LCL: AAR Form 99

Over on the LCL modeling group on Yahoo, a member asked whether anybody had a copy of the AAR standard form 99 – the waybill used for less than carload (LCL) freight.

As it happens, I do – in my copy of the AAR’s Railway Accounting Rules, published in 1951. So I shared it on the group – and I’m sharing it here:

AAR Form 99 for LCL operations

It reminds me that I need to continue to work on my ops plan for LCL and express, which is an important part of life on the Simcoe Sub to Port Rowan. I have come up with a scheme, but I haven’t held enough operations sessions to determine whether I like it…

Dan Kirlin

Dan Kirlin - Obit photo

I was shocked to learn that Dan Kirlin passed away last Thursday, of a heart attack. He was 60.

Dan was well known in the Canadian railway historical and modelling communities, as a wonderful source of information. I certainly benefitted from this in many ways – from drawings of CNR RoW signs to information and photos of CNR Jordan Spreaders. Dan also provided me with a CNR paint chip sampler. If I recall, this is something he helped develop for the CNR Historical Association as part of the creation of accurate paints for modellers.

CNR Paint Chip Sample Board

Dan’s knowledge – both in his head and in his files – was remarkable. And, most significantly, everything he shared with me he volunteered. I had never asked him, directly, for anything. He would read about what I was doing, via this blog, and I’d get a package in the mail, or handed to me at a show…

I think that speaks volumes about the man.

Dan was less well known as an S scale enthusiast. He’d done some brass importing, and detail parts manufacturing, in the past – but always in HO. But his true love in the hobby was 1:64.

Dan’s funeral is today. Details here.

Thank you, Dan, for your friendship and your knowledge. You will be missed.

Railfanning in Woodstock

Last week, Bob Fallowfield, Barry Silverthorn and I visited Woodstock, Ontario to do a bit of rail fanning. We saw many things, including a pair of F units in revenue service and a CN crew working a feed mill.

I’ve posted about our day in Woodstock on my Achievable Layouts blog. Click on the images below to read relevant posts – and enjoy a bit of video, too.

OSR F Units at Woodstock
(Bob bags the F units. Click on the image to read more about these survivors)

CNR switches Purina in Woodstock
(The CNR switches Purina in Woodstock. Click on the image to read more about this)

Stafford’s remarkable layout

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(A remarkable influence on Canadian modelling. Click on the image to read more about Stafford and his layout)

John Longhurst, who writes an excellent blog about his adventures in the hobby, this week reminded me of just how influential Stafford Swain has been on the Canadian modelling scene. Click on John’s image of Stafford’s layout (above) to read his post.

My first encounter with Stafford’s work was in print: I remember seeing his layout featured on the cover of the January 1979 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, and being astonished by his HO scale rendition of the scenery of the Canadian Shield:

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I was equally impressed by how much “negative space” he’d incorporated into his layout. While the layout featured a yard with engine terminal and other more typical model railway scenes (all very well executed), a huge portion of the layout was devoted to a single track that twisted its way between rocky outcroppings, past trees, over fills, and across bridges.

At the time, I thought, “I’d probably fill that with another town, or a coal mine, or a coal mine and a power plant so I could do ‘loads in/empties out’ operations”. But I was much younger and measured a design’s success by how much track had been packed into the space.

These days, I realize that the sense of distance that Stafford created – the sense that the trains on his layout were actually going somewhere – is one of the themes I have been trying to portray on every layout I’ve built in the last 15-20 years. And I realize that Stafford’s layout is probably the first example of that sense of distance that I saw. Thanks for that, Stafford!

Stafford’s layout was dismantled a few years ago, but Stafford has had a huge influence on Canadian modelling – including my own – that goes well beyond his scenery work, or indeed his HO scale empire.

Rather than repeat that influence here, I encourage you to read John’s post – Stafford Swain’s CNR Whiteshell Subdivision Re-Visited.

(Thanks for the reminder, John!)

“Modern” CN power – in HO

Most of my hobby tools and supplies remain stored while the house renovation continues, but one thing I do have easy access to is my spray booth and painting supplies. So – feeling the itch this week to do something hobby-related – I hauled some HO scale CNR diesel locomotives out of storage and put them through the weathering shop:

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Those who know me well know I have many interests in the hobby. I refuse to be pigeon-holed by scale, era, prototype or theme: They’re all good. But the CNR in the 1980s and early 1990s holds a special place for me, since that’s the railway and era that formed a big impression on me as a teenager growing up in southern Ontario. So I have a few models that remind me of that important time and place. (And yes, that’s 30 years ago so it hardly qualifies as “modern”, which is why I put the word in quotes in the title of this post. But, given that my modelling activities tend to focus on prototypes from the 1950s and earlier, I consider the 1980s to be my “modern” period.)

(Fortunately for my S scale Port Rowan project, my railway memories from growing up involve busy freight mainlines, commuter trains and large industry-switching operations – themes that are too big to fit into my medium-sized and definitely skinny layout space. I know, because I tried. My train room is definitely “branch line territory”, and I enjoy S scale’s combination of “big enough to see / small enough to fit” too much.)

The six-axle cowl unit – CNR 2113 – is an Overland import of a favourite Canadian prototype for many: the Bombardier-built HR-616. These were rare units – only 20 were made – and they were only moderately successful: The HR-616 experience convinced Bombardier that it should get the heck out of the locomotive business. Under the hood, they were fitted with an ALCo/MLW 251E 16-cylinder diesel that generated 3,000 HP – so I’ve installed an appropriate Tsunami decoder and 1.1″ high-bass speaker in that cavernous shell. I also upgraded the model with pico LED headlights and back-up lights, and added a crew to the cab.

The best part is, every time I work on the Bombardier unit I get a cash investment from the federal government. (Insert rimshot here. “Thank you ladies and germs. Have the fish: I’m here all week!”)

The other two units – CNR 9661 and CNR 9674 – are GP40-2 models from Atlas, factory-equipped with DCC and sound. I got these when Atlas released them, several years ago. By happy coincidence, while researching the HR-616 I found many photos of them paired with a GP40-2, since the latter were designed as 3,000 HP units to complement CNR’s SD40-2 fleet. (The HR-616’s also played well with MLW M630s, so I’ll have to acquire one when Bowser releases their models in late 2016.)

While weathering the models, the airbrush actually blew a few detail parts off the Atlas units. It seems not everything got glued in place in the factory. As well, I noticed that the distinctive snow shields over the air intakes behind the cab were factory-installed backwards: the left-hand one was on the right side, and vice versa. (There’s a lip with rivet impressions on one end of each hood: This lip goes on the cab roof.) I broke the snow shields free from the shell and re-glued them on the correct sides.

As with all models, weathering really brings these three units to life. I use a three-colour weathering palette for all my models, to give them a consistent look. This includes a light grey, an earth brown, and a weathered black. For these three, I used acrylics from Vallejo, thinned to create weathering washes and airbrushed on. I really like how a light spray of thinned light grey brings out the details on a black locomotive – especially below the frame.

These units will spend a fair bit of time as shelf queens, joining the two CNR SW1200RS units, a CNR “Sweep” and a CNR GP-9 that Pierre and I used on our “Peterborough Project” Free-mo module a few years back. That said, I do plan to take them to friends’ layouts as visiting power so they won’t remain idle all the time. In the meantime, it was nice to work on a simple project while I wait for the house renovations to be completed.

Safe marshalling rules

In a previous post on my recently-completed BAOX tank car, Walker Coe asked about whether we follow safe marshalling rules on my layout. I’m guessing he asked because of the photo I used to illustrate the post:
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(Click on the image to read more about this tank car)

The picture shows a gondola placed next to the tank car. That would be a problem if the gondola was carrying a pipe load – like this:

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(Click on the image to read more about this gondola and its load)

But the gondola in the first image is empty, so we’re good.

The answer to Walker’s question is, “Yes”. We do follow safe marshalling practices when building trains on the line to Port Rowan. As Walker pointed out, a dangerous car (like a car full of fuel) cannot be placed next to a locomotive, an occupied van (caboose), or loads that are prone to shifting and not protected by a bulkhead.

These rules apply to freight extras on my line. For mixed trains, the rules are even more specific. They include the above rules, plus some rules that apply to passenger and mixed trains. I’ve included the rules for mixed trains in the Special Instructions section of my employee time table:

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(A much-condensed employee time table: Click on the image to read more about it)

My version of the rules for mixed trains is condensed from a prototype CNR employee time table. The rules, for my layout, read as follows:

No freight, merchandise or lumber car shall be placed in any passenger train in the rear of any passenger car in which any passenger is carried.

There shall be a buffer car between the locomotive and the first coach carrying passengers. In local and mixed train services, a combination baggage or express car with passenger compartment shall be considered a buffer car within the meaning of this rule, if the baggage or express end of such car is next to the locomotive.

In mixed trains, one more more cars must be handled between postal, express or passenger cars, and car or cars containing oil or gasoline.

Whenever it is necessary, after arrival, for a mixed train to move the passenger cars away from a station platform to perform switching, unloading of freight, or other service, a second stop must be made prior to departure if there are any passengers to detrain or entrain.

As an aside, the first rule in that list is the reason that when the mixed train backed from Simcoe to Port Dover, the passenger and LCL equipment was shoved by the locomotive but any carload freight was hauled behind the locomotive – putting the locomotive in the middle of the train. In the photo below, this train is backing to Port Dover – shoving two passenger cars and a boxcar that’s operating in LCL service. But while it’s out of view to the left of this image, there’s carload freight for Port Dover tied onto the front of the locomotive:

Lynn Valley Tank - Robert Sandusky Photo photo LynnValleyTank-RS.jpg

It’s details like the proper marshalling of cars in a train that help bring a relatively simple layout such as mine to life, so I employ them whenever I can.

(Great question, Walker – thanks for asking!)

Two features in the August RMC

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(Click on the cover to visit RMC online)

I have two features in the current (August, 2015) issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine.

The first is my report on the 2015 New England Northeast Railroad Prototype Modelers meet, which Pierre Oliver and I attended at the end of May. I had a great time and I look forward to going back to that meet in the future.

The second is a feature on using an iPhone or iPod Touch as a throttle, as I do on my layout. This distills and organizes a lot of the information I’ve presented previously on my blog into a feature that addresses what’s needed, the advantages and disadvantages compared to a regular throttle, and some considerations to make such a migration successful.

If you pick up a copy, I hope you enjoy the stories. I enjoyed writing them and it’s a pleasure to work with Stephen Priest at RMC.

A day out with Pierre – and Thomas

On Friday, I visited my friend Pierre Oliver in St. Thomas. His house quite close to the Port Stanley Terminal Rail tourist train – which was playing host to Thomas the Tank Engine.

Pierre and I set aside our “serious hobbyist” attitudes to just enjoy watching a goofy train roll by… every 15 minutes. I couldn’t resist grabbing a quick video:


(You can also watch this directly on YouTube, where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

Thomas wouldn’t look at us. Was it something we said?

While some of us joke about this guy – and I’m still not sure how successful he is at converting kids into railway modelling enthusiasts over time – Thomas is a huge draw for the PSTR and the Elgin County Railway Museum. The Thomas days provide a much-welcomed injection of funds to these organizations.

And when one looks past the little blue fella, one finds an interesting consist in that tourist train and on the property. In addition to the GE 44-Tonner in the video, the PSTR owns three other small locomotives from a variety of builders. Meanwhile, the passenger fleet consists primarily of re-worked cabooses, which would make for interesting kit-bashing challenges. And everything is painted in a very attractive scheme.

Have another look at that video and check out the consist. Not all that easy to model after all, is it? Perhaps Proto:Thomas is in our future?

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Hmm… perhaps not.

In addition to playing at rail fans, Pierre and I did a lot of hand-waving in his future layout room. I think we made some great progress on figuring out what will fit, and how. I look forward to helping Pierre build the new layout when the time comes…

Finally, I picked up a few freight cars that Pierre built for me. I have some finishing to do on them so no further details now.. But I’ll share them in the fullness of time…

Great to see you Pierre – and the new house looks wonderful. Exciting layout-building times ahead!

Friends, old and new, at the 2015 New England RPM

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(From left: Me, Glenn Glasstetter, Marty McGuirk. Photo courtesy Jim Dufour)

Over the weekend, Pierre Oliver and I attended the 13th annual New England / Northeast Railroad Prototype Modelers meet in Collinsville, Connecticut. We had a great time.

The hundreds of examples of finely detailed and finished equipment are always a draw at RPM meets. But step back from the display tables and it’s the opportunity to renew friendships and create new ones – with like-minded enthusiasts – that really drives the prototype modelling movement.

The above photo is a good example. The gentleman in the middle is Glenn Glasstetter. It’s the first time we’ve met and we got along famously. I really enjoyed talking with Glenn and was delighted to discover that he knows my good friend Michel Boucher. Great to meet you, Glenn!

On the “renewal” side, it seems like Marty McGuirk and I have known each other forever, but it’s been several years since we’ve seen each other. It was wonderful to spend some time with Marty – to discuss layout plans, interesting characters in the hobby, manufacturing, and much much more. A tale about cats and model railroads had Pierre and I in tears. Marty – I hope it’s not so darned long between get-togethers. Come up for a visit sometime!

Of course, there were many other friendships established, and others renewed – and with 180 attendees, there are too many to list here. But thank you, everyone, for contributing to such a terrific weekend. Thanks also to the organizers for putting together a great event. Well done!

As for the displays… there are always many online galleries filled with photos of models after events like these, and I’m working up a report with photos for Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, so I’ll leave it at that.

If you have never attended one of these meets, I encourage you to do so. You do not have to bring models to display, although I hope you will. It can be intimidating to put your work in front of such talent, but I find that the most accomplished people in the hobby are almost always the most polite about one’s work. Perhaps it’s because they remember the time when they were barely able to glue together two pieces of styrene or wood – and remember the encouragement they received from those more accomplished in the hobby.

This hobby is about sharing skills and techniques as much as it is about friendships, so that we can all become better modellers. And RPM meets are a great way to do that.

Hinder, or help?

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(A reader asks if progress in St. Williams makes me less likely to change the track arrangement. Click on the image to read more about this favourite train-photographing spot, and to assess the progress made here over the past two years)

Following a recent post on the above location on my layout, reader Craig Townsend asked:

You’ve mentioned in the past about possibility redoing St. Williams to better replicate the prototype, so does looking at the progress you’ve made hinder or help your decision to keep St. Williams the way it is?

It’s a great question – thanks for asking!

It’s true, I’ve pondered this a lot, including a couple of times in previous blog postings. A big driver behind this train of thought was the discovery of this photo of the Hammond Mill in St. Williams, shared by my friend Monte Reeves:

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(Click on the image to read more about this picture)

And I definitely would like to model this mill and all the adjacent structures more accurately – someday. But I’m still not sure re-building this portion of the layout would be a good idea.

To recap, here’s a drawing of the St. Williams portion of the layout, as built:

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(Click on the plan to view a larger version)

And here’s a quick drawing of St. Williams in the same space, but more accurately representing the prototype:

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(Click on the plan to view a larger version)

In pondering these two designs, I have determined that reworking St. Williams to be more faithful to the prototype would require some changes that I’m not willing to make:

– I would have to lose the Stone Church Road overpass – a scene I really enjoy – because it would interfere with the Hammond Mill, the mill spur, and the Queen Street level crossing.

– I would have to bump out the benchwork to accommodate the mill, which would affect my ability to maintain (and enjoy) the track through the east end of the Lynn Valley scene – which starts immediately to the west of Stone Church Road.

– I would have to move the station to the aisle side of the track, so that it would be viewed from the back. Since the only picture I have of this station is taken from the front and since this is the image that inspired me to model this station, I’m not prepared to lose that view on the layout.

There are several alternatives, of course. I could flip the station/team track portion 180 degrees, so that the station was to the left of the team track, and the first scene a train encounters upon leaving the sector plate. Or I could flip the entire St. Williams scene end for end – so that I’d build the “correct” track arrangement, but trains heading to Port Rowan would encounter the mill before arriving at the station.

I’m still pondering these ideas.

Meantime, I don’t have to do anything: I have a lot of projects to work on to finish the layout, including some big structure projects – specifically, the station and Leedham’s Mill in Port Rowan. I can do those, and then revisit the Hammond Mill / St. Williams question.

As for the original question – does the progress I’ve made make me more or less likely to redo this area? – the answer is that it doesn’t affect the decision either way. I will continue to ponder the prototype and my space, and if I come up with a satisfying arrangement that is closer to reality, I’ll gladly tear out the St. Williams that I’ve built (but I’ll finish those Port Rowan structures first).

Having built the St. Williams scene that I have, I know I could do it again, if desired. And of course I can save and re-use the structures, trees, fences, telegraph poles and other elements that have gone into this scene.

In fact, I’m sure I’d do an even better job on a second attempt, because I’ve learned things while building St. Williams the first time around.

But that’s in the future. In the meantime, I can enjoy the scene as-built…

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