How to Wreck a fun night out

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is back after a 3 year hiatus thanks to the world. I am very excited for this, so much so, that I have today booked off work to go out in the scenic pouring rain to go chase it. Last night however, was the home stop for me here in Toronto…and well, dear readers…it did not go as planned…

My now former Pentax DA 55-300 ED PLM lens after my camera bounced off the pavement at the CPR Lambton Yard office.

So, what happened? Well, it was 1000% my own damn fault. I didn’t have the car, so I shifted my gear from my normal bags into a different one to be easier to manage on the bus and subway. When I got there, I did a walk about looking at options for shooting the arrival of the train. I knew I didn’t want to be at the office and the show site when the crowd rolled in. After my initial walkabout the neighbourhood, I decided to take a short trip back to the yard office to take pictures of the road power pulled up by the office. A nice chance to get close while there were barriers in place and no one would get mad. After taking a couple of shots, I decided it was time to get organized and head back off to set up for the arrival. I was packing my tripod into its bag, and things were getting caught, so I took my camera off, and slung it on one shoulder instead of around my neck or just setting it on the ground for a minute while I adjusted and fumbled with the other bags. As soon as I wasn’t holding the camera…it slipped off my shoulder, and even with my long strap, the short 2′ drop from hanging just below my waist height, I heard the smash and saw most of the lens rolling away on the ground as I kinda grabbed the strap to save the body. As you can see above, it sheared all the ring between the mount and the lens elements, and tore the wiring connectors out.

If I am looking for some good news, how it hit, the bayonet mount stayed in place and locked/flush to the body, so it seemed there was a chance not all was lost, if it had bent the body too, that would have been truly a ruined evening, as at least I have other lenses, even if in the short 2 years since I bought this one as a First Pandemic Fall gift to myself in the pre-vaccine days when everything seemed pretty horrible this has become my go-to lens. After a suitable amount of time in near tears in the yard office parking lot, trying to not curse loudly as the growing crowd of families came in, I made my way back over to where I thought I wanted to shoot the arrival from. I ran into a friend who I knew would be out, which was good, to both catch up and lament.

While talking with various rail and photography friends in an effort to get myself off the spiral down into despair over this, one of my friends offered up a loan of their older model 55-300 lens. This is exceedingly rare, as not a lot of people shoot Pentax, and I forgot they did (though they use Medium Format cameras, but Pentax MF use the same lenses/mount as their 35mm DSLR’s). Given that it seems the camera body is still focusing, and functioning properly, I took them up on their kind offer and went downtown after getting home and having some dinner to pick up the loaner so I can still proceed with todays plan to go chase the train again.

After getting myself pulled back together, I think I managed some decent shots of the arrival. The funny thing is, the lens I broke probably isn’t the one I would have used anyways for the arrival, but my mental focus on photography was still pretty shattered. I’ll save the Holiday Train Photos for a future Tuesday Train, but for now, I’ll leave you with the last shot taken by my first 55-300 (yes, I’ve already ordered a replacement), at least it was a keeper as a final shot!

Improved Closet Scenery

I wrote a few weeks back about upgrading the scenery in the corner of my layout as it enters the closet. It was some of the first scenery I did on the layout, and even in a couple of years, it wasn’t up to the standard of more recently sceniced areas as I have learned to apply static grass and other improved techniques.

Pictures of the work in progress adding improved ground cover base and Static Grass in the corner.

There is nothing earth shattering in what I did. A better base layer of Scenic Express sifted soil, followed by Woodland Scenics gravel for the driveways, and then a mix of 2mm, 4mm and 6mm long Static Grass layers of “patchy” grass from WWScenics in the UK (they sell direct or through Amazon in the past at least). Over the course of a few days, the new layers were built up after the old was scraped away, and I worked to blend it to the areas with previously applied static grass to avoid a visible seam in the scenery.

Before and after views of the closet area and the upgraded scenery.

So again, the moral of this story is don’t be afraid to tear things out and try again. I am much happier with this corner of the layout now. Looking at it, I think I will also at some point do this “scenic upgrade” to the staging areas as well that had my older attempts at scenery. It will help bring the whole layout together, even though the scenery on the staging traversers is really just to hide the pink foam!

Tuesday Train #326

Starting this week, and coming though southern Ontario next week, the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train is back and happening in person this year after two years of being a virtual event thanks to the pandemic. I am planning on getting out Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday next week to chase them across Ontario, but for now, a shot of the 2007 train arriving to its stop in Vaughan, and advanced warning that its coming for you out there across the CPR Territory from Maine in the east, to British Columbia in the west, and Missouri in the south. Get out and check it out, and please consider making a food or monetary donation at the events to support local food banks this holiday season, this year more than ever in my lifetime it seems people are struggling and need help to keep food on the table.

For the full train schedule of events, check out the CPR Website – https://www.cpr.ca/en/community/holiday-train

Fencing Toronto Carpet

I am always looking to make some progress, even slow progress. For the Toronto Carpet main site, now that the one outbuilding is done-ish, I can start to look at finishing the Scenery around it. This is actually about the hardest to reach area on the whole layout because of the peninsula, so it would be really nice to actually finish the scenery in this area. There is still a little bit of detailing to do to the building, but it lifts out easily, it is doing scenery in this area that is really tough. With that in mind, I’ve been searching for a different look, the site in 2022 has metal fencing, that is probably a more modern addition, but doing a fancy metal fence would help to differentiate the site a little from the home made chain link, wood or metal panel fences I have made elsewhere on the layout.

Using my helping hands from a friend to hold etched fence to solder parts together to make longer gates, and prepping for painting in the paintbooth.

I finally found an etched metal fence that I really liked, from Langley Models in the UK. It was however, cost prohibitive until I found an Ontario based retailer of British Models, BritishModelTrains.ca, who had the etches I was looking for, and the gate set, and they had them on clear-out sale. Yes, I cleared them out! I now had more than enough fence to cover the area I was looking for. In terms of install, I wanted to have gates across the track, because the fence is etched, I would make them so they were open, I don’t want the risk of them swinging and shorting out on the layout. To make the winder gates, I cut posts and parts with hinges and locks from the gate set, and then spliced in blank fence sections from those etches. Some extra brass strip for bracing on the gates, and then soldered them on a flat surface (in this case a bit of scrap 1×3). Just a little bit of flux paste, and a tiny touch from a hot iron with some solder on the tip, and the fences were lengthened. I also made longer sections of the plain fence to make handling and painting a bit easier for me than many shorter segments.

Painting the fences was a pretty straightforward shot in the paint booth. Tried black primer on these for the first time. Figured it would help to keep them from showing too much etched brass through on missed areas if I used black primer and then glossy paint over-top. Installation was fiddlier. They don’t have good long legs. I added a couple of pins to hit holes drilled in the scenery, but there are a couple of spots that are now begging for the scenery to be blended around them to hide glue marks. Oh well, it happens, fixable, but annoying!

Installed fences on the Toronto Carpet yard. I like the look of different fences. I know the modern site has a metalwork fence, Don’t know if the 1950’s era did, but I like the look, and can always change it later if I change my mind.

As with so many projects, it unlocks more to do, or uncovers, I don’t even know some days! Still, progress is always a positive! There is now another block of area where I can get in and apply some static grass and scenery, it shows how much I need to formulate my plan for finishing painting the roads to actually get started on doing so, especially back here at the hardest to reach area. Might as well start there so I never have to go back in there, and so I finish the area where I am reaching over the most other scenery first!