“If I had more space…”

M233-Arrival-Port Rowan photo M233-1532-Arrival_zps1d382ef9.jpg
(Mixed Train M233 arrives in Port Rowan. Would more space for the layout make this event any different?)

“More space” is a wish almost universal in the hobby. Everybody would like more room than they have for their layout.

I’m quite happy with the space that I have, but I certainly would not object if I walked into the Trainment one morning and discovered another 50, 25 or even 10 percent more room.

I’ve just written a post on my Achievable Layouts blog to discuss what I’d do with extra space. Click on the image below to read more:
Achievable Layouts Header photo LayoutDesign-Header01_zps895b085f.jpg

Not what they were looking for, I’m guessing!

The WordPress blogging engine comes with a neat plugin called “Jetpack” that gives me some neat features. One of these is stats about things like visitors, referring pages, how many hits on what posts, etc.

It also – occasionally – gives me a good chuckle.

Today’s laugh comes from Search Engine Terms that have brought visitors to my site. Usually, it’s fairly obvious that the person doing the search is a fellow hobbyist, looking for information either about my layout in particular (e.g.: “Port Rowan in S Scale”, “Trevor Marshall S Layout”), or about something on which I have written (e.g.: “Gordon Gravett tree books”, “hand laid track”).

But occasionally, this happens…

The Search Term:
“twins bathing beauties videos”

The photo below should give you an idea of the result that this person’s search returned. But click on the Bathing Beauties to revisit the original posting:
Bathing Cows! photo LynnValley-03.jpg

I bet that’s one visitor to my blog who was disappointed!

Port Rowan abandonments: The official documents

Thanks to Steve Lucas, I now have some interesting documents to share about the Port Rowan branch. These are orders from the Board of Transport Commissioners for Canada. Copies of the orders, with my observations, follow in chronological order. Click on each for a larger view in a new window/tab…

Order 58488 – January 8, 1940:
Order 58489 – January 8, 1940:
These two orders give the railway permission to close the stations at Forestville (spelled incorrectly in the order) and Walsh. By the earliest era that I model – 1953 – these locations don’t even show up as mile posts on the employee time table. The railway used to haul loads of saplings from a tree farm in Forestville. (UPDATE: I’m in error on this – it was an Ontario Government Forestry Station that shipped saplings out of St. Williams. Thanks to regular reader Monte Reeves for catching that!)
Permission to close station at Forrestville, Ontario (Jan 8 - 1940) photo BoardOrder-58488_zps38e8d418.jpg

Permission to close station at Walsh, Ontario (Jan 8 - 1940) photo BoardOrder-58489_zps21122491.jpg

Order 59419 – July 20, 1940:
This order approved the railway’s plans for a shelter at St. Williams. I’m intrigued by two things about this. First, that it was referred to as a “shelter” and not a “station”. Second, that a plan was filed with the board (File 42628) that details the shelter and its location. I would love to find a copy of that file!
Approval to build shelter at St. Williams, Ontario (July 20 - 1940) photo BoardOrder-59419_zpseb00a004.jpg

Order 108375 – July 13, 1962:
This order gives the railway leave to remove the station agent at St. Williams. It therefore confirms that a station agent was on duty at St. Williams until five years past the latest era that I model – 1957. It also confirms that there was express service to St. Williams – since the board has ordered the railway to continue to provide such service after removing the station agent.
Permission to remove station agent at St. Williams, Ontario (July 13 - 1962) photo BoardOrder-108375_zpsbecc3d2a.jpg

Order 115721 – October 20, 1964:
This order – a two pager – is the saddest order a community can receive. Here, the board has granted the railway leave to abandon the entire line from Port Rowan to Simcoe. As the order infers, the Port Rowan community and some shippers (both at the yard and in the town) were against the abandonment and were to be notified by the railway of the date that service would cease – presumably so they could make other plans.
Permission to abandon Port Rowan branch (October 20 - 1964) page 1 of 2 photo BoardOrder-117721p1_zps10c3a7a9.jpg

Permission to abandon Port Rowan branch (October 20 - 1964) page 2 of 2 photo BoardOrder-117721p2_zps478b2e31.jpg

New Gordon Gravett scenery book (V3)

I’m a big fan of the scenery work done by Gordon Gravett on Pempoul, his 1:50 scale, French meter gauge layout. So I excited to see, in issue 223 of Model Railway Journal from Wild Swan Publications, that Gordon and Wild Swan are putting the final touches on a third book in his excellent series on scenery modelling:
Gravett Volume 3 photo Gravett-V31_zps1a5d1805.jpg

I’ve written several posts about Gordon’s books and his work. He’s definitely influenced my approach to scenery. So I will keep readers posted on availability – and definitely will be ordering a copy of this new book!

Port Rowan Oil Shed

 photo SectHouse-OilShed_zpsf14a585d.jpg

A model railway just can’t have too many small sheds along the right of way. I’m actually a bit surprised I don’t see more of them in photos of Port Rowan, but I’m pleased that the section house had an adjacent shed – most likely for storing oil, lubricants, and so on. (That’s what it’ll be used for on my layout, anyway!)

I don’t have any photos of the shed at Port Rowan, but regular reader Steve Lucas shared some of the photos he’s taken of such sheds elsewhere in Ontario (thanks, Steve!) and that was enough to get me started. I decided it would be finished the same way as the section house – board and batten siding and tarpaper roof – and I built it using the same technique I used on the section house: namely, laminating individually stained and distressed strip wood over a styrene core.

I did not add any windows, and built a very plain door:
Oil Shed (Port Rowan) photo OilShed_zps2d9836b6.jpg

I positioned the shed so that the door faces the section house, with enough space for a section gang to wrestle barrels and other containers into the shed. When it’s in place on the layout, the door can barely be seen over the section house:
Section House and Oil Shed (Port Rowan) photo SectHouse-Gutter_zps70b91d97.jpg

As the above photo shows, I’ve also been working on the section house today:

I have weathered the roofs of both structures.

I’ve also added eavestroughs and downspouts to the section house – these are visible in the colour photo I have in my collection, which also shows that the eavestrough on this side has rotted through and part of what is left has come away from the roof.

I had a lot of fun modelling that. I weathered a couple of boards to represent gunk that has washed down the side of the section house where the eavestrough has failed. I’ll work on that some more – I’m not yet happy with it. It’ll probably require airbrushing.

Finally, note that the lower portions of the section house walls are darker than the uppers. This was originally a Grand Trunk structure, painted grey over green. All the photos I have of the section house show that the green is bleeding through – not as a colour, but as a darker undertone. I did this with a black weathering solution from Hunterline, and I think it turned out quite nicely…

Speeder Set Offs

 photo SectHse-Trackside_zpsa3ab5c16.jpg

Progress continues on my model of the Port Rowan section house, with the addition of a base on which I’ve built two set offs for speeders or hand cars.

The prototype had a single “stall” served by a set off. But another set off was built in front of the section house, to the right of the doors. I think that’s a neat detail.

My prototype photo shows a section gang trailer on the right-hand set-off, so I’ve built one from a white metal kit by Wiseman Model Services. I used the wheels, axles, and handles from the Wiseman kit – but replaced the platform with one scratch-built from distressed and stained strip wood. (I’ve given the trailer a coat of yellow, but still need to do the detail painting and weathering.)

While such set offs were typically built with rail and ties, the “rails” for the set offs here appear to be made from wood, including broad planks for ties. So that’s how I modelled them. I cut a piece of black styrene sheet to use as a base – then cut, distressed and stained wood for the ties and the rails. I glued these in place, using my NMRA standards gauge to set the gauge of the wooden rails. Here’s a close-up of the front of the shed, showing how the wooden rails disappear under the doors:
 photo SectHse-XCU_zps1499e659.jpg

I laid the set offs first, then used various sizes of strip wood to determine how much I would have to elevate the shed so that the doors just cleared the wooden rails. When I found the right size wood, I used it to build a foundation for the section house.

Here’s a test-fit of the base and shed on the layout – note that the wooden rails extend beyond the styrene base to touch the edge of the closest rail on the runaround track:
Port Rowan Section House - Test Fit photo SectHse-HandcarSetoff_zps6bfa57a3.jpg

I needed to scrape away a bit of the scenery base to fit the set offs in place so that they were level with the rail. When I was happy with the fit, I used CA to secure the ends of the wooden rails to the side of the steel rail on the runaround track. Before setting it in place, I put a thin coat of No More Nails on the underside of the base and weighed it down while the glue cured. Then, I added a mix of dirt and ballast around the set offs.

This photo shows the set off with dirt and ballast in place. Note the wooden foundation for the shed. Also note the boards between the rails of the runaround track, to enable the section gang to get their hand cars and speeders on and off the track:
Port Rowan Section House - hand car set off photo SectHse-SetoffBallast_zpsf94e9396.jpg

Here’s the section house in place on the ballasted base. Note the trailer on the second set off:
 photo SectHse-InSitu_zpsa0b843f6.jpg

I will add grass and weeds, plus many details, after I build the oil shed that sits next to the section house.

Security Screens

While building the set off, I also added another important detail to the section house, based on some feedback from Steve Lucas. (Thanks, Steve!)

In a comment on a previous post about the section house model, Steve noted:

The window on the toolhouse needs a heavy steel screen on it like the one in the photo, or some vandal will break it. CN used a stamped metal “screen” that was expanded metal, or alternatively, punched steel sheet.

To model the screen, Steve suggested scratching some clear styrene with sandpaper, then paint the styrene black and quickly wipe off the surface so the paint stays only in the grooves. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, but I worried that it’s so fine that it may end up looking like a deterrent designed for insects, not vandals. So, I went looking in my drawer of metal supplies and turned up some etched brass sheet from K&S Metals. It’s a square mesh pattern. I chemically blackened some of it, cut it to size and installed it over the two windows.

Here’s a photo of the screen on the side window:
Port Rowan Section House - Window Screen photo SectHse-WindowScreen_zps8c961e18.jpg

What I like about this material is its coarseness. It’s over-scale, but nobody can look at it and mistake it for a window screen to keep flies out. It screams “security measure”.

For that reason, I think it’s a success: It tells a clear story to the viewer – which is my goal with my modelling.

Summertime modelling

When the weather is lovely – as it is today where I live – I prefer to not spend all my free time in the train room. Or, really, any of it. I know a lot of people who agree, and put their hobby on hold for the summer.

But, I find working on a project really helps when I’m thinking about a work assignment. It uses a different part of the brain than the part that worries about work, I guess, and that helps the work worrying centres to unwind enough that useful work eventually gets done.

Recently, I’ve been sharing reports via the blog on two smaller structures that I’ve been working on for the layout – the barn beside the Port Rowan team track, and the Port Rowan section house:
Port Rowan sheds photo Shed-SectHse-01_zps3bbc1728.jpg

Port Rowan sheds photo Shed-SectHse-02_zps78b2f9d3.jpg

Sharp-eyed readers will note that I’ve added the louvred vents to the team track barn (although they need more weathering). I’ve also added handcar set offs in front of the section house, and built an MoW trailer with parts from a Wiseman Model Services kit. (More on that in a future post.)

What I haven’t shared previously is where I’ve done all this work – namely, on a second-floor deck off my home office:
Summertime Modelling photo SummertimeModelling_zpsea66f50a.jpg

That’s one of my two border collies peeking through the antique folding rocker. The two tiled side tables live outdoors year-round, and give me the requisite two square feet of workbench. My toolbox and materials sit on the floor. The gaps in the boards are great for sweeping away little bits of wood and styrene. They’ll also swallow tools or materials if I’m not careful – so I do my best to be careful. So far, that hasn’t been a problem – not too often, anyway…

With my office right next door, I can also nip in to make notes on work projects as the inspiration hits.

Section House underway

Port Rowan section house photo SectionHouse-01_zps046d46c0.jpg

I felt like sitting on the deck and working on a model yesterday – and as a result, I’ve made a good start on the section house for Port Rowan. As the above photo shows, the four walls and two roof panels have been assembled and painted/stained, the chimney has been installed, and windows have been cut and framed.

I have very little information about this structure – it appears in a couple of prototype photos, but often in the background. There is one decent photo of the track side face – a black and white picture taken from the elevated coal track, looking towards the yard throat and a CNR 10-wheeler on the turntable lead. Most of the track side face of the section house appears in the left foreground of that picture:
Another roofline? photo PtR-SectionHouse-Proto.jpg
(Click on the image to find out more about the question of rooflines)

This photo was invaluable – showing that the section house had board and batten siding, plus the general arrangement of doors and other details – including the use of what appear to be planks instead of rails for the hand cars. Naturally, this is the side that nobody will see, since it faces towards the backdrop, but I’ve decorated the face appropriately – even including the horseshoe over the doors, which I created by curling a piece of wire then flattening the wire by squeezing it with pliers:
That's better (Port Rowan section house) photo SectionHouse-Rebuild-03_zps3f74fc57.jpg

I used a similar technique to create the door handle.

Another prototype photo – of a crew turning a locomotive on the turntable – shows the west side of the structure, including the window. The good news is that photo is in colour, so I’m confident of the red siding and black roof.

The colour photo shows tarpaper on the roof, although the black and white photo shows shingles. I decided to go with the tarpaper because I like the look. The colour photo also shows details like the brick chimney (on the model, a resin casting from Model Tech Studios that I piked up at a train show). And it shows that the wall everybody will see – the end wall facing the fascia – is blank:
Port Rowan section house photo SectionHouse-02_zpsd9112346.jpg

I stained my boards with Barn Red weathering mix from Hunterline, and brush-painted the tarpaper roof with Black Grey from Acrylicos Vallejo.

Working from the measurements determined through the building of many, many mockups, I cut four wall sections out of .010″ thick black styrene sheet. I then laminated individually-stained boards onto these pieces, topped by individual battens. The black styrene prevents white from showing through any gaps between boards. Since .010″ sheet is too thin to be structural, the finished walls were then edged with .060″ x .060″ styrene strip, and laminated to sections of .060″ standard (white) styrene sheet cut to fit inside this frame.

With four walls completed, I assembled the structure, adding two roof panels cut from .060″ thick styrene sheet. I drilled and squared a hole for the chimney, added tarpaper roofing material cut from masking tape, and painted the roof. I then fit the chimney – which I had previously painted – and added more masking tape as flashing.

While I made good progress, there’s still much to do – from adding glass to the windows, to building the set offs (two of them) for hand cars, to adding the clutter and building the hand cars. I have S scale white metal kits from Wiseman Model Services for hand car and a trailer (like the one seen in the prototype photo). And, of course, I’ll have to build the adjacent oil shed. I’ll mount both structures on a small base and work it into the scene with ground cover, etc.

The scene is coming together nicely and it’s great to have a section of the layout – even a small section like this – that’s so close to looking finished. While there are always details to add, it’s satisfying to get rid of most of the mockups in the Port Rowan yard – just the oil shed to do:
In the yard (Port Rowan section house) photo SectionHouse-03_zps12b88b69.jpg

I’m also pleased by how this spot of colour draws the eye, even when looking across the big red mockup of the Port Rowan station:
 photo SectionHouse-04_zpsc1435a68.jpg

The lesson of modelling what you see – not what you think you see

This is a trap into which I sometimes fall – particularly when I’m enjoying working on a project and I’m keen to finish. In the interests of describing this project – warts and all – I must confess that I goofed royally when starting this structure.

I started with the track side wall for the section house. As I was beavering away on this, I worked from my prototype photo but at some point I simply assumed the paired doors were centred under the peak. Obviously, they aren’t – the prototype photo clearly shows that. But that’s how I built them – as this (unfortunately fuzzy) image illustrates:
Oops (Port Rowan section house) photo SectionHouse-Rebuild-01_zpsae090d31.jpg


What to do? My first thought was to scrap the side and start over, but I’d put a lot of work into the doors and I was pleased with how they turned out. Fortunately, this side faces away from the viewer, so it’ll only ever be seen at a shallow angle – for example, if I take a photo looking along the yard tracks. So, I decided I might be able to salvage the wall – and if not, I could rebuild.

I cut back the wall on the left side, then added material to the right side wall and roof to, in effect, slide all the details a couple of feet to the left:
 photo SectionHouse-Rebuild-02_zps978a4213.jpg

As the photo shows, I also had to square the ends of my boards and battens. In the end, I even sliced off a number of battens completely. I then cut more boards and battens to fit:
That's better (Port Rowan section house) photo SectionHouse-Rebuild-03_zps3f74fc57.jpg

It’s not a perfect fix – the butt joints in the boards are visible – but it saved me having to start from scratch and given that this side won’t be easily seen on the layout, I can live with it. If this wall was to face the aisle, I would’ve started over.

Lesson learned? Probably not. But maybe someone else will learn from my mistake…

Salt Creek Farm Market

SaltCreekFarmMarket photo SaltCreekFarmMarket_zpsc0550293.jpg

When it’s open (April 15 to December 24) I try to stop at Salt Creek Farm Market on the way home from visiting Pierre Oliver. It’s on the main route from his house in St. Thomas to Highway 401 in London, and it’s a treasure trove of fresh and pickled produce.

On last week’s trip to Pierre’s place, I stopped in and scored fresh Ontario asparagus, strawberries and cherries. I also picked up a hot salsa and pickled beets – plus a block of cheddar from Jensen Cheese, which has two locations in Ontario – one in Simcoe (the first major railroad yard up the line from Port Rowan) and the other in Wilton (where, earlier this year, I acquired my baggage wagon).

My wife is always pleased when I come home with goodies from the Salt Creek Farm Market and the produce often contributes to our dinner when I get home from Pierre’s. So, that’s another great reason to stop in.

If you’re in the area, I recommend that you drop in. Click on the image at the top of this post to visit the market online.

Wabash Work Session

I visited my friend Pierre Oliver yesterday, and the two of us spent a productive few hours working on Pierre’s HO scale Wabash layout. We accomplished several things that are easier to do with two sets of hands – including determining the locations for his fast clock system and installing the first of several Train Order signals – this one, at Jarvis, Ontario:
Jarvis: 19 East, copy three photo Wabash-TTTO-03_zps81e31d7c.jpg

Jarvis: 19 West, copy three photo Wabash-TTTO-04_zps6e9c32c4.jpg

(Compare these two photos – in the first, this eastbound caboose hop has Form 19 orders waiting for it. In the second, the caboose hop has a clear board, while Form 19 orders are waiting for the next westbound train. Click on either photo to visit Pierre’s blog)

The station was built by our mutual friend, the late Richard Chrysler, for the HO scale CNR Hagersville Sub layout Rich was building with his son Geoff Chrysler. That layout was dismantled earlier this year after an extensive photo shoot, and Geoff generously donated the Jarvis station to Pierre for his Wabash layout:
Orders at Jarvis for an eastbound Redball photo Wabash-TTTO-01_zps426cbe81.jpg
(In this photo, you can see a CNR caboose in staging to the right of the station – that’s the same CNR line that trains on my layout would travel to head to Hamilton)

Click on the blades in the photo below to read Pierre’s report about installing the working train order signal, and about the fast clock system:
Jarvis station by Richard Chrysler photo Wabash-TTTO-02_zps8c1b454b.jpg

Pierre was having trouble getting his static grass to stand up straight and – knowing that I have had some success with this – he asked me to try my hand at it. It annoyed him to no end that I was able to produce a field of long grass outside Jarvis, using exactly the same techniques that failed to work for him:
Grass outside Jarvis photo Wabash-Grass-Jarvis_zps1adcd48a.jpg
Maybe I’m a natural Scenic Artist? More likely, I just got lucky. It was fun, nonetheless…

Another reason for the visit was so that I could deliver the five HO scale tobacco kilns I built for Pierre, which will sit near the track between Courtland and Delhi. Click on either photo below to read Pierre’s report on that:
Tobacco Kilns outside Delhi photo HO-Kilns-Wabash-01_zpse98e0e52.jpg

Tobacco Kilns from the air photo HO-Kilns-Wabash-02_zpseb067be3.jpg

Thanks, Pierre, for a great day out! It was even worth the extra hour it took to get home because of traffic, and I look forward to our next session – at your place, or mine!