Sunday, November 27, 2011

More Progress on the M & M Sub.

Slowly, it's coming along. The basic benchwork is almost completed. Next up: Installing cross pieces to support the two-inch Styrofoam (which will provide the subroadbed). I put the turnback piece of Styrofoam on top of the benchwork just to see how it would fit; it originally was the upper level loop, so it's in the same location as before--just lower.

In addition to providing a place for the trains, the benchwork provides an additional 32 feet of shelf space for the family's stuff; it's amazing how things accumulate!

The goal remains running trains on the new area by Christmas; we'll see if that happens.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Great Canadian Model Railroad: The Lyon Valley Northern

Here's another great Canadian model railroad: The Lyon Valley Northern.
The freelance layout depicts a post-2000 bridge line shared by CN and BNSF between Shelby, Montana and Edmonton, Alberta. The 25 by 26 foot HO scale layout features unit trains, mixed freights and passenger service.

Scenery on the layout is complete; the backdrops were painted by Chris. Operations require five two-person crews to operate the layout.

Plans are to feature Chris’ layout in a future issue of Canadian Railway Modeller, complete with more photos and information.
Chris has a blog about his layout; click here to visit it. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Benchwork Progress on the M & M Sub.

The new benchwork is coming along . . .

One good thing about doing benchwork is that progress is easy to see; one day there's nothing there, the next day, there's something--and sometimes, lots of it. This is in contrast to doing scenery, where progress can be measured in inches or a few feet of grass, trees or other items.

My benchwork is nothing to write home about, or maybe even post on a blog. It's just a means to an end, the end being running trains. That said, my benchwork isn't intended to win any contests. It's purely utilitarian--it's basically just shelves with trains on top.

(I don't understand modellers who carefully cantilever their benchwork off the wall, in an effort to keep the space beneath the trains clean and unobstructed. Where do they put all their stuff?)

While building my new benchwork, I once again discovered the essential truth all lone-wolf modellers know: Clamps are your best friend. How else could you keep pieces of wood in place with only two hands?

Speaking of progress, there's been some on other fronts, too; this blog passed 125,000 views last week, and my YouTube channel, which contains videos of the layout, along with videos of other layouts and the prototype, passed 250,000 views.

My goal is to have some trains running on the new section by the New Year; we'll see if that happens. But there's no rush; I've been working on this layout since 1994, so there's lots of time to get things done.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Getting (re)Started in Model Railroading

Those who have followed this blog for a while know that, for some time, the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Sub. has been finished.

(I know, I know--a model railroad is never "finished." But the M & M Sub. was done, as far as I was concerned--there were no more tracks to be laid and no more scenery to complete.)

So, what did I do? I tore down the middle penninsula, with the idea of starting something new in its place.

The big tear-down happened about eleven months ago. I thought I might get started on the new section in spring, but that didn't happen. All too soon, summer and fall came and went.

The first piece of wood is added.

It wasn't just a matter of being busy--although I was. It was also a matter of energy; for some reason, I just found it hard to go down into the train room to start building again.

This was a new feeling for me. For both of my layouts (The CP Rail Grimm Valley Sub., from 1987-94, and the present layout, started in 1994), building benchwork, laying track or making scenery was never a problem--I couldn't wait to do it.

But this time it was different. I don't know why, exactly--maybe because I'm older, or perhaps because I've done it all before. Whatever it was, I developed a new appreciation for those who want to build a layout, but never have--getting started can be hard.

But all that changed last week. I finally got downstairs and started the new benchwork; the photos show my progress after a couple of hours. It felt good!

As with the other parts of the layout, I'm basically building shelves for stuff with trains on top. The bottom shelf is in; the next level will be added soon. Unlike before, this time the penninsula will only be about two feet wide, to accomodate my new office. It will also only be one level, to make the room feel bigger.

All told, the new construction will add about 35 feet of mainline track, and give me something to do during the coming winter. (An important consideration up here in Canada!)

Now I have a different problem, though: I don't want to rush it! I'd like to let it linger, so that I don't once again run out of something to do.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Great Canadian Layouts: Bob Winterton's Superior Northern

Bob Winterton’s HO scale Superior Northern—the Route of the Moose—is another great Canadian Model Railroad.

Actually, Bob's layout was two great Canadian layouts in one. For many years the Winterton basement was home not just to the Superior Northern, but also to son Peter's CP Rail Heron Bay Subdivision; more about that below.

The Superior Northern Railway (SNR) is a fictitious Northern Ontario shortline set in the transition era. It runs north of Terrace Bay from a connection with the CPR transcontinental mainline, serving ten industries along the way.

Originally, the CPR line existed only to serve the SNR. It entered the scene at Terrace Bay (formerly Nipigon) and was staged east and west in hidden tracks. It was expanded as a result of the demands of an operating group, which rotated between local layouts once a week.

Bob extended the CPR mainline around the 12 by 38 foot room, including a connection with the Heron Bay Subdivision, the 1977-era CP Rail layout built by Peter in a separate 9 by 12 foot room. The two layouts were connected by a unique snow scene in room between the two; see below.

This arrangement led to unique dual-era operations, with switches made between 1952 and 1977. Although the two eras were 25 years apart, no effort was made to change structures while switching between the two—only the motive power and rolling stock was changed.

(I speak of the Heron Bay Sub. in the past tense; Peter has moved into a house of his own now, where he is building a new version of the Heron Bay Sub. Bob has back-dated the old 1970s-era layout to his 1950s time frame.)

Bob operates the layout by schedule, without a fast clock. Trains and train numbers on the CPR line are typical of the era modeled, with notable trains such as The Dominion and The Canadian.

Bob’s layout has appeared in the model railroad press a number of times: August, 1978, May, 1983, March, 1991 and June, 2002 Railroad Model Craftsman; as well as in Canadian Railway Modeller and the NMRA Bulletin. Peter’s original Heron Bay Sub. was featured in Great Model Railroads, 1992, when he was just 16 years old.


Photos from Peter's Heron Bay Subdivision.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Model Railroader Survey Results

The M & M Sub. is the most popular scale,
but not the most popular era.

The latest Model Railroader survey is out. A few highlights:

The transition era (1946-60) is still the most popular modelling era for the magazine's readers (62 percent), followed by those who model 1961-71 and 1972-89.

HO is the most popular scale (84 percent), followed by N (24 percent), O, large scale, S and Z.

Almost half now use DCC to operate their layouts, while 41 percent say they intend to convert to it in the near future.

Readers say they own an average of 36 locomotives.

Most readers (45 percent) say they are protoype freelancers, 43 percent are freelancers, and 11 percent are strict prototype modellers.

The results mirror a survey taken a few years ago here in Canada, which also found that the transition era was the most popular for Canadian modellers. As with the Model Railroader survey, HO is the most popular scale in Canada, followed by N, O and S.

So: Where does that put me? Since I model the early 1990s, I'm out of step with most modellers. (Although I like to argue that my time period is also a transition era--from older second generation power, like SD40-2s and SD60s, to the more modern SD70s, 80s and 90s and others.)

I am in step when it comes to scale. (I like N scale, but it still seems too small for me.)

Like many other modellers, I'm a prototype freelancer, and the number of locomotives is about right.

When it comes to contol, I'm seriously (and maybe hopelessly) behind--the CP Rail M & M Sub. is still plain old DC, with no plans to change.

How does the survey match up with your experience?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is It Real, Or Is It . . . .

Is it real, or is it tilt shift?

In this case, it’s tilt shift—a photographic technique that is used to create special effects when taking a photo. During tilt shift photography, the camera lens is shifted and tilted at different angles to change the focus of the picture in unusual ways.

The real photo.

In particular, tilt shift photography can make real-life scenes look like miniatures, or models.

The photos on this page were made using TiltShiftMaker, a website that lets you upload a real photo and change it into one that looks like a model. Photos taken from above the subject yield the best results.

TiltShiftMaker lets you transform existing digital photos into cool miniature-style pictures, as on this page.


Tilt shift does amazing things with aerial shots.
This is downtown Winnipeg.

A shout-out to Confessions of a Train Geek, where I first learned about Tilt Shift.