Meet at St Williams

Like the prototype, my model of the Port Rowan branch is normally a one-train-at-a-time affair. But I was thinking today about what an operating session would look like with two trains on the line at the same time.

With only two modelled towns, options are limited. The trains would either occupy Port Rowan at the same time, or meet at St. Williams. If they were to meet at St. Williams, it might look something like this… with thanks to Elgar for the beautiful music:

(Enjoy within the blog, or watch it in larger formats on YouTube)

37 thoughts on “Meet at St Williams

    • Trevor,

      It’s more work to film, but a temporary brakeman figure at the switch (removable of course) would add a lot I think.

      Great stuff!


      • Hi Barry:
        About the same amount of work to film, actually. And I do have brakemen that I use during operating sessions – search “brakemen” on the blog and you’ll find some entries. I thought about using them for this but I wanted to show the layout as it appears all the time – without added details posed in the scenes.
        Great idea though. Maybe a future video will document how I operate the layout – showing the switch controls, use of whistle signals, etc.

  1. Great work Trevor! Your scenery is tremendous, so realistic. If photos were taken in black and white, I bet people would have a hard time believing this is a model. Thanks for the posts and the video.
    Cheers, Gord

    • Thanks Gord.
      I’ve taken a number of black and whites, which I use for the headers on the blog. I like how they’re turning out.

  2. Very, Very nice! I love the way that the trains stop to line the switches rather then seeing them lined while the trains is still in the last town! I do hope that the flagman on the road there at St. Williams is permanently stationed there otherwise the poor fellow got left behind!

    • Hi Brian:
      Yes – lining and locking switches is part of every operating session – a task made more enjoyable by my use of 4-inch tall switch stands mounted on the fascia to control the turnouts.
      And that’s the St. Williams station agent lending a hand with the flagging…

      • When I’m operating on someones MRR (or is that MRwy? ), I try to do things as though there really is a crew and that they’re not track stars (nor are the crews equipped with transporters)!

        Likewise, it’s not a switching puzzle were you ‘win’ if you finish in the quickest time or the fewest moves, but what’s the easiest, safest way for the crew to do their work (and maybe get an early quit!).

        It pains me to see someone plow into a car or a cut of cars and continue on as if they weren’t there, I always make a safety stop before coupling, then pause for a moment before continuing in either direction. Likewise I hate seeing someone racing down the track as if they were running slot cars! Ugg!

        It’s all a matter of is it Model Railroading, or Modeling Railroading, personally, I’m modeling railroading.

  3. A plausible situation to create two trains on the branch at once: the previous day’s train is late and the crew is hog-lawed at Port Rowan. Then, the next day, the new crew could be called at such a time that a meet had to occur at St. Williams.

    • An interesting thought, Ryan – although it’s unlikely a crew would run out of time in this branch since it’s only a couple of hours from terminal to terminal.
      I’m happy to run a single train most of the time. And if I’m ever entertaining enough visitors that a second train would be welcome, I’ll invoke Rule 1: “It’s my train set…”

      • Mandatory rest for train crews did not exist in Canada until the mid-1980’s. Before that, train crews were on duty until the trip was over, or their collective agreement allowed them to take rest enroute.

        Steve Lucas.

        • I find it curious that mandatory hours-of-service laws came in so late in Canada, especially since the 16 hour shift was mandatory in the US starting before WWII. I wonder how common it was for union agreements to restrict hours of service…

      • Could it be justifiable, in your location, and time of year to run an occasional extra? That may allow for two trains on the line.

        • Always justifiable by Rule One*, Scott. And I do run freight extras fairly regularly. But never when there’s also a mixed train on the line. That said, my thoughts are to give this a try sometime, so that if I ever have a larger group visit I can keep more people entertained. That may happen once out of 100 sessions – it hasn’t happened yet.
          (*It’s my train set)

  4. Trevor,
    I love the idea of a video showing your railway’s operations. The CNR’s Port Rowan branch is certainly far enough along (at least it appears to me) to host such a show. It also could serve as an orientation for new crews as well as demonstrating that bigger isn’t always better

    • Thanks Brian. Good ideas.
      Orientation for new crews is pretty straight-forward. There’s not a lot to learn to start running trains on this layout – although there’s plenty to learn if one wants to accurately replicate the experience of the real crews working the branch back in the 1950s. Most of it is on-the-job learning – once one understands one aspect of the layout, I introduce another. Getting fully up to speed can take several sessions.
      A video would be a great way to demonstrate the ideas I’m articulating on the layout, though.
      That said, video is also a lot more demanding than still photography in terms of production. I’m fairly comfortable with a digital SLR (still learning about video) and I know how to frame and crop scenes with a still camera in ways that video doesn’t allow (at least, not at my level of experience). We’ll see how that goes…

  5. There’s always the possibility of a work extra (but I gather there wasn’t much maintenance done to the Port Rowan branch by this time). That could lead to more equipment such as ballast cars etc., or even a crane. There’s also the idea of a special to the lake side town on a summers day. More equipment I know, but it’d give the odd opportunity for meets.


  6. I really should emphasize that I’m not terribly concerned about finding excuses to run a second train during an operating session. If I were to break down operating sessions on my layout, they’d look something like this:

    * 90 percent are solo efforts: Just me. A single train at a time is all I can manage.
    * Nine percent are with one or two friends, in which case one train at a time is plenty.
    * One percent are with more than two visitors. Here, an option for a second train might be nice – but that’s one out of 100 ops sessions.


    • I agree, I’ve found that operating one train can be more than enough!
      Ok, so I have an interchange, a stone train and a stock car train, but I normally operate the interchange siding before and after the local freight, whilst the other two are when I don’t have time for the local freight!
      Thanks for sharing the video!

      • Sounds like a perfect way to run a railroad, Brian. And I can see from your own blog that your layout is well underway – and the sort of layout I could spend a relaxing and fun afternoon working…

  7. This scene is coming together nicely. Not to diminish your attention to a multitude of other details here, but I really like that diaphanous shadow cast by the foliage in trees and the way it scrolls across the train.

    Oh, and the trains themselves are cool too 😉


    • Thanks Hunter.
      I’d noticed the shadow when I shot and edited the video and really liked it too. (I’ve also noticed it in person, of course.)
      The trees are transforming this into one of my favourite scenes on the layout. I will have to build more trees for other areas and get them planted – sooner, rather than later – because I think they make a huge difference. I’m looking forward to seeing how those other scenes develop with trees in place.

  8. Trevor,

    The scene looks great! The locomotives and rolling stock performed flawlessly, and looked awesome as they rolled slowly by..


  9. Thanks for posting your St. Williams Meet, video, with some touching Elgar to enhance the mood. I was searching for something on St. Williams Station, as my late Father had done a humble little sketch of his mum and he getting ready to board the train (I think going east back to Toronto) in about 1926-27 ish time frame. The station looked so small, barely more than a shack, I doubted his memory, but I found a few pix online and of course the little gem of St Williams Meet. My Grandmother, when Grandad didn’t feel like going, would take the train to visit her sister in Charlotteville. I realize the dates are off but it still looks like I’m seeing something from days gone by. Certainly the passenger car looks the same as in my Dad’s sketch.

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