Roll-by inspection

A member of CNR’s section gang pauses on the siding in St. Williams to give a roll-by inspection to a passing freight:


Roll by

Roll by

On Wednesday, my friend Stephen Gardiner visited for an operating session – and left me with a nice present. Stephen had drawn up a speeder for a 3D print job in HO scale, and wondered how it would turn out in S. So he revisited his drawings and the result is what you see above. While I’ve posed it on the siding in St. Williams, Stephen’s modifications for printing in 1:64 included providing pockets for extendable wooden handles so the speeder can be posed with a figure hauling it on or off the rails, if I so desire. Thanks Stephen – what a great little detail!

The ops session went well, considering that I haven’t run the layout in a while. Stephen took on the conductor’s role, while I clambered into the engineer’s seat on CNR 80. We had one derailment – possibly due to the freight car truck seizing up a little since it hasn’t been moved in many, many weeks.

Our biggest problem came from misaligned couplers – my fault, for not stopping ahead of coupling to let Stephen do a visual inspection. I don’t use the centring spring that comes with the Kadee 808s – I don’t like how it makes the draft gear bounce in and out, and I don’t really mind that the couplers sometimes need to be aligned manually. I just need to remember that all-important and most prototypical pause before attempting coupling.

Of course, I also need to run my own layout more often: I was pretty heavy-handed on the throttle and was guilty of some pretty hard couplings as a result. I’m sure that the conductor is going to give me a proper dressing down for spilling the coffee in the van!

A few days earlier, I’d updated the files in the LokSound decoders I use – from a beta file to the full production file for SOO 1003, which is my current sound file of choice. The 80 sounds better than ever, although I need to tweak a few volume settings and substitute a different air pump sound file. All in good time…

Stephen is currently planning a new, prototype-based switching layout for his home office space, and is writing about it on his blog. You can following the link to his latest post on the Liberty Village layout – and I highly recommend that you follow along.

Stephen and I have been talking about traffic density a fair bit – specifically, about finding the right balance between realistic appearance and sufficiently engaging operations on a small layout. It’s often tempting to fill a small layout with track, but there are other ways to boost the play value – which is something I’ve been demonstrating (I hope) on my model of the line to Port Rowan. It’s a medium-sized layout, at approximately 14×30 feet, but has just eight turnouts and lots of space devoted to a single track running through the landscape. It doesn’t work for everybody but it does for me.

Ops paperwork and throttle - 2017-11-08
(The work desk at St. Williams: The switch list shows there’s a lot of traffic today)

Because of these discussions, I set up the layout with a bit more switching than I normally do. In addition to several cars to drop and spot, I placed an off-spot car on the run-around in Port Rowan, which added some complexity to our switching duties. I’m pleased that even with the extra work, the session went smoothly and we had a fun time.

Afterwards, my wife joined us as we retired to Harbord House for dinner and drinks. The newest item on the menu – dill pickles breaded in cornmeal and deep fried – are out of this world delicious.

Great to see you, Stephen – and thanks so much for the speeder!

12 thoughts on “Roll-by inspection

  1. Trevor, great post! I like the idea of a small speeder as a static display, do you know if he Stephen will be offering them in a store such as Shapeway has? Your discussion on operation is also thought provoking. We have several industrial or switching layouts building in the area. Not only do I think they will provide a good amount of operating action, having less railroad space to maintain will give more time to do other modeling and there are so many interesting aspects to the hobby.
    deep fried pickles in cornbread. Now they could be made gluten free… if so I would sure indulge.

  2. Trevor,

    Speeder looks great! Funny I just seen the Speeder in Shapeways and was discussing with Stephen how to narrow the chassis so it will run as narrow gauge.

  3. Hi Ken,

    If Trevor forgives me the indulgence, the S Scale Speeder is available on my Shapeways store, they printed the one he has and one for the gentleman in the states who prompted the resize originally.

    Link –

    And yes, small world isn’t it Andrew, as not only your email via Shapeways but another from an S-scale modeller I didn’t know were on Trevor and my agenda Wednesday, and it turns out he knew who I was talking about the second I said Speeder in Sn42 and who the modeller is interested in the other model who i didn’t know!

    It was an enjoyable night as all my chances to operate your layout have been Trevor, and I blame your conductor for talking your ear off when you were trying to send the B&O and Milwaukee Road their cars back with bent frames!



    • Thanks Gord.
      You’re right: It really is a blend. Modelling doesn’t exist in a vacuum – the hobby, for me, is primarily about the friendships it has created. The trains are secondary.

  4. I checked, while it would be a bit out of the way traveling to the NASG Convention next year, it is not out of the question. We are touring in a camper trailer with two small dogs. I need to see if they can go across the boarder. If not, I may need to impose on you to bring a few orders down to Boston to have with Rum and Moxie. Thanks for the tip on the speeder, I order a couple up. At only 20.00 they are a great value! As always, thanks for sharing these great ideas.

  5. Sounds like an awesome visit took place. Love the photos. Great to see the inspection happening. Haven’t run my trains lately either. That has to change, LOL. Have a great day.


  6. If Stephen wants to 3D model a Canadian-built Sylvester K-54 inspection car sometime, I know where one can be found not too far from my place!

    • LOL, Steve, we’ve got a couple at the Roundhouse here in Toronto. I did the Fairmont M-14 we have because it is in better shape than either of them. They are on my list to think about, but between the two Fairmont’s and the Woodings I did, I have more speeders than I know what to do with!


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