Experience grows

When I’m trackside I often catch myself thinking how well modern railroading works for a modeller developing new skills. The scene above is in Dartmouth yard as it appeared at lunch today. This is a medium size yard that hosts three or four trains a day.

Learning to lay reliable track is a major point on the learning curve. From there we can learn to paint and weather it, then ballast. Once upon a time Woodland Scenics ground foam “grass” was the standard scenic treatment. It’s easy to apply and is sold in a broad range of colours. For me, it’s big fail point was the lack of three dimensional texture. That’s not a problem in the modern scene. CN keeps the grass in the yard cut closely to make it a safer place for its crews to walk when they’re at work. So, heck with texture, ground foam works here. As we learn, we can move further back from the track. Just as in the scene above, static grass and more detailed tree and shrub armatures along a fence line.

Collectively it could be an opportunity to grow with the work which might be a whole lot less to consider when you’re start.

Much(model railroad)Music

I can’t remember exactly but we were talking and I started thinking about music videos where model trains had roles.

Last Train to Trancentral

Everything about The KLF fascinates me. Still. So begins a list of songs that had music videos made where model trains play a major role in the film: Lima trains and one heck of a successful smoke unit in this case. Gosh, yeah, what an act. Regardless of genre or even medium, The KLF changed the way I think about performance and work and their interrelationship.


I still want one of those Tri-ang clockwork sets. They were strange constants for a very long time in Tri-ang then into later Hornby catalogues. I’m fairly superstitious. I know it’s irrational but I think life would lack context without some silly signature. Anyway, I had a period in my life when something bad always seemed to happen while listening to Peter Gabriel music. I hope that’s over.


You should listen to more Ben Caplan. You should see what he’s up to. I don’t know much about O scale three rail trains but this, well, model trains in music videos.

Trans Europe Express

A lot of actual footage of real trains but mixed with equal footage of what looks like a Märklin set. I feel like this was somehow the video that started the idea for this post.

What am I missing?

“Gettysburg & Northern Railroad: Dawn to Dusk with PREX GP10 #1001”

I really enjoyed watching this. Just about everything in these thirty minutes was a connection point.

That GP10. Gosh they’re cool. Kaslo has a really neat resin kit for these in HO and what a great way to spend some time: assembling a well designed kit of such a neat locomotive.

I like those covered hoppers.

Speaking of the covered hoppers I like the restrained colour palette across these scenes. The trains and the scenes all draw from the same restrained palette and it’s one I find attractive.

This was fun to watch. I’m certainly bookmarking it to watch again in my playlist of inspirational film.

Check out that cool Kaslo kit here: https://www.kasloshops.com/products/hl-20

CBNS Hopewell Subdivision

My friend Andrew has been building a wonderful home layout based on the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway’s operations in New Glasgow. It’s so exciting to follow along on the development of this project. Until recently, he’d shared updates via Facebook but has launched a blog and I’m thrilled to post a link here:


You should check it out.

I’ll add a proper link to Andrew’s blog for easy reference. I’m starting to realise that some parts of Prince Street are showing their age and I have started to get some of those things fixed. Sorry that I haven’t kept these bits as current as they deserve to be.

My current favourite track plan

I tend to repeat certain track plans or layout designs. I get fixated on a particular arrangement or a line. Above is what I’ve been drawing and redrawing over the last few weeks.

It’s based on three turnouts.

Cars enter from “interchange” to “loop” and from there are delivered to “customer” (most of the time) or “team track” (every so often).

The scenario is based on those industries you already know I favour where our focus is feeding cars in a conveyor fashion like at a grain elevator, salt unloader, or maybe a new propane dealer.

The plan is a thin, linear design as I always favour. It’s size is determined by these simple geometric principles: the turnouts are equal in length to the lead on the far right (so, in HO this might be around 11”). Multiple that length by three and subtract that from the available shelf length. Then divide that by three.

“Customize an MLW S-4 Switcher in N Scale”

I’m looking forward to buying a copy of the July RMC to read Mike Pagano’s article. RMC have posted a teaser from the article on their website and the resulting model looks superb.

RMC shared this image. Click on it to see the article. Alco in Multimark, that looks terrific!

Enjoy their preview of the article here: http://rrmodelcraftsman.com/customize-an-mlw-s4-switcher-in-n-scale/

Better still buy a copy of the magazine at your local newsagent. If you’re in Nova Scotia then buy a copy at Atlantic News as I plan to. (If you don’t live here you should. Atlantic News is just one good reason!)


Another great handlaid track tutorial

The Modular Railroading channel on YouTube is a constant source of high quality and genuinely good tutorials. Two days ago, they uploaded this new video sharing their tips on how to handlay N scale track. Subjects like N scale and handlaid track are always attractive to me – the sum of both represents some of the most fun I have in the hobby.

Like all of the tutorials on this page the presentation is exemplary of “doing it right”: tailored script, smooth narration, and a focussed and accessible message. Further, it’s neat to see familiar Fast Tracks tools and parts in use!

For years, I have shared Henk Oversloot’s tutorials as some of the finest guides to handlay track and I’ll now also be sharing the above tutorial. Fast Tracks say “You don’t have to, you get to.” With resources like these I’ll add: “You’ll want to. Welcome to the right party.”

Henk Oversloot’s tutorial as well as his superbly inspirational website: http://www.fs160.eu/fiNeweb/standards/turnouts/pointseries.php

Fast Tracks make some of the highest quality tools in our hobby and their handlaid track supplies are unequalled in quality: https://www.handlaidtrack.com/

The eBay time machine

Sometimes eBay is the most enjoyable nostalgia trip. Life Like models in their blue boxes! Not only that but I had one of these blue Santa Fe searchlight cars. Of course, like anyone around my age, I had a Life Like F7 too but mine was CN (which we corrected by painted into CP colours using spray cans of auto paint and CDS dry transfers). It’s funny how, as we grow older, our definition or priorities change. A complicated model like that searchlight car felt like a real milestone for me for many, many years. I also had some of the Life Like circus cars and one of their passenger cars (mine was a “combine”).

All of those models are gone now.

I still feel the design work on the Life Like forty foot flat car, like their twin hoppers, was really nicely done and I still keep an eye out for these at the train shows.

I’m writing quickly because I don’t want to waste this nostalgia-fueled joy. I’d forgotten about these models until an eBay search for HO scale locomotives for sale in Canada returned it in today’s suggestions. Thanks chaos!

I have no connection to this auction. Check it out here:


One and one and one more to watch

I’ve been watching a lot of videos on Delay in Block’s channel on YouTube. The videos are beautifully composed and the narration (sound and script) is a real joy. This is the sort of content that’s a real joy to share.

Click on the photo above or any of the links. They’ll all open YouTube and Delay in Block’s enjoyable update on the West Michigan Railroad.

The store is gone

A couple weeks ago I summarized the status of the Prince Street store on Shapeways simply:

I deleted it

Most of the artwork survives. It is unlikely it will return to Shapeways. I remain so proud of what we accomplished together. Those parts in the store were really cool. There’s no “but”.

What there is, is a massive thank you to Taylor and Krista. You were both the most incredible supporters of that project. The pride I describe when I talk about the models is never about 3D printed parts but the collaboration with two damned good people that are always an exciting privilege to work with.

Thank you