Form 7355 – Safety Rules – June 1, 1952

Sometimes when you go to a Train Show, the thing you spend the least on is the winner of the day.  I went to the Ancaster Train Show today with some friends, carpooling out from the City, then going for a relaxing pub lunch after before returning to the City.  With layout planning dominating my thoughts, I haven’t been getting much work done on building models, and, to be frank, the joy of the thought of building a layout has me focusing on finishing things that are on my workbench to clear it for layout building projects, rather than looking for more to start.  On the day, I didn’t spend very much at all.  I bought a single reference photo of a CPR Steam Locomotive, a detail part (singular, sad really), a sheet of decals, and a couple of pieces of vintage CN paper (A 1947 Eastern Canada Passenger Timetable, and a 1952 set of Safety Rules). (Edit: I also got a 0-6-0 Steam locomotive, but I didn’t pay for that, it was a generous gift from a fellow modller who reads the blog Rick De Candido as an opportunity for a future project, see the single photo I bought and some future post about it!)

The Safety Rules, are the clear winner of my day, for a whole dollar, I got a copy of a June 1952 Canadian National Form 7355, the Safety Rules for Train, Engine, Yard and other Transportation Employees.

IMGP4306RawConvA little yellow book with 36 pages of Safety Rules, in force as of June 1, 1952

These are a wholly entertaining read, looking at how Health and Safety matters were treated 65 years ago.  “Obedience to the rules is essential to safety”.  The rules read like a how to manual of how to blame the employee if something happens to them, in the guise of a set of rules to make sure they operate the railway safely.

IMGP4309RawConvThe Index and General Notice inside the front of Form 7355

Now, while these rules may not have a lot of applicability on a model railroad, one fun thing caught my eye when I got home and actually looked at it closely (because lets face it, for a $1, I bought without even thinking twice).  Form 7355 has a sign and tear our page in the front for record keeping.  Upon issuance of the rules, and employee had to acknowledge the requirement to know the rules and obey them.  The receipt was to be torn out and maintained by a supervisor or foreman.  This is the kind of paperwork you could easily re-produce and use as part of an operating session.  Each new operator has to sign on and acknowledge they will be bound by the railways safety rules.  At the end of the Op Session, it can be a little souvenier of their visit to your railroad and era.

IMGP4308RawConvReceipt Page of Form 7355.  Something you could require all your Ops Session crew to sign to ensure they are fully on board as railroad employees following your safety rules.

As is often the case, the show was much more fun just for seeing friends and chatting shop than it was in terms of buying anything.  As always it seems, there were lots of shiny things to try and draw you in to buy, but for today at least, cheapness won the trip for me!



Lest We Forget

3150740152_6300093d54_oMy Great Grandfather Bob West’s medals from his service in the First and Second World Wars. From Left to Right, The 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945.

On November 11th each year we take a pause to remember those who have served, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in war.  It is an opportunity to thank those who serve and have served, and to remind us all that war is never the right answer, it only brings pain and suffering to all involved.

My Great Grandfather Bob West, of Newtownbutler County Fermanagh Northern Ireland was one of the young men who volunteered for the “glorious” cause.  He fought at Ypress and the Somme in 1916 and spent 3&1/2 years France on the Western Front. In World War Two he served with the Pioneer Corps around the Bristol Channel in England for 6 years.  His obituary is reproduced below that details his small part in the war, and the perfectly normal life he went on to lead between the wars and after World War Two.  I don’t really have any memories of him, just fleeting ones, so unfortunately, I don’t know how his experiences changed him, but I take time every year to think about him and the hundreds of thousands of others who served, and those who were not as lucky as my Grandfather to have survived to return home and lead a full life.

Obituary 1986 Bob WestMy Great Grandfather West’s Obituary

I was born and raised in Canada, my parents having emigrated from Northern Ireland after they were married, and grew up in an era where an ever shrinking number of First World War veterans like my Great Grandfather in Northern Ireland were still alive, but I have vivid memories of them coming to my elementary school each year for Remembrance Day ceremonies.  As a child I didn’t understand and couldn’t comprehend what they had gone through, but as an adult, the imprint of the war on them is now clear in my memories of them, and their desire to make sure my generation and future generations remember their sacrifice, so that no others will have to suffer through war and destruction the way they did.  Lest we Forget

15760291871_349397138e_oCanadian and British Legion Poppies, a symbol of our remembrance

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

Track Plan for a Liberty Village layout – Version 1.5?

In the nine days since I presented my first version of a track plan for Liberty Village, I have received a lot of feedback both on the blog, and off from friends in the hobby.  All of it has been very helpful in getting me to critically look at what I drew, what I want to achieve, and what will make my layout a better layout.  There are pieces of advice that I have taken and acted on, and others, that I have not acted on so far.  I don’t think the plan below quite rises to the level of a 2.0 design.  But it’s definitely a Version 1.5.

Oct 31 17 - Liberty Layout Concept 1-FastTracks 3.anyNovember 9, 2017 – Version 1.5.  Nov 09 17 – Liberty Layout Plan (PDF)

Major changes include:

  • Eliminating Curved Turnouts
  • Overall straightening of the main line adjacent to Liberty Street
  • Reducing number of industry car spots by 2
  • Adjusting building sizes to be closer to prototype where possible
  • Adjustments to Mowat/Liberty Trackage angles and spacing
  • Widening Jefferson-Atlantic and Atlantic-Hanna blocks to let industries/buildings breathe and even out spacing
  • Eliminate Run Around Loop (though this very much has the feel of the Dead Collector Scene from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, it’s still hanging around “I’m not dead yet…”)

I’ve looked at other options like providing an ability to run around on the staging cassettes, or making allowances for a train to use the staging for switching the last industries even if both full length tracks are occupied.  I haven’t quite figured out what I want to or can do with that, but as the Staging are both removable, they don’t have to be fully formed ideas at this point, though it wouldn’t hurt if they were for analyzing potential operations.

The run around loop remains something that my brain tells me I want for operations, my heart tells me that friends who are saying that extra trackage isn’t necessary and will bother you long-term are right.  So, for now, this version does away with it.

One thing I am really happy with is the fact that the Jefferson-Hanna area doesn’t feel so compressed in this version.  It has room to breathe, and lets me get a bit more detail of buildings that aren’t served on the layout, but where It doesn’t look as unnaturally squished as it did before. It also gives me the opportunity to model more of the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company Building between Hanna and Atlantic (and I really need to pick industries with names I can reliably spell and pronounce between this and “Hinde and Dauch”!).

Where I am at now is looking at the track plan, and trying to visualize how an operating session would potentially work.  In a bit of opportune timing, I got together last night with my friend Trevor Marshall to talk about a bunch of modelling and layout stuff, and have dinner.  As always, most of our chatting was done while running a freight on his Port Rowan Layout.  Different from my past visits, instead of me being the engineer and driving, I took on the conductors role and did the paperwork.  In the few op sessions I’ve done, I’ve never been the paperwork end of it.  This is important, as while building the layout is fun, operating it, and that being enjoyable is also a part of the hobby.  Trevor wrote in detail about his Car Card forwarding system on his blog, and building an understanding of how to give operators directions to run the layout will be part of figuring out if what I’ve design will work.  I need to work on my understanding of car cards and forwarding and such if I am going to be able to come up with a scheme to operate the layout, I need to be able to explain what people who come to operate are supposed to be doing.

The layout as designed above would see some sidings which could only be switched by a locomotive pushing cars into the scene from the yards represented by staging.  From the CNR staging there are 3 sidings that could only be served by pushing cars onto the layout, and 8 which could be served by a locomotive pulling cars.  The opposite numbers apply for a train entering from the CPR staging. Given my staging is only big enough for a locomotive, caboose and 4 cars, and with two railroads serving the area, this means a lot of jobs would be 1-2 cars in and out for each railway.  I see an operating session being two jobs for each railway.  Because there is a larger area beyond the staging, it’s entirely possible that trains would bring in cars that they are leaving with, having been picked up or not yet dropped off off-scene.

Before I commit to a final plan, and start looking at construction and buying track supplies and such, I think my next step is to take the plan and make up some paper cutouts and play it like a board game to see if I can make sense of operating session schemes and switching.  If it seems to make sense, then I can continue on with the track plan refinements, if it doesn’t, then I’m back to the drawing board on the trackplan.  Regardless, its continue on apace with searching for information on the industries and buildings, and starting to sketch up what my model versions of the Liberty Village industries will look like.

Tuesday Train #80

IMGP4235RawConvUsed Geep Lot.

Get your Certified Pre-Owned Nissan, Pickup Truck or GP-40-2 and Slug here…

Well, not exactly, but the parking location used by the Goderich and Exeter of two units still painted for the “St Lawrence and Atlantic Railway” on Eagle Street in Cambridge looks like they are part of the used car lot.  The two units are a paired set, 806 on the left is identified as “RM-1”, a remote controlled slave unit to 3806 on the right, a GP-40-2 locomotive.

Research Research Research

Model Railroading is a hobby of research as much as it is of doing.  At least it is if you area “Prototype Modeller” who wants to ensure their models are as accurate a representation of what we are modelling as can be achieved in a scale model.  I spend a lot of time in libraries, archives, scouring online for information and pictures about models that I’m working on.  This is OK, as I love research and gaining knowledge.  It keeps me inspired to do better at my modelling by having as much information as possible before I start a project.

This means that modellers tend to have a lot of books and photographs around, as we are constantly looking for information and references for what we are building.  Last week while I was out to dinner with a group of modellers, a potential simultaneous build project to modify a ready-to-run steam locomotive to be more accurate to its Canadian National prototype came up.  With motivation, I finally went out and bought a book that I should have bought when it came out in 2013, “Canadian National Steam”, a book which provides as complete a history as likely will ever be possible of every steam locomotive owned by Canadian National Railways.

IMG_4436.JPGCanadian National Steam published by Railfare DC Books.  This is Volume 1, an overview and details on different aspects.  Volumes 2-8 are detailed rosters of different wheel arrangements, with lots of pictures and details of when major modifications to the locomotives were made.

Budget considerations dictated that for the moment, I bought Volume 1 and one roster book, though I should have at least 6 of the 7 roster books eventually.  I’m not sure I need Volume 2 on oddballs and Newfoundland.

Like most modellers I know, the last thing I need is another project to be added to my pile, and I’ve written about my stack of projects in the past.  Despite that, this would be a different project, a chance to collaborate with a friend on something I’ve wanted to do for a while with the locomotive I already own.  I only need to settle on which specific locomotive I am going to model, then find the appropriate detail parts to update and improve the model.  As part of this project, it will give me the opportunity to work on my electronic skills as well, as the headlight LED in the locomotive is a sickly shade of green light, and I’ll be installing DCC and sound, once I make sense of the non-standard 9 Pin plug on the locomotive and how to re-wire it for an ESU Loksound decoder!

IMG_4435Fergie “helping” with my research in one of the Roster volumes of Canadian National Steam. I think she felt it was bedtime and I should stop reading and start providing a place for her to cuddle in the night.

The good news is that I am contemplating this project the weekend before one of the larger train shows in the area, the Hamilton & Ancaster Model Train Show (formerly the TH&B Society Flea Market).  This show happens twice a year, in January and November.  The next two are Sunday November 12, 2017 and Sunday January 28, 2018.  I try to go to both, but winter roads can make the January one iffy, so whenever possible I go to the November Show.  I went with friends last year and hopefully will do so again.  The show is a good chance for me to start searching for detail parts and supplies for new and ongoing projects, as the show tends to have lots of these available.  I’ll post somewhere in the future about the specifics of the locomotive project I’m going to be working on.  For now its just the research phase!!

3D Printing Custom Design Requests or Requests to change the Scale of a Model – Not as easy or appetizing as people think

On a semi-regular basis I get two kinds of emails from people through my Shapeways 3D printing store:

  1. Hi, can you 3D draw item XYZ for me and not charge me an hourly rate for your design time.  I think you’ll sell lots of them and make money?
  2. Can you re-size item ABC that you’ve already drawn in HO Scale to N or S or O or whatever scale?

The first question is easy.  No, I can’t spend tens or hundreds of hours researching and designing something for you that I’m not interested in for no money.  The 3D modelling package I know and use is an older one that I learned in University and we bought at my office eons ago because I knew it.  It’s a bit (nee a lot) dated, but it works for me.  But, the fact that it is on my work computer means that I maybe get 30-40 minutes at lunch, and any time I want to hang around after work modelling (and contrary to popular belief, I do have a life and spending hours at work after work isn’t my idea of fun, even if it does lead to more models!).  I don’t have a sense of how long a project is going to take me to do when I start.  Some projects I thought would be easy have taken ages, and others I thought would be hard, have been advanced quickly.  And I don’t track how long I spend working on a model, as in some ways, I don’t want to know.  As my model making and Shapeways Store are a part of my HOBBY, I don’t want to put a dollar figure on my time, the hobby is expensive enough as is!!  Equally simply, in honest terms, large 3D printed items are not for the faint of heart.  The GO Single level coach is around $200US in cost before I apply any markup to make some money on it.  That’s just the cost from Shapeways.  That means, depending on how much markup I add to make some money, if I mark it up 30%, that’s a $260.00US model kit that doesn’t have wheels, decals, or detail parts.  I may not be a model railroad manufacturer, but I don’t need to be to know there isn’t a market for that when a complete resin coach kit from BGR group is around $160.00CDN and they are a niche market for people who actually want to build kits!

An accurate reflection of the transaction most people expect when they ask you to do custom 3D modelling for their Model Railroad projects, apologies for the swear word (Courtesy of Matthew Innman at

So, on to Question 2.  First up, I need to explain how I create a 3D model.  I draw whatever I am modelling at full size inside the computer program (i.e. an 89′ long passenger car is 89′ long in the computer program.  Over the 5 years I have been designing for printing at Shapeways, I have learned their material tolerances.  For example, in Frosted Ultra Detail, the material I print most of my models in, I know that the minimum width for a wall to successfully print is 0.6mm, or 0.02 inches.  This works out to 1.75 inches in the 1:1 scale real world.  This, is the minimum width that a wall of a building or car needs to be to print.  As you pay by volume of material, you want to minimize any additional thickness to parts to avoid paying for material that isn’t needed. This means, that I know exactly what i am doing in HO Scale, as that’s what i model in.  Once I am done the model, I split it into parts as appropriate (i.e. car underbody, interior, body shell), and re-scale it down to HO scale, and then upload to Shapeways.

FormZScreenshot of FormZ 6.5 and the 3D model of Don Station (before parting out for printing)

So you ask, why is it so hard to then change it to N scale or S scale or something else?  Well, its twofold.  Going smaller to N-Scale, the fine details may no longer be thick enough to print. Going bigger to S or O Scales, the walls may be too thick, and details that are passable in HO become blocky lumps that look terrible.  This is particularly a problem for buildings, as the window mullions are so fine in HO they barely print, which means they won’t print in N. In S or O Scale, if the part will even fit in the print envelope of the machine, the parts can look clunky and oversized, as they probably are over true scale in HO to meet the minimum printable dimensions.

Another problem, especially for locomotive bodies or coaches I’ve done, in shrinking them to N Scale, I know nothing about it.  I don’t have N scale equipment or couplers to understand correct heights, how things are mounted, what will and won’t negotiate a curve or switch and on and on.  When I was convinced to re-scale my CNR D-1 to N Scale, I had to go buy an N Scale mechanism for it to make sure the body would fit over it and to see where the mounting points were as opposed to the HO Scale version. I also discovered that I had to turn the roof into part of the body in N scale to make it strong enough.

When I up-sized D-1 to S Scale, that then posed the problem that the body was too big for the printer, on top of needing to thin the walls to try to bring the huge cost down to something reasonable for my friend who wanted it.  At least in S-Scale, there is no expectation of a commercial mechanism fitting it, so I only had to design with mounting blocks to allow the body to be attached to a custom-made brass frame.  For the carbody to fit in the printer, it had to be split in two.  It took me a long time to figure out where and how to split it, and make sure I had found every possible place where parts needed to be cut, and adjusted so they didn’t bind up when the two parts of the print were assembled.  It worked, but similar to the requests above, if I’d been billing time, it wouldn’t have been cost-effective.

D-1 in Many Scales.  S and HO together on Trevor Marshall’s kitchen table, and N scale on my workbench.  The S Scale required the body to be split apart, while the N-scale required the roof to become a part of the body to be strong enough.  Not just a quick click to re-size when changing scales.

Similarly, I received  a request a few months ago to re-size an HO Scale Fairmont Speeder to S scale.  A request I would normally ignore, though in this case, I didn’t.  The problem with making things bigger, is that it exposes any faults in the modelling. The smaller the model, the more a fudge here or a size issue there goes unnoticed.  I honestly think the only reason I even considered the request was that I have a friend who models in S Scale that I could at least give it to when done.  I also have a lot of respect for S Scale modellers.  They can’t generally go buy anything off the shelf and run it.  They have to work at it to find models, and build things.  I am totally behind that, and like the notion of helping them with a few hours of my time on the speeder resize to make another model available for them.  S Scale is called a “Builders Scale’, you don’t get into it because you want to buy stuff and run trains, you get into it because you are a modeller who likes building things.

The S Scale and HO Scale speeder together, and the S Scale speeder showing it modified to be two parts instead of the single piece of the HO Scale one to ease painting the larger and slightly more detailed version.

For the S Scale speeder, with the details being more visible, it gave me more opportunity to improve the model, and to fix things like the seats which hadn’t printed right in several HO attempts.  I also modified it to have some extra details, to allow wood strips to be inserted for the hand lift bars for turning it.  Making these changes probably took me 4 or 5 hours of fiddling about to make sense of where more detail was needed, trying to do things like make the axles roll (didn’t succeed). I’ve sold one to the person who requested it, which is nice as at least he was true to his word that if I did the work, he’d buy it.  This is where these resizing requests become a problem.  On top of the time sink which is not insignificant to adjust a model, and go through all the checks, I have no reason most of the time to order one myself to make sure it prints and looks right. I also don’t have the budget to be doing that, as it would be even more of a sink than doing the modelling for free is.  Suffice to say, I’m not much of a business man, as I probably made about $1/hour for the modification time on the single sale to date!!

While it may not seem like a lot of time, any time I spend working on adjusting a model for someone else, is taking away from the limited amount of time I have to work on designing things for my own projects, or going home and actually working on the models.  There are times I wish I could walk away from my day job and make enough money designing model railroad parts and models for a living, but I know from friends that turning your hobby into a job takes away the fun of the Hobby.  I am happy to offer for sale what I do come up with on Shapeways to help build a community and help others, but that’s done with the understanding that I don’t have the time to do extensive customer support or custom projects. I will continue to generally politely decline requests for projects and re-sizing for the most part, though as you can see, I’m also inconsistent and at least sometimes, something will pique my interest enough to get me to take it on.