|Recent motive power acquisitions pause for inspection prior to entering service (CP 5936, CP 5701, and BNSF 5869). Eventually, a fascia will cover the expose edge of the foam and the benchwork.|
Well it looks like it’s been quite a while since I have posted a layout update, so time for a much-delayed progress report on the work complete on the layout in the last few months.
The photo above shows three recent acquisitions that the Motive Power Department has purchased. The local fall train show circuit here in southern Ontario has yielded quite a few interesting finds over the last few shows. Among those items that came home with me from the shows are CP 5936, and CP 5701, two dummy Athearn Blue-Box SD40-2’s that have been heavily modified with the addition of many detail parts and custom paint jobs. Though the grades on the layout are somewhat steep, two powered units can easily handle almost any train run (and even a single Kato AC4400CW can handle at least 30 cars), so these two dummy units are an easy and inexpensive way to bulk up a consist without drawing extra power from the DCC system or worrying about consisting issues. The third unit is BNSF 5869 (see photo below), an Athearn Genesis ES44AC; both CN and CP have been running a lot of foreign power through southern Ontario this year, with quite a few BNSF units making an appearance (mostly over the winter months when traffic levels were higher). For a while, CN had a habit of borrowing BNSF power for the oil trains that were interchanged at Chicago and delivered to a refinery in Montreal. When Athearn released the second run of these units a month or so ago, it was too cool to pass up.
|BNSF 5869, an Athearn Genesis ES44AC, will serve as run-through power on both CN and CP freights. Recently-completed scenery work can be seen behind the unit.|
The photo above also shows some of the recent progress that the scenery gang has made. The area between the upper industrial area and the lower mainline, adjacent to the bridge, was filled in using the plaster cloth and newspaper method, and then sceniced with paint, ground foam, shrubs and other brush. I think it turned out alright, but still want to add some more fine details such as weeds, etc. Compare to the photo below – quite a difference 21 years makes!
|The bridge scene, as it looked in July 1994. Photo by my Dad, Keith, during construction of the layout.|
On the other (west) side of the bridge, scenery crews are also making progress near the grain elevator site. Again, the plaster cloth method was used in combination with pink urethane foam sheets. The foam sheets are great for covering the large areas in the benchwork but I’ve found concealing the joints between vertical layers to be a bit of a problem. That’s where sculptamold and creative fauna arrangements come in handy!
|Scenery crews are making progress on the west side of the bridge. The majority of the scenery here was done with Woodland Scenics products, but the trees are from Bachman (rather impressive, in my opinion).|
Over at the grain elevator, the fall grain rush is in full swing, with both loading tracks chock and block with cars to be loaded. One of the next things I’m hoping to accomplish is the assembly of a Walthers grain elevator kit (the prairie style one). Though not strictly prototypical for southern Ontario, I think the prairie style is more distinctly Canadian, and more interesting to look at than some bland concrete structure. It will also lend more credibility to the scene when we take my equipment off the layout and swap it for Mark’s steam-era rolling stock. In general, the structures on the layout are intended to be era-non-specific, as each of my dad, brother, and myself model different time periods. Thus simply exchanging the rolling stock on the layout should be the main task in converting from one time period to another (it’s a lot easier than retrofitting a De Lorean!)
Down at the steel mill, production is in full swing (unlike 1:1 scale mills), with contemplation being given to adding another structure. Presently, the rolling mill is in place and keeps a switch job from the yard busy exchanging empties for loads. We’re thinking of maybe adding another smaller (half) building and using it to accept loads of scrap. Presently, the track next to this location is earmarked as a team track, but feels out of place, wedged between the steel mill area and the lumberyard. Adding a second building would also provide a neat visual effect when taking photos, being able to shoot between two buildings would give the impression of the steel mill area being larger than it is by blocking out the background clutter when taking a photo.
|Scenery work is slowly progressing around the layout. Hopefully soon the "islands" of scenicked space will merge together into a completely finished layout!|
The photo below shows work that has also been completed on the lumberyard scene. Intended to be a general-purpose retail establishment, the lumberyard has capacity to hold two cars. The delivery track has been painted, ballasted, and the lumberyard covered with dirt/gravel, with wood blocks implanted before the glue had set. Stacks of wood, simulating plywood and 2x4’s will be stacked on top of these blocks.
I’m hoping to keep up the progress over the Christmas break, with several tasks on the to-do list, including:
- · Assemble and install the grain elevator building and grain bins
- · Complete some locomotive projects, including GEXR 3856 (it’s been “almost done” for about a year!)
- · Implement, or at least plan out a car card system to be incorporated into operating sessions
- · Install Tortoise switch machines on the north end of the yard so switching can be done more easily from that end of the yard
- · Complete the diesel shop
- · Continue with scenery, and ballast the remaining areas of the track that haven’t been ballasted yet
- · Explore options for backdrops
To quote Andy Sperandeo (RIP Andy),