Barrie Train Show - 2009

Category: Trains
Mon, 16 Feb 2009, 19:33

A couple of winters ago, I was feeling rather glum. I get that way sometimes, probably due in part to seasonal affective disorder (or SAD). Grudgingly, I forced myself out of the house, and drove to Barrie for the train show. Within seconds of entering the show, my mood changed dramatically, and my slump was over.

Such is the healing power of model trains. And so I try to attend as many of the local model train shows as I can. To make it easier to keep track of the local shows, I've listed them on my Ontario Shows page. Recently, I added Google Maps links for each upcoming show to make it even easier to find the shows.

Barrie Train Show
Nottawasaga club layout.

So far this year, I've been to the shows in Port Hope and Barrie. The Port Hope show was nice, with excellent signs leading to the show. I saw the first sign as soon as I got off the 401. Although a bit on the small side, there were about ten club layouts: four H0, five N, and one O-27.

But back to the Barrie show. For the second straight year, the show was held at the Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery, west of the city. Holding a model train show at a garden center is a wonderful idea. During the winter, garden centers have a lot of unused space, which is exactly what a train show needs. And as an inducement for train show visitors to shop at the garden center, Bradford Greenhouses offered $6 discount coupons for each paid admission to the train show (which perhaps not coincidentally was also $6). Certainly, this was a win-win situation for the Barrie-Allandale Railway Modellers, for Bradford Greenhouses, and for the numerous visitors.

Holding a model railroad show under a greenhouse roof does offer challenges, though. I had to wear my sunglasses while shopping and watching the trains. And taking pictures was a challenge too. Although there was plenty of light, it was also very contrasty lighting with a lot of shadows.

Normally, shopping at the local train shows is not that easy for me since few dealers at the shows sell European trains. But I usually still manage to spend a few dollars. At the Port Hope show, I bought a set of H0-scale people, dressed in 19th Century garb, which will fit in nicely on my layout. And at the Barrie show, I bought the Atlas lumber yard kit, a tube of plastic cement, and another set of people.

Omnifariously yours, Hans

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Fire Engines and Cliches

Category: Trains
Tue, 03 Feb 2009, 20:28

While having breakfast in a small hotel in Bavaria years ago, I heard some music playing outside. I saw a small group of people, some playing instruments, all singing. They then came into the hotel and continued their music inside. Later, the desk clerk told me that they were celebrating someones birthday the night before, and they decided to come back to continue the party. After that, I thought that a small group of musicians playing on the street would make a nice addition to a Bavarian-themed layout.

parade
A parade in the Rheinland.

That's what I was thinking of when I read the "Railway of the Month" article in a recent issue of one model railroading magazine I regularly read. The author wrote the following about his layout:

"There are none of the clichés that seem popular - not a fire engine or burning building in sight, no cavorting couples, and certainly no Bavarian brass band. Instead we have chosen the few figures on the layout so that they are in natural 'still' or 'resting' positions."

This person has a reputation for building fine layouts, and I would love to see more layouts like his at the local shows. But is it wrong to use a cliché in a layout? What exactly is a model railroading cliché? Are burning buildings, cavorting couples, or Bavarian brass bands really so out of place on a model train layout? Do such things not exist in real life? As I pointed out above, bands occasionally do parade down the street, either in an official capacity in an annual event, or just on a whim.

Not that there's anything wrong with being selective about the little touches on a layout. But one should not be critical of those who choose a different approach, or a different style of layout. My point is that there are different tastes in model railroad design. While one modeller might not want to have a burning building (along with the requisite smoke) on a layout, such touches can be quite popular with visitors to model railroad shows, especially children.

T3
T3 emerging from the woods on my layout.

In closing, I'd like to add a photo taken on my own layout. I've always said that a layout can never have enough trees, and lately, I've been slowly growing a small forest on mine. Bachmann offers a nice line of ready-made trees, including some nice pine trees. Perhaps I'll add some wild animals within my forest. Or would that be considered cliché too?

Hans

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GTA Train Shows - November 2007

Category: Trains
Sun, 25 Nov 2007, 12:04

Train show season is well under way in the Greater Toronto Area. Two shows I try not to miss are the Pine Ridge Railroaders show in Whitby and the Toronto Christmas Train Show. This year, the shows were just a week apart in November.

The first one up was the show in Whitby. I usually bring my daughter along to this one, but this year I also brought her step so she could have a better view of the trains. Some clubs, such as the Belleville club, provide steps for the young kids, but most don't. When we got there, we first circled the room visiting the vendors. I knew what my daughter's attention span was like, and so I had to pace our visit carefully. Even before we were done with the vendors, she started to pull me towards the layouts.

The Whitby show usually has layouts from the clubs east of Toronto, such as the Soper Valley Club and the Belleville club. H0, N, Lionel, and even Z were represented and filled the whole gymnasium of the Father Leo J. Austin School. Just before we checked out all the layouts, my daughter started to get antsy and insisted on heading home.

With the demise of the Toronto train show put on by the Canadian Railroad Historical Society, the Toronto Christmas Show has become the premiere annual train show for the city. This year, the show took place in a larger exhibition hall at the International Centre, which made the show seem less cramped than before. But then, I did arrive later in the day. Normally, most model rail fans seem to try to get to these shows early to snap up the bargains.

S-scale locomotive

There was no way my daughter could handle a big show like this, so she stayed home. I arrived about 2:45PM and made my first circle of the room checking out the vendors. I ended up back at the beginning after 45 minutes of shopping.

garden railroad locomotives

The club layouts for this show were almost all different than the Whitby show. The old "Ontario and Eastern" layout has new owners and is now called the "Ontario and Quebec". It's been reworked a bit, but it's still a treat for the eyes. The Ontario and Eastern club has a new layout, but this time the modules form a point-to-point layout, not an oval. It's an interesting concept for portable modular club layouts. But still, most people enjoy watching trains run. It's hard to get as much action on a point-to-point layout. Sure, most railroad operations are point-to-point, but most stations are through stations, and most trains run past without stopping.

narrow guage layout

Other clubs attending ran the gamut from N-scale all the way up the live steamers. Narrow gauge was represented by the "Narrow Madness Gang" and had a nice collection of small layouts. These layouts are fun to watch, but I don't think there's any risk of me catching the narrow-gauge bug.

narrow guage layout

Once I had seen everything, bought what I wanted, and took a few dozen photos, it was almost 5:00PM. I then had to get back to reality and face the hectic late Saturday afternoon traffic across the city.

Cheers!

Hans

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Dolmen-Sylvanau Update - June 2007

Category: Trains
Wed, 06 Jun 2007, 10:41

I haven't provided many updates on my layout progress lately. Part of that is due to laziness and being too busy with other things. Part of that is because my old camera broke down and couldn't be repaired. But a couple of months ago, I bought a new camera, and so that latter excuse is no longer valid. As for the former excuse, I quit my job and plan to take the Summer off work. (I'll look for a new job in the Fall.)

First, I've decided on a name for the larger town on my layout, "Dolmen". I had planned on adding a hill in a new section of the layout. Often, such a hill in Germany would be topped by a cross representing the dominant religion of the region. But in a spate of whimsy, I decided to put a statue of Buddha on top of the hill. When I couldn't find a suitable small Buddha, even at the Pacific Mall, I changed gears and instead decided to add a neolithic pagan stone monument, which were actually not uncommon in Northern Germany. This offered the inspiration for the new name.

Now, some photos showing my current progress. The first photo shows a factory area served by a siding. For the area to the left of the factory, I added some small industrial buildings. The left-most building was a kit-bashed effort. The kit included a flat roof, but I wanted a sloped roof instead. The other building was built entirely from scratch.

photo of industrial area

The second photo shows the area currently under development. At first, I wanted my layout to represent a predominantly flat area. But later, I decided I wanted some hills with exposed rock faces. On a prominent rocky crag, I put a church. This was a gift from my parents who thought I needed more churches on my layout. They obviously weren't aware of the two existing churches on the layout!

photo of area under development

I'm still in the process of adding molded rock faces, but when that's done, I'll let the plaster cure for a few days before applying paint. In the meantime, I can paint and ballast the track running behind this hill. In the foreground, there will be a few more hills with a road running over the stone bridge and a pond.

Anyways, since I have free time now, I'll try to update this blog a bit more often than before.

Cheers!

Hans

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New Layout Extension Takes Shape

Category: Trains
Tue, 31 Jan 2006, 19:17

I mentioned before that I was in the middle of a major renovation in my basement. One aspect of the improvement is that I plan to move my study from one end of the basement to the recreation room, half of which is already occupied by my train layout. In retrospect, this seems like a pretty obvious arrangement. But before I can make the change, a lot of work has to be done first, such as pulling out four tonnes of stone and concrete (done), ripping out 40 square meters of parquet flooring (done), putting in new windows (done), as well as a new wall and floor.

The new arrangement will offer some additional advantages other than having all my stuff in one room. For instance, I'll also be able to increase the size of my H0 layout somewhat. The one thing my layout currently lacks is a decent setup yard. My plan is to run a spur track off the mainline to a new four-track setup yard positioned above my computer desk. This way, I'll have some space to park trains when not in use.

New spur track
Roadbed for new spur track.

The above photo shows some of the work already in progress. I cut a section of track out of the mainline where I'll add a Peco large radius Y turnout. I really didn't want to put the mainline on the curved side of a turnout, but it was really the only good alternative. Besides, the large radius Y has gentle curves on both branches. And when viewed from the middle of the layout, the curve will be barely noticable.

I cut out a section of the landscape and added a length of 11mm plywood. The photo shows the cork roadbed already in place, but no track yet. That track will be laid after the turnout is glued into place and after the new scenery is installed. The details of the landscape beside the spur aren't important since it will be largely hidden from normal view, but it will represent a shallow cut through the hill.

Hans

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2006 New Items - Fleischmann, Roco

Category: Trains
Fri, 27 Jan 2006, 19:49

The new items flyer from Fleischmann has been released. Ever since I started seriously into model railroading, I've been a fan of Fleischmann models, which make up most of my rolling stock. But as an Era I fan, I'm limited to their annual limited edition series'. Generally, I need to read their Neuheiten flyer and put in my order early in the year.

This year, they have two limited edition sets covering Era I. As expected, one is a commuter train pulled by a T10. The train, in K.P.u.G.H.St.E. colors, includes a three-axle baggage van, a three-axle 2nd/3rd class compartment coach, and a three-axle 4th class compartment coach. An additional 4th class coach will also be offered to extend the train. The other set commemorates the 90th anniversary of MITROPA, a company famous for its restaurant and sleeper coaches. The train consists of a T18 in P.St.E.V. markings, a bogie baggage wagon, a six-axle bogie restaurant wagon, and two bogie sleeper coaches. An additional sleeper coach will be available separately.

Elsewhere in the flyer, you can read about a new version of the BR17 locomotive, in DRG markings. Based on the past, most people will expect that next year's Fleischmann limited edition set will feature a Prussian S10.1 pulling an express passenger train.

What will I order from Fleischmann this year? Nothing, unfortunately. First, I'll pass on the T10 commuter train since Hessen is a bit too far south for my layout. Secondly, although I think the T18 was one of the most attractive of the Prussian locomotives, the P.St.E.V. is somewhat outside of my layout's time frame. Besides, I still don't need any new passenger trains! And why isn't Fleischmann offering any Era I freight wagons this year?

And what about Roco? I haven't seen their new items flyer yet, but I did find a price list at one on-line retailer. As usual, they don't have much in the way of Era I offerings. I see three green three-axle compartment coaches and a green three-axle post van with KPEV markings. I'll pass on these too, since I prefer the more colorful Prussian paint schemes. But that price list also includes a two-axle Rungenwagen from the MFFE! As someone whose paternal ancesters came from Mecklenburg, this is the one item I'll absolutely have to have.

Hans

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