Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Progress on the CP Rail M & M Sub. (And a Confession)

Trains are running again on the M & M Sub.















Progress is being made on the M & M Sub. Slowly, but that's the way I like it. No need to rush; I've got lots of time to get'er done, as we say on the prairies. Plus, how much ballasting can a person do in one go and not lose their mind?

Speaking of ballast, I've done about a quarter of what needs to be done. Can't say that it's much fun, but it is more enjoyable than painting track. Although with painting track at least it's done in one evening; ballasting takes at least two days as the glue dries, and then a third day to fix the places where it didn't stick.

(And I thought I was done with ballasting, as when I wrote about the "last ballast," as opposed to the last spike. But that was before I decided to take down part of my layout and start over.)















Anyway, we're getting there--some of the land forms are done, and the basic town layout is determined. Best of all, trains are running again on the newly-ballasted track, which is always a good thing.

Next up, the finicky stuff: I need to eyeball the track and pick off any stray ballast that is sticking to the sides of the rails. There's nothing worse than a photo of a great model railroad with pieces of ballast doing that gravity-defying thing on the side of a rail!
















A Confession

This has nothing to do with model railroading, but I feel the need to note something about this blog. As the view count rises toward 450,000, I have to note that some of those views are the result of comment spam.

(Comment spam is when owners of websites use robots to send comments to blogs with their URLs embedded in the messages; the goal is to have their website link noted on as many blogs as possible so as to improve their SEO rankings.)

Some days, there are a few spam comments; some days there are more. This weekend was particularly bad, with over 100.

Since I moderate all comments, they go directly to my spam box and I delete them. But each time they hit a page that counts as a view, which drives up my count. (There can't be a lot of model railroaders in Russia, Poland, Cyprus and Turkey with an interest in Canadian model railroading--can there?)

Since the spammers change their addresses frequently, it's impossible to block them. (Or, at least, I think that's the case; if anyone knows different, let me know.)

In the end, the view count is meaningless, I know; I do this for fun, and for me. But all that spam is annoying and bothersome--another glimpse into the dark side of the Internet.

Monday, April 22, 2013

KISS and Model Railroading
















For most of us model railroaders, KISS means "Keep It Simple, Stupid." For some music fans, it means the rock group KISS.
 
But for Dave Landels of the Bow Valley Model Railroad Club of Calgary, it means both: KISS, the music group, and model railroading. 

The devoted KISS fan has created a show-stopping module featuring a KISS concert with over 4,000 figures in the crowd--along with the band, music and lights (and, in a nice touch, a row of Porta-Potties).



















It took Dave about a month to make the module. The KISS band members are custom-made, and the lighting is from a recycled in-store advertisement.

When not part of the Bow Valley modular layout, the KISS module can be found in Dave's KISS room, as evidenced by the photo he posted on KISS online.


 













Click here to watch (and hear) a video of the KISS module, and hear an interview with Dave.

Photos of the module from Jeff, from the Canadian Model Trains group on Yahoo!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Working on the Railroad: Adding Scenery

Progress so far . . . 















Operations have ground to a halt on the M & M Sub. while I work on scenery.

This is not an uncommon occurrence; when I am painting, ballasting and making scenery, the room and layout become so messy that it is impossible to run trains. All I can do is stick with it and wait for the day when I can once again see trains run--this time through new scenery.

Right now, I'm working on land forms and scenery for the new lower level peninsula. Over the past few months, work was delayed as I experimented with what to do with the area.

The original idea.















At first, I thought I would create a larger small town (an oxymoron?) with lots of buildings. But it just didn't look right; it seemed to busy for an out-of-the way place along the line.

Then I thought I'd take an ultra-minimalist approach--just one singe grain elevator and a spur, surrounded by fields and trees. But that didn't seem right, either.

Ultimately, I adopted the Goldilock's approach of something in the middle; two elevators and a few buildings to give a sense of activity--but not too much. I also added some small hills to provide variety to the terrain; once trees are added, it will help diminish the turn back loop.

The present plan.















That's where it stands right now, at least; by the time I'm done, it could be changed again. Meantime, I continue to work on finishing up the area so I once again can start running trains.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Another Announcement at Calgary's Supertrain Show: Potash Covered Hoppers














Also announced at the Calgary Supertain show today (and of interest to Canadian modellers): A National Steel Car Potash Service 4275 cu. ft. 3 Bay Covered Hopper in HO and N scale from North American Railcar Corporation (a division of Pacific Western Rail Systems).


 
The car, which will be released in December, this year, is operated in large numbers by Canpotex and the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, and in smaller numbers by other operators. 

To date, over 7,000 have been produced in early and late versions. They can be found across the U.S. and Canada on railways such as the CPR, CN, BNSF, CSX, NS and UP.
 
For more information, go to the PWRS website.


Athearn Announces New HO Scale Locomotive at Calgary Supertrain Show













Athearn announced its newest HO scale locomotive today at Supertrain in Calgary—an all-new Genesis GP40-2, in CN and GO Transit comfort cab "L" versions.

The units come DCC-ready or with SoundTraxx Tsunami sound pre-installed.

Other roadnames being released include Chessie System, Seaboard Coast Line, and Western Pacific. The models are slated for delivery this December.











While happy to see the two new Canadian items, what is also of interest is where Athearn chose to make the announcement: In Canada.

On the face of it, it only makes sense since two of the version are Canadian. But as has been noted in this blog before, more manufacturers are looking north to Canada when considering what new models to make.

And why is that? As "Deep Throat" told the two Washington Post reporters during the Watergate investigation: "Follow the money."

Time are tough all over the world, but Canada has been doing better than the U.S. economically (although the U.S. economy is beginning to pick up of late). This includes in model railroading, where the market for models seems to be strong.

At last year's Supertrain show, I asked Bowser Project Manager Scott Davis why the company was bringing out new Canadian models. His response: Since the Canadian economy is doing much better than the U.S.economy, so why not go where the market is strong?

All of this is pretty remarkable when you consider that there are only 8,000 to 10,000 serious Canadian model railroaders—about five to seven percent of the North American model railroad market, according to one informed estimate.

But hey—I'm not complaining, even if I don't model CN and GO Transit. But if sure would be nice if someone decided to bring out a CP Rail Red Barn . . . . 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making Trees

VIA's The Canadian, coming through homemade trees.
















Before taking down a third of my layout (as part of the rebuilding process), I counted over 500 trees on my model railroad—the majority handmade.

Most of the trees are made from local plants and weeds such as Yarrow, Spirea and Sedum, with a few unidentified species thrown in for variety.

Some of the “trees” are harvested from neighbour’s yards or nearby fields, but I grow my own Sedum. I have just one small bush, but it yields a couple dozen trees each year.

Start with this.



















Making trees from Sedum is easy. All you need is some white glue, clothespins, a piece of Styrofoam and some cheap spackling paste (or other kind of putty). Spray paint (brown, black and green), cheap hairspray and Woodland’s Scenics ground foam finishes it up.

Glue them together, fill in the trunks.















After harvesting the Sedum trees, the next step is to select three to five pieces that fit together to look like, well, a tree. Put the clothespin on the trunk to hold it together, then squirt white glue inside and alongside the pieces to let it dry. Stick the trees into the Styrofoam and let them dry overnight.

Spray paint black, brown and green.


Next, apply the spackling paste or putty to the base of the trunks to fill in the cracks and gaps, and let dry.

After that, it’s time for spray painting. I start by painting the “leaves” (the top of the tree) green. When dry, I spray paint the truck and underside a mix of black and brown.

Sprinkle on ground foam.















When dry, I spray on the cheap hairspray (use unscented; you won’t regret it), then sprinkle on ground foam. I use a blended turf as a base, sprinkling on weeds, burnt grass and yellow to add variation. Remember to apply the ground foam to the top and the bottom of the tree.

(The same process goes for the Yarrow and Spirea trees, except you don’t need to glue them together.)

That’s itexcept for planting the trees on the layout, of course. Which I plan to start doing again soon, once the new lower level peninsula is finished.

Done!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Missile Train Spotted on Vancouver Island
















People on B.C.'s Vancouver Island were taken aback this week when they saw a missile train--a train with a couple of U.S. missiles on flatcars.

Not to worry, though: War had not been declared, and the U.S. had not taken over Canada. The missiles were props for a new Godzilla movie.

According to a story in the National Post, the the missile train was first seen in Vancouver, before being loaded on a barge and taken to the Island.


It was accompanied by an armed escort of Humvees, actors dressed as U.S. soldiers, a crashed helicopter and burned-out cars.

A YouTube video posted on March 28 shows the train interrupting a backyard gathering.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Some Great O Gauge Layout Photos












Sometimes you have to post something just because it's a great photo. That's the case with the photos on this page. They come from Rich Battista's Toy Trains on Tracks website.

 
 











Rich, an O scale modeller, has created a series of three videos about how he built his Black Diamond layout. Although not Canadian, it features these great CN models--which makes it Canadian enough for me!

The Black Diamond Railway a 33 by 13 foot layout. According to Rich, it took one year build the room, three years to build the layout and one more year to build a layout extension.  



 








When he started the layout, he found it difficult to find the information and ideas he needed to design and build a realistic model railroad--hence the videos.

The two units are a CN ES44 and SD40T.

Click here to visit Toy Trains on Track to learn more about the layout and the videos. You can also read an article about the layout in O Guage Railroading



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Keep Calm and Build Model Trains



















Now there's a motto worth noting!

The slogan itself ("Keep Calm and Carry On") dates back to 1939, when a series of three motivational posters were created by the British government to promote morale at the start of the Second World War.

Of the three, Keep Calm and Carry On never went on public display. It was little known until a copy was rediscovered in 2000 in a British bookstore. Since then it has been reprinted and re-made in multiple versions many times--such as above.