Sorting out some Small Part Storage

I am a bit of an organizer, I like to keep all my projects, parts, supplies and work bench organized. Some things I have been doing for organization are working, some things are not. One of the things that wasn’t was my organization of small parts you go through a lot of building freight cars, like grab irons and screws. I found a variety of options for little screw top containers on Amazon, so I bought one to see if I liked it (a $10 investment tacked onto an Amazon order isn’t a big deal). I really liked the little screw top containers I chose, and they came with a little clear plastic box to keep the 12 individual jars together, so I bought a 2nd. Then, I realized that wasn’t enough storage, so I bought two more and now Amazon Canada seems to be sold out! (sorry, I won’t bother linking as they are out of stock).

All in all, I am really happy with these, two are full, one is half full, and one is empty for future re-organization and expansion of my small part storage. Each tub is labelled with sharpie on the top of the jar, I tested, it will wipe off (despite Sharpie supposedly being permanent!), so I should be able to relabel them in the future.

Shot of one of the organizers after it arrived from amazon, easier to see the 12 tubs inside the bigger tub in this picture.

There are a mountain of listings marketed as cosmetic pots or bead containers or similar on Amazon if you too are looking for something to boost your small part organization. These are now a lot easier to get at rather than having to drag out the big container of detail parts they used to be stored in in the cupboard, as they can now stay in a corner of the work space out of the way and readily accessible.

Finding Things that Didn’t work

So, working from home means I’m working at my day job from my modelling workbench. It’s not all bad, though it poses different challenges when you need a break from work, or when you get frustrated at something you are working on having your distraction at your finger tips instead of having to stick at the work and get things done.

In any event, last week while sitting and working, I heard a popping sound from the layout behind me, the way the sun comes in through the skylight it only catches a small part of the layout as it works its way around the room, but it turns out, that it was more than enough in the concentrated heat box the suns path creates (which passes right over where I’m sitting and working from about 12:30-2:30 causing a great risk of desk naps) to cause the No More Nails adhesive holding the fascia on to fail!

IMG_2553Well that ain’t right….

In theory it’s an easy fix, do a better job of putting more of the adhesive in place and press the styrene fasica back into place. We will see if it holds this time! Certainly not a big problem, but the heat change with the sun is far greater than the normal climate variances and how fast things heat and cool in the layout room. I suspect anywhere not directly in the suns path will be ok, but we shall see in the course of time.

A new Task Lamp for the Workbench

IMG_2288New task lamp ready for unboxing and setting up

At the beginning of February we got together at my friend Hunter Hughson’s, and I was admiring his LED task lamp on his workbench. During Train Night In Canada last week, I was asking him about it and if he liked it. He reported that he loved it, so that was enough to sell me on buying one to try. Generally I’m happy with my workbench, except for the fact that I don’t have light shining at my work, its shining at me. This isn’t something I can easily fix, but a fixture like this that has super solid joints, and bright LED’s is perfect, as it can sit beside me and shine light on what I’m working on instead of in my face.

New light out of the box on my workbench, and set up in at least the first place I’m going to have it sit.

The light is touch on and off, which is great as it means it won’t get marked up by paint and glue if I’ve got any on my fingers. It also has three colour temperatures and can be dimmed/brightened on each setting. The lamp is by Tensor (there only seems to be a website for their parent company, not them individually), I bought it through Amazon, I don’t know if its available from others. As I write, shows one left in stock. The model number on the box is 20276-002 if you are google searching for it.

So far, I’m quite happy with it. My workbench isn’t bad in the daytime because of the skylight, but at night, the current room lighting is garbage, and when I replace that with layout lighting, it won’t necessarily help the workbench, so this was an affordable approach to get some more light easily that I can direct where I want. It’s also helping with workbench photography as now I can get light from behind the camera instead of in front of it!

And now, for something completely different….


Or not, its not a train, but its train-related!! Given all the time on my hands with no longer having to spend about 3 hours a day commuting (that was my reading time on the subway, now its extra around the house doing stuff time, I don’t seem to be able to sit and read a book around the house), I have decided that to fill at least a little bit of this time, I want to figure out how to operate my actual steam engine.

This is something else with childhood memories of my grandfather and summer trips to Scotland. This little 1950’s vintage stationary engine ran on what the British would call Methylated Spirts, or Denatured Alcohol in North America is a real steam engine. You fill the boiler with water, and the little burner with alcohol, light the wick, and once the water boils, steam goes through the pipe, moves the piston and spins the wheel, just like a real stationary engine, and basically the same technology as a steam locomotive on the railway.

My Signalling Equipment Ltd. Model Minor stationary steam engine.

I haven’t seen this run probably since I was 10 or 11 years old. It likely hasn’t run in most of that time, as I’ve had it for probably 20 years at this point, and I’ve never made the effort to learn how to run it despite having a few friends who have live steam railway models. I need to do that now, as sometime in the near future, I’d like to be able to run it for my 7 year old nephew and 5 year old niece when they visit and continue the tradition of seeing it run and sharing trains with them as my grandparents did with us around their age.

The #TwitterModelTrainShow

Another experiment in Social Distancing this weekend from the United Kingdom, after the London Festival of Model Engineering was cancelled, one of the organizers came up with the idea for a Model Train Show on Twitter, this would let people around the world share projects and ideas. Follow the link to the hashtag #TwitterModelTrainShow if you want to go down the rabbit hole, otherwise, my Tweets are linked here for anyone interested.

I saw a lot of great modelling, and a lot of people who love trains participating in this, and that’s a great thing that hopefully lifts up peoples spirits. The Toronto Railway Museum is doing its own Virtual Model Train Show next Saturday, on March 28, 2020, if you’re on Twitter and feel like taking part, I can assure you it will be appreciated.

“Train Night in Canada” A Social Distancing Gathering

A number of my friends in the hobby and I get together periodically at the pub to have a couple of drinks, dinner, and talk about what we’ve been up to. We also get together at each others homes, to work on projects at each others workbenches, using tools that some of us may have others don’t, and to run trains. Obviously, in the era of COVID-19 and Social Distancing, this can’t happen, but as a wise Vulcan once said, there are always alternatives…

In this case, our modern technological world offers a plethora of online video and audio chat tools, just some of them are Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, Webex, Zoom, WhatsApp and who knows what else. My friend Mark has a Zoom account their family has set up for our current social distancing, and he came up with the idea of a Saturday night get-together to talk trains and keep in touch. He invited a number of our circle, both in Toronto and further afield in Ontario. We wound up with five attendees, Mark, Doug, Ryan, Bernard and myself.

On the left our Zoom meeting showing us all working and chatting, on the left, my project for the night, a Kaslo Shops CPR Fowler 36′ wooden boxcar.

Bernard gave us a tour of his layout room and workshops, which was great as I haven’t had the chance to see his layout in person; Mark was showing off his work scratchbuilding a brass dumpster in O scale (no word if its going to be a dumpster fire or not); Doug showed off an online group scratchbuilding project he’s taking part in; Ryan was showing off his casting techniques and setup for his business National Scale Car; and, I gave a tour of my layout in progress.

All in all, it was a fantastic hour and a half or so on a Saturday night after a most unusual week. We will definitely be doing it again, and we now have a Zoom account as well for doing the same with family and other circles of friends. It’s good to know that despite everything, some of these mountains of tech we have are actually good for something after all!