GO in the Snow. An eastbound Milton Line train approaches Kipling Station in the first snow of the 2019-2020 Winter Season.
After visiting a large layout and seeing how someone is keeping on making slow and steady progress a couple of weeks ago, I have a new wind of motivation to keep going on my small layout.
With that in mind, I spent most of my Sunday afternoon doing a bunch of small projects that I’d been putting off. It was nice to be able to finish a few things. There are actually less half finished kits on my workbench and “To Do’s” on the layout scratch list after this afternoon!
Foaming the last two places that needed it, a strip along the front edge of the CN Staging, and the corner where the backdrop ends at the CPR Staging.
First up on my to-do for today was to finish getting the foam down on the layout. There were two gaps, one big and obvious, and one small and fiddly. The big one was along the front of the CN Staging yard. For some reason I used foam that was wide enough for the track, but not the benchwork here. That left an unsightly gap, that the more I looked at it I realised would look more odd with the layout stepping down when I finish the fascia than if I added a bit of foam to bring everything to the same level. I have more than enough left over foam to do this, so a few quick cuts to create the strip, and it was then cut to fit on the moving staging traverser and the non-moving section, and then glued down with No More Nails adhesive. Easy peasy!
The second bit of filling was a small uneven gap in the closet at the end of the foam where I had cut a channel for it to go around the end of the styrene backdrop. The gap was going to eventually become a problem for scenery, but it did leave me room to run the power supply for lighting in staging. Now that that is in and working, there was no need to leave the gap anymore. After a little bit of fiddling around, I had three pieces of foam squeezed into place to fill the gap and let me do scenery whenever the time comes to start working on that part of the layout.
Kanamodel Products (now out of business) freight shed, before final touches on the workbench, and then being checked in location on the layout with a boxcar and some temporary track on the Peninsula.
The second project was to finish building the freight shed for the peninsula. I had painted the sandpaper roof at some point in the past couple of weeks where I’ve been airbrushing a fair bit on projects, but hadn’t gotten around to attaching it and adding the finishing trim. That task took less than an hour including the time where I ignored it for the glue to set on the roof. A bit of black paint on the trim once installed, and some cleanups/touchups, and it was ready to set in place and see how it looks. I’m quite happy with it as a simple way to get a structure done that I have no period pictures of. With a bit more weathering and being worked into the scenery with some ground cover dirt and weeds once I start doing scenery, it will look the part and provide a destination for a a couple of freight cars.
Imagine That Laser Art loading dock kit. Final assembly and weighting down while the glue sets on the workbench, then in place on the layout.
I bought one of these the Imagine That Laser Art loading dock kits to see if I liked it for the “Castle” building in Liberty Village (a reminder I need to get back into writing my posts on the “Buildings of Liberty Village” so I have something to link to!). the kit has a nice laser cut and weathered deck, and went together in less than ten minutes with no fuss. It needed far longer with the weights sitting on it while the glue cured than it took to get everything together to be weighted down. While much of my buildings will be scratch built to accurately reflect the real buildings, sometimes for details like a loading dock, in my opinion you are just making work for yourself if you don’t use a commercially available product if it works. In this case, it looks like it should work fine, I just need to buy three more so I have a big enough dock for the large building, but it was cheaper to buy one and see how it looks vs. buying four and finding out I hated it!
A good day of small project work, getting done the things I can do where I don’t need either more hands, or advice on what I am doing to not make mistakes feels good, and means whenever I do have a bigger work session, we can focus on the big tasks rather than the small ones.
Over the past few years I have to count myself very lucky in our hobby. Thanks to becoming involved in the Toronto Railway Historical Association/Toronto Railway Museum and connecting with other Toronto area model railroaders on the internet, I’ve made some great friends and acquaintances. One of those is Jason Shron, the founder and President of Rapido Trains, a model train manufacturer based in Markham Ontario. He was involved with the TRHA long before I was, and through my involvement with the museum I’ve gotten to know him. He is perhaps most famous as being the guy who built a passenger car in his basement….
Recently, Jason was kind (nee brave, or possibly foolish) enough to invite me over to work on construction of his layout based on the CN/VIA Rail Kingston Subdivision from Spadina Yard to Brockville, set in the fall of 1980. While I am building a small layout, Jason is building a very large multiple deck layout, a much more daunting project! He does however have a good regular group of friends who work on the layout with him. He’s made a lot of progress in a fairly short amount of time. As you can see, there is a long way to go, but he’s laying track on the middle deck, working his way down to the lowest deck before he can start running test trains around the whole layout and starting to build the scenery.
Two views of Jason’s layout and layout room. The left shot shows future Spadina Yard on the left and Union Station on the right in the lower deck, the right shot shows the massive Helix connecting the decks.
This was my first opportunity to work on someone else’s layout, and it was daunting. Its one thing if I screw up my own layout, but I don’t want to make a major mistake on someone else’s. I was joined by another mutual friend Thomas who I know through the museum for a 3 person work day. Jason set us about with tasks that we felt comfortable doing. Thomas was soldering switches and preparing yard ladders for Oshawa Yard. Jason was achieving as much as the two of us as he knew what he wanted to do and where he could get things done quickly as he didn’t need to explain the task to himself! I started sanding the roadbed smooth for where they would go, and working on a grade transition down into the yard. Once that was done I started to prepare track for a mainline crossover at Pickering Station and soldering the track together into a single large piece for later installation. Both were tasks that I felt I could achieve, and do so without needing to rush and make a mistake. Big point in working on someone else’s layout for me, stop when you have any doubt and talk your host. It’s their layout, and they are the one who will know what they expect things to look like and the quality of work that should be done. I saw Jason present recently at the Greater Toronto Train Show on his layouts construction, and one of his lessons/takeaways from the first couple of years was just that. He’s already experienced someone whose work wasn’t quite what it needed to be, and I certainly didn’t want to create more work that he needed to redo as a guest!
Thomas on the left and Jason on the right working on the layout. The fact that Jason’s benchwork is so strong you can stand on it is helpful for building the upper levels.
Jason’s layout will be a passenger train first layout. That’s what his primary interest is. He grew up watching VIA Rail trains in the east end of Toronto, and riding them to see family in Montreal, so he is modelling the busiest part of VIA Rail’s network from Spadina Yard where the trains were serviced at the time, to Brockville, where trains to/from Montreal and Ottawa met and were split/joined coming to and from Toronto in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. I won’t go into a total history of what Jason is modelling, he does that far better on his website. It makes perfect sense for him, and he has a space big enough to do it. In some ways, my choice to model the 1950’s makes me clearly an outlier, as most model railroaders model what they grew up with. Clearly, I wasn’t alive in the 1950’s!!
So far, he has the main benchwork all in place, and track laying has commenced working down from the top level towards the lowest level. I’d say he’s getting close to half his mainline track down in the area that will have scenery. He has a lot of track to go in the helix between levels, and then the massive trackwork of Union Station and Spadina Yard on the bottom level. I can see what he is trying to create start to appear, and I know that feeling from seeing my own layout start to actually look like a thing. Its a good feeling, and it was nice to be a part of it for a few hours in moving his layout forward.
Scenes from my day working on the layout, sanding roadbed, soldering track for a crossover, preparing the roadbed for the crossover to be installed. Thanks to Jason for taking the pictures of me actually working!
At the end of the afternoon, we retired to the coach in the other half of the basement to relax and chat about the hobby. It was a very pleasant way to end the afternoon. I can see why he wanted to build the coach, if I had the space I might want to build a part of a coach in my house too to sit back and relax in!! I don’t somehow think though that our Condo Board would be impressed at the modifications needed to make that work in our townhouse though!!
Civilized working conditions, a cuppa tea at the workbench, and a mug that I really need to find for myself at my office!!
My takeaways from the day were numerous, it was a lot of fun, I learned a few things about layout construction and design from seeing how someone else is doing their layout in progress, and got some ideas about things I can implement in the construction of my layout. Hopefully I will get more chances to help Jason build in the future, and someday sooner than later take part in an operating session on his layout. I also look forward to inviting Jason to visit my layout to reciprocate the opportunity to visit his. I’ve been needing to schedule some work sessions with my circle of friends and layout helpers. Maybe the biggest takeaway from getting away from my layout and seeing someone else so excited by working on theirs is the contagious joy of making progress. I left his place eager to get going on my layout where I’ve maybe been a bit stalled of late, and that’s no bad thing!
A couple of weeks ago I commented on trying to figure out how many freight cars I need for my layout. A commentator noted that as I swap out the wheelsets I should be painting them. They were absolutely correct. While most of my rolling stock isn’t weathered yet, the perfect time to paint wheelsets en mass was as I am going through replacing them all with fine scale ones so that everything that is on the layout for testing when trackwork is done has reliable wheels.
With that in mind, I ordered a couple of painting holders for wheels. I bought two laser cut styrene holders from Modelers Choice. They come in two sizes, for 33″ and 36″ wheels. Each holds eight wheelsets, or enough to do two cars at a time. With two, I can paint enough wheels for four freight cars in a couple of minutes. The parts are thick laser cut styrene and just slot together. They are tight and it takes a bit of fiddling to get the wheels in, but once in, they stay in place. I found that they need an elastic band wrapped around the middle after the first couple of batches to minimize the amount of paint getting onto the wheel tread that needed to then be cleaned off.
Its a fairly quick process, and I was doing a batch every time I was doing some airbrushing on other projects. Once painted, the parts of the holder slide apart and let the wheels out. Its much easier getting them out than it is getting them into the holder.
I found that for the most part, the mask holder does its job and keeps paint off the tread of the wheel. Once done, a quick clean of the axle end points, and of the treads and the wheels are ready to go.
Over the course of the past couple of weeks I’ve managed to paint enough wheels for every car that’s currently on my layout, with a couple of spare sets for the pile of kits to be built in the drawer.
Finished batch of painted wheels.
New York subway track inspection train passing through Fulton Street Station on the 5 Lexington Avenue Express line. We were heading from the World Trade Centre to Central Park for a walk on a quick two day trip to New York City when I got my train geek on catching a rare movement of work equipment!
I like finishing projects, and this is the first time I’ve actually posed a finished project on my layout… ok. the pink foam scenery leaves a bit to be desired, but its a work in progress.
I haven’t done a lot of weathering, but will need to as my equipment for the layout shouldn’t look all clean and shiny, it should looked used. The weathering on the VIA Rail locomotive is limited, mostly around the bottom and the roof, but its still a chance to practice. I recently picked up some Com-Art weathering paints recommended by a friend, and this was my first chance to use them. The set linked was a way to get a range of colours to work with as I experiment and learn about weathering to build my skills.
Not a bad use of a snowy day off to end my weeks vacation, back to the work grind tomorrow, but for now, some more beauty shots of my finished locomotive. Off to the display case with her now!