A riot of colour

 photo CNR3640-StW-Station_zpsvnvqeac5.jpg
(CNR RS18 3640 at the St. Williams station)

There’s no real reason to share this photo, other than I like the colours: The white house and RoW fence… green and yellow locomotive… red station… and blue truck. They combine to really catch the eye. Those LED headlights sure help, too.

(Hmm: I just noticed I need to paint the stove pipe casting on the station. It’s been raw white metal since the station was built. I’ll add that to the to-do list…)

East is West :: Artistic Licence

 photo StW-Trackside_zps8c19ec9d.jpg
(Extra 1532 West at St. Williams :: On the prototype, this train would be headed East)

I used the above photo to illustrate a previous post, which prompted regular reader (and St. Williams resident) Monte Reeves to ask…

Isn’t your train eastbound as the station was on north side of track? Shouldn’t it be Extra 1531 East?

That’s an astute observation, Monte – and very few people would pick up on that. Well spotted.

But no – this train is headed west because of some artistic licence on my part.

When designing the layout, I realized that if I built St. Williams correctly, the station would be located between the track and the layout fascia. Viewers would look at the station from the rear.

Normally, I would’ve been fine with that. But here’s the problem: I have only ever seen one photo of the St. Williams station as it appeared in the era I model, and that photo was taken from trackside:

 photo PtR-StWilliamsDepot_zpsfcb72781.jpg
(I like this scene as rendered on my layout and I’m not willing to lose it…)

And isn’t this photo is a great one? I think so. It shows the Mixed Train to Port Rowan (M233) arriving at the station, with the station agent on the platform and a baggage cart ready to receive LCL and express. It includes the station signboard… the Canadian National Express and CN Telegraph signs… and the roof-mounted train order signal.

There’s so much information conveyed to the viewer in this photo that I wanted to replicate it on the layout – and the only way to do the modelled station justice was to rotate the town 180 degrees so that the station front faces the aisle.

(There’s a practical consideration, too: I had no photo of the back of the station – but if I built it this way, it wouldn’t matter. In fact, the model has a blank wall at the rear.)

These are the sorts of decisions one must make when designing a prototype-based layout. And I’m happy with the decision. While I’ve written previously about rethinking St. Williams to make it more prototypical, I’m not willing to lose this strong connection between modelled scene and the prototype photo that inspired it.

Compasses must be adjusted accordingly…

 photo BrassCompass_zps1019d499.jpg

New views

 photo StW-Trackside_zps8c19ec9d.jpg
(Extra 1532 West :: St. Williams, Ontario, 1957)

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been photographing the layout for an upcoming feature in The S Scale Resource magazine. This feature is a follow up to a visit by Daniel and Amy Dawdy late last month.

Since I’ve taken a lot of photographs of the layout already, I challenged myself to find some new views for the article.

In all, I shot 75-80 photographs, which I then pared down to roughly three dozen to submit with the feature. I don’t expect all of my photos to be used – a few are slightly different compositions of the same scene, to offer Daniel and his co-editor Glenn Guerra some choices – but given that The S Scale Resource is a digital magazine the editors won’t be constrained by a page count.

For now, I won’t share many of the new views here: You’ll just have to wait for the article to come out*. But I liked how the photo at the top of this post turned out and I’m surprised it has taken me this long to shoot the St. Williams depot from this perspective.

I thought I had worked out the best locations for photography, but I found several new views. The lesson is that digital film is cheap and it pays to experiment.

(*The good news is the magazine is free to readers, so there’ll be nothing stopping you from getting a copy – and of course I’ll post to the blog when the issue is published.)

Rethinking St. Williams

 photo PtR-StWilliamsDepot_zpsfcb72781.jpg
(I like this scene as rendered on my layout and I’m not willing to lose it…)

This post could also be titled “Dodged a bullet”…

This week, reader Mike Livingston was able to share with me a photo of the Hammond Mill in St. Williams. Unfortunately, Mike was unable to obtain permission from the photo’s owner for me to publish it here, but I can tell you that the mill was a 1.5-storey structure with a barn roof – like the roof on the next to the team track in Port Rowan:
Team Track Barn photo PtR-Barn-01_zps2cd0bf26.jpg
(Like this, but larger. Click on the image to read more about the team track barn.)

This structure has been elusive, so in the meantime I’ve been using a stand-in – a scratch-built model of a grain storage bin based on a structure in Cheltenham, Ontario – as shown here:
M233 at St. Williams west photo M233-StW-West_zps28961473.jpg
(Click on the photo to read more about the grain bin)

Now that I have a photo of the real mill, however, I’m thinking about building it for the layout. And that got me thinking…

My rendition of St. Williams has always been fanciful – a situation dictated by the size and shape of my layout space. Unlike Port Rowan, which I was able to model fairly faithfully, I took several liberties with St. Williams:
 photo StWilliams-LayoutPlan_zpsd05c9c7a.jpg
(St. Williams as built. Click on the plan to view a larger version)

Like the prototype location, my 1:64 St. Williams features a doubled-ended siding and a single spur. But my siding is curved – and actually about twice as long than the prototype’s four-car capacity. As well, my spur is located too close to one end of this siding and points the wrong direction – back towards the siding, not away from it.

Could I model the town more accurately?

Here’s St. Williams from the air, with the railway’s former right of way highlighted:
St Williams from the air - labelled photo StW-Labelled.jpg

Port Rowan is to the lower left, while Simcoe (staging on my layout) is to the upper right.

The location of the station is indicated with an “A”. The four-car siding was located to the right of the station, and used as a team track. Meanwhile, the Hammond Mill was on the north side of Queen Street, just to the left (west) of the railway crossing. The spur to the mill went behind the structure, so the mill was tucked between the spur and Queen Street.
 photo HammondMill-LocationGuess_zpsc3584f43.jpg
(The Hammond Mill area today, looking north from Queen Street. This is not the original structure. The RoW is now used as a utility corridor.)

With this information to hand, and inspired by the vintage photo of the Hammond Mill, I decided to draw out St. Williams more accurately, to see if it would fit my space:
 photo StWilliams-TestFIt_zps67ac8f17.jpg

Comparing this quick sketch with the layout plan, I’m convinced I’ve made better use of my available space by taking some liberties. Reworking St. Williams to be more faithful to the prototype would require several changes 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 (see the lead photo), 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.

But as built, I have almost four feet of running room from sector plate to Charlotteville Street, which gives operators a chance to get up to speed and blow for the crossing.

Having an unscenicked and very unprototypical sector plate immediate to the left of the scene would also seriously limit the angles from which I could view/photograph the station. And I do like the view…
Extra 80 East - St Williams, Ontario - August 1953 photo X80East-StW-2014-01_zps347cae5c.jpg

So, no: Unless I can another eight or 10 feet of wall space to the left of the sector plate – which is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future – I’l stick with the St. Williams scene as I’ve built it. It was an interesting exercise in “what fits”, however – so definitely worth the time to try it out.

I may have to replace the grain building with a more accurate model of the Hammond Mill, however. I’ll add that to the “someday” file…

Scale Waybill Boxes

 photo StW-Billbox-02_zpsc76c3cb9.jpg

Having installed waybill boxes on the fascia for use in operating sessions, I realized it would be a nice detail to add to the stations on the layout. (In fact, I know there was such a bill box on the Port Rowan station.)

This was an easy project. I laminated together three layers of scale 2″ x 10″ strip wood to create the box, cutting the top layer in half first so that the finished box would appear to have a flip-open front to access the waybills. I made the back layer a scale 14″ tall, and the front layer 11″ tall.

I cut and sanded the wood to shape, then added another piece of 1″ x 10″ stripwood across the top to create a slight overhang on the front and sides. I painted the finished box “flat red” from Acrylicos Vallejo.

Some very tiny pieces of masking tape, rubbed with a pencil to impart a grey-metallic look, did the trick for hinges and other hardware.

It’s a small detail – but it sure does stand out in photographs and I think it helps tie the bill boxes used in operations to the modelled scene. I’ll build a similar box for Port Rowan when I do that station.

 photo StW-Billbox-01_zpscdd09324.jpg

One last label

 photo OrderBoard-Label_zpsb2ad9d57.jpg
(Click on the image to read more about the St. Williams train order board)

Pierre Oliver has a source for the labels I use on my layout and when I ordered these a couple of months ago, I forgot to get one made for the lever that controls the train order board on the St. Williams station. So, a follow-up order went in – and when Pierre visited yesterday he brought it along.

While the label isn’t necessary, it does finish off the installation nicely. Thanks Pierre!

St. Williams Order Board operational

My friend Chris Abbott dropped in today and we tackled a couple of projects on the layout. The first was to hook up the control for the order board at St. Williams.

As reported previously, Chris has been working in his machine shop to modify a garden scale, brass ground throw from Sunset Valley Railroad to use as the control for the order board. (I also have another use for these, which I’ll detail in a future posting.) He’s added a lever belowdecks to allow the ground throw to act on an R/C aircraft control line.

For the St. Williams order board, I decided the best place to install the control was on the slide-out work desk I built for this position. The photo below shows the work desk. The ground throw is in the upper right.
Order Board Control photo OrderBoard-Control-01_zpseb625c11.jpg

The next photo is a close-up of the control. (I’ve put a blank plastic label in front of it. It will be replaced, in time, with a label that identifies this control’s function.) Click on this control to see another picture, showing the mechanism that’s mounted through and below the shelf:
Order Board Control photo OrderBoard-Control-02_zpsdb247386.jpg

The photo below shows the mechanism from underneath the slide-out shelf. The wooden block holds the red sleeve to the shelf. Chris’ awesome lever is connected to a brass-plated steel clevis used in R/C aircraft, which is in turn connected to the yellow push rod.
Order Board Control photo OrderBoard-Control-03_zps70a0521c.jpg

The operation is simple – one pulls out the drawer (akin to opening the station) and flips the lever to the desired position. (The label, when installed, will indicate “set” and “clear”.) The short video below shows the order board in operation. Enjoy if you watch…

Thanks Chris!

More to come on today’s work session…

St Williams Train Order Board :: Video

A reader asked if I could post a video of the working train order board at St. Williams. Consider it done!


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

The order board is a small red disc that rotates 90 degrees. When perpendicular to the track, it displays a red signal and crews must stop for orders. When parallel to the track, no signal is displayed and crews are clear the proceed.