Greetings!  It has been a while, hasn’t it?  I have done a lot since my last entry but not that much different from what I have already posted.  I did learn a few lessons along the way.  As they say, “Hindsight is 20 -20 vision.”  Ah, 20 – 20 vision, those were days long gone by.

When I moved the track to accommodate the upper level entry point of the helix, I decided to over sand the cork roadbed to make the track dip a bit here and there like what I saw on some videos of the branch in the 1950’s which I have seen lately. This caused some difficulty with my CNR Mikado S-3-a 3702 when it was running along the wall.  I thought that there were not enough track feeders and put more in.  This did not help but it was good to do anyway.

The Culprit

However, when I took a closer look, I discovered that the roof extension of the semi-vestibule cab would touch the top of the modified tender at one of those dips and short out. 

A Better Look When, Where and How the Short Occurred

Having made this discovery, I finally decided to connect flashing LED’s to the circuit breakers and attach them to the fascia. This would show any shorts that would happen from now on. These circuit breakers have outputs for an LED and a buzzer.  There are 6 districts on the layout and they all have their own circuit breaker. The possibility of having multiple annoying sounds going off at an operating session made up mind to not install buzzers. The flashing LED’s instantly show a short and are kind of cool to look at.  However, trying to attach these to already installed circuit breakers under the layout turned out to be a pain, to say the least.  Hindsight!  I should have put them in when I was initially installing the circuit breakers.

The Solution Off
The Solution On

I found some symbols on the Internet that are for Short Circuit, printed them out on large labels and added them to the panel with the LED poking its head through. So far, four are installed. Park Head and Owen Sound South need theirs done. Those circuit breakers are easy to get at because the Styrofoam is not glued down yet and I will do them before I install the track at Owen Sound South.

And the Mikado? I put some Kapton tape under the cab overhang and it seems to be working out well. But I am still thinking that one out.

The Scenery is coming along. If you look closely at the layout above the Short Circuit Display, you will see some green fuzzy. I have been flocking everything. I will get into that next installment.

NASG Josh Seltzer Award

This is very nice.

I would like to thank the NASG (National Association of S Gaugers) for bestowing their 2021 Josh Seltzer Award on me for this blog.  Josh Seltzer was an early promoter of S Scale.  He ran an S Scale business with his wife Barbara, redecorating and modifying American Flyer cars with Scale, Hi-Rail and Flyer options.  Sadly, he passed away in 2003 at the age of 52.  The award, which was created in his honour, is given in recognition of those who support and promote S-scale modeling via a web site on the World Wide Web or any form of electronic media.

I would also like to thank all the people who follow this blog for your support.

Here is a picture of the NASG Josh Seltzer award on my layout at Park Head with the Wiarton main and the north leg of the wye in the foreground.  The SD-40-2 diesel may seem out of place but it belonged to Josh Seltzer and is lettered for his private name model railroad, Zanesville and Lake Erie.  I purchased it indirectly from his estate.  When I bought it, I had planned on repainting it to CP Rail but now it will remain in Josh’s colours out of respect.  My grandson Everett likes the green diesel.  I can always consider it a lease loco which CN did do and still does from time to time.  It is really a nice paint job.  I am pretty sure Josh did it.

Zanesville & Lake Erie SD40-2 at Park Head

As an aside, I am operating this layout in different eras which is the reason for the classic diesel.  1950’s steam era still rules but every so often I will change out the equipment to add variety and operating interest.

Next: Where the layout is today.

And Now for Something Completely the Same June 2021

I feel I have made enough progress to post an overview of what has transpired over the last 4 months.  I won’t go into the methodology as most people already know how to do what follows but if you have any questions in this regard, please give me a shout.

I have been concentrating finishing off the upper level especially Park Head because it is directly over Owen Sound. Access to putting scenery will be difficult at best once the track for Owen Sound yard is in and felt I had to at least get the station and surrounding buildings roughed in before approaching them with any scenery.  The structures at Park Head were somewhat unique and provided a number of challenges that had to be overcome since I only had photos to rely on, not plans.  From my observations, none of the structures at the Park Head train facilities were standard.  CNR adopted the use of old wooden coaches and baggage cars to replace stations on branchlines that had burnt down.  The original station burnt down on August 19, 1934 and was replaced by a coach, number 3174.  A boxcar, number 322095 became the freight shed.  Of course the coach roof had those turned down ends over the open platforms. I believe the car builders built them that way just to frustrate modelers.  I didn’t like the idea of trying to bend wood roof stock or making the curved ends by bending pieces of stripwood then covering them with thin paper.  Luckily my friend Jamie Bothwell came to the rescue and suggested I use Bachmann On30 shorty passenger cars because they had downward curved ends on their roofs.  I checked out local flea markets and found they could be had for a reasonable cost.  They scale out to around 10’ wide in S which is quite acceptable but they were still very short.  I had to cut the bodies so that when spliced together, they would be the correct 54’ 10” up to the platforms. I got the information about the length in the Lepkey-West CNR Passenger Car Book 1.  This meant that I could not use the O scale windows and had to cut them out.  The rooves were cut and spliced as well so they would be able to plug into the slots in the joined bodies.  Tamiya filler was used and sanded to fill any gaps.

Park Head Station Spliced Together from Two On30 Passenger Cars

Although I drew up a new set of S scale windows in Fusion 360 to have printed out, Jamie offered to laser cut the window frames out of 0.020” sheet styrene.  I opted for Jamie’s help because the 3D printing was too expensive at the time.  I glued his window strips in each side and after cutting more 102 itty bitty pieces per side, I glued them all in place and ended up with a correct 17 windows per side with a blank at the right end of each side where the wood stoves were.  The following photos show this progression.

Getting as many photos as possible of the eras I am modelling has been a hobby within a hobby.  Sometimes I get really lucky.  Many of the photos I have studied show the tracks to Wiarton bordered on farm fields that had tall trees lining the fence along the right of way. In a way, the railway ran through a corridor of trees.  I painted rather tall trees on the backdrop which will be fronted by model trees.  Grass and weeds were simulated by dry brushing with a stiff brush.  I am pleased with the results.  The front edge of the layout is not going to be treed because there is not enough room between the track and the edge of the layout.  Also, ease of access when there are derailments is important. 

Having the station started and a placeholder double sheathed 36’ boxcar in place, I was ready to start the scenery.  I carved long leftover skinny pieces of Styrofoam to line the lower edge of the backdrop creating a berm.  I used a Woodland Scenics hot wire cutter for this.  Our driveway was a bit messy with Styrofoam bits but a ShopVac made quick work of it.  I decided to put in a ground cover base which was Sculptamold.  My friend Trevor Marshall gave me some unused boxes of it amongst other cool scenery stuff before he moved to Saskatchewan.  Thanks Trevor.  I had never tried this before and unlike plaster it provides a very nice uneven bumpy surface.  Earth coloured latex was brushed on with a coating of finely sifted dirt/sand to follow.  Then the Woodland Scenics green ground foam mixture was glued down.  This was done right up to where the Park Head station platform was supposed to go.  In the following photo, you can see the effects of the Styrofoam strips already scenicked over, covering the lower edge of the backdrop. 

Before adding any more scenery, I thought it best to build the station platform.  Pre-1950’s, the platform was a boardwalk but later it became asphalt framed with timber.  In the following photo, I have placed the platform in its intended spot.  It was cut from dollar store foam board which I would NOT use again because when I painted it with water colours, the paper separated.  I will use stuff from an art store in future for other platforms.  The little green tool shed is a stand in.

The timber frame needed to be curved to follow the track.  I used some long pieces of Mt. Albert Scale lumber to form the frames by first soaking them in hot water and the bending them to fit.  They were held in place using T pins and metal weights and left in place until dry. The fringe in the next photo acts as a telltale so people don’t bump their heads when ducking under. The top pf my head has reaped the fringe benefits.

Along with the station, there were three other buildings inside the wye at Park Head, a freight shed made from a boxcar as previously mentioned, a rather high tool shed and a two-hole outhouse, I suspect for Men and Women.  I used two photos in Ian Wilson’s book and those that I have collected through the years.  The freight shed was kitbashed from a 40’ double sheathed boxcar someone had built which I cut in the middle and shortened to 36’. I used a photo that Robert Sandusky kindly provided me for help with the freight shed.  The tool shed was scratchbuilt and my first two drafts were board and batten which was what it looked like in the distant photos I had access to.  Then I noticed in a photo I had from the Basil Headford collection, that the tool shed had a side door and was wood sheath or tongue and groove.  The hip roof was the most difficult part getting the ratio and the length of the cap so that it looked just right.  The board and batten outhouse was scratch built next.  For some reason, it was the easiest to build.  Is someone trying to say something to me?  Oddly enough, I had a really cool video of the outhouse.  Jim Van Brocklin, a US railway cinematographer, was stuck at Park Head in 1956 and happened to film the goings on. To recant Jim’s story, he bought round trip tickets to Owen Sound which the ticket agent at Palmerston was happy to sell him without telling him that the northbound train 173 was scheduled to arrive in Owen Sound exactly the same time as the southbound train 174 was leaving and if the northbound train was late, he would have been stuck in Owen Sound overnight which he could not do. Of course 173 was late that day.  As a result, Park Head got some unplanned filming.  Lucky for me, but not for Jim.  The following picture shows the tool shed with incorrect board and batten siding and the outhouse.

Of course, after I did this, I realized I had forgotten to paint the track.  This is something I feel is necessary because it makes the track look less like plastic and more like wooden ties.  As I may have said previously, I can hand lay track but I don’t unless it is necessary.  I just find slapping down flex track quicker in some ways.  Then again, one does not have to paint hand stained laid ties to get that creosote look.  At any rate, I fired up the air brush and carefully painted the track Railway Tie Brown.  The ties will have a lighter wash applied at a later date.  I did all the rest of the upper level track which has not yet had scenery added, at the same time.  The paint I used was water based and it did work well on the plastic ties, wood ties and the sides of the rail.  On the printed circuit board ties not so well.  I would like to migrate from lacquer to water based paints for all my airbrushing but I need to master painting on metal before I feel comfortable painting any rolling stock.

Here is where I am as of this posting.  The station was painted Floquil Foundation which gives a nice raw wood colour.  The jar was from the 1970’s and stored upside down!  Some touch up with the body filler is necessary on the station sides.  Once the station has dried enough, it and the three buildings will be painted most likely CNR Mineral Brown or Red Number 11 which is really close to Pennsy boxcar red or whatever those SPF’s call it.  Then I will distress and weather the buildings.  As you can see, the track has been airbrushed. I will do the sides of the rail by hand a rust colour.

The omnipresent fencing will go in after everything else is in.  I have drawn up the correct CNR/GTR Canadian version of trackside fence and had it etched in nickel sliver.  I can’t wait to try it out. 

Until next time, stay safe.  Live Long and Prosper.

A Simple Tour of My Current Progress, January 2021

It has been over 12 months since I posted last but in that time I have managed to get quite a lot done and undone.  I decided to take a break from posting because I wanted to avoid sounding too instructive which was a comment I received.  This year has had its issues with Covid – 19 and I spent a lot of time during the summer at the cabin clearing out trees so a driveway could be put in. Before that, my wife and I had to hike our supplies in. That meant lugging things over a 100 metres long uneven path and at our ages was becoming a bit much.   I had to buy a new chainsaw because I burnt the old one out.  The new one is better and I am more afraid of it than any other power tool.

So here is a tour.  I started early last year (2020) putting in all the Styrofoam for the lower level which represents Owen Sound.  Then I proceeded to install the roadbed and track for everything up to the point where the mainline entered the main Owen Sound Yard, just behind the Roundhouse. I stopped there so I could access the upper level to start scenery.  I felt these steps were necessary so I could join the levels with the intended helix. This also meant clearing out part of the basement which is always good.

Going from right to left, the drawing shows the North Part of the Mainline with Passing Siding and Storage Track. The sidings and storage tracks are in magenta.  A Supertest Oil Facility was located there as well.  The Boarding Tracks were where they would hammer boards to the inside of the boxcars before they put the grain in them.  There was a spur to Harrison’s Lumber and finally the tracks to service the Grain Elevator.  People familiar with the prototype track setup will notice that there are two instead of three tracks at the Grain Elevator.  I used modeller’s license of selective compression but I can install a third if I need to.  All turnouts are powered with Tortoise and DPDT toggle switches.  The LEDs in the panels are 3mm.

Before I could start the scenery at Park Head on the upper level, I remembered that it was rule of thumb to put in a backdrop first.  I decided to make removable backdrops made of hard board cut into 16” strips 8 feet long. They have to be removeable for maintenance purposes.   I used 2” x 2” wood spacers to project them out from the wall.  They are mostly held in place with strips of Velcro.  Note, do not cheap out and use the clone brands, they don’t hold up as well as the real Velcro.  They were painted the same colour as a sky shot that I took at Park Head.  Next I started to put in lighting under the upper shelf to add illumination to the lower level.  These are inexpensive LED tubes.  I started to lay track on the lower level so I would get an idea of where the helix would go. (And yes, that is the Starship Voyager behind the trees.)

Lower Lighting and Backdrops

I installed the benchwork and track for the North Part of the Owen Sound Yard which has the north passing siding and storage tracks where Supertest Oil was located. This is also where the lower level will connect to the helix.

North End of Passing Siding/Storage Track Under the Wiarton Turntable.

Then the boarding tracks were put in where they put the boards on the inside of the boxcars before they filled them with grain. The control panels for the turnouts are placed as close a possible to where the turnouts are. The turnout control panel for the north end of the Passing Siding/Storage Track can be seen just behind the boxcars on the Boarding Tracks.

The Boarding Tracks with Passing Siding/Storage Tracks in the Background
Boarding Tracks and South End of Passing Siding/Storage Track Turnout Control Panel

Next, the spurs to Harrison’s Lumber and the Grain Elevator were put in.

Grain Elevator and Harrison’s Lumber Sidings
Grain Elevator Siding with a Mock Grain Elevator

The Pottawatami River rough in and its bridge were installed after the track was laid.  The Styrofoam and track were cut out. A piece of 0.060” plastic sheet was glued underneath the Styrofoam and sealed around the edges.  It was not too hard.  I used an Atlas HO bridge which I widened by splitting it down the middle and gluing a piece of brass sheet underneath.  The bridge needed to be shortened as can be seen in the photos. Micro Mark HO Rivet decals were used. The ends were carefully airbrushed black. Pieces of styrene sheet were used to simulate the shoes under the ends of the bridge.

Crossing the Mighty Pottawatami River
Bridge Widening
Bridge Shortening with New Ends
Finally the Two Sections of Owen Sound North are Joined Again

The helix is in. Yay!  It was built to adjust and take apart if necessary. Wood is in short supply these days because it seems everyone is renovating with the Covid thing happening. It is also a lot more expensive! Unfortunately, the only 1/2 inch plywood I could get was construction grade, warped. I had to add stiffeners along the edges to make it straight. The only 1″x 2″ pine I could get was finished in white. Some extra spacers were put in place between levels to ensure straightness as well. The grade is about 2 percent. Most of my Pacifics will need weight added. When I built them, I did not add weight due to the fact that they were only running on my level S Scale Workshop Modules. I should have planned ahead. CNR 5580 has been weighted and will now pull a 3 or 4 car passenger train up the grade well enough. This is about as long as the usual southbound prototype train was so I am in the clear there. Of course, the diesels have no problem with the grade! I may add another level and lessen the grade using shorter spacers but that is when I can go outside and use the chop saw. Then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Where the Lower Level Meets the Helix
Where the Upper Level Meets the Helix

I am getting used to the helix. It is kind of like watching a train go continuously around a Christmas Tree. Maybe next year I will put a tree in the middle during the holiday season.

The next instalment will be upper level scenery. Cheers, until next time and do stay safe. 

Converting an Sn42 Turntable to S Standard Scale

The turntable being used at Wiarton is a Walthers Powered HO 110 foot which turns out to be about 80’ in S Scale.  This is about 5 scale feet too long but considering that steam locomotives are always between 3 to 5 feet longer than their prototypes; this should not be really a problem appearance wise.

Because of the location of the turntable, I will have to leave the backdrop open for access in case of a derailment.

The first order was to take the deck off the bridge.  It was fairly straight forward.  Before doing so, I marked colours on the centre post to remember which wire went to which rail.  The carriage wheel sets have been removed as well.  They will be eventually replaced.

The Bridge Being Dissected

The deck comes off with screws which are a bit hard to get at.  If you are doing this be careful not force anything or break any parts of the mechanism. 

Top of Bridge Minus Deck

What remains is shown below.  The carriage wheelsets are back on again.

Deck Removed Wires Lengthened

The hole where the wires come through is about three quarters of an inch in diameter.  I suppose I could have simply put an S Scale track on top but I was concerned about alignment at the ends and how much extra I would have to build up the track work approaching the turntable.  Also the HO turntable bridge would not have ended up being the correct width.  By making a new deck, I could control the width and add 1/8” to each side.

Next I measured and marked out where the centre of the turntable pit would go and cut out the hole in the Styrofoam.  I found that I needed to add a bit of bracing using styrene sheet.

Once done, I put the bridge back in the pit with some S Scale track on it.  I placed some cork roadbed and track up to the edge of the pit and tried to get a handle on how much I would have to build up the deck in order to have both the track on the turntable and the feeder track vertically level.  It turned out that I needed to shim the deck of the bridge 0.240” and the lip of the pit 0.100”.  To do this, I cut out 3 sheets of 0.080” styrene for the turntable deck which were one quarter of a real inch wider than the HO deck.  I drilled a ¾” hole in the centre for the wires to pass through.  I also had to add some small lengths of wire to the existing wire to make them long enough to reach the track.

Laminations Being Glued On

The gluing of the track to the deck had to be done carefully so it would line up equally on each end.  I measured and marked carefully then put masking tape down each side to make sure that there would be no variation.  I glued the track down using water based contact cement and let everything dry for the recommended 24 hours.

Track Glued Down

The bridge was placed in the pit and a track alignment gauge from Ribbonrail was used to align the track at both ends.  I powered it up and let it rotate to make sure.  One of the neat things about this turntable is that it comes with a control panel and you can press a CW (Clockwise) or CCW (Counter Clockwise) button to nudge it into place if things don’t always line up automatically.

I also cut and laminated pieces of 0.060” and 0.040” styrene to shim the lip of the pit.  I bevelled these pieces and glued them on the lip where the feeder track enters and on the opposite side.

I am quite pleased at the result.  I will eventually finish detailing this with proper sides and railings but for now it does what I want and well.

CNR S-3-a 3702 going for a ride!

This turntable worked out really well.  These come in HO scale lengths of 90’, 110’ and 130’.  They are not cheap but do come with everything including a nice control panel which will allow you to program where the turntable stops.  It is an easy way to do indexing.  I don’t need indexing at Wiarton since they only used the turntable to turn the locos 180 degrees.  Apparently the steel combines were never turned.  I am not certain about the wooden ones that ran before 1955.  I wanted something that was easy to install and easy to use.  This fit the bill quite nicely.  I plan to use the 130’ version for Owen Sound.  Next up, the installation of backdrops.

Turnout and Controls

I like to be frugal so I build mostly the same number turnouts using Fast Tracks fixtures.  The number I use is 6.  I have one of the earlier fixtures purchased in 2001.  It does not have all the features of the latest ones but still works well.   After having built more than 35 turnouts, it seems that I am still challenged to build a turnout in less than an hour.  The instructions say that they can do the same in 45 minutes!

Shown here is a scratch built curved turnout using Fast Tracks techniques but not their fixture. I believe that the outside radius is 42″ and the inside is 39″. This depicts before the turnout control was added.  I am not sure about anyone else but I have to tweak my turnouts over and over until everything runs through them.  I hear there are people who can actually build them so well that they just plop them in place and everything works famously.  Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.  Then again, they may not be using P64 wheelsets.  Why do I use P64?  One, they look really, really great and two does the word masochist have any meaning for you?  At any rate, that is what I chose when I first got into S scale in 2000.  You would think that after 19 years in S, I would know better.  The combine you see is the first pilot model for the CNR combine.  It is 2 scale feet too long and does have P64 wheels.  The subsequent kit was corrected.  Since I don’t really need another combine, it most likely will never be completed and remain a track tester.  If it can go through the track work, anything can.

No Control Turnout

While visiting my friend Willie Waithe’s wonderful N Scale layout, Willie showed me a turnout control system using model aircraft servos.  The system is called Berrett Hill and can be readily found on the web at this address.  http://www.berretthill.com/trains/Welcome.html .  Kevin Hunter is the owner and master designer of these controls for both servo and Tortoise turnout control.  Since my Styrofoam bench top is only 1” deep, I liked the idea of the shallow depth of the servos and the dedicated programmable controls.

The servos can be used under the turnout in a support or to the side with a 3D printed well.  I opted for the well because I really don’t want things hanging down over the lower level.

Here is picture of the same turnout showing the well and the servo in place with a control wire attached to the drawbar.  Eventually scenery will cover the well and the only thing visible will be the servo arm and wire connector.  Because I wanted to retain a shallow bench work that would not protrude into the lower level, I decided I could live with this non-prototypical looking method.  At any rate, they work really well and that is what is most important here.

Same Turnout with Servo Control
That is a Frank Titman Built Hopper

The controls I chose are touch toggle held in a 3D printed mini-cup.  I chose to have two LED’s on mine to show green for mainline and red for diverging tracks.  The touch toggles use cables that connect to a Servo Control Base which in turn directs the signals to the appropriate servo.  The Servo Control Base is programmed by the user to limit the amount of travel which the servo does.  It is a fairly simple task once learned.

This picture shows the 1 the Servo and 2 the Well that the Servo will be placed into.  The Servos come with different levers and wheels one of which you can choose to best provide an arm to connect through a rod to your turnout drawbar.  The well, 2 is shown without and with the well cover in place.  The slot in the cover is for the arm from the Servo to go through.  These are both 3D printed and have variations in them.

Servo and Well

Number 3 shows the Servo Control Base.  Number 4 shows the Two Light Mini-Cup Toggle.  Number 5 is the Setup Remote and number 6 is the flat DCC cable which connects the Setup Remote to the Servo Control Base.

Servo Control Base, Mini-Cup Toggle, Programmer and DCC Cable

The Servo Control Base comes with either 4 or 8 sets of I/O connections and requires a 5 volt 2 amp power supply.  Although I managed to source the same locally, it was actually cheaper for me to buy direct.  You can buy a complete setup called a Servo Control Package for 8 turnouts at about the cost would be for a 6 pack of stall motor turnout controls.  However, when purchased separately, things are not quite as cost effective.  There are a lot of other parts that are optional that can help like extension cables for both the Servos and the Power Supply.  The extensions cables became a necessity for me and they come in different lengths.

The Servos must be programmed to only throw as far as necessary to close the points either way.  With the power off, you need to plug the DCC cable into the Servo Control Base and then turn on the power.  You then cycle through all the inputs/outputs of the Servo Control Base and at each input/output you program the throw of the arm.  You must go through all the input/outputs even if you do not have that many Servos attached to that particular base.  For example, I found that if I stopped programming at input/output 6 instead of cycling through to 8, then the programming would either not take or would be off.  Programming takes a bit of trial and error but once it is understood, it goes fairly simply.  As yet, I have only had the odd time where I had to reprogram and it is because I added more toggles to particular Servos so I could control them from more than one location.  If you do go this route, and have multiple toggles on Servos, you have to go through the program cycle using only one toggle per Servo, turn the power off, attach the other toggles and then everything should be okay.  It took a bit of learning but I did manage to have both sides of the wye at Park Head controlled on different sides of the wye.

This picture shows the underside of the wye where the Control Base is and the Multi-Input Adapters so that more than one Toggle can control one Servo.  The Multi-Input Adapters are on the left and the cables out to the Servos on the right.  All cables are numbered to correspond with where they go into the Control Base.

Servo Control Base with Multi-Input Adapters

The next two photos show a typical installation at the end of Wiarton.  The one showing the cover off also shows the .040” plastic shims I found necessary to hold the Servos in place securely.  This is not something they outline in their instructions but something I found was necessary.  The rod I started out with was 0.032” but found that 0.025” worked much better. 0.020″ is too weak for S.  I also found that the recommended 1 ¾” hole saw was too large for Styrofoam and used a rarer 1 5/8” hole saw instead.  The fit was more secure.  The ones drilled with the 1 ¾” hole were too loose and needed to be shimmed and glued in because the Styrofoam was not as stiff as plywood would be.

Servo In Well With Cover On
Servo In Well, Cover Off Showing Cam Behind Arm
Note the white plastic shims on the Servo Arms for Stability

The other thing I should mention is a mechanical cam/relay system is available that attaches to the Servo arm which is for changing the polarity of the frog. I found this to be quite frustrating to adjust and keep in place. I stopped using this method and used Frog Juicers instead for the turnouts at Park Head. I have had comments about the extravagance of using Frog Juicers from some MR visitors to the layout but since this is going to be my last layout ever, I want to make sure that everything is fool proof. Frog Juicers are so much easier and don’t need adjusting.

Scenery will cover the Servo Well Cover eventually.

Control panels were made from 0.060” sheet plastic cut into 3.5” strips.  These strips were donated by my friend, Ken Wilson.  I made up a pattern to design where the mini cup toggles were to go depending on mainline or siding use.  I used green tape for mainline, red tape for the divergence or the turnout and orange tape for sidings.  Yellow tape was used for the legs of the wye.  I labelled the tracks wherever I could.  I used my wife’s label maker.

Holes Laid Out and Cut
Template is Above
Tape for Main, Sidings and Wye in Place
Panel In Place Showing Turnouts Lined Up for Main
Mini-Cup Toggles Showing Divergence onto Wye

Please excuse the temporary scenery. It is in place just to get a feel.

Overall, I am quite pleased by the final results of the Berrett Hill turnout control system. However, I already have enough Tortoises and toggles for the lower level so I will most likely use them. It would be more time consuming in some ways but more cost effective since I already have them.

Next: The Conversion of the Walthers Sn42 Turntable to S Scale Standard Gauge

An Update for Fall 2019

I am sorry about not posting for a while.  I have been busy with other projects like building a stairway at our up-north cabin from the lower deck to the lake. Our cabin is on top of a high ridge of rock.  At one time, I could manage the effort easily but now that I have aged and slowed down, it took most of the summer; however, I can still mix cement with a shovel.  Next year, we finally get a dock again after having been ruined by ice a few years back.

In my earlier installment, I spoke of having all the track work in the upper level installed.  This a miss-guided tour of where the layout is today. 

Looking from the South End of Park Head

The 5 foot train turntable that you see was built for me by Jim Martin in exchange for me building and painting a brass tender for him. I think I won out on that one. I did modify it a bit and it works well. It will not handle the length of the trains I need for more prototypical operation and once all the track for the layout is finished will be modified and or extended in some way.

Park Head from the North End

This is a shot of the north end of the wye. The station has been removed and is having the correct number of windows applied. Yes, it matters to me. The fairly cool looking Plasticville water tower was built and hand painted by my father when I was 5 years old. I patiently watched him do it and have been inspired ever since. It was for my American Flyer set up. It does not really have a purpose on this layout because neither Owen Sound or Wiarton had one. It is nice to have though and may end up somewhere in the background as an industrial tank.

Down the Wall to Owen Sound

This is showing the east leg of the Park Head wye proceeding to Owen Sound. As you can see, the turnouts are in as are the controls. The montage on the wall was done by my artist friend Sean McClare when we were on a drama department road trip to investigate Hanover, Ontario. It was an information gathering and verification trip for the last musical I wrote, called ‘Small Town Summer’. The montage will have to be moved to make way for the back drop. The clock was built by my father from a black walnut tree which he grew and processed himself. He was quite a guy.

Park Head North

Here is a shot of the north part of the wye and yard at Park Head. Starting from the left, this track is the west siding. The track to the right of the west siding is the Wiarton Sub Mainline that serves Park Head station. The track to the right of the Wiarton Sub Mainline is the East Siding and the farthest right track is the end of the north leg of the wye. The stock car indicates where the stock pen will be. The hardboard for the backdrop is propped in place to get an idea of where it should go.

The Hydro-Electric Sub Station at Circuit Breaker Panel

All around the corner past the circuit breaker panel cabinet and on to Wiarton. I hope to conceal that panel with a removable backdrop. Removable is good because of various reasons, none the least is Murphy’s Law which can come into effect at any time. I have a great respect for that Law which seems to encompass most everything I do.

On to Wiarton 1

My old piggy bank from when I was a youngster is where the Highway 6 will cross over the track. Didn’t my parents throw anything out?

On to Wiarton 2

More trackage as the Wiarton Sub proceeds into town. Those two pictures will have to be moved into the front area where the Train Turntable is. You may notice the Star Trek ships around the layout. They will be hung from the ceiling to portray the episodes where the crews went back in time to either save the world or by mistake. Remember, Star Wars is fake but Star Trek is real! Just ask my flip phone which I still proudly use. One to beam up please.

The Great Stand In

Finally we are in Wiarton. Here is where the future station will be with the siding for the freight shed which was pulled there from where the turntable is/was. It will be a bit of a challenge to build this thing since I can’t seem to find complete plans. I do have a floor plan and some simple side elevations. Murphy’s Law dictates that, “When you slave over a model that you really want and have no plans from which to draw, someone will step up with the plans upon completion and you will find that said model needs important things redone!” I always keep that in mind so I get started on things.

Around the Corner Again

Now we are getting into the yard at Wiarton. Those trees were made by Chris Creighton formerly Schomberg Scale Models. They weren’t up to his standards and he gave them to me. I think I have high standards but then again, free is always better than not having trees. I think they are great!

Wiarton Yard 1

The siding will service the coal shed and a cattle pen. It should make for a bit of interesting operation if one has to move stock cars out of the way to get to the coal hoppers. The hoppers that CNR used were not CNR company cars but US imports like Louisville & Nashville, Reading, Pennsy and Illinois Central. For some reason still beyond my comprehension, coal was imported from the US because it was cheaper to send it across Lake Ontario by barge and pick it up by rail than get it from the collieries in Nova Scotia and Alberta. The US coal may have been better suited to the demands of the steam locos.

Wiarton Yard 2 – Turntable

As we enter Wiarton yard, the turntable, run-around track and the siding are shown. The turntable is a Walthers HO 110′ modified to S Scale. It works great and I will do a segment in the future about the conversion once the sides etc are put on.

Wiarton Yard 3

Progressing through the yard, temporary cliffs are in place to give the impression of where things will have to be in the future. It is a nice duck under that kids can breeze through here. I love those annoying phone calls when they want to clean my air ducks. I always tell them that we have geese and they can clean them instead. For some reason, I don’t get those calls that much anymore.

Wiarton Yard 4

The end of the line. It is truncated but that is as far as I can go without making comfortable aisle space uncomfortable. Speaking of aisles, my granddaughter, Isla helped me to lay some of the lower level roadbed. She was enthusiastic which is nice. I believe she now knows just how long it takes to just simply get track down. At the end of the yard will be an ice house and fish house with some water’s edge to help out the illusion. Once again, the temporary Styrofoam cliffs do help with my visualization of what is to come.

For a coda, I have had a number of non-train people operate this portion of the layout, running the real trains as they did. Some have been children, others adults. In all cases, they did well even with the Sergent couplers which seem to prove to be so troublesome to regular model train people. Are non-train people more open to new things? I wonder if the quicker, easier Kadee experience has somewhat biased the model train people? Next time, turnouts and their controls.

What a Promise to a Grandchild Can Achieve

At the end of July, early August, our granddaughter from Kelowna comes to visit us, Grandpa and Grandma and our in-laws Granddad and Gran.  When she was here in the summer of 2018, the bench work for the upper level was done but no track was laid.  The modules were put away under the Kennedy and Sons section of the lower level of the layout.  Isla was disappointed when she could not run any trains and requested that when she and her brother, Everett were to visit in October that the trains would be operational.  So, with a bit of a time constraint, I set out to fulfill my granddaughter’s request. 

Late August and most of September 2018 found us in Italy attending my daughter Andrea’s wedding to Luca Lavorato.  It was magical at a vineyard and I am very glad it happened.  Otherwise, I would never have been able to experience Italy being comfortably numb in the basement.  On my return, I had a little over a week to make good on my promise to Isla that she and Everett could drive trains.

With the roadbed all in place and sanded to level it, the wiring and track needed to come next.

The turntable is a Walthers HO Cornerstone 110’ motorized one, not DCC. (There will be a future post on how it was modified to S Scale.)  The main focus was to get enough track in so that both grand children could drive trains at the same time so the turntable was not ready for them.  The track was glued in the normal fashion using watered down Carpenter’s Glue and stacks of old magazines to keep things in place.

Completed Roadbed

I decided to get the wiring in first.  I am still using DCC because all the locos I have built have decoders installed and I hate taking something apart to redo things unless it is a repair.  Even that I begrudge.  The wiring was not too difficult as I had experience with the modules I built.  I had already made the decision as to where districts were going to be but now had to decide where the circuit breakers would go.  I use NCE but I know that their circuit breakers are not too good for sound equipped locos because of current draw.  I opted for DCC Specialists instead.  I got the ones that come grouped together in four.  They have perforations and are easy to split apart.  I installed two on the side of the bench work at Owen Sound South for Owen Sound South and Park Head and one at the ‘north’ corner of the Owen Sound bench work for Wiarton.  The feed went up the wall to the upper bench work for Wiarton.

Circuit Breakers for Owen Sound South and Park Head
Wiarton Circuit Breaker

I made sure that I labelled everything so I knew what was what.

I lurk on the NCE Yahoo Group and have observed the discussions about needing snubbers at the end of the buss runs in districts.  Having been a computer site administrator for our school for some time, I had already known that terminators on a network were necessary.  So, I checked out the web and discovered that one of the local hobby shops had 3 packages of two in stock at pre-US dollar inflation prices.  I purchased them all just in case.  I have already used 3 of them up and the other 3 will be used in the lower level and the helix.

Park Head Snubber

I purchased some standoffs from an electronics supply and used them to install the circuit boards with number 4 screws. I love those tiny little Robertson screws!

Once the buss wiring was in place, I started on the trackwork at the end of Wiarton yard.

The End of the Line at Wiarton

I had to scratch build a curved turnout to fit in place to complete the run around track.  It has an outer radius of 42” and an inner radius of 39”.  I used an HO template from FastTracks which I blew up to S scale.  I had to rework it at least three times to make it work well enough but that is expected.  The last measure which actually was not too hard was to replace the frog while the turnout was still in place.  Now it is acceptable enough in that even P64 wheelsets will make it through.  Also, now that the pain of re-building it over and over has subsided, I feel much better.

Scratch-built Curved Turnout From…!#@@

Next I installed feeder wires from the Buss to the track.  I used typical off brand suitcase connectors which can be bought in bulk at a nearby electronics store.

Suitcase Connectors Used Under Park Head

Here are some pictures of a couple of happy engineers driving the trains.  Isla ran the F7A while Everett waited patiently to drive the steam passenger train in. The buildings were just set in place temporarily to add ambiance.

Engineer Isla at the Helm
Everett Waiting Patiently. His Steam Train is in the Background

I did not manage to get any of the turnouts motorized by their visit but did get them to work manually and hand switched the polarity of the frogs.

As you may have guessed, now all the upper level track is in place and operational. All the turnouts are motorized.  My next installment will detail the motorization of the turnouts and the trials and tribulations of having a lift-out wye.

Roadbed into Wiarton

It was the summer of 2018 when I finally got around to putting in the cork roadbed into Wiarton.  It was fairly typical, one strip then another. I used Tee pins to hold things in place and watered down yellow construction glue. The trees below were built by my friend Chris Creighton formerly Schomberg Scale Models. He has high standards and didn’t like the results. My standards are not as severe and luckily he gave them to me. They will eventually find spots in the foreground and my tree building efforts will copy these.

Now a Bit of History

Up until 1935, Wiarton was the home terminal in the Upper Bruce Peninsula for the CNR.  That all changed to Owen Sound because it was a better and deeper port.  Wiarton had a turntable and a 4 stall round house.  All that shifted to Owen Sound so the round house and storage tracks around the turntable were taken out.  The turntable remained.  Therefore, I needed a turntable.  I was going to scratch build one but I knew that Simon Parent had purchased a powered Walthers HO version and successfully did an S scale conversion.  He got it when it was on sale a few years back and of course I passed thinking that I would build my own.  Wiarton had a 70’ turntable and because of its position on the model railway, it would need to be bullet proof for a 180 degree turn.  The Walthers one assured this.  Unfortunately, the Walthers versions only come in three sizes, 90’, 110’ and 130’.  Still, I decided to make life easier and compromised with 110’ which actually comes out to about 79’ in S scale.  I wanted a bit of insurance for the length of the locos and if I needed to turn the combine which was always on the Wiarton mixed.  I did not immediately convert the turntable to S but did install it before I completed any road bed so I knew where I was going to have to end up.  I did have to add a bit of aluminum ‘L’ bracing after the fact to support it.

S Scale CNR K-3-a 5575 Astride HO Scale Track on the Turntable

Wiarton’s turntable could hold any of the locos sent from Owen Sound.  Typically though, Moguls and Ten Wheelers were found on the Wiarton mixed from Owen Sound.  Occasionally, a light Pacific would venture in and sometimes the Northbound Way Freight from Palmerston would go straight in if it was warranted.

The roadbed continued down to the Wiarton yard but I had to do selective compression to be able to fit in the space I have.

Turnouts and Track in Place for Testing
A Wood Express Reefer and NYC Baggage Car on Track Just to Get an Idea

Around this time, my granddaughter Isla was visiting from Kelowna, B.C.  She was only 6 at the time and was quite impressed with the work so far but she really wanted run the trains.  As mentioned before, the modules were down and stored so no train running was to be had.  Isla and my grandson Everett were coming in October so Isla asked if they could run trains the next visit.  “Of course,” I replied.  However, my daughter Andrea was getting married on September 7 and I had a lot to prepare for that wedding including making a recording of me playing selections on the piano for a 90 minute duration.  I could only manage to squeeze one more week of building in after the wedding and before the kids arrived.  Next, what a promise to a grandchild can achieve.

The Route to Wiarton

The drawing below shows the Owen Sound Lower Level with the tracks grayed out.  The Route to Wiarton Upper Level track is shown in light green.  The brackets are magenta and the aluminum outer framing is shown in blue.  There was a bit of modification as the build progressed but for the most part it all worked out according to plan.

It is now March 2018.  The next step was to attach the aluminum railing to the brackets along the wall.  This would be the base the for the Wiarton mainline coming into Wiarton.  0.060” styrene cleats were attached to the top of the brackets compensate for the level difference between the shelf bracket and the railing.  At the rear I attached coved quarter round to add support for the Styrofoam against the wall.  I went back to the Park Head area and retro-fitted cove quarter round there.

Framing for the Styrofoam to Wiarton

The corner frame work needed to be supported by the lower bench work until all the bracketing was in place.  A temporary vertical support was clamped in place.  Part of the web of the ‘L’ was cut out in several places so the rail could be bent to conform to where the track would eventually go.

Temporary Vertical Support for the Corner

Aluminum ‘L’ extensions were added to the ends of the shelf brackets.  All were drilled out and tapped for 4-40 screws.  Nuts were used to tighten everything down. Because the Aluminum rail and Bracket Extensions caused layering, 0.060″ shims had to be added ensuring a level surface before the 0.060″ styrene support sheet was glued on top. This was so the styrene sheet would be level with the outside ‘L’ rail. Once everything was stable enough, the vertical support from below was removed.

Layers of Aluminum Rail and Bracket Extensions

When everything was level, the Styrofoam sheet was cut and glued in using foam friendly adhesive like ‘No More Nails’.

Along the Wall to Wiarton
First Wiarton Corner
Second Wiarton Corner I

Wooden support legs were attached to the second part of the Wiarton Corner. They really help with the leveling and keep the bench work stable.

Second Wiarton Corner II With Support Legs

The Wiarton yard extension was an aluminum frame attached to an island made of wooden uprights with shelving underneath.  This was suggested by Trevor Marshall.  Originally, my idea was to suspend the extension from the ceiling but that would not have been stable enough.   The second shelf became a great place to put tools while working.  Eventually all shelving space was used to store various containers that had retired M.L.W. Services kit projects in them.  This allowed the bar fridge to be moved to where the containers originally were.

An Island for the Yard

Those rear upper leg extensions will have a back drop attached which will block off some of the other parts of the layout. Florescent lighting was added over the Wiarton Corner and the Yard. Next…Roadbed for Wiarton