Burro Rigging

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(It looks complex, but it’s fairly straightforward – click on the image for a larger view)

Reader Thomas Lassak asked how I rigged my S scale Burro crane from River Raisin Models. Here’s a labelled image that explains how I did it:

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(The threading sequence, listed. Click on the image for a larger view)

Some additional notes:

Each Pulley is actually a pair of pulleys, stacked. I refer to these as “Top” and “Bottom” in the above threading sequence.

The “Anchor” is a hole drilled in the cross bar.

Note as you follow the threading sequence, that the the thread always proceeds counter-clockwise around the pulleys (if starting from the drum).

It helps to put a weight on the end of the boom when doing this, to keep the slack out of the thread.

I hope this helps!

St. Williams trees (+ “belly barrier”)

My recent work on tobacco kilns has put more focus on the St. Williams scene, and I decided it was time to build more trees. So I’ve also been working on twisting armatures – a great project to undertake while vegetating in front of the television.

I have done 28 and while they still need to be gooped and adorned with a canopy, I can already envision how they will improve the scene:

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It’s a fair reach into the layout to plant the trees behind the grain storage building – so to protect the cornfield along the front edge of the scene I cobbled together a quick “belly barrier” from styrene sheet, scrap wood and a couple of clamps:

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It’s crude but it does the trick.

Layouts swallow trees – even big trees like these – distressingly quickly. I’ll need another two dozen trees (plus saplings, bushes, etc.) to complete this area. I can do a half-dozen armatures in an evening before my hands become tired of twisting wire, so I’ll be doing more of these over the coming week or two…

Tobacco kilns ready for weathering

I promised myself that I’d finish the three tobacco kilns for St. Williams by the end of this year. Then I undertook a bunch of other projects. Suddenly, it’s November – and at last report I only had one kiln anywhere close to being done: How did that happen?!?

So over the past month, I’ve been working on them more diligently. As this photo shows, all three are now built and painted:

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The kilns definitely need weathering, but assembly is done. I can now turn to fabricating details to complete the kiln yard scene.

I have added the stoves to the foundation, with firebox doors cut from O scale Grandt Line kits for passenger car stoves (item 3068):

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They’re too small, but they’re simply glued in place on the foundations – so when I find (or build) something more appropriate I’ll simply carve off these doors and replace them.

Grandt Line also supplied the stack for the rear of the kilns (item 3552). Each kit includes two stacks, which I spliced together to get the length I needed. I scratch-built the vents in the lower corners at the rear:

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I covered the roof with peel’n’stick S scale three-tab shingles from Rusty Stumps. I always run a bead of CA before attaching shingles, because I don’t trust the peel’n’stick adhesive. Also, when the roof is finished, I brush it down with diluted Weld-Bond to lock the shingles together.

One final observation about shingles: To get them in straight lines, one usually draws a series of parallel lines on the roof stock. I’ve found a better way – I use pre-scribed styrene sheet. For the tobacco kilns, I used Evergreen “tile” sheet with 1/8″ squares. This perfectly matched the spacing for the shingle strips:

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The kilns definitely need weathering, but over the past month I’ve turned them from mock-ups into models. And I’ve beat my (self-imposed) deadline.

Notes on the blogging engine I use

I had a couple of questions from a regular reader about the blogging engine I use. For some reason, my reply to him bounced. So I’ll answer here. Others may be interested too.

I use WordPress – currently, 4.0.1 – with the Twenty Eleven theme. I really like the editing functions and the themes. I think WordPress looks great on a desktop monitor or on a smart phone, and it works better for me than other blog engines I’ve tried.

I use Akismet to block spam… and Captcha to separate the real people from the robots.

I use Jetpack for various things, including collecting stats on number of views, most popular posts, and so on. I don’t share this information with anyone. It simply helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t for my readers.

I was asked about the “Log in” button in the “Housekeeping” menu on the home page. That’s simply the way I log into WordPress to do things like write new posts, manage comments, and so on. You don’t need to worry about that. It’s not the log in you’re looking for.

Now back to the layout…

Ops and Dinner with Ryan

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I had an unexpected and pleasant evening, running trains and sharing good food and drink with Ryan Mendell.

I first “met” Ryan online – he has posted to the Model Railroad Hobbyist forums – including this great description of his goals in the hobby – and has offered thoughtful commentary on posts on my blog. Ryan also pens a blog about his beautiful, freelanced Algonquin Railway: Click on the image below to visit it:

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Yesterday, I emailed him about something and when he replied, he said:

I’m actually in your neck of the woods right now and tonight is the one night I don’t have to run home. Would you like to meet up at your place and then grab a bite to eat?

As it happened, I also had the night off: My wife is out of town at a conference this weekend so I was on my own anyway, and I had no plans beyond, “Watch a movie” and “Twist tree armatures”. So Ryan’s timing could not have been better!

I gave Ryan the tour of the layout, and then we ran a freight extra to Port Rowan and return. This was the first operating session since I made the decision to go back to using the Kadee 808 coupler and it’s been a while since I’ve held an operating session that went so smoothly. Beyond a minor hiccup with the sector plate – I almost had it aligned properly – the layout performed really well.

If you’ve visited Ryan’s blog, you’ll know he has a modest (spare bedroom-sized) railway, so he and I face the same challenges when it comes to making a simple track plan engaging to operate. We talked a lot about the ways I do that on my Port Rowan branch, where I have just eight turnouts and “one train at a time” operation is the rule. I’m sure we’ll be having more discussions about operations in the future.

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After our session, we headed to (drumroll, please!) Harbord House for dinner, pints and a wide-ranging discussion. We were both surprised when we got up to leave, and it was 11:20 pm! That’s always a very good sign – that and the fact that we could’ve talked for another three hours, easily.

Ryan: Great to finally meet you – thanks for the suggestion. I’m looking forward to continuing our discussions while visiting your end of the city to see your layout and sampling your local. We’ll arrange something soon!

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Whitby Wonders

On Sunday, Chris Abbott and I headed east to an annual train show in Whitby. Rather than provide a straight-up report on the layouts and vendors, I thought I’d showcase some of the memorable things I saw there.

First, there was a vendor with a great collection of books, time tables and other railroadania – including a selection of switch keys:

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Next up, something for which I’d seen advertisements many years ago in British hobby magazines – but that I’d never seen in person:

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If I recall correctly, this was an analogue command control system. It sure looks like it came from the 1970s, doesn’t it? Like something one would see on the bridge of Star Trek’s Enterprise or an Eagle from Space:1999. The vendor actually had three units for sale as a set – another master control unit like this one, plus an add-on throttle.

Finally, we’ll end with an oddity, spotted by Chris. These two pictures show the two sides of a cast iron pull toy. Note the road name under the windows: What the heck happened here?

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Chris and I pondered this puzzler – and much more, besides – for the rest of the afternoon.

Our route home included a stop at Hornet Hobbies and Wheels and Wings. Both are shops that cater to the armour modeller – but with many useful tools and materials to inspire railway modelling enthusiasts.

We finished the day with a late lunch at the Louis Cifer Brew Works – a great pub recently opened… and owned by Chris’ cousin. Ontario’s craft brewing scene just gets better and better!

TMTV :: Racks for The Roadshow modules

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(Remember kids: Always wear your safety goggles! Especially if they’re really goggly…)

The fun continues at the TrainMasters TV studio, as Pierre Oliver and I return in the 3rd episode of The Roadshow to finish building the benchwork for my S Scale Workshop modules. This episode focuses on creating racks so that I may safely transport and store the modules.

Will the modules fit the truck?

Will I have to take up knitting?

Will Pierre get his sweater?

Do these goggles make me look like a Minion?

TrainMasters TV subscribers can find out by clicking on the image above. Enjoy if you watch.

Doodlebug :: The Movie

By popular demand (well – one or two requests), here’s a video of CNR 15815 – my recently-completed gas electric – running as M233 to Port Rowan:


(You may also view this movie directly on YouTube, where you may be able to watch it in larger formats)

The decoder is an ESU/Loksound Select board, loaded with an early GE diesel prime mover – the kind used in the 44-Tonner. While I’m sure a gas-electric sounds different – in the same way that a gasoline-powered automobile sounds different from a diesel automobile – I’m happy with this unit’s “voice”. It burbles appropriately to my ear – and it should be noted that most of the CNR’s self-propelled passenger carriers were diesel-electrics (or “oil-electrics” as the railway called them).

If ESU ever produces a gas-electric sound file, I can simply reload it. Or I can swap out this decoder for one from QSI, which does offer a gas-electric.

The sound escapes from the model primarily through the windows in the baggage doors, which do not have glass installed for this reason.

I’ve reduced the maximum voltage (CV 5) to about half of the available range, with a suitable adjustment to the mid-range voltage (CV 6). I’ve also added a fair bit of momentum to both acceleration (CV 3) and deceleration (CV 4). This unit runs very smoothly at realistic speeds.

Enjoy if you watch the movie, which will take less time than it did to pop the corn in the microwave…

M233 in steam

I thoroughly enjoyed running my gas electric on the layout earlier today, but it occurred to me that I haven’t run a steam-hauled mixed train in a while…

… so I did that today, too:

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(CNR Mixed M233 pauses at the station in St. Williams)

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(Rounding the final curve and cutting between the orchards at Port Rowan)

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(Passing through the Port Rowan yard, with the final station stop just a couple of train-lengths away)

Click on each image for a larger version – and enjoy. I did!

CNR 15815 :: Inaugural run

My CNR gas-electric – which I finished earlier today – has now made its inaugural run on the Port Rowan branch. Here are some pictures from the trip…

Running as M233, CNR 15815 arrives in Port Rowan:
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The gas electric is caught on the turntable lead in Port Rowan, preparing to be turned for its return journey to Hamilton:
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On the return trip, CNR 15815 – running at M238 – emerges from the Lynn Valley and crosses the Stone Church Road overpass:
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Heading for Hamilton, the gas electric blows for Charlotteville Street in St. Williams:
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While I don’t plan to replace the conventional, steam-powered mixed train on my layout, CNR 15815 will add some variety to operating sessions. It runs well – very smoothly and slowly – and as a complete train it’s a natural choice to take whenever I’m participating in S Scale Workshop exhibitions, too.

I’m glad I picked up this model at this year’s S Scale Social. I wonder what I’ll find next year?