Funaro and Camerlengo NYC gons

NYC 399574.

I’ve built a number of HO scale resin freight car kits from Funaro and Camerlengo* in my time.

Stopping at the F and C booth was always a treat when taking in the annual Railroad Hobby Show in Springfield, Massachusetts. Unlike many vendors, there were always deals to be had.

But I’m pleasantly surprised to find F&C has a (limited) number of S scale offerings, too. I ordered a pair of the New York Central 40-foot nine panel gondola kits (Kit #S-210), and the service was excellent.

The kits come with decals, which is great – including lettering for the NYC’s Michigan Central subsidiary. I’ll have to do one as an NYC car, and the other in the MCRR scheme, since the MCRR has a whole bunch of extra lettering that will make it really stand out in a train.

Trucks and couplers are not included.

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

Ready for benchwork

My friend Chris Abbott came over this evening and we got a lot done.

We loaded his truck with some wood from my old layout. He can use it. I can’t.

We got the last of the old layout out to the garage, making way for the new.

And we ripped 3.5″ boards out of 30 of the 40 finger joint pine boards I picked up for the framing. This gives us a good start on the framing itself, with the leftovers – just under 2″ – perfect for risers, braces, etc.

Benchwork goes up next week. Very exciting!

Chris and I then retired to Harbord House* for pints and a meal – which, as I’ve said many times on this blog, is an example of the balance between operations and socializing that is one of my objectives with this layout.

So far, it’s working!

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

Faster, even, than Amazon!

Earlier today, I wrote about a series of DVDs that document Canadian steam in southern Ontario, including the branch lines that I’m modelling.

About the same time I posted that, I placed an order for a few of these. Imagine my surprise when they appeared in my mailbox just a few hours later – obviously dropped off by someone in person.

Thanks to the folks at GPS Video* for the incredibly fast service. You’ve set a new personal best for online order fulfillment – in and out of the hobby!

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)


They’re everywhere – in the hobby and out of it:

Garratt in the Garden.

Jack and Mocean.

Because of this, I’m trying to focus more on an attainable layout – a design that gives me the opportunity to do some challenging modelling, rewards me with some entertaining operation, and accomplishes it all without becoming a time suck.

I think I’ve got the mix right with this S scale undertaking. Of course, I thought I had the mix right with my Maine two-footer…

Maine two-footer.

… and then with my California Branch Line Adventure in Proto:48:

P48 mogul.

Turns out I didn’t.

Third time lucky?

Lighting: The whole story

My layout lighting – a 12-volt halogen landscape lighting system – has arrived and I’m very pleased with the product. Unfortunately, I’m less pleased with e-conolight, the company that currently offers it.

I knew I’d be pleased with the lights because I used the same system with great success on my O scale, Maine two-foot layout. This system was originally offered by Ruud Lighting, but only to professionals. I was fortunate to acquire mine through a friend in the business and loved the way it added light and shadow to my slate quarry layout. All of the photos in the story, below, were taken with a digital camera under the Ruud lighting system – no additional lights were used:

Ruud Lighting system in use on my On2 layout.

Having tried some other ideas for the expansion of my Maine two-footer, I decided that the Ruud lighting really did make the difference so I decided to use it for this S scale CNR layout. But when I contacted my friend in the business, I learned that the product had been sold to e-conolight. I then learned that e-conolight will only ship to addresses in the Lower 48 States.

The system is not cheap, and I’m baffled when I hear of companies on either side of the Canada/USA border who only deal domestically. It’s less of a problem with Canadian companies because America has 10x our population and therefore represents a huge market opportunity. But in this, the Recession That Never Seems To End, it seems like one is shooting one’s foot to deliberately shut out a trade-friendly market that’s 10 percent the size of the United States. Yes, shipping internationally is extra work. But that’s what the “Handling” part of “Shipping and Handling” is for. Charge us for your time to fill out the forms. We understand.

However, I have friends with US postal addresses at UPS Stores – so if I wanted the lights, I could get them. And I wanted these lights – especially since I had already used them, and had saved the fixtures from my previous layout.

It should’ve been easy, especially since e-conolight uses UPS for shipping. But e-conolight managed to mess up the shipping invoice as well – despite a conversation I had with a couple of their customer service representatives, specifically to make sure the correct information was on this document. As a result, the lights went to the right street address, but they did not go to the right unit number. It cost my friend $20 and a fair bit of aggravation to get my boxes out of what he refers to as “UPS Jail”.

$20 is a cheap fix. The aggravation? I can’t pay back my friend for that, unfortunately. But I can, quite publicly, suggest to e-conolight that the company drag itself into the global marketplace. It won’t hurt, if properly done. It might even make them a bit of extra money – always a good thing, but especially when the e-conomy is in the e-toilet.

DVD featuring Port Dover in steam

Thanks to my friend Mike Culham, I’ve just ordered a DVD that apparently features Port Dover in Steam.

It’s Volume 5 in the Railway Recollections series, offered through GPS Video*.

I donít know if the DVD also features Port Rowan but the Port Dover train is the same one that operates to Port Rowan. Something to which to look forward. Regardless, it will be neat to see steam in action on my chosen prototype.

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

The dreaded dreadnaughts

CNR-DD-Box-New Ends.

I’m working on my CN 10’6″ 40-foot double-door boxcar, which I introduced in an earlier posting.

The first step was to cut away the 5/5 Dreadnaught Ends on the Pacific Rail Shops* car and replace them with resin castings for 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends by Andy Malette of MLW Services*.

I remember regularly seeing features and clinics on doing this type of surgery on HO cars back in the 1980s and early 1990s, before the resin revolution made a lot of this type of kit bashing work unnecessary. It’s still necessary in some cases, but in many other cases it’s possible to find an HO resin kit with the correct ends already cast.

But not so in S.

I’ve never done this kind of surgery on a freight car and I was a little nervous about attempting it. I didn’t need to be. Some patient work with a razor saw, a few passes with a file, and some gluing (suitably braced inside the corners) and the job is done.

I did need to file the inside of the peaks of the resin ends to allow the roof to drop into place, since I lost a saw-kerf of body side length from each end of the car, but this was pretty straightforward too.

This car will add some variety to my growing boxcar fleet.

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

Designing the Port Rowan yard throat

As can be seen on my layout plan, the entrance to Port Rowan on my layout plan includes four switches in a row:

Port Rowan layout plan.

I’m pretty sure I drew these to scale but wanted to confirm just how much space this cluster would consume. I also wanted to see what my options were in terms of frog numbers. I drew the plan with Number 8 switches, but would a mix of Number 7 and Number 9 switches also fit?

The best way to answer these questions is to lay out the switches full-size. So that’s what I did.

I used the downloadable track switch templates thoughtfully provided by Tim Warris on his Fast Tracks* web site. (Thanks, Tim!) These are available in a variety of scales and frog numbers, and are useful for laying down ties for switches built using the Fast Tracks system.

I taped together four Number 8 switch templates (two left, two right) as well as an arrangement of three Number 7 switches and a Number 9. And then I compared the two. This photo shows the results, along with a four-foot ruler to provide a sense of scale. (Yep – S scale switches are big!) I’ve also labelled the switches and the tracks that they serve to make it easy to compare these template clusters to my layout plan:


The arrangements are approximately the same length, at around 64 inches (appropriately enough, given this is S scale we’re talking about). I will reserve my final decision on which arrangement to use until I actually have benchwork up and can connect various clusters of switches with pencil lines for the rest of the track, but I’m inclined to the Number 7/Number 9 mix on the left in the photo for a couple of reasons.

First, it will allow me to build two different switch sizes, including the very long Number 9, which will look great with the passenger equipment travelling through it.

Second, the second Number 7 is the turntable lead, and this track must diverge quite sharply from the main route so it can return to parallel before reaching the turntable itself. It’s not much of a savings over a Number 8, but the Number 7 turnout will save a bit of space – and I’ll take what I can get.

If I go with the 7/9 combination, I will use Number 9 switches in front of the Port Rowan station and for the double-ended siding at St. Williams. The spur at St. Williams will be a Number 7.

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

CN 10’6″ 40-foot double-door boxcar

This is my next equipment project:

Port Rowan - Coal Delivery Track.
(A CNR 2-6-0 shoves a CNJ hopper car up the coal delivery track in Port Rowan. The double-door boxcar is likely carrying lumber for the team track)

Like my previous two boxcars, this one is starting life as a Pacific Rail Shops* kit. But in addition to adding details such as the boxcar detail kit from Andy Malette at MLW Services*, I’ll also be cutting away the 5/5 Dreadnaught ends and replacing them with a set of resin castings from Andy for 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught ends to more accurately model the Canadian National’s cars.

Canadian Rail Car Pictorial V2

By the way, a great reference for modelling CNR boxcars (and, indeed, other Canadian railroad equipment) is the Canadian Rail Car Pictorial series of softcover books. Volume 2 – Canadian National Boxcars Part 1, shown above – includes nice photos of the different styles of boxcar ends and roofs used on CNR steel boxcars.

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)