Starting the drawing process for two more buildings

No sooner have I made progress with one actual construction project, was I back at it with the drawing work on the next two buildings for the layout. Progress breeds progress, it certainly didn’t hurt last weekend to have the Daytona 24 Hour car race to watch and keep me motivated and at home.

First up, the last part of Toronto Carpet, the southern end of Building 7. Only a few bays make it on my layout, but it is hopefully going to be a signature building on the west end of the layout. Lots of windows, a lot of different styles (I think my count was 15 distinct sizes/shapes), and some great architectural detail. I have drawn a couple of the windows for 3D printing masters to make resin castings from. I need to get onto the work of finishing them and ordering a print for making molds, but that’s a motivation and time issue more than a skill one.

CAD Work, my working sketch, and a picture of the south elevation today.

The second building, will anchor the western corner of the layout, and again sadly is only a very small part of the building. While it is much less fancy than the Toronto Carpet, it has its own unique elements in the details, and the large hexagonal chimney will stand out. The portion of the Canadian General Electric plant has posed its fair share of challenges. Doing this without drawings is a fun challenge. Counting bricks to get heights and widths. As you can see below, it took me a long time to get the roof line to feel right. I realized the issue is the end parapet wall is higher than the side walls, once I adjusted for this, the height I needed with the right pitch appeared. For this building, in looking through my parts bins, I have either previously decided or have just got damn lucky, and have windows that are right or close enough to right to do this building with a selection of Grandt Line and Tichy windows. I needed a couple more sets of one type, but those are ordered and on their way.

Working hard to get the roofline of the eastern elevation of the Canadian General Electric plant, checking scale with the cast hydrocal chimney, and the building today.

I also did some very rough sketching of the other two buildings which are not yet started on the peninsula of the layout. Both are large, one, the Gillett Company Factory is the largest structure on the layout, at 38″ long, but only 2-6″ deep! The second, the Gillett Mill, elevator and power house, is actually the only complete structure with no compression on my layout, everything else has 3 sides and is against the backdrop or the layout edge. The only other structure with four walls is compressed to fit in the Brunswick Balke Collender powerhouse! The Mill will be its full real world footprint. The sketching has allowed me to get an estimate of how much styrene I need for the buildings, the answer, more than I have, but less than I thought. I will buy some more big sheets in the next week or two so I can at least start cutting cores for these buildings while I work on windows for them both.

Hinde & Dauch Finally Built

Sometimes projects just become, a drag. I knew this was a risk choosing to model an industrial area with early 20th century buildings that have lots of windows. One project in particular has become a bog down. It eventually drove me to scrap the work I had done and buy a Cricut to try a new approach to cutting the windows. I basically tossed the walls I had started, and re-did the cores with the Cricut. This turned out, to be about the smartest thing I’ve done in a long time, but the actual finish trimming still took a very long time, as you can see, there are a lot of windows in the wall, and making an ugly cut or messing up an opening became a bigger pain the further into the wall I got.

On Friday this week, I decided this was getting done. I had 17 window openings to go. I started working on them during my breaks during my work day. By the time I was done work, between my breaks and lunch, I was down to 10 to go. I hit a bit of a hurdle as the last 8 resin castings for the windows were not well cleaned, and had a lot of flash to clean up. Once that was done, and the windows complete, it was on to actually trying to get this thing together and standing on its own.

Starting a Friday with 17 windows to finish trim and install frames, and working through them as the day goes (the first image was after I’d done a couple).

I had the tower interior and the western wall attached to the base, and done work to add stiffeners to the base in the hopes that this would actually have strength to be handled. The building gets as narrow as 0.5″ where the layout wraps around a door frame into the closet. As the walls started getting together, I had bought some 0.100″x0.500″ styrene for building bracing, and it worked perfectly between the upper two rows of windows to add strength to the building and make it totally rigid when handling. This is good as I have had visions of this building flopping itself to pieces while being handled for painting and detailing.

Definitely free standing!

I started the CAD work for the 3D printed windows and wall templates in June 2020 (June 1 to be exact according to the dates of photos and files), so its now been a 2.5 year plus project to get here, and I still have painting to go. Because of the size of this building, I can’t paint it until the spring and weather to let me work on our patio!. It is too big for my paintbooth! Since I can’t paint it, I’ve taken my printed draft signs and taped them onto the building to at least help finish the scene a bit. If nothing else, all the pins holding the walls up and blocking tracks are now gone, so the layout is at least looking a bit more complete, and It can be operated without equipment running into the pins in the tight clearance on the factory siding.

All the structures on the east end of the layout are now assembled and at least partly painted. Since I can’t paint Hinde & Dauch till spring on the patio, I’ve taped my test sign printouts on to help the look for the next few months.

This is 100% a mental hurdle cleared. This building was one that has been staring me in the face, taunting me. It wound up however, driving me to buying a better too in the Cricut and improving my building making techniques so that I advanced a bunch of other buildings in 2022 while it stared at me, daring me to finish the windows. Well now I have, and boy am I happy with how it looks. Already on to the work of drawing the next building, so more to come.

2022 Year in Review

Its that time of year again, the end, where we look back at what we’ve done, and think about what is to come in the new year. 2022 has been a much better year than 2021, though having ended 2021 in the hospital having surgery two days before Christmas set the bar really low for the year to be better. The good news is, by the time I made last years Year in Review post, I was already well on my way to feeling better. I have been (knock on wood) healthy through 2022, and am incredibly grateful for our Canadian Healthcare System that got me there, despite is problems and challenges. May those in power who seem more interested in driving it into the ground and privatizing it never succeed.

But, you don’t come here for political moaning, you come here for trains (and I am eternally grateful that so many of you do). I have no illusions that I am the best modeller, or the best writer, but I enjoy sharing my ramblings and adventures, in the hopes it helps a single other modeller. My blog has registered over 2,000 views every month in 2022, its best year ever. Every year it seems a few more people read, and I appreciate every view/like/comment as they help to keep me motivated to keep working on the layout and keep writing about it.

Liberty Village Layout Panorama, December 29, 2022. It really does make me happy to see how it looks!
The Canyon Road Diorama, finished in February, a nice start to the year finishing a big project.

Projects Completed in 2021

  • Canyon Road Diorama – See this page for all my posts on the project.
  • Freight Cars – Much to the chagrin of my friend Pierre Oliver, I have built every resin kit in my stash most of them from his Yarmouth Model Works, thus far I have not been tempted to buy more. I am close to as many cars as my layout can handle. I need to actually seriously work on preparing waybills for operation rather than add more cars!
  • Go Transit “MP-40” Stand in for the Toronto Railway Museum. A quick-ish repaint of an MBTA MP36 to be a display case stand in as the Museum has never gotten a factory GO Model for our display
  • Non Train Things – Lancaster Mk.X VERA, Iron-Man, 1966 Ford GT40, Riddles in the Dark

Projects In Progress

  • Building Liberty Village Layout – Did lots on this again in 2022!! See page here. This whole post could really be a look at the layout, but that would sell short the other things I’ve done. I will say that I am really pleased with the progress this year, structures and scenery progressing, my freight car fleet is really there
  • Another Diorama – I have an HO Scale 12″x12″ non-train diorama on the go. No details on what it actually is to share yet, but sometime. I did post about it though here, here and here.
  • Freight Car Kits – I actually finished almost all the cars in my stash! The only kit in the drawer is a Tichy USRA Rebuild, and I need Speedwich Media to re-run the correct doors, and order the decals from National Scale Car to advance it, so it sits in limbo land for the foreseeable future. I also have a second half built Tichy steam crane kit. I should really get back at that someday soon too.


  • Cricut Cutting – I bought a Cricut in February, for a variety of reasons, but largely as I have seen people using these craft cutting machines on model railroad projects. They have been derisively I think called a “poor mans laser cutter”, and while I see why, that is grossly unfair to them. They are not trying to be a laser cutter, but they can do many of the same things. They have many of the same uses, but don’t obviously work the same way. For my purposes, the Cricut has advanced a lot of building on the layout, and will continue to do so by making one of the worst parts of structure building, the cores and rough cut window openings a faster process.
  • Weathering – I have, done a basic weathering/tone down job on about 95% of my freight car fleet. I have a handful of tank cars and oddballs that require some more care to do, then I can look at applying myself to more intensive weathering on some cars.
  • Scenery – Doing it again. Actually taking the skills I have built, and going back to an area I wasn’t happy with. This was a big leap for me, but one I am really happy I did as the area at the closets edge looks light years better.
  • DCC/Electronics – Gremlins, oh electrical gremlins. I have fixed some, others are still baffling me. All part of learning from my mistakes as if we ever find out why one switch in particular hates me, we’ll hopefully not have to go through the extended stress in the future and I can come up with a maintenance/cleaning/operating routine that keeps things working!
  • Operations – I don’t know if this is a skill, or a project in progress, but someday I intend to operate the layout, both on my own and with friends over (visitors, what?). I took some further steps into this world, though largely in the area of maintenance and layout work to make it operate well. Need to put some hours in 2023 into working on paperwork to make operations actually happen.

Thing’s that actually arrived in 2022

That’s a lot of things that don’t belong on the layout, but I have wanted a GO Transit F59 for as long as I’ve been back in the hobby seriously after I finished University in December 2002 and started working in early 2003.

Thing’s I’m expecting to arrive in 2023

  • Bachmann LMS Patriot “The Unknown Warrior” – See Here
  • Accurascale British Railways Class 37 37043 “Loch Lomond” – See Here
  • Kernow Model Railway Centre Great Western Railway Steam Railmotor – See Here I haven’t actually ordered this, but I really want to, why? Why not? I can already hear Mears and Marshall typing comments and emails to try and enable me into buying it! Just have to decide on As Preserved 93 or the GWR Chocolate & Cream version with nameboards for the Severn Valley Railway…
  • Walthers SW9/900/1200 Undecorated – An actual layout project. Modelling an early CN switcher in the black paint scheme. As much as I love my SW1200RS and GMD1, neither are really appropriate for Liberty Village. While I have my brass O-18a steam locomotive as a long time project, something more representative of early diesel industrial switching in Toronto is needed.

Strangely, most of those have nothing at all to do with or on a layout set in Liberty Village in the 1950’s, but that’s what display cases are for! I’m sure there is more stuff out there to tempt me to open my wallet. I have seriously looked at a 3rd Atlas Alco S-2, as CN also used these, but I already have a pair on the CP end of the layout!

All things considered, it has been a very good year. I have finished some models, made progress on the layout, and chased a lot of trains in the real world. In just about 4.5 years my layout has gone from an idea on paper and a bare room in our new home, to something that resembles what I envisioned, and that even kinda runs when you try to run trains on it! I’d have never predicted that when we moved in, but here we are, I continue to surprise myself with the progress being made.

In terms of where I am going, I won’t be doing a 2023 Preview Post, but much like a year ago, I really want to finish the large Hinde & Dauch Paper company in 20223, that I had hoped to finish in 2021&2022. I have made progress, but it’s one of those projects that has kept getting pushed aside. I did advance it, along with a lot of smaller buildings. Hinde & Dacuh is the 2nd largest structure on my layout. One thing I do want to address in 2023 is my display situation. Over the CN staging I have two small cabinets. I would like to replace them with one larger 36″ or 42″ wide unit so that locos and cars can be displayed in context. It would make much more display sense if things were in context, and let me get some passenger car models out of boxes!

My one 2023 “preview”, getting a better display for this area to actually have short trains together on display.

So, with that, I hope you have a wonderful New Years Eve. We are ordering a Banjara Indian Feast for dinner and I am going to torture myself watching the US NCAA College Football playoff games (Go Blue!), because that seems as good as anything else to do on a Saturday night! Stay well friends.

Stephen Gardiner
December 31, 2022

Family Christmas “Operations” Prep

This coming weekend we are having our first Family Christmas since 2019, where my parents are coming down to Toronto for a few days. With this in mind, having been out hunting for operational gremlins recently, I wanted to run some trains after work today. When my parents are down, I won’t be doing serious operations to any kind of set switch list, but I want the trains to run well for my parents, my mom in particular has always just enjoyed seeing my trains run, and the happiness them doing so gives me. After all the bad of the past couple of years, I am really looking forward to some happy time with loved ones for a couple of days.

Thanks to my earlier searching for gremlins, I was able to quickly sort a couple tonight. In the area where I recently re-did the scenery, it was pretty clear I closed a couple of gaps around switch frogs with glue or something. Tonight, a quick saw through the gaps, and a re-application of some graphite to the rails to help with connectivity, and the locomotives started running right through the switch that seemed to be a problem on the other end of the layout. Proof of concept that you can learn something when you are doing things! Instead of messing around, I went for what looked to be an obvious problem, and sure enough, it seemed to fix it. Clearing the gaps around the frogs, and the problem was basically resolved. There are still a few spots where I had some stutters on the layout, but I have two more nights after work to run trains in these areas and look for causes and solutions. Most of the problems are in spots where the tracks are passing through the street. I think, these come back to my road paving and I need to do another round of clearing out the gaps to make sure good contact with the rails is happening.

So, with that, some videos of running trains in different parts of the layout tonight, trains running successfully, including my somewhat finicky Raipdo Trains SW1200RS running both ways through the first switch that has caused me so much grief recently. I am, particularly enthused by the first video below, it really is a window into the layout, where all there is is the layout. Yes, I see plenty of things that need work, but oh man, it really makes me happy at how real it looks getting my phone into the scene to take videos!

A couple of Gremlins Down

Well, after last week’s post about hunting for a persistent electrical/mechanical problem at the very first switch coming out of the CN Staging yard, I have made some progress. I have worked through a variety of possible sources of the ill behaviour being seen. I have gone back and re-gapped the copper rails, and the gaps around the frog in the switch. I have also cleared the flangeway gap in the frog to remove some excess solder and free up the flangeway. I am, to be perfectly honest, not sure which action individually seems to have solved the problem, as I was frustrated as my efforts weren’t getting anywhere, and I defied the scientific method and did multiple things before testing. Yes, I know, defeats the purpose of trying to follow a logical path of action. I am willing to live this this given that it seems to now be functioning. I need to go back and touch up the paint on the ties, as you an see from the pictures, the re-gapping has made a bit of a mess of them!

Looking at the problem location, rolling through a truck (could feel it bind at the frog), and re-gapping the rails.

As I said, I don’t know for sure what action solved the problem, but it seems to be working after a fair bit of testing. I am willing to live with that, as I was really getting upset by my inability to get a train to run onto the layout without stalling out and stopping.

Moving on, the next switch is actually permanently shut, but it had a regular issue where it was catching cars coming around the curve leading into it. As the switch leads off the edge of the layout, and is fixed, its purely scenic, I pulled out the soldering iron and quickly heated the end of the rail on the throw bar and widened the flangeway.

Widened flangeway at the top of the image, not visible that its over wide in normal viewing, but the gap now doesn’t catch any wheels and send them the wrong way.

The final Gremlin I have gotten to is one of the curves on the Bat’leth switch in the corner. The guard rails for one of the road crossings were clearly too tight, as cars would jump in two locations, sometimes dropping back in gauge, sometimes derailing. Using the truck being pushed through by hand, I could feel and see the locations where the truck was riding up. The good news was that it appeared both problems could be resolved by moving the same guard rail to give a little more wiggle room. The problem is, this area was already paved. This meant some time carefully chipping out my drywall plaster road paving between the rails so I could adjust them. This is of course, something I should have done long ago before paving the road.

I also found a secondary gremlin in one of the switches. One of the switches in the road had a guard rail for the road that needed to float freely so the switch rails could move. It was riding up over the height of the rail adjacent and was tight enough it was lifting the wheels of cars, causing some to derail. This was a simple fix, I cut a few mm off the end of the rail, so it was no longer close enough to gently lift the wheels of cars and toss them in the ballast.

The Bat’leth, multiple little problems, but the biggest to fix required pulling out the paving between the rails.

I am going to run trains through this for a bit before I re-pave the road, lets learn from past mistakes! Much easier to further adjust the guard rail if needed, thank to have to scrape out the paving again! Thanks to everyone who engaged with last weeks post, the suggestions are appreciated, and I certainly got a couple of ideas from them for things that I thought should be fine but where they may actually have been causing the issues.

Hunting Electrical Gremlins

Sigh, electrical gremlins, the worst gremlins. something you can’t see, and have to spend ages poking and prodding with a multi-meter looking to see if you can find the electrical short, and looking for bad solder joints or other issues. Electrical things are not one of my strong suits, I understand it, but I am just not comfortable messing around with them and at finding problems. At some point, I’m going to have to have a more electrically minded friend over, as I seemingly just can’t find whatever it is at this location, and I think I desperately need a second set of eyes and hands on the problem. This is the first switch coming out of staging for the CN end of the layout, and this is me starting the process of trying to get the layout to actually operate reliably. Parts of it are starting to look decent scenically, but at the end of the day, I want to be able to run trains reliably, and have people visit and operate and not have them fighting constant little problems to have an enjoyable experience. So far, I have found a missed track feeder, and maybe a bit of extra solder in the track gap, but nothing which is the smoking gun. It is frustrating, as i don’t run trains nearly as much as I should, and I would like to get better at resolving these issues myself, but without some guidance, I feel I am constantly shooting in the dark guessing, and doing that I start to run the risk that I will create a new or bigger problem trying what I think is a fix to the issue.

Something in this switch is causing a stall/snag and I have not been able to figure it out.

The video below shows my SW1200RS running through the switch. Its hard to see, but you can see the lights flicker, and definitely see the stall/jump going through. It is much more pronounced in this direction. It happens with different locomotives to different degrees, but everything has a stall of some sort in this area.

So on we go, I will continue to search for the issue among the many ongoing layout projects, hopefully someday sooner than later I will be posting to celebrate finding the issue and resolving it.