Tuesday Train #115

P1130787An oldie but a goodie.  A Soo Line GM SD60 No.6012 leads a trio of CPR SD40-2’s on January 15, 2005.  Based on the date, this has to be in Windsor Ontario, as the only place I can think I would have been on this date in January is in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show.

My first Fast Tracks Order

So, for my layout, my current plan is to use hand-made switches, using the Fast Tracks system created by Tim Warris (I don’t plan on hand laying all my track, I plan on using MicroEngineering flex track outside switches and crossovers).  I like the system, it seems to have been designed with simplicity and user friendliness in mind, and a number of my friends who have much more experience than I do at layout building and track laying swear by it.  And to top it all off, he’s here in Ontario, so I get to support a small business close to home, which is always a nice feeling.  I’ve met Tim in passing at a number of train shows over the years, but never really gotten deep into conversation, as I’ve never been in the position of being a customer of what he offers.  That’s all changed now.

IMG_5817.JPGMy first order from Fast Tracks, a variety of “SweepSticks” track templates for curved and straight track, and “SpaceGage” spacing jigs.  To be used in making sure my staging tracks are square to each other and evenly spaced, and for laying curves to the desired radius.

My first order of what will no doubt be several when I settle on the code of track and final details arrived tonight.  While going forward I will need turnout jigs and rail and other such supplies, the first order was another step in my education process, looking at how to lay track and make sure I get it down with the correct curves to ensure hopefully smooth operation.  I bought a set of 18″ and 15″ radius “SweepSticks” curves.  These are the two main radius curves in my design.  If you are building a bigger layout, you can buy more sections and connect them, but the two 9″ sections of each are more than enough for the longest curve on my layout.

IMG_5818Assembling the SpaceGage track spacers.  These are for 1-2″ track centres. I’m setting them for 2″ to do the staging yard traverser.  These go together super easily with just white glue.

I also bought enough straight sweep sticks for me to be able to use them to ensure the entire 30″ track in the staging yard traverser is straight and parallel.  This is critically important, as these tracks have to align with tracks not on the traverser so trains can move on and off of it, failure to do this right will be a killer on the layout.  I really like the simplicity of the design, but the quality seems to be fantastic.  The parts are cut with a laser cutter from birch plywood (from the looks of it).  They are keyed so they connect together and you can join straight

IMG_5819Quick test of the straight track SweepSticks with the SpaceGage at 2″ track centres.  Perfect, almost like I knew what I was doing in the track planning software…what a scary thought!

For tonight, It was another night of checking tracks on the floor in the office, but that’s ok. Every night I do this and feel more confident in my trackplan and benchwork design is a night closer to cutting plywood and lumber to actually build something!!  Now, back to my tunes, from a band I love, reissues of Achtung Baby and Zooropa to polish of my Friday evening!

IMG_5821.jpgClassic U2 on Vinyl, Achtung Baby on the left and Zooropa on the right.. Albums I’ve wanted for years, but which originals of are waay too expensive to justify for a luxury.

The S Scale Resource Online Magazine


This is a thank you to the S Scale Community in response to the two Speeder Cars I have available on Shapeways.  I really should have bet Trevor on how many I’d sell.  I’d also like to thank the publisher of the online magazine the S Scale Resource for including my two speeder cars in their most recent issue to spread the word after a number of modellers who have bought them posted about them on various forums.

The S Scale Resource and its sister the O Scale Resource are free online magazines published by modellers.  Even if you aren’t in these scales, they have lots of great articles about modelling techniques that can be applied to other scales.  They are ad-supported, so if you sign up, visit and support their advertisers, it keeps great hard-working modellers who want to help build communities going and giving out a great resource to the rest of us for free!!

SScaleScreenCapLookit That, my speeder model in digital print being advertised to others!!  In the August-September 2018 issue.

First Layout Track laid…Sort of!!

As part of getting ready to build my new layout in our new house, I’m taking it in baby steps, looking to do everything I can to head off obvious mistakes that will cause me grief down the road when I actually start construction and operate the layout.  I have lots of friends who have helped me along the way, and who will hopefully continue to do so as I approach new tasks in the hobby that I’ve never done, But I am also stubborn/proud enough that I want to do things myself, but not so thick-headed that I’ll bang away without over thinking every step!!

IMG_5812.JPGFirst look at the corner of the layout in the closet, before adjusting the plot to get it to fit on the floor like it will on the walls (the floor trim is 1″ wide), as it is the printout is sitting well off where it would be on the wall when its 59″ up at the height of my benchwork.

As I’d mentioned before, my plan is to start construction in the closet, and work my way out from there.  So it seemed logical to me that I could plot off the track plan for the closet, and trim it down to check that it fit, and that I haven’t created any obvious flaws.  It also let me confirm that an operator should be more than able to get into the closet to move the transfer table staging to adjust what track is set, and bring trains out onto the layout.  An operator in the closet wouldn’t want to have much more girth than I do, but most of my friends who are likely to operate the layout when its built are thinner than I am!

With the printout trimmed so I can get it into the position it would be in, I laid a bit of flex track on the access track (18″ radius) between staging and the first switch (beneath the yellow helping hands in the pictures).

IMG_5813First rolling stock test on the layout printout. Track held in place by my helping hands, and a brick from the Don Valley Brickworks.

So having done so, I pulled out a box car, and dutifully rolled it along the short piece of track.  It should have plenty of clearance at the one pinch point that concerned me at the corner of the ductwork bulkhead in the closet. It looks like it should be fine, especially as the curve of the track should take any overhanging equipment away from the corner.

The next bit of good news is that I over-measured the width needed to go around the door jamb. I’m going to easily gain back and inch of layout space on the room side (behind the door) when all is said and done.It won’t change the track plan or anything else substantially, but will let me make the benchwork and building (the Hinde & Dauche Paper Company) that will be screening the door jamb be a bit tighter to it.

IMG_5814Broader view showing the width of the door opening.  The door on the left will be taken off.

All in all, a productive first night of looking at the printouts.  I think, that I’m ready to go with building the traverser, I’m reasonably certain now that getting the layout started is almost fully thought through.

Tuesday Train #114

0000656-R1-015-6Ex-St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco) 3749 rests outside the Church Street Station in Orlando in 2007.  This location is now a station on the new SunRail Commuter Service, and the locomotive and three coaches have been donated by the City of Orlando to the Florida Rail Road Museum in Bradenton, who are fundraising to restore 3749 cosmetically to her 1950’s appearance.

While in Florida in spring 2007, one of the days I had my parents car to do some things on my own, I timed a trip to downtown Orlando to both see the locomotive above, and catch the Amtrak Silver Meteor headed south to Miami at the same location.  Not the most scenic location I’ve ever shot, but I was working on doing two things in one stop to pay for parking.


While I missed the train at the Amtrak station in Orlando, it’s a much nicer looking building than the area around Church Street was when I was there with the construction going on.  The former Seaboard Coast Line station that Amtrak uses is a much more attractive building, though if memory serves, it wasn’t much for sightlines in terms of taking train pictures at.

Designing a Traverser for the Staging Yards

I’ve set myself a goal. I want to have the first bit of benchwork for The Liberty Village Line built and installed by Labour Day weekend (to be clear, Labour Day weekend in 2018!).  The first bit of benchwork will be the staging Traverser for the Canadian Pacific which is located inside the closet of my layout room/office, and the tail track boards on either end.  I’ve chosen this as getting the benchwork built in the closet first means I can finish sorting the multitude of things that have to be stored in the closet along side the layout extension.  Then I can remove the closet door and come up with a plan to keep Gandalf from going into the closet (if the pet/baby gate we’ve just installed for the stairs works to keep him on the 2nd and 3rd floors, then I’ll be buying another for the closet door).  I like having the office door open, and him checking out what I’m doing, so thus far I’m not inclined to make the office/layout room a cat-free zone.  He’s also shown much less interest in being a part of models or planting himself on my workbench than Fergie did before him.

GandalfGate.jpgWhat’s this “Expletive Deleted” then? What do you mean I can’t go to the ground floor? A new gate to keep Gandalf on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Townhouse when we are not home or BBQ’ing and going in and out.  He has some anxiety issues, and given we are not permitted to touch him inside the house (by him, he’s a big scaredy cat), if he ever got out the front door to outside, we’re worried we may never see him again as we can’t grab him to pick him up inside.

So, with the obligatory cat picture out of the way, I’ve spent a fair bit of my free time in the past couple of weeks looking at others designs for traversers online in their layout blogs and on model railroad forums, and taking that and applying what has and hasn’t worked for them into a design in AutoCAD for support benchwork that would work for my layout.

The “Closet” end of the layout plan on the left, showing the traverser and entrance/exit tracks.  The right shows the work in progress CAD for the framing to support the sliding deck of the traverser.

As discussed previously, the traverser shelf will be 30″ long, and 11.75″ wide based on the number of tracks and the space available in the closet.  Thanks to having Lee Valley Hardware literally a five minute walk from my office, I was able to go over at lunch Wednesday and pick up a set of drawer slides to help me with visualizing how the traverser will work, and what size of slides I need.

TraverserTest1.jpgPhysically testing the dimensions for the Traverser Staging Yard with one of the sliders from Lee Valley Hardware.  The slider is the 10″ Full Extension 75lbs Drawer Slider.

With the slides in hand, I set up a few pieces of loose track on my workbench last night to look at the dimensions of the table, and where tracks could line up with the slider.  The 10″ slider provides enough range of motion to allow five tracks to be set up and align, with ample space for reaching in to get cars onto tracks or off for maintenance.

TraverserTest2.jpgSlider bar fully extended.  Should move the traverser enough to get five tracks in that will align with the one track that leads to the layout mocked upon the left.

Now that I am pretty much certain that my design will work, its on to construction. As usual, given my lack of workshop space and table saw etc, etc, I will be looking to at least go somewhere else to cut all my lumber down (my friends with woodshops can all expect messages in the near future for some help!!).  For the staging, I need one 24″x48″ quarter sheet of plywood, and three 8′ long 1×3’s to do all the framing assuming I don’t mess up any cuts and my design works!  Not a lot of lumber, but there are a lot of cuts to make.