Stafford’s remarkable layout

 photo StaffordSwainLayout-01_zpsgcuey8vn.jpg
(A remarkable influence on Canadian modelling. Click on the image to read more about Stafford and his layout)

John Longhurst, who writes an excellent blog about his adventures in the hobby, this week reminded me of just how influential Stafford Swain has been on the Canadian modelling scene. Click on John’s image of Stafford’s layout (above) to read his post.

My first encounter with Stafford’s work was in print: I remember seeing his layout featured on the cover of the January 1979 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, and being astonished by his HO scale rendition of the scenery of the Canadian Shield:

 photo RMC-1979-01_zpsbdfpiri9.jpg

I was equally impressed by how much “negative space” he’d incorporated into his layout. While the layout featured a yard with engine terminal and other more typical model railway scenes (all very well executed), a huge portion of the layout was devoted to a single track that twisted its way between rocky outcroppings, past trees, over fills, and across bridges.

At the time, I thought, “I’d probably fill that with another town, or a coal mine, or a coal mine and a power plant so I could do ‘loads in/empties out’ operations”. But I was much younger and measured a design’s success by how much track had been packed into the space.

These days, I realize that the sense of distance that Stafford created – the sense that the trains on his layout were actually going somewhere – is one of the themes I have been trying to portray on every layout I’ve built in the last 15-20 years. And I realize that Stafford’s layout is probably the first example of that sense of distance that I saw. Thanks for that, Stafford!

Stafford’s layout was dismantled a few years ago, but Stafford has had a huge influence on Canadian modelling – including my own – that goes well beyond his scenery work, or indeed his HO scale empire.

Rather than repeat that influence here, I encourage you to read John’s post – Stafford Swain’s CNR Whiteshell Subdivision Re-Visited.

(Thanks for the reminder, John!)

One step backwards for two steps ahead

 photo CNR-2ScaleTestCars-01_zpsz8cuzsmk.jpg
(CNR 52247 is painted and lettered. It will receive very light weathering – as shown on CNR 52274 – before entering service. This might be my last project for a few weeks as I declutter the room adjacent to the layout and build a new workshop.)

The good news is, our house renovation (the top two floors, anyway) continues apace and should be wrapped up by the end of January. At that point, our architect/contractor will go away for a while – he’ll work on another project for 8-9 months while we lick our financial wounds – and then we will start talking to him about doing the main floor, including the kitchen, living room, dining room and a powder room.

Somewhere in the hiatus, I’ll draft a plan to turn the room adjacent to the layout space into a new workshop (for this and other hobbies). I’ll then acquire the materials and create a superb space for building things.

The bad news is, now that we’re in the unpacking phase I find that the space for this workshop is full of boxes of tools and materials, plus other things (including furniture and family treasures) that must be sorted and either moved elsewhere in the house or discarded. Added to that is the stuff that was being stored elsewhere in the house, that now has to be moved into the future workshop space temporarily. This includes the tools and materials I’d kept out of the basement to work on simple projects like my recently completed second scale test car.

So, until I unload some things that are surplus to requirements and have a workshop plan in hand, there may be little to report on this blog. I’ll do what I can.

I still intend to visit friends’ layouts, do research, and otherwise keep my hand in – and will share when I do. Stay tuned!

I hope to return to my usual blogging frequency early in the new year. Exciting times ahead.

All the best to you for 2016!

Save the date: 2016 Toronto RPM

 photo TorontoRPM-Banner_zpsehch5ui5.jpg
(Click on the image to visit the Toronto RPM blog)

It’s time to make plans to attend the 2016 Toronto Railway Prototype Modellers meet!

The details are below. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and have a blog or website, I encourage you to share this information to get the word out.

2016 Toronto Railway Prototype Modellers

Saturday, April 9, 2016
8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Humber College
203 Humber College Boulevard
Toronto, Ontario M9W 6V3

North Campus – Building B – Rooms B201 & B202

Google Map

Click on the banner at the top of this post to visit the Toronto RPM blog, and be sure to contact organizer Brian Gauer (his email can be found on the blog) to let him know you plan to attend.

I’d also like to thank Brian for inviting me to deliver a clinic at this year’s meet. I’ll be giving the first run of a presentation I call, “When I’m 1:64”:

 photo WhenIm1to64-SlideDeck_zpshat9lj8f.jpg

As the title slide suggests, this is a clinic about the opportunities and challenges of modelling a specific prototype in 1:64 – using my layout as an example. I’ll cover why I ended up in S scale, why I picked the Port Rowan branch and things to research and ponder to determine whether S is a viable scale in which to work. I’ll also explain why I write this blog and now consider it as essential to building a layout as having a good supply of ties and rail. And I’ll wrap up with a quick tour of the line – because everybody likes pretty pictures.

All of this information is available in the 1000+ postings on this blog, for those who care to sift through it. But I’ve added some fresh photos – including several of earlier layouts in other scales and gauges. And, of course, I’ve boiled down the story to what I hope is an entertaining and informative 45 minutes.

I’m looking forward to giving this presentation and I hope to see you at the Toronto RPM.

Scale Test Cars are like peanuts

You can’t have just one!

 photo CNR-2ScaleTestCars-01_zpsz8cuzsmk.jpg
(CNR 52247 is painted and lettered. It will receive very light weathering – as shown on CNR 52274 – before entering service.)

Actually, you can – it’s your railway, after all.

But when I researched these prototypes so I could finish my first scale test car, I learned that they were often used in pairs to calibrate railway scales. Many prototype photos show them running in pairs, too – right in front of the van, as required because they are not equipped with air brakes.

So, as reported earlier on this blog, I acquired a second example of these South Wind Models brass imports. I had purchased extra decals when I did my first car so I had everything I needed to finish my second model. (To read more about my models, check out the Scale Test Cars category on this blog.)

I finished the second car like the first, although I changed up some of the lettering – especially on the ends:

 photo CNR-2ScaleTestCars-02_zpsf66llest.jpg
(CNR 52247 – on the left – includes a “DO NOT HUMP” warning)

I did run into two slight problems while lettering the second car:

First, I discovered I had run out of the “CANADIAN NATIONAL” lettering, which I pulled from a set of Black Cat Publishing decals for an HO scale CNR van (caboose). A trip to the local hobby shop – combined with other errands – solved this issue.

Second, the lettering set from Andy W. Scale Models only includes one road number – 52274 – and no number jumble. Since the cars would likely be in the same series – specifically, “522##” – my only choice was to letter this car 52247. An extra line of numbers on this otherwise excellent decal set would’ve been much appreciated – especially since these cars often ran in pairs.

This was a terrific little “kitchen table” project to work on while most of my tools and materials are packed away (and the renovation continues on schedule, so I should be able to unpack things soon). I’m looking forward to building a scale house – likely as a module for the S Scale Workshop – so I can put these neat little cars to good use.