Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Doubleheader's Tour: Another Check Off the Bucket List

Charlie Ellis' CNR/CPR/BAR in New Brunswick

I checked another thing off my Model Railroad bucket list recently: I attended the 2017 Doubleheaders layout tour in the Kitchener/Waterloo, Ont. region.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Doubleheaders, it is an annual self-guided tour of local layouts for the public. $8 got you a pass to visit 31 layouts, along with four more in the registration room.

As if that was possible in one day! I managed to see five layouts, including the not-to-be-missed Waterloo Region Model Railroad Club. (Which I saw for the third time.)

Chris Bramble's Central Ontario Sub.

On this page are photos of some of the layouts I visited, along with a few observations about the tour.

First, modellers in southwestern Ontario seem to like to handlay track! Maybe it’s because it’s the home of Fast Tracks, or perhaps there is something in the water.

Peter Wright's Panhandle & Santa Fe

Second, every layout I visited used DCC. I truly am a dinosaur, still using DC.

Third, all of them also employed sound. Fortunately, all kept the sound down low—no loud cacophony from several locomotives operating at the same time.

Fourth—and reassuringly—all of the layouts had a problem or two while I was there. A piece of track where a train would always derail; a pilot truck that kept derailing; a locomotive that wouldn’t work; or some other gremlin-inspired malady.

Mark Van Runt's North Shore Central

I was glad to see it doesn’t happen only to me!

Fifth, it was great to see layouts in various states of completion. We are accustomed to seeing only finished layouts in the pages of the hobby press.

But most layouts aren’t like that; they take years to be “finished.” For long stretches of time they are nothing but track and plywood, with temporary or no structures or scenery.

Sixth, it was also good to peek into a few workshops—that’s where the magic happens! Good to see that other modellers also have lots of projects on the go. It was also good to peek behind the scenes to see staging yards.

Jeff Pinchbeck's CPR Sutherland Sub.

Anyway, it was a great experience; maybe I will be able to arrange business travel to coincide with a future Doubleheader’s tour and visit some more layouts one day.

I hear the ones in Baden are well-worth seeing . . . .

Waterloo Region Model Railway Club

A few more photos from my visits are below.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Video of Layout in a Crawl Space

In 2012 I wrote about how Winnipeg model railroader Dennis Rietze didn't let lack of space in his basement stop him from building a layout--he used the crawl space.

Of course, it took some creative thinking to figure out a way to keep from bumping his noggin' on the beams and duct work, and to avoid a permanent crick in his back.

For Dennis, the solution was rolling chairs, the kind mechanics use. He can wheel around the layout room without fear of getting a concussion!

Anyway, our local cable TV provider has done a video about Dennis' unique layout. Click here to see it.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Model Railrugger, a New Model Railroad "Magazine"

If you are of a certain age, like I am, you began this hobby of model railroading on the floor--likely with a Lionel O gauge layout.

Over time, as we aged and progressed in the hobby, we moved to 4 by 8 sheets of plywood and then, ultimately, to more sophisticated benchwork and, maybe, even double-deck layouts.

But some people can't do that. They lack the space, time or resources to build something more permanent. In those cases, the floor is the only option.

For those people, there is a new "magazine:" Model Railrugger.

Found on Facebook, MRR provides a place for people to show photos and videos of their layouts on the floor of their houses and apartment--and some smiles and a bit of fun, too.

Right now, there isn't much in the way of activity, but maybe that will change as more people discover it.

In any event, running on the floor isn't for me, but it does bring back happy memories of my childhood, watching my Lionel trans run around the living room furniture or through my bedroom.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Canada 150 and VIA Rail

Canada is 150 years old in 2017—a mere child compared to countries in Europe, and a toddler compared to ancient Middle Eastern and Asian civilizations.

But still, it’s a big deal being around this long, and the country is celebrating in various ways.

This includes VIA Rail, which has decorated locomotive 916 and LRC 3356 in Canada 150 colours and markings.

Unlike when Canada turned 100, back in 1967, there is no special train like the Confederation Train crossing the country to showcase our history. There isn’t even anything like the Grey Cup 100th anniversary train, either; a whole train dedicated to that topic.

The best we can do this year is to stand trackside, and if we are lucky be able to watch as history passes by.

Thanks to Ian Deck for the photos on this page; he has more on his Flickr page. Thanks also to Trackside Treasure and Malcolm Peakman for the shot below.

Monday, January 30, 2017

CP Rail Red Barn Update from Bowser

Samples of Bowser’s new Red Barn were on display at the big model railroad show in Springfield at the end of January.

After I saw the photos by Railroad Model Craftsman, I send a note to Lee English of Bowser for an update on the models—when would they be released?

“It should be three to four months,” he replied.

The next run of SD40-2 units will be out in “about 7-8 weeks,” he said, adding that the AS16/616 is next, followed by the M636 and then the Red Barns.

The delay in releasing the Red Barns is due to delays by Bowser’s builder, he adds.