What’s in the box?

Not much.

It’s rant time again. I’ve already described some of the troubles I had ordering from e-conolight, an American company that refuses to ship to Canada. Well, I finally received my boxes of lighting equipment, via a friend with an American postal address. And while it’s a great product – one that I’ve used before, when it was offered by another company – e-conolight has some things to learn about shipping domestically, too, it seems.

Have a look at this photo of the box in which the cable for my lighting system was shipped. The only thing that’s been removed from this box is the packing material that kept the cable – hardly a fragile item – in place:

A box of air - plus a cable.

Now look at this photo. The smaller box is packed with the rest of my order: lights, clips, bulbs, etc. You’ll note that this material would’ve fit inside the cable box with room to spare, which would have saved cardboard, packing material, handling charges and more:

Box in a box.

The good news is that I had free shipping on this order, which means that the manufacturer ate the extra costs. But really… what were they thinking? Or, should I ask… Were they thinking?

S Scale Social 2011

S Scale Social - 2011 Group Photo.

I had a great time yesterday at the S Scale Social. Now in its second year, this is a one-day gathering of fellows from Ontario and the Northeastern USA who model in 1:64.

It was great to put faces to names, visit with old friends and make new ones, engage in a bit of iron horse trading and discuss current and future S scale plans. I contributed a few pieces to the Bring And Brag – my baggage-RPO car, my two 1937 AAR CNR boxcars, and my in-progress GE 44 Tonner, plus the grain building from Cheltenham. I had a number of questions about each, so I’m glad I hauled them with me and that others benefitted from my work.

A special thanks to my friend and co-host of The Model Railway Show podcast, Jim Martin, who organized the second annual event. Well done!

Spin spin spin

CNR 80 on the turntable at Port Rowan.

My turntable kit arrived this week from Custom Model Railroads, and it looks like it’s going to do the job handily.

I ordered the 90-foot HO model, which I will build as-designed, but add cosmetic bridge sides to it that are spaced for S scale. In S, this turntable works out to about 65 feet, which is close enough to the prototype’s 60-foot bridge.

CMR was great to order from. Give them a look.

Where the heck are…

… my couplers?

Sigh. It’s time to clean the office/workshop.

Somewhere in this mess, there are one dozen packages of Kadee #808 S scale couplers. I need a pair for a car I’m taking to tomorrow’s S Scale Social – a private gathering of people working in 1:64, organized by a good friend.

Pass the shovel.

… and the proof, in finger joint pine

Yes, one can build benchwork for a layout in a single day:

Benchwork in a day - the proof!

Port Rowan will be on the peninsula in the foreground. The mainline loops through the Lynn Valley (out of sight to the right) then along the walls in the background. St. Williams will be in the corner by the window, with the staging yard to the left.

My friend Pierre Oliver is a wizard with wood. This actually took about five hours, when one factors in time for tea and lunch.

Next up: Risers and plywood roadbed!

Benchwork in a Day!

Yes – it happened!

Pierre Oliver and I started this morning, and six hours later (with breaks for lunch and tea) the job was done. We’re now ready for risers and roadbed.

Truth be told, Pierre started this morning. When it comes to wood, he’s a professional and it was great to see someone working with the calm confidence of experience. For my part, I handed over materials and tools, held ends of boards, and kept Mocean and Jack (and myself) out of the way as much as possible.

I’ve spent two more hours in the layout room, cleaning up and organizing the various storage items that live under the benchwork. So no pictures with this post, but I did take some and will share them soon.

It’s great to move from a paper plan to three dimensions.

(No photo of Benchwork in a Day yet, but in the meantime here are photos of Mocean and Jack…)

Mocean and Mickey.

Jack is bigger than a toaster.

UPDATE: Here’s the proof.

Gandy dancer tools

Today’s mail brought my order for track building tools from Tim Warris at Fast Tracks*.

I’ve ordered many times from this company and have always had a great experience: As a customer, I highly recommend Fast Tracks to others. I also recommend the Fast Tracks system: I’ve used it for building switches in several scales and gauges and am always impressed by how elegant this system is.

Track workers.

A small but heavy box contained fixtures for building S scale #7, #8 and #10 switches, plus a couple of jigs to help speed up the process of creating tie strips. I also have a #9 fixture on order to complete the set, and already have the relevant ancillary tools in my workshop, such as the Point Form tool and Stock Aid tool. Bring on the track-laying phase – I’m ready!

I want to make sure that I build switches that are the right size for each situation, rather than limiting myself to the fixtures I have on hand. In particular, I’m hoping to find a space to lay at least one #10 – perhaps as the first switch out of the staging area at St. Williams. (See my layout plan to refresh your memory…)

Layout plan.

In general, modellers tend to cheat on switches, opting for sharper switches to save space. It’s rarely necessary on anything but the smallest of layouts – especially not in smaller towns en route. As an example, in Recommended Practice 12.2, the NMRA* notes the lead (the distance from point to frog) on an S scale #7 switch is 11-3/8″, while the same measurement on a #10 switch is 13-5/8″. Really, if you’re dealing with switches that are approximately a foot long, that two inches of difference isn’t going to make or break a layout design. But it sure will make a difference when it comes to appearance.

My friend Mike Cougill is an advocate of larger switches and uses #10s on his Proto:48 layout. He discusses this and more in his excellent book, Detailing Track – available through OST Publications*. Mike uses O scale track for his examples, but the prototype information and many of the modelling techniques are applicable to all scales and it’s definitely worth adding to one’s library. Check it out!

More track workers.

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

A smooth 44 tonner (with video proof)

A friend asked about the mechanism in the River Raisin Models* S scale GE 44 ton diesel I wrote about in a previous posting.

It’s quite smooth. A small can motor lives under a false floor in the cab, with a flywheel mounted on each shaft and driving a gear tower on each truck. All eight wheels pick up power, and all four axles are powered.

Here’s a short video of the 44 Ton diesel in action:


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

CNR #1

CNR 44 Tonner #1 - Prototype Photo.

A couple of years ago I picked up an S scale model of a General Electric 44-Tonner and decided CNR #1 would make a good modeling subject. Earlier this year I detailed the model:

GE 44 Tonner in 1:64 - Detailed for CNR #1.
(To read all of my posts about this locomotive, check out the “44 Tonner” category on this blog)

This is an Overland Models brass import built by Ajin and offered exclusively through Dan Navarre at River Raisin Models*. I have added class lamps (two packages of River Raisin ST-029), sun shades (scratch-built), working couplers (modified Kadee 802), a horn (HO scale Finishes by Bob Rzasa H-223), and a pair of etched kits for steam-style number boards (from Andy Malette at MLW Services*).

I have also installed a Soundtraxx TSU-750 sound decoder with GE Cummins diesel sound (part number 827014), a 16mm x 35mm speaker in an enclosure, from Model Rectifier Corp, and 3mm LEDs from Miniatronics for headlights. It runs beautifully and sounds great.

I’m waiting for custom decals before sending it through the paint shop. It will emerge black with a yellow frame stripe. A crew from S Helper Service* (Part #00289) sits ready to add inside the cab.

I think it’s neat that a railway system as large as the CNR had a locomotive numbered 1 …

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

Turntable en route

Thanks to a recommendation from my friend Simon Parent, I’ve just placed an order for the HO 90-foot turntable from Custom Model Railroads.

A 90-foot table in HO works out to about a 65-foot table in S – close enough to my prototype’s 60-foot table that I’m happy.

Given that I have a single turntable lead and no stall tracks to worry about, I decided an indexing system would be overkill, so I ordered the CMR motor and motor mount.

(To follow my progress on this project, check out the “Turntable” category on this blog.)

I just called and talked to a nice person at CMR, who took my order. She said they might have to cut a kit, but that it would go out in the next day or two.

I’ll need to modify the bridge by adding cosmetic sides to it, set further out for S scale. But my beef with turntables has always been related to mechanical issues and I’m looking forward to testing out this model.