2017 In Review

Its been another great year in terms of this hobby for me.  Lots of good times with friends attending shows, dinners, visiting friends layouts, and working on a wide variety of projects.  I wrote about what I had planned for 2017 here and where I was mid-year here. This post will sum up the year that was in 2017 for me!!

The first part of this post summarizes what I listed as my “plan” for the year in my 2017 New Years post, following this, I get into some more detail on the projects.

Projects Underway

Projects to Start


  • Weathering – Did some, got a bit better, still a long way to go
  • Soldering – Did some, got a bit better, still a long way to go
  • Track Building – Didn’t do any.  Will need to in 2018

Thing’s I’m expecting to arrive in Stores

  • Rapido Trains Royal Hudson – Hopefully late 2018, Rapido promising a sample and tour early in 2018 to show off the model
  • Heljan Lynton & Barnstaple OO9 2-6-2 – Massive problems in the first run, the one I’ve ordered is now in limbo as Heljan switches factories and re-manufactures them
  • RealTrack Class 156 DMU – Likely to receive in January 2018
  • Rapido Trains New Look Buses – Both I’ve ordered are in Canada, received the first from the TTC, will pay and pick up my 2nd in the new year.
  • Mike McGrattan Memorial Gondola – Received, and displayed in honour of Mike

So, with that high level summary of the “plan” (insofar as one can plan a hobby), a bit of a chat on what I did is below:

Completed Projects

I “completed” a few projects this year, some are really done done, and others are at a point where they can be displayed even if they aren’t done (i.e. a number of passenger cars that need custom built interiors).  Projects which reached this “completed” stage in 2016 are my 009 Gauge Talyllyn, the HO Scale Dominion of Canada Shipment, HO Scale Passenger Car Nova Scotia, and the HO Scale Railway Village Model.  It feels good to look at projects and be content with them.  I know there are little areas here and there I can and probably will touch up or change.  But for most visitors to our apartment, they look like finished models rather than a pile of metal, plastic and resin bits on my workbench!

“Finished” projects from 2017, Shipment of Dominion of Canada, Talyllyn, the Railway Village and “Nova Scotia” (alongside Cape Race and Jackman).

I also did some work on a few small things not for me.  I now offer on Shapeways a 3D printed speeder in S Scale and Sn42 narrow gauge.  Why, why not? As much as I don’t normally have time to re-scale my 3D printed parts, I got a number of requests for these, and the sales have justified the effort.

Also in the Completed Projects world is my dalliance with going back to some old school plastic model kits of things other than trains.  It very much served as a bit of a reset to work on something not train related, and just scratch an itch and work on some other skills that I haven’t necessarily been using on model train projects.

Completed non-railroad projects. Scale models of Optimus Prime, a Corvette C7R and the Canadian Football League 737.

Things I’m working on

There are a lot of active projects, still too many, but key among them is one I have “started” in 2017 that will hopefully dominate my modelling for 2018, starting to seriously look at building a layout in the apartment.  The Liberty Village Layout (actual name TBD). I haven’t built anything yet, but as a planning exercise, I’m working my way though designing a track plan, and figuring out how to make a layout work in our apartment.  More than anything I’ve done in the past few years, the prospect of building a proper layout has invigorated me in the last quarter of 2017.

In terms of actual projects being worked on, I have my first test print of the original single level GO cars.  I’ve made adjustments to the model, it still has a lot of work to go, particularly on wheels and trucks before being either done for display, or something I can sell, but i can work on it.  If nothing else, the number of people who’ve expressed interest in this tells me I’m on the right path if I can work out the kinks and bring a product to market at a reasonable cost.  I’m also making slow and steady progress on building my first OO Scale passenger car kit.  The kit is a British Rail Diagram 73 First Open, I’m almost done the exterior, now I just have to get going on the interior and the final details.  I made a good start in a small narrow gauge shelf layout early in the year, but motivation petered out over wiring, but hopefully I will get back to that as well in 2018.  Finally, my biggest ongoing project is a model of 587 Yonge Street, the now demolished home of Bar Volo.  I’m almost done the interior of the building.  Once that is done, its some LED lighting and wiring on the interior, and it will be on to the exterior details and final assembly.  This is something I am hoping to make a good bit of progress on in January and have done earlyish in 2018.

Projects on the go, Layout Design for our apartment, 587 Yonge St, Hawker Siddeley GO Coaches, a British Rail Mk1 First Class Coach, and a Narrow Gauge display/swtiching puzzle layout.

Things to Come

With hopefully starting layout construction earlyish in 2018, there aren’t a lot of new projects on the horizon.  I have a growing collection of freight car kits to work on.  I think I will likely start on them and try to bring them all through the build process at around the same pace so when I set up the paint booth for priming and painting, I can achieve several projects in one go.  The cars will form a big part of the stock for the layout, and will allow me to move on a lot of commercial models I own that aren’t right for the layout or era being modeled.  I’m looking at getting as many of the “little” projects like interiors for coaches done to really put away some of the models I’m working on in advance of building a layout, as there will be ample work in building benchwork, finalizing the track plan, laying track and starting scenery, and that’s before I even start building buildings for the layout!

All in all, I’m happy with my 2017 year in modelling.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it, and hopefully there will be lots more to come in 2018!

New Look GM Bus by Rapido Trains

I got an early Christmas present to myself today, a delivery of an HO Scale “New Look” GM Transit Bus from Rapido Trains.  This one, is the Toronto Transit Commission “modern” paint scheme, which was an exclusive to the TTCShop website.  I ordered and paid for it in May, as they were being built to order, and instead of being like a Hobby Shop and charging when goods arrive, the TTC shop took payment at order.

The packaging for the Rapido “New Look” bus, and the bus with the laser cut mud flaps and decal sheet.

The bus is beautifully detailed, I ordered the Deluxe version which includes lighting and additional paint on the interior.  I ordered this version as it will be getting the Yonge 97 Bus destination signs added, and be numbered as one of the last of the New Looks which trundled up and down Yonge Street until their retirement in 2011.  I bought this version as I wanted it to help add context to the model of 587 Yonge, where the buses rolled by on the street on a regular basis.

The bus connected to a battery (you can just see the headlights on) and in the general position on the 587 Yonge St diorama.

I’ll be busy tonight applying the 97B Yonge route sign, license plates, and numbering my bus as one of the last group in TTC service in 2011.  It’s a great looking model and will definitely help set the era and location of the diorama it will be a part of.

Rest in Peace Fergie

IMGP8550RawConvOur Beautiful Fergs

So, this post sucks.  Its mostly being written as catharsis for me, as I can’t cry anymore at this point.  Yesterday we had to make a horrible decision, to part ways with our beloved cat Fergie.  She was 16ish years old.  She was a rescue 13 years ago (from the fine people at https://torontocatrescue.ca/) when my wife got her, and they weren’t quite sure how old she was (2-4 was the best guess).  She had been sick for the past couple of weeks.  It had looked like she was getting better, then last night, it was back to the emergency vets and back to ground zero on her health.  We couldn’t bear the thought of making her continue to make visits to the vets (something she hated, our 3kg cat had a violent tag in the vets system, but she was all howl and no bite, the mean people who abused her as a kitten had destroyed her teeth), or risk making her suffer in pain for our benefit of keeping her with us when she was clearly in pain and discomfort.  Anyone who has owned a pet can no doubt understand how horrible this decision is to make.  But this post is about remembering how much we love her, how much happiness she brought us, and how hopefully she knew how much we love her and how hard we worked to care for her and make up for a lousy first couple of years of her life, even though every time I see this post I’m gonna cry for months.

Many Moods of Fergie

Every day when I got home from work she’d come running out of the office/train room with a look that combined “I just got out of bed” with “I’ve been playing with your stuff and you won’t know what I did” and come charging across the apartment looking for treats and cuddles.  My heart is going to break every day when I get home for the next bit without that happy combination of crying and purring our arrival home earned us.

Fergie befriending model trains

For a little kitty that played like she didn’t like people, she was full of love and affection when it came on her terms.  She was slow to warm up to me when I first came into her life, but over the years, she accepted me and would barge into whatever I was working on when she decided it was time for food, or litter box cleaning, or cuddles, or more often than not, treatses.  Even just a couple of hours in the apartment cleaning up after we got home have been constant reminders of the giant absence in our hearts.

Fergie is too cool for BB8
Whoo, Fingers!!
Fergie Squawking up a Storm
cropped-fergie-e1447778132418.jpgI could take the No Cats Allowed box away, but now I don’t want to.

So, I think I’m taking a break from the blog for a couple of weeks.  There are a bunch of half written or half thought out posts I could finish, but I think I’m calling time on 2017.  I may try to do a year in review post before I go away for a vacation on Boxing Day, or I may not, we’ll see how I feel.  I just know right now my heart isn’t into model trains.  It just isn’t the same without a loving furrball trying to get her hair into my paint and glue while I work, even if she was in another room at the time 🙂

Tuesday Train #84


It was 100 years ago tomorrow, December 6, 1917 during the First World War that the “Halifax Explosion” occurred.  The passenger car pictures in today’s Tuesday Train was built in 1896 for the Dominion Atlantic Railway, and by 1917 was used as the personal coach of the General Manager George E. Graham.  He and his family were eating breakfast in the car when SS Mont Blanc, a french ship loaded with high explosives detonated in Halifax harbour following a collision with the SS Imo.  Following the explosion, Graham ran up the line to the next surviving telegraph station at Rockingham to signal for help and relief for the thousands injured or killed in the blast.

Nova Scotia in Orillia as part of the closed Ossawippi Express restaurant before moving to the Toronto Railway Museum, upon delivery at the Toronto Railway Museum, and the Nova Scotia/Halifax Explosion display at the Toronto Railway Museum.

Following its retirement from the Canadian Pacific Railway (who owned the Dominion Atlantic Railway), the car was sold to the Upper Canada Railway Society, who used it as their private car on excursions in southern Ontario in the 1960’s. When the car, with a wood frame was deemed unsafe for continued use in excursions, it was sold on, first to the London Public Library, then to the Ossawippi Express restaurant in Orillia.  When the Ossawippi restaurant closed, and the cars were dispersed, the purchaser donated the Nova Scotia to the Toronto Railway Museum.  The car is now stored indoors, where it provides office and lounge space to the volunteers, and will eventually be restored, with unsympathetic changes made at the restaurant will be undone.

imgp6269rawconv3D printed Model of Nova Scotia in the foreground, alongside models of the other CPR coaches at the Toronto Railway Museum.
In typical Canadian Fashion, the Halifax Explosion and the Railway’s role was turned into a Heritage Minute, addressing the heroism of a Canadian Government Railways employee’s efforts to stop a train before the blast: