Wickham Car

Wickham Car

My recent post about the lovely speeder that my friend Stephen Gardiner printed for me reminds me that at some point I want to model a Wickham car, like the one shown above.

I believe the railway museum in Smiths Falls, Ontario has examples from both the CNR and CPR (at least, they did about a decade ago, but I don’t know if they’re still there*). I think it’s a handsome piece of non-revenue equipment and – in S at least – it would be straightforward to motorize it.

I’m a member of the Wickam group on Yahoo so I’m already doing my research. But if anybody has information about these cars – especially drawings – I’d love to hear from you!

(*UPDATE: Thanks to Guy Papillon, who shared a link to the museum with more information about the Wickham cars in its collection. It appears the museum has CP M-297 and CNR #23.)

Roll-by inspection

A member of CNR’s section gang pauses on the siding in St. Williams to give a roll-by inspection to a passing freight:

Roll-by

Roll by

Roll by

On Wednesday, my friend Stephen Gardiner visited for an operating session – and left me with a nice present. Stephen had drawn up a speeder for a 3D print job in HO scale, and wondered how it would turn out in S. So he revisited his drawings and the result is what you see above. While I’ve posed it on the siding in St. Williams, Stephen’s modifications for printing in 1:64 included providing pockets for extendable wooden handles so the speeder can be posed with a figure hauling it on or off the rails, if I so desire. Thanks Stephen – what a great little detail!

The ops session went well, considering that I haven’t run the layout in a while. Stephen took on the conductor’s role, while I clambered into the engineer’s seat on CNR 80. We had one derailment – possibly due to the freight car truck seizing up a little since it hasn’t been moved in many, many weeks.

Our biggest problem came from misaligned couplers – my fault, for not stopping ahead of coupling to let Stephen do a visual inspection. I don’t use the centring spring that comes with the Kadee 808s – I don’t like how it makes the draft gear bounce in and out, and I don’t really mind that the couplers sometimes need to be aligned manually. I just need to remember that all-important and most prototypical pause before attempting coupling.

Of course, I also need to run my own layout more often: I was pretty heavy-handed on the throttle and was guilty of some pretty hard couplings as a result. I’m sure that the conductor is going to give me a proper dressing down for spilling the coffee in the van!

A few days earlier, I’d updated the files in the LokSound decoders I use – from a beta file to the full production file for SOO 1003, which is my current sound file of choice. The 80 sounds better than ever, although I need to tweak a few volume settings and substitute a different air pump sound file. All in good time…

Stephen is currently planning a new, prototype-based switching layout for his home office space, and is writing about it on his blog. You can following the link to his latest post on the Liberty Village layout – and I highly recommend that you follow along.

Stephen and I have been talking about traffic density a fair bit – specifically, about finding the right balance between realistic appearance and sufficiently engaging operations on a small layout. It’s often tempting to fill a small layout with track, but there are other ways to boost the play value – which is something I’ve been demonstrating (I hope) on my model of the line to Port Rowan. It’s a medium-sized layout, at approximately 14×30 feet, but has just eight turnouts and lots of space devoted to a single track running through the landscape. It doesn’t work for everybody but it does for me.

Ops paperwork and throttle - 2017-11-08
(The work desk at St. Williams: The switch list shows there’s a lot of traffic today)

Because of these discussions, I set up the layout with a bit more switching than I normally do. In addition to several cars to drop and spot, I placed an off-spot car on the run-around in Port Rowan, which added some complexity to our switching duties. I’m pleased that even with the extra work, the session went smoothly and we had a fun time.

Afterwards, my wife joined us as we retired to Harbord House for dinner and drinks. The newest item on the menu – dill pickles breaded in cornmeal and deep fried – are out of this world delicious.

Great to see you, Stephen – and thanks so much for the speeder!

CNR 3737: Test of Wisdom

On Friday, Andy Malette and I returned to working on our CNR S-3-a Mikados. With other commitments we had taken the summer off, and much of the autumn – our last day in the workshop was in mid-May – and it was time to get back at it.

Andy had cut and filed some sheet brass for us to fold into the covered steam turret located immediately in front of the cab. (Thanks, Andy!) I removed the exposed turret and the various lines that radiated from it, then bent the shroud and soldered it into place. It took some doing, and some cleaning up afterwards, but it’s in place.

CNR 3737 turret shroud

The next step was to start plumbing the turret (and the air pump, and the feed water heater, and…) … but I looked at the photos and looked at the model and nothing was making sense. We still had an hour set aside to work on things, but I realized that due to a combination of things (including lack of sleep the night before), I just didn’t have the focus to tackle the plumbing on Friday. So, we called it a day.

It was hard to do that – it has been months since we worked on these locomotives and I’m enjoying the process as much as watching new models come together. But I realized that I could do more damage than good if I kept at it. Upon reflection, it was the wisest decision I could’ve made.

I reminded myself of this today, while revisiting the model in the comfort of my own workshop. I again took a look at plumbing and, after installing one pipe between air pump and turret, pushed back from the bench and called it a day. Again, a hard decision to make – but the right one.

CNR 3737 turret shroud

I will look at the project later this week. Meantime, Andy and I are planning another day in his shop, later this month. I’ll do my best to get more sleep beforehand!

“All hat, no cattle”

As I’ve been migrating the photos for this blog off Photobucket, I’ve had the opportunity to re-read all of my posts. It’s been an interesting review.

Today, I came across my post from May, 2012 about MTH buying S Helper Service. At the time, I wrote:

Perhaps MTH will have the clout to overcome S scale’s manufacturing challenges, too, and bring fresh product to market.

Well, that sure hasn’t happened.

In hindsight, the MTH acquisition has turned out to be pretty disappointing. It’s been more than five years, and we’ve seen little out of MTH to support scale 1:64 modellers – or even those doing American Flyer. As an example, S Helper Service offered almost a dozen locomotives, offered in both scale and hi-rail:

SHS Locomotives from the NASG product gallery.

Today, MTH’s S scale locomotive offering is the F3 – and that’s it.

I realize we’re a niche of a niche, but S Helper Service’s Don Thompson seemed to find a way to support us (and thanks for that, Don!)

Fortunately, at least for those willing to build kits, other manufacturers are stepping up. There are rolling stock kits in resin, laser cut wood, brass, and other media. I’m happy to do my part to support those manufacturers who are supporting my hobby…

CNR NSC-built boxcars | First Look

While attending a local train show yesterday, I was able to collect my order of S scale kits for CNR boxcars built by National Steel Car. (I’ve written previously about these new Yarmouth Model Works kits.)

Here’s a first look at what’s in each box:

NSC boxcars - first look.

There’s a really nicely-cast one-piece resin body, with separate roof. A plastic bag holds wire, photo-etched parts, eight-rung Canadian style ladders with integral stirrup steps, a laser cut wood running board, and more. A second bag includes a resin sheet with frame components such as cross-bearers, plus doors. A third bag holds a fine selection of Black Cat Publishing decals, including several variants of the CNR maple leaf logo. Instructions are included on several pages of 8.5×11″ paper, and include a number of black and white photographs to aid with construction and lettering.

The ends are unique on these cars – and offered for the first time in S scale:

NSC-2 end

Some minor filing/sanding will be required to clear away casting sprue material to allow the roof to be fitted in place, but that’s to be expected. The details are fine, and crisp. I have done nothing to clean up the resin yet – this is how the kit looks, straight out of the box. I think that’s pretty impressive.

Here’s a closer look at the roof detail, as well as the baggie of resin parts for the frame, tack boards, body bolsters and so on:

Resin baggie.

Providing these as separate pieces makes it easier to drill the frame cross-bearers to accept a train line, if one desires to model that detail. Like the body, these parts are crisply cast and well detailed. All the resin will have to be washed in soapy water before assembly.

Here’s a closer look at the baggie of miscellaneous parts, including photo-etch:

Photo etch and other parts.

I’m looking forward to building my kits – and I’m glad I got them yesterday: They’ve been on the market just a couple of days now and Pierre tells me more than half of the first run has been purchased already. (Thanks to my fellow S scalers for that!)

If you want one or more of these, don’t wait: Click on the boxcar, below, to visit the Yarmouth Model Works website and order yours…
CNR-524206

Get your CNR NSC-built boxcars

They’re here!

CNR-524206

Yarmouth Model Works has just released its first S scale freight car kits – for early and late variants of Canadian National Railways 1937 AAR 40-foot boxcars, as built by National Steel Car of Hamilton, Ontario and featuring the manufacturer’s unique NSC-2 end.

These limited run kits feature a one-piece resin body casting, laser cut running boards, custom photo etchings for details such as brake appliance hangers, Des Plaines Hobbies eight-rung Canadian style ladders, and decals from Black Cat Publishing.

CNR-NSC2-Early
(Early version with flat panel roof and initial brake rigging arrangement)

CNR-NSC2-Later
(Later version with raised panel roof and revised brake rigging arrangement)

I have seen the finished production models of each kit (above) in person, and they are spectacular. With more than 5,700 of these cars roaming the rails across North America between the late 1930s and the 1980s, most of us working in 1:64 can justify one of each style on their layouts. (I’ve already placed an order for a few of each.) The unique NSC-2 end will add some welcome variation to our fleets.

You can order car(s) on the Kits – S Scale page at Yarmouth Model Works. (And if you’re going to this year’s RPM Conference in the Chicago area, I know Pierre plans to attend. Maybe you can order your kits now and pick them up at the show, to save on shipping.)

While I’m not part of Yarmouth Model Works, I was among those who encouraged Pierre Oliver and his team to test the waters in S scale. The company has released a number of kits and detail parts in HO, and has won much praise from the Railroad Prototype Modelers community for prototype fidelity, the quality of castings and parts, and ease of assembly. So I’m excited by the opportunity this represents for those of us in 1:64. If these do well, more kits are planned – including unique cars for some popular American roads.

If you have never built a resin kit, these models will be a great place to start.

New Resin News | CNR 1929 boxcar, painted

My friend David Clubine at Ridgehill Scale Models* is very close to releasing the company’s newest S scale kit – a resin model of the CNR 1929 40-foot single sheathed boxcar.

This kit is being produced for Ridgehill by Pierre Oliver and his colleagues at Yarmouth Model Works – and Pierre recently shared the first photo of his test-build subject in full paint and lettering:

CNR 1929 in full paint

I have no further details about availability or pricing – that’s up to David to announce – but I’ll be sure to share the information when I have it. Meantime, I know I’ll be adding a few of these to my layout when they’re released.

(*Ridgehill Scale Models has not produced a new kit in a number of years and as of this writing it does not have a website. There’s a listing on a friend’s website of past models. I’m hoping that once this car is made available I’ll be able to add a new website to my list of S scale suppliers that I frequently use. As always, check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links.)

Decals and Data on TMTV

Recently, I had a question about applying decals. I’m no expert, but my friend Pierre Oliver is – which is why I was more than happy to host him for a segment earlier this year on TrainMasters TV, all about applying decals:

Applying Decals on TMTV
(Click on the image to head directly to the decal segment on TrainMasters TV)

And since you’re already heading to the video chair, why not also check out this companion piece on deciphering all that freight car data that you’re about to apply?

Deciphering freight car data on TMTV
(Click on the image to head directly to the freight car data segment on TrainMasters TV)

I don’t often mention TrainMasters on my site since my work on that show is not what this blog is about. But we have had a lot of positive feedback on these two segments – including from people who are experienced freight car modellers – and I know I learned a lot about decals and data in the process of hosting them. I’m confident you will, too.

TrainMasters is a subscription-based service, but your subscription comes with more than an hour of network TV quality programming each month, for less than the price of a magazine. Becoming a member is easy

New Resin News | NSC-built “AAR 1937” CNR boxcars – now with lettering

My friend Pierre Oliver shared photos of the finished sample models for a new resin kit coming for S scale enthusiasts. Pierre and his colleagues at Yarmouth Model Works* are making their first foray into 1:64 by offering two versions of their first S scale kit, covering some 5,700 boxcars built for the Canadian National Railways by National Steel Car of Hamilton, Ontario.

This is the early version of the car, with a flat roof and the brake reservoir located perpendicular to the sills:

CNR - NSC Boxcar - early - lettered

And here is the later version of the car, with raised panel roof and the brake reservoir located parallel to the sills:

CNR - NSC Boxcar - later - lettered

As I have noted in a previous post about these cars, the kits are coming soon – definitely before the end of the year. Ordering information, including pricing, will be posted on the Yarmouth Model Works website when they’re available. I know I’ll be buying a few of each for my layout!

(Note that unless stated, the kits on the Yarmouth Model Works website are in HO scale)