Tuesday Train #32

15119051782_8a4c7d00f0_oRailroads are pretty creative when it comes to reusing things.  In this case, the Algoma Central Railway has re-purposed a covered hopper into a sanding rack for locomotives at thier Sault Ste Marie shops.  This was taken from the Agawa Canyon Tour Train on August 30, 2014 on the way out of the Soo bound for the Agawa Canyon.

587 Yonge Street

I wrote yesterday about taking a break from building for the rest of 2016, but that I have other new projects I’m working on and getting ready to start.  One of the new projects I am starting on the preparations for, is a model of 587 Yonge Street in Toronto.  For many, the address won’t mean anything, it’s just another anonymous 3 storey retail building along the Yonge Street strip between College and Bloor, but for those who like good beer, 587 Yonge Street was home for the last 30 years to Bar Volo, one of the early comers on the good beer scene in Toronto, the owners of which are almost singlehandedly responsible for the re-birth of Cask Conditioned Real Ale in Ontario through the creation of the “Cask Days” festival in 2005, and was one of my favourite places in the city to have a beer, dine, bring friends and family, and enjoy an evening from when I was introduced to it around 2006, until the last night on October 1, 2016.  Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know owner Ralph Morana and his sons Tomas and Julian as they grew into the business as staff, managers, and active parts of the restaurant, bar, Cask Days, brewery and beer importing business that Volo evolved into.  I even had the pleasure of turning the tables and volunteering to serve at a couple of Cask Days festivals when it was held at the bar, before the space at 587 Yonge Street couldn’t accommodate the size and scope of the festival.  The last night of Volo as it was, was because of another inevitability in Toronto, the building’s impending (now complete) demolition for a new condominium.  A new 2nd bar run by Tomas and Julian has opened on College Street as Birreria Volo, and Bar Volo is intended to arise like a phoenix at a new location, but as anyone knows, things are never the same when that kind of change happens.

29515480414_3868e052bb_o587 Yonge Street, as nondescript a 3 storey Yonge St Commercial Building as you could find, but full of life and memories on the ground floor.  This picture is sadly the last night at Volo on October 1, 2016.

So why is all/any of this important?  Well, while Volo wasn’t anywhere near a train track (not counting the subway beneath it), as I was enjoying a final visit on the last day, and commiserating with people I’ve met over the years, I realized, that I am more than able to create a memorial to a place I loved using all the skills I have as a modeller.  I don’t have a layout to put it on, but, the building itself is small enough that it will fit on a 12″x 12″ panel, with lots of room for the patio and a portion of Yonge and Dundonald Streets to create a mini-diorama. It will also fit nicely into a future layout or larger project that has an urban street to fill a corner and be a focal point.

Good times at Bar Volo, if you look close enough, there’s even some crazy model railroader pre-beard hiding in there.

The building itself is relatively simple, a rectangular box with windows, no crazy architecture or strange details, just brick with stone inserts at the windows.  This means I can easily use traditional construction techniques, build a sheet styrene frame, cover it with embossed brick sheet, and windows and doors, and paint.  The biggest need, is for dimensions and drawings.  While the City of Toronto Building Department would likely have the original architects plans microfiched at City Hall, since I’m not the owner and don’t have their authorization, they wouldn’t be able to release them to me (but, if you own a building in Toronto or have the owners authorization, Building Records Staff are actually very helpful in obtaining drawings, I do it for clients a couple of times a year).  But, the fact that there is a Condo being built on the site, actually made some very useful drawings available for free from the City.  The City Planning department posts all the applicants submitted materials on their website for development applications.  In this case, it got me something almost as useful as detailed building plans, a brand new topographic survey of the properties being developed, showing the dimensions of the building, the patio, the setbacks from the street, and where different bits of infrastructure are located.

untitledExtract of Topographic Survey, Copyright 2015 R.Avis Surveying Inc.

Before Volo was torn down, I went back and took a host of pictures of the building and details, and measured some key items around the outside of the building, including the bricks.  Using pictures and spot measurements, I can work with the information from the survey which gives me an accurate building footprint to prepare drawings of the building to use as templates for cutting the walls and building the scenic base.  My plan is to draw up the required windows and doors and have them 3D printed, as matching windows and doors aren’t readily available.  I also want to do a highly detailed interior, as a big part of what made Volo such a special place and created so many memories is what happened inside, sitting with friends over meals, chatting at the bar, and the ambiance of the space.  While this can’t really be recreated in 1/87th scale, the appearance of it can be re-created, and along with tiny LED’s, the warm welcoming feeling can be presented.  I suspect I’ll 3D print the interior so i can get a lot of detail in without having to make the fiddly bits by hand.

img_3337Working on counting bricks and preparing the plans for 587 Yonge Street so I can re-create it in HO Scale.

I don’t normally set goals for myself on when a project is going to be done, as there are too many variables, but all things being equal, I’d like to have this done by October 2017 so that perhaps it can make an appearance at the next Cask Days festival as a reminder of how far the beer culture has come in Ontario in a relatively short period of time.  We’ll see how far I get, but I will definitely write about the project again when I complete the drawings and start actual construction.

Winding Down for the Year

So, as the winter sets in, this is normally a time where model railroaders make hay on projects, as it were.  Long nights, cold temperatures, and snow and ice make the winter productive time for modellers, and it will be for me as well later on, but as we find ourselves at the first weekend of December, I realize that I’m not in the City the next three weekends (out-of-town Christmas Party, and family Christmases spread across two weekends), and then, we are leaving Boxing Day to head to England and Scotland for a bit over a week (yes, it’s a travel brag, but whatever, it will bring more models!!).  This realization spurred some cleaning of the workbench, and some packing up of projects.

While I have an exciting order from Shapeways which shipped yesterday, and many things I could work on before I depart, I’ve decided I’m just not going to.  I’ve packed up the projects, cleaned up the workbench, and put things away.  I’m not going to do any more messy work for 2016, (other than maybe a trip to my off-site paint booth when the Shapeways Order arrives to put primer on the parts received so I can blog about them).  I’ve got a lot of projects on the go, and it’s been a long year in many ways.  Taking a break is something I need to recharge and be excited to be at the workbench in the evenings and building models in 2017.  The good news is, I won’t be going away from the blog.  There are things I am going to work on to set up for projects I want to build in 2017, so I’ll hopefully be able to write about some things I’m working on that aren’t actual models yet, but my background process to get to the point of building things.

IMG_3326.JPG‘Twas the month before Christmas and all across the workbench, not a tool was stirring not even a micro brush…

One of the problems I have with apartment life, is that I rely on mother nature for a lot of things, like the right weather to paint on our balcony, since I don’t have a space where I can put in a spray booth inside.   For a lot of reasons, any projects that I’m working on that are at a paint stage, all seem to have got their after the fall window for balcony airbrushing.  In the winter, it’s too cold, in the summer, it’s often too humid to paint.  There are sweet spots in the spring and fall, and I try very hard to have projects hitting the paint spot at those times of year.  This fall, I missed, which means I have several projects that I can’t advance until I can do some painting.  I do have another location I can go to, but I like to have a stack of projects when I do that, as packing up kits, paints, supplies, airbrush, etc is a pain for a single item.  It needs to be worthwhile, which means having several projects to paint in a go.  I should, by January though be in a position where I have both time, and enough projects that it makes sense to do some off-site painting.

The projects were all packed beneath the workbench with care, in the hopes that airbrushing weather soon would be there…

It’s at this point that I should apologise for my massacring of The Night Before Christmas, but it’s Sunday night, and I’m tired, so I won’t really!!