Sunday, January 21, 2018

Experimenting with Static Grass




















It’s been a long time since I did any scenery on the M & M Sub. Mostly, all I’ve been doing is operate trains, and a bit of weathering here and there.

But I’ve been impressed by photos from other modellers that include static grass. It looks very realistic!





















So I bought a couple packages of static grass (Noch and Woodland Scenics) to give it a try.

I also borrowed a handmade applicator from my friend, Larry Leavens.





















After a bit of experimentation, I like the effect. But I think I need to vary the height a bit—get some longer fibres to make it stand out more.

I also need to vary the colour—add some darker green.

I don’t think I need to apply it everywhere, just the places I think I’ll do most of my layout photography.

What do you think? Are you using static grass?



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Visiting Power, and Visiting With Friends on the Manitoba & Minnesota Sub.


















The M & M Sub. hosted some visiting power early in this new year when friends Morgan Turney, Dennis Rietz and Larry Leavens visited.



















Dennis brought over some Walther’s VIA coaches to run; Larry brought two unique CF7 units from the Red River Valley & Western, and Morgan brought some Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo (TH&B) locomotives and some rolling stock.

(I showcased Dennis' unique and great layout in a crawl space on this blog in 2012: See it here.)















(The Red River Valley & Western is a shortline in North Dakota and Minnesota. Founded in 1987, it celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.)



















Over refreshments and conversation, we ran trains and visited—a great model railroad evening with friends.















Larry also brought over his homemade static grass applicator, which I am going to try one of these days; I’ve been noticing how great photos with static grass look, and I want to see if I can add it to my layout, too.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Neil Young's Model Trains Auctioned















Earlier, I wrote about the auction of Neil Young’s O scale model trains.

They were sold earlier this month—for almost $300,000.

Over 230 items from his collection were on sale, including his custom-painted Commodore Vanderbilt 4-6-4 that sold for $10,000.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale will go to the Bridge School in California, which helps children with severe speech and physical impairments.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Update on Pierre Dion's New CP Rail Quebec Subdivision

















One of the best model railroads in Canada a few years back was Pierre Dion’s CP Rail Quebec Sub.

I featured Pierre’s layout on this blog back in 2011.

His HO scale layout was set in the late 1980s-early 1990, just before CP Rail began to sell or abandon its lines in Quebec.












The layout was in a 17 by 21 foot room, and featured a double track mainline through great looking scenery.

As I wrote back then, Pierre has a knack for creating amazing and believable scenery through the creative use of ground cover, ballast and trees, along with great buildings and various line-side and other details.

Or, to put it another way, Pierre was the Bob Fallowfield of scenery before Bob came along.















That great Canadian model railroad is gone; Pierre is recreating Quebec in the 1980s-90s with a new layout, as seen in photos on this post.















I asked Pierre for an update on the new layout. He said the room is finished, benchwork, track bed, landscape and backdrop are all finished, the rolling stock and locomotives are ready to go, and there are 125+ structures are ready for placement on the layout.

Right now he is at the start of wiring for DCC.















I look forward to seeing more photos when the layout is done!





































Saturday, November 25, 2017

VIA Rail from Toronto to Windsor, with a Gratuitous Newfie Bullet Joke Thrown in


Train 85 arrives in Kitchener



















Lloyd had never been on a train before.

Now retired after owning a plumbing business for 45 years, he was on his way to London to see his niece.

Lloyd was sitting beside me on Train 85, VIA Rail from Toronto to London in November. I was only going as far as Kitchener this day.

As the train—all two cars of it—rolled through the southern Ontario countryside, he exclaimed about the views out the window.

“You see a city differently from a train than from the highway,” he said.

Later, as we rolled through the countryside, we talked about the many fields and farms you could see from the train—things you couldn’t see from the highway.

Train 85 at Union Station.
















It’s not that Lloyd was unfamiliar with trains. He grew up in Newfoundland near the narrow gauge tracks that carried the famous “Newfie Bullet.”

The Bullet—it’s official name was “The Caribou”—was much-loved by Newfoundlanders.

It got its ironic and affectionate name because of how slow it was, taking 23 hours to traverse the 900 kilometres from St. John’s to Port-aux-Basque.

Lloyd told me a joke about the train’s slowness.

A pregnant woman asked the conductor if the train could hurry up—she was about to have a baby and needed to get to the hospital in St. John’s.   

“Well,” said the conductor, “if you were pregnant you should never have taken the train.”

The woman replied: “I wasn’t pregnant when I got on it.”

Union Station concourse.





















I had boarded Train 85 at Toronto’s Union Station. Construction started in 1910.

I travel through Union station several times each year, either taking VIA or using the Union-Pearson Express between downtown and the airport.

Whenever I’m there, I look up at the arched concourse roof and think of my father.

During the war years, he worked making armaments at a factory in Peterborough.

He had tried to enlist in the army, like his friends, but poor health prevented him from doing “his bit” in that way.

So he made the materials that helped the troops win the war.

Being from St. Catharines—my hometown—he made frequent trips by train between Peterborough and that southern Ontario city.  

Each time, he would have changed trains in Toronto. And when I am at Union station, I think of him: Did his eyes turn upwards at the same roof? Did he walk the same platforms?

Sometimes the walls between past and present collapse in one’s mind and I can see a young man in his mid-20s, waiting for a train in a long coat and fedora.

My dad.

The renovated train shed.
















But that’s not what you can see these days. The day I was there a couple of VIA trains were on nearby tracks, and a GO Transit train entered and left the station while I was there.

I left Lloyd when I de-trained in Kitchener for the night. The next day I caught the same train (85) to London, where I changed to Train 73 to Windsor.

Snow was falling when the train arrived, and we traveled through it to London.

Train 85 arrives in the snow.
















My seatmate that time was a woman who put in her ear buds and checked messages on her phone during the trip; no conversations with her.

But that’s OK. I enjoyed the rocking of the rails and looking out the window as we slipped through the snow. 

Arrival in Windsor.