Colour picture of the Lynn Valley water tank

My friend Dick Otto reminded me that a photo of the Lynn Valley water tank graces the cover of the Railway Recollections Volume 5 DVD from GPS Video*:

Lyn Valley tank - DVD photo GPS-Vol5-Cover.
(Click on the image to find out more about this video.)

This is the only photo of the tank that I know of that’s online.

Another friend, Jim Martin, first alerted me to this picture in book format – as a 7″ x 9.5″ plate in Passing Trains: The Changing Face of Canadian Railroading by Greg McDonnell, originally published by Boston Mills Press and now, sadly, out of print (but try searching on ABE Books). Appropriately enough, given the engine number, the photo is on page 83.

(I’m kicking myself over this because I have both the DVD and the book, and didn’t remember the photo from either. It pays to go back and look through one’s library from time to time. I’ll have to review my other Canadian railway books to see if I can find more useful photos to help with my layout-building efforts. In any case…)

From Greg McDonnell’s book, I have learned that James Van Brocklin shot this photo on April 17, 1954. He’s also responsible for the film on the aforementioned DVD, and I’m really grateful he took the time. I’ve also learned that regardless of the colour it was originally, the tank was a well-weathered shade of grey by the mid-1950s, so that’s how I will model it.

More to come on my model of the tank, so stay tuned.

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

CN section house: ideas?

There’s a section house near the yard throat in Port Rowan that I need to model. But other than a couple of distant views in the Hamilton book by Ian Wilson, I haven’t found any information to help me model it.

So, if you have any additional information – pictures, drawings or memories – I’d love to hear from you in the Comments section. And thanks in advance!

Lynn Valley water tank started – again

… and this time, I’m getting it right!

A note from friend Dick Otto prompted me to go back and look at the prototype photos I have of the Lynn Valley water tank. I had recently started to build this tank (using an Altoona Model Works* kit) and Dick had pointed out that the bents on the outside corners of the base needed to angle outward.

While looking at my photos, I realized the kit is a lovely starting point but as I’d built it there were other deviations from my prototype:

– On the kit, the delivery pipe that connects to the moveable spout comes out from underneath the tank. On my prototype, it actually pierces the tank wall. This suggested that I would need to lower the base.
– The bracing was different on the prototype
– The supply pipe on the prototype is not in a large box, centred under the tank and filling the space between the bents. Rather, it’s in a much smaller box and off to one side.

I therefore decided to rebuild the base. This photo compares the old (l) and new (r) bases:

Water tank - original and modified bases.

The tank now looks like this:

Water tank on its new base.

Was it worth the effort? You bet. I can immediately see the changes when I compare photos of the new tank and the old tank in-situ:

Tank with new base - test fit.

Tank with original base - test fit.

(Thanks, Dick, for pointing out what I should’ve done from the start. I knew the tank was wrong but thought I could live with it. Turns out I was wrong – it was going to bug me. Better to fix it now than wait until the structure and scene are finished.)

One further deviation from the prototype is bothering me. The real tank had a six-sided roof, while my kit comes with an eight-sided roof. I have a plan to fix that.

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

Lynn Valley water tank started

I’ve started building the water tank for the Lynn Valley.

As I wrote in November, I’m using a craftsman kit from Altoona Model Works*, which was recommended to me by my friend and fellow S-scaler Jim Martin. The kit is well thought out and I’m enjoying putting it together.

It’s a little larger than my prototype tank but I’m not worried about that. I stacked the frame, tank and roof and placed the tank in the scene next to the twin-span steel girder bridge and I’m really happy with how it’s turning out. It’ll add a nice vertical element to balance the bridge, and draw the eye through the surrounding trees:

Tank and bridge - test fit.

Since the tank is on the aisle side of the line, the spout and other interesting stuff won’t be easily visible when standing in front of it. But operators will be able to enjoy a nice view of the tank along the track heading north out of Port Rowan:

Tank and bridge - test fit.

(As a further note, the above photo shows both segments of the Lynn River that I’m modelling. To the left of the tank, one can see the continuation of the river that flows under the Lynn Valley Trestle – to the left, out of the picture.)

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

A river raising party

Last night four friends joined me for a river raising party.

Chris Abbott, Mark Harris, Vince Pugliese and Mark Zagrodney lent their hands and eyes to raising a plywood riverbed – approximately 1’x3′ and with the beginnings of scenery on it – until it just kissed the bottom of the bents on the Lynn River Trestle. We then levelled the riverbed to the best of our abilities by adjusting various risers clamped to the benchwork.

It’s quite a nest of structural framing underneath the trestle. I’ve marked some of the wood in the below photo of the riverbed as follows:

– the red pieces are part of the framing system that keeps the roadbed in alignment on each side of the trestle.
– the blue pieces are just a few of the risers we installed last night to support the riverbed.

Raising the river in the Lynn Valley.

It took a fair bit of fiddling but with so many hands and eyes on the job, it was much easier than it would’ve been with just one or two people. Thanks, everyone, for the help! I’m pleased with how closely we got the riverbed to fit under the trestle:

Raising the river under the trestle.

Even though there’s still much to be done, I can already imagine what the finished scene will look like…

Raising the river under the trestle.

When satisfied, we drove home the screws and retreated to Harbord House to celebrate our victory.

Welcome, readers of “Morpeth in O-Scale”

My friend Trevor Hodges in Australia recently referenced this blog on his blog about his excellent work in O scale. So if you’ve landed here because of him, welcome!

Trevor sent you here because of my discussion on curve radii and how it affected my planning considerations. You’ll find that discussion in a post called “Why S Scale?

If you’re new here, you might also want to look at my First Time Here? page to get you started.

I hope you spend some time looking through my other entries, too.

CNR double-door boxcar: Which series?

I recently had a question about a CNR double door boxcar about which I’ve posted previously.

In crafting my response, I found this photo online of the class of car I’m modelling:

CNR 590575.

How I picked this particular series of boxcars to model points to one of the challenges of working in S scale.

According the Volume Two of the Canadian Rail Car Pictorial, there are four series of CNR 40-foot, 10′-6″ high, double-door, steel boxcars. The Pacific Rail Shops boxcar is not right for any of these series – it needs modification.

I picked the 590500-590999 series (which features a diagonal panel roof, 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends, and Superior six-panel doors) for my model because it will require the least amount of work to model accurately. Here’s why:

– The PRS car has the right side doors and roof for the 589000-589499 series, but the ends are 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends. There’s an appropriate resin casting for the “B” end, but the “A” end on this car has Youngstown end doors in a Camel frame – and a casting for that is not available.

– The PRS car has the right side doors for the 589500-590499 series, but the prototypes have NSC-2 ends, which are not available in S scale. I’m not sure about the roof.

– The PRS car is completely wrong for the 592307-592411 series, which had welded sides, diagonal panel roofs, 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends and Superior five-panel doors.

– The series I’m modelling has the correct sides. That’s about it. I’ve removed the ends and replaced them with 4/4 ID Ends – resin castings I obtained through Andy Malette at MLW Services*. This series does not have the end doors, so both the “B” and “A” castings are correct. I also have a resin casting for a diagonal panel roof – again obtained through Andy.

I will have to scratch-build the doors, but Superior six-panel doors are relatively straightforward compared to other styles – and certainly a lot easier than scratch-building ends or a roof.

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

Port Rowan coal dealer

Coal bin at Port Rowan.

Trackwork has been progressing on the layout but in order to finish the track in Port Rowan, I needed to build and install the coal dealer’s bin on the elevated track. And I kept putting this off while I debated how to approach it.

The problem that vexed me was whether to build a fully-detailed model of the bin, when the most interesting side – the opening under the track – would face the backdrop and never be seen by layout visitors or operators.

Normally, I would’ve gone ahead and built the structure with full detail, even on the backdrop side – because one never knows, a future change might make that side visible. But then it occurred to me that there was more at stake than appearance.

The problem is illustrated in this photo of a test train on the coal delivery track, taken back when the layout was still in its plywood subroadbed stage:

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

To elevate the siding, I used the cookie-cutter method: I laid in a large sheet of 3/4 inch plywood, cut a slot on either side of the future location of the track, then wedged, glued and screwed wooden blocks under the elevated portion. I left a clear space – under the black hopper car in the photo – for the future coal bin.

The problem? Well, the ramp track has really nice transitions at each end of it, and I started to worry that cutting away the portion of the subroadbed under the hopper car might allow things to shift. This would ruin the smooth transition at the top of the grade – essential if this is to operate reliably.

In the end, I solved the dilemma in favour of reliable construction and operation. As a famous model railway enthusiast is known to say:

It ain’t no fun if the trains don’t run

I therefore decided to leave the plywood in place and build the coal bin around it.

I have but a single photo of the bin, taken from the end of the elevated track:

Port Rowan Yard Lead.
(This photo was taken from the end of the elevated coal delivery track. The bin is just ahead, on the right.)

It doesn’t show much – concrete bin sides, a planked top, and a couple of levers – like those in an interlocking tower (or more accurately, like a ground frame on a British railway). I assume these levers open doors between the rails when cars are emptied. (It would not be safe to have open pits when no car is in place.)

Therefore, most of the structure is freelanced, but based on drawings of similar structures from various sources. I cut a piece of styrene sheet to use as a platform on which the detailed top would be built. This platform would be glued directly to the top of the plywood subroadbed when I installed the bin.

I added styrene walls around all four sides of the platform, leaving gaps in the two side walls so it could drop in place over the plywood subroadbed. I built up the top of the platform with styrene strip to represent the tops of the bin walls, including a dividing wall in the middle of the bin. I cut some more styrene sheet to create two wing walls to hold back the earth fill to either side of the bin. A smear of Squadron White modelling putty gave the styrene the texture of concrete.

I added some wood to represent the stringers that would support the ties, then added ties on top. The bin is not finished, but I’ve made enough progress that I’ve been able to permanently install it and lay the rails on the coal track.

So what did I do with the back side? I simply painted it black:

The side of the bin that visitors will never see.

The above photo also shows some of the detail on the top of the bin. I’ve added drop-down doors (closed) in the two pits between the rails. Still to come is planking on the top of the bins to either side of the rails and the operating levers. (I must get in touch with some of my UK friends to see if they can find me an S scale ground frame.)

I have to admit that I’ve pondered how to tackle this project for far longer than it actually took to build the bin. The problem was not technique, construction or even data, but one of deciding what my priorities were for this layout. In the end, I decided that I will detail all four walls of other structures that face the backdrop – including the coal bin at St. Williams. But this bin was an exception because to build it with an open back would’ve compromised the integrity of a section of the subroadbed that’s under considerable stress – and that’s a line I’m not willing to cross.

A good lesson to remember for future projects.

Lynn Valley trestle progress

Progress on the trestle.

My friend Chris Abbott dropped in for a visit last night after an appointment in the neighbourhood and we returned to the Lynn Valley Trestle project.

The trestle project has been packed away since mid-November while I focussed on other things, but it’s now going to start holding up laying track on the mainline out of Port Rowan so it was good to get it back on the bench.

Chris worked on gluing and pinning the piles to the cap. As he finished each one, he’d pass it to me to add sway braces and bolt details. By the end of the night, we had essentially finished the trestle.

Looking at the trestle this morning I realized it was done enough that I could cut into the roadbed to test fit it on the layout, so I did. It fits and is going to look really nice:

Trestle test-fit.

Trestle test-fit.

As the view from the riverbed suggests, the next task will be levelling the river and securing the base under the bridge. That’ll take several sets of hands, but I’ve already sent out the invitations for a riverbed raising party.

Chris likes curry and we happened to have some in the house, so that was dinner after our work session.

Julie Sahni has a terrific recipe for Badaami Murgh (Chicken Smothered in Aromatic Herbs and Almonds) in her book, Classic Indian Cooking. Almond butter, onions, garlic, ginger root, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, tumeric, tomatoes and more combine for a fragrant, complex sauce that’s smooth and creamy.

Awesome and a complete meal with basmati rice and a refreshing brew, such as the Organic Lager from Mill St. Brewery.

1:64 Modeling Guide

I’ve just taken my first-ever subscription to the quarterly 1:64 Modeling Guide*.

This magazine is now an e-zine. I like e-zine formats because my house is already bursting at the seams with books, magazines and other paper. As it’s delivered as a PDF, I can store it on an external hard drive or load it onto an iPad/other tablet computer.

And, of course, e-zines cut out the cost of printing and mailing, so they can be offered at a lower cost (even if the publisher boosts the profit margin – an important consideration for many small companies that are hanging on by their fingernails). At four issues for just $21.95 or eight issues for $39.95 (US), I figure it’s worth a try.

I have no relationship with the publisher of the Guide – I’m just sharing what I’ve done here. But most of us can afford at least a trial subscription. So if you’re interested in S scale, why not subscribe for a year and review this quarterly publication to find out if the 1:64 Modeling Guide adds value to your hobby?

(Update: Unfortunately, subsequent to this post, the publisher of the 1:64 Modeling Guide decided to retire the brand, and has not yet decided whether to replace the guide with another publication.)