An April Sunday Night Omnibus Update

I realized I haven’t written about anything I’ve done or been working on for over two weeks, and while that’s not really all that long, its been a weird, though productive couple of weeks, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like that to me. So with that in mind, here is a kind of “month end” omnibus edition post on most everything I’ve been working on (there is one thing with a post upcoming I’ve spent a lot of time on that is not for this post), as I’m not feeling motivated to write a lot of words on one thing, but some pictures and a few words on a bunch of things feels good and again drives home that sometimes, you are making progress even when you don’t always see it! A lot of my writing is not just to share the joy model making gives me, or to share techniques, but to keep me motivated by looking at what I am doing and seeing concrete progress by putting it in words and pictures.

First up, a project that came so close to being “finished” in March, but dragged into April for decals and dull-coating. A pair of Canadian Pacific 10′-6″ interior height NSC AAR box cars. Similar to the two CNR ones I finished other than weathering in January, these are Intermountain undecorated kits built with National Scale Car mini-kits to get the correct doors and ends for Canadian built cars. These are all done other than weathering and any adjustments to make them good runners on the layout. Of course, no sooner do I finish two kits than two more from Yarmouth Model Works arrive to go in the queue. I see a pattern here!!

A pair of CPR Box Cars in final decaling and then dullcoated and on the layout.

Next up, another quick project that has happened on a whim in April! Way back in 2004, I took my first vacation from work, I’d been working for about a year and half after finishing university, and took two weeks to go to England and just do railway stuff. On that trip, I bought a 1/4 scale replica nameplate at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway of LNER/BR B17 61648 Arsenal. This class of locomotive was known as “Footballers” because they were named after English football teams. Early in April, I saw a crazy sale on a Hornby B17, but with the wrong name/number. That is a situation easily fixed. On a Sunday I ordered a locomotive and then replacement etched nameplates and number decals from Fox Transfers, and a couple of weeks later they both arrived across the ocean. A couple of hours of work with isopropyl alcohol and a toothpick to remove the wrong numbers, prying off the factory nameplates, and some carefully gluing, and a quick project I’ve wanted for years, a model of Arsenal to go with my nameplate was done. Didn’t advance the layout one iota (though as you can see, the layout doesn’t do too badly for photographing British Models!)

Voila, from 61665 “Leicester City” to 61648 “Arsenal” in a couple of hours. The replica nameplate can be seen in the background.

Another non-layout project is what started as a”Blank Canvas“, aka an Ikea shelf! I have been busy on this too, working on other scenery skills I don’t necessarily need for the layout, but which are good and where I felt I needed something different to work on to break up working on the layout scenery which is very much samey across the layout. Since I last posted, I have been working on learning to use a Hot Wire Foam Cutter to cut and trim the foam base for the terrain on either side of the tracks, along with laying and painting the track, and building the signals. I have gotten it to the point where the track and roadbed is down, the foam is carved to shape and glued in, and the signals are built and almost finished being painted and assembled. The Hot Wire Cutter probably deserves a post of its own, and I may take some pictures of me cutting a mock-up pieces to do that. Its definitely one of those things I’ve seen people write about over the years, and while I haven’t built much scenery, the difference between my rough carving the block of foam and the mess that made vs. using the Hot Wire is immense. Now I get it!

Going from a 3″ thick chunk of foam to formed terrain for along the tracks and to support the wooden bridge (currently in fancy cardboard mockup form). The GO Bi-Levels are the closest I have to AAR Plate C modern freight cars in size, so not quite tall enough, but they are a great help for making sure I have clearance. As always, any available heavy items including a “Heritage” Don Valley Brickworks brick are used to weight down track when its glued!

My layout has no signalling, but the diorama kind of needs them to make the scene I am building an homage to. Now, having built two signals that don’t even change aspect (I’ve built them with single colour aspects showing for photography), re-affirms that I don’t have the patience or wiring skills to do more than that! I ordered the kits from a company called Showcase Miniatures, and they are awesome, even if I’m no good at wiring. If you are looking for signals, I can highly recommend their kits based on my experiences thus far. What they have also illuminated, is how lucky we were pre-pandemic to just pop out to the hobby shop. I am constantly finding things I don’t have, that will then take weeks to get potentially, like the discovery that I don’t in fact have a sheet of black lettering for the signal ID boards, so I’m kinda ground to a halt, though luckily one of my local suppliers TMR Distributing had them and some other bits and pieces I need for various projects, so I may have what I need this week if the post office cooperates at all (not that I have much faith in Canada Post).

Images of signal building. Multiple aspects of this probably deserve their own post, and who knows, maybe I will get motivated to do that! Simple things, like tiny balls of blue sticky tack in the light openings while painting to protect the LED’s. Sometimes the simpliest things get the best results.

Back in December, I was briefly super excited by my progress in wiring a decoder and programming it into a second Alco S-2 for the CPR side of my loco fleet, then, I blew up the decoder with a wiring short. I managed to not throw the loco, and this weekend made some progress on painting and decalling. This locomotive is going to be in CP’s early maroon and grey “Block” lettering scheme. I have been offered by a friend to do the 2nd go round of the DCC install for me, and I am going to send the locomotive to them in a few weeks once the shell is finished, so that they can do the installation, and when it comes back to me, hopefully I won’t have to take the shell off anytime soon, and won’t risk shorting it out again!

Masking and painting the maroon parts of a CPR Also S-2 switcher. Needs a quick shot of clear coat for the decals, then I can apply lettering.

Just to prove that not everything I’ve been doing is not advancing the layout scenery itself, the last few things have been small, but important painting and learning on the buildings.

Continuing work on painting buildings. Masked and painted windows on Brunswick Balke, working on some “Natural” red sandstone details on 60 Atlantic, and testing Roberts Brick Mortar on the Brunswick power house. The super salmon pink colour on 60 Atlantic will be, toned down! The brick mortar looks better in pictures than I think it does in person. I haven’t quite got the application technique down yet for it to be subtle. Hopefully when I apply some pan pastel weathering it tones it down to the sweet spot in person and in pictures!

So, as its been said before, probably even by me, a little bit of time every day turns into big progress. I have lots of things on the go, things I am working on, things I could be working on, things I think about working on, things I should be working on instead of coming up with new distractions, but all put together, some of that scatterbrained projects all over the place is a part of my hobby as much as making progress is. I don’t know about others, but for me, hitting a point of “oh hey, that worked and looks really good” just seems to sneak up on me from periods of not feeling like I am actually doing anything.

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!

Back at the Workbench

It’s been a funny year for me, modeling wise and real life wise. As anyone who reads the blog knows, we bought a house this year, massive change #1, which however brought me the room to start building benchwork this summer and start making a layout in my home a reality. Great news.  Then, after what seemed like forever this summer in the interview process, I made a second life altering decision, this time in my professional life, and at the end of summer, I left the consulting firm I had been at for 15 years since graduating from University for a job in the public sector. Also great news, but very daunting, and I’m still on a steep learning curve after a month in the new job.

This past week, I realized that as much as I’ve done in the layout room since we moved in June, I hadn’t done as much modelling as I’d like.  I’ve done things here and there, but I don’t have any of my normal range of little projects going, either for the layout or because it interests me. I normally have at least one project out on the workbench, so if I walk into my office/layout room, and feel like filing or sanding or painting or whatever for five minutes here and there, I can.  I’ve let the room and the workbench become a bit of a mess even in just a couple of months, by not focusing on the things I needed to do still post move, mainly more cleaning and organizing of stuff to try to find more things that could be donated away/sold/thrown out/recycled as appropriate. I finally took a serious stab at that on Saturday, and feeling quite proud of myself, before I start one of the growing pile of freight car kits for the layout that are collecting in a workbench drawer, I went back and pulled out a project that was left in mid-stream before the move.  I started to seriously work on the interior of the British Railways Mk1 First Class Coach.  Turns out I’d managed to paint the car before we moved, but packed it away before building the interior.

IMG_6538Actual modelling in progress. Painting seats, tables and interior partitions for a British Railways Mk1 Coach kit.

While I’ve spent most of this afternoon working on the interior and fettling the fit and finish of the parts so that it can all be assembled when the sub assemblies are painted, I will now be leaving this out on my bench so that Monday, Tuesday or whenever, if I have a few minutes, I can do a little bit of work to move another project toward completion.  It’s nice to have reclaimed my workbench for modelling projects!

Taking a Break from Benchwork

Back in early 2017, I started on a small Ikea Shelf layout for narrow guage equipment, not based on any prototype or anything, just a shelf diorama to display some 009 Gauge models I have bought or customized.  Today, to break from working on the new layout, and to frankly, get it off my workbench where it was dominating the space, I finished wiring feeders to the track, and did some test running with Talyllyn.  The little shelf seems to run fine.  I’ll need to run it in more before balasting and doing some basic scenery, but a couple of hours this morning while watching car racing got it done and off the bench.

Bottom and top views of the narrow gauge diorama/layout on an Ikea Inreda shelf.

For now, since all the wire I’d cut weeks ago is now soldered into place, the shelf and its frame have gone away into the ever emptying closet (turns out building the benchwork has inspired me to finish the clear-out started before moving!).  With my workbench back and feeling like I’d accomplished something rather than just putting it away in shame, it was on to other layout projects and preparing for selling more surplus models in September at the Lakeshore Model Railroaders Flea Market on September 16th, but I’ll post more about that closer to the date.

Great British Train Show 2018 – Belated Show Report

Even numbered years are big years for those of us interested in British Model Trains in Ontario.  Even numbered years brings the return of the Great British Train Show at the end of April.  I blogged about the 2016 Edition of the show here, and despite some delay in getting this post written, I did attend and enjoy the show again in 2018.

As it’s been 3 weeks since the show, this is going to be a photo heavy rather than a text heavy post, largely as I want a reference/reminder to it for myself.  As with 2016, I brought a newbie to the British Scene along with me, this time, my friend Doug.  We want off and visited Credit Valley Model Railroad after the show, and then had a pub lunch. I need to research pubs in Mississauga, our choice was passable, but only just.

IMG_6805.jpg
You’d grin like an idiot too if you’d just bought an unopened London RT Bus for $5!!

My friend Trevor Marshall bought a new locomotive, a Lee Marsh GWR 517 Class to operate on his friend Brian Dickey’s Roweham layout, a gorgeous loco on a gorgeous layout – Read More Here about Trevor’s thoughts on investing in others layouts as well as your own in relation to Roweham.

Rapido Trains was the title sponsor of the show.  Along with their Tardis, they had samples of the Sterling Single, J70 Tram Locomotive, and GPV Gunpowder Van.

Phil Parker from BRM Magazine along with the project/raffle prize layout “Didbury Green” that be brought from the UK with him. Sadly, I didn’t win it, but inspiration for small space modelling!!

A sampling of the variety on offer, clockwise from top left: Vintage Tri-Ang; Platelayers Society OO Guage show layout; Montreal British Modellers portable layout; working Meccano locomotive; Live Steam; P4 Gauge Upper Leaside; and, OO Gauge Ottawa British Club layout.  Something for everyone and every era of British Railways.

With me moving in June, I wasn’t in the market for much, turns out, buying a house and moving in Toronto is expensive (who knew?).  That said, I got my discount bus and a discounted passenger car for a project, so I managed to spend slightly more at the vendors than I did on admission and raffle tickets, but not by nearly as much as past shows.

With that, onwards to 2020, I know I’ve already got a note on the long-range calendar to be free the last weekend of April for the show when it rolls around again!

Realtrack Scotrail Class 156

A few weeks back I wrote about my list of pre-orders.  Well, the first one completed its journey around the globe from the factory in China, to Yorkshire England and now to Toronto.  It is a Realtrack Models British Railways Class 156 DMU.  The model is manufactured for Realtrack by Rapido Trains, the Canadian manufacturer.  The Class 156’s were built between 1987 and 1989 to replace aging DMU’s that replaced steam locomotives hauling coaches in the 1960’s.  They entered service branded as “Super Sprinters”, and I received a model of one from my Grandfather, and it was one of my favourite units to run on my old 4’x8′ layout.

IMGP5263RawConv.jpg1980’s Lima class 156, look at that fantastic underbody detail, solid chunks of plastic with some details molded into it.

The technology of design and production, and the expected level of detail has come a long way since the late 1980s.  And with that in mind, when Realtrack announced they were producing a modern Class 156, I decided that I wanted one.

 

Scotrail Class 156 at Maillaig Scotland in 2014. Still going strong into privatization after British Rail was broken up. In the “Spotrail Saltire” scheme.

After what seemed like a never-ending wait from when I ordered the model in November 2016 after it was announced, it finally arrived today.  Some of that was production delays, some of it credit card issues on making the final payment, but regardless, any Friday night at the end of the work week where I can come home and find something exciting waiting is a good reward!

IMGP7040RawConvThe very classy looking box the models come in.

When I opened the shipping package, and started to go through the bubble wrap, the large box was uncovered, along with two of the plastic clamshells Rapido ships their products in.  I was confused by these, until I opened the box and discovered that Realtrack had taken the models out of the clamshells, and bubble wrapped them inside the foam to try to ensure handling by the mail for their final leg didn’t damage them.  I’m pleased to say both appear to have arrived safe and sound, just need to dig out my track to actually test run them.

 

Unboxing Realtracks Class 156 and some detail shots of the model.

Once I get it checked that it runs ok, I’ll take some videos too.  It has full sound for the DCC, but since I don’t have a DCC system to program it, It will be a while before I can play with the sound functions.  after a quick look around, it’s a fantastic looking model, and even though it isn’t a place/era I model, I’m glad to have it in my collection.