Sunday, August 28, 2016

Great Canadian Model Railroad: The CN Joliette Sub.

The CN Joliette Sub. is a Great Canadian Model Railroad created by Stephane Loyer of Repentigny, Québec.

The HO scale layout, which is its own 16 by 20 foot building, represents Canadian National in Quebec in 1985.

Why that place and year? That’s where Stephane grew up and where he watched trains as a young boy.

“When I was young we lived near the station at L'Assomption, Québec, and was always at the station,” he says. “I am modelling my good memories of that time.”

Although centred on a real Canadian location, the layout is proto-freelanced. Stephane does use real town names and train numbers.

The point-to-point layout has helix on the center peninsula, which takes trains down to a ten-track staging yard representing Montreal to the west and Garneau to the east. There is also two tracks representing a branchline to Riviere des Prairies.

Track is Atlas code 100; the turnouts are from Peco and Shinohara. DCC control is provided by NCE.

Industries on the layout include a cement plant, co-op grain elevator, lumber distributor, propane dealer, warehouse and team tracks. There is also an interchange with CP Rail.

Stephane’s scenery is made from red rosin paper and cardboard strips (a method promoted by Howard Zane). He also uses extruded Styrofoam and floral Styrofoam. Ground cover is sculptamold covered by various kinds of static grass and ground foam.

The backdrops come from King Mills and Realistic Backgrounds, together with one made by his wife by using panoramic photos from the area.

She stitches them together using Photoshop, prints them on a 52-inch laser printer and adheres then to vinyl before placing the backdrops on the layout.

Stephane’s roads are inspired by Mike Confalone; he screens rock dust into a bucket, then applies it to the road and fixes it with a mixture of white glue and water. After it dries, he smooths the surface with sandpaper (120 grit) and paints it with acrylic craft paint from Walmart. When dry, he adds lines and then weathering.

His deciduous trees are from scenic express. He paints the trunks camouflage brown and uses ground foam for the leaves. His evergreens are hand-made from 18-gauge wire and twisted rope.

As for his favorite scenes, he thinks it is the cement plant—it’s nine feet long—and the co-op grain elevator.

Oh, and the layout also features a model of his actual house, although the couple goodbye in the driveway are not him and his wife. (And the man peeing behind a tree isn’t anyone he knows, either.)

This fall he plans to begin operating sessions with friends. The sessions will be helped by another friend who was a CN engineer on the real-life Joliette Sub. “He will be able to tell me me all the train movements and car consists of this time period,” Stephane says.

Stephane has been a model railroader for almost 45 years, and a railroader for the last 30 years, working for CN and for VIA Rail. “I think trains are in my blood,” he says.

Stephane credits friends Michel Lapointe and Michel Bonin for inspiration and assistance with the layout, along with great model railroaders like Mike Confalone (Allagash Railway), Bob Fallowfield (CP Rail Galt Sub.) and John Parker (BNSF Fall River division) for tips and ideas.

With help from them, and with his own skills, Stephane has created a Great Canadian Model Railroad of his own.

All photos by Stephane.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Lies Beneath

As model railroaders, we spend a lot of time fussing about what goes on top of the layout—the trains, the track, buildings, scenery, ballast, etc.

We might spend less time worrying about what lies beneath us, on the floor.

At least, that was true for me. The floor in my layout room is painted concrete, covered with leftover carpet pieces and throw rugs. Basically, anything that ceased to be useful in the upstairs part of the house.

But all that changed recently when my wife as at a dollar store and found interlocking foam for floors at $3 for a 2 x 2 piece.

This a huge saving from the foam floor mats one finds at home renovation stores. Here in Canada they run $30 for a 4 x 4 piece.

She grabbed a bunch and brought them home. Out went the old throw rugs and scrap carpet pieces and down went the foam floor mats—in a pleasing design, I might add (all her work).

So now I have a very comfortable floor to walk on (and keep me warm in winter). And not only that, it looks great, too.

Now I just have to do something to fix those saggy curtains . . . .

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More Progress on the Thompson River Canyon Layout: Painting

Things are moving along on the Thompson River Canyon N scale layout. Painting is well underway; all that’s left is the shoreline and the water, plus the tunnel portal, painting and ballasting the track and adding a few trees and bushes.

By way of reminder, here’s what it looked like a couple of weeks ago when I finished the basic landforms.

And here’s another photo of what it looks like today.

As you can see, I am trying to replicate the more arid and less steep part of the canyon, so the colours are mostly greys, tans and browns. Vegetation is sparse, so there’s just a bit of grass here and there.

This is unlike the other side of the layout (completed last year), which features the steeper and greyer side of the canyon.

As for my painting technique, I use a base coat of grey for most areas (a can of cheap paint from the mis-tint shelf at my local Rona).

For the other colours I use even cheaper dollar store paints. I squeeze the additional colours on to the grey paint, then mix it in, being careful to match the colours beside it.

The trick to a convincing paint job, I have found, is to vary the colours—not to use only one shade. So I use various colours such as grey, tan, white, espresso brown, burnt umber and black.

Anyway, my goal is to have this ready for the Manitoba Mega Train Show at the end of September—I think I’m right on schedule.

To view all the posts about the creation of this layout, including videos, click here: Thompson River Canyon.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Price Reduced! Riding Mountain Park Dome Observation Car for Sale

“If I had a million dollars . . . “

So sang the Barenaked Ladies in 1991-92. Well, if I had a million dollars, I might be tempted to buy Riding Mountain Park, a Park car originally owned by the CPR that is now for sale for a reduced price of $280,000 (down from $375,000).

The car, built in 1954 by the Budd Company for the CPR’s The Canadian, was one of 18 dome observation cars manufactured for that railway.

During its service days.

It was retired and sold in 2004 to a private owner by VIA Rail, which inherited passenger service from CN and CP Rail in 1977. And now it is for sale again, this time by Ozark Mountain Railcar.

According to Ozark Mountain, the car is in good condition and retains many of its original furnishings.

I’m not the only one dreaming about this bit of Canadian railway history; when I visited the web page, there had already been over 30,000 other views.

If Riding Mountain Park isn’t for you, Ozark Mountain Railcar has 73 other passenger cars for sale, along with 12 locomotives, 30 freight cars and many other railroad items.

And another in-service shot.

As for VIA today, it still has 14 Park cars in service, numbered 8702 to 8718. Named after Canadian national parks, they have one triple bedroom, three double bedrooms, 24 seats in the dome, one common washroom, a bar and a panoramic lounge at the rear You can find out more about them on VIA’s website.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Rewind: To Oil, Or Not Oil The Tracks

A member of the Canadian Railway Modellers group on Facebook recently asked about the best way to clean track. It reminded me of this old post, from 2009. I haven't cleaned my track for over 15 years--or locomotive or rolling stock wheels, for that matter. The secret? Wahl Clipper Oil, as I wrote about in 2009.

Forget the debate over which scale or brand of locomotive is best; if you really want to start an animated discussion, bring up the subject of oiling your track.

There are two schools of thought in this regard: Oilers and non-oilers. The oilers can’t stop praising the results of using oil; the non-oilers tell people to flee—flee, I say!—as fast at they can from track oiling. Both sides have testimonials, pro and con.

As for me, I am an oiler. I have been using Wahl Clipper Oil on my CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision for about eight years now.

Why do I use it? For two reasons. First, it really does seem to enhance conductivity—the locomotives really do run better.

Second, it eliminates the need to clean track; I haven’t cleaned my track since 2001.

Since my layout has a mainline run of about 230 feet, plus sidings and yard, cleaning track would be a huge undertaking. Not having to clean the track is a blessing. (And, no, it’s not because of metal wheels; only about a third of my rolling stock has them.)

How do I use it? I put a small dab on my finger and then put the oil on the track. I then run a train around the layout, spreading a thin layer of oil along the tracks. I put on a dab a few times a month.

What about gunk? Nope—not a big problem. I rarely have to clean the wheels on my rolling stock, and I never have to clean the wheels on my locomotives.

What about slippage? The grades on my layout are only 1.5 percent, and I use two units to pull all the trains. I have never experienced any slippage due to slick track.

How does it work? I have no idea. All I know is that it keeps my track clean and the trains run great.