Tuesday Train #329

Another Southern Ontario Shortline. I took two days at the end of August for a quick run down to Windsor to chase the Essex Terminal Railway, which has been switching the industries of the Windsor area for over 100 years. Essex Terminal 108, a GP9 built in 1960 is seen headed east across the Canadian Pacific Railway Detroit River Tunnel returning from switching the Ojibway Yard and industrial area to interchange cars with the Canadian Pacific Railway and then return to the shops at the end of the crews work day.

Tuesday Train #328

Southern Ontario Shortlining. I was in Barrie at the beginning of the month and chased the Barrie-Collingwood Railway. The BCRY runs from Utopia, west of Barrie where it interchanges with the Canadian Pacific, running east into the city and through Allandale GO Station, before turning south to service primarily two industries, one in Innisfil, and one in south Barrie. A video of my days chase and part of their twice a week operation is below.

Moving on to the next Building

Having taken a bit of a break from serious layout work through August and the first half of September, last weekend I pulled the Cricut out and started drawing walls and windows. The Building at 20 Mowat Avenue is one that is compressed in size to fill space between two others that are more focused in 18 Mowat Avenue and Canadian General Electric.

The Cricut out and cutting walls, then laminating vinyl window frames onto clear styrene, and weeding the window panes. Once the walls were cut, I then use them to prep the brick sheet to be laminated on before cutting out the windows.

This is a pretty small building, its selectively compressed to fit the space. My approach to building buildings has been to use a thick base of 0.060″ styrene to match the foundations I installed at the start of layout building. With the Cricut, I can now cut out the building cores, and work to laminate on brick or stone details. Once the brick is laminated onto to the core, I use the openings cut by the Cricut to open out the windows from the inside. I can then file, shave and nibble the openings to fit the windows. For this building, I am again using vinyl to create the window patterns. With the windows, I can check and see how much space I need to trim to fit. As with many things, I leave my windows cut by the Cricut a bit small, as it is much easier to make the openings larger than it is to fill in gaps if they are too big. That is a bit less critical with the vinyl windows, as it is a lot easier to re-cut them to a larger size and on buildings using either commercial plastic windows, or on buildings where I need to do 3D printed windows and cast them in resin to create the right look and feel.

My technique for “painting” with Pan Pastels, using a micro applicator to get good coverage into the tight spots that I can’t get into for good coverage with the sponge on the brick.

I am still learning how I want to paint my buildings. I’ve done a bit of everything on the layout. I do like the PanPastels powdered pigment, as I am starting to get the hang of applying them and not filling in the brick mortar lines. I have found this easier than going back with paint washes or mortar washes to pick out the brick lines as I have had to do on buildings painted with the airbrush or a spray can. I think there is need for both techniques as I go depending on the building, so improving how I do things is important. On this latest building, I am continuing to work with experimenting in weathering and aging the building as I go. Nothing crazy, but getting a feel for applying a bit of grey where water would run off the window. As the PanPastels don’t self adhere permanently without being oversprayed with a fixative, you can treat them like an oil, and pull them down, move them after application. This meant that I could dab on grey, and move it about using vertical strokes to create the appearance of water runoff. I am waiting on some more colours (I need white) to finish this work before I spray the building to seal it. The one thing I don’t like, and that I am still working on, is the clear spray inevitably changes the appearance of the pastels. It darkens them (not the end of the world), but can cause fine detail to disappear (more of a problem). I am finding that I have to be, more generous in how much PanPastel I apply so that what looks good before I spray, still is visible after! There is a feel to this, and I’m not sure I am there yet, but I would rather underapply now and go back and add more over, than overdo it.

From hardboard mockup to styrene, to primed and then partially painted with PanPastels. Not bad for a weekend and a couple of evenings work.

The next few buildings are ones that are not as compressed to fit and fill space, and that will help create the sense of being in Liberty Village by representing actual major buildings, like Canadian General Electric and the Toronto Carpet Factory. This of course, is all in my seemingly pathological effort to avoid cutting out the windows on Hinde & Dauch and actually moving it along… someday…It is a hobby after all, at least I have things to work on even if a lot of the time it is to avoid a slow and fiddly task that even when I make progress on it, seems to daunt me!

Tuesday Train #327

A rail safety warning sunk into the sidewalks at the VIA Rail Station in Chatham Ontario. Reminding people to look out for and respect trains. It is National Rail Safety Week, September 19-25, 2022. In that vein, as someone who spends a lot of time around trains, and railway tracks as a hobby, I want to point out the importance of doing so safely. It’s not hard, stay off the tracks, and don’t trespassing on railway property. It will keep you alive, and keep those of us who love trains from becoming an unwelcome sight to train crews and railway employees. Trains can come at any time, and as large as they are, they can also be stunningly silent when they approach. It only takes a second for something terrible to happen, don’t ever let your guard down around the tracks.

There is lots of information out there on rail safety. Learn how to be safe, and how to take pictures and watch trains from a safe distance.

Please be safe out there around trains. As I say when I Tweet about my days out Railfanning, #TrainsAreCool, but they are also dangerous, and for all our sake, learn to be safe around trains and don’t take unnecessary risks.

More Layout Wayfinding Signage

A while back, I wrote about my Toronto Street signs to help operators identify where they are, I originally had laser cut wood, but upgraded to vinyls cut on my cricut, I also wrote about some room decorating with the Cricut on the end of my workbench. With that in mind, since I had the Cricut out from some work on the weekend (there’s a post on that coming later in the week), my Monday night quickie was to do some more cutting and wayfinding signage, but a bit fancier than just plain streetsigns.

Loading up the cutting mat with a variety of colours, post cutting but pre “weeding” of the unneeded vinyl, and the components before layering/installing.

Having previously done most of the work in preparing the railway logos for cutting, this was pretty straightforward after work brain off activity. Resize the art, prepare the vinyl on the cutting mat, and run the cutter. A good way to end a Monday that had a lot of things going on at work, easy, clearing the mind.

As you can see in the pictures, something I knew, but decided to do anyways was the black of the CN herald on the black fascia. I really needed to make a backing for it, a green circle like you see in the logo as applied to equipment to make the green leaf pop. I’ll have to go back and re-do the art to include a circle I think. I went and added a yellow circle around the edge, but it still kind of loses some definition, but that’s ok. Something to do some other day when the Cricut is out and I am motivated!

Parkdale Yard and Strachan Yard, now with labels. You can see where the CN needed a circle to make it pop. I should have put it on a full background inside the gold circle, I may re-do it.

I am reasonably happy with how they turned out. I think they make a really nice addition to the staging traversers, with a bit of colour from the shields and clearly identifying where each railways crews start and end their work.

Layout Maintenance, a never-ending task

So, after probably a month or so where I haven’t done a lot of layout work, or ran any trains, I decided on Tuesday evening this week to fire up the layout and actually use it to move the fleet of boxcars parked on it to staging to clear the layout. It ran, but I found multiple problems that required remedial work.

The first, is one I’ve been aware of, but haven’t really dealt with, cat hair. Gandalf is a majestic floof…but he is a floof. Cat hair is a never-ending cleaning chore in our house, and on my layout. While he doesn’t spend a lot of time in the layout room/office (he’s a mommas boy, he hangs out with my better half!), he does come in, and the floof travels! When equipment moves, you can see it picking up and dragging cat hair with it. It is particularly noticeable on the two Rapido locomotives I have, that seem to be floof magnets the way their trucks are designed. Both my SW1200RS and GMD1 had copious amounts of cat fur wrapped into the axles and stuck in with the lubrication that escapes from the gearboxes onto the axles.

One colossal floof, and the results of his floofing wrapping onto axles, and before/after of the SW1200RS and GMD1 trucks as I worked to remove the floof from them. Got a lot out, not all of it. Will have to tackle again!

Removing the floof, was a combination of vacuuming and picking it out with a fine pair of tweezers, followed by more vacuuming. I don’t think I got all of it (in fact I am virtually certain I did not get all of it), but I got enough that hopefully I am starting the fight to make sure it doesn’t get too deep into the mechanism, and to fight it being tracked across the layout. As my layout is still under construction, I haven’t settled into a routine of cleaning and operating it, so dust/hair/debris seems to build up. As I would like to be able to welcome friends in again to see the layout and run trains, I am going to need to actually work on this and come up with a routine for regular cleaning and running equipment. I also need to run equipment to find out where I either have track issues that need resolving, or where there are cars that need wheels/trucks adjusted to run reliably.

The second Tuesday Repair, is something I am still getting used to, broken switches where the rails have popped off. This one, I think is because I left the switch in the thrown position, which the way the Bullfrog Turnout controls are installed, puts a little bit of pressure on the rails, and seemingly over time, found any weak solder joint from the turnouts construction. This is the 3rd time I think I have had to fix a switch, and I am getting more comfortable and confident doing it, which is a good thing.

Repaired turnout on the left. the back rail had come off the throw bar.

While I’m glad I can fix things, I’d rather be spending my time building things and actually advancing the layout. I think figuring out a routine for regular cleaning and running trains will help, even without a plan. I am also starting to feel some motivation generally to actually build coming on, which is nice as honestly, through the summer I have not had a lot of motivation to work, but the later sunrise and earlier sunsets that seem to be catching up on us are bringing on the motivation to model as going out chasing trains in the real world becomes harder and harder as the hours of light after work become shorter and shorter!