Queen Anne’s Lace

This week, I enjoyed another wonderful email exchange with reader Dick Otto, who had some useful insights on the turntable for Port Rowan. (Thanks, Dick!)

Dick recalls – and photos support this, now that I look at them – that rather than dig a pit for the turntable bridge, the railway laid the approach track on a slight uphill grade to reach the turntable. Dick recalls it to be about a five-foot rise and that’ll certainly work on my layout.

He also points out that the turntable “pit” is quite rudimentary, describing it as…

A cribbed depression awash in a sea of Queen Anne’s Lace and other meadow flora.

Going for a spin photo PortRowan-KS1.jpg

I have not yet installed the approach track or the turntable. The table will be in front of the run-around track, to the left of the roadbed in this photo:
Ties in Port Rowan photo Ties-PtR-Finished.jpg

But I want to spike the rail in place on the existing roadbed before I put such a large obstacle in my way.

Meantime, thanks to Dick, I can think about how I’m going to model all that Queen Anne’s Lace.

Unwanted traffic (or, “If the train is going west at 30 mph and the wind is blowing east at 45 mph…”

TrainWindy photo TrainWind_zpsffba8242.jpg

I’ve been getting a tonne of spam in the “comments” field on posts. I had been dealing with 5 or 6 per day but overnight this jumped to more than 100 in 10 hours.

So, I’ve added a little math problem plug-in to the comments function to try to defeat the robots and the bas***ds behind them.

Apologies to legit readers who must now brush off their math skills…

If this fails to stop the flood I’ll be forced to disable comments entirely, which I’d hate to do. I’ve learned a lot from the insights of my real readers.

Too much light

Can you have too much of a good thing?

Yes, you can.

After installing the brackets for layout lighting, I stood back and had a look at it and realized I had so many lights planned that the layout would look completely washed out. Worse, I’d be missing the sun and cloud effect that I achieved with my O scale, Maine two-foot layout – an effect illustrated by the following images:
Quarry meet photo 8and21-SlatePile.jpg

Slow running photo TTF2005VIII25.jpg

Heading for market photo TTF2005IX15.jpg

I went back through my notes on that layout and realized I’ve planned for too many floodlights. I originally planned for a 10w flood every two feet, with a 20w spotlight every six feet or so. Looking at my On2 layout notes, I see I actually only used one 10w flood (plus a 20w spot) per six feet of layout. I will adjust my brackets accordingly.

This means that at our last work session, Chris Abbott, Mark Zagrodney and I actually made enough brackets to do all of the lighting, although some will need to be moved. I will also need to mount more brackets for the valance in places where I will no longer have lights.

But that’s easy enough to do.


Dinner for our work session to build light brackets was basic yet hearty bangers’n’mash (otherwise known as sausages and mashed potatoes).

Rowe Farms does an excellent selection of sausages. We enjoyed Hot Mexican, Honey and Garlic, and French Herb – served with a variety of great mustards from Anton Kozlik.

Rowe also had lovely potatoes which I finished with organic milk and local butter.

We washed down our feast with an appropriate brew – Celt Bronze Ale from Wales. Highly recommended.

Look up. Look way up.

Last night, my friends Chris Abbott and Mark Zagrodney came over for dinner and a work session.

The three of us built 20 of the 30 or so brackets needed to support my 12-volt halogen lighting system. The brackets are now up for Port Rowan and St. Williams – the two towns I’m modelling – as well as for the mainline through the Lynn Valley.

Lighting brackets over Port Rowan
Light brackets over Port Rowan photo LightBracket-01.jpg

Lighting brackets over St. Williams
Light brackets over St. Williams photo LightBracket-02.jpg

The brackets feature hinged sections at their base that will allow us to adjust the beam from the 10-watt halogen floodlights so as much light as possible falls on the layout itself.

Next time we get to work on lights, we’ll build and install brackets for the 20-watt spotlights, which will highlight key scenes around the layout. They will be easier since the fixtures include their own adjustable mounts.

The lights will eventually be hidden behind a valance.

A water tank for the Lynn Valley

Thanks to my friend Jim Martin who suggested it, I ordered an S scale kit for a water tank from Altoona Model Works.

The kit arrived today and it looks like a wise purchase. It includes everything I need to get started on the Lynn Valley water tank (although I’ll make a few modifications as I go to make it look more like my prototype) and all parts appear to be of high quality. I’ve had a quick flip through the instruction book as well, and it looks very thorough.

Thanks Jim, and thanks to Bud Spaulding at Altoona Model Works for a nice kit and a great online buying experience!


I had a question about how my three-point gauges work.

The answer is, just like any others. But if you haven’t seen this type of gauge before, here’s a photo showing how they would sit over the rails to gauge them properly:
Trifecta gauges in use photo 3eb7269f.jpg

The gauge in the upper left is right side up. The others are upside down. The two at the bottom have some rails laid in the slots. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey…

Three-point track gauges

Trifecta photo Trifecta-S-70.jpg

A special thanks to Tim Warris at Fast Tracks for machining up these beautiful three-point track gauges.

These were a custom job for me but Tim is considering adding a full line of three-point gauges to his catalogue, under the Trifecta name. I bought six of them and I’m really pleased. In fact, “really pleased” doesn’t begin to describe it. (Thanks Tim!)

Tim also delivered a track building fixture for S scale #9 turnouts, again, for Code 70 rail. This was not in his catalogue when I ordered it, although he did have a #7, #8 and #10 so it seemed like a natural to add. Again, thanks Tim!

I now have all of my track tools in place. As soon as I get these ties done…

The Port Rowan station

One of the great things about doing this blog is that I’m being introduced to people I might not otherwise have met. Dick Otto is one such person.

Dick lives in Connecticut. As a kid, he visited Port Rowan (and nearby Port Dover) and took pictures of the trains that called there. He’s been kind enough to share some photos with me, which will help greatly in my layout-building effort.

Today’s treat from Dick is this colour photo of the Port Rowan station. Dick took this in the summer of 1965 and it’s obvious that the train no longer calls here. (Thanks, Dick, for allowing me to share this on my blog.)
Port Rowan station - 1965 - Dick Otto photo PortRowan-DO-1.jpg

This is the track side of the station. As can be seen on the railway’s plan of the yard, the structure is L-shaped with a small outbuilding in the L.
 photo PortRowan-Plot-Web_zpsli8hidhh.jpg

It may be hard to see online but there are a few dimensions on the drawing that help size the station. The short leg of the L is 59 feet long, while the width of the building is about 22 feet. Based on these measurements, I estimate the track side of the structure at about 80 feet.

There are several first-hand accounts from people who remember the station in Down By The Bay, a history of Long Point and Port Rowan published in 2000.

One contributor to that book, Lynn Cairns, is the grand-daughter of WG Livingston, the station agent in Port Rowan until 1935. Her description of the station includes the agent’s office in the bay window, a waiting room and baggage area, and a freight room. A door led from the agent’s office into the living quarters, which included a combined living/dining room and a parlour. Cairns describes the station as…

… a gloomy building, dark walls and lit only by kerosene lamps as there was no electricity, also no indoor plumbing.

Gloomy building or not, it will be an impressive model.

Congrats to the S Scale Workshop

One of the people responsible for my decision to switch to S scale is Jim Martin, my co-host on The Model Railway Show podcast.

Hanging around with Jim and other members of the S Scale Workshop exposed me to what can be done in 1:64. And I talked with Jim a lot before deciding to make the switch.

Jim’s enthusiasm for S and his modest yet positive approach to the hobby is infectious, and he spent a lot of time answering my questions and putting my mind at ease about jumping into what is, let’s face it, a niche scale.

Jim and other members of the S Scale Workshop are too modest to sing their own praises – so I will.

Three members of this group – Jim, Andy Malette of MLW Services, and Pete Moffett, who among other things, is a founder and director of the Canadian Association of Railway Modellers – took portions of the Workshop’s exhibition layout to TrainFest in Milwaukee this past weekend. And they brought home the “Best in Show – Layout” award.

Given that this annual show, now in its 40th year, covers some 200,000 square feet and featured more than 60 layouts, that’s quite an accomplishment. Well done, guys!

(As an aside, I think it’s interesting that so many of the talented members of the Workshop are so active in giving back to the hobby – as podcasters/authors, manufacturers, volunteers in hobby organizations, and so on.)