Fascia Covering for the Layout Part 2

Another day, another step forward. Following on from yesterdays post, I have now trimmed and glued on the majority of the fascia styrene. There are a few spots around the peninsula hinge where some detail work is needed, otherwise, its done. You can see yesterday’s post for details of the work, but today is just a quick post showing the difference a simple sheet of styrene cut up and glued onto the subfascia hiding the wood and foam, and instantly making the layout look like it belongs and is a part of the furniture, rather than something that doesn’t belong.

IMG_1060IMG_1307December 31, 2019 top without the black styrene, January 19, 2020 bottom with, the layout to me at least now looks like it belongs in the room!
IMG_1305IMG_1308Similarly, the closet and CPR staging (both taken today), now the lighting valance attached to the closet shelf looks out of place, no worries, plenty of styrene left to quickly cover that and create a window box effect for staging.

Yesterday’s post generated some really insightful discussion on the styrene and preparing it for painting. The task of painting is well down the line for me, but its a discussion worth having now. I know at least one other modeller whose layout I’ve visited uses styrene on the fascia. I’ll have to ask him when next I see him what paint he uses on it, and if he did anything to the styrene to prep it. I’m also curious now if his results are different because he used white styrene vs black. The learning continues!

2019 Year In Review

Another year in the books, and another good one. Obviously, much of my progress has been on the layout, not always obvious or big steps, but slow and steady. It’s also however, been a year where I got the opportunity to operate on multiple other peoples layouts, and help construct someone else’s layout as well. All opportunities I didn’t have before making friends through the online community in Toronto.

IMG_1060.JPGView of the layout on December 31st showing the state at the end of 2019.

A summary of my year is below, followed by some brief thoughts on things:

Projects Completed in 2019

Projects In Progress


  • Weathering – Did some, got a bit better, still a long way to go – See Here
  • Airbrushing – Moved indoors with a paint booth for the first time. No more painting on the balcony or patio as in the past! – See Here
  • Resin Casting – Got some lessons from a friend in making a mold and casting. Need to buy supplies and start learning to do on my own.
  • Soldering – Did some, got a bit better, still a long way to go

Thing’s I’m expecting to arrive in Stores

  • Rails of Sheffield Caledonian Railway No. 828 – See Here
  • Bachmann LMS Patriot “The Unknown Warrior” – See Here
  • Rapido Trains GO Transit F59 – See Here

Strangely, none of those have anything at all to do with or on a layout set in Liberty Village in the 1950’s.

So, with that high level summary of the “plan” (insofar as one can plan a hobby), a bit of a chat on what I did is below:

Completed Projects

Didn’t finish a lot, because this was a year of progress on layout building, but I did finish two locomotives, an unpowered VIA Rail P42 in the Canada 150 scheme and a CPR S-2for the layout. I also “Finished” the benchwork main construction. There is plenty of work to do on finishing and working on it, but all of the required benchwork is built now with the peninsula in place, a big milestone for the layout.

Finished Projects! Always a good feeling!

Projects in Progress

2019 Layout Construction Gallery

Lets be honest, the project in progress is the layout. There are so many different things being worked on, all in the interests of being able to start running trains and testing. There has been track laying, wiring, building switch machines, painting, installing lighting, building benchwork, and so much more. Other projects that are on the go are all kinda pale in comparison to the work list on the layout and continuing to advance that.

I’ve also been working on one solitary “That’s No Train” project in a plastic race car model kit. I’ll post about it sometime. It just kinda sits on the workbench and gets worked on from time to time as a alternative to tracklaying and wiring and layout building. I’m semi targeting having it done by July to take to Mosport, but that may or may not happen.

Skill Building

A collection of things being learned or improved upon in my skills toolbox from 2019.

This is something that is ongoing, and hopefully always will be. I was able to learn and apply a lot of new and improved skills this year. I’m better at using my airbrush, at soldering, at building kits and woodworking. I started down the road of learning to cast parts in resin. As I get closer to building my buildings, I’ll need to continue to learn and start to apply those skills. Part of the joy of this hobby is the journey, both on my own and with friends.

A Decade in Trains

As a closing thought, since everyone is on about it being the end of the decade, its been quite the decade for me in our hobby. A decade ago, my layout was a poorly designed shelf in my parents basement, a house I hadn’t lived in for 5 years at that point, and I was just barely in the hobby. A decade on, I’ve pushed myself, made friends in the hobby (something I had very few of in 2010), and now am building a layout in my own house. Its been a crazy 10 years. Hopefully in 10 I can be reflecting on at least a couple of years of operating and refining Liberty Village!

IMGP9982RawConv.jpgGeorgetown in January 2010, almost everything on this layout is gone now save a few pieces of rolling stock. It’s been a crazy decade in the hobby!

So, that’s about it. I’ve tried to keep this years year in review short and sweet, not because it hasn’t been a good year, but because it’s just easier to be short and sweet to collect things and link back to stuff I’ve already written. With that, all the best to you and yours, have a wonderful New Years Eve, and happy modelling in 2020!!

Another 32″ of Track Down

Another Saturday, and another few feet of layout progress. I spent a nice lazy day doing odds and ends around the house, and rewarding myself for getting chores and cleaning done with breaks in the layout room to work on the layout.

Before (left) and after of today’s progress on laying track.

Today saw me prepare and install another switch, a siding, some more of my main and the second non active north-south cross track which cross Liberty Street at the north-south streets in the village. This was all pretty straightforward trackwork. Mark and drill the holes for the frog wire and throwbar for the turnout, cut the rails to length and file the ends, install rail joiners, test fit everything, and lift to put down the Alex Clear silicone caulk to glue it down. Once the track is down, I did some sighting to check I was happy with the alignment, pulled some freight cars down to check that they rolled through OK and didn’t look obviously wonky rolling down the newly laid track. Once I was happy with the alignment and the quick rolling check, out came the weights to hold the track down while the glue sets.

IMG_0847Highly scientific technique for holding track in place while the Alex Clear Silicone Caulk cures. A full tub of ballast and a heritage brick!

In one of my earlier breaks, when I had the power drill out to drill the frog wire and throwbar holes for the switch I was planning to install, I also drilled feeder wire drops for the track I installed last week coming out of the closet. With the holes drilled and wire cut and in place, the next step will be to come along and solder all the feeders to the track in advance of the next big work session where the plan will be to connect the feeders to the bus, which means I’ll be able to test equipment under power on all the track.

IMG_0848No, its not something growing out the foam, its feeder wires for power/control. Black at the back to make sure I wire everything the same way using a handy mnemonic.

So with that, the gap in the two ends of the mainline that are installed is down to 40″. Its a complicated 40″ as there are three switches in that space that lead to two crossovers for the three spurs on the peninsula. Getting all this track aligned right will be tricky, and I won’t be progressing on that until I have a day with 2 or 3 friends over to get many hands to keep things in place and aligned as its installed.

Liberty Village in 2005

Of late I’ve been digging through some old digital photographs, hunting for anytime I might have been in the Liberty Village area taking pictures which would be of use to me in my layout, and I found some! I clearly took a walk through Liberty Village at some point in 2005, as I found pictures of both the Brunswick Balke Collender and Hinde & Dauche buildings before restoration/expansion happened. They aren’t the greatest photographs, but they do show a lot more detail of what the painted signage looked like on both buildings to help me in modelling them when I get to construction. A nice little find in my own archives after much searching online for good pictures of these buildings.

P1000909.JPGBrunswick-Balke-Collender company, south elevation. I can definitely see what it says on the 2nd and 3rd tiers now. “English American Pocket Billiard Tables” and “Bowling Alleys and Supplies”. The best part about what are ghost signs now (actually gone now) is that in a layout set in the 1950’s, they’d have been well cared for and legible.
Ghost signs and old building form at Hinde and Dauche, before the building was rennovated and more storeys added for the “toy factory lofts”. A misnomer that reflected that Irwin Toys used the building after Hinde and Dauche closed, but I guess it was better marketing than the “Box Factory Lofts” would have been!

Hopefully my ongoing search and get me pictures of the final building I really have no detail on, the E.W. Gillett Company/Standard Brands Mill and Elevator building that stood on Pardee Avenue.

The Buildings of Liberty Village 4 – The Toronto Carpet Company (43 Hanna Ave)

This is the fourth in a series of posts on the main buildings in Liberty Village that will be modelled on my layout.  The previous buildings profiled are:

  1. Brunswick-Balke-Collender (40 Hanna Ave)
  2. Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company of Canada (219 Dufferin Street)
  3. The Buildings of Liberty Village 3 – The Hinde and Dauche Paper Company (43 Hanna Ave)

This time, its another of the large industrial complexes, in this case, one which occupied the entire block between Mowat Avenue and Fraser Avenue between Liberty Street and King Street West, the “Toronto Carpet Manufacturing Company”.  This impressive complex included several buildings, all of which remain, and which have been repurposed into a variety of office and restaurant uses.

There was once a spur where the no-entry sign on the west side of Mowat Avenue (its still partly visible closer to King Street). The five storey building is Building 7 of the Toronto Carpet Manufacturing Company, the building across the bridge was originally the Russell Motor Car Company, later Barrymore Cloth (part of the carpet factory) according to insurance maps.

Now that I have actually started construction of the layout, I’ve realized that this will likely be one of the earlier buildings constructed.  It is in a corner of the room, and will hide the corner and be one of the furthest away structures from the edge of the layout.  It will need to get built earlier rather than later so the scenery can work its way out from the backdrop and so I’m not constructing other buildings in the way. On my layout, there will be spots for two cars here, one beneath the overhead bridge on Mowat Avenue, and one along the south side of the building/north side of Liberty Street west of Mowat Ave.  A 3rd car could maybe be spotted east of Building 7 (D on the track plan) on the right side of the image above, but because of space constraints, it would look lost as cars on that spur were actually switched deep into the courtyard of the Carpet Factory complex and wouldn’t have been sitting out by the street.  I don’t think I need that extra spot to make the layout work, so will likely forego it.  That also lets me skip a switch machine as the spur won’t be active.

June 07 18 - Liberty Layout - West.anyExtract of the layout plan showing the Toronto Carpet Factory, Building C (formerly the Russell Automotive plant) and D, the Carpet Factory Building 7 extension.

The main building itself I will be modelling is the “extension” to Building 7. It is an absolutely gorgeous early 20th century five storey industrial building, and luckily for me, the original building permit plans for that portion of the building are in the holdings of the Toronto Archives. I was able to visit and take pictures of the plans for the building facade, layout, window and other details. Some of the pictures of the plans are below.

Plans from the Toronto Carpet Manufacturing Building 7 Expansion, by William Steele & Sons Ltd, Philadelphia, Dated May 3, 1911 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 2351).

With these plans in hand, in the near future I am going to start working on drawings for the window frames. I am planning on 3D printing masters for the windows, and casting the ones I need in resin. This is both cheaper, and if something happens to a window, an extra resin casting is a lot cheaper than another 3D print. This will be a technique I use for a lot of buildings where there are non-standard looking windows, or windows which really define the appearance of the building. If I can use commercially available parts I will, but to achieve the look of the area and in replicating real buildings, sometimes you need to do custom work.

1945 Fire Underwriters Plan of the Toronto Carpet Factory showing the spur into the plant, the track still exists today as seen on the right.

I will write separately about the Russell Automotive plant which forms the western part of the Toronto Carpet Manufacturing site, connected to Building 7 by an overhead walkway. It’s an interesting building in its own right.

Sunday Projects and Trackwork Progress

In the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to visit and work on two other friends layouts. I wrote about my visit to work on construction on Jason Shron’s Kingston Subdivision layout, and Trevor Marshall beat me to writing about our get together to operate his CNR Port Rowan layout. This has gotten me really motivated to work on my layout and see it start moving forward again, and today, I had a free afternoon before my Grey Cup party to get going on some small projects in advancing it.

IMG_0680An easy task to start, drilling holes in a block of wood to make a pen holder for a new tool organizer unit.

I’ve been on an ongoing project to better organize my workspace and layout room. That’s starting to hit the workbench again. I bought a new laser cut wood tool/paint organizer from Amazon, it looked like it would do some of the things I wanted in replacing an old plastic tool rack. It does, but not well, so I’ve started to make modifications. The image above shows an additional block of wood drilled out to take pens and markers in a deep opening in the organizer. The next step is the tool organizer area doesn’t have tubes or dividers beneath the holes in the top. When I started to put things in they just flopped about. That will drive me crazy. I have wood I can modify to fit in the opening beneath the laser cut top panel, and then bore out holes in it with spade drill bits to create tubes to keep things from flopping about. It will take some time, but I’ll make the thing work they way I think it should.

With that simple task (it honestly took longer to clean up the sawdust from six holes and one cut than it did to make them!), my motivation from recent visits saw me move on to do some actual work on the layout I’ve been avoiding.

Drilling holes in the throw bars for the switches that are the first ones leaving the CPR staging. these will access the two sidings at Hinde & Dauche Paper.

I’ve been stalled with getting any track laying done for a couple of reasons. At one side, I need more sets of hands than my own to get the trackwork across the peninsula gap laid down, its complicated and has some tricky curves. The other end, I’ve been stalled afraid to drill holes in the throwbars on the hand made switches my friend Dan made for the layout. We broke one throwbar on the monsterous bat’leth after it was installed, which still hasn’t been fixed. I’ve been very timid about drilling the throw bar holes in the rest of my switches as free hand micro drilling isn’t one of my better skills. That said, I realized I have two spare switches that I’m not using, which meant two chances to practice before moving on to a switch I need. After taking some time, and a lot of thinking, I managed to drill two #62 holes in the throw bars on the spare switches, so I dutifully moved on to the layout ones. I managed to drill two holes in them as well. It was a slow and steady wins the race effort to drill the holes through the copper throwbars, drilling, taking the drill out to check progress and clean out the hole before moving ahead, then carefully filing the burrs out and cleaning the underside so the hole will take the turnout wire when installed.

Track from the east, gluing down the switches after drilling the throw bar holes.

With the switches prepped, the next task on the list was an outright easy one. Apply Alex Clear Caulk, and lay the track! The two switches and one short piece of siding into the backdrop were laid in less than ten minutes, and then my heritage brick made another appearance to do what it does best, and be just heavy enough to hold down track as the caulk cures! I’ve run a number of freight cars through the switches, and all seems to be good, and cars stay in place on the siding, a sign that it’s probably actually level!

Back to the west end, and starting to fiddle around with learning how to install the Fast Tracks Bullfrog Switch Machine.

My final effort of the day was to start looking at how the Bullfrog Turnout is installed, and testing the installation on the first switch at the CN end of the layout. I can see this is still something that I’m going to need to take some time on, and probably consult with friends who have installed them before on their layouts. I think I am getting close, but the hole beneath the turnout is slightly off location, and I think to make it work I will need to reverse the mechanism with a bell crank. Not impossible, but it requires a level of precision that sometimes I’m not sure I have, especially as the mounting will be straddling a layout frame support. As is often the case, every couple of steps forward brings a step sideways or backwards, but today was another day where the layout eeked closer to being ready to try and run a train on it!