I Knew I Would Need That Eventually

I found the previously mentioned Campbell profile shingle kit after a gratifyingly short amount of hunting. Multiple winnowing passes of the supply stash over the years has reduced the height of the pile more than I thought. Apparently some of that pile is psychological. 🙂

In this case, over the years is almost an understatement. I purchased this shingle kit sometime in my teens which makes it on the order of 40 years ago. I am conflicted about how to feel about finally finding a use for it. It is not like I have never constructed a structure in the last four decades but never one in HO that required a shingle roof. Let this be a caution against purchasing materials on vague contingency. Or an exhortation to get out this sort of thing and create a use for it. Take your pick.

On the actual usage, the decades have caused some disarray in the reel and, I presume, some curling and taking a set. The adhesive on the back is still viable but, being a belt and suspenders sort of guy, I used double sided tape to attach it with judicious adhesive activation via water and small brush as required.

Side trimming still in progress but the result is satisfactory but does suggest some general weathering will be required to get things to blend.IMG_20200401_104914344

Train Night in Canada #2

We now have a series of virtual gatherings scheduled and seven of us gathered on Zoom to catch up, model, have a drink and generally socialize. I think we successfully managed to combine mutual support and encouragement. Having a scheduled time designated for this helps give one the emotional permission to take a break.

Prior to the actual video call, I did some tidying up around the shop. I have two workbenches and neither one is suited to current needs. Unburying them is a necessary first step to moving them out/on and clearing space for the replacement.

During the call, I worked on my Waterfront Willy’s kit. By end of the night, I had the sub=roofs on, the dormers on, and the walkway planking stained and stuck on. I even remembered to install the laser cut rafter ends before glueing the roof down. It was a near thing, though.IMG_20200328_212758866

I have some ancient Campbell shingles somewhere in the stash. I need to find them or make some substitutes. This being the only HO scale structure I am likely to build in the near future, it would be great to use the pre-made ones up.

Modelling in the Time of Covid-19

Like much of the world, Ontario, Canada has gone all-in on social distancing as a mitigation to the spread of the Covid-19 virus. My household has been avoiding non-essential interactions as one should. Humourous declarations aside, socializing with other model railroaders is non-essential which is not the same as un-missed. Humans are a social species and, despite some opinions, that includes modellers.

As an experiment in a face-to-face get together at the pub, I invited a few model railroad friends to join me last night for a video based meeting “at the bench”. Five us got together using the Zoom conferencing app to spend part of our evening chatting about the usual things, current projects, tools and tips, our choice of beverage, and the like. Bernard Hellen even worked in a video tour of his Quebec Gatineau layout.

I consider the night a great success especially when my goals were on the order of let’s give it a go. The Zoom app worked well for us but there are numerous other video and/or audio meeting options out there. What we lacked in pub atmosphere we gained in lack of travel time and proximity to our actual hobby sites.

I encourage others to consider setting up their own virtual meets. Even in the eventual absence of a pandemic lock-down, it looks to be a nice way to increase one’s social participation in the hobby or whatever shared interests you care to hang the even on.

Book Nook Mockup

It appears that I have some time on my hands in the next few weeks so I intend have a go at my proposed railway themed shelf insert. I cut the pieces for a 8.5x11x6″ wide box from 1/4″ plywood on my new table saw(more on that later). In my enthusiasm, I glued one side to the back before I realized that one would generally find it easier to build up the scene before enclosing it inside a box…

So, last night I took some salvaged foamcore and mocked up an alley. The black colour makes the jog in to the right hard to pick out but, like a bare plywood baseboard, I can see the intended result in my head. The major point was to check lines of sight which were satisfactory.

Next step is permanently glueing the foamcore together (currently held with straight pins) and attaching each section to the appropriate wall. I haven’t committed to scale and gauge yet but, as the bit of N scale flex indicates, On18 is a possibility. This would put me in the neighbourhood of the Guinness brewery railway’s 22″.


Modelling Idea: The “Book Nook”

One of the modelling challenges I ponder regularly is the logistics of taking modelling output (hypothetical though that output might be) to distant events especially those involving plane travel. I can’t see putting any non-trivial structure or diorama in a checked bag which means you are wanting something that qualifies as carry-on.

At major events featuring modelling contests, there is often a diorama contest with limited space for just such travelling modellers. I have seen square foot, a ceiling tile, peanut butter jar lid, 2×2 inches, and so on. One I have not seen yet is the shelf insert or “book nook”. The basic format is a roughly book shaped box diorama viewed from the narrow edge while inserted among books on a shelf. I didn’t want to pirate anyone’s photos so here is a link to a BBC article on the subject. If you search online, you can also find numerous photos of fascinating instances.

Many of the existing instances are variations on a view into a narrow alley framed by structure faces depicted against the inside of the box. Usually some sort of lighting is included. It occurred to me that I know of a bunch of folks who like to model structures… I also see why there couldn’t be rails running up that alley since even modern O scale (1/48) horizontal minimum clearance is about 4.5 inches. Giving it a bit of thought produced an extensive list of possible ideas.

Why wonder about this when I have a layout already under construction? If the blog title didn’t warn you already, I am not the most laser focussed person when it comes to modelling subjects. Such a format offers a change to try out all sorts of techniques, materials, scales and eras that do not fit within the primary project. The book nook format would also solve the question of where to put the non-conforming item once completed. Leaving aside the problem of having bookshelves already stuffed with train books, of course. 🙂

A Small Infrastructure Investment

This afternoon I built a slot cutting jig for my router. The idea is that the collar (round silver thing in the photo) goes on the bottom of the router and fits into the slot between the two boards which are both parallel to each other and perpendicular to the end boards. You line up the reference slot in the end board and just run the router along in the slot.


What does this have to do with model building? I have acquired a couple more  substantial tools over the last couple of months and my free bench top real estate has shrunk to the point of paralysis. All this preparation for slot cutting is so I can install 1/4″ plywood dividers into some DIY modular tool storage. The first unit will have pigeon holes for such things as:

  • digital soldering station
  • resistance soldering unit
  • sander
  • NWSL tools (chopper, duplicutter)
  • some categories of tools that I want handy like measuring (rules, squares) and metal working (bending bars, drop riveter, big files)

Hopefully I can have a result to report by the end of the long weekend.