Finishing a Tool Organizer

A couple of months ago I ordered a new desk tool organizer. When it arrived, I was mostly happy with it, aside from a couple of lazy/sloppy design “features”. The main one was that the tool organizer was a thin piece of laser cut wood, but there was no lower organizer to keep tools upright or in the slot, things just flopped about. This to me defeats the purpose, so today I visited one of my off-site workshops that has a drill press to quickly make an insert piece to provide some hold for tools put in the slots.

My drilled out wood block in place, with spacers beneath to raise it from the bottom of the tool organizer, and the laser cut top piece back in place.

With the new piece in place, tools actually stand up in their hole, and the organizer becomes useful. I’m still working on which tools I want where, and what all i’m going to keep in this long term, but it brings me closer to one of my 2019 goals of improving my workbench organization a bit.

IMG_1040Tool organizer doing its job, organizing tools!

Workbench Cleanup and Reorganization

I like to have a fairly tidy and organized workspace. Detail parts and bits and pieces for model trains are pretty tiny, if your workbench is a mess, you’re going to lose something. I’ve seen a few workbenches over the years, and generally, those who I know and whose work I’ve seen have the same thing going, keep it clean and organized.

When I built my custom bench last year after we moved, my friend Ryan suggested including a piece of off-cut pegboard from his workshop, and boy am I glad I listened and did. I’ve never had a bench with pegboard before, but it is so flexible. Last night and today I’ve been reorganizing all my tools and odds and ends that I use, having lived with the bench for over a year, I’ve learned what tools I use often, which I am using less often, and which things are in inconvenient places. The pegboard has made it super easy to reorganize the hanging tools, along with reusing a parts tray to organize many little bits and getting them closer at hand when I’m working so I don’t have to grasp at a distance of go looking for them. I’m not done the reorganization yet, but I’m quite pleased with how its turning out so far.

IMG_0064A organized and cleaned up workbench ready for me to get back at modelling rather than cleaning (once I finish up cleaning my side cabinet on the right!)

Book Review – Every Tool’s a Hammer


A Book Review of sorts…

I haven’t finished reading this yet, I’ve been taking a lot of books out of the library, and I noticed this while trolling through the list of new releases on the library website (Pro Tip, if you live in Toronto, the Toronto Public Library has a digital subscription to FineScale Modeller and Model Railroader), and instantly placed a hold. I unabashedly loved the MythBusters TV Show on Discovery Channel. I regret not having managed to get to one of their live shows when the came to Toronto.

I haven’t finished the book yet, but already I know I will be buying a copy of this for my library so I can go back to it and re-read it. It’s part autobiography, and part guide down the path of making. There are so many parallels between the “Maker Universe” that has emerged in recent years, and modellers. In fact, I see the future of our hobby as enticing the Makers to see it as a place where they can contribute greatly and both learn new skills and apply the ones they have.

The first page I saw when I opened the book tonight after 7 hours in the layout room (there’s another post on that coming), and proof that Adam Savage is truly a Kindred Spirit!

Honestly, the whole book feels like a guide to my own heart. I wish I was as organized as he was sometimes, and as willing and brave to fail. I fail plenty, and I learn every time I do, but I am also so risk averse, I’m afraid to fail sometimes, yet my greatest successes in modelling have come when leaping in blind with two feet and trying something I’ve never done before. There are all kinds of thoughts and process things that he’s learned that as I’ve read I’ve gone, hey, he’s totally describing my helter skelter workpath.

I can’t recommend this read enough for anyone who has enjoyed the MythBusters TV Show, or who is a builder or modeller of any sort. Its absolutely fantascic,

The Worst Fear of Anyone who Exhibits Come to Life

This is a sad post, and something that is one of my greatest fears when I go to shows and display models on behalf of myself or the Toronto Railway Museum. Shows like Prototype Modellers Meets where stuff is out for a day and people from the show are always there are one thing, but bigger, full weekend shows where you might set up on Friday night or Saturday morning, and leave things set up for one or two nights trusting in the venue and the organizers security always makes me nervous.

Images of the damage done the night of May 17-18, courtesy Market Deeping Model Railway Club

Unfortunately, the worst struck the Market Deeping Model Railway Club in England on Friday night. After their venue closed following Friday setup, four youths are accused of breaking in, and demolishing everything setup for the show. Models and layouts that had taken decades to be constructed and in which people poured untold hours of time and effort into were kicked about and destroyed. In the two days since, people have started fundraising efforts to help the club and the attendees address the damages, and while its a laudable effort and one I support, it can also never replace what was taken.

More on the Market Deeping incident:

And, while I think there are more important things to fund raise for in the world, I am going to make a small donation to help those who had their hard work senselessly destroyed, if for no other reason as an act of paying it forward. I know having this happen to me would devastate me, and while money won’t fix things, hopefully knowing that others share their pain will help them move forward and not lose the love of our hobby that brought them to be there exhibiting in the first place. I also hope that this event doesn’t send a chill through my fellow modellers about going to shows and displaying our work. It helps to bring people into the hobby, and is a valuable way to meet people, share and learn skills, and enjoy the social side of the hobby.

For anyone interested, the Crowd Funding Link:

40 for 40

I’m shamelessly stealing this idea from a good friend of mine who does an annual list on his birthday. I’m doing this this year as a one off for no other reason than I’m turning 40 today, and over the past 12 months or so I’ve pretty much turned my life upside down with buying a house, a new car, and changing employers for the first time since graduating university (over 15 years in one small business). I’ve never been a big birthday person, I never liked being the centre of attention. I always just think its just another day and I’d almost rather it pass me by.

That said, 40 is a significant round number, and if the past year qualified as a mid life crisis turning everything around, then my 40 for 40 list is about putting the proverbial pen to paper to lay out a lot of things I think about, but in a way where I can hopefully look back in a year and feel I’ve kept making steps forward to being the me I want to be for the next 40 years of my life, as I feel it’s taken me the first 40 to have any idea of who that person is.

Begin Here on May 9th, 2019

  1. Listen to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins, because, 40 years ago…yeah, I know. Was best song I could think of that’s either about the year or got 40 in the title.
  2. Followed by the best 4 albums of 1979 – Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty (RIP), London Calling by The Clash, Highway to Hell by AC/DC and The Wall by Pink Floyd
    • Bonus for on Vinyl
  3. Actually post this on my Blog and acknowledge that I’m setting myself out on some mid-life ish year goals.

The Easy

  1. Thank my friends for being there, through good and bad, thick and thin. I’ve not always been the greatest ray of light in the room, but you’ve all stuck with me, here’s to many more good years!
  2. Continue with the decisions made as a 39 year old to put myself first and hold onto the work-life balance I’ve found for the first time in my adult life.
  3. Continue to get 7+ hours of sleep a night, fight the urges to keep puttering at 11pm just because I don’t feel tired.
  4. Continue to get up when the alarm goes off (6am seems awfully early after a decade plus of 7:30-8:00am most days) and have the time to start my day properly rather than straining for every last second of not getting up and then struggling to start my day.
  5. Continue to eat breakfast everyday (something I only started to do at 39 because of a high blood sugar diagnosis).
  6. Keep reading at least 2 books a month making good use of my subway time commuting.
  7. Watch the 40 Year Old Virgin (I haven’t seen it, and I couldn’t think of any other movies about being 40).
  8. Read a Harry Potter Book. I’ve never read any of them.
    • Bonus for each book beyond the first read.
  9. Watch a Harry Potter Movie. I’ve only ever seen the first one, and honestly I wasn’t paying attention when I did.
    • Bonus for each movie beyond the first.
  10. Watch Dirty Dancing. No seriously, I haven’t watched it, I’ve steadfastly refused to.
    • Bonus if I watch it with my wife.
  11. Attend a concert/show at 4 Toronto Music Venue’s I haven’t been to before.
  12. Actually cook some of the recipes from one of the cookbooks I own.
  13. Secret
  14. Go Skating, I haven’t gone skating in several years, and I miss it.
    • Bonus if a return to Friday night High Park shinny happens.
  15. Visit the ROM. I realized I still have not been since before the Crystal Expansion opened, it’s a bit past time.
  16. Try a beer from 40 Breweries that I haven’t tried before.
    • Bonus if all 40 are Ontario Breweries


The Obvious – Train/Model Railroad Related Stuff

  1. Run a train from one end of my layout to the other without it derailing or losing power. What? It’s taken me 40 years to actually be building a real layout, that’s a decent goal!
  2. Learn or make major improvements in at least 4 new model making skills/techniques
  3. Ride a steam excursion at the South Simcoe Railway, Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway or Waterloo Central Railway. I travel to the UK and US for steam, but never visit those in my backyard.
  4. Go railfanning once a month, somewhere I haven’t been (recently or regularly at least) and outside of Toronto (camping out along Lakeshore photographing GO Trains doesn’t count).

The Challenging

  1. See a CFL Game in Montreal to complete the Eastern Division Stadiums.
    • Bonus if somehow I tick off any of Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton to have been at games in all the western CFL cities.
  2. Make a batch of Home Brewed Beer.
  3. Ride my bike at least to the subway once a week from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving (3.5km each way on the route that avoids the busiest streets, 2.8km each way most direct).
  4. Walk home from the subway at least two nights a week through the summer, and find an alternative walk for the winter when walking in the suburbs isn’t pleasant.
  5. Ride my bike from home to work (26.7-29.2km depending on route and major road avoidance) at least once in the same summer season.
    • Bonus: Ride home the same day
  6. TBA Health Goal
  7. End the year in a more secure financial state where I have at least two month’s worth of mortgage payments in a TFSA.
  8. Do something to raise funds for a Charity.
  9. Score two goals in a Rec Soccer game. I’ve done everything else I’ve wanted to do, scored left and right footed, a header, a penalty, but I’ve never in my life scored twice in a game. Given I play over half my games as a keeper, and, to be honest am not particularly fast at running, scoring goals is a rare occurence for me.

The improbable/Travel (because this is my way of having a mid-life crisis)

  1. Take a lap of Mosport (in a car, I’ve walked the track before after racing was done for the weekend).
    • Bonus if it’s in my car.
    • Double Bonus if somehow I get an IMSA Hot Lap during the Sportscar Grand Prix Weekend.
  2. Drive a Corvette.
    • Bonus if its somehow integrated with a lap of Mosport.
  3. Attend a 24 Hour Car Race, or book tickets to attend Le Mans 2020.
    • Half Point for attending Petit Le Mans or Sebring 12 Hours or a World Endurance Championship race (mostly as they would involve lengthy travel).
  4. Drive & Fire a Steam Locomotive for a day.
  5. Attend a Railway Prototype Modellers Meet in the US (Napierville/Chicago, New England or Cocoa Beach).
  6. Finish my provincial checklist (Alberta and Newfoundland) so I can move on to the North (Northwest Territories, Yukon & Nunavut).

End here on May 9, 2020

  1. When the birds can be heard above the reckoning carts doing some final accounting…own up to how well I did come May 9, 2020 (RIP Gord).
  2. Arrive refreshed and ready for the next 40+ years of my life.

“Sun” day Motivational Vibes

Many modellers work and have their layouts in their basements, it’s a natural place for them. I’ve been in some that are nice, and some that are dark (and lived in houses with both growing up). I’m lucky that I have a layout room/office that is on the 3rd floor of a three storey townhouse, that has no basement. I got this bedroom when we set up the house because instead of a window in the wall, it has a skylight and doesn’t limit the opportunities for benchwork. I walked into the office literally ten minutes before posting this, and took the panorama below with just the huge amount of natural light coming in the skylight. It’s nice to come into my workroom and feel cozy and some light from the sun, vs. many of my past workbenches/workrooms growing up or in previous apartments that were dark corners of the home.

IMG_7740Sunny day through the skylight in the layout/office. As nice and bright as it is, it’s also kinda snowing outside. Getting the light and not seeing the snow’s kind of nice win!