I Meant To Do That


When I started this blog, I said I was going to share the mistakes as well as the things that go well. In a non-trivial design oversight, I implemented the above atrocity.  That is the backdrop extending about two inches into the space that the traverser used to travel through. First time operating with the backdrop up was a vocabulary expanding moment.

I cannot claim this was a failure of measurement since I failed to consider the traverser travel altogether. I think the much attentuated construction process allowed me time to forget about such an obvious thing.

On the bright side, the traverser is still usable as-is! The restricted movement means less flexibility and I am not sure that isn’t a good thing. Of the three tracks, the back one can reach the back siding and the runaround track. The center track reaches the runaround and the main and the front track just reaches the main. Effectively, there is a notional runaround with a turnout to the back siding and a storage siding off the main. Much more plausible than the full range of traverser movement. I think I shall keep things as they are and see if I like it. If not, I can rework that backdrop piece to clear things up later.

Flush Mount Clips for Detachable Backdrop

Waaaaay back when, I briefly mentioned flush mount clips in my baseboard plan for Comstock Road. I bought them from Lee Valley Tools and have finally got to the point of actually installing them.


These clips are only 1/8″ thick when together and provide a rigid enough attachment to keep backdrop sections upright on their own. Any sort of serious lateral force would be a problem, though, so I am making a tradeoff for speed of assembly and disassembly. The sections just drop into place with no fussing around. At least once I figured out the best way to mount them.

The product description specifies #6 screws but the ones available to me don’t fit entirely flush in the holes in the clip or are at least nigh unto impossible to get exactly flush. (The photo above shows the #6’s) The tightness of the fit between the two pieces makes any protruding screw top an problem. I did the first side piece with #6’s and it is a jam fit. I then tried #5’s for the other side and they work a treat. So 5’s it is if you plan on taking things apart often. I will have to redo the first side at some point soon.

Here is the stage left end with a back section propped in place for the photo.IMG_20200527_143937521

The backdrops will take a bit longer than anticipated due to a design oversight. The backdrop is supposed to clip onto the back of the baseboards and span the section gap. (Two 4’6″ pieces will do the visible part before the fiddle yard.) Also spanning that gap on the back is one of the clips holding the sections together… I will have to do something like frame around those points and cut suitable holes. I am not sure what the solution would look like if I planned for this but I have enough leftover 1×2 to bodge up something that will work.



Woodwork Complete

Yesterday, I finished assembling the frames for the backdrop and light bar for Comstock Road. Other than whatever accessory mounting work might come along, that concludes all the actual cutting of wood with only the gluing of hardboard panels and installing mounting hardware left to make things actually useful.IMG_20200523_135222617

I came up with a better temporary assembly jig by putting the framing square on the outside. This allows me to just bang both pieces into the corner and clamp; much more efficient than having to separately align the ends with the square on the inside.

Hopefully, I can get the panels glued on over the next day or so and start getting things mounted. If all goes according to plan, Comstock Road should look dramatically more complete in just a short time. Of course, some actual scenery wouldn’t go amiss, either…

It’s A Frame-up

On day two of the mini isolation vacation, I carried on with the sides for Comstock road. I applied some woodworking overkill by assembling the frames using pocket hole joinery. This works very well and gave me a chance to practice with my new pocket hole jig on something that where mistakes would be inexpensive.

I proceeded in production fashion by drilling all the pocket holes first.IMG_20200505_152640828

The trick to getting a good result when assembling is to get things aligned and clamp everything. Holding things with your hand is not going to work. (But, yes, I did try it on a test piece.) I have a framing square set up to give me something to align to and the bar clamp over the joint is doing the real work. There are expensive fancy clamps for this purpose but I made do with the bar clamp. If I was going to be doing a lot of this I would seriously consider a specialty clamp or fixture. And that was before I dropped the bar clamp on my foot!IMG_20200505_160157641

Here are the results of the afternoon’s work artistically arranged. IMG_20200505_163054183

Next step will be applying the hardboard pieces cut yesterday to the frames.

Sawing al Fresco


I spent the afternoon breaking up sheet goods in the backyard. While some household materials were involved, the majority of the work was 1/8″ hardboard for the backscene, sides and lighting pelmet for Comstock Road. All the hardboard pieces are cut to size and I also cut the 1×2 pine for the sides while I had the table saw outside.

Almost everything went according to plan with just one brain fart resulting in an eight inch cut in one of the side sheets where it is not supposed to be. I had prepared a detailed cutting list in advance but lost track of which was the side I was supposed to be shortening. I think I can conceal the cut in the fiddle yard where nobody should be looking anyway.

I didn’t cut all of the 1×2 because I didn’t have enough on hand. Much to my annoyance, my previous purchase was decidedly inadequate. I have no idea if this was because the plan used to be different or there wasn’t enough satisfactory pieces in stock or what. Of course I discovered this after making the curbside pickup at the big box store. Given the, ahem, highly variable quality usually in stock at my local store I will hold out in hopes of getting a chance to pick my own pieces. Otherwise, I will have to over order, hope for enough good pieces and eventually return the rest.

Fascia Done, Operation Restored

The fascia painting is now done and I got the latches that hold the baseboard section reinstalled. It is starting to look like there is hope of completion some day.IMG_20200419_215331366

You will note that the baseboard support frame has also been painted. The plan is to hang the usual fabric skirt from the subframe to form a pedestal of sorts. The latches stand out against the black background and I may not may not resort to painting them.

Latch reinstallation went easily. Once I found where I put them, that is. I searched all the likely drawers and surfaces to no avail. I reached the point of taking off the shop sweater because I get mad because I end up in this sort of situation all the time: item sought securely stored but I can’t remember where. I would like to blame it on advancing years if five year me didn’t have the same problem.

Can you see a couple of shiny plated latches in this photo? I sure didn’t but they are there!IMG_20200418_130048013

One thorough search of the workshop later…IMG_20200418_130052623

Tonight I celebrated the progress by reconnecting things, dusting and cleaning track and repositioning the increasingly temporary control panel. I tested everything by running the SW-8 and a car over all the tracks. I was pleased and surprised that everything worked with only a single section of track needing a second go with the track cleaner.IMG_20200419_222455849

Modeller Loses Bubble, Decides to Paint Fascia White


It could happen! And the dropcloth skirting really finishes off the look.

In mundane reality, it’s just primer. I finally got around to cutting out the profile for the remaining two thirds of the fascia after tracing the edge during the final minutes of last Saturday’s Train Night in Canada.

I got the final piece glued on at lunch today. I even got it right way round eventually. In a convincing display of why haste can be wasteful, I managed to first glue it on upside down and then left to right backwards. Taking a look at the overall orientation of the piece is recommended instead of just focussing (there was real cussing, too, not just faux cussing) on the corner you are trying to line up.

Tonight, I dusted off and pried open a pint pot of primer and  flat black that have been hiding under the drillpress since they were used to paint a dollhouse I built for my eldest when they were five. They will be twenty this summer so a bit of effort and a big flat screwdriver were required.

The age old debate about fascia colour was settled by the current crisis and flat black won out over concrete gray and brick red. So no complaints, it could be worse.

Nothing like a lick of paint to make things look like they are progressing.


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″.


Working to Liberty Street Under Gandalf’s Supervision

My friend Stephen was rash enough to include me in a layout work party yesterday along with Trevor, Dan and James. Stephen is building a representation of Toronto’s Liberty Street industrial area in HO in a spare room. It is a compact switching layout that I am looking forward to seeing run. Stephen has a particular interest in architecture and has researched the prototypes of all the structures planned.

It being an extremely rainy day made it a good time to spend an afternoon indoors. I arrived already medicated with antihistamines since I am allergic to cats. The cat in question is a Siberian and alleged to be hypoallergenic. It seems to be a thing because I suffered no ill effects other than from the meds despite Gandalf being a gloriously fluffy boy.


Getting the bus wires connected to the track feeders was the first work item so Trevor and I each started at an end since the middle was not finalized. Stephen had a go and then we got to have fun debugging the errors in wiring which took a while since the shorts that manifested were not in the wiring. Eventually, bridged PC board tie gaps and missing gaps were detected and remedied. This sort of thing goes better with multiple participants if only for the social pressure to not throw things.

The other major work was sorting out and fitting the complicated trackage feeding the peninsula in the middle of the layout.  This was primarily Trevor and Dan and was still going on when I fled for home ahead of forecast freezing rain.

All this verbiage and a cat picture because I am terrible at remembering to take the action shots. Fortunately, others are more competent at that part of the hobby and so you can visit Stephen and Trevor for other perspectives as well as actual photos.