Waybill bill boxes in LDJ 50

Issue 50 of the Layout Design Journal – the excellent quarterly publication from the Layout Design Special Interest Group – arrived in my mailbox this week and it includes a short article I wrote called “Design Considerations – Realistic Waybill Boxes”.
Layout Design Journal 50 photo LDJ50_zps5e86285f.jpg
(Click on the cover to find out more about the Journal.)

While some might feel a discussion of waybill boxes is more of an operations issue, what I address in this article is how Chris Abbott (who built the boxes for me) and I had to alter the design of the prototype boxes in order to make them work in a model environment. The boxes themselves are smaller, they’re mounted lower to the ground than most prototype boxes, and they’re in a layout room – a place that’s typically less well lit than the great outdoors.
Waybill Box: Port Rowan photo WaybillBox-PtR.jpg

Chris: Thanks again for building these for me!

I’d also like to thank Tony Thompson, whose writings about bill boxes on his blog – Modeling the SP – inspired me to use realistic bill boxes on my own layout. Tony also generously permitted the Layout Design Journal to print a couple of his photos of prototype bill boxes to help illustrate the article.

And since I’m thanking people, I’ll tip the hat to LDJ editor Byron Henderson, who worked with me to ensure that this article would be relevant from a layout design perspective. Byron’s doing a fantastic job of putting together a thought-provoking magazine on a quarterly basis. Well done!

I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again: the Layout Design SIG is a great organization for anybody who wants to design (and, therefore, build) better layouts. If you’re not a member, why not start by joining the LDSIG Yahoo Group and ask about the benefits of being part of the SIG?

(While I don’t, personally, get many chances to take advantage of the many LDSIG events organized at national and regional conventions, I get plenty of good reading and interesting ideas out of the Layout Design Journal and feel that even on its own, this magazine is well worth the modest cost of membership.)

The Safe Word is “Banana”…

I’m having problems with my main computer – yesterday it would only boot in Safe Mode, and today it’s not booting at all. So, I’ll hump it to the local shop this week to have the techs rummage around in its gubbins.
 photo SickComputer-New_zps48f60298.jpg

Meantime, I’m using a shared laptop to keep track of stuff and earn a living. But that means it may take a bit longer to approve new comments / respond to questions / etc. Bear with me.

It also means I won’t be posting new photos until either I get my old machine back or I buy a new one.

That said, there’s good news: Being unable to waste banana-boatloads of time online, I’m making great progress in the real world. I spent most of yesterday detailing walls for the HO scale tobacco kilns I’m building for my friend Pierre Oliver. This is good news because Pierre has three of the CNR 8-hatch reefers from Andy Malette to build for me, and I’ll feel darned embarrassed if he gets those done before I have his kilns ready. It’s also good news because I decided a few weeks ago that I wouldn’t undertake any more big projects for my layout until I got Pierre’s kilns off my land and onto his.

Naturally, after taking this decision I’ve had several good ideas (or, at least, interesting ideas) that I’m dying to turn into reality, and then share here.

I’m taking pictures of the kilns as I build them, so stay tuned for photos. I might even do an article on these for the general hobby press. Smoking may no longer be cool – but these kilns sure are…

“Achievable Layouts” blog

Thanks to everyone who offered their thoughts on the achievable layouts series on this blog.

I’ve given your comments a great deal of thought and talked to many others offline as well. As a result, I’ve decided to collect these posts into a new blog. You’ll find a new page called “Achievable Layouts” in the header to this blog with more information. Or click on the image below to go to the new blog right now:
Achievable Layouts Header photo LayoutDesign-Header01_zps895b085f.jpg

I will continue to post short notices here so that Port Rowan readers interested in layout design can follow along. Since blogs are also able to automatically push notifications to interested readers, I encourage you to either sign up for email notifications or RSS feeds. Look for the “Follow this blog (email or RSS)” page on any of the blogs I write to find out how to receive notifications.

And, I will endeavour to update the “Achievable Layouts” page on this blog with links to new designs as they’re published. If you go to the page now, you’ll see a list of all of the layout examples to date, with hot links to their home on the new blog.

I feel this arrangement is the best way to continue to share ideas for achievable layouts without diluting this blog’s focus on my home layout.

Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts on this – very much appreciated!

Welcome, “Proto-Layouts” members!

If you’ve just found this blog through the recent post by Barry Karlberg to the Proto-Layouts Yahoo group, then Welcome! I hope you enjoy your visit and join my regular readers.

I encourage you to start with the “First Time Here?” page, which will give you some background on what I’m doing. And if you want to continue to follow my blog, check the “Follow This Blog” page for information on how to do that via RSS or email.

(Thanks again, Barry!)

“Go Exploring!”

I’ve added a new feature to this blog in response to a request from a friend. He was looking for a way to pick up where he left off, when real life prevented him from visiting the blog on a regular basis.

I dug through my available WordPress Widgets and found an archive navigating widget, which allows readers to filter all my posts by month. I’ve called it “Go Exploring!” and you’ll find it in the right-hand column on the home page. (That is, if you’re reading this on a computer. If you’re on a mobile device, it’s probably at the bottom of the screen – keep scrolling!)

Interestingly, I can show the number of posts by month as well. Seems I’m prolific…

It’s not a perfect solution, but I hope this addition makes it a little easier to get around my blog.

(Remember, if you want an easy way to make sure you never miss a post, you can enter your email address in the appropriate box in the right hand column and my new posts will be delivered directly to your inbox.)

Bathing Beauties – on film

When my wife and I visited the Lynn Valley in 2011, we discovered a small herd of cattle bathing in the river near the twin-span steel deck girder bridge. (Click on the picture below for more on the cattle.)
Bathing Cows! photo LynnValley-03.jpg

I’ve been working on the Lynn River scene near the water tank and wanted to add a bit of ambient sound to the scene to help bring the cows to life. This will be particularly important once I get the rest of the trees built for this area, as they will overhang the river making the cattle less obvious – and therefore a small reward for those who go looking for details on the layout.

Following yesterday’s visit from my friend Hunter Hughson, in which we ran a freight extra to Port Rowan and back, I restaged the train as it appeared after switching the terminal.

Here’s Bathing Beauties – a short video taken as Extra 80 East crosses the Lynn River:

(You can also click here to watch this video on YouTube – where you may be able to view a larger version.)

Yes, I still need to pour the water. I’m not yet ready for that. Stay tuned.

Since I’m thinking about audio a lot these days, I’ll reiterate what I wrote about the turntable video I posted ealier today:

All the sound on this video is natural – i.e.: picked up by the condenser mic on the camera, with no fiddling in the editing suite. The locomotive sound is generated by the on-board Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder, feeding two speakers – a small one in the boiler and a larger, high-bass model in the tender.

The ambient sound includes bird calls, the cattle, and – very, very quietly – some river burbling. I’m representing a fairly sedate river so the only noise the water would make is the occasional eddy around obstructions, like the centre pier of the bridge. And cow legs.

The short answer is, “Yes”

Somebody stumbled across my blog by Googling the following phrase:

can you setup a model railroad layout with clothes dryer in the same room

I’m not sure why you ended up here, but this is a special shout-out to you. Welcome!

I haven’t written about the relationship between model railroad layouts and clothes dryers but the short answer is, “Yes”.


Running Extra 80 with Hunter

My friend Hunter Hughson visited last night. My wife joined us for a trip to Harbord House for dinner, then Hunter and I headed to Port Rowan aboard a freight extra hauled by CNR 80.

Hunter is only the second friend in the hobby to visit since I added ambient sound to the layout, and since his many talents include “musician” I was keen for his feedback on what I’ve done. I was pleased – and relieved – that he likes it. The choice of sounds seemed spot-on to his recollection of summers in Ontario, and he felt the levels were not overpowering.

Hunter took the engineer’s seat while I grabbed the paperwork and loaded into the caboose. We switched three cars in St. Williams, and four in Port Rowan, so it was a busy evening. The Port Rowan switching included lifting and spotting cars on the elevated coal track, which requires a careful hand on the throttle. Hunter did a fine job.

Hunter is enjoying the novelty of running a short local behind steam: As he notes on his blog, his main involvement in a layout is as a member of the Waterloo Regional Model Railroad Club in St. Mary’s, Ontario – a group building an extensive HO scale layout representing CP Rail in the Sudbury area in the 1970s. It’s a very impressive layout – and about as far from my modest Port Rowan effort as one can get.

After finishing the extra’s work, Hunter and I discussed layout sound, which reminded me that Lance Mindheim is feeding Soundtraxx decoders into headphones to capture the full range of audio – including the big bass notes that tiny speakers mounted in locomotives just can’t reproduce. It’s not something I plan to do on my layout, but it is an interesting approach. You can read about it on Lance’s blog – look for the April 7, 2012 entry.

While I was too busy conducting things last night to take photos, this morning I shot some video to recreate some of last night’s session. I’m in the process of editing my footage, but here’s a video of Engine 80 being turned at Port Rowan:

(You can also click here to watch this video on YouTube – where you may be able to view a larger version.)

Since I’m thinking about audio a lot these days, I’ll mention that all the sound on this video is natural – i.e.: picked up by the condenser mic on the camera, with no fiddling in the editing suite. The locomotive sound is generated by the on-board Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder, feeding two speakers – a small one in the boiler and a larger, high-bass model in the tender. The ambient sound includes bird calls, a cicada, and the turntable’s air-powered motor (which would have been fed from the locomotive).

Thanks for visiting, Hunter – let’s do it again soon!

Some requests about CP Rail

I’ve had a few offline discussions with friends in the hobby, which prompts me to ask some CP Rail-related questions. (Contact me via the “comments”, or privately via The Model Railway Show contact page. Look for “Trevor” in your choices.)

CP Rail – Caroline Street – Waterloo ON

I have a number of books about the CPR electric lines in Southern Ontario. These include Steel Wheels Along The Grand by George Roth, which features a number of photos of these lines after the wire came down and CP Rail converted the operation to diesels. This book also includes rough track maps of various locations. Based on these, I’m interested in doing a post in my achievable layout series about the spur that ran along Caroline Street in Waterloo, to serve the Seagram Distillery and Carling/Labatt’s brewery, plus furniture factories and other manufacturers.

To do this, though, I need a few things:

1 – I’d like a few photos of the Caroline Street operation, in the era worked by CP Rail’s SW1200RS locomotives. I’ll add a “Copyright” line to the picture and give you a shout-out if I use your pictures. Let me know if you have anything.

2 – George’s book is a big help and a great start, but even after comparing his map to a Google satellite view of the area, I still have questions about exactly where some of the spurs went. If anybody can help me nail down the track arrangement for this area, I’d love to hear from you.

CP Rail – Goderich ON

Since I’m asking about CP Rail, a friend in California emailed to ask about sources for information about the CPR in Goderich, Ontario. If anybody has suitable sources for information – track arrangements, photographs, good books, and so on – please get in touch.

Thanks for your indulgence. I now return you to the CNR in Port Rowan.