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!