Toward the end of the 1980’s a group of us had formed the Prince Edward Island Railway Society. We were a great blend of railfans and model train guys. Fast-forward a few more years to 1993 and the owner of the Charlottetown Leisure World hobby shop thought it might be fun if he rented an empty store, across from his store’s location, so we could show off the first modules for a HO scale portable railway. I had a lot of interest in this idea, but almost no money. I am eternally grateful for the gracious offer of a module frame that I could use. With the little money I had, I bought a few yards of flex track for the main running tracks and then “made do” for the rest.
I had been fascinated by an E.L.Moore article in a back issue of Model Railroader describing a station he’d built to suit a junction location, at a diamond (track) crossing. Available real estate on my small HO scale home layout was scarce but in good supply on the blank module. The station in the article was clad in brick and I think Mr. Moore used Faller brick paper but that sort of product just wasn’t available. I had discovered the Pendon-style of building and had already attempted a Pendon-inspired scribed brick technique but doubted I could complete as much as I would need so I opted to go with a wood siding instead. Those clapboards were individually applied after being cut from heavy paper and the core of the station was made from cardboard from recycled cereal and similar boxes. Each window was double-hung with separate sashes (jambs and trims from index card with thread mullions). The finished model was painted with carefully thinned Humbrol enamel (thinned to both absorb and hopefully protect the paper walls).
Since the model was designed to sit at the intersection of tracks, I needed that ninety degree diamond to cross the two mainline tracks. By this time I was still trying to figure out how to make a switch but I figured a ninety degree diamond was in reach. I studied a photo in an old Atlas catalogue and copied what I saw. It actually worked perfectly and remains a favourite piece of trackwork. All roadbed was made from balsa sheet stock. Ballast was sieved kitty litter.
I added lineside fencing along all the track. Posts were tooth picks inserted into the layout and cut to length.
Trees were a mix of twisted wire for the “hardwoods” and for the “pine” trees I used carved balsa trunks.
Roads were more recycled cardboard coloured with layers and layers of water colour washes and to this day I still thank my lucky stars that it never warped as badly as it should have.
I’ve had the good fortune to work on a lot of models over a lifetime of model railways and in those years I’m blessed to have had a few models really work out well. This little HO scale module is one of those that I remain very proud of. Everything was made by hand from the most primitive of materials and using the most primitive of tools. I remain very pleased with even colour tone across the module and how the built elements bed into the natural ones. This module visited several Maritime shows. Eventually I removed the station and sold it. The house and garage stayed with me for a while longer. They followed me to Hamilton but remained there when my life brought me back to the Island.
I don’t take a lot of photos of my models, mostly because I’m a terrible photographer. That said, I’m grateful that I have a few photos of things I’ve done to inspire myself to do new work. It always feels a little easier to try something again when you can remind yourself that you’ve been there already once.