Instant Town

… but don’t add water, because it’s made of artist board.

I enjoy structure building, although I don’t engage in the type of structure building that wins craftsman structure contests. But when I need a break from other aspects of the hobby, structures are a favourite.

That’s especially true of the planning/proof-of-concept stage. This involves no wood, styrene or glue – just artist board, a knife, a ruler, tape and so on. I almost always build a cardboard mockup of structures first, so I can confirm roof angles, overall placement on the layout and other things that are easier to fix before one starts cutting and gluing styrene or wood.

It was hot outside yesterday so I went to ground in a cool part of the house, with tools, materials, photographs, notes and a supply of adult beverages, and created mockups of almost all the structures for my model of Port Rowan. It may be helpful to have a copy of the Canadian National track map and my layout plan handy while you look at the photos:

Port Rowan - Plot

Port Rowan layout plan

Here’s an overview of my Port Rowan, taken from the end of the peninsula looking over the roof of the two buildings that make up the feed mill. The Daily Effort has arrived at the station, and for some reason there’s a freight on the team track. I’ve mocked up the barn located next to the team track and, behind the feed mill at left, a rather substantial structure labelled as a garage.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

If we were to travel down Bay Street – at the end of the peninsula – towards the backdrop and then look up the driveway towards the station, this is what we’d see. We’re looking into the L of the station at this point. The L-shaped main building has extensions at each end, and there’s a shed tucked into the L. The feed mill is in the foreground at left.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

If we were to walk to the station, then cross the tracks and look back at the feed mill, this is what we’d see. The mill consists of two buildings, each with extensions or additions. The locomotive is stopped next to a coal bin extension at the mill. To the right of the trackside mill building is the office for the mill – which appears to have been the railway’s freight house at one time. In that role, it would’ve been next to the station but was moved to the feed mill’s site. In the foreground is that garage again.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

Here’s another look at the barn mockup next to the team track. Doing the mockup was essential for getting the roofline right on this structure. The best prototype photo I have of it is from the Keith Sirman collection, taken from the station platform.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

Port Rowan - CNR 88 and M233

Here’s another view of the garage mockup. It can be seen in the prototype photo below, but I have another view in a book that shows large sliding doors on the front of the structure, in the open position, so that’s how I mocked it up. I’ll have to do a detailed interior since it’s right at the front of the layout.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

M233 at Port Rowan - Keith Sirman Collection

I’ve taken several images of the feed mill and the Port Rowan station. Click on each thumbnail for a larger version.

Feed Mill

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan Station

Port Rowan station - cardstock

Port Rowan station - cardstock

Port Rowan station - cardstock

Port Rowan station - cardstock

I need to give a special shout-out to my friend Mike Livingston. Mike provided many of the critical dimensions for both the station and the two buildings in the feed mill. He also photographed the feed mill earlier this year, with a measuring stick posed in each photo, which was invaluable when creating the mockups. And his photography expedition was timely, as the trackside structure was in the process of being demolished when he visited. It’s gone now – but thanks to Mike’s timely work I’ll be able to model it.

I think I’ve captured the size and proportions of each structure. But the great thing about mockups is that if I haven’t, I can make adjustments quickly and cheaply.

The last mockup to do for Port Rowan is the railway section house. Then I can mockup the depot, coal shed, tobacco kilns and other structures for St. Williams. Then I’ll have to start building the structures for real.

Skills for a lifetime

It seems everybody I know is thinking about how to approach learning in the hobby. Even as I was pressing “publish” on my post about how my friend Trevor Hodges tackles learning new skills, another friend – Mike Cougill – was hitting “publish” on his blog, sharing this thoughts about learning Skills For A Lifetime.

Depending on what time of day it is where you are, grab a coffee, tea or adult beverage and have a read.

The PRS Story

Ages ago, I wrote about starting my first Pacific Rail Shops boxcar kit. In that post, I commented that…

This kit reminds me of working in HO 25-30 years ago, when companies like Front Range and McKeen were creating state of the art kits. This is fun – it’s like a trip in the TARDIS, to the time before HO modellers enjoyed so many resin kits and excellent examples of RTR rolling stock.

Well, it seems there’s a good reason for that. For the answer, read the story of Pacific Rail Shops in the S Scale Journal.

The right tool for the job

As regular readers know, when the guys come over to work on the layout I like to feed ’em. And nothing makes a dinner complete like fresh, home-baked bread.

The problem is, making dough with a kitchen appliance is fine if I’m doing a single loaf. But when there’s a large crowd, I needed something up to the task.

So yesterday, I picked up this beauty:

Drill Press.

It’s a 3/4 horsepower, 16-speed model with a six-inch quill stroke, so it’ll get to the bottom of even the deepest mixing bowl and work through the toughest of doughs. And the large table has several clamping options to keep the dough from hitting the floor, or me.

I also appreciate the LED work light.

I’m sure I’ll find many other uses for it. Already, my friend Chris Abbott has suggested pancake batter.

A prototype + S connection

Thanks to Bill Roberts, I have a fresh prototype photo to share – and there’s an interesting connection with S scale.

It’s the summer of 1955 and Anthony Perles took this picture of The Daily Effort:

Anthony Perles photo of Port Rowan.

The note on the back of the photo states:

Anthony H. Perles, 7-16-55, Port Rowan, Ont. CNR 80 (2-6-0 E-10a) RPO 7707, and combine 7176, as Train 233 at Port Rowan terminal.

There are not many photos taken from this side of the tracks so it’s wonderful to see a different perspective – and a perspective that operators on my layout will see since this is the “aisle side” on my layout. I will have to park a couple of automobiles at this end of the depot, as in the photo. And I definitely need to add weeds, saplings and other vegetation along this side of the rails.

Speaking of rails – look how small they are. Talk about a ribbon of steel.

Now, the S connection: The National Association of S Gaugers gives out an annual award to an author who publishes an article about S in a non-S scale publication. It’s a great way to encourage people to promote the scale. And the award is named in honour of…

Anthony H. Perles.

Thanks, Gary!

I received my latest issue of the 1:64 Modeling Guide today and was pleasantly surprised to see I was mentioned in the regular column penned by Gary Carmichael.

Gary – it was great to meet you in Springfield as well and your Kennebec Central Sn2 modules were a highlight of the show for me. Thanks for the shout-out for this blog and for The Model Railway Show – the podcast I co-host and produce.

And to any readers who are now here because they read about Port Rowan in Gary’s column, welcome aboard! I hope you enjoy your visit and return often. If you would like an easy way to be notified when I add something here, subscribe to this blog via RSS. Here’s the link.

(UPDATE: Unfortunately, the 1:64 Modeling Guide is no longer published.)

S Scale Workshop at Ottawa Train Expo

I was unable to disappear for three or four days, so I was unable to join the S Scale Workshop in flying the 1:64 flag at this year’s inaugural Ottawa Train Expo.

But based on the photographs from Simon Parent and the report from Andy Malette, it sounds like a great time was had by all.

A highlight must’ve been the debut of a new module set by John Johnston. I’m looking forward to seeing John’s modules in person. I’m also looking forward to the official report from the Ottawa Train Expo organizing committee, as I interviewed one of its members, Chris Lyon for Episode 29 of The Model Railway Show podcast.

(UPDATE: Unfortunately, the organizers could not make a go of this show. After a strong start, the group was unable to find an appropriate venue for prices that the public would be willing to pay at the gate. The 2016 show was scrubbed and the organization disbanded.)

I stood there, wondering why the train was getting closer…

… and then it hit me:

It’s because I now have power to the rails in Port Rowan.

Pictures don’t really tell the story. But this photo of the first train on the layout – a work extra of course – provides some clues:

First train.

First, there’s the fantastic starred headlight. Then there’s the loops of wiring that can be seen belowdecks. And finally, at the left … down in the benchwork and just beyond the roll of black duct tape … one can see the red and green polarity indicators glowing on the Hex Frog Juicer from Tam Valley Depot.

Here’s a closer look at the copper spaghetti:

Copper spaghetti.

There’s no doubt that this is my wiring – nobody else could do such a simple layout and still create a bird’s nest of a mess. The blue/clear copper cable is 10 gauge, heavily insulated speaker wire. I’m using it for the track bus.

Emerging from the black tape (there to relieve strain on the connections) are two pairs of drop feeders – copper and silver coloured wires in clear insulation. These are 22 gauge speaker wires and while they’re a bit on the thin side they solder well to the rails and they’re only about eight inches long. I’ve never experienced any problems with such fine wires for drop feeders.

The white wires each connect a turnout frog to the Hex Frog Juicer (also known as “The worst job at Orange Julius”). This is a marvellous device for DCC-powered layouts. At right, a pair of feeders from the track bus deliver power to the HFJ. The white wires – using five of the six terminals – each run to a turnout frog. And that’s it. Really, the biggest challenge is finding a safe place under the layout to mount the thing. As the photo shows, I’ve mounted it in the framing on a small block of wood so it gets some air behind it:

Hex Frog Juicer - the worst job at Orange Julius.

Now that I’ve taken the photo I will add an “awning” – a scrap of masonite that will extend over the HFJ like the bill on a ball cap. This will offer some protection against Things That Are Bad For Electronics that may fall from above – such as glue drips or dropped screwdrivers. I will still be able to access the board from underneath the layout if needed.

As a friend likes to say, “All the rest is scenery”. Well, in Port Rowan, at least…