Tuesday Train #98

p1030873.jpgThe driver of ex-British Railways Standard Class 5 #73096 waits for the all clear at Alresford on the Mid-Hants Railway in 2004 during the autumn steam gala.  This locomotive’s boiler certificate expired in 2011, and has been out of service since then.  In late 2017 it was purchased by the Mid-Hants Railway, and is soon to return to the line for restoration and another round of service on preserved railways.

The Fate of the Liberty Village Line V1.0 Trackplan

IMGP7091RawConvA crumpled up Track Plan. What does that mean?

The future is a funny thing.  You think you know what you are going to do, where you are going to be, and then you go and do crazy things…. like buy a house in Toronto in 2018… which is exactly what we have done.  When I introduced the concept for the Liberty Village Line last fall, we were very much in a mindset that we were going to remain in our rental apartment for the foreseeable future (turns out, that was 8 months), and the layout design and benchwork was being created to fit the limitations of our 750 sq.ft two bedroom apartment, with 40+ year old concrete walls we basically can’t anchor benchwork into, and in a room where on top of the layout, was our guest bed, my computer desk, my workbench, and almost all of our storage space.  The benchwork dimensions and trackplan and limitations all grew out of the restrictions our space posed.

Then, about two months ago, a long and lengthening list of frustrations with our current apartment (no en-suite laundry, no dishwasher, never-ending construction on/at the building, pot smoking neighbours, no BBQ, reliance on window air conditioners, 7 years in the same space, etc, etc) caught up with us, and we made the decision to see if we could find a home that would give us a bit more space to spread out as we have just passed our 8 year anniversary from our first date and are coming up on our 4th wedding anniversary.  We’re at a point in our lives, where when we looked at the Toronto real estate market, we very much felt that if we were ever going to try to buy a home, it wasn’t now or never, though that was close, and with the bubble of 2017 having receded, the market was as entry friendly as its been in several years.

So, with all that said, instead of planning for a layout in our apartment, I am now planning for a layout in our townhouse, a 3+1 Bedroom Three Storey townhouse in a condominium development.  I get a whole room now where the uses are reduced to layout, workbench, and related train/model storage and display.  I don’t have exact dimensions yet, and will be begging an architect friend and fellow model railroader to come and help me get the most accurate measurements possible once we take possession, but effectively, I will have a room which is more or less 11′-6″ by 9′-6″ with a +/-3′ deep walk in closet the width of one of the shorter walls, and with no windows on the walls, but with a skylight in the ceiling.  Obviously, in the fullness of time I will blog in more detail about the room after we take possession in June and move in, but for the moment, this re-energizes me on thinking about the Liberty Village layout I’ve been designing, as having a dedicated room opens potential for things like a peninsula to address accuracy of the trackplan, and maybe a bit more layout to maximize what I am achieving.  It also means I get to take another shot at the track plan, and look at things that did and didn’t work in Version 1, to try to make Version 2 that much better when the time comes to build.

Exciting times, the frustrations I was having in January-February about not re-organizing the current office to start building the layout have turned into excitement about the prospects of starting a layout/workshop room from scratch with the ability to set things up the way I want from a blank slate.  I can’t wait to actually get going with it!

A Visit with the Model Railroad Enabler

So, for some months now, I have been blogging about the Liberty Village Line and my plan to model Liberty Village in the spare bedroom/office/workshop room in our two bedroom apartment.  I had hoped to have started construction by now, or at least the prep work of a new workbench, but life and making sure I’d gotten to a point I am really happy with in terms of the layout design have kept preventing me from actually starting anything.  With no where to actually build the benchwork at or in my apartment, I don’t want to impose on those who have offered me their garages and assistance for a construction day until I’m really sure I’m building the right benchwork!  I really can’t get half way and make easy fixes.

One Room to bind them and do all things in…my current layout space in the apartment and the current plan for the Liberty Village Line.

My friend Trevor Marshall, of Port Rowan in S Scale fame (aka “The Model Railroad Enabler”) has been busily spending his days of late blogging about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway and possibly switching his prototype and doing away with his current layout, to replace it with one based on the former electric railways around St Catherines (though still in S Scale).  That’s fine, he’s only making his own life maddening with that.  Then, last weekend, I got invited out with him and Pierre Oliver who was in town to talk trains, see some stuff in Trevor’s basement, and go for dinner at Harbord House, a very civilized way to spend a Sunday afternoon/evening.  That is until, the Model Railroad Enabler Struck again….

kapowThe Model Railroad Enabler Strikes (If I had any kind of free time, or graphics skills, I’d create a logo for him rather than lifting a good ole comic book kapow!)

Poor Pierre, the Enabler got him and now he’s gone to the dark side and is migrating from the Wabash Railroad in St Thomas Ontario to the Clovis Branch of the Southern Pacific in California (see Pierre’s post here).  Having just visited Pierre’s layout in progress recently, I can see the things he describes in his post as bothering him about it, and frankly, getting to that half way point and realizing you aren’t happy is probably been holding me back from even starting construction.  My track plan still has some compromises for space, which aren’t fatal to it, but they keep me coming back to look at other ways to organize the office or design the layout to tackle them.

I only brought a simple problem to Trevor’s basement on Sunday, my lack of a DCC system to test and configure my Scotrail Class 156 on (it works fine BTW, forgot to take video of Trevor playing with the toilet tank flush sound…).  Now I’m terrified the next time I see Trevor he’ll have drawn up some track plan for my apartment benchwork featuring some obscure branchline of the Great Western Railway pre-grouping of the UK’s railways in 1923!! (no seriously Trevor, no new ideas!!! I have more than enough bad ones of my own).

I’m still working on finding ways to reduce some of the compromises the current layout room poses, hopefully some thoughts on that will shake out in the near future.

2018 Toronto Railway Prototype Modellers Meet

This past weekend was the annual Toronto Railway Prototype Modellers Meet, held at Humber College in the northwest of the City.  It was my third time attending, and it was a good chance to catch up with friends and see some fantastic modelling and learn a bit as well.  The number of attendees was around the same as my past times, about 50 people, though it felt like everyone brought fewer models with them as we got through the show and tell portion of the day in a lot less time than past years.  Maybe that just means we all talked a lot less?

Scenes from an RPM -Checking out the models, and hearing about them from their builders.

As has been the case in past years, it was a very HO Scale centric event.  I don’t know if that says more about the nature of prototype modellers, or the Toronto modelling community.  There was one S-Scale modeller, and everything else was HO.  I know in N and O scales it can be a lot harder to find models to use as starting points or detail parts, but it seems strange to me that 99% of the room is HO.  Having not been to any of the RPM meets in the US, I don’t know if the ratio holds there as well or not.

Casting Masters, test pier, part of the deck and the new in progress centre pier of Dylan Harris’ Kettle Creek Bridge.  The second photo is the bridge in 2012 at the Barrie-Allandale Train Show, the last shot is one of Al Welch’s Brass CPR Steam Locomotives on the right.

As is the usual case, the catching up was interrupted by three seminars.  This year, one was by Dylan Harris on his modelling of the Kettle Creek Bridge in St Thomas.  This bridge is massive, the model is around 12′ long, he only had representative parts to show.  I’ve seen it as part of the CASO modular layout, and he takes it to other Free-mo meets.  It’s impressive.  The second was by Tony Kerr on railfanning in Toronto in the 1960’s and 70’s, lots of pictures from his misspent (well spent?) youth train watching.  The final was from Al Welch and was on his tips and techniques for tuning and improving the running of brass steam locomotives.

A selection of models from others at the 2018 RP, in various stages of completion.

The caliber of the models on display always amazes and inspires me.  I love seeing what railroads or eras or types of equipment excite others.  Even when I am not as knowledgeable or as interested in a prototype, seeing others who are helps motivate me to have my models inspire the same in others about what I’m doing.

My models at this years show, the nearly done 587 Yonge Diorama, the first test GO Coach, and the completed Dominion of Canada shipment.