Throwback Thursday #1 – Toronto Transit Commission CLRV in HO Scale

Welcome to a new occasional thought feature, “Throwback Thursdays”. This won’t be every week, or even every month, as I don’t have the time, or necessarily the pictures. Recently, while my friend Trevor Marshall and I were trying to enable Chris Mears to buy a Wisbech and Upwell tram pack from Rapido Trains UK, I sent a picture of my three streetcar models, and Mears being an observant sort, instead of doing as he’s being told and buying trams, started asking questions about one of the models on my shelf, an HO Scale CLRV Streetcar. From that, the genesis of an idea, I have, built plenty of models over the years before I had the Liberty Village Layout, and before I started the blog. Some I still have, some have gone to new homes, but sometimes, to understand where you are going, it helps to look back a little bit on where you have been. So with that, I hope you enjoy this look back at a project from 2012.

You send a guy one picture of a trio of streetcars and where does it lead you…

So, to the past project at hand. I have been an active volunteer in some form at the Toronto Railway Museum since 2009. Sometime in 2011/early 2012, a fellow volunteer one day gave me a bag of bits and pieces, saying he would never build them, but he knew I would (Thanks Jim G!). Inside the bag, were a Miniatures By Eric/Customtraxx resin kit for a Toronto Transit Commission CLRV Streetcar. The bag had just the resin castings and clear vacuformed front and rear windows. No frame or wheelsets. Customtraxx sells a cast metal floor and Bowser trucks and wheelsets, as well as Decal Sets for the CLRV Cars.

Before I get into the model build, what is a CLRV? For anyone who doesn’t know, they are a Canadian designed and built streetcar, the Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV). They entered service in 1979, pushing the older Presidents Conference Cars (PCC) to the scrap lines, and were the face of the TTC Streetcar system along with their larger articulated cousin the Advanced Light Rail Vehicle (ALRV) until 2019, when age, mechanical failings and the need for accessible low-floor vehicles which were finally being delivered replaced them. A number have been preserved in Canada and the USA, and the TTC has kept a couple for their historic fleet. Pictures of my last day chasing them can be seen in Tuesday Train #177.

CLRV 4193 working on December 28, 2019. One of five that would end their days in service the following day, December 29th.

So, back to the model. I had heard tell of this model, and while having a model of a modern TTC Streetcar like I rode almost every day when my office was downtown was a strong desire, I wasn’t in the market to go buy the kit. Having half a project gifted to me was a good way to get me to go out and buy the bits and pieces I needed for the rest of it! It could be built and powered, but being a nut, I decided that I would rather do a fully prototypical interior, as I had no need for it to be powered, I didn’t at the time own any other streetcars, and had no plans to ever build a streetcar layout. With that decision made, once I had the frame, and got the trucks mounted, I built a fake sub-floor, and using plastic chairs, started to construct an interior.

Gallery of the kit being built.

The kit, which no longer seems to be available anymore is a bit of a beast. The castings are heavy yellow resin, which don’t sand well, and the body has a slight bow, along with some not 100% correct shapes, but it is close enough with some care in construction to create a more than passable CLRV. I understand that powered versions of these are running at Little Canada, the HO Scale layout attraction at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto that I still need to visit someday. To paint the cars, I painted a white base, then the black window strip and the grey lower quarter. The decal sets included the red body and window top strips. If memory serves, the TTC logos where integral to the strips, and would have been a real pain to paint the red and make the decals work.

Painting and decalling. The red were all provided as decals, I think If I was building it again, I would paint the stripes. First shot shows the full interior of the car.

I chose a car number pretty much at random (OK, so I chose one of the two 93’s as a mini tribute to one of my favourite Maple Leafs players and a Blue Jays World Series win…). At the time, my office was at King and Blue Jays Way, so I would often take the subway to Dundas West Station, then take the 510 King Streetcar to my office, so I put the car on the 510, and added the dreaded short turn board, a flip up metal plate that operators were supposed to flip up when Transit Control told them they were terminating their route short of the actual destination to go out of service or turn back the other way.

The finished model of 4093 on the 510 King Streetcar with the short turn board (a bane of TTC riders) flipped up.

So, with that, the end of my first look down memory lane at a past project from before the blog. Strangely, as I am often distracted by shiny things, I have actually considered building an IKEA Bookcase shelf layout with a little bit of a Toronto Streetscape for displaying the streetcars in a more natural way. Maybe I’ll be back here again someday in the future.

Adding a pair of Hoists

A nice quick Christmas Eve project. I built a pair of hoist kits from Rail Scale Models. Of course, I didn’t build either as the kit suggested you should! I basically used it as a source of parts. One is mounted to a pole and can swing at Brunswick Balke’s powerhouse, and the other is wall mounted at Toronto Carpet. This is a really nice little kit. It comes with a 3D printed hoist pulley in two parts, a bit of I bar styrene, a length of brass wire, a 3D printed hook and a length of chain. I replaced the chain with some pre-blackened A-Line 40 link per inch, as I don’t have chemical blackener for the brass chain provided.

For Brunswick, I have a picture of a pole mounted hoist over the side door into the power house. It was a nifty looking pole, and figured with some quick styrene adds, I could re-create it. The Toronto Carpet one is a bit closer to the kit, I added styrene bolt plates at the wall, and used a single support guy wire. There is a hoist arm like this on the building, but in a different location. Because of my selective compression, instead of facing Liberty Street, I am using it to help fill the gap between the building and the track on the side. I think its a good compromise.

Two quick hoist kits, with a little bit of effort, the same kit gives two very different looks.

I actually painted the hoists tonight in a batch of stuff. I need to finish the assembly of adding the chain and hooks now that everything is painted, but its little things that help fill in the layout like this that are nice to have instead of imposing feeling building projects sometimes. Good for the motivation to see things advance!

Seven Boxcars now with Decals

A nice update for me, as a small fleet of seven resin boxcar kits I have been working on the past few months are really starting to look the part. Over the past week I have gotten the decals onto all seven cars. They all need clear coating, weathering and brake hoses added, but they now look done, even if they will still be getting worked on for a bit. This is one of those things where seeing things go from bare resin to painted and detailed really helps to motivate me to get a go on with projects big and small, including the work to finish these.

Beginning of July above, end of July below, good progress. Just sealing the decals, weathering and rubber brake hoses to finish them.

Etched Brass Fire Escapes

I am working on yet another side project/diorama, though at least this time it is in HO Scale like the layout, and is giving me a chance to experiment with something I will need on one of the keystone buildings on the layout, the “Castle” of the Gillette Company at 135 Fraser Ave. This building had multiple fire escapes over the loading dock, so I am going to need a lot of them. I am not 100% sure these are a perfect match for what I need, but they are really really nice, and worked for the side project, so it was a chance to stretch my legs and try to build a new skill-set, soldering etched brass parts.

Etched brass fire escapes for a side project. I actually soldered the parts rather than gluing them, pushing myself for something I’d never had any luck at before.

I bought the Gold Medal Models etched fire escape main set, and the add on set to do the 4 storeys needed. Gold Medal Models are primarily a model ship etched manufacturer, but they offer limited sets of N Scale and HO Scale items, including two styles of fire escape, “regular” and “fancy”. I chose the regular ones.

I have been wanting for a while, to try and solder brass etched parts together. This is most assuredly baby steps into working with Brass Etched kits. My friend Trevor has been building complicated full brass etched locomotive kits of late, and reading his blog posts and trading messages was making me really feel the need to push myself. It also didn’t hurt that I could ask him for advice on how to solder brass, and then go and try to apply his suggestions while making my own mistakes and finding out what worked for me.

These were, admittedly simple to form and solder. The ladders don’t appear to need any solder at all, just fold the sides up, then twist the stairs so they are level. This made me very happy to have bought a good etch bender a couple of years ago. Good tools continue to pay off. The platforms are also simple, fold up the sides and then solder to the deck, a single part with three folds. They then only needed two solder joints, one on each side to form the box. The etches are quite thick, so one of the problems Trevor warned me about in applying too much heat and warping the parts was almost impossible, but I very gently made my best bad effort at tinning both sides of the joints, I then brought the parts together and successfully soldered the four platforms.

Installing the fire escape, with modifications to look a bit more like the real building. This isn’t even the main event for the site project, this is the scenery next door.

The kits included a drilling jig for the three holes needed on each side, so I marked and slowly worked my way up from the 2nd floor to the top drilling holes and adjusting ladders. I even used a spare ladder for access to the ground floor cut into pieces to lengthen the upper ladders to reach between the floor spacing on the building. I even managed to solder the extensions to my ladders. With the etched parts done, I used some styrene to make channels for the ground ladder to look like it is in a slider, and then assembled everything onto the temporarily sticky tacked together walls. Before I assemble everything, I will need to paint it all, but I will at some point likely throw some primer and paint at the fire escape, but for now, I am enjoying the shiny brass as I look at the escapes while I work on the building and the rest of this diorama.

What is the diorama? That’s for some other day, down the road. I do like my secrets, but people may eventually figure out from various side projects I am working on as I post about them. There are a lot of sub components and things I am playing with and experimenting with for this one.

A Seven Pack of Boxcars ready for Decals

I’ve been working on the stash of resin boxcar kits and mini-kits in my kit drawer since February or so. I have posted about them before, but they are now organized and ready for the paintshop. There are three Yarmouth Model Works kits, and four National Scale Car MiniKits (changing doors or doors and ends). Two of the National Scale Car Kits are built with Yarmouth Model Works box car cores. This is just a quick post as I am somewhat pleased with myself at how well they have turned out thus far. Hopefully, getting the decals on and then finishing them will go as well, but seven more cars almost ready for the layout, along with some I have on order, and who knows what else the resin kit manufacturers cook up in the years ahead, and I am perilously close to having my layout full to overflowing, I wrote shortly after starting construction about how many cars I needed for the layout, and I think I am closing in on having more cars than I can fit on it. Time will tell, but for now the next thing to do is get the cars decalled and I can worry about having too many once I start seriously working out operations and paperwork for the cars.

Seven resin box cars painted and ready for decals. Getting these done will seriously flesh out my fleet for Liberty Village.

Avro Lancaster Mk.X “Vera” (That’s No Train Part 10)

Wow, double digits on things that are not a train, or even in HO Scale. Yes friends and readers, I can be easily distracted sometimes by the shiny side project. This is one of those things I’ve wanted to do for years, build a model of an Avro Lancaster. There are some amazing kits in 1/72, 1/48 and now 1/32!! scale, but I definitely don’t have room for them, so I went with the baby of the bunch, 1/144 scale. Which is smaller than my regular HO Scale 1/87, I must be mad, there is already a reason I don’t do N Scale trains at 1/160!! In any event, its that time again, another “That’s No Train” project, past ones can be read about here: 1, 2, 3 (& 3.5), 4, 5, 6, 7 8 and 9!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures through the assembly, but here are a couple of me getting started, and of the final stages of getting it up on its wheels, and checking the props fit before painting.

For this project, I bought one of the A-Model 1/144 scale Lancaster kits, along with decals from Kits World, Scale Aircraft World white metal landing gear and KV Models pre-cut masks for painting the windows. I ordered everything from Hannants models in London England as they had everything and carry a large supply of aircraft kits and parts.

I am modelling the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum‘s Lancaster Mk.X which flies out of the museum in Hamilton. She is known as “Vera”, or a phonetic sounding of her alpha code VRA. The decal sheet I ordered has decals for the two flight-worthy Lancaster’s, the one in Hamilton and the Battle of Britain Memorial Fund’s in England. The 3rd Lancaster in the decal set is a privately owned one in England which there is also hope to return to flight some day. 1/144 scale kits are small, so its an interesting challenge for me getting everything together. I would say the A-Model kit is not the best quality on fit and finish. Everything went together, but certainly not without some convincing to get the body halves and the wings together and aligned.

Painting a Lancaster. Prepping, primer, brown on the top side, and then green top side markings. Painted by hand without masking. Decided to challenge myself and not have hard separations which seem unrealistic to me on planes churned out fast in a war.

For paint, I bought a Vallejo Model Air set of Bomber Command I started laying down brown over-top as the base for the camouflage. I then sprayed the dark green stripes. I looked at masking, and decided I wanted to try and do this free hand. I’ve never painted free hand like this before. A World War 2 bomber is a good candidate, as while modern repaints have nice clean lines, my sense is that in WW2 they were being painted fast, and wouldn’t have had as perfect paint lines. I also like the look of the lines fading. At the end of the day, as with everything I do, I am most concerned with my happiness than others opinions, and I don’t generally enter contests, so its not like I’m going to get marked down by some judge. I masked the top of the winds and fuselage so I could spray the black on the underside.

Masked and underside painted, then back to the workbench to start adding canopies/turrets and propellers.

I haven’t done many aircraft in a long time. Painting the cockpit frames always used to cause me grief, as I didn’t really understand masking, and I’ve built only a couple of aircraft when I first got an airbrush years ago, and since I’ve been more actively building the odd kit in the past few years, I’ve only built one aircraft that had no clear windows but which used decals for them all!

Applying pre-cut canopy masks and the results of painting the canopies. I wish I had had these things years ago when I was building plastic kits a bit more seriously!

With the canopies and turrets painted and installed, the last thing to do was the decals. The Kitsworld decals are gorgeous, not a lot of carrier film, and easy to apply and settle. My biggest complaint is that they are so small some of them, it was hard to find the right ones and get them cut off the sheet with three planes worth of decals crammed onto one small sheet. The instructions could have been better as well, the decals are not keyed, and the diagrams are not super clear, but, in such a small scale, it wasn’t the end of the world.

Applying decals and then light weathering, the distinctive streaks of exhaust across the upper wings that collects on Lancaster’s.

All in all, as with many of my projects, this one proceeded in fits and starts, where I would get things done for a bit, then set it aside for many reasons, then all of a sudden seemingly get things done and find myself looking at a finished project. I have wanted to build a model of a Lancaster for a long time, but it’s just never happened, for many reasons. Now, I have a nice and reasonably small Lancaster model in my collection.

The dreaded side by side. VRA on the ramp at Hamilton International in 2012, and in my photo box in 1/144 scale in 2022!
1/144 Scale Vera (VRA) gallery, the flying Lancaster of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. Complete and ready to find a home for display.