CNR 10-wheelers in 1:48

While reading the just-published November-December 2014 issue of The O Scale Resource, I scanned the ad from the 3rd Rail Division of Sunset Models, and noticed this:

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(Click on the image to visit the 3rd Rail website)

While Sunset’s die-cast line does not always live up to the more discerning modeller’s expectations, I’m pretty impressed by the CPR 4-6-0s they offered a few years ago. And at US$1299.95 each, the price quoted on the reservation page for these CNR 10-wheelers can’t be beat – not when compared to the going rate for most 1:48 brass steam, and not when one considers that these are the only choice for CNR 10-wheelers in O scale.

Sunset’s CNR 10-wheelers will open up many possibilities for those working in O scale to create a steam-era Achievable Layout. In fact, I’ve written about several possibilities on this blog, including:

CNR – Southampton Sub in S (layout plan)

CNR – The Wiarton Spiral (layout plan)

CNR – Waterloo Sub to Galt (concept sketches)

Enjoy if you (re)visit.

Meantime, if you’re interested in these then get your reservations in – and start saving. The CNR 10-wheelers are scheduled to arrive next year.

The Green Line

Two posts on other blogs caught my attention this week.

To start, Marty McGuirk shares a few of the lessons he’s learned from building four large model railways over the past two decades. Click on the image, below, to read more…

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I suspect Marty’s post is, in part, the result of a conversation he and Bernard Kempinski had recently about how layout size/complexity affects happiness in the hobby. Bernie has created a terrific graph that illustrates the relationship. Again, click on the image, below, to read more…

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I’m definitely on the “green line” on that graph – and I suspect most people in the hobby are too. In North America, many publications (and their advertisers) promote the “bigger is better” (red) or “large and complex is the only approach” (blue) lines of thinking. That can lead the new hobbyist to attempt layouts that are beyond their skill level or too demanding of their time, energy and money. There’s nothing quite as discouraging as spending several hours working on a layout and then realizing that the progress made was insignificant, compared to the whole.

Less complex layouts can be of any size – my home layout occupies 15 by 30 feet and if I had twice the space I’d do the same layout. Yet because they’re less complex, they offer measurable rewards after every work session.

I remember building two turnouts in an evening, and realizing I was 1/4 of the way to having all of my turnouts done. That encouraged me to build the remaining six over the balance of the week. Had I been faced with a project requiring, say, 100 turnouts, I might have defied Marty’s observation that “There’s nothing worth watching on television” and spent my time avoiding the task instead of tackling it with enthusiasm, knowing that there was an end in sight.

Why trees are important

That may seem like an odd title for a post on a layout design blog, but bear with me…

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Over the past week, I’ve been building trees for the Lynn Valley area of my home layout. (If you want to read more about this, visit my Port Rowan blog.)

I enjoy building stuff – it’s why I’m in this hobby as opposed to, say, a collecting-driven hobby such as sports cards, coins or stamps. And it’s a good thing that I enjoy building stuff, because there are more than 50 trees in my model of the valley – so far. I’ll need at least that many again to complete the scene:
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With the exception of a few evergreens that I acquired from a friend, I have built all of these trees from basic materials: wire, flexible modelling paste, poly-fiber and leaf material.

I don’t do this because I’m trying to save money on trees, although I just did the calculation and each home-made tree cost me less than $2.50 to create so there’s certainly an argument for doing it oneself.

And I certainly don’t do it to save time because each tree takes one to three hours (spread over three or four days because there’s a lot of drying time involved in crafting the armatures).

Rather, it’s a matter of personal preference.

I’m fussy about trees. I appreciate that to be cost effective, commercial offerings need to be mass produced. But I’m underwhelmed by most commercial trees – not only the ready to plant ones, but also the kits. So to get the trees I want, I have to build them myself.

What do I want? For starters, I feel that each tree has to be custom-crafted to fit the space. What height does it have to be? What shape? Is it in the middle of a forest, or at the edge? Is it near water, or a field, or other open space where it can grow sideways as well as up to catch more sunlight? And does it have a practical role to play on the layout, such as hiding a non-prototypical tunnel or the spot where a river hits the backdrop?

I also feel that trees need to be big – much bigger than we typically model them. And I feel they need to be well done because trees tell a meaningful story to the greatest number of people who see my layout. In fact, I would argue that they tell a more meaningful story than my locomotives. That’s because few people could look at my locomotives and determine whether they’re accurate models of the real thing:

- For those who are not in the hobby, or who know nothing about CNR steam locomotives, the most they could say with certainty is, “Yes – those are steam locomotives”.

– For those who know something about CNR steam locomotives, the most they could say with certainty is, “Yes – those are CNR steam locomotives”.

– Only those few who know a lot about CNR steam locomotives could say with certainty, “Yes – that’s a CNR 2-6-0″.

– Even fewer still could say “Yes – that’s how CNR 80 looked in the era that’s being modelled”.

By contrast, everyone who sees my layout knows what a tree looks like.

- An arborist or avid gardener might look at my trees the way a CNR steam expert looks at my locomotives. And they would probably find fault with my trees, which – I’ll freely admit – tend to be generic.

– But most visitors will find them convincing – more convincing than if I’d followed a quicker, easier method to create my forest. (I know this from the reactions of visitors, as well at how people react when I post scenery pictures to my layout blog or other online fora.)

There are many people in this hobby who will argue that convincing trees aren’t worth spending the time on. I’ll only say that’s a personal decision – and let my tree models argue in my favour.

There are lots of articles telling us how to cover scale acres of landscape with forest using techniques billed as “fast” or “easy” – or both. Again, whether one is satisfied with the results is a personal decision. But for me, trees are a no-compromise item. A convincing tree is worth the time invested.

However, they do take time.

As I noted, I’ve built almost 50 trees for the Lynn Valley area of my layout. That means I’ve invested 50 to 150 hours to build these trees – and yet I’m only half done. Then there are the other areas of the layout, which will probably require another 50 trees – at least, because as every layout builder who has planted trees knows, it requires an astonishing number of them to make a forest.

Not everybody pursues craftsmanship in this hobby. But I try to – and one of the advantages of designing and building an achievable layout is that it has allowed me to invest the time required to build the things I need done right. For me, that includes building convincing trees to frame the scenes through which my trains run.

Along the way, I’ve learned a new technique that has added to my satisfaction with the hobby – a technique I would probably have rejected out of hand as “too time consuming” had I been trying to build a huge layout.

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The wrong way to think about “minimum”

Yeah – “wrong” is a strong word and it’s bound to cause some grief.

But I’ve been designing layouts for myself and others for about 40 years, and based on that experience I would argue that most people in the hobby think about the wrong things when they think about the term “minimum”.

I saw examples of this in several threads I followed online this week. The discussions were on various fora and newsgroups – and they dealt with various scales, gauges, eras and so on. But they all shared a common thought:

The person who started the discussion was trying to figure out how to get away with using a smaller minimum radius or a smaller minimum turnout size for their layout.

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(The largest turnout on my S scale layout – a Number 10 at St. Williams, Ontario – is large enough that it looks like a turnout on a real railway. If ever I build another layout, I will use more of these. My minimum turnout is a Number 7 – a size I only use for freight-only spur tracks.)

Presumably, the people who started these discussions want to maximize the fun factor of their layout by maximizing the amount of layout they can fit into their train room. The theory is that the more track one packs into the space, the more fun the layout will be.

(Track manufacturers certainly like this theory because they sell more track that way. And many of their layout-building customers demand Number 4 and Number 6 turnouts – so those are the most common sizes produced. Fewer manufacturers offer a Number 8 – and I don’t know of any that offer a Number 9 or larger as a ready-to-use product.)

But quantity isn’t the only way to measure the fun in a layout. Instead of trying to determine the minimum radius one can get away with, a better approach – I believe – is to determine the maximum radius one can accommodate. If one insists on considering a minimum, here’s a good place to start:

What’s the minimum amount of trackage I really need to create a satisfying layout?

Real railways maximize curve radius and turnout sizes. Broader curves and larger turnouts translate into higher track speed and less wheel wear. At the same time, real railways minimize the amount of track they build, paring it down to the essentials – because track costs money to build and maintain. A real railway will never use two turnouts where one will suffice.

Now that's long! photo 10Turnout-01.jpg
(The Number 10 turnout for St. Williams – under construction. Look at how long that frog is, when compared to the caboose.)

Those who are interested in building train sets will continue to focus on minimum track standards, to pack the most track into their available space. But what they’ll end up with is a train set. Even the largest layouts will look like a train set if the curves are too tight and the available real estate is packed to the edges with ties and rail.

At the other end of the spectrum, those who are interested in replicating a real railway in miniature would do well to pay more attention to maximizing their track standards – and minimizing the amount of track they plan to build in their layout space.

There are many good reasons for this approach. But here’s one to think about:

Nobody ever tore down a layout because the curve radius was too large, or the turnouts were too big.

But lots of layouts have ended up in the bin because curves and turnouts were too small.

Zurich: A ghost town you can model

My recent post about the Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge prompted to me to revisit my many books on the three-foot gauge Keeler Branch – and the result is this closer look at what could be done with this prototype in a modest space.

While the SP Narrow Gauge is a small prototype, the two terminals – Laws and Keeler – would require a fair bit of length to model properly. The mid-point connection with the standard gauge Southern Pacific at Owenyo would also be a space-eater. None of them is very complex, however, and I may draw them up … some time.

But let’s start with a more modest undertaking: Zurich, California:
Zurich-1954 photo ZurichCA-1954-BillPoole_zpsa4a85c0a.jpg

That’s Zurich in the early 1950s as captured by Bill Poole and found on the Carson and Colorado Railway blog. Click on the image to visit the blog, and consider donating to help the railway restore SP #18 – a 4-6-0 that ran on the Keeler Branch.

As the image suggests, Zurich was a pretty small town in a dramatic setting. Today, Zurich is a bona fide Ghost Town. Desiccated timber, crumbling concrete and a plaque marking the former location of the station are all that remain:
Zurich-Marker photo Zurich-Marker_zps80b603d8.jpg
(Click on the image to read more about the Keeler Branch on the Abandoned Rails website)

But in happier days – the kind we like to model – Zurich generated a respectable amount of traffic for the SP Narrow Gauge. In Southern Pacific’s Slim Princess in the Sunset, author Joe Dale Morris notes Zurich had a 20′ x 46′ depot, plus the following customers:

Blue Star Grinding shipped Talc, Marble, Clay and other products from its plant. Many of these were in bags, shipped in boxcars.
A loading ramp south of the depot was used to load gondolas with talc and soda ash.
The Standard Oil Company had a facility to receive petroleum for the area in tank cars.
The stock pens shipped cattle and sheep in stock cars.

That’s a great variety of car types for such a small place. Here’s how they look when laid out on a layout that’s fairly faithful to the prototype:

SPNG-Zurich CA-On3 or On30 photo SPNG-Zurich-On3_zpsc28d38d9.jpeg
(Click on the image to view a larger version)

In this plan – designed for the O scale enthusiast (in “n3″ or “n30″) – Laws is to the right, while heading left takes one to the transfer yard at Owenyo and beyond that to Keeler. I describe it as “fairly faithful” because the oil dealer spur should actually connect to the mainline between the two double-ended sidings. The way I drew it saves a considerable amount of length without compromising the operation.

Zurich would make for a manageable, but interesting, narrow gauge layout. The modelled portion takes up 17 feet (plus staging to either end, which could be accomplished with a sector plate), which is pretty good for O scale, even O scale narrow gauge. (This same plan could be used for Sn3 in 12′-9″. However, I’d be tempted to keep the layout at 17 feet and add more distance between the structures for an appropriately relaxed presentation.)

I’ve designed Zurich to fit a 24″ deep space, perhaps on top of storage shelves. But if one had more depth then I’d suggest adding 6″ to the back. One could also make the layout 36″ deep, adding 8″ to the back and 4″ to the front. With this kind of depth available, I’d also be tempted to run the main at a slight angle to the front edge for additional visual interest.

And switching Zurich would be interesting too. It’s not a puzzle layout but there’s still plenty to do and not much track in which to do it. Stock cars would have to be moved when switching Blue Star, and in reading about the Keeler Branch I believe that the Laws-bound train would switch the trailing point spurs and leave any pick-ups on one of the double-ended sidings to collect on the return trip to Owenyo.

The wide open spaces and flat terrain around Zurich suggest an high-level layout – perhaps up to the breastbone – while the incredible mountains in the background demand a backdrop with curved corners.

This would be a great layout for the hobbyist who loves to build things. The SP Narrow Gauge is very well documented and the wooden rolling stock and structures lend themselves to scratch-building. What’s more, a high layout with strong lighting would be a great place to display one’s craftsmanship. Finding prototype steam power in On3 will require hunting for a brass 10-wheeler, but Rich Yoder Models has imported the GE 50-Ton diesel “Little Giant” in On3 and On30 – and as reader Bill Uffelman notes, Bachmann’s On30 “Tweetsie” 4-6-0 would work as a good stand-in with some redetailing and the addition of a Whaleback tender from Wiseman Model Services. Backwoods Miniatures also offers a Whaleback tender kit as part of their On30 line.

In Sn3, PBL and Railmaster have done the 10-wheelers (in RTR brass and in kit form, respectively).

Looking for more information? I highly – highly – recommend Joe’s book. It’s out of print, but click on the cover to launch an AbeBooks search:
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The Desert Princess

The Southern Pacific’s Keeler Branch in California was an other-worldly place.

It was a place where whaleback tender-equipped 10-wheelers hauled classic narrow gauge boxcars, gondolas, flat cars, stock cars, tank cars, specialized hoppers and water cars, plus unique cabooses. Trains ran past weather-worn structures and through spectacular scenery that ranged from fertile to desert, framed by the incredible Sierra Nevada, Inyo and White Mountain ranges, to serve small towns and large resource industries.

And, it’s a great subject for an achievable layout – in narrow or even standard gauge.

It’s a narrow gauge modeler’s delight and a scratch-builder’s dream – especially for someone looking for an alternative to the Colorado three-foot lines. What’s more, the SPNG is incredibly well-documented. There are a lot of top-notch books on the line, including Southern Pacific’s Slim Princess in the Sunset 1940-1960 by Joe Dale Morris and Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Locomotives and Freight Equipment by Robert A. Bader – both published by the SP Historical and Technical Society. While these are my favourites, a number of other books have been published too. There’s plenty of information about the SPNG – including hundreds of photos and excellent track diagrams for many of the places along the line.
Morris-SPNG photo Morris-SPNG_zpsa47fd30f.jpg Bader-SPNG photo Bader-SPNG_zpsd4dee8ed.jpg

For atmosphere, the Classic Railroad Videos series from A&R Productions includes The Desert Princess. (In fact, it’s their best-selling title, according to their website.) Here’s a very short clip, courtesy of the publisher:

So what’s missing? Well, frankly, there’s not much commercially available for the SPNG in any scale. And that’s a shame. In Sn3, P-B-L imported some SPNG steam locomotives at one point, but they’re hard to find. Here’s one that turned up recently in an online auction:
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PBL-SPNG-8 photo PBL-SPNG-8-02_zps707ca821.jpg

Also in Sn3, Railmaster offers a kit for SPNG locomotives – one that even the manufacturer admits is a challenge:
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I recall seeing brass models in On3 and HOn3 as well, but as with all things brass they’re hard to come by.

For diesel fans, Rich Yoder Models did an On3 model of SP-1 – a GE end-cab unit known as “Little Giant”. I wrote a review of this model – also offered in O standard and On30 – for Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, and the review is posted online here.

The rest of the equipment is also problematic. Some craftsman kits exist for freight cars in Sn3. If there’s other equipment available, I haven’t encountered it. The fact that one can spend a day doing Google searches on modelling this line and turn up almost nothing by way of equipment is most telling of the challenge one would face.

That said, one could use stand-in models. In On30, the Bachmann 2-6-0 is two wheels short but is a suitable small steam locomotive – and the modeller could do some kit bashing and scratch-building to give it a whaleback tender and SP-ify it. And narrow gauge equipment tends to have advantages over standard gauge stuff when it comes to scratch-building. First, it tends to be of simple, wooden designs, which are easier to build that riveted steel cars. Second, a layout doesn’t need a whole lot of equipment since narrow gauge freight cars are, by their very nature, in captive service: They don’t roam the national rail network, because they can’t.

If narrow gauge is not your thing then in HO standard gauge, the Bachmann 10-wheeler would be a decent start for a smooth-running model. Again, it would need modifications to make it more SP-like. Or one could standard gauge the branch and use SP 2-6-0s from Glacier Park Models (O scale), River Raisin Models (S), or Iron Horse Models (HO).

It’ll come as no surprise that I have not found many layouts online that depict The Desert Princess. Byron Henderson has created a layout plan for HOn3, which can be found on his Layout Vision website. Better yet, find the Morris and Bader books and work right from the prototype plans they contain.

Meantime, I hope someone of influence at one of the larger manufacturers catering to the narrow gauge community (a Bachmann or a Mountain Model Imports, for instance) grabs the Morris and Bader books and falls in love. It would be easy to do, and both SP modelers and freelancers would delight in models of the SP’s narrow gauge 10-wheelers (Numbers 8, 9 and 18 are the most famous), interesting freight equipment, and distinct water cars and cabooses. On3/On30 models would have a lovely presence without overwhelming a layout space, and one could spend a great deal of rewarding hobby time switching the modest yet interesting yard at Laws, California… the transfer yard at Owenyo… or the talc company at Keeler.

Well worth a look if you’re in the market for something a little different!

70 Tons of Achievable Fun

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This post differs a little from the standard fare on this blog, as it’s not about a specific railway that would be a good candidate for an achievable layout. Rather, it’s about a favourite locomotive of mine – one that is ideal for the modest trains that an achievable layout will support.

The General Electric 70 Tonner could be found on many railways, including large ones like the Southern Pacific (21 units) and Canadian National (18). But its real home was on smaller lines. Whether short lines or serving industries with line-haul operations, some 200 examples of GE’s bantam-weight road switcher could be found across North America.

Now, author Ronald D. Sims has released a 172-page survey of the 70 Tonner. Published by Shade Tree Books, this softcover contains more than 270 photos and 70 Tons of data about these tiny yet useful diesels.

I learned a lot of neat stuff from my copy, and I was inspired by many of the photos of these locomotives working on short lines, industrial customers, former interurban railways, and the like. Any of these could be the rabbit hole down which a model railway enthusiast could fall in search of a modest-sized prototype that would be an excellent subject for a layout that doesn’t become a time suck or a bank-breaker.

Three of the short lines covered here come to mind.

The Modesto and Empire Traction Company in California fielded an extensive roster of 70 Tonners in active service into the 21st Century. I wrote a two-part layout design feature on the METRR in October 2007 and November 2007 issues of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. I also wrote about detailing and painting HO scale 70 Tonners for the METRR in the April 2004 issue.

The Santa Maria Valley RR is another California shoreline that once rostered a fleet of 70 Tonners to serve a large sugar beet processing plant at Betteravia. Byron Henderson has developed a layout plan based on the SMVRR. And the Santa Maria valley Railway Historical Museum has a nice HO scale layout based on this line, although the website has not been updated since 2006…

Finally, the Fort Dodge Des Moines and Southern Railroad used many 70 Tonners painted in an attractive white and orange scheme that I think did a nice job of paying tribute to its interurban heritage. I’ve never run across anybody modelling the Fort Dodge line, but I’m sure you’re out there somewhere.

Those are three examples – there are many more, as this book on GE’s 70 Tonners ably demonstrates. Highly recommended. Give it a look.

A century of ketchup-making

News broke yesterday that HJ Heinz Co. will close its plant in the town of Leamington in southwestern Ontario. 740 people will be out of work as Heinz turns the page on more than a century of ketchup-making in Southwestern Ontario at one of its largest facilities.
Heinz Leamington Aerial photo HeinzFactoryAerial_zpsc69b4e79.jpg
(Click on the image to read more about Heinz in Leamington)

Leamington and Heinz are like cheese and crackers – they just go together. Stompin’ Tom wrote a song about the Leamington Tomato:

The town’s water tank was painted like a tomato. The tourist information booth is shaped like a giant tomato.

And for the past 30 years the town has staged an annual Tomato Festival. (It’s too soon to tell if the 2014 festival will go ahead in light of Heinz’s move, but nobody would blame the town if they created a new event to throw rotten tomatoes at the legendary factory.)

But what, I hear you ask, does this have to do with layout design? Good question.

At one time, the Canada Southern Railway had a branch that ran roughly 15 miles south from the mainline at Comber, Ontario to Leamington. It passed through a couple of farming communities – there were elevators at Staples and Blytheswood – but its main customer was – you guessed it – the Heinz plant at the end of the line.

In later years, this line was transferred to the Canadian National:
Leamington Header photo Leamington-Header-Resize_zps47f720e3.jpg
(Photo by Geoff Elliot – click on the image to see more of Geoff’s work at RailPictures.ca)

In larger scales such as S and O, the community of Leamington would make an ideal, achievable layout. As the CNR track diagram from 1985 (below) shows, the railway had a modest yard in Leamington, and several spurs serving Heinz:
CNR Leamington Track Map - 1985 photo TrackMap-Zone-LE_zpsef71851b.jpg
(Click on the map to view a larger, easier to read version)

One could be kept quite busy shuttling cars into spot order and dropping them in the various spurs around the plant. Given that this is a production facility operating in the modern era, it would probably be necessary to switch at specific times when workers are not in and around the cars, too.

The plant itself is quite interesting, with a variety of textures and stacks, including a large stack with Heinz spelled out in the brickwork. Sean Marshall (no relation) has a photo set for Leamington on Flickr which includes several shots of Heinz. Enjoy if you visit.

Back to the track map: Note the level crossing with the C&O. In later years, this was truncated to either side of the crossing and became part of the CNR’s operation. Known as the Leamington Industrial Spur, it served a cluster of industries located around the former Pere Marquette station to the east of the crossing. Five spurs branched off the former C&O/PM main and customers included fuel dealers, a cannery or two, a lumber yard and a building supply company. For more information on this, visit Terry Link‘s excellent Canada Southern website. There, check out the “Maps” section, and look for “Track Charts – CN Leamington Branch 1995″. (I won’t link directly to Terry’s materials because, frankly, the site is such a great resource that you owe it to yourself to take a good look around.)

Including the industrial spur and Heinz would probably be a challenge in larger scales, given how the tracks radiate off in all directions. But in HO or N scale, it would be a more realistic proposition and still make for an achievable layout. In fact, in smaller scales one could probably model the entire 15 mile branch. Going this route, it would be tempting to run the calendar back to a Canada Southern steam-era line, and there’s plenty of info on Terry’s website to do that effectively. On the “Maps” page, for example, have a look at the M.P. McIlwaine collection, specifically the maps for Blytheswood, Comber, Leamington and Staples. (Such a layout would not feature the Leamington Industrial Spur – that would be part of the Pere Marquette – but on the other hand, that would make designing a layout plan that much easier. )

While you’re at Terry’s site, be sure to conduct a search for the town names I’ve listed. You’ll turn up a number of time tables plus and many photos that will get the creative juices flowing.

Leamington may be about to lose Heinz, but there are lots of good reasons to keep its memory alive in miniature as the basis for an achievable layout.

Jim Dufour’s B&M Cheshire Branch

This is one of my all-time favourite layouts, and definitely qualifies as achievable. Jim Dufour is building a slice of the Boston & Maine Railroad’s Cheshire branch through New Hampshire in HO scale.

Jim’s layout is basement-sized, but doesn’t fill the basement. There’s plenty of space for people as the layout hugs the basement walls. Jim resisted the temptation most people would have to pack the space with large yards, roundhouses, and major towns. Instead, he is modelling – very, very well – a couple of smaller places on the line.

At the west end, there’s Joslin. A depot, a passing siding, and a spur behind the station. Heading east, there are a couple of spurs before reaching a passing siding and station at Webb.

Continuing east on reaches the main town on the layout – Troy. Here, one finds a depot, a couple of other railway structures, and a couple of spur – one of which acts as a team track. There’s also a lap siding and double-ended siding serving the freight house. All very modest.

Next up is Fitzwilliam, with a siding and two spurs, surrounded by a depot, freight house, and a section house.

The last location modelled is State Line, with a depot and freight house on a passing siding. From there, it’s back to staging.

Notice the consistency from town to town: each has a depot, some have a freight house. Some have a spur or two for switching.

As you’ll see in the videos below – shot by our mutual friend David Haney during a recent visit to Jim’s layout – the places look right. There’s space where space should be. There’s great attention to detail. And the best part is that since this is still a layout under construction, there’s much more to come.

Jim’s layout is proof that an achievable layout can also be an excellent one. I always look forward to following Jim’s progress.

The Cow at Connors

Temiscouata at Connors photo Temiscouata-Lead_zpsba264527.jpg

Sometimes, I come across a standard gauge prototype that reminds me a whole lot more of a narrow gauge one. The first time I saw the above photo of the Temiscouata Railway I thought I was looking at a three-foot operation. It’s the cow, I think, that makes the scene – and there’s a story about the cow, but not just yet.

The Temiscouata Railway ran 81 miles southeast from Riviere du Loup, Quebec to Edmunston, New Brunswick. There, the line turns west to follow the Saint John River another 32 miles to reach Connors, New Brunswick.
Temiscouata-Map photo Temiscouata-Map_zps4f14235f.jpg

In the 1940s, the line rostered two 4-4-0s to handle passenger service – including the one seen in the lead photo. In addition, five 4-6-0s took care of freight (and covered for the 4-4-0s when they were in the shop). A round-trip passenger train ran as No. 1 and No. 2 between Riviere du Loup and Edmunston, taking about four hours for each direction and averaging about 20 MPH. The line from Edmunston to Connors saw mixed train service.

Traffic on the line reflected its path through New Brunswick and Quebec forests, and its role as a vital link to communities. Outbound loads consisted mostly of products from the lumber industry – including finished lumber, pulpwood, shingles, ties and poles. The balance included farm products like livestock, potatoes, and grains. Inbound traffic consisted of all the stuff one might expect delivered to small rural communities: merchandise, grain, flour, coal, and so on.

Now about that cow:

The photo was taken at Connors. This small terminal consisted of a single-stall engine house, a station, a hand-operated turntable, a water tank and a bunkhouse for the crew. A couple of sidings provide space for sorting cars and re-ordering the mixed train. And since this was a layover point for the crew, the place warranted a watchman to look after the locomotive overnight. The cow, apparently, belonged to him.

The model possibilities are tremendous, in a number of scales. The passenger train from Riviere du Loup to Edmundston was typically a three-car affair with wood-sided, clerestory-roofed equipment painted red. A combine, a coach and a baggage-mail car filled out the train and offer good variety for the modeller. Labelle Woodworking probably has some appropriate kits to use as starting points in HO or O scales.

In HO, the very nicely detailed and smooth-running 4-4-0 and 4-6-0 from Bachmann would be great starting points for detailing projects. I’m not sure about wheel spacing or diameters here, but hey – it’s the Temiscouata! Who’s going to challenge you?

Small standard gauge steam is harder to come by in larger scales such as S and O. That’s too bad, really: Such power would be easier to fit on a modest layout. With that in mind, another possibility would be to use this line as inspiration, and build it as an O scale narrow gauge operation – either On2, On30 or On3. (While that’s not the approach I would take – I think there’s something marvellous about the Temiscouata’s narrow gauge character and standard gauge stance – I leave that up to the reader.)

I first learned about this great, and manageable, prototype from a four-page article by Mike Runey that appeared in the May 1980 issue of Railfan & Railroad magazine. It originally appeared in the June 1948 issue of Railroad Magazine.

There’s also an excellent write-up on the Temiscouata Railway on the Old Time Trains website. Author Wendell Lemon has done a great job of providing a more extensive history, and has included many inspiring photos – including pictures of the 10-wheelers.

As I was preparing this post, I found a number of additional photos of the railway at the University of Moncton’s website for the Edmunston Campus:

- This photo shows 4-4-0 #11 on a turntable, possibly at Connors.

– Here’s a group of men around a section car at Connors.

– This is a lovely view of Connors, taken in 1894. Not much has changed by the time of the photo at the top of this posting, I’ll bet.

If you want to explore more, here are links to the pages. Note that the pages are in French and only a few images on each page are railway subjects, but even for anglo-only readers it’s a good way to spend a bit of time on the web!
Page One :: Page Two :: Page Three :: Page Four :: Page Five

My thanks to fellow narrow gauge enthusiast Tony Ferraro for reminding me about this great standard gauge prototype!

Oh – and one more thing: The railway is long gone, but its roadbed lives on as a cycling and hiking trail that connects Riviere du Loup to Edmunston. It’s called the Petit Temis – and you can read more about it here. What a great way to research one’s prototype…