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

Finishing the Lower Bench Work for Owen Sound

After the removal of the bar, it was time to continue the lower bench work of Owen  Sound.  Julia put together the next two parts for me.  These are shown below.  They will become the mainline and the access points to the grain elevator and the boarding tracks which will be on narrow peninsulas.  I built a corner to attach to it and it is shown resting on the bench work that Julia built.

Corner Section Where Supertest Oil and Passing Sidings Will Be

The corner was attached to the end of Julia’s handiwork.  At the same time the upper railing has been removed for test purposes.  I test and retest everything before it is finally installed semi-permanently.  The area below the bench work is a bit more clear now.

Around the corner and down the wall over the bar fridge. More legs are leaning against the bench work where the boarding tracks peninsula will be attached.

The bar fridge will be moved to a location under the bench work just prior to the branching off to the grain elevator.  Easy access is mandatory.

That was it for the rough lower bench work framing for Owen Sound. Next Wiarton.

Razing the Bar

In October 2017, my daughter Julia and I drove across Canada from Calgary to Toronto to move her here from Revelstoke. She has begun a new direction in her life taking a course in Home Renovation and Carpentry. (So Proud!) When were arrived back home, she helped build some of the lower bench work and really took pleasure in the removal of the wet bar. In the past, the sink was rather convenient to use in the line of modelling. It was nice to be able to mix plaster and do other modelling jobs there. But In the words of Bluto from ‘Animal House’, “They took the BAR, the whole $#@#% BAR!” Unfortunately it was necessary because it was in the way. Julia is a natural at demolition. There were some smoked mirror tiles on the wall with shelving as seen in the right of the photo. Luckily the glue that held them was old and they came off easily with only two breaking. The sink is in the corner barely seen behind an ultrasonic cleaner.

Ah…The Bar
Julia’s Favourite Tools

The bar left behind a legacy of missing carpet, loose vinyl tiles and a blank wall. Sadly, there was no longer a place to hide my liquor stash.

The pipes had to be capped. It is good to know how to use a blow torch. And more importantly, I would not have known this skill if not for my building in brass purposes. If anyone wants a copy of my soldering clinic, please let me know, I can send/email it. I also have copies of the instructions for my K-3/J-3 kits. Those too are available.


The removal of the wall tiles also left a blank wall.

Bare Wood Paneling

The smoked mirror tiles stacked up nicely. Terry, my wife wisely thought we should donate them but no one would take them so they went into the garbage because recycle would not take them either. They had to be carefully boxed. I respect garbage workers and don’t want them to get injured on the job. You can see my modules still standing on end beside the tiles. As I go along more things get on the decision block and some stay and some remain.

Nice little tiles, good little tiles.

It was a good idea to get matching paint but I should have purchased a gallon instead of a pint. I am out of it now.

As you can see in the following photo, there are floor issues. There must have been a water leak in that the tiles in this area had all come off the floor. Also, who carpets directly over old, dirty, loose, curled-up tiles? I would have scraped them all off first and then done the job properly. Accordingly, I glued all the loose tiles down.

New Paint, Old Floor

Julia and I cut out parts of the plywood from the old bar to fill in the gaps left by the removed tiles. They too were glued down.

A Nice Boardwalk

The original owners of our house kindly had left a roll of surplus carpeting. It was fairly easy to cut out pieces and carpet tape them down. I am not a carpet installer and this is the best I could come up with.

Now with the bar out of the way, the process of the Owen Sound bench work could continue. October 2017, that will be the next topic.

On To Wiarton…But First

With the upper level from the intended Helix through Park Head complete, it was now time to start thinking about getting to Wiarton but before that, the bench work for Owen Sound on the lower level was supposed to be installed.  This involved a couple of major hurdles like moving a bar fridge and taking out a wet bar so I opted to do put in the Wiarton mainline along the wall instead to check for clearance over existing useful stuff/junk already stored there. 

I left the layout alone for the first part of the summer because of a custom building commitment which I wanted to be able to deliver at the Annual 2017 NASG convention in July, two of my S scale reefer kits and a Des Plaines Hobbies S scale brass RS1.  I usually don’t do custom building but I was curious about the RS1 brass kit which is no longer available.  I wanted to see if the RS1 could be adapted to become an RSC13 which was used on this subdivision when the diesels were first taking over.  It had A1A trucks and I already have the correct side frames in S.  It is a unique to CNR, an MLW model.  And yes the superstructure could be modified but as I said, the kit is no longer available so I guess I have to wait a bit until it is re-released.  3D printing would work but I am not interested in giving up the time to draw that up just yet.  The reefer kits turned out better than the ones I built for myself (Murphy’s Law) and I was pleased with the RS1 even though it was missing the leaf springs in the kit.  They were later provided by Des Plaines. The track is not glued down.  I just wanted to get a feel for what to expect.

RS1 Custom Built from Kit
Two Custom Built CNR 8 Hatch Reefers

I decided to build the along the wall toward Wiarton before building the corner to connect to Park Head.  This was done the same in the same manner as the shelf that went along the wall toward the Helix.  The 14” bracket arms were strong enough to hold up the bench work so no vertical bracing was needed.  I used a level between the end bracket of Park Head and the beginning bracket of the Wiarton main to ensure level and then built the corner section between them.  At this point, my modules are still on their ends after showing with the S Scale Workshop at ExpoRail’s Model Railroad weekend in the third week in August.  For more information on the S Scale Workshop, please see the S Scale Workshop Blog, 

The legs can be seen standing beside the old stereo set which will be moved.  All the other stuff under the upper bench frame will be eventually relocated or found a new home.

The little I did do was go down the wall with the brackets and the aluminum ‘L’ towards Wiarton and halt at the bar.

Now That’s a Fine Mess Underneath!

I neglected to take photos of the building and installment of the corner underneath the circuit breaker cabinet.  What will be shown is what is now in place.  The supporting structure for the corner that went just below the Circuit Breaker Panel was made up with a combination of aluminum ‘L’ girders, metal shelf brackets, square plastic rod for cleats and sheet plastic.

Fun With Aluminum, Plastic and Steel Brackets
The Circuit Breaker Corner at Present

Any other spare time in the summer was spent up north at our cabin.  I had to replace a rotting out deck which my father had built.  It was not too difficult but it was a hot and dirty endeavour. I will spare you the photos of that! Next…the bar!

Let There be Light and Down the Wall to the Helix

It is April 2017, the fourth month of Canada’s Sesquicentennial. Based on Tony Koester’s suggestion, the next step was to look after the upper level lighting before putting down any track work which I was more eager to do.  I stuck to his book and started putting up fluorescent light fixtures using the daylight tubes.  They are bright and they do really differ from the warm incandescent lights that I was used to.  I was not really happy at first until I went outside on a sunny day and believe now that Tony was right.  The warm glow I was used to from indoor lighting was not as real as the fluorescents. Here are two pictures of the fixture installed above what will be Kennedy and Sons Foundry, ironically on the lower level.

First Fluorescent Over Kennedy & Sons
Now Kennedy & Sons is Nice and Bright

These have been installed just outside the upper level bench work as will be seen as this story progresses.  I used hooks through the joists and the shortened chains provided.  They are bright but I have become accustomed to them.  Valances of some sort will have to be installed.  That Folkins print of CNR U-1-f 6060 at Spadina will have to be moved and I am still negotiating another place for it in the house.  The master bedroom would be nice but…

Down The Wall To the Helix

I decided I had better ‘Get Smart’ and draw up just how and if these shelf brackets were going to work.  The brackets for the upper level are drawn in magenta.  Some are not yet drawn in around Wiarton.

The Brackets are Shown in Magenta

Fortunately, there is no lower benchwork to contend with under the section that goes to the helix.  I only had to use the brackets and the ‘L’ girder aluminum because the shelf is only 14″ wide, the length of the shelf arm .

A Narrower Shelf Only Needs Brackets

Here, you can see where I cut the web in a ‘V’ shape so I could bend the ‘L’ girder to meet the narrower end of the wye.  The bottom of the clock points to where the ‘L’ starts to run parallel to the wall.  The same thing happens at the other end of the run where the siding is completed.  As an aside, my father built that clock as well.  He was a great craftsman.  I should be so lucky.

Going Down the Wall, Brackets and All

The Styrofoam was cut, fitted and glued down.  These binders full of my cherished Mainline Modeler magazines are rising to the task of weighing down the Styrofoam until the ‘No More Nails’ has set.

Don’t Throw Out Old Train Mags. They Come in Handy!

Simon Dunkley requested a diagram of only the Lower Level. Here it is with the lead to the Upper Level to Park Head included. There will be modifications as things get built but for now this is the intent.

Lower Level of Owen Sound

Next I will be returning to the Lower Level to complete the benchwork for the Owen Sound mainline from behind the Roundhouse to where the Helix is entered. The Grain Elevator benchwork will be not built until after helix is built.

The Wye Part 2

I know at the end of the last post I indicated that I would describe going down the wall next.  However, I forgot that I had actually put down the first of the roadbed in Park Head before I did the bench work along the wall.  In order to keep things in correct chronological order, here is The Wye Part 2.

I like using cork roadbed and flex track.  Tomalco makes excellent code 70, 83 and 100 flex track and all sorts of aids to help lay it.  You can also get ready to run turnouts from them but I, being the frugal person I am, use a FastTracks fixture.

I am using code 70 Tomalco flex track and mostly number 6 turnouts.  The code 70 is being used because that is roughly the correct height of the rail, 4.5” which I measured in both Owen Sound and Palmerston.  Although I can hand lay track, I am not really fond of doing it and flex track goes down so much quicker and smoother, kind of like a lager over a hoppy IPA.  I used number 6 turnouts because they have a large enough radius, 50.788″, and they take up less space.  I know the larger number turnouts look better but I only have the number 6 fixture so I make as much use of it as I can.  I have had it for over 15 years and it still works great.  I also have number 6 code 70 fixtures for a double slip and a three way turnout, once again to save space.

The FastTracks Number 6 Three-Way Turnout Fixture – More Fun For the Whole Family!

Here is a drawing of Park Head from Ian Wilson’s book, ‘Steam Over Palmerston’, page 111.  I asked Ian and he was nice enough to give me permission to use it.  Thanks Ian. This should demonstrate what the area looked like.

A Drawing of Park Head by Ian Wilson from his book, Steam Over Palmerston

By the way, there is a picture of the wye looking north taken on October 24, 2018 at the head of the blog. Underneath is an overhead of the wye today. Track is long gone and it is used as an ATV trail now. At least the trail is still there and if we walk along it, close our eyes, we might still hear the whistles from the past and breathe in that refreshing coal smoke from the days gone by. I think I have been re-reading Ian’s excellent books too much.

Park Head had a long stretched out wye which I could duplicate using ‘selective compression’.  I accomplished this by using a 3 way turnout at the north end and shortening the distance between the legs of the wye. This was done so the duck-under/lift-out would not be too long for those of us who are getting old and have arthritis setting in.

The track centre lines were drawn on the Styrofoam.  By placing track and turnouts in place as sort of a dry run, I could see if things would work out as planned before I started to lay down any roadbed.

Seeing How Things Will Fit Before the Great Glue Down
Some Representative Buildings Have Been Put in Place As Well for Spacing.

Some adjustment had to made before the roadbed was glued in.  The cork roadbed I started with was the S scale version that is sold by Scenery Unlimited.  I did not have much so I bought two whole boxes of O scale locally which was pretty reasonable a couple years ago and set up my modelers’ table saw to narrow it down.  It worked pretty well.  Most S scale people simply combine an HO half with an O scale half and get the same result but the division line is off centre and one has to guess/measure out the centre line. Too much effort. Then again, I stood at the table saw for a number of hours slowly cutting the messy, gummy cork!  When I ran out of the O scale, I decided to get more of the S scale because it was similar in price to the O scale now.  A word of caution, the present S roadbed from Scenery Unlimited is no longer split at all.  Apparently this is because the cutter is not able to do it anymore.  I was informed that it was not split at an angle, meaning to me that it was at least split at 90 degrees which I could have lived with but now I have to split it on a band saw at an angle and it needs to be split to curve easily.  I feel that was misleading on their part. So much for saving time!

I use carpenter’s glue thinned with water to glue the cork down and I use ‘T’ pins to hold it in place.  If it gets persnickety, I revert to old magazines to hold it down.

Roadbed for the Wye Being Glued Down
Another View of the Roadbed for the Wye and Park Head

Things were getting pretty exciting. The track laying crew was getting impatient but they held off until all the upper level bench work and roadbed was in place just to make certain that nothing had to be redone because of potential problems down the line. As you can see, the lower level, Owen Sound has become a landing zone for materials to be used in the upper level. Not quite fair for the denizens of Owen Sound but their time will come.

Thanks for following so far. Next I will really go down the wall towards the helix to Owen Sound and discuss lighting for the upper level.