Mocking Up Liberty Village

Buildings buildings buildings. No small part of my layout are the early 20th century industrial buildings that frame the streets of Liberty Village. While I’m a long way from building them all, a few hours over the past few days has at least seen them appear in mockup form while I get ready to lay track and finalize the buildings orientation and siting.

Mowat Avenue and Liberty Street – The spur at Carbide Chemicals, Canadian GE, Barrymore Cloth and the Toronto Carpet Factory.

My mockups are cheap and cheerful, generally close to scale where I’ve found drawings or taken measurements, and are intended at this point to give me a sense of what the layout will look like and help with making adjustments once my switches are done and I can start laying track. They are all cut from a single sheet of framing matte board, for less than $10 I’ve populated the layout and have a sense of scale for the buildings in relation to the trains.

60 Atlantic, Brunswick Balke Collendar and Hinde and Dauch rise on the east end of Liberty Street.

Even with my cheap and cheerful mockups, I’ve noticed a few things that when track goes in where my track plans could use some adjusting to more accurately reflect the real alignments of buildings. I’m also working with selective compression. All buildings have their full heights, but some are being compressed to fit the layout space. Obvious examples are 60 Atlantic which is about 1/2 length, and Hinde and Dauch. I’ve been struggling with Hinde and Dauch. I have enough room to do a faithful full scale representation of the eastern 2/3 of the building. The mockup however, is a compressed version to get the variations in building height that the plant had. It’s a 45%/35%/65% compression of the three segments moving from west to east. The eastern part is the most “important” to me as that is where the large painted signs on the 4th and 2nd floor brick courses were painted, and I want to be able to include these on the building. While I could do that full scale, I think the building loses something important without all three segments to give it some variation in design and appearance, and the mockup in card lets me see what that looks like, and make adjustments before I start to build a real model in styrene and bricksheet which costs a lot more!

Mowat Ave looking north. Getting there.

With at least a first pass of the buildings that are on the backdrop side of the mainline done, I have a little bit of a sense of what they layout will look like, and if I do say so myself, I’m really pleased. It’s exactly the feel I want, big early 20th century industrial buildings that will dwarf the trains that service them. There’s lots of work in building buildings once the track is down and trains can run. I suspect most if not all of these Version 1.0 Mockups will go in the garbage and be replaced by better mockups once the track is in place and I can adjust them to be better templates for permanent layout buildings, but for now, it’s really nice to walk into the layout room and see something that vaguely resembles Liberty Village!!

IMG_7469The full layout. The big gap is where the Mercer Reformatory for Women (the jail!) was located. It won’t have a building there, but it also works as when the peninsula gets built, that area wouldn’t be reachable by operators to switch cars anyways.
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Taking Project Inspiration from a Friend

My friend Trevor Marshall is a very accomplished model railroader.  You can read about his S-Scale Port Rowan layout on his blog. If you dig around on his site, it has sub-blogs on all kinds of fascinating things like Achievable Layouts and his ongoing dalliance with changing prototypes to the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway Interurban owned by CN.

This post however, is a bit of self motivation. Once my layout prototype and era became crystalized, Trevor went out and bought and has completely repowered, added DCC and painted a Van Hobbies Brass CNR 0-18a switcher. These small 0-6-0’s were the backbone of switching in Toronto, and would have been seen in Liberty Village.

IMG_7350Trevor’s O-18a #7456 at a get together a few weeks ago at a friends HO Scale layout.

Trevor wrote about his project to prepare his 7456, so I won’t get into the details, I’m mostly writing this for two reasons, to say how great a job he did, and to inspire me to do as good a job with mine, so that some day we can have competing O-18a’s switching in Liberty Village!

IMG_7353Looking like it belongs on a layout set in 1970’s Niagara Frontier, well, at least the trackwork is suitably industrial looking!

A quick add on for Workbench Organization

Having now lived with my new workbench for 8 months since we moved, there are things I’m happy with, and things I’m less happy with. One of the things I wasn’t happy with was my paint/glue storage. It was awkward, and my paint was in a constant risk of getting tipped over when I was using it or switching around jars.

At the Barrie-Allandale show last weekend, Osborn Models was there, and had a great, and affordable ($15) paint rack laser cut kit. It took maybe 10 minutes to put together (they say 5, I can see that, but I’m slow some days). There are lots of options out there, but a lot that I’ve seen are very specific to a single brand of paint or jar size. I don’t have limitless desk space, so this caught my eye as it would accommodate a wide range of paint and glue containers from different manufacturers together.

IMG_7416One laser cut paint and glue stand kit.

The parts are nicely cut, and the holes are designed to accommodate different sizes of jars with different openings. It’s a simple glue together with white glue kit. I found it needed a few minutes with some clamps while the glue bonded to get everything nicely aligned.

Test Fitting the pieces, and letting the glue cure with some clamps for a few minutes to make sure everything was nice and tight.

I’m quite pleased with the addition. It looks good, and organizes a bunch of supplies that stay on the workbench, and paints that come out of the drawer when I need to use them. It’s also got the potential with the jar holders that aren’t glued in for me to adjust the openings and patterns a bit to best fit my needs as I use them, which isn’t a bad thing either.

IMG_7437All done, a nice quick addition to my workbench.

 

Playing Around with a ProtoThrottle

If you read this blog, odds are you have some interest in prototype modelling, and may have heard of something called the ProtoThrottle. Its a new system neutral DCC handheld controller from Iowa Scaled Engineering – http://www.protothrottle.com/ It will work via an adapter in some cases with Digitrax, NCE, ESU, Lenz, JMRI and and MRC DCC systems. What it is, is really cool, especially if you were, oh, I dunno, building a small switching layout, maybe of say, Liberty Village in Toronto in your spare bedroom.

IMG_7341A ProtoThrottle in the flesh, as I operate at Hunter Hughson’s Niagara Branch.

I know a couple of people who have them, but I hadn’t had a chance to hold or use one until a get together last weekend at a friends layout. Its a nicely designed and built piece, which replicates the standard controls for an American Association of Railroads (AAR) control stand. A reverser (direction), 8 notch throttle and brake valve. Theres a button for the bell, and a horn handle at the top. It was interesting to operate with compared to a traditional DCC throttle. I’ve been in plenty of locomotive cabs, and operated the simulators at the Toronto Railway Museum which use AAR Control Stands, but I have never driven a real diesel locomotive. Using the ProtoThrottle is much more like being in a locomotive than a normal model layout. There was a lot of discussion about how operating a model with this is very different from doing so with a typical DCC controller that has 128 speed steps. On a real locomotive, if you watch them operating while switching, they throttle up to get moving, then cut the power and coast. That’s something you can’t do with a traditional DCC system as easily, but you can with the ProtoThrottle. Its much closer to operating a real locomotive based on some actual railroaders who were at the operating session/get together. I have to take them at their word, but they are right that the majority of modellers have never actually operated a real locomotive, and some of the subtlety of how you actually do so is lost translating from full scale to model scale.

I understand it takes some work to adjust the DCC settings on a decoder for it to work right with the ProtoThrottle, but once you’ve got a file set up, I understand that you can use the base settings on other locomotives if you are using something like an ESU LokProgrammer to do your customization on the decoder. I don’t have an LokProgrammer yet, its on my shopping list as It would be nice to be able to program my own locomotives and adjust sounds at home instead of relying on going to others houses!

ProtoThrottle1Doug declines to operate with the ProtoThrottle, while I mostly mess about instead of making any actual effort to use a switch list or switch cars.

While it won’t be the first throttle I buy to add onto whatever DCC base station I wind up going with, it will definitely be added on as I love the bit of added realism in operations, and being that little bit closer to driving the way a real engineer would that it gives.