Wiping out Safety Stripes

With my layout being set in the 1950’s, I’m working on collecting or modifying models to be accurate representations of what would have been seen in Liberty Village. Back in the fall of 2018, I picked up an Atlas S-2, it was already in CPR paint, but paint for an era that was just a bit too late for my still not quite pinned down 1955-1958 ish layout era. The shell for the locomotive has been sitting on my workbench for months waiting on me getting a paint booth set up at the house so I can airbrush. Haven’t gotten there yet, but the 1950’s being the way they were, there was one more aspect of the Atlas S-2 that I realized had to go, the bright yellow safety stripes on the pilots at either end.

IMG_7305Safety Stripes on the pilot, recommended for a switcher to help it be seen, but not there in the 1950’s in the paint scheme i’m applying.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered that paint on Atlas locomotives is easily removed using 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. Which is great as it’s readily available at the drug store, and compared to a lot of other chemical paint strippers sold in hobby stores, or things like brake fluid that some people swear by, its paint removal qualities on models its relatively benign. Relatively benign doesn’t mean don’t take any precautions. Well ventilated spaces, gloves, masks and the like are all still important when working with any chemical for any length of time.

In this case, a little bit of alcohol poured into a paint mixing cup, and some Q-tips and toothpicks are the tools needed. Applying the alcohol with the q-tip and gently rubbing will start to loosen the paint from the cast metal pilot, and as you rub, you can eventually see places where the paint is holding tighter in corners and around details. This is where the tooth pick comes in to gently rub at more stuck on paint, then go back at it with the q-tip moistened in alcohol again.  It took me maybe 20 minutes total to do the two ends.

More or less finished project to remove the stripes. Because the locomotive will be fairly heavily weathered representing a hard-working locomotive at the end of this paint scheme, it doesn’t need to be perfect, just good enough. (right photo of 7020 by Dom McQueen, 1952. From the Bill Sanderson collection. Scan From Here.

This was another of those I need to do something projects where I was watching car racing this afternoon, and realized the only reason I hadn’t gotten rid of the safety stripes was because I was being lazy. Another check mark on this project. Now to finally get around to sorting out that paint booth!!


Lynton & Barnstaple Railway “Taw”

I love it when a new purchase arrives, in this case, its a new purchase that I’ve been waiting on for almost two years. Such is the way of things with the Model Railroad Industry and Pre-orders nowadays, you order then wait what feels like forever to actually pay and receive it. Though this model was in some ways, extra cursed. I placed my order January 20, 2017, so almost two years ago, and after an initial delivery from the factory in China to Denmark where Heljan is based, some making it to market in the UK where the prototype is, and being panned with failing motion and a variety of problems, they were sent back and heavily modified at the factory and re-shipped. Fortunately for me, my order didn’t ship the first time they were delivered, by the time the version I’d ordered was arriving, it was abundantly clear that the whole batch needed to be recalled and reworked.

The locomotive I am talking about, is Heljan’s “Lynton & Barnstaple Railway” Manning Wardell 2-6-2T in OO9 (British Narrow Gauge). I don’t model the L&B, but at some point I was exposed to it (and the efforts to re-open the line and rebuild the locomotives which were all scrapped), and thought its a cool prototype. In later years, it had become part of the Southern Railway, and there was a cross platform connection at Barnstaple Town between the narrow gauge and standard gauge. I have thought for a long time this would make a cool diorama/cameo layout, and had bought some apropriate Southern Railway OO Gauge models, but never had access to any Narrow Gauge, and kits were out of my budget/skillset. When Heljan announced they were doing it as ready to run, it was around the same time Bachmann was releasing Skarloey in their Thomas line, which I bought and re-detailed back into the locomotive Skarloey is based on and which Bachmann 3D scanned, Talyllyn.

So, after all the missteps and waiting, my model of Taw, one of the three original locomotives finally arrived on December 23rd, and through being out of town, Christmas and work, I finally picked it up this weekend. My afternoon today was spent unboxing, checking it out, looking to see if it looked ok, and then running it for about half an hour forwards and backwards and with/without coaches to see if any problems exposed themselves.

IMGP0945RawConvNothing like a present to yourself at Christmas Time, then again, It has been on order so long it’s already missed being a Christmas Present once before and two birthdays!

As it is, even the new version has apparently had some of the same issues based on the comments on RMWeb, a major UK model forum (worth checking out even if you aren’t into british trains and models, lots of discussions on technique, and an active North American section). So I’ve been awaiting the opening and running in with some trepidation, knowing this time it had been shipped to me, and getting dinged for $36 in tax and service charges by CBSA, means if it doesn’t work, it becomes a hassle in sending it back for warranty repairs or replacement.

So, in narrow gauge, the couple of models I have are effectively display pieces. I am allegedly building a mini layout/shelf display for them (I say allegedly as I haven’t touched it in months).

My L&B “Taw”, in its later Southern Railway Paint as No.761. Looks gorgeous out of the box, but how will it run?

Turns out, as far as I’m concerned, it ran perfectly. I have a loop of 12.25″ radius Bachmann EZ Track in N-Scale specifically for narrow gauge british (N Scale Track is the same width as OO9, very handy!) I put the loop of track out on the hardwood floor, and spent an enjoyable hour with the locomotive running around the circle both ways, pulling coaches and on its own to look and listen for problems. It ran smoothly, stayed on the rails, and no bits fell off. Given that most of this locomotives life will be spent in the display case, having nothing explode in an hour of test running, probably means I’m safe for the future on the rare occasions it gets an outing, it should be ok. If a manufacturing defect was to appear, based on what I’ve seen from others on the forum, it seems it would have done so in this early running in period.

Videos of the running in:

Yes, it was just like being a kid, the only place available to me to set up my loop of N-Scale/OO9 track was on the floor of the office/layout room. There is something to be said for sitting on the floor watching a model run around in circles somtimes!!

IMGP0964RawConvNothing says having fun with trains like a loop of track on your floor!!
OO9Display.pngTaw and Talyllyn in my display case. A pretty solid if small collection of Narrow Gauge Locomotives!

A Canadian Pacific Railway S-2 for Liberty Village

With the Liberty Village area my layout is set in being served by both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways, and it being set in the late 1950’s (specific date TBD, closing in on 1956/57, probably will leave some leeway by choosing a year/season vs a specific date), I need both steam and diesel locomotives.  I have previously touched on projects to provide small steam 0-6-0 switchers from CNR and CPR, and my CNR diesel needs are met by ready to run models from Rapido Trains (I’ll be using an SW1200RS and a GMD-1 as the CN diesels, both could have been seen in Liberty, long term, slightly earlier models like an NW-2 or S-2 would probably be more regular sights).  But, back onto topic, for my primary CPR Diesel, I am going to be using an Alco S-2.  These were the first diesel switchers delivered to the CPR in Toronto, and in fact, my model will be the first, which is preserved today in Toronto, though I won’t be painting it in a “normal” paint scheme.

IMG_6289.jpgI forgot to take pictures before stripping it down. Here is the body shell ready to have all the paint stripped off it after taking off all the separate parts and glazing.

I recently picked up one of the newer Atlas S-2 models, which is DCC ready, but doesn’t have a decoder.  It was painted for CPR, but in the “wrong” paint scheme, it was in Maroon and Grey with script lettering.  If it had been “block” lettering, I maybe could have used it, but I am going oddball and going for an intermediate scheme between the as-delivered black with Maroon and Gold Trim, and the introduction of the Maroon and Grey paint scheme that is classic Canadian Pacific.  In between, there was an overall maroon with yellow trim paint scheme applied to some Alco and Baldwin locomotives, including 7020 and some other S-2’s assigned to Toronto.  As such, to be different, I am going with this scheme.  There is a collection of pictures of different early S-2’s in schemes including the “Smiley Face” at this link.

CP7020-27020 and 7027 in the “Smiley Face” (which is on the other end) scheme on the turntable at John Street. Photo by Dom McQueen, 1952. From the Bill Sanderson collection. Scan From Here.

This scheme would have been phased out starting in 1954 or so when the Maroon & Grey became the standard.  I don’t know when 7020 was repainted from this scheme to Maroon & Grey, but applying Rule 1 of “Its My Layout”, I’ll have a very dirty and weather worn 7020 in this scheme clearly ready to be repainted switching Liberty Village.

IMG_6313A picture of the locomotive after the paint had been stripped off it. It’s now been primered and is ready for applying CPR Maroon over the entire body.

This is when compared to the steam locomotive projects, a pretty simple one. Strip off the old paint, spray on maroon, decal, seal, weather, and install DCC decoder.  To strip the Atlas factory paint, I used my preferred first choice of 99% isopropyl rubbing alcohol.  It’s cheap, readily available at pharmacies/grocery stores, and compared to a lot of other paint removal techniques, relatively begnin.  That doesn’t mean you don’t take precautions.  Use it in a well ventilated area, and wear gloves when handling, the isopropyl softens the paint when the shell is submerged in it, but the paint comes off in the alcohol and makes a mess if you aren’t careful, and you don’t want the paint/alcohol mix getting on skin or all over your desk.  I find that soaking for about half an hour softens the paint that a first pass with a toothbrush gets off a lot of paint, then you can look for areas where the paint is holding tight to soak and scrub more vigorously.  In my experience, it hasn’t softened the plastic, but I also don’t leave the model in the alcohol and ignore it.  It’s in and out and scrubbed and when I’m done, into soapy water to wash off any loose bits of paint and left over alcohol.  After a chance to sit and thoroughly dry, its then washed and dried again, then painted with Tamiya Fine Surface primer to look for any issues and give a good clean surface for the new paint to attach to.

The real 7020 at the Toronto Railway Museum, and my other model of 7020, an older non DCC Atlas S-2, part of my Toronto Railway Museum collection of models that I take to Train Shows a couple of times a year for the museum. I’ll now have a pair of 7020’s from different eras in my collection!

I suspect, that the painting of the maroon will happen in the next couple of weeks, time and such cooperating.  Given its going to be some time before my layout has a DCC system or is running, buying the decoder and getting the right sounds installed for the locomotive aren’t going to be a rush, but will get done when it gets done.

Something Shiny for Liberty Village

This week I received something I won on eBay, my first Brass Locomotive.  For those who aren’t familiar, for a long time, Brass Locomotives made in Japan or Korea where the only way to get accurate models of many locomotives, especially steam locomotives.  They were (and remain), expensive and often, poor runners (which makes them lousy for layouts like mine designed for operations).  They were as often as not, owned by collectors and displayed, and not run.  I won’t get into a long history of brass and bore people, that’s what Google is for if your interest is piqued, go search. Suffice to say, given the price of a single locomotive that I knew likely wouldn’t run well/at all, and many brass locomotives came unpainted (which mine is, but now I have the skills to paint a locomotive), they were always something where I’d look in hobby shops display cases, and quickly turn away.  I always chose to spend less and have several models vs. spending a lot on one item.  All that said, they do mean that many odd prototypes or locomotives that wouldn’t sell from traditional mass manufacturers are out there if you are willing to find them and pay the price.

IMG_6410Something I never thought I’d buy, a Brass Locomotive.

I hadn’t even been looking for one, it was one of those “some day when the layout is built I might look for one” things, but since I announced my layout prototype, two of my friends Trevor Marshall and Ryan Mendell had bought Van Hobbies O-18a’s!!  One of them, my friend Ryan Mendell saw this one pop up on Ebay a couple of weeks ago at a good starting price and let me know about it, and I was able to buy it for slightly less than either of them bought theirs (anecdotally the Brass market has been softening as the number of model railroaders shrinks and the older modellers with large brass collections try to sell them off and can’t find buyers or pass away and leave their family to deal with them).

IMG_6416.JPGThe history sheet and original decals that came with the unpainted brass locomotive.  When mine is painted I will use modern decals as these ones are likely not fit for use after years in a box.

The O-18a’s were 0-6-0 switching locomotives, originally built for the Grand Trunk Railway, a predecessor of Canadian National Railways between 1919 and 1921.  The last ones were retired in 1961, and two survived into preservation.  They were used for industrial and yard switching, and in Toronto, were based at the Spadina Roundhouse, and serviced industrial areas in downtown Toronto including Liberty Village, hence my eventual need for one.

With this locomotive, I now have my core fleet of locomotives for the layout, and I mean it when I say I won’t be buying any more for a while!! I need to spend time and funds on things like laying track, constructing buildings, scenery and a DCC system to actually run the layout.  While many of the locomotives are projects (This, CPR U3e, CPR S-2 (post coming), they are in hand, its paint and details and work, not buying more than I need to actually be able to operate and have a bit of variety.

Tour around the Locomotive.

Below are two videos of the locomotive being tested.  It runs, reasonably well, but since it will need to be fully disassembled to install DCC, and to paint it, I will likely replace the motor and gearbox with something more modern and reliable.  I know Ryan will be doing that with his, so I’ll be able to see what he has to go through, and observe someone who is much more mechanically inclined than I am do the work before I have to take on the task.

The only thing left for me to do now is some research on which of the O-18a’s which lasted into 1956/57 when my layout will be set were still working in Toronto, and choose a road number for the locomotive when painted. I’ll have to be sure to not choose the same number as Ryan and Trevor, otherwise they won’t be able to bring their examples to run on my layout!!  So for now, another project, but another important one for my layout, so i can live with that at least!!

A CPR U3e 0-6-0 Switcher – A Project for Liberty Village

I mentioned back in April in a post about learning how the railroads served Liberty Village that a friend had gifted me half a Walthers/Life-Like Proto 2000 0-6-0 steam locomotive that very closely matches the dimensions of the CPR U3e class that worked in Toronto in the 1950’s.  I say half, as he wasn’t able to give me a tender.  Today, at the Mississauga Model Railroad Flea Market, I was able to buy a correct CPR Tender for the U3e locomotive.  Another vendor had a brass CPR tender that was missing the locomotive.  Put the two together, and I now have a plastic locomotive that I can strip down and modify the details on, and a brass tender that I can disassemble to add electrical pickups and a DCC decoder into.  I’ve been assembling the needed detail parts for the locomotive and to build the tender from scratch, but now I don’t have to scratch build the tender. I can focus on the engine and the electronics to make a reliable operating engine.

Brass_TenderIt looks something like a U3e, and will look a lot more like it by the time I’m done modifying it. May be while still before it gets to the top of the to-do pile, but it will get there.

It was a nice find at the show, and at a price where using it was light years better than the time and effort to build one in this case, as when I start working on the project in earnest, it has another big head start with the tender I now have.



Continuing Efforts to Learn how the Railroads Served Liberty Village

During my lunch break yesterday at work, when I needed to clear my mind, I spent a few minutes trying to do some historical research.  Today, I’m writing about that searching to help me get what I learned into my head a bit better.  In this case, yesterday I was specifically looking for information on “Employee Timetables”, something I know of, but which I don’t have any of for either the Canadian National or Canadian Pacific railways in the mid-late 1950’s era I am looking to set my layout based on Liberty Village in Toronto on.  These are regularly available at Train Shows at seemingly ever inflating prices, which I have usually refused to pay, though inevitably I will need to consider buying a few from the right era to help my understanding of operations on my layout.

One of the web pages I have read before, is that of Charles Cooper, a railfan and author in Ontario.  I own his excellent book “Hamilton’s Other Railway” on the Hamilton & NorthWestern that built what would become the CNR line between Hamilton and Barrie via Milton and Georgetown.  Building a model of Georgetown’s station to go with my model of CNR D-1 is a long term goal, but that’s a different story.  Where Charles Cooper is important today, is a section of his website with scanned public and employee timetables.  In the list, is a CNR Employee Timetable for the Toronto Terminals, dated April 28, 1957, square in the middle of the era I am looking to set my layout in!

CNR_TorontoTerminals_ETT38_April1957CoverCNR Employee Time Table 38, Effective April 28, 1957 for the Toronto Terminals district.

He has the entire document scanned on his website, after a quick leaf through the PDF, it has all kinds of interesting information in it for me.  Not necessarily train times, as an industrial district like Liberty Village would have been switched as needed after incoming cars were delivered to the appropriate nearby yard, or as shippers needed loaded cars moved from their docks, but on operating rules and restrictions.  It includes all kinds of information about restrictions on operations in the area, such as limits on where different locomotives can run as shown below:

CNR_TorontoTerminals_ETT38_April1957Restrictions.jpgEngine Restrictions – “over which only a standard six wheel yard engine can operate” including a number of Liberty Village destinations under the Oakville Sub including Mowat Ave, Toronto Carpet, Pardee Ave, Hinde & Dauch Paper.

The engine restrictions list is fascinating, confirming that only small steam locomotives would be allowed into Liberty Village to switch the industries.  This makes sense, as all the maps and plans indicate how tight some of the switches and curves are when you look at the narrow 20′ wide streets and maximum 60′ building to building dimensions including the street, tracks and any setbacks for the buildings from them.

Sadly, this restriction means one of the locomotives I own that I intend to use on the layout wouldn’t have been permitted into Liberty Village.  I have a Life-Like Proto 2000 0-8-0 switcher which I bought many years ago.  It was a regular runner on my old shelf layout in my parents basement when they lived in Georgetown, and I’d been planning on pulling it out of the box after I move in June to look at converting it to DCC.  I may still do that, but clearly, It will be a locomotive operating on Rule 1, “It’s My Railroad and I’ll Run what I Want” when I feel like taking it out, and not a locomotive to be used during prototypical operation sessions.

3148949101_95e3017a0b_oMy Life-Like Proto 2000 Heritage USRA 0-8-0.  I had hoped to use this as an occasional visitor to Liberty Village, by the late 1950’s, much of CN and CP’s switching jobs would have been handled by diesels, but I figured an occasional steam interloper would be allowed.

I have a small steam locomotive project for Canadian Pacific already on my workbench, a friend gifted me a Life-Like/Walthers 0-6-0 locomotive without a tender.  The dimensions almost perfectly match a CPR U-3-e yard locomotive, of which several were assigned to John Street and Lambton Yards over the years, and which likely would have switched Liberty Village.  That’s a bit of a long term project, but I’ve got the plans for the tender body from the CPR Historical Society, and have been slowly collecting detail parts to build a tender and modify the locomotive to better resemble the CPR prototype.

The next time I’m at a train show, I think I’ll need to take the time to more carefully go through the timetables and information for sale on the CNR and CPR Toronto districts in the mid-late 1950’s to try and acquire some Employee Timetables to help me fill in the operational restrictions and rules of both railroads for eventually developing Ops Sessions once the layout gets built.