Modelling Fences, from Chain Link to Board to Corrugated Steel

I wrote some time back about my learning to and making my own HO Scale Chain Link Fence. I finally got around to finishing and installing the first two segments of it, and I am really pleased with how it is looking as the layout scenery starts to progress.

The first segments of my scratch built chain link fence in position on the layout.

The next two places I need fences are not however locations for chain link, so I get to build something different. The first is the south side of Liberty Street across from the Brunswick Balke Collender billiard table factory. This site from the information I have and the aerials was the lumber yard for the factory across the road. That makes sense, as its close, and the factory filled most of the block, and I suspect in its prime it went through a lot of lumber making billiard tables and bowling alleys and such.

The small triangle that is the north edge of the lumber yard serving the Brunswick plant across the street on my layout.

My first thought on this was to re-use some fence I had salvaged when I tore down my layout in my parents house in Georgetown when they moved out. Its a perfectly nice laser cut wood fence, maybe not super well painted by me when I made it a decade ago, but re-usable. The problem was, the longer I looked at it, the more it was clear it was not the right fence for the job. An industrial site would have had a taller fence (the one I had was 5′ in scale), and it would have been a heavy board privacy fence to keep people out. So after looking at it for what seemed like days, the old fence is on its way back to the recovered scenery tub, and I built a new fence on Friday night. An 8′ high heavy board wood fence, something that feels much more right for the space when I look at it on the layout now, even unpainted just getting it into position.

Recovered fence vs. scratch built. Even unpainted the scratch built stripwood looks better and tells a stronger story about the area than the other fence would.

The second place that I need to build a fence is for the Mercer Reformatory, the women’s prison that was in the centre of Liberty Village (and along with the men’s prison to the east, part of why Liberty Street got its name, not because of war production as many think, but because its where prisoners were released to, getting their “liberty” back). I am not modelling the prison building, it is too far to the north, all that appears on my layout is the south end of the yard, and the perimeter fence.

The Mercer Reformatory area on the left, and looking at how a 10′ tall corrugated metal (or styrene) fence will look. These are also the only two trees on my layout in the corner of the prison yard!

I haven’t built the prison fence yet, it’s in my weekend work program along with getting the ground cover down (its the largest grassy area on the layout, and most of it will be out of view behind the fence!!). I’m going to get the ground cover down this afternoon, and work on building the fence on the workbench. I’m happy with the appearance, and in going back and forth with a fellow modeller of the 1950’s, the heavy metal fence tells a story about the prison being somewhere people really don’t go vs a wood fence. I don’t know what the actual fence was, any pictures I’ve found are either too far away, the wrong end of the site, or aerials where all you can tell is that its a sold fence. Therefore, modellers license, I can build the style of fence I want, and should I discover I’m really wrong in the future, its easy to take it out and redo.

Sorting out some Small Part Storage

I am a bit of an organizer, I like to keep all my projects, parts, supplies and work bench organized. Some things I have been doing for organization are working, some things are not. One of the things that wasn’t was my organization of small parts you go through a lot of building freight cars, like grab irons and screws. I found a variety of options for little screw top containers on Amazon, so I bought one to see if I liked it (a $10 investment tacked onto an Amazon order isn’t a big deal). I really liked the little screw top containers I chose, and they came with a little clear plastic box to keep the 12 individual jars together, so I bought a 2nd. Then, I realized that wasn’t enough storage, so I bought two more and now Amazon Canada seems to be sold out! (sorry, I won’t bother linking as they are out of stock).

All in all, I am really happy with these, two are full, one is half full, and one is empty for future re-organization and expansion of my small part storage. Each tub is labelled with sharpie on the top of the jar, I tested, it will wipe off (despite Sharpie supposedly being permanent!), so I should be able to relabel them in the future.

Shot of one of the organizers after it arrived from amazon, easier to see the 12 tubs inside the bigger tub in this picture.

There are a mountain of listings marketed as cosmetic pots or bead containers or similar on Amazon if you too are looking for something to boost your small part organization. These are now a lot easier to get at rather than having to drag out the big container of detail parts they used to be stored in in the cupboard, as they can now stay in a corner of the work space out of the way and readily accessible.

Layout Research, Hollywood Style

Things you find on the internet searching for historic photographs. (

First up, I haven’t been posting on here about what I’m working on. I think I need to get back to writing about trains, but there is a lot going on in the world, and while I’m personally well, my particular hobby and escape from the world doesn’t seem important in the context of everything that is going on and the suffering. That said, working on trains, and to some extent writing about them here is a positive for my mental health, which I also can’t ignore. I don’t talk politics here on a blog about model trains, It’s not the place, but I do think the honest statement that I’ve been spending my time thinking about other things that will impact my life and work is a fair extent to go as to why I haven’t posted lately, and why I’m going to make an effort to get back to posting moving forward.

Well this is one I didn’t see coming. In searching for images of Pardee Avenue and the Gillett Company Mill that I don’t have pictures of, I found some…on a site that shows people where scenes from movies were shot. It turns out, significant chunks of the exteriors in David Cronenberg’s the Fly were shot in Liberty Village, including the former loading docks between the missing building and the building now known as the Castle as can be seen in the pictures above. Who knew that a movie from when I was 7 years old that I haven’t seen in years would be a source of reference material for me, and super helpful material at that. I now need to find a copy of The Fly so I can watch it and freeze frame to see what else I can gleam other than what is seen in the few freeze frames I’ve now found on different movie location websites. This is a surprising lift up for me in working on the one building I have precious little information on.

Sure the tracks are gone, but the loading dock is still there, the original windows are still there, and on the left, the Mill and Elevator are still there, yes they aren’t centre of the frame, but there is a lot of useful information to me about ground level details that I didn’t have, just by seeing there are windows and doors means I can include them, even if i don’t know exactly what they looked like.

I would never have thought that a night with Jeff Goldblum would be needed to build a layout based on Liberty Village in the 1950’s. Live and learn! A small win in another long week!

Tuesday Train #197

We’re going with some retro Canadian Steam for the next couple of Tuesday Trains. These pictures are from either the summer of 1992 or 1993. I was never in New Brunswick when they were running, but on one of our visits to Fundy National Park and the Hopewell Rocks, I managed to convince my parents to stop and let me take a couple of pictures at the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad.

SH01Canadian Pacific 4-4-0 29 and Canadian National 4-6-0 1009 rest outside the shops.

Canadian Pacific 29 would nearly be destroyed in late 1994 after I’d moved back to Ontario in an arson attack on the railway. Fortunately, Canadian Pacific re-acquired the locomotive, and fully restored it, and she now sits outside the corporate headquarters in Calgary. 1009 wasn’t damaged in the fire and ran until 1998 before becoming a static exhibit. The Salem and Hillsborough no longer operates as a tourist line, but has transitioned to be the New Brunswick Railway Museum.

Ex-CN double ended snow plow 55698 and ex-CPR 100 ton crane 414324.

Tuesday Train #196

P1030021Last week I posted a picture of a Southwest Trains EMU taking me back to London from Swanage. This week, a picture of why I was there, the Swanage Railway’s 25th Anniversary Gala in September 2004. Ex-British Railways 4MT 800787 and M7 30053 double head out of Swanage heading north making a smoky departure beneath a stone road bridge by the locomotive shops.

Quick Layout Progress/Status Update

I just wanted to write a quick update. I’m fine and working away on the layout or layout related projects, and even some projects that have nothing at all to do with trains. I just haven’t been sitting down to write about it. I’ve still been taking pictures, and hopefully at some point will catch up, but I just haven’t had the motivation to spend more time on the computer at home at my workbench after spending my whole work day here. I’ve been motivated to use the workbench time doing what it was meant for, making models. I realized my last few posts have mostly been Tuesday Train railfan shots, and I’ve lined up those until the end of June as I’m not out railfanning at the moment (but I’ve found some great stuff in boxes of old pictures I’ve now scanned to make up for that!).

I hope those who read my blog are well, and are finding ways to keep busy with whatever lets you unwind as we continue in varying degrees of lockdown to hopefully stay healthy and safe.

As proof of progress, a couple of pictures below of the resin cast manhole and storm drain covers being painted. The first of these are now installed in the roads on the layout, and I’ve got enough pre-painted to do all the roads, so I just need to find a night to get motivated and start the next chunk of road paving!

Resin cast manhole and storm drain covers taped down to a sheet of cardboard to be pre-shaded before installing in the roads.