I know I haven’t posted in a long time, so I’m just going to do a brain dump and list some things that I’ve been picking away at.
I added fascia to the majority of my layout! I’m pretty pleased by how it looks. Photos to come soon.
I bought a bunch of “inexpensive” freight cars, some of which I have refurbished for my layout, and some that I resold on the excellent CANADA HO/N Yard Sale group on Facebook.
I started doing some weathering with PanPastel artists’ pastels. So far I weathered one Bachmann grain car and sealed it with Dullcote. I’m pleased.
These are the DCC-equipped locomotives / RDCs I have. Only CN 3665 (third from left) has sound.
I bought another locomotive and I hope to receive it by the end of next week.
It’s a Kato/Atlas GP38 custom painted by Scott Holmes in a fantasy CN/VIA scheme.
I’m not sure if I will repaint it… I’ll have to see it and operate with it for a while first to see how I feel about it.
Time For DCC
Speaking of exciting, I bought a trio of TCS T1 decoders to go into my two VIA “blue box” locomotives and an old Bachmann “RS18”.
These VIA units have some extra detail on them – handrails, grilles, etc. – so they are definitely a step above your normal Athearn “blue box” quality. I believe Craig Takahashi did the detail work.
I’ll be following these instructions for DCC installation. It’s definitely not my first decoder installation – see my RDC installation – but I don’t do it often enough to be able to do it without glancing at instructions.
I haven’t done any formal operations sessions in a while. I have run trains a few times when my nephew came by – he does love the trains but I think he likes driving my toy trucks more.
I am getting the itch to run trains so I think I’ll be doing that soon.
These are the next things I plan to do on my layout / trains:
My oldest son Nick came to visit for Thanksgiving. He’s attending the University of Waterloo so it was nice to have him around for a few days. We did our traditional visits to the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada and to Marway Militaria. Nick has a fair amount of N scale equipment (some from my dad’s collection) and hopes to build a layout someday.
He expressed an interest in operating on my layout, and I jumped at the chance. I had never had anyone operate on my layout before!
After cleaning the track and a few locomotive wheels, we were ready for action.
Nick decided to take CP and I took CN.
First up for him was the VIA RDC off the Minnedosa subdivision into Brandon, followed by CP 976, also off the Minnedosa to Brandon.
As he ran his trains, I ran mine. CN 404 was first, working the Manitoba Pool Elevator and Irving Oil.
CN 404 was pulling some cars out of the Pool track before putting the grain cars in.
In the following clip you can see it rolling into Winnipeg (staging) after doing its work. It was pretty long for my layout!
Nick was working Georgetown with demonstrator 769. Unfortunately it derailed due to a misaligned switch. The crew easily rerailed it and carried on.
The roadmaster had a little chat with the engineer afterward about speeds in the yard!
Later, CN 403 was working in Georgetown while a CP freight was also working in Georgetown. This has never happened before, since I can’t run two trains at once by myself!
Note the single grain car spotted at the elevator by CN 404 earlier.
After working in Georgetown, CN 403 proceeded to Helene to work the Cargill elevator. One more clip, showing the train backing into track HI01 with the full train.
Nick shows the finer points of using a tool to uncouple cars…
We operated for about an hour and a half and finished everything up. It was great to have a guest operator and the fact that it was my son made it extra special. Thanks, Nick!
I have a number of model train projects on the go, and I’m not executing on any of them.
Lance Mindheim just wrote a post “Fear of the Inconsequential” where he wrote about the “fear of getting it wrong”. That’s me, all right.
What do I have going on?
Fascia – I started installing fascia on the layout, but I quickly realized I don’t know how to get around the corners. I’ve reached out for help, got some, but I lack confidence. Some of it is too long and needs to be trimmed, and I don’t have a table saw. I feel like it’s not going to look very professional, so right now the majority of the fascia sits in my garage, painted and slowly getting dirty and unusable.
Ballast – I’ve ballasted all of the visible CN track that I am going to do. I’ve done patches of the CP track but I haven’t finished it. Why not? I really don’t know.
Scenery – I’ve done some bits of scenery here and there, but the main part of the layout – Georgetown – is undecorated. I have an idea in my head of what it should look like, but I don’t know where to start so I don’t.
Kits – I have several model kits that I haven’t started. Some are Intermountain grain hoppers and for those I am just intimidated by the number of parts. I have a couple of Athearn “blue box” kits that I know I can do, but I haven’t done them. Also I have a grain elevator mostly complete, but I can’t move from 85% complete to 100% complete because.. I don’t know why not. I have some great decals from Precision Design on it but I need a few more.
I know I should “just do it” as Nike said. Something is better than nothing. I can always go back and make it better if I don’t like the result.
I know this.
But I have to get over this internal fear of screwing up before I can move forward.
Here’s hoping that happens soon.
What do you do to push past these internal roadblocks?
I went to the Manitoba Mega Train show yesterday (September 24). The show is being held at the Red River Exhibition Park. The venue is spacious, allowing lots of room for train layouts, vendors and for other activites like model ship builders, Lego, face painters and more!
I was in line for the 9 AM opening. I’m normally not quite this keen but I had someplace to be in the afternoon, so I wanted to maximize my time there.
I loved the great mile 10.6 Manitoba Pool elevator and the Agricore concrete ‘vator!
There were other displays beyond trains… like these ship / submarine models. There were a lot of ships and boats on display. Note the pool where they were running radio control boats!
There was some face painting too…
There was LOTS of Lego, which I love. Very impressive.
I bought a few things at the vendor tables… mostly timetables and books but I did buy an Athearn CP crane. I had a lot of fun chatting with vendors and exhibitors and I think the social part of the morning was the best part.
I’ll leave you with a few videos and one more photo of yet another impressive layout. Thanks to the organizers and exhibitors for a great show!
Most have nothing to do with model railroading, but a few do. I started out with The Model Railway Show, by Jim Martin and Trevor Marshall. It’s over now but it is well worth listening to the archives.
Then I tried The Scotty Mason Show but it’s not really to my taste.
My friend William Brillinger mentioned A Modeler’s Life, hosted by Lionel Strang and featuring several other characters including Jim Rindt, “Bruce the Mail Boy” and “Uncle Larry”. It took an episode or two to get into it, but I like the podcast very much. It’s not very serious – sometimes not at all serious – but there’s a good rapport between Lionel and the other guys, and his interviews are very good.
The podcast is good to listen to in the background when you’re driving or working on your model railroad layout.
Lionel was a regular Model Railroader columnist, has written a few model railway books and has hosted a number of videos over on TrainMasters.tv.
Today on Facebook I noticed an ad from Fast Tracks that mentioned Lionel and his cancer. His.. what?
Lionel was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer two years ago. At the time he was told he wouldn’t live another year. I had no idea. Lionel never mentions it on the podcast.
He’s been counting the days (up) since he was told he was terminally ill. He’s at around 735 now, a bit more than twice the year he was told he had. That’s the inspiration for “One More Year”.
Lionel seems to be living life to the fullest and enjoying what he has left, and I think we can all take inspiration from that. Life is too short to spend it doing stuff you hate.
Lionel has a GoFundMe page, not for him, but to raise funds for the Psychosocial Oncology Clinic at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto (Lionel is Canadian). The clinic helps patients and family deal with cancer and improve their emotional well-being. It sure seems to be working for Lionel! It’s important to help people not only with the physical effects of cancer, but also the mental effects on the person who has cancer, and their family and friends as well.
This past weekend I visited the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision layout, built and operated by John Longhurst. You may remember that I interviewed John as part of my 10 Questions series. I emailed him last week asking if I could take him up on an old offer to visit his layout, and he graciously agreed. He even agreed that my kids could come too. 🙂
John’s layout takes up much of the basement of his home in the north end of Winnipeg. The majority of the layout is in one large room with staging in a side room.
John’s layout used to have two levels in the central peninsula but he removed the upper deck a while ago. He has photos on the layout showing the “before” for reference, and a blog post too. I like the more open look that it has now.
The bottom level can be set up for continuous running. John sent several trains across the layout for our viewing pleasure and I took a little video of one of them.
John uses DC for controlling his layout and he has four cabs set up so he could run four trains at once if required. He’s resisted DCC so far as he usually operates alone, and the expense of adding decoders to his large fleet is pretty daunting!
He uses corded controllers, built years ago, to provide walkaround throttle control of his units. These are really handy and much better than being tied to a power pack.
I took a little panorama with my iPhone to try to show more of the layout in one photo. Click on the photo for a larger view.
John operates on his layout on occasion, on a formal or informal basis as the mood strikes him. His trains operate serially – first one train runs over the layout, then the next might go the other way, and so forth.
One thing I really like about his layout is the abundance of industries to switch. The large Peace River Paper mill occupies a corner of the layout, with an abundance of tracks and its own switcher. It is modeled mostly as a series of background flats, visible in the background of the photo below.
The Fort Frances engine house and maintenance area are visible here too. John doesn’t use cabooses on his trains as he models post 1990 but I imagine these are here rusting away, or for special trains.
There’s also a shortline connection to the fictional Peace River Northern, which uses an ex CP GP9 for power. This shortline connects to off-layout industries and interchanges with CP on the layout. The track basically goes off behind a ridge and disappears into staging but it provides a very realistic way for more traffic and more action.
John uses a variety of “view blocks” to break the layout into different scenes. There are several overhead road bridges that cut across tracks to break up scenes and provide more viewing interest.
Notice the building flats.
In some cases the view blocks are forced by obstacles inherent to the house. Most Winnipeg houses have a few support posts in the basement that need to be accessible, but are often in the way. In my house I had them incorporated into walls with access plates to allow adjustments. John put a view block next to one post to work with the pole.
I asked John what his future plans are. His layout is complete, so there’s no work to be done there. He has been working on a portable N scale diorama based in the Thompson River Canyon, in honour of his late brother Ken Epp. John has shared this on his blog and I saw the work in progress in another room.
John is considering moving/downsizing in a few years, so his layout will be demolished at that time. It will be a shame for this beautiful layout to be destroyed, but all things come to an end and it may provide a great opportunity for a new start.
Thanks, John, for the tour of your fantastic layout!
It’s easy to do, especially when the car might be upside down and you’re trying to jam in the spring, coupler, put the lid on, and maybe put the screw in, all with not enough hands.
At least this was easy to fix. Some things are harder to fix… like when I forgot to install a door in a grain elevator I glued down. That was a bigger fix.
Some mistakes are not fixable at all. I’ve tossed a few pieces of track that I’ve screwed up when I was trying to solder a feeder wire to them and cooked the plastic ties. (aside: I hate soldering)
I don’t have a magic solution. Mistakes are going to happen. The best you can do is to plan as much as you can, and when the s**t hits the fan, take a deep breath, step back, and figure out what you can do to fix things and move on.