Nothing puts a damper on your night of model making fun like finding your storage locker forced open

So, I went to our locker in the basement of our apartment building last night, and what had been a quite pleasant evening, quickly became a very bad evening.  Around 9pm last night, I had everything else I needed to do on a Monday evening done, and Gandalf was chilling have been worn out by my teasing him with cat toys.  So I went into the office, and realized that for some reason during a clean up before Christmas in the apartment, I had put some parts I needed for the 587 Yonge model into one of my many storage tubs of model trains in the locker.

So I grabbed my keys, and went downstairs to our storage locker.  Being a bit compulsive, I have an excel spreadsheet that lists everything in the tubs.  The parts I needed were in one of the top tubs in a pile, so I knew it would only take a few minutes to grab them once I got there and moved other stuff to access the tubs.

When I got to the floor where our locker was, the hallway floor carpeting and base was all ripped up to the bare structural concrete, and the wallpaper and drywall were peeling on the walls.  I thought back to the fire alarm the first weekend of January, where I remember them saying there had been a sprinkler issue on the floor our locker is on. I also thought, our locker room has concrete floors, and nothing sensitive is low enough to sit in water (though we had a pipe leak and flood the locker a couple of years ago wrecking some cardboard boxes).  I opened the locker room, and everything looked fine on first glance, as I got closer though, I noticed that something didn’t look right on the door jam.  When I touched our lock, the whole plate fell out of the wall and the door slowly swung open…

As I walked up to our locker I could tell something was off, when I touched our lock, the whole thing fell off and the door swung open…

Upon the door swinging open, my heart sank as I contemplated the mess of having to call the police and deal with a potential theft of our bikes, other sporting goods, some household stuff, and a large collection of model trains (some of which have massive sentimental value and aren’t really replaceable to me).  Fortunately, very quickly, I realized that everything appeared to be in its right place, and after a more detailed search, nothing appeared to be missing.

I was able to grab some 3″ screws from the apartment (the plate had been held on with 1″ screws, not very effective as can be seen above).  These had enough bite to get through the damaged area from the old screws and bite into the stud and re-secure the lock.  We’re now waiting on our Building Management investigating with the maintenance staff and telling us what is going on, and why they potentially didn’t tell us our locker had been forced open for 3 weeks (most of the other lockers in this room are used by the buildings Maintenance Staff for storage, something we learned from the previous flood a couple of years ago).  Four other lockers in the room had their locks cut and were open when I went in last night.  It appears our lock they felt they couldn’t cut, so they just pry bared the whole thing off the wall.

The moral of this story is that I am clearly going to have to set a schedule of checking the state of our storage locker weekly, as I can’t handle the near heart attack of walking in and thinking we’ve been robbed again and having no idea how long our lockers been open to anyone with a key to that locker room.

Tuesday Train #90

IMGP6073RawConvThe changing face of the Great Western mainline in England.  On the left, a Class 43 diesel “High Speed Train”, on the right, a Class 800 “InterCity Express Train” disesel/electric dual mode train on the left.  The HST is a pair of locomotives at each end of a train of traditional coaches.  The IET is a DMU/EMU permanently formed five coach train, with drivers cabs at both ends.  I had a chance to ride on the IET during my recent trip, they are nice, smooth running trains, but feature the same problem as many modern trains in the UK with a lack of luggage room and feeling the seating space is constantly being squeezed even smaller.

That said, Isambard Kingdom Brunel would approve of the constant push forward in technology, and his statue in Paddington no doubt does.


Continued Progress on 587 Yonge Model/Diorama

Wow, it’s been over 3 months since my last post on any actual model making that I’m doing (Oct 20, 2017 if you’re keeping track).  Since that post on the model of 587 Yonge Street, a lot has happened in my life, we lost our beloved cat Fergie, we went on vacation for ten days to the UK at Christmas, and yesterday we picked up a new little fuzzball to join our family, Gandalf.

Gandalf.JPGHi, I’m Gandalf, I’m teeny right now, but once I get bigger and am allowed to explore the whole apartment, I can’t wait to meet your trains…

But, this post isn’t a post about cats (though it totally could be!!).  While I’ve certainly written plenty about the planning of my layout to come in the intervening three months, layout planning hasn’t been happening entirely at the expense of working on models.  As I try not to work to schedules to avoid making stupid mistakes, I’ve just slowly been puttering along doing a bit of work here and there, but this is bringing me close to “milestones” in the projects completion.  The interior area of the ground floor is now basically done, as is the ceiling and the lighting.  The next steps after this are to permanently install the ceiling to the interior, and then the upper parts of the walls to the ground floor so that I can start connecting the wiring for the lights.

Progress in November and December, assembling the upper walls and test fitting them over the interior.

None of the tasks have been particularly fascinating.  The most interesting thing I’ve done is with the roof.  In trying to mimic the texture of a gravel/asphalt roof, I spent a lot of time looking for a suitable material.  I found it in decorative crafting sand from Deserres Art Stores in Canada (Sandtastic Sand).  It comes in 1lb bags for $3.49, and in 13 different colours, more than enough for the small roof I had.  I chose a light grey colour for the roof attempt.  To apply it, I spread a layer of thinned white glue on the styrene roof, and placed that in a plastic tray, and dumped sand over it.  This let me tip off any sand that didn’t catch in the glue into the tray, and recover it for future use.  Once it was set, I used a cheap rattle can of primer to paint the roof surface for two purposes, to finish holding on any loose sand, and to give some variation of colour across the roof.

IMGP4310RawConvThe roof, covered with sand and then a rough coat of primer to leave some of the sand colour and sparkle, an attempt at mimicking a gravel/asphalt flat roof.  The air conditioning unit is shown, the piping to it hadn’t been completed yet.

The rooftop mechanical equipment is a combination of a laser cut wood rooftop air conditioner from Inter-Action Enterprises and vent piping made from styrene tube. As you can see from the above picture, most of the roof is visible and not covered by equipment, so it will be quite visible on the finished model.

For the interior, I have used a combination of plastic tables and chairs from Preiser and scratchbuilt furniture from bits of stripwood and styrene.  The brick wall behind the raised bar area is a slider, so I can move that out of the way to take pictures looking through the interior, and to let people see more of the interior detail that would otherwise be hidden.

The ceiling for the first floor, with five 3D printed “Transparent Acrylic” light fixtures from my Shapeways store (hanging & flat) along with two shots of the more or less finished interior before the ceiling gets attached.

At the moment, I have mostly given up on the signs for the tanning salon in the upper windows.  The decals I made myself are not dark enough to be visible on the black plastic I used for the windows.  The only one I got to work is the one pride flag that was hanging in a prominent window at the corner of the building.  These were mostly individual letters that said “Tanning”, but some where overall blanking panels with the letters cut out.  They aren’t the core of the model, and revisiting decals or transfers for this is something I can come back to down the road.

IMGP4944RawConvAnother test fitting of all the parts of the model.  Next up, installing the ceiling in the interior and the walls so I can connect all the wiring for the interior and exterior lights.

So, with that, I’m settled in for the first major 24 hour endurance race of the year on TV, the 24 Hours of Daytona, hopefully some puttering on the model in the night, and waiting on our new kitty becoming comfortable enough in his new home to come out and get to know us a bit.

The Era of the Railroad Steamer – S.S. Keewatin may move again

7436492726_96e9821a3d_oThe S.S. Keewatin returns “Home” to Port McNicoll Ontario on June 23, 2012.

I’m putting this post up as something came across my radar from one of the many railfan message boards I peruse, the last of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Great Lakes Steamers, the S.S. Keewatin, which was returned to her home port of Port McNicoll in 2012 and has been under restoration as a museum ever since is about to become homeless as the developer which paid to bring her back from Michigan has sold the land they were attempting to develop around her, and the new owner doesn’t want to include her in their plans.  I was able to be in attendance for what at the time was thought to be her last voyage returning to Ontario, but it appears a move may be in the cards again, with potential destinations of Midland, Owen Sound and Collingwood being considered.

Why is this railroad related? One, she is a Canadian Pacific Railway steamship. Two, she provided a link across the lakes between Port McNicoll and Fort William (now part of Thunder Bay) for the railroad, hauling passengers and freight. And three, the Toronto Railway Museum received the coach Nova Scotia through the generosity of Skyline Investments, the same firm that brought the Keewatin home and purchased the railcars from the Ossawippi express for the development including the Keewatin.

The article from the Owen Sound Sun Times is at the link below for those who want more information:

Hopefully this important piece of Canada’s Rail/Maritime Heritage will quickly find a new home and the group restoring her and operating her as a museum can continue to do so. More pictures I took of the day she returned home can be found on my Flickr.

The S.S. Keewatin is swung around to her berth in Port McNicoll on June 23, 2012. At the time this was thought to be her last voyage returning to her home port to be turned into a museum.

Tuesday Train #89

IMGP6395RawConvA Caged Hall.  Great Western Railway “Hall” class 4-6-0 locomotive No. 5972 Olton Hall on display in its more famous guise as “Hogwarts Castle” at the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio tour outside of London England.  The locomotive was used in filming the 8 Harry Potter movies while it was “in ticket” and able to steam.  It’s now on loan to Warner Brothers for the studio tour while it awaits a future restoration and return to steam.

The Buildings of Liberty Village 3 – The Hinde and Dauch Paper Company (43 Hanna Ave)

This is the third in a series of posts on the main buildings in Liberty Village that will be modeled on my layout.  The previous Buildings profiled are:

  1. Brunswick-Balke-Collender (40 Hanna Ave)
  2. Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company of Canada (219 Dufferin Street)

The Hinde and Dauch Paper Company is another fine (ok, that’s my opinion, I love the look of early 20th century industrial buildings) industrial complex built starting around the turn of the 20th century, and expanded and modified over the years.  Many know the facility as Irwin Toys who occupied the building later in its life after Hinde and Dauch left.  I understand there were at least some public toy sales that people older than me apparently remember, but when the site was redeveloped into condominium lofts in the mid 2000’s, the building became known as the “Toy Factory Lofts” because of the association with Irwin, and any remaining vestiges of the Hinde and Dauch painted signs was removed when three stories were added to the building.

43 Hanna Ave in less than good condition (late 1970’s?) courtesy of the Toronto Archives (Series 1465, File 58, Item 36), and today, complete with additional stories and converted into Condominium Lofts in the mid 2000’s as Liberty Village became a happening area.

The building occupied a triangular site on the north side of Liberty Street.  There were railway sidings on both the east and south side of the building, serving a number of loading docks.  The building was at its ultimate build-out as an industrial complex, four storeys in height with large banks of windows to allow light into the factory facilities. Inside the building, as can be seen now in the condos, was an impressive structure made of Douglas Fir posts which support the exterior to this day, old school construction, not poured concrete, heavy brick walls supported by the timber framing.

IMG_4384.jpgExtract of Underwriters Insurance Plan Vol 2 Sheet 86 showing the Canadian General Electric Plant at Duffern St/Liberty St/Mowat Ave in 1945 (Toronto Public Library Collection).

By the early 2000’s, industrial uses in the Liberty Village area were winding down, and developers saw opportunities for major changes in the area to introduce residential and commercial uses.  The area is very close to downtown Toronto, and the thought process for the development industry was changing, as more people were willing and desiring to live close to work and the activity of the downtown area.  Lanterra Developments were one of the first into the area, turning the vacant factory into a 215 unit live-work loft style condominium, adding three storeys to the building in places and introducing the first major commercial to the area.  Not things relevant to my layout, but interesting to see how the area developed over time.

Two views down East Liberty Street.  The first from a realtors website shows the building before redevelopment (, the second shows the courtyard where the boiler house once was, and the three storeys added to the eastern portion of the building in the mid 2000’s when it was turned into a residential condominium.

For my layout, again the compromises of compression in the current design are catching this building out by making it heavily compressed in the corner of the layout.  Despite this, even a portion of this building will be an impressive end piece, and have space for several cars to be spotted for switching.  Hinde and Dauch would have received raw materials in the form of cardboard, which they then converted to boxes and packaging, shipping out finished products.  From the Fire Insurance Maps, it also appears that they received coal by rail for their boiler house to provide power to the factory.  This will mean at least two types of cars being delivered, boxcars and hopper cars.  On the layout, some compression again will likely see the 2nd spot on the east of the building as the “coal” spot, despite it appearing that this was actually a separate siding from the shipping/receiving track.  Its a compromise, but one which will hopefully create some operational challenge for crews if they need to spot a coal hopper in the right place.

Oct 31 17 - Liberty Layout Concept 1-FastTracks 3.anyExtract of the Eastern Corner of the Layout Plan, 43 Hanna Ave is building “H” on the plan.

One decision I will have to make is whether to compress the painted signage along the roof parapet level, or selectively compress it to get it all in.  That is something that will need to wait until I am actually building the model to see what looks right.

The painted signs on Hinde & Dauch, the east side circa 1959 (from Ray Kennedy’s Old Time Trains), and the south side of Hinde and Dauch circa 1990’s, again courtesty of a realtor’s website on the Toy Factory Lofts (

This will be one of the major industries on my layout, and I’m very much looking forward to trying to do justice to the look and feel of the building, even in a compressed form.