A visit from Simon and Hunter

Last night was an important night for me and my hobby. That’s because my friend Simon Parent was in town for work – which gave him his first chance to see my layout.

Longtime readers and fans of S scale will know Simon’s name. He’s the designer and builder of the CNR 2-6-0s and 4-6-0s that are the backbone of my roster. Like this one:

 photo Portrait-CNR-80-01_zps81f8fccf.jpg

In fact, it’s fair to say that without his fine work I would not be modelling the Port Rowan branch – or, even, modelling in S scale. The story of how I ended up in S scale was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog, and a pair of Simon’s beautiful CNR 10-Wheelers plays a pivotal role in that tale.

So, it was with some excitement that I was finally – after so much time and progress – going to be able to give Simon a tour of the layout that he inspired.

Since three is always more fun than two and since Hunter Hughson and I had planned to get together this week, I suggested that he join us. The three of us had a great time and for the most part the layout did not let me down. That said, there were a couple of issues, including this …

 photo Ops-20150319-01_zpseccpcaxd.jpg

… and this …

 photo Ops-20150319-02_zpssj7i52k8.jpg

We also experienced a couple of DCC system gremlins:

One of my Lenz throttles, which had a cord replaced on it a while back, refused to respond. I suspect I should just bite the bullet and buy a new throttle.

No worries, I thought: I’ll deploy the TouchCab App and an iPod – a nifty solution I’ve written about on this blog several times in the past, and one that I know Hunter really enjoys. Unfortunately, I got an error message and while I was able to select an existing locomotive in the throttle stack I was not able to add a new locomotive address to the app. I’ll have to investigate what’s going on with that.

The lesson – one I’ve mentioned many times here in the past – is “run the layout more often”. Frequent running often keeps things flowing as they should, I find. Frequent running also allows one to stay on top of issues as they arise, rather than have a whole bunch of them to address as happened last night.

That said, we had a lot of fun and I enjoyed showing Simon and Hunter some of the little details on the layout.

After our operating session, I introduced Simon to the tradition that is Harbord House, where I enjoyed a much needed pint or two.

Simon, Hunter – great to see you both! And I hope you both come back soon. Meantime, I have a “to-do” list to start working through…

9 thoughts on “A visit from Simon and Hunter

  1. Trevor, I run my N scale layout almost daily to keep my track clean and my mind entertained. If I’m working on scenery it’s nice to have a train interrupt me every now and then, and it’s nice to see a train running through a newly developing scene. I subscribe to the “running trains often keeps the track cleaner” train of thought. I still have to spot clean track about once a month, but that’s not so bad. Hope you figured out those “jumping the rails” issues quickly and easily. Walt

    • Hi Walt:

      It’s funny, but dirty track is something I almost never have a problem with. The combination of graphite on the rails, keep-alive modules on the DCC decoders (such as this one on the doodlebug, and all-wheel pick-up on most equipment (including all steam locomotives) means power interruptions are a thing of the past for me.

      I think the derailments can be attributed to stiff switch mechanisms. I find if I don’t run regularly they don’t always throw the points all the way over. I tried to duplicate last night’s errors and things sailed through the problem areas without any trouble. For example, I pushed the boxcars through that switch to the Port Rowan team track at several speeds – including Supertrain speeds – and everything stayed on the rails. Go figure…

      That said, I’ll try to run the layout more frequently (and I know this is something I need to do) and address any problems as they occur. I guess I’ll need to invite more people to operating sessions…


    • Yes – impressive, isn’t it!
      The trucks under the doodlebug rotate quite freely. In fact, there’s a stop built into the body to keep the rear truck from spinning all the way around.
      But, hopefully it’s a stunt not to be repeated…

  2. Trevor;
    As an IT guy for over 30 years let me be the first to confirm that no matter how well you plan, the gremlins only come out on the day you don’t need them to, and then runaway and hide when you go and look for them.

    I agree though that running more often seems to stop the problems popping up. As for stiff switch mechs, try using the graphite (get it in powdered form from the hardware store) on your switch moving parts. It is meant as a lubricant for door locks and I’ve used it very successfully on my switches for years and they work each and every time. Note of caution though, I’ve not used it on hand-built switches though.

  3. Despite the odd journey your wheelsets have taken, the two scenes are really interesting . . . excellent scenery, nicely weathered rolling stock, and very pleasing scenes. Well done.


  4. One thing to consider is that minor derailments like the one in the boxcar scene happened semi frequently on the railroad (why many railroads equipped locomotives with re-railers, as seen on your E-10 tender). So should that happen again, just say you’re modeling railroad operations to a higher degree of accuracy!


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