Tuesday Train #148

IMGP1721RawConvVIA Rail Canada’s Train #2, The Canadian eastbound from Vancouver to Toronto passes through the Don River valley as seen from the Bloor Viaduct as it nears its final destination of Toronto’s Union Station.

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Tuesday Train #147

00896_n_15amvrns7n0896A “West County” Bullied light pacific locomotive 34016 “Bodmin” arrives at Ropley on the Mid-Hants Railway in southern England in 2002. The locomotives as designed by Oliver Bullied, the chief mechanical engineer of the Southern Railway. The locomotive was built in 1946 with a semi-streamlined casing and experimental valve gear to drive the wheels. Difficulties maintaining the locomotives of the class eventually lead to them being rebuilt in 1958 in a more standard form as the locomotive is preserved.

Finally a Paint Booth inside the House

I’ve talked about it before, I’m not going to dig up old posts, but for eternity I’ve never had a proper paint booth. I’ve painted on my old apartments balcony, on our townhouse patio, or at the Toronto Railway Museum in the workshop after hours. Now that we have our house, a proper paint booth setup where I can paint indoors at my convenience was a must. I don’t build a lot of things that need the airbrush, but enough things do, and I’ll have plenty of kits to build in my growing pile for the layout, so being able to spray colour on them at will is going to be a nice change.

IMG_7896My paint booth setup. An IKEA Raskog cart with all my supplies in it and my compressor. With a folding paint booth on top. The vent is run out the 2nd floor bedroom window. It all folds down and packs away into the closet on the cart when I’m not painting.

The booth is the Compact Folding Paint Booth sold by a variety of people on Amazon and in stores under a variety of brand names. I’ve linked to the one I bought here, though it is currently out of stock. It’s a nice all in one unit, and it has LED lights to illuminate the work space. It’s not as fancy as some, and it isn’t without its limitations. It isn’t capable of having lacquers or enamels sprayed as the motor isn’t fully insulated, but I don’t really use these, my experience and painting is all with acrylics.

IMG_7897My first project being painted in the booth, a Sylvan Scale Models moving van.

I don’t have the luxury in a condominium townhouse of punching extra holes in walls for vents, so I needed something that I can vent out the window. The exhaust hose lets me do that, and based on my first test on Friday, it worked perfectly. I was able to spray two colours on two projects quickly, clean my brush, and pack everything away. I am hopeful I’ll be able to paint some more on Sunday/Monday of the Easter long weekend we are currently on. It’s nice to know that I can continue to push myself as I’ve now eliminated an excuse, working on a project to the point where I need to paint it, and not being able to.

IMG_7899Paint on two projects. My CPR S-2 and the Sylvan Moving truck. The S-2 needs another coat to get some spots that didn’t cover fully.

After years of being limited to painting only on days where the weather was good and the humidity low outside, now I can paint whenever I want more or less, which will greatly speed many projects.

From a Wall Hanging to My Layout, The Bat’leth of Switches

Track, you can’t run trains without it, and I’ve been semi-stalled on doing much with my layout waiting on it. That all ended last night. My friend Dan kindly offered to build my switches for the layout using the Fast Tracks system to hand lay them. This is a great thing, as I love being able to involve my friends in my layout, and he has much more experience building switches than I do (which is zero). For the layout, because of the tight curves and complicated track work, hand laid switches offer more flexibility in adjusting them and making things fit than commercial turnouts would.

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Track as an art piece. The Bat’leth switches hanging on Dan’s office wall. The Fast Tracks Templates used to build it from are taped on the piece of plywood below.

Dan built all the complicated trackage for one corner of the layout as one piece. There are five switches and two crossovers which he built as one combined unit to keep everything in alignment so it would hopefully work. It was built over the printed Fast Tracks templates from their website that I positioned and taped together to make sure the trackage would work. Until this big corner piece of track was in place, I have been holding off on doing any track work as everything else on the layout will be aligned from the Bat’leth (Star Trek Klingon sword, the piece of track looked kinda like on Dan’s office wall). Dan took pictures as he was building the switches, he’s hopefully going to write about it either for here, or for a Model Railroad publication. Either way, if it gets written up here or in print, I’ll post about it sometime.

IMG_7810The big block of track in its future home, the corner of Liberty Street and Mowat Avenue on the layout. Now on to aligning track, and sorting out any issues before getting electrical leads (other than for the frogs which Dan wired) and affixed into position.

I was super excited last night when I got home from a super tasty BBQ feast near his office, that I had to start messing about. First up was to clear up all my temporary bits of flex trackage so I could position equipment and get a feel for things, so I could get the Bat’leth off its board and onto the layout temporarily at least. It’s a big piece of track, but just one of 8 pieces Dan built between it, individual switches, and a couple of combined switches. The rest of my track will be Micro Engineering Code 70 rail Flex Track and Shinohara Code 70 rail crossovers.

Now that I have the piece of track that dictates everything else on the layout, I can seriously start confirming placement of buildings and roads, and pin down the last thing that needed work, the placement of the peninsula. My intention all along has been for the peninsula to be hinged so I can swing it out of the middle of the layout room, when you see the pictures of the penninsula, you can see why, it kind of hovers over where I sit at my workbench, making it a hazard for me constantly knocking it if it’s in place when the layout isn’t being operated. That said, one of the many back and forth thoughts I’ve been having tonight is on trying to find ways to live with that. My intention is to get the trackage down on the around the wall benchwork, then build and install the peninsula, as there isn’t a lot of track on it, and its easier to work when it isn’t there (another reason for making it swing or removable totally).

IMG_7816Mockup peninsula back out, you can see how it crowds the room. I’m of two minds on whether to keep with the plan to hinge it so it can swing to the right in the image in front of book cases, or permanently affix to benchwork.

With my mockup peninsula back in place, I can start making the real world tweaks from the track plan on the computer to make everything fit. I have a plot of the survey of the building that goes on the peninsula, which means I am able to lay the plan out, and check that track can reach where it should around it. I am seeing some spots where I may not be able to achieve everything I want to. One consideration is I have a large blank spot along the wall where the Women’s prison was located. There would only have been a wall there. Instead of further compressing some buildings, I may just make some adjustments given the large chunk of area in the middle of the layout that has no active industries. First things first though, need to sort out the position of the trackage from the plan to the benchwork and see how everything fits.

 

Working on peninsula track geometry. Good news is the peninsula is shifting right which widens the walkway in the “U” on the left for operators, bad news is this squeezes parts of the layout to the right.

Part of the reason I write this blog is to keep a record of what I’m doing and have done, and to help keep myself grounded and motivated.  Contemplating the peninsula, and playing around with the various switches (and discovering naturally a few places here and there where some adjustments will be needed to track gauge or guard rails so equipment will reliably track through them), I started getting what for lack of a better description was an anxiety attack about the whole layout building process. Too many things piling up in one short period of thoughts, need to fix this, and do that, and I haven’t done this, or I don’t know how to do that, or I need to change that…and just letting myself get away from myself and run ahead of myself at the same time. Its a recipe for a mistake, and I could feel myself careening towards something bad like dropping a locomotive or breaking something.

Feeling that way, I walked out of the layout room about 3 hours ago now feeling daunted and frustrated and more than a little apprehensive that even this simple layout is biting off more than I can handle. I am still nervous, the but feelings of angst from puttering for an hour when I got home from work tonight, as super excited as I was to see track and start making progress, told me it was time to down tools. Dinner and a movie on the sofa with my wife and ignoring trains has helped enough to at least let me write this post, and writing this post is giving me comfort as I know I can keep going slow and steady, and that I have friends in the hobby I can reach out to help me work through the “problems” and keep building. I’m sure tomorrow or in a couple of days, whenever I next put in some time in the office working on the layout, that a clear head will help me move forward again!

Operations at the Filmore Avenue Roundhouse

I still consider myself to be a novice when it comes to operating layouts. I haven’t done it a lot, and by not a lot, I can still count my number of ops sessions on two hands, and the number of different layouts I’ve operated on one hand. That said, the quality of the layouts I am fortunate enough to get the chance to operate on is incredible. And the latest is one that I’ve seen in photographs and in print, but never in person until last weekend.

Overview of the Filmore Avenue Roundhouse layout. The whole layout is terminal, operations are taking locomotives from arriving for servicing, through timed servicing, to be ready to be sent back out to work.

Getting to visit amazing layouts like Rick DeCandido’s “Filmore Avenue Roundhouse” and operate them gives me inspiration for my own layout, that it can operate as well and look as good as the layouts I’ve gotten to see do. Rick’s layout is a “proto-freelanced” layout, that is a layout based on a prototype and realistic operations, but which never actually existed. It is based on a proposed new engine terminal adjacent to the Buffalo Central Terminal that the New York Central was planning in 1929. Work hadn’t started when the stock market crashed in October 1929, and by the time World War 2 was over in 1945, the writing was on the wall for steam locomotives, and the NYC never revisited the proposal to build a new facility to service passenger locomotives. As such, the buildings are all based on NYC prototype practices (other than the gorgeous Canadian Pacific 2 road coaling tower based on John Street in Toronto, modelling it is on my to do list and Rick’s is drop dead gorgeous!). Rick’s modelling skill and attention to detail is second to none. Everything has that perfect life worn and used feel, with the right amount of weathering and grime to look like buildings that are out in the environment where work and steam locomotives are around constantly.

Some examples of Rick’s fabulous modelling. His coaling tower (a model of the CPR John Street tower at the Toronto Railway Museum as it fit his space), and a view into the stalls of the roundhouse to see locomotives being serviced.

The layout is operated in real-time, with each session about 2.5 hours long. While that may on the face of it sound like not a lot is happening. It takes three active operators and a dispatcher updating the digital “chalkboard” of the shop for incoming, under service and outgoing locomotives, plus service trains delivering supplies and coal. The session started out with a half hour or so introduction to the layout and the operator jobs. I think Rick was maybe a bit worried it is too much, but I have to say it was just perfect. He was able to clearly lay out everything we’d be doing and tie that to why the railroad did things so it all made sense, and the three of us could figure out how we were working together. Along with my friends Ryan and Doug, we’d have a lot of movements to coordinate between the Staging (me, bringing locomotives in for servicing and departing after, as well as aligning the staging for service trains), the Assistant Holster (taking over from staging after entry to the layout, running service extras, and helping the lead as needed), and the Lead Holster (taking locomotives from assistant, onto turntable and into stalls, then back out to the ready tracks for departure).

Doug has a laugh while I focus on something working the staging yard. Ryan focuses on bringing a switcher off the turntable onto the ready tracks.

I had a wonderful time. Rick was a great host, and his layout operated perfectly. The only things that went wrong were operators like yours truly putting locomotives in the dirt by failing to check that switches had been set for where they were driving!! I hope some time I can invite Rick to my house to repay the favour of an operating session in Liberty Village and that it runs half as well as his layout did!