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.

8 thoughts on “Speeder Set Offs

  1. So here’s a question:

    CNR speeders today are orange, if I recall correctly. What colour were they in the 1950s?

    And what about trailers, like the one in my photos?

    I’ve painted my model trailer yellow – but that’s easy peasy to change.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Looks great Trevor. I’m curious about the materials stored outside the section house. The 55 gallon drums are obvious enough but I can’t tell what materials make up the other piles. There appears to be three rolls of the ubiquitous red coloured wood slat and wire snow fences (so common in our youth; now supplanted by plastic orange mesh). I guess ties, tie plates, fish plates, pails of spikes and bolts, scrap lengths of rails and a spare frog would all “look right” and “tell the story”.

    • Quickly browsing through an August, 1939 edition of C.N.Rys. Maintenance-of-Way Rules and Instructions I came across the followng rules: “445. Section Foremen will have care of, and be responsible for, all loose property of the Railway on their sections including ties, wood, lumber, scarp iron, steel and other metals; they must see that it is neatly piled, not closer than 10 feet from the nearest rail. 447. All scrap rails must be piled ready for shipment. (See Rules 273 and 274). Serviceable rials not kept on rail racks must be neatly piled where designated by the Roadmaster.” Judging from the photograph the Port Rowan Section foreman was compliant.

    • Hi Jeffrey:

      A friend who works on the railway has also looked at the picture and offered this info in an email. I’m sharing the content, since there’s nothing identify him in it. (You know who you are – thanks again!):

      A couple of stacks of joint bars are stored right behind the lorry, neatly stacked with each row of bars crossing the other alternately. To the right of them is a stack of what looks like wood – hardwood track shims, maybe? If so, some joint bars are stacked on top to keep them in place. Behind the joint bar stacks, I see three rolls of snow fencing on end, at least once of which must have been recently delivered. That roll still has a shipping tag on it. Beyond it are lengths of rail, probably 33′ long. The sectionmen obviously have some pride in keeping things tidy.
      Behind the fencing are a few flanger warning signs mounted on posts and laid on top of some wood shapes. Maybe those shapes are dump boards for a track lorry?

      This all sounds good to me, so that’s what I’ll attempt to model. Now, to build a snow fence twisting machine…


  3. CN motorcars appear to have been painted yellow, but some earlier wood-framed versions were an oxide red. The front endpaper of Ian Wilson’s
    Steam at Allandale” has a view 1350 on the turntable at Allandale, with a few stored wood-frame motorcars beside it. These appear to be Lindsay-built “M-15” Sylvester section motorcars with their “Type M” engine. Sylvester advertising shows these cars as being painted chrome yellow from the factory.

    One of these ancient looking cars would be perfect for the Port Rowan section!

    • That’s a great bit of info, Steve – thanks. I’ll check out the photo in Ian’s book.

      I’ve actually found a couple of prototype photos (black and white) of a speeder working the branch to Port Dover, as part of the Henley’s Hamilton blog.

      And – now that I read the caption for this again, the reporter notes that it was painted “vivid orange” in 1953! I guess that answers my question for the speeder. The trailer will be yellow.


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