Scenery on The Roadshow – on TrainMasters TV

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(Chris Abbott looks on as I add leaves to what will become a whole mess o’ shrubs while behind us, a CNR intermodal train hauling a single-height stack of containers is barrelling past outside)

My layout gets a lot of compliments on the scenery – especially the large meadow around the turntable at Port Rowan. Those of you who want to see how I create meadows will enjoy the final, regularly-scheduled instalment of The Roadshow, currently playing on TrainMasters TV.

With my friend Chris Abbott in the studio to help, I demonstrate how I do basic ground cover, then add grass, bushes, weeds and flowers. The segment runs about an hour and covers all of the steps, step-by-step, to create basic yet convincing scenery, ready for super-detailing. While I model a railway set in the 1950s, I think my meadow-building techniques would make for a good start on the overgrown railway land bordering a modern right of way – the kind one sees right outside the TrainMasters TV studio.

Thanks, again, to TrainMasters TV brass hat Barry Silverthorn for letting me be a part of his terrific show.

Click on the image above – or follow this link – to start watching. You need to be a subscriber to TrainMasters TV to see it, but membership is quite reasonable.

The Roadshow, at the show – on TrainMasters TV

For most of us, there’s a point in the hobby that we approach with anticipation and – it must be said – some anxiety. It comes after the track is laid and the layout is wired, and it’s time to turn on the power and run the first train.

Is the track work good enough, or will the train derail?

Will it even run at all? Maybe there’s a short, or a bad solder joint, or something else?

The anxiety is even more acute when the first attempt at running a train takes place in a public venue – like a train show. And, for a real case of the jitters, there’s nothing like testing modules, for the first time, in public… while the whole thing is being recorded for an Internet TV show.

Naturally, that’s exactly what I did with the two modules I built as my contribution to the S Scale Workshop Free-mo style exhibition layout. As regular readers know, I took these two modules to the inaugural North Shore Train Show in the Montréal, Canada area last October – and yes, they did work as advertised.

But the full story – from unpacking to set-up to running at the show – is the subject of this week’s episode of “The Roadshow” on TrainMasters TV:

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Click on the image above – or follow this link – to start watching. You need to be a subscriber to TrainMasters TV to see it, but membership is quite reasonable.

As always, a tip of the hat to TrainMasters TV brass hat Barry Silverthorn for making me look like I know what I’m doing.

Enjoy if you watch: I did!

Cooking show scenery

Yesterday, I visited Barry Silverthorn at the TrainMasters TV studios in Belleville to record another instalment of The Roadshow series. I was joined by my friend Chris Abbott, and we spent a delightful few hours in front of the cameras to craft a video on creating a meadow.

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(Barry and Chris look on as I lay out four work-in-progress boards, finished to various stages. Note the backlight on the cabinet, and the camera mounted on the ceiling)

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(Barry ponders a helicopter shot as Christian Cantarutti looks on. The monitor between them allows those on-camera to see what the ceiling-mounted camera is shooting. It takes a lot of people – and equipment – to make great TV)

To prepare for shooting day, I created four 12″ by 12″ demonstration pieces out of foam board insulation. These, I finished to various stages, each building on the previous stage:

1 – Plain foam, roughed up on one surface.
2 – Sculpta-mold applied to create some rolling terrain.
3 – Base coat of paint, plus various scatter materials, glued in place with dilute Weld-Bond.
4 – Static grass applied and airbrushed.

Chris and I used these as our starting points to demonstrate various techniques. (For example, we added scatter material to board number 2 and static grass to board #3.) On a layout, this work can take several days – mostly spent waiting for the previous step to dry. But when doing this on camera, it needs to be done in hours, not days. So the approach is similar to a cooking show, where recipes are prepared to various stages. Rather than wait for the glue to dry on a scenery board (or for the chicken to roast in the oven), we can simply move to the board that represents the next stage, and demonstrate what happens next.

Also like a cooking show, where recipes are tested and perfected before the camera rolls, doing the scenery boards ahead of time allowed me to think through what I wanted to demonstrate, what tools and materials I’d need for each step, and so on.

The result is that shooting the segment went smoothly and the final board looked really good. It received flowers, weeds and bushes on top of grass and basic ground cover, and I think TrainMasters TV subscribers will enjoy the process and like the results, when this segment airs this summer.

We even had a couple of great meals as part of the day. Chris and I started with breakfast at Fran’s – a Toronto institution since 1940. For lunch, Barry took us to The Boathouse for fish and chips: Yum!

Thanks, Chris, for coming along – always fun! And thanks as always, Barry, for allowing me to be a part of your awesome show!

Wiring the Roadshow modules

Grab a coffee or cold beverage and join Chris Abbott and myself as we wire up my S Scale Workshop modules on this week’s episode of “The RoadShow” on TrainMasters TV.

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Chris knows more about wiring than anybody I’ve ever met. He’s explored many options, and he’s come up with some great answers to make the wiring of modules (or stand-alone exhibition layouts) stand up to the rigours of transport and storage, as well as some tricks to minimize the chances of error when the pressure is on and you’re trying to set up and test a layout before the train show opens.

Not just a “here’s what we did” video – but also a lot of information on why we did things and some of the things to definitely avoid. The segment runs just over an hour and there’s a lot of information conveyed.

Click on the image above – or follow this link – to start watching. You need to be a subscriber to TrainMasters TV to see it, but membership is quite reasonable.

Thanks, Chris, for coming out and helping with this: the wiring worked out beautifully as a result, and it was a grand day out at the TrainMasters TV studios!

Laying track on The Roadshow

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I’ve written many posts on this blog about how I hand-lay track. But if a picture is worth a thousand words than a 38-minute video must be worth about 68,400,000 (at 30 frames per second).

On the latest episode of The Roadshow – which documents the construction of two Free-mo style modules for use with The S Scale Workshop – I demonstrate my track-laying techniques. These are the same techniques I used for my Port Rowan layout.

Click on the image, above, to watch the episode. You need to be a subscriber to TrainMasters TV to see it, but membership is quite reasonable.

Thanks as always to Barry Silverthorn at TrainMasters TV for letting me be a part of his show!

“I see England, I see France…”

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Who knows what I see with those things?!?

To find out, tune into the latest episode of The RoadShow on TrainMasters TV. This time around, I show off some of the tools that I use to contour terrain and put them to work on my S scale modules. I also demonstrate the greatest tool I’ve ever used to trim fascia to follow the contour of the land.

Along the way, I make a mess – a huge mess. Shredded foam board gets everywhere

Click on the image below to go straight to the episode’s page – and enjoy if you watch it.

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TMTV :: Racks for The Roadshow modules

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(Remember kids: Always wear your safety goggles! Especially if they’re really goggly…)

The fun continues at the TrainMasters TV studio, as Pierre Oliver and I return in the 3rd episode of The Roadshow to finish building the benchwork for my S Scale Workshop modules. This episode focuses on creating racks so that I may safely transport and store the modules.

Will the modules fit the truck?

Will I have to take up knitting?

Will Pierre get his sweater?

Do these goggles make me look like a Minion?

TrainMasters TV subscribers can find out by clicking on the image above. Enjoy if you watch.

TMTV :: Pierre and I build benchwork

Yep – there’s me again, with Pierre Oliver at the TrainMasters TV studios…

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… and that means the second episode of The Roadshow is now online and available to TrainMasters TV subscribers.

In this episode, Pierre and I build benchwork for my two S scale modules. Okay – truth be told, Pierre does his famous “Benchwork in a Day” magic trick, and I do the Tool-Time equivalent of Vanna White.

Click on the image, above, to find out more – and enjoy if you watch!

Laval 2014 is in the books

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(The S Scale Workshop modular layout at The North Shore Train Show 2014)

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(The plan for the set-up: Click on the image for a larger view)

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(We’re always easy to find at a show. Click on the sign to visit the Workshop’s blog)

As readers know, I joined a couple of other members of the S Scale Workshop – plus a few friends – to present our Free-mo style modular layout at The North Shore Train Show – this past weekend in Laval, Québec.

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(Left to right: Andy Malette, Simon Parent, Claude Demers, me, Fredrick Adlhock, Brian Nicholson)

What a great time!

Our Québec member, Simon Parent, did most of the work to prepare for this show. In addition to being the Workshop’s point of contact with the organizers, Simon also worked to finish two new reverse loops in time for the show. Unlike previous shows, which relied upon (short) train-length turntables, this time out we were able to turn, run and stage much longer trains – and everybody agreed it was wonderful to see these longer trains make their way around the layout.

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(An eight-car train behind a 2-6-0 has just left Dunham Junction and is about to hit the crossing at Division Street)

Well done, Simon: Take a bow.

Simon also brought his excellent Dunham Junction module – four sections that comprise a freelanced junction laid out on a 180-degree curve. (That’s the junction in the foreground of the lead photo, with a train-length turntable connected to the route at the right.) Here are a few more pictures of Simon’s work:

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(The station at Dunham Junction)

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(A road bridge over the three tracks at Dunham Junction)

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(Simon’s river crossing module, which we placed between Dunham Junction and one staging loop)

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(Another view of the river crossing module)

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(Montcalm Tower. The line to the upper left that runs past the handcar shed forms part of the return loop at this end of the layout, while the line that crosses it is also active, so we could attach a branch line to this scene if we so wished)

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(Another view of Montcalm Tower: The connecting track across the back of this image completes the reverse loop)

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(An example of Simon’s exquisite track work)

In all, Simon contributed more than 50 feet of modules to our exhibit.

My two modules – Judge Farm and Division Street – were used to form the long S-curve up the right-hand side of the lead photo.

I’ve been working on these for the last three months or so, and documenting their progress for TrainMasters TV. I was pleased – and relieved! – at how well they performed on their first outing.

At 22 feet, this stretch of open country running was taken advantage of by many operators, who used the S curve to stretch out the slack. Everybody enjoyed hitting the Division Street crossing at speed – and even though I planned these two modules so they could be used separately, I suspect they’ll often be located together at shows so we can do this.

There’s still a fair bit of scenery to do on these modules, but I was able to use some of the time at the show to do a bit of planting – including the crop rows in this farm scene…

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… and some weeds in the meadow:

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It’s a good start.

My vignettes around sheep herding were also well received. I was pleasantly surprised to have a few people more interested in stock dog trials than in the trains themselves, and had some great conversations about Border collies and other working dogs.

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(This handler and his dog are about to make the pen. Click on the image to read more about this vignette)

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(Further up the pasture, a small flock of sheep graze. Maybe they’ll be used for a double-lift)

Andy Malette contributed his two-section brewery module. With spurs to both sides of the main, the brewery is always busy with lots of switching to perform and is a nice counterpoint to less busier modules built by other members of the Workshop:

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Andy also brought a second module that depicts a typical Ontario wetlands scene, complete with a massive stone fill to support the track through this area:

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Simon, Andy and I were joined by friends Claude Demers, Fredrick Adlhock and Brian Nicholson. While they did not have modules, they were invaluable in helping us set up, run trains and tear down. We could not have done it without them! Thanks guys!

Our friend and fellow Workshop member Jim Martin also deserves special mention. He was unable to make this show, but he made sure we had the signs, a train turntable, and other materials that helped us look good. He even loaned Fredrick some S scale equipment to help populate the layout. Thanks, Jim!

Our home for the weekend was in a community centre/sports complex. We were on an indoor field, complete with artificial turf:

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This was great on the legs and feet – much better than standing on concrete for two days. That said, we could’ve used some floor-tile-sized pieces of plywood to put under each module leg to prevent the legs from sinking into the floor! That played havoc with levelling the layout, not to mention keeping it level over the course of the exhibition. That said, we didn’t run into any major problems with unwanted grades.

The organizers did a fine job of making us feel welcome, too. Unlike many shows I’ve attended, the organizers made the space available to us at noon on Friday for set-up, and brought in pizza and drinks for us around 3:00 pm. We were set up in plenty of time, and everything was tested and ready for the public the next day. Some of us even managed to get a good night’s sleep before the show. Well done!

There were a number of other exhibitors at the show. I did not have a lot of time to wander the show and take photos, but here are a few to give you an idea of what others were presenting…

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(Dominic Bourgeois had a lovely display of his HO scale Delaware and Hudson modelling. I’ve written about this elsewhere on my blog: Click on the image to read more)

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(I had my first in-person experience of TGauge. At 1:450, it’s about 1/10th the size of O scale. That’s N scale track along the lower edge of the photo, and a Canadian $2 coin for size comparison. Damn but that’s small! And yes, this train ran)

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(At the other end of the hobby spectrum from the S Scale Workshop: A club from the Gatineau, Québec area brought a most amazing display of concentric loops in different scales, with trains chasing their tails all weekend. This was very entertaining for the kids – but it’s also a good example of why I have sometimes written on this blog about the challenges faced by modellers at the craftsman end of the hobby in explaining what we do to the general public)

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(This tower of trains was certainly a feat of engineering!)

Now that I have a couple of modules and I know that they work, I’m looking forward to more exhibition opportunities with the Workshop. And we did get a couple of invites to other shows – including a very tempting invite to exhibit at Exporail – Canada’s national railway museum.

But for now, I’m looking forward to taking a day or two to do nothing train-related, except possibly cleaning up my work room and layout space. And then I’m looking forward to getting back to work on the Port Rowan branch. I have a number of projects on the go and will of course share my progress here as they develop.

Thanks again to my fellow members of the Workshop, to the show organizers, and to those who attended and stopped to say hello. As I said earlier: What a great time!