Hamilton & Ancaster Model Train Show & Operations on the Grand River Railway

Sunday was a full day out with friends railroading.  Along with friends Ryan Mendell and Doug Currie, I set out for a trip west to the Hamilton & Ancaster Model Train Show to do some shopping, and then further west to Brantford to visit Roger Chrysler’s fantastic layout for a tour and some informal operations on his Grand River Railway.

The Hamilton & Ancaster Model Train Show (formerly the TH&B Flea Market) is held twice a year, in January and November at the Ancaster Fair Grounds.  Its a show where anything and everything can be found.  Sometimes I go and spend nothing, other times I go and spend a fortune.  This year was more on the fortune end of things, but all on good bits and pieces and some kits for great deals.  My big purchases were a copy of Clegg’s book “Self Propelled Cars of the CNR” from the estate of Dan Kirlin, a renowned modeller who sadly passed away suddenly earlier this year; a Kaslo Shops CPR Fowler Patent Boxcar resin kit for $15.00; and a Tichy 40′ flatcar kit for the bargain basement price of $4.00.  If I never build the flatcar I can probably sell it for more than I paid! It was too cheap to pass up (Ryan and Doug also got $4.00 flatcar kits, we bought 3 of the 4 the vendor had!).  After a couple of hours at the show, we headed into Ancaster for a delicious lunch and pints at the Coach & Lantern pub.

We had an invitation to go and visit Roger Chrysler’s layout in the afternoon.  His layout features a point to point model of the Grand River Railway as it was in 1953.  With operations from Glen Morris in the north, heading south from there through Paris and Brantford, and the countryside to Port Dover Ontario.  Most importantly, the Grand River Railway was an overhead electric interurban railway in this time, and Rogers layout features working overhead electric pickup for all trains.  I don’t have a layout at the moment, and opportunities to operate others layouts don’t come along nearly as often as I’d like, so I jumped at the opportunity.  Through the afternoon a number of other locals stopped by, and a couple of other Torontonian’s eventually showed up as we were readying to depart.

img_3245A scratch built Lake Erie & Northern Railway interurban car at Port Dover on Roger Chrysler’s layout.  The cars draw their power from the overhead catenary, just as they did in real life.

The quality of Roger’s layout is inspiring.  Between the working overhead wiring and the scratchbuilt locomotives, cars and structures, the locations really feel real.  This is re-enforced by the pictures above the layout fascia which show the locations during the operational era for reference.  The layout is effectively the southern half of the Grand River Railway.  One of the nice features of the line, is because of the overhead, everything was bi-directional, no need for space eating turntables or wyes to turn equipment.

Trying to give an overview of Roger’s layout in his 11′ by 40′ basement space.  I really should have brought my good camera in from the car rather than using my cell phone.

We didn’t operate to a set schedule, but we operated a number of trains and managed to sort out meets at the sidings/stations, and mostly keep things on the rails.  Part of our visit was to just run trains and help Roger identify areas on the layout where the overhead wires need work, or where the track needed work to allow more complete operating sessions in the future.

img_3246Doug, Roger and Ryan looking at a derailing issue in the Brantford yard.  The best way to find places on a layout where things don’t work is to run trains, which is what we spent a great Sunday afternoon doing.

Not only is the concept of an interurban railway modeled with real working overhead somewhat unique and cool, Rogers fantastic modelling really brings the layout to life.  His structures are largely scratchbuilt to match the real prototypes of the structures on the line and near the line.  This attention to detail makes a huge difference.

The Brantford Armouries on the left (one of the few buildings modelled in Brantford that still exists), and the Paris coal drop, both beautifully modelled.

I certainly look forward to going back and operating a more intensive schedule of trains in the future.  Strangely enough now, two of the operating sessions I have done have been on layouts which feature Lake Erie ports, with Roger’s layout and Trevor Marshall’s S scale Port Rowan Dover layout! (Ed – Thank you Trevor, completely crossed myself up on where your layout runs to!)  Thank you Roger for your gracious invitation to visit and let an amateur operate on your layout, and to Doug and Ryan for the great company during the day.

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