My quick update

I was up early this morning – really early.

No good reason that I could think of.

On went some coffee and while it brewed I thought about a comment about Dave Frary that Tony Koester made in one of his Model Railroader columns a long time ago. Tony Koester used to write a column toward the back of Model Railroader and it was one of my favourite parts of the magazine. I still prefer Railroad Model Craftsman but his column got me to buy Model Railroader and I think I have each issue and have read all the columns. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of reading about the theory behind model railroading. Anyway, Tony was talking about getting things done on his model railroad and that same column carried notes about George Sellios and his commitment to his layout, the Franklin and South Manchester. In both of the cases that Tony spoke about, and also in his own thoughts, he described that to achieve the things each modeller was accomplishing that each had made a priority of the time he committed to his layout. For George he simply worked on
his layout with the same fervor he applied to the production of his line of kits, both venues were treated like work – work he loved mind you. It was Dave’s committment I thought about this morning though. Dave decided that to get things done he would just get up earlier, about an hour, every day and spend that time on the layout. I thought about it, and I tried it, and I enjoyed it. I got a lot done and there was little doubt in my mind that the Pigeons Inlet Railway and Navigation Company was all the better for it.

That was ten years ago now, more probably if I actually tried harder to remember when Tony’s column was written. Heck, the PIR&NCo. itself was in it’s heyday in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s so maybe ten years isn’t far enough. When I started this blog I spoke about my own desire to build another model railway. The time is right and I feel like I need to. I know now like I did then that building a model railway does indeed take time. Building one the way I enjoy the hobby takes a lot of time. I am trying to spend a little each evening to get something a little more finished. This doesn’t always happen but so far it has amounted to progress and that makes me feel just great about the layout and my involvement in this hobby.

So there I was this morning shortly after four o’clock. The coffee was starting to work it’s way into the pot and the cat was groggy but fed. The house was quiet and I found myself with the first of that coffee in my favourite IKEA coffee mug staring at my work to date on the layout. I’m still really frustrated and dissappointed in my big error in planning. I’m still measuring the magnitude of this issue and I think soon I’ll have my next approach figured out – but that will need to happen in a seperate blog. I wasn’t going to let this time go to waste so I unearthed my tools and supplies and I was going to build something.

My layout will be a traction railroad. Though most of the layout’s focus is on moving people, I am interested in and have been extensively researching the milk and LCL operations Canadian interurban railroads performed during their heyday. There’s little doubt in my mind that I’ll be trying to work in some of this on my layout. To do this I’m going to need some trailers. I got out my well-worn copy of Carsten’s Traction Plan Book and from it’s pages I found a drawing of a neat little C&LE trailer car. I’m building this model in styrene using the method I first devised to build TTn3 boxcars years ago. I build my cars from the roof down. First I start with a flat 0.005″ styrene blank. I next measure out a piece of 0.040″ to fit inside the car. This rectangle is approximately the interior dimensions of the car body. Next I figure out the car’s floor thickness and subtract that from the cars exterior height. This result is the height of a 0.020″ styrene core
I build around the perimeter of the 0.040″ slab. The trailer I’m building a model of has a sliding door on the inside of the wall, like a railroad baggage car. The door is simple and made, in this case, from scribed styrene. A piece of 0.020″ thick, 0.020″ v-groove is cut to the entire length of the car’s side and cemented into place. Over-top that are built up laminations to produce the car sides and trims. Basically I’m working with layers and laminations to build the car body from the inside out. If I’ve calculated everything correctly the finished car body width is correct, or close enough that the secret dies with me! It sounds like a strange way to build – so why do it? There are a bunch of reasons I’ve cooked up but here are my primary two: First I hate the gap that someimes presents itself around the eaves of a car roof. Building this was places that join at the car’s base. Second the car floor inserts just like any shake-the-box kit does,
which makes couplers and car weights easy to add and maintain. Thirdly that 0.040″ blank is measured and cut with perfect 90 degree corners. This ensures that each layer will be square, and in theory, the right size. Each layer come with it a simple butt weld that in turn becomes a lapped joint. It doesn’t take long but the car body that results is quite strong and still appears thin in profile – which is of paramount importance in N scale.

I was able to get all four walls up on the car and the roof roughed out. I still have to figure out something for the car’s floor and then focus on the details (hardware, etc.) I’m thinking about robbing trucks, queen posts and some tiny details from one of the Roundhouse (oops, Athearn – am I showing my age?) old-time boxcars if I can find one over at Maritime Hobby. I also need to figure out if trying to make working radial couplers in N scale is worth it – but that’s another blog – hopefully with pictures. Speaking of pictures, I can’t wait to start sharing some soon that show some trolleys on the layout.

I can’t wait to start running cars.

Not a bad morning at all looking back now. I’m still a huge fan of Dave Frary’s Carrabasset & Dead River. Reflecting back on that reminded me of the time I met Bob Hayden at RCHTA in Chicago. Moving along, I remarked to the cat about how much I missed Tony Koester’s column in Model Railroader and focussing my time on a model for the layout took my attention away from a problem with the layout that was really frustrating me. Yup, not a bad morning after all.



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