Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Worst Block in Town

I thought I'd try to get away from the small extension I've been adding to the layout. That's been turning out well I think, but I just kind of wanted to take a break from it and do something different for a while. I saw a building kit on the website of a local hobby shop - if you can call 80 miles away local - that I thought would fit in well on the layout if I just shifted a couple of things around. So I ordered "The Worst Block in Town" and received it in the mail 3 days later.  Great service from Otter Valley Railroad in Aylmer, Ontario.

Made by Downtown Deco, this is only the 2nd Hydrocal kit I've ever put together, but the first one went together well enough, so I wasn't too concerned about this one.

The four wall sections are at the top of the picture, with 2 "concrete" pads and stairs at the bottom.  The concrete pads are to represent the foundations of buildings that have been razed. Other kit parts and details are to the left. I don't think that both of the concrete pads will fit in the space I'll have available, but I like the idea of including at least one of them.

Following the assembly suggestions from Downtown Deco, I used 5 minute epoxy to hold the walls together. I tried to be as careful as I could to get the walls square, but I did end up with a gap between the back wall and the side wall of the building. In hindsight, I should have maybe taken a picture of that, but it didn't occur to me at the time.

The instruction sheets warn that the Hydrocal doesn't have any "give" to it and will be likely to crack or break if you try to force the walls to bend. This problem gap was about 1/8" wide. With Downtown Deco's warning about breaking the wall in mind, I just mixed up a little Hydrocal that I had on hand and filled in the gap myself. After it set overnight, I sanded it down and carved in a little bit of brick detail with an Xacto knife.I had no problem doing this and it actually made this project a little more fun anyway. I'll have more on this building next time.

Friday, 9 March 2018


For all of you that are more prototype oriented than I am, sorry about this. Bear with me, and try to see this from my point of view. I painted and lettered this boxcar a few years ago, and that was several years after I actually had the idea for the project.  It was one of those things that just kept getting put off, but ever since I finished it, this has been one of my favourites.

I had long wondered just what one of these might look like, although my original idea was for the project to be carried out on an 86 foot 8 door boxcar, just because I have always liked the look of the 8 door variety better.  I had trouble trying to work out the decal placement on the 8 door car though, so I ended up settling for the 4 door type.

Speaking of the decals, I ran into more trouble trying to find the boxcar data printed in black for the 86 foot car. In an online search, I was pretty happy to find decal maker Daniel Kohlberg's site,  I ordered a set of ICG decals for the 86 foot car from Daniel so that I could use just the data portion. The other decals I used are made by Microscale.

The model itself is from Athearn, picked up used at a train show. I stripped off the original paint, and then re-painted with ModelFlex RBOX yellow and black.  The roof was done with Floquil silver, then toned down with Modelflex grey. The stirrup steps had been broken off (of course, aren't they always?), so I replaced them with new ones made of brass wire.  I also added metal wheels and coupler cut-levers.

The boxcar never existed in this scheme, so I decided to use the reporting marks "JBOX". My name is Jim, which obviously starts with "J", and I very often get called Jimbo by friends and family. I supposed that if the boxcar were real, the car might also become known as a Jumbo so it all fits together, at least in my mind.

I settled on using 149500 as the car number, because that's what the load limit reads on the data set.

So, here it is. I am pretty sure this is the only the JBOX ever.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Tunnel Liner Segments

A few weeks ago I posted a couple of photos of where the car ferry yard, or "boat yard", used to be here in Sarnia. I referenced that when CN built the new tunnel that runs beneath the St.Clair River in 1992 the boat yard became redundant.

I miss that yard, and seeing the car ferries running back and forth across the river from Sarnia to Port Huron, Michigan, loaded mostly with 86 foot high cube auto parts boxcars and auto racks that wouldn't fit in the original tunnel. I've always wanted to include a car ferry operation on my layout. Maybe one day.

Here's a view of the two tunnels, albeit without a train, taken back in November from the pedestrain walkway that crosses over the tunnel cut.  Seems I never actually see a train exiting the tunnel, but I think CN runs about 20 - 24 trains a day through it.

At the top of the hill on the right, there's a fenced in area that has quite a number of left over concrete liner sections from the new tunnel. I have no idea how many of those sections were used in constructing the tunnel, but I do remember that there were a couple of nearby fields that were full of them. Here's a view of some of those leftover.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

I'd Model This

I'd really like to model this scene on my layout. And I mean I'd really like to model it. If only I could just figure out where to put it. I like the triangular concrete dock, and that it appears to be just resting on top of a collection of concrete slabs. Notice that the trailer on the right is oriented forward to the others, and second from left has a roll-up door.  This scene is located behind the Lamco Transportation terminal that I showed here back on October 22, 2017.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

JSSX 508 Lighting Upgrade

I'm sorry if this is a little bit redundant to start with, but the first picture I posted when I began the blog in September 2017 was this one of JSSX #508 just edging out of the shortline's engine shed. This particular engine has been a favourite of mine for a couple of reasons, but mostly just because I like the look of it. It's a GP38-2, which is an engine model that I've always thought suits the smallish size of my railroad well. It was originally a Florida East Coast engine, but in my layout's world it's been purchased used from them by the JSSX. 

Here we can see 508 running beneath the sanding tower in front of the JSSX engine shed, again back in September. There's SW 1200 switcher #1317 sitting on the track beside it.  Notice that the headlight on 508 is turned on.

Now, here's the 508 today back in the same spot again.  It had been listed as "out-of-service" for a couple of months while the shop crew worked on improving the lighting.  The shop crew, by the way, is Ron Creasor, who did a great job installing the new LED lights and ditch lights.  The management (me) at JSSX is pretty happy to have this locomotive back in service. Management (me again) has also begun looking into getting some lighting work done on 1317 as well.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Track Plan for the Layout Extension

A couple of weeks ago, I received in the comments section a request from Matt for a look at the track plan for the extension of the railway.  I didn't have one at the time, but this morning I sketched it out and well, it's only hand drawn, but here goes anyway:

Monday, 19 February 2018

Layout Extension #8

Last week, I posted this same picture of the derelict factory, with a "raw" wall that I thought I should use to make the factory a little bigger.

Well, that's what I worked on for a couple of days this week. Just finished it up this afternoon.  This picture shows the building as it was, as seen from "across the street".  That track in the foreground is actually a siding that runs in front of a warehouse. I've removed the warehouse so that I could get the picture.  Sorry about the Schneider trailer blocking the view a bit.

This is the factory with the "raw" wall just sitting in place:

And with the finished section added. Also, notice the building and commercial property has been listed for sale through a local realtor. (No, I'm not really selling the model.) The black and red sign at the right-hand end of the building is a copy of the signs my Dad used for his business when I was a kid. It scales out at 5' x 9'.  I tried 4' x 8', but it kind of looked a bit too small to me. If you're really sharp-eyed, you can barely see the small real estate sign posted on the corner of the fence, just beyond the yellow fire hydrant.  That sign scales to just about the size of the ones you might see when you're driving down the street in your neighborhood.

Here it appears that a pretty beat up GP38 is moving in to pick up a gondola that's been spotted temporarily in the siding. I really think that adding this extra wall section adds a lot to my abandoned factory model.  Actually increases the length by something like 42 percent. So that's what I got  accomplished this week.