Tuesday Train #119

IMG_5980.JPGSunset GO at Kipling.  After our move, if I’m downtown and don’t want to deal with the subway, I can now take the GO Train from Union Station to Kipling.  I’ve done it twice over the summer, the first regular commutes I’ve made with GO since 2005 when I moved to Toronto after a bit over two years of taking the train almost every day into the City.

A Saturday Afternoon Boxcar Build

While the Liberty Village layout is reasonably small, it still needs a healthy fleet of freight cars to come on and off the layout, if only so it doesn’t look the same at every operating session.  While the Ready-to-Run and Resin kits out there make some fantastic looking cars, and I have plenty of them both built and unbuilt for the layout, I’ll also need enough cars that look decent to fill sidings and such.  A few weeks ago, I was at Credit Valley Model Railroad to pick up a few things, and my friend Roger Chrysler who works there pointed out the recently arrived Accurail CPR Fowler wooden box cars.  By the 1950’s these cars would have been a bit long in the tooth, with the 33,000 the CPR owned being built between 1909 and 1915, but they were still going.

An Accurail kit. Nothing fancy.  A great cost effective way to populate a layout, or a starting point if you want to super detail it.

These cars were used in all kinds of service, but were primarily used for hauling grain in the era before covered hoppers.  On the layout, the mill building at Standard Brands would have received grains for milling for use in making their yeast cakes and other products.  Given the affordable price of these cars (under $25 Canadian) per car, I can have a fleet of 4 or 5 for the cost of 2 Ready-to-Run on resin kits, and, they go together in a couple of hours.  They need some new wheels (the cheap plastic wheels in the kits are junk), and Kadee couplers, but that will add about $5/car to the cost.  Accurail even sells a decal set by mail to re-number the cars so you can have a fleet, as they all come with the same number from the factory.

IMG_6002.JPGThe underframe and brake rigging assembled. Simple, enough detail that its there, but not super detailed or fiddly.

While I love building detailed kits, and I have a few fantastic ones from Elgin Car Shops to build for the layout, there is something to be said for a simple kit.  I like many grew up with a layout full of Athearn “Blue Box” kits, which weren’t even as detailed as this car.  They were cheap and plentiful and allowed you to populate a layout with all kinds of different cars without going broke.  While I’m in the middle of building the layout, cheap and simple projects like this to give me something to do in between big spurts of layout action as just what I need to keep me going and provide distraction when construction inevitably gets bogged down for some reason.

IMG_6007.JPGAnd a finished car, if I had wheel sets and couplers, it would be done done and ready to weather in about an hour and a half.  I’ll be picking up a few more of these, re-numbering them, then making them dirty to be the backdrop cars in my fleet.

I have a resin kit for the same kind of car, but with narrower doors, so eventually I’ll have one super detailed car and a fleet of less detailed ones.  I’ll hold off on weathering this newest project until I have them all done and can give them treatment at the same time to make them look used, but not identical.

One load of Tractors

It always feels good to “finish” a project.  I say that in quotations as there are a few spots where I’ll need to clean up some little bits of over-applied glue, and probably add a tiny bit more weathering, but I’ll do that down the road when I’m going to be painting/weathering other items as there is no point going through all the setup to do that for touchups on a car that’s going to sit in the display case for a while now until there is actually some track on the benchwork to test!

View of the flat car with all six tractors loaded up and chained down.

I’m really pleased with the effect of the chain strapping on the tractors, but it was a nightmare to get wrapped and installed. It’s one of those things that you’d think would get easier as you went along, but if anything it got harder as I was trying to not knock off the tractors already glued into place as I went.  I used A-Line 40 links per inch blackened chain, I think the effect is really good.  The chain is glued into the stake pockets on the side of the car.  Each tractor has three chains, one on each of the rear wheels, and one wrapped around the front wheel column.  The cars are blocked into place in front and behind the wheels, and though they aren’t in the pictures, I realized I’d forgotten the side blocking to keep the wheels from moving off the side of the car, which are now in place.

IMGP9338RawConv.jpgClose up view of the chains on the first two tractors while I was working on the loading.

I love mail to start the weekend

Nothing like getting home on Friday night and opening a package of stuff for your layout.

Fast Tracks turnout jig for #4 switches, and laser cut tie strips for them.

In this case, it was an order from Fast Tracks, of the #4 switch building jig, and all the other supplies needed to build the 13 switches for my layout.  I look forward to building trackwork.  Most of the switches are going to be built by a friend whose offered to do them, but I have enough material for me to try my hand at a couple as well, which means if they work, I can use them, and if not, it goes in the learning experience pile.

Taking the Track Plan from the Screen to the Benchwork

Continued slow and steady progress, that’s my goal, though in some ways, it feels like I am racing along in the project to build my layout!!  In less than a year, I have gone from plotting ways to shoehorn a layout into our spare room in our two-bedroom apartment, to having built benchwork for a layout in a bedroom that’s been turned into my office/layout room in our new townhouse (and yes, that includes going from thinking we’d be renting for the foreseeable future to deciding to buy, buying a house, and moving in between!!).

June 07 18 - Liberty Layout - West.anyThe Track Plan as of August 21, 2018. Now ready to start transitioning from a computer concept into reality on the benchwork.

I’ve been doing my track planning using a package called AnyRail.  It’s free up to 50 pieces of track, and a paid version unlocks unlimited amounts of rail.  It has libraries for most if not all manufacturers track in a variety of gauges, including hand laid track like Fast Tracks that I am using for my switches.  Despite this, there are limitations to what the computer can manage when it comes to adjusting flex track curves and design. I’m not sure how much of it is limitations of the program, and how much of it is me, but before we start building switches after my order of supplies arrives later this week, I need to be sure of where adjustments to the switches to get some of the closer ones together are needed or for curve radii to start faster than the switch templates contemplate.  To do this, Fast Tracks provides print out templates of their switches and trackwork, with a bunch printed out, I started sketching out the centreline of the track on the benchwork and taping down switch and crossing templates to transfer the trackplan from the computer drawing to the benchwork.


Working my way along the layout from West (CN Staging) along Mowat Ave, to the intersection of Mowat and Liberty, and then along Liberty Street.

Using a combination of the printed templates and some “sweep sticks” which are laser cut alignment tools for laying tracks, I started my way around the room to see where switches fit, and which ones would need some adjusting.  This is one of the reasons for going with hand built switches, they can be built with the points much closer together than you can with commercial ready to use switches, creating potential to create more prototypical trackwork or achieve something closer to the tight curves in the confines of the area I am modelling (within the limitations of models to navigate the track!).

The other critical task of getting the trackwork sketched out was to make sure that locations for switches were in fact clear of the joints in the benchwork or the shelf brackets supporting it.  With one minor exception (and moving the switch may have fixed some other alignment issues from the computer drawing), everything appears to be clear of benchwork obstructions.

A friend is going to help me with building the switches once the supplies from Fast Tracks arrive.  From having got the templates out and in place, it looks like it will be necessary to build a fairly large bit of trackwork as a drop in element between the corner of Liberty & Mowat and the access tracks to the peninsula with their crossovers and such, especially as the trackwork on the benchwork off the wall will likely be laid before the peninsula is built and installed.  Seeing where everything fits together, I’ll be able to splice the templates together and give him the trackwork as a plan so that the switches can be built as larger drop in segments, to ensure alignment and help us make sure that the curves and such actually work when everything is built and installed on the layout.

IMG_5952Uh Oh, I seem to have run out of benchwork!! The two crossings here lead onto the as yet unbuilt peninsula, but making sure the track geometry from the switches to the peninsula is a critically important bit of the transfer of the track plan!

I have plenty of work to do before actually laying any track, but it was comforting to see that my plan more or less translates to the benchwork as designed, and even nicer to see that mostly the switches miss impediments such as shelf brackets of the joints in the plywood!!

Tuesday Train #118


A VIA Rail train passing the CNE Grounds heading west from Union Station.  I didn’t have my radio with me, but judging by the track it is on and the time, I suspect this was an empty movement from Union to the Toronto Maintenance Centre of the stock from Train 45 having just arrived from Ottawa.  Up front is P42 No 910 carrying the VIA Rail 40th anniversary wrap, as are three of the LRC coaches behind.