“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!

Mocking Up Liberty Village

Buildings buildings buildings. No small part of my layout are the early 20th century industrial buildings that frame the streets of Liberty Village. While I’m a long way from building them all, a few hours over the past few days has at least seen them appear in mockup form while I get ready to lay track and finalize the buildings orientation and siting.

Mowat Avenue and Liberty Street – The spur at Carbide Chemicals, Canadian GE, Barrymore Cloth and the Toronto Carpet Factory.

My mockups are cheap and cheerful, generally close to scale where I’ve found drawings or taken measurements, and are intended at this point to give me a sense of what the layout will look like and help with making adjustments once my switches are done and I can start laying track. They are all cut from a single sheet of framing matte board, for less than $10 I’ve populated the layout and have a sense of scale for the buildings in relation to the trains.

60 Atlantic, Brunswick Balke Collendar and Hinde and Dauch rise on the east end of Liberty Street.

Even with my cheap and cheerful mockups, I’ve noticed a few things that when track goes in where my track plans could use some adjusting to more accurately reflect the real alignments of buildings. I’m also working with selective compression. All buildings have their full heights, but some are being compressed to fit the layout space. Obvious examples are 60 Atlantic which is about 1/2 length, and Hinde and Dauch. I’ve been struggling with Hinde and Dauch. I have enough room to do a faithful full scale representation of the eastern 2/3 of the building. The mockup however, is a compressed version to get the variations in building height that the plant had. It’s a 45%/35%/65% compression of the three segments moving from west to east. The eastern part is the most “important” to me as that is where the large painted signs on the 4th and 2nd floor brick courses were painted, and I want to be able to include these on the building. While I could do that full scale, I think the building loses something important without all three segments to give it some variation in design and appearance, and the mockup in card lets me see what that looks like, and make adjustments before I start to build a real model in styrene and bricksheet which costs a lot more!

Mowat Ave looking north. Getting there.

With at least a first pass of the buildings that are on the backdrop side of the mainline done, I have a little bit of a sense of what they layout will look like, and if I do say so myself, I’m really pleased. It’s exactly the feel I want, big early 20th century industrial buildings that will dwarf the trains that service them. There’s lots of work in building buildings once the track is down and trains can run. I suspect most if not all of these Version 1.0 Mockups will go in the garbage and be replaced by better mockups once the track is in place and I can adjust them to be better templates for permanent layout buildings, but for now, it’s really nice to walk into the layout room and see something that vaguely resembles Liberty Village!!

IMG_7469The full layout. The big gap is where the Mercer Reformatory for Women (the jail!) was located. It won’t have a building there, but it also works as when the peninsula gets built, that area wouldn’t be reachable by operators to switch cars anyways.

A quick add on for Workbench Organization

Having now lived with my new workbench for 8 months since we moved, there are things I’m happy with, and things I’m less happy with. One of the things I wasn’t happy with was my paint/glue storage. It was awkward, and my paint was in a constant risk of getting tipped over when I was using it or switching around jars.

At the Barrie-Allandale show last weekend, Osborn Models was there, and had a great, and affordable ($15) paint rack laser cut kit. It took maybe 10 minutes to put together (they say 5, I can see that, but I’m slow some days). There are lots of options out there, but a lot that I’ve seen are very specific to a single brand of paint or jar size. I don’t have limitless desk space, so this caught my eye as it would accommodate a wide range of paint and glue containers from different manufacturers together.

IMG_7416One laser cut paint and glue stand kit.

The parts are nicely cut, and the holes are designed to accommodate different sizes of jars with different openings. It’s a simple glue together with white glue kit. I found it needed a few minutes with some clamps while the glue bonded to get everything nicely aligned.

Test Fitting the pieces, and letting the glue cure with some clamps for a few minutes to make sure everything was nice and tight.

I’m quite pleased with the addition. It looks good, and organizes a bunch of supplies that stay on the workbench, and paints that come out of the drawer when I need to use them. It’s also got the potential with the jar holders that aren’t glued in for me to adjust the openings and patterns a bit to best fit my needs as I use them, which isn’t a bad thing either.

IMG_7437All done, a nice quick addition to my workbench.


Brunswick Balke Collender Power House

This weekend, in my process of constructing the Liberty Village Line, while I am still plugging away without laying track, I decided to start converting the large remnant piece of 0.060″ Styrene from the backdrop into the structures for the layout.

img_7205Not the most convenient work surface, but when I was dealing with an 8′ sheet of styrene, the floor is all I’ve got to get rough cuts done at least.

With the big chunk of leftover styrene, I have enough material to make a serious dent in the internal cores of a large number of structures on the layout. I decided to start with the only structure I’ve mocked up (I’ll mock-up the others once the track is laid and final alignment known). The first building to start taking true physical form is the power house for the Brunswick Balke Collender company, which made pool tables and bowling alleys and other entertainment/games. The buildings are both still there, the powerhouse (now modified to be a bank), and the factory building which houses offices and restaurants.

Wall cores cut from 0.060″ styrene sheet, cutting corner braces from 0.25″ square styrene, and gluing the first corners together.

With the space I have for the layout, my boilerhouse is about half the size of the real building. I’m compressing it by shortening the building, so that I can fit the main wall of the factory onto the layout as well. This is a pretty simple building for the main structure. Four walls, for my purposes, only three openings, two doors and a window on the south wall adjacent to the tracks.

This is a simple building, only the “front” wall adjacent to Liberty Street has any openings in my selectively compressed version to fit the layout space.

The Chimney will be a bit more complicated. I’m still working on how I’m going to creat it. I also don’t have nearly enough patterned brick sheet for building the larger buildings or the chimney. I’ve got a show coming up next weekend where I’m selling more stuff from the collection (I’ll post an update about that mid-week). The Chimney has a taper from bottom to top, and then a flare at the top. Fortunately, the Chimney is a down the road problem. First things first is to build the main part of the building.

Working on adding trim around the doors and window, the wall with a brick veneer added, and then with doors and window in place.

This is being built-in “traditional” ways. Sheet styrene, injection molded styrene doors and window from Grandt Line (now out of business, all their tooling has bought by a new company, the San Juan Model Co.). It was a nice simple structure for my weekend, four walls, a roof, a bit of detail around where the chimney will be. After working on and off between other household tasks, the walls are all together, with brick, the window and doors are in place, and the roof is rough cut in place. I held off on attaching it as I am debating best order of operations for attaching it, detailing it, etc along with the building walls so I don’t take a step that then makes painting the walls the buff beige/yellow colour that the brick actually is, as opposed to the red of the styrene sheet.

img_7235Replacing the cardboard structure with a taped on printout of an architectural drawing (of the modernized building) with some styrene and a cardboard chimney (everything in due course).

While I doubt that I will have been able to paint it before the Copetown and Toronto Railway Prototype Modeller meets at the end of February/Beginning of March, I suspect this will be one of the few things I actually bring with me to these get togethers, if only because I haven’t been building much else that’s portable in the past year with the house move and layout construction!

First Track Laid for Liberty Village

Another week, another layout milestone. I was having a rough day the other day, lots of things going on with work and just got home feeling beat. I was looking for something to put a smile on my face in the layout room. I’ve held off on doing any track laying until my switches are built so I can make sure everything lines up at the staging sliders. Despite this, I realized there is some track I can lay in a corner of the room that is scenic only. To hide a corner in the closet at the east end, I have room for a couple of fake tracks to represent the Canadian Pacific Parkdale Yard.

img_7184Cutting foam roadbed and track to fit in the corner to represent Parkdale Yard.

To do this little bit of trackwork, I decided to use up some old Woodland Scenics Foam Roadbed roll. I used this on my previous layout built circa 2003 in my parents old house in Georgetown when I lived at home for a couple of years after finishing university before I was sure my job in Toronto was going to work out, and to let me pay off some student debt before paying rent.

The roadbed in place, with DAP silicone caulk and then track put in place.

The foam roadbed was glued down using Gorilla Wood Glue. I had done a series of tests with a bunch of adhesives to check that it would bond to the pink foam and not melt it with spare off cuts of foam and roadbed. I decided that the Gorilla Wood Glue was the best for these materials. I have to do the test again with the cork roadbed for the working tracks, but that’s a down the road matter.  I have room for two full tracks across the angle of the corner, which I can put some freight cars on to be a visual block for the join between the benchwork and the backdrop. The yard was obviously much bigger than this, but a couple of tracks provides a bit of extra staging and a visual filler for the space.

First rolling stock on the layout on track actually affixed to the benchwork (and yes, I know it’s a CNR Caboose in a CPR yard, I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered to dig in the tubs of stored equipment to find a CPR caboose!!)

While I wait on my switches being finished for the serious track laying to commence, the next time I feel the need to do something, I have a bit of track I can practice painting, weathering and ballasting before the main layout work starts. Happy start to my weekend as well writing this post!

Filling in the Last Gap around the wall

When I originally designed the layout, I didn’t plan to use all the space in the closet for extra tracks in staging, I didn’t think I needed to, and didn’t want to have to mess around fitting pieces around the shelf brackets. Then I discovered even in the areas I thought the brackets would clear, they didn’t (See here and the fix here). Today I finally had a chance to swing by somewhere with a table saw, and cut a little bit of plywood to fill the last gap we left in construction back in August.

img_7168A hole in the layout, left because the old shelf supports blocked the area, now gaining some extra layout real estate.

Once I test fit the little bit of plywood into the opening, I took it back out and pre-drilled and countersunk where the screws would go, I got it back in, and because of the low overhead height, I hand drilled pilot holes into the cross frames. Once one hole was drilled and a screw put in, the other three were easy.

Hand piloting the holes because of restricted space, and the filler piece installed.

With the plywood in, it was easy work to cut down another bit of the pink foam, and tack it in place with No More Nails cauk. All told, probably took me an hour including cleanup to finally have the around the wall portion of the benchwork all done. Nice way to do the first layout work for 2019!

img_7172Ready for roadbed and track. No more room for a train to fall down behind the layout anymore!