A couple of quick Saturday morning workbench projects

Saturday morning of a long weekend, seemed like a good time to do a couple of quick workbench projects, both related to lighting in different ways.

First up, reclaiming my GorillaPod Tripod that has been holding my ring light over where I now work so I have light when I am in online meetings and sitting at my work computer. This peripherally relates to the layout, as the way the GorillaPod was mounted blocked the staging slider for the CN end of my layout from working properly. I could move the ring light, but it wasn’t easy. I also, more importantly, was finally sick and tired of not having my mini-tripod available to me when I go out taking pictures.

The replacement, is a ball head from a cheap little desk tripod, that I think actually came with the ring light, mounted to a block of wood which is attached to the benchwork framing. This little ballhead makes it a bit easier to move the ring light out of the way, and gives me back my tripod, a win win!

Showing the previous mounting blocking the staging traverser, the simple wood block and ball head, and the new mounting. A nice quick upgrade to both office, and the layout for operations.

The second little light project was more layout/workbench related. I have never been happy with the lighting on my workbench, far too often I can’t get light where I want it. In full disclosure, I am 100% taking this idea from an article I saw in the September 2022 issue of Model Railroader magazine, using LED strip lighting to create a ground level light bar for your workbench. I did my own thing in terms of how I built it, but the idea is absolutely not mine!

I used some of my go to cheap project pine that I have around for all kinds of projects, and a metal bracket I had laying around. I may rebuild this if I like it, but as a generation 1, I now have a removable barrier for the edge of my workbench that will hopefully cast more light. The issue isn’t so much in the daytime, but the room gets dark at night, and I find working in the evenings during the winter can sometimes be a challenge. If this doesn’t work, it has cost me about an hour of my life to build. If it works, I can revisit it and build a better version, and probably use new LED’s rather than ones I recovered from another project that were laying around.

My new workbench front edge light bar. Hopefully this gets some light into my projects where I have been struggling to get enough light.

With these little side workbench projects done, time to get back to working on some actual models!

Train Tracks are not a Shortcut

I am, a little bit devastated by the news last night/this morning in Toronto. A 4 year old girl was killed after being struck by a GO Train in Mississauga, they were using the tracks as a short cut with their family. Sadly, people being struck by trains are all too common, but it is something that is also entirely preventable by not using the railroad as a path or shortcut. Trains can appear at any time, and for as big as they are, can be surprisingly quiet sometimes.

As someone who spends a lot of time around the tracks photographing trains, I am hyper vigilant about where I am in relation to the tracks, and about not trespassing on railroad property or putting myself into positions where I am at risk of being hit. I am very careful to not trespass, and not stand on the tracks to get a picture, its not worth the risk, and in theory, as I am actually out there looking for trains and often listening to the radio to know when they are coming, I am aware of their presence. Despite being knowledgeable and familiar with working on full size equipment and moves from my volunteering at the Toronto Railway Museum, trains still scare me and I give them the healthy respect they deserve when I am out around them.

Scenes of people walking past lowered gates, or getting that “instragram gold” shot…that might get you killed for your likes. Also, typical signage at crossings, obey the do not enter signs, it could save your life.

Some resources to help with Rail Safety Knowledge:

Operation Lifesaver Canada
Operation Lifesaver USA
Canadian National Rail Safety Week
Canadian Pacific Railway RailSense
Ontario Mental Health Association – Suicide Prevention Resources

Tuesday Train #319

Seeing as I am late in posting my Tuesday Train today and Tuesday is almost done, here is a literal Tuesday Train. I took these photos barely an hour ago at the end of the line for VIA Rail, the wye at the Toronto Maintenance Centre in Mimico. This is where trains are turned in Toronto, and its only just long enough, as you can see below, the south leg wye still crosses the road, but there is no where to go anymore beyond it!!

Scenes from wying a train. Pulling up to the derail, the end of track across from the derail, lighting up all the lights when starting to backup (this doesn’t feel like normal ops, felt like a show for the goofy railfan), and backing out of sight to finish turning the train.

Tuesday Train #318

I was on vacation last week, a rented cottage on Clear Lake in the Kawarthas, which brought me close to one of the local railway things I’ve never done, chase the Canadian Pacific Railway’s internal “short line” the Kawartha Lakes Railway which serves several industries in Peterborough and Havelock, but whose primary purpose is to connect the Uniwin Canada Mines at Nephton and Blue Mountain, where nepheline syenite is extracted, a mineral used in the production of glass and ceramics.

The short 20 mile Nephton Subdivision connects the west end of Havelock Yard with the mines. The line is lightly laid, and has a low speed limit, which makes chasing for about the first 2/3 of the trip easy enough, before you hit the mine property and accounting for the limited public crossings. I figure I could probably have gotten it one more time, but I got it 4 times between Havelock and the mines. Seen above in the lead crossing Highway 7 in Havelock, then below at a variety of public roads and private driveways. When I pulled up to my second location, I originally thought, Oh, that’s odd to see a horse in a hay-field like that…then I realized…that’s no horse!! I had a good morning out. The crew starts switching Havelock around 6am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then heads to the mine. They were out of public range around 8:30am. I gather they work a couple of hours at the mine, and are back in Havelock around 11:30 and then head for Toronto Yard. The return to Havelock from Toronto Yard runs Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, with no traffic on Saturdays.

Scenes from the Nephton Subdivision. A Moose at North School Road, a private driveway, crossing County Road 44, and at West Koch Road coming and going into to the Mine.

Another Mini Diorama

So, I teased in a couple of posts (here & here) that I am building another stand alone diorama, I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I am going to show a bit of detail. It is another 12×12 project panel model of a specific real world building, much like the Diorama of Bar Volo’s original location I built several years ago. It will have two buildings, one of them is the focus, the second which you’ve seen is background. It will have lights and some other things to make it hopefully, a dynamic feeling mini-scene.

My chosen road material, Lepage Thick Hole Repair drywall compound, tinted with grey acryllic paint so if it gets dented in the future it isn’t gleaming white.

I have started as I do with these small project, a lot of time collecting parts and supplies and doing small side projects that become a part of the bigger whole when assembled. The past couple of weeks these smaller projects are hitting my motivation sweet spot, as I am not doing a lot of new things, but using skills I am pretty comfortable with to putter and visualize and test assemble and look to see how things are going to work. This makes it a good project for work days. When I need my 15 minute breaks in the morning or the afternoon, I can quickly turn to the bench and feel I’ve accomplished something. This is one of the problems I am having with my current main layout project of the never ending windows of Hinde & Dauch paper, I need to be in the right mindset, and have time. A rushed effort in a work break to cut out some windows will inevitably lead to a mistake, and swearing, and trains are stupid… and its summer time, I don’t want to be grumpy with my hobby, I want to enjoy it!!

Tuesday Train #317

I’m on vacation this week, so a picture from our last week off exploring Ontario in September 2021 seems appropriate. A pair of Ontario Northland Railway SD75I’s waiting to head out from Englehart Ontario. I don’t think my week off this week will have many (possibly any), trains, but a break is good to escape work and the normal routines of life.