A CPR U3e 0-6-0 Switcher – A Project for Liberty Village

I mentioned back in April in a post about learning how the railroads served Liberty Village that a friend had gifted me half a Walthers/Life-Like Proto 2000 0-6-0 steam locomotive that very closely matches the dimensions of the CPR U3e class that worked in Toronto in the 1950’s.  I say half, as he wasn’t able to give me a tender.  Today, at the Mississauga Model Railroad Flea Market, I was able to buy a correct CPR Tender for the U3e locomotive.  Another vendor had a brass CPR tender that was missing the locomotive.  Put the two together, and I now have a plastic locomotive that I can strip down and modify the details on, and a brass tender that I can disassemble to add electrical pickups and a DCC decoder into.  I’ve been assembling the needed detail parts for the locomotive and to build the tender from scratch, but now I don’t have to scratch build the tender. I can focus on the engine and the electronics to make a reliable operating engine.

Brass_TenderIt looks something like a U3e, and will look a lot more like it by the time I’m done modifying it. May be while still before it gets to the top of the to-do pile, but it will get there.

It was a nice find at the show, and at a price where using it was light years better than the time and effort to build one in this case, as when I start working on the project in earnest, it has another big head start with the tender I now have.



Backdrop Part 2

Another night, and another 8′ of backdrop installed! I got home from work early enough that I could hammer the support frame into the wall before it got too late and it would risk bothering the neighbours at a time where one shouldn’t make noise that would impact your neighbours in a townhouse.

Figuring out where the support frame needs to go, and tacked up in place along the second half of the layout.

After the first night of backdrop installation, I had a good idea of what I was doing, but even then, things never go as you plan.  For this end to work, I was going to need to take an 8′ strip, and shorten it just a bit so I could put a blender piece into the corner, I debated doing the curve with the end of the large piece, and having the blender in the middle between two large pieces, but the corner I was making was sufficiently tight that the large piece wouldn’t be supported while I was getting the corner into place. I had visions of falling sheets of styrene and cursing and swearing, so I chose what I hoped would be the path of least resistance.

IMG_6086A 4’x8′ sheet of 0.060 styrene.  Showing the reason we didn’t build the peninsula initially, I wouldn’t have any room to work if it was in place, the sheet basically fills the open floor completely!!

Once I had the 30″ wide strip cut off the sheet, I test fit it to see how much I would need to take off.  Based on where I thought the corner piece would need to go to let me curve it, the large strip needed cut down from 96″ to 82″, easy enough to do, and once the sheet is split, its much easier to maneuver around the floor for subsequent cuts!!

Framing for the corner, and the corner piece installed.  Suffice to say, getting the corner held in with the “No More Nails” was as close to cursing as I came, as it was a fight to get it into place while the glue bit, but I got there!

Once the corner was in, I was able to fit the main piece and get it adjusted so the tops are more or less aligned.  I will need to trim a hair at either end to get it looking perfect, but the styrene allows for that.  One more evening of backdrop work should see the portion of the sceniced part of the layout in the closet with a backrop installed, and some screening over the door frame.  These are complicated bits, but small bits, no more 8′ long sections being maneuvered into place by myself (and believe me, half way though manhandling them, even as light as the styrene is I wish I’d invited someone over to come help me!!).

IMG_5873IMG_6091The layout room, looking ever more layout-y (compare tonight in the bottom to where it started in top image).  It also demonstrates that I will definitely need to do something about replacing the single off-centre light fixture (because of the large skylight centred on the room) with some form of track light to spread light around the room.

I’ve got two bathrooms in our house to paint this weekend (well, two walls in one and one wall in the other), and I’m really hoping to be able to put paint on the backdrop as well, but for that I need to get the remaining styrene up, get it puttied and the putty sanded down, and then give it a good clean!  Before I can do any of that though, another trip to Home Depot is in order for one more piece of trim strip so I can frame in the closet to fasten the styrene to (I miscalculated my amount of material, better to have less than a stack to return, but inconvenient none the less).

Tuesday Train #121


GO Transit Train 912 lead by MP40PH-3C No 666 leads a diverted train north onto the former Canpa Subdivision (now just the Canpa Spur, a much lesser name) and the abandoned CN Signal Box at Canpa where the tracks to the north connecting to the Canadian Pacific Railway diverge from the Oakville Subdivision and the entrances to the VIA Toronto Maintenance Centre and Go Willowbrook Maintenance Facility just to the east (right) of this picture.

IMGP0124RawConvCab Car 347 brings up the rear of the same train as it curves onto the north-south tracks.

This was the first weekend of 9 scheduled weekends (September 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30; October 13-14, 20-21, 27-28; November 24-25; and, December 1-2) where the tracks will be closed over the Humber River to allow bridges at the river to be replaced.  The bridge spans have been stored in the yard in advance of being brought out and installed over the weekends where the line is closed.

IMGP0080RawConv.jpgBridge spans stored at Mimico for the new Humber Bridges.

Backdrop Part 1

Another productive weekend of layout building in the books.  I didn’t spend a lot of time on the layout, but the time I spent was productive, which is arguably better than spending a lot of time and getting nothing accomplished.

I finally decided on my backdrop material and height.  I’ve gone with 0.060″ Styrene sheet, and 30″ (approximately) in height.  When the foam is laid on top of the plywood surface, the backdrop will be more like 29.5″ above ground, but the 30″ height from the benchwork top gives me approximately 6″ above the backdrop of room wall.  I chose the height as my benchwork surface is quite high, at 59″ above the floor, and with some of the taller buildings and smokestacks in the industrial area, a lower backdrop may not always have been behind the buildings from normal viewing angles.  I am looking at some track lighting options to move light better around the room than the single fixture does for when there isn’t enough sun coming through the skylight, but I won’t be installing a valance from the ceiling or anything to mount lights to hanging over the layout, so the tall backdrop also helps complete the room.

IMG_6067.jpgEDIT: Picture I forgot originally, the two sheets rolled up in the back seat of the car for the trip home. Thankfully 4×8 sheets of styrene roll, as they wouldn’t fit in the car otherwise!

I went to a local plastics store Plastic World on Saturday and bought two 4’x8’ sheets of 0.060” thick styrene.  This is enough for all my backdrop with plenty to spare, but the full size sheets just barely leave me enough room to cut them in my layout room.

IMG_6081.jpgTrim nailed into the wall to provide support for the strene sheet. Don’t need a crazy huge structure, just enough to support the weight and hold it against the wall.

To install the styrene, I installed a framework of 5/16 x 11/16 baseboard trim on the wall, and glued the styrene to this.  I could have nailed or fastened the styrene to the wall directly, but the frame will be easier to pull off the wall and do less damage than if the styrene sheet was glued directly to the drywall.  Someday I’ll either want to take it down and build something different, or have to take it down to move, and I want the walls to be as easily fixed as possible.

For now, I am not putting any backdrop behind the staging traverser.  I know that is going to create a potentially harsh transition, but it is something I can re-visit in the future if it needs better blending into the layout.  I am still contemplating a series of 4′ long shelves in that corner above the layout for displaying more rolling stock from the collection on. That probably tells me I have too much stuff for display only, but for now at least I’m keeping the option open.

IMG_6083.jpgFirst 8′ length of backdrop including the curved corner in place.

It’s gotten too late to be hammering into the walls of our townhouse and bothering the neighbours, so for tonight I’m done with installing backdrop.  Another 8′ section will get me down the wall to the corner I boxed in earlier this week, and the fiddly bits of installation there.  I am hoping to have the backdrop up by next weekend when I am already planning on painting the two walls in each of our bathrooms that aren’t wallpapered that need a freshen up and some patching from the previous owners of our places poor workmanship (the towel rails were put in by someone with no concept of what a drywall anchor is and the drywall is wrecked and the rails are barely holding on!!).

Breaking Bad Habits before they start

So last night I took a trip out to Home Depot for some lumber strips to use as a frame to support the sheet styrene backdrop (I’m buying supplies as I need them so I don’t have to find places to store things, extra trips are easier than piles of lumber).  I also went another five minutes down the road to the erstwhile “Unhappiest Place on Earth”TM  (IKEA for those not following along) to try to nip one of my bad habits in the bud.  The benchwork has been up for about a month now, and its quickly becoming a mess of storage and bits and pieces.  In my defense, 95% of what’s stacked on it is layout stuff, but I’m quickly finding myself misplacing tools or tripping over my boxes of screws and tools and such when I try to start a task.  I went to IKEA to look at a little kitchen cart I’d seen on past visits that had caught my eye as maybe being useful for having tools and supplies handy, without resorting to on-layout storage.

Raskog1.jpgNot quite as flat packed as some IKEA items, but a new Raskog Kitchen Cart for my layout room.

At the moment, with bare plywood on the benchwork, it isn’t “really” a big deal to just toss stuff up there, the problem is, in a few months time when I’ve got the layer of foam on, and start laying roadbed and track and looking at mockups of buildings and such, it will become a big deal, to say nothing of when track is laid and I actually start building scenery!!

The Raskog kitchen cart is a reasonably cheep solution, and it comes in a variety of colours to suit your tastes.  They now offer it in a blue tone, which fits the colour palates I like in my life.

Raskog2.jpgAnd assembled and getting the tools and scrap lumber supplies and such off the benchwork.  Still some more stuff to move, but now I’m getting closer to having tools handy as I move around the room, and not cluttering the benchwork.

Much as I may mock the IKEA experience (it’s not terrible at 8:30pm on a Thursday night), they do make stuff that goes together fairly well and is useful.  The cart went together in less than 20 minutes, and I transferred much of the “stuff” off the layout and into the cart.  Along with the continuing effort to get rid of stuff that probably shouldn’t have moved, the cart is now another tool in my arsenal to try to keep me from making a mess of my layout by carelessly piling tools and supplies on it.

Boxing in a Corner to start the backdrop

IMG_6054.jpgStart of the evening, I need to cover up the door frame so I have somewhere to mount the backdrop too without damaging the door frame for putting the closet door back on somewhere down the road.

I haven’t made a lot of visible progress in the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot going on outside the layout room, which has kept me occupied.  I’ve tried to spend a couple of minutes each day though thinking about some aspect of the project, and the next steps.  The next step is to install a backdrop and get it painted.

After a lot of back and forth on a number of materials, I’ve decided to go with 0.060 Styrene sheet.  It’s a material I am familiar with, and one that is readily available and not overly expensive for the amount needed.  It’s also easy to work with to create corners.

In advance of that, I needed to frame around the former closet door frame that the layout passes by.  I didn’t want to cut away the door frame, as if we ever sell our Condo, the future owner may want a door back on both ends of the walk through closet!!  As such, once the benchwork was in place, I started looking at different material choices for the backdrop, I looked at different options for framing the corner.  I needed something that would let me fasten the backdrop to it, while being easily removed to allow the layout room to be returned to a bedroom/office in the future.  The solution was some simple 1×6 and 1×4 framing to cover the hole in the benchwork around the door frame, and provide enough height to fasten backdrop too.  There will be an unavoidable change in backdrop height at the corner, but this frame will also be covered by the Hinde & Dauche paper company building, which will hopefully help make it less obvious as well.

And a quick box later, two pieces of 1×6 and a piece of 1×4, and the opening is covered up.

In order to minimize the damage to the walls for future returning of the room to “normal” use, I’m going to build a simple frame of thin wood that I can nail to the wall just enough to keep it in place, then glue using No More Nails the Styrene onto the frame.  This is a tried and true technique used by my friend Pierre Oliver on his layout amongst others.

If all goes to plan, I’ll be picking up two 4’x8′ sheets of 0.060 Styrene this weekend, and starting to frame the backdrop and get it up next week.  Another step taken towards tracklaying and running a train!!