Mar 6, 2018

35 Feet at Copetown 2018

Workshop member Jim Martin reports on the group's bi-annual appearance at the Copetown Train Show...


Three of our group were available to bring our modules to Copetown this year. Paul Raham exhibited his Marshall Station module, John Johnston brought out his Burnt River section, and I displayed my Culverhouse module. I also hauled out one of the group’s four-foot train turntables.

This was in fact the identical setup used three months earlier at the Belleville Christmas Train Show.  The combination creates a modest 35-foot long display, but one that works very well with a smaller crew.

Two trains were the max for this setup: One operator would use Paul’s end-of-line module to turn the loco and swap ends on the train, while a second operator ran a train after making a full 180 on the train turntable. The two trains would meet at the passing siding on John's module.

Three younger crew members also helped out…our own rogue N-scaler Fredrick Aldhoch, and visitors Darby Marriott from the Waterloo area and Chris Furman from Ottawa. Their help and companionship was greatly appreciated.

Darby and I took turns running our battery-powered S Helper Service SW-9s.

John ran his River Raisin 0-6-0 and 44-Tonner along with his S Helper Service 2-8-0. We even gave Simon Parent’s visiting 2-10-2 a short back and forth, but of course turning it on Paul’s 60-ft turntable was out of the question. (And I'd like to give a shout out to Neil Froese, another S scale enthusiast who dropped by for a visit.)

Darby’s BlueRail battery conversions generated a lot of interest and I took the opportunity to give him another loco to convert: my recently acquired CNR GP-9 that William Flatt custom detailed and painted.

We met a new modeller to the area, Wayne Wessner. Wayne, who moved here from Regina, models in HO and makes some mighty fine trees. In fact he gifted one to John so in return we’ll give him a plug. If you need some fine looking foreground trees contact Wayne:

The Copetown show's format has changed since our last appearance. The Saturday is now an RPM meet. Sunday remains as a public train show. There were only three layouts at the Sunday show:  ours, Brian Dickey’s lovely 7mm (British O scale) Roweham switching layout and a small HO table top layout. However ,the public seemed not to mind: They simply paid more attention to each of the layouts.

All in all, a fun weekend!

- Jim

Feb 17, 2018

Three so far in 2018

Check out the "Visiting the S Scale Workshop" page to find out where we're exhibiting. We have three events booked so far for 2018 - including one in just a couple of weeks.

Maybe we'll see you there!

Sep 29, 2017

No-show at Brampton

Unfortunately, a member of the S Scale Workshop has had to pull out of this weekend's Brampton Model Railway Show, due to personal reasons. Since it was to be a small portion of our group anyway, the members decided to not exhibit this year.

If you hoped to see us there, we apologize in advance.

This show is turning into the "must-attend" event for hobbyists in the Golden Horseshoe area of Southern Ontario. If you planned to attend just to see us - well, don't let our decision stop you!

We'll be at a future show - count on it.

Aug 24, 2017

The Workshop at Exporail 2017

Over the past weekend, several members of the S Scale Workshop attended the annual celebration of model railways at Exporail - Canada's national railway museum in Saint-Constant, Quebec.

Members on-hand included John Johnston, Andy Malette, Brian Nicholson and Simon Parent. Simon supplied the end loops, John brought his Burnt River scene, while Andy has his brewery and swamp modules.

Simon's CNR 2-10-2 hauled a 35-car train on the layout - which we believe is a record for the group:

(Simon created these two videos with a Sony HDR-AS50 camera - small enough to ride onboard the train.)

While the group presented a smaller layout this time out, compared to previous years, this once again demonstrates the flexibility of Free-mo for groups that like to exhibit their work to the public.

The show was well attended and everybody had a good time. And as has been noted before, the venue can't be beat: What a great opportunity to run our 1:64 models in a hall shared by 1:1 Canadian railway history!

Mar 1, 2017

"Full Throttle Steam" from ESU

(You can also watch this directly on YouTube,
where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

Here's one of my S scale CNR moguls equipped with Full Throttle Steam – the new sound packages soon to be released by ESU for their Loksound Select and Loksound V4.0 decoders. It's running through the Lynn Valley on my home layout, but I'm sure that members of the S Scale Workshop will be considering upgrading some of their decoders when they hear the new sounds coming from Matt Herman at ESU North America.

I’ve spent some time running the locomotive this week, and I’m getting much more comfortable using the Heavy Load and Coast features to bring the sound to life.
I'm using a beta file of Full Throttle Steam. Matt and I installed it while shooting some segments for TrainMasters TV. The production files should be released any day now. Watch the ESU North America website for details.
Meantime, I’m getting ready to replace decoders in more locomotives. It’s a great time to be modelling steam!
- Trevor

Jan 18, 2017

Jim: a man with a plan

Workshop member Jim Martin reports on planning progress... or is that progress on a plan? He explains...


It’s only taken about a dozen years, but I now have a decent looking layout plan to illustrate what I’m trying to achieve in the basement.

Because I’m no draftsman and never gained proficiency at any track planning software, my pencil-on-graph-paper drawings were, at best, conservative estimates. It helps that I'm doing a quiet branch line rather than a densely tracked mainline or urban operation, but with the benefit of hindsight I’m sure I could have made better use of the space I have. No matter: I’m happy with how the layout is shaping up.

(Jim's Port Dover branch of the CNR in 1:64. Click on the image to view a larger version.)
The drawing you see here was done for me by my friend Joe Kimber in New Jersey. Joe has been doing track illustrations for The NASG Dispatch for some time now, including my own articles on Canadian layouts. He offered to draw the layout for me so I sent off photos along with my best attempt at a scale drawing.

It’s great to have his drawing now to lend visual context to any future writing I do about my Port Dover Branch. Thanks, Joe!

What I’ve been building is a representation of the Canadian National Railways' branch from Simcoe, Ontario, south through the Lynn Valley to Port Dover on Lake Erie. It all started with a colour photo given to me by Dave Shaw. In 2001, it graced the cover of "Hamilton's Other Railway" - a book on the line by railway historian Charles Cooper.

(The photo that inspired Jim's layout.)
The photo, of CNR Mogul number 80 switching the fish plant in Port Dover, took hold of my imagination. At about the same time, Simon Parent’s gorgeous S scale Mogul kit was seeing the light of day. The hook was set.

The three sections comprising the Port Dover harbour are actually Free-mo compatible, and travelled to many shows in the past, including those as far away as Milwaukee, WI and Springfield, MA. The next section very loosely represents the Culverhouse Cannery in upper Port Dover. It too is Free-mo, and remains on active show duty. These two modules were designed for easy removal.

The rest of the layout is stay-at-home, but is also built in sections, all resting loosely on L-girders. I estimate the entire layout could be removed from the basement in just a few hours… an important consideration as I continue to age.

Simcoe is something of an accident. I had planned to freelance the layout on the opposite side of the aisle. However the track plan I sketched actually bore a vague resemblance to the south end of Simcoe as it was in the 50s where the tracks diverged for Port Dover and Port Rowan. So I decided to call the place Simcoe after all, and while taking some liberties, have been introducing scenic elements to make it look a little more like the real place once did.

In between: my still-to-be-built interpretation of Lynn Valley. Trevor Marshall has made that place pretty famous on his blog, so it will be interesting to see what I can do.

One deviation already is the farm bridge.

(The Lynn Valley area on Jim's layout. The farm bridge is at upper right. Click on the image to view a larger version.)
There is no hillside, thus no need for such a bridge between the two places, but I wanted to use it because it was a gift from my late friend Oliver Clubine. (There’s a picture of this bridge on the cover of the June, 2003 Dispatch.) Prototypical or not, the hillside cut will act as a useful visual break between Simcoe and the Lynn Valley.

This is where my efforts lie right now as I continue to rough out the scenery forms. The picture above shows my efforts to this point, along with some acrylic paint to hide the pink Styrofoam.

Till next time, Cheers!

Dec 19, 2016

Today's Forecast: Clearing Skies

(Workshop member Jim Martin checks in...)


Merry Christmas everyone, and best wishes for a healthy, happy and productive New Year.

It’s been a while since my last report. Unlike my prolific blogging and modelling pal Trevor Marshall, I’m afraid I work only in seasonal spurts of energy. However, a quiet Christmas season this year is affording me the opportunity to move ahead once more on my home layout.

I have returned to work on the other end of the layout, the Simcoe staging area.  Track work is well along, but before proceeding any further I wanted to get to work on painting the backdrop.

In this location I want the skies to look colder and more threatening. I’ve been inspired by the cloudy backdrop paintings on Troels Kirk’s Coast Line RR On30 layout in Sweden. However, Troels is a professional artist - and I most assuredly am not. Nevertheless, with a photo album of cloudy skies on my tablet, I set out to make the heavens angry. 

After a number of hours of noodling around with dollar store acrylic paints, I came up with what you see here:

To my way of thinking it wasn’t totally awful... but then I set the buildings back in place:

First, I noticed how the distinct cloud patterns betrayed the presence of the large mirror at the end of the layout, thus shattering the illusion I wanted to create with the reflected structures.

Second, my wife Cheryl confirmed what I already feared. “Shouldn’t I be looking at the layout first?” she asked. That was it. Out came the broad brushes wielded in long, horizontal strokes:

In this photo, the scene is way more pleasing to my eye, yet still holds the threat of rain. I still have to do a line of autumn trees behind the buildings. Then I’ll decide whether or not that low cloudbank stays.

The forecast: Clearing skies but changeable conditions for the foreseeable future.