I love it when a plan comes together

We have been in our new home for almost a week, and I have finally made a dent in setting up my desk/workbench in the new layout room.  I have been working on the plans for some time, inspired by my friend Ryan Mendell’s new desk built from a 1.5″ thick bamboo countertop.  Using the same counter, I came up with a plan that fits the corner of the office/layout room, and functions as both my computer desk, modelling workspace and a spot for a small TV in the room.

Desk_PlanCAD Plan for the new desk.

As I don’ty have access to a woodworking shop or power tools of my own, Ryan graciously let me invite myself over to use his fully equipped shop and rely on his expertise to quickly cut the various pieces of wood.  He even contributed an off-cut of peg board from his desk to the cause.  The cutting and clean up of his shop took less than an hour, and we then retired to his local for a pint and dinner.

This morning, back at the new house, I lugged all the pieces up to the 3rd floor, managed to dent the ceiling in the staircase with the main counter (note to self, layout sections bigger than 6′ will be tough to get into layout room!), and assemble the desk.  The counter is sitting on an IKEA Alex drawer on one side, and three Ikea legs on the other.  Its very stable and won’t move anywhere when it bump it or am working on it.

The countertop with legs installed and in place, and then the hutch built and screwed into place.

After getting the desk set up, I could finally make some progress in unpacking the boxes in the office and getting tools and my computer set up.  The unpacking still isn’t done, but it’s getting there, and I have a workbench that I could totally set something up on now and touch a model for the first time in several months.

IMG_5576Almost set up enough to work on!!




Tuesday Train #109

8193999009_bb635cbb19_oIn honour of the opening of a new Canadian Football League season, this week’s tuesday train is a number of shots of VIA 6445 wrapped for the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup in 2012.  The train is seen at it’s stop at Toronto’s Exhibition GO Station prior to that years Grey Cup Game being held at Skydome in Toronto.

Why I love trains – A memorial to my Grandfather

We all have different people who influence our lives in many ways.  Today my grandfather passed away after 84 years on this little rock hurtling about in the universe.  I can safely say, I don’t believe I would have nearly the interest in trains and railways, or be a model railroader without him.  Some of my earliest memories are of going to Scotland and Ireland in the summer and spending big chunks of it with my grandparents.  I never did all the things that are stereo-typically Canadian in the summer like playing sports or going to camp.  More often than not, our summer was a trip to the UK.  Arrive in Scotland, head to Northern Ireland for a week or so with my dad’s family, back to Scotland, dad would go home to work, and my mom, sister and I would stay on in Scotland.  These summers are something I cherish, because I got to spend time in a different country, maybe not crazy different, as it always has felt a bit like being home when I go anywhere in the UK, but worlds away from southwestern Ontario farm country in Chatham where I was born and grew up.  As my wife can attest, before my grandparents moved down to England to be close to my aunt to help care for them, I shed a tear when we left their old house for what was almost certainly the last time for me over all the happy memories of vacations spent there during my childhood.

So, back to why I love trains.  While my Grandfather wasn’t a railroader (he was an Ambulance Driver for the Scottish Ambulance Service), he had a couple of old Tri-Ang model trains, and a small stationary steam engine, and if my sister and I were good, they would come out in the evening a few times over the course of a summer visit.  Getting to play with his trains was something that I very much remember looking forward to, and it would eventually lead to me getting toy trains at home in Canada to play with.  He also had great books on trains and railways that I was able to look at, and I was further encouraged by other relatives who passed on old railroad magazines for me to read while I was there (or at least pore over pictures and imagine going somewhere being Flying Scotsman or Mallard).

IMG_5402.JPGMy grandfathers Trainset, now safely in my storage locker here in Canada. Aside from the double ended Aussie locomotive, I always imagined this was the CPR Canadian.

He also took us out to their location station at Lenzie (on the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line) in the evening to watch trains go bye.  Those were good days. Diesel Multiple Units, early InterCity HST125’s, and locomotive hauled coaches all mixed in.  I learned to know a train was coming by listening for the high pitched whine of the track as a train approached the station at speed from around the corner.

Lenzie 1988 - 02
Summer 1988 at Lenzie Station with my sister and Grandfather watching trains go bye (pretty sure this is 1988 based on my Chattanooga Choo Choo hat).

When he and my grandmother would visit us in Canada, we managed to wind up a train ish places as well, as trips to Tennessee for Country Music stuff lead us to the Chattanooga Choo Choo and places of that ilk.  He was also responsible for convincing my dad to build my first layout, a good old 4’x8′ plywood pacific in our basement in Chatham.

1989 - First Layout 02My grandfather looks on at my first layout in progress.  Green carpet sheet over a 4’x8′ plywood sheet, with track nailed right down to the plywood.

My first trip on a train hauled by a Steam Locomotive was with my grandparents at the Bo’Ness and Kinneil Railway about an hour from their home in Scotland.  I remember being so good and begging that we go for a visit before we had to go back to Canada. Guess it worked as we went there in both the summer of 1986 and 1988!!

BoNess1986-07With my grandparents at Bo’Ness in 1986.  Nice toothy grin on me.

I love to travel, and for all the places in the world I want to go that I haven’t been too, more often than not when time and money have let me go on vacation, my travels have taken me to the UK to see family, even if only for an evening passing through as part of a longer trip to go to school or just travel/be a tourist.  As they’ve aged, the long trip to Canada ceased to be one my grandparents could make, so the only way to see them was to go to the UK.  I last visited the Newcastle Upon Tyne area where they live now to see my grandparents in January 2017.  I’m glad my last memories of my grandfather are happy when he still had his health, but I’m devastated that I couldn’t go “home” with my Mom this week to be there for her, my aunt, and my granny as they’ve dealt with him slowly leaving us.

IMG_6896With my grandparents in January 2017. I’m never winning any awards for being a sharp dresser.

More than ever I’m looking forward to a trip back to see my granny and give her a big gentle hug, but I already miss my grandfather knowing that we can’t both be stubbornly right about whatever we were discussing again.