Thanks, Robert!

A special thank-you to Robert Sandusky, who shared a couple of the photos with me that he took on the Port Rowan branch in the 1950s.

Bob has also given me permission to use these for an article I’ve drafted for the Layout Design Journal – the magazine from the Layout Design Special Interest Group. I highly recommend the LDSIG to anybody interested in designing better layouts. Which should be all of us, really…

Hmm… I wonder if the Canadian National Railways Historical Association would be interested in an article for their magazine, too?

Ready for ties and rail

That’s because I’ve now installed all of the cork roadbed:
Cork at Port Rowan photo Cork-PtR.jpg

Cork through the Lynn Valley photo Cork-LynnValley.jpg

Cork at St. Williams (South) photo Cork-StW-South.jpg

Cork at St. Williams (North) photo Cork-StW-North.jpg

It has been years since I’ve used cork for a layout but decided, for several reasons, to return to it for this layout. And I was impressed by how quickly the cork went down.

I’m using two sizes of cork – making up S scale roadbed from a half strip of HO and a half strip of O.

I installed the cork in two phases. First, I glued down all the cork for the half of the roadbed farthest from the aisle, using HO strips. That took about 90 minutes and the strips easily conformed to my curves.

I came back to it about an hour later, when the yellow carpenter’s glue had cured enough that the cork wasn’t going to move, and laid the second half of the roadbed – the half closest to the aisle – with the O scale strips. I was able to bend the O scale cork so it was tight against the HO and hold it in place with push pins.

It’s really starting to look like a railroad now.

Lynn Valley girder bridge pier

Lynn Valley girder bridge pier photo LynnValley-Girder-01.jpg

Deck girder bridges can be pretty simple affairs so I was quite pleased that the example I’m modelling – from the Lynn Valley – has a rather elaborate middle pier:
Pennington Bridge photo LynnValley-02.jpg

I don’t know if this pier – a collection of structural steel shapes – is original to the railroad or whether it was built when the line was converted to a rail trail. But it’s too interesting to ignore, so I’m going to model it as it is today.

Some time at the bench and I have my model pier. (And a special thanks to my friend Chris Abbott, who lives closer to a hobby shop than I do and who picked up some of the styrene shapes for me this week.)

For those keeping score, the modelled pier includes the following Evergreen styrene shapes:
264 = .125″ Channel
275 = .188″ I-beam
285 = .156″ H-column
291 = .060″ Angle

And yes, the glass of calvados in the background helped.

Chicken Cacciatore with sage and portobello mushrooms

One of the things I enjoy about work sessions – and the hobby in general – is sharing food and drink with my friends.

My talents are modest but I can follow a recipe with the best of ’em. So after installing roadbed last night, we sat down to a (dare I say it?) yummy Chicken Cacciatore with sage and portobello mushrooms served over brown rice, plus a double-crust apple pie with applewood smoked cheddar for desert. (The Cacciatore came from Cook’s Illustrated – the pie from Whole Foods.

Wine was a Chanson Pere et Fils Le Bourgogne Pinot Noir – used in the Cacciatore and served at the table. Mmm… who’s hungry? Sorry – no leftovers…

Subroadbed almost finished

I hosted a work session / dinner last night, with my friends Chris Abbott and Mark Zagrodney coming by after work to help build subroadbed.

It was most useful to have three pairs of hands put to the task since there were a few very long pieces of plywood to cut, install and level. These included the roadbed for the east end of St. Williams…
Roadbed at North end of St. Williams photo Roadbed-StW-North.jpg

… and the west end of Port Rowan:
Roadbed at Port Rowan - Station photo Roadbed-PtR-Station.jpg

Port Rowan is going to be a long, skinny yard:
Roadbed at Port Rowan - looking south photo Roadbed-PtR-South.jpg

Earlier in the day, I added bracing for a potential third bridge on the layout – an overpass just west of St. Williams:
Roadbed-Overpass photo Roadbed-Overpass.jpg

This didn’t exist in real life but there’s a lovely short bridge over a road at Rymal, further north on the Hagersville Sub, and adding the bracing means I have the option to include this bridge if the mood strikes.

A busy day grading the right of way

Test train on the coal track photo Roadbed-PtR-TestTrain.jpg

Over the weekend, I found myself with a day to devote to roadbed construction and I’m really pleased with my progress.

I now have roadbed east of the Lynn Valley into St. Williams and as far as the station:
Roadbed at St. Williams (south end) photo Roadbed-StW-South.jpg

Roadbed at St. Williams (station) photo Roadbed-StW-Stn.jpg

In the Lynn Valley itself, I added extra bracing under the future location of the trestle and the deck girder bridge. This will help keep the roadbed in alignment across the gap when I cut away the plywood to make room for the bridges:
Lynn Valley trestle bracing photo Roadbed-Lynn-Trestle.jpg

Lynn Valley girder bridge bracing photo Roadbed-Lynn-Girder.jpg

Heading west out of the Lynn Valley, I’ve installed the roadbed for the yard throat in Port Rowan. This includes four track switches and an elevated spur serving the coal dealer:
Roadbed into Port Rowan photo Roadbed-PtR-Throat.jpg

Roadbed at Port Rowan - Coal track photo Roadbed-PtR-CoalTrack.jpg

I was a little concerned about vertical curves on the short but steep grade on the coal track, so I set up a train to test these (see lead photo). I’m pleased to report I have no worries – couplers stay aligned over the hump and by carefully repositioning the locomotive along the length of the grade I’m satisfied that all wheels will stay in contact with the rails at all times.

Just a little bit more roadbed to install – all of it fairly simple – and then it’s onto cork roadbed. That’s when things will really start to look like a layout!

A deck girder bridge for the Lynn Valley

One of the two bridges I need to build for my layout is a two-span, deck girder bridge.

I decided fairly early on that I’d use the popular HO scale 50-foot deck girder bridge kit from Micro Engineering. (The kit is 75-501 on this page.) In S, these kits work out to about 37 feet and a pair of them will fit my space nicely.

Since I need these bridges to complete the work on the roadbed I installed yesterday, I decided to get cracking.

The kits are quick to assemble although they need a fair bit of filing and sanding to clean up flash and the plastic used in the kits seems quite soft, so it doesn’t file cleanly. I’ll need to go over my bridges carefully to remove fuzz.

I made an interesting discovery while building these. In HO, the girders are spaced wider than track gauge, which means that the full weight of the trains is carried on the ties, not passed through to the girders. The photo below shows the Micro Engineering bridge track that came with the kits, placed on top of a finished bridge:
Deck Girder Bridge-HO photo Bridge-HO.jpg

By contrast, the girders are spaced almost perfectly for S scale track. As shown in the photo below, I placed the same bridge on one of my S scale turnout building fixtures from Fast Tracks. Note how the groves for the rail line up almost exactly with the girders:
Deck Girder Bridge-S photo Bridge-S.jpg

I’m sure other S scalers knew this, but I was delighted to find that the bridge is an even better fit for S than it is for HO. I was even more delighted that I would not have to rebuild all the bracing that connects the two girders!

First subroadbed

I had a free afternoon today so I hauled a sheet of 3/4″ plywood into the trainment and cut my first roadbed.

I installed a “?”-shaped piece (without the dot) that takes the mainline through the Lynn Valley. The location of this piece is critical since it must connect St. Williams and Port Rowan without hitting any of the intervening walls.

Here’s an overall view, looking from Port Rowan:
First roadbed photo Roadbed-01.jpg

The curve radius is 41.5″, with easements (which I laid out using the bent stick method). I found this discussion of easements on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum to be most useful in planning mine.

Here’s another view, this time looking across the future location of one of the bridges in the Lynn Valley. Port Rowan is to the right:
Bridge location photo Roadbed-02.jpg

Pennington Bridge photo LynnValley-02.jpg

Obviously I will need to cut away the roadbed when the bridges are ready to be installed.

Thanks Keith!

Keith Sirman recently sent me a few photos of the mixed train working Port Rowan.

Of particular interest, one photo (unfortunately quite dark) shows a mogul-powered mixed at the station, with a tank car sandwiched between two boxcars, followed by the RPO and combine. It’s a perfectly-sized train for my line and is the first photo I’ve seen to confirm that tank cars did show up in Port Rowan.

Thanks Keith – much appreciated! And yes, I want more!

Modelling Trees

Modelling Trees by Gordon Gravett photo ModellingTrees.jpg

I’ve had many frustrating experiences trying to model effective trees. It’s particularly difficult in larger scales such as S and O, because at these sizes we should start to try to model specific types of trees, such as maples, oaks and willows.

Well, today’s mail brought a new book on the subject and a quick look through it suggests I’ll find plenty of good information between the covers. It’s called Modelling Trees by Gordon Gravett, and as the book’s cover illustrates, Gordon knows what he’s doing. Yes, that’s a model of a tree.

The author demonstrates how to model several types of trees in this volume, and the book is well illustrated throughout its 92 pages. Another must-have work from Wild Swan Publications in the UK and well worth the £19.95 cover price, plus shipping.

The best news is, this is Volume One, covering Broadleaf Trees. I’m already looking forward to Volume Two.

The worst news – at least from the point of view of a person used to purchasing online – is that Wild Swan is an old-style business. Its catalogue of books is top-notch, as is its British railway-focussed magazine, Model Railway Journal. But the company does not have a website, an email address, or any means of electronic payment. International (non-UK) orders will have to pick up the phone and call Shirley Rowe at Wild Swan’s overseas department to order, and arrange payment with a money order or bank draft.

To aid you, the contact info is below.

– Not associated with the company at all; just a damned impressed repeat customer.

Wild Swan Publications
Overseas Department
9 Hacker Close
Newton Poppleford
Sidmouth, Devon
EX10 0HF
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1395 568925