier caliper and several levels and a pair of programs called “RiserCalc” and “GradeCalc”, we tried as best we can to make sure the risers are all at the correct height, cross-level and we still didn’t quite nail it. Some spots are a little steeper, and some less so. In the end, the digital level was discarded and the math made the grade. Looks pretty good.

When it came time to plan for how we’re going to incorporate Rogers Creek siding, we found a few things that didn’t quite work. Specifically, how to get a wider track spacing on the pieces of 4″ wide curved plywood… It would’ve required a sharper mainline radius, or purchasing another sheet of plywood and making poor use of it. In the end, we’re going to delete the siding from the plan on that plus the fact it would all be on a grade. Much as I’d like to have working handbrakes on my rolling stock, I just don’t see it in the cards, and I’m not one for sticking a pin up into the axles of cars to keep them on the grade in the siding.

At some point I’m going to need to get some dough and get going on the shelf standards and shelf brackets… I’m running out of benchwork I can build on!


February 12, 2012

A wonderful day!



Cam came over shortly after noon and we got started on working the track further up the helix. I had prepped the last few pieces of the benchwork earlier but Cam did the final adjustments before securing the track down.

After a bit of lunch, Dan joined us and we started working on the benchwork out of the helix towards Arrowsmith. After prepping a little more cork than necessary, we pressed on with the benchwork fully into Arrowsmith siding (admittedly, it was more of a storage track than an actual siding in 1988.) to be able to use up the cork.

I also cut off the top of a few ready rods close to where the track exits out of the helix.

A great day of progress!

January 28, 2012


And more helix! The port sub helix is now a couple turns taller after a good afternoon of Cam and I working away at the benchwork, track and wiring. One more full rotation for the track and we’ll be exiting the helix and towards the summit. And it all goes downhill from there!

January 21, 2012

In some respects, building a helix requires quite a few things to be done nearly all at the same time.

Such was the case when Cam came over to get some stuff done on the layout. Since we’ve pretty much done everything on the lower and middle decks, we started in on the upper helix to carry the track up towards the summit of the Port Alberni subdivision. We managed within the space of about two hours to wrap the benchwork around a revolution and a half, and a little over a half turn on the track.

And on a completely different topic…

I downloaded Google’s SketchUp, with the intent of learning how to model the stations along the line digitally in the effort of having the pieces laser cut, making the assembly effort to be better and hopefully produce a better finished piece.

We’ll see how things go…

January 13, 2011

Over the past week, spent time downstairs finishing up the wiring to the track laid.

So to date, all the bullfrogs are wired, the track has been wired.

Next up will be the helix up to the upper deck and to Arrowsmith siding and the grade down to Port Alberni!

January 9, 2012

Really quick update: drilled holes for feeders from Mud Bay siding through to end of track on the lower deck, dropped feeders into all of them and then hook up quite a few of them to the track before I ran out of juice…

January 8, 2012

Earlier this morning, decided to go downstairs and do some troubleshooting. Specifically, wireless troubleshooting. Quite a few months ago, came across a deal that I really couldn’t pass up: an older, radio equipped digitrax empire builder starter set, slightly used, complete with a DT400R throttle, DB150 booster, power supply and a UR91 radio reciever. Realistically, I could do without the first three as I already had them, but could definitely make use of them all. The last item was a missing link so to speak for operators who had a DT400R throttle. Without the UR91, their throttles would be missing major functionality.

And our testing of it from prior to the open house seemed to indicate the UR91 was a dud and needing a Florida vacation.

Well, this morning I tried the one throttle we received with the set, and had no luck. Then checked Loconet. All good. Then I tried another throttle and voila. The locos started responding. I relayed the results back to Cam and he brought his throttle (a DT400R) and play…err, tested it as well. No major issues there either. So I’ve got throttles to send on a trip to Digitrax for repairs and the UR91 stays put…well, maybe. I’m still not sold on it’s location for now…

Later this evening, went back downstairs and threaded and spliced in another section of bus wire, under the newly laid trackage between Buckley Bay and Union Bay, planned the feeder locations from Mud Bay through to the end of trackage and called it a night.


January 2, 2012

Today saw the finishing of the turnout for Buckley Bay, the laying of track up to Union Bay, and the building and install of the bullfrog controlling the Buckley Bay turnout.


Of note with the track between Buckley Bay and union bay is the loose bit of track. No spikes, no soldering of the rail joiners. Possibly no feeders either.

It’s in preparation of the install of the bridge over Hindoo Creek, a short 15-tie long bridge, where we have some room to install bridges.

For the most part, the benchwork doesn’t allow for many bridges, owing to the lack of vertical clearance. Such was the fate for the Englishman River Bridge, but being on the lower deck, space below allows for these scenic features.

Also of some importance to the list of things done yesterday, and while we’re on the topic of bridges, is the install of the final bit of benchwork between the end of the peninsula and the straight stretch of grade into Port Alberni. Cam and I left this for a while trying to figure out how to handle the several inch drop from the benchwork around the top of the peninsula to the bit that was installed at the same height as Port Alberni itself. The benchwork was installed to be level with the port alberni height and one giant leap up to the next level. The extra clearance will allow for the install of the trestle around mile 25 of the Port sub. Here’s a picture of said benchwork. The high spot is on the right.


With the near completion of the trackage on the lower two levels of the peninsula, efforts will now start towards the completion of the main helix and trackage towards Port Alberni. About time we started paying attention to the Port Sub, beyond the little bit around the Parksville area…