This is the current main loading dock side of Griffiths Foods, one of the few remaining rail served customers on the CN GECO spur. The view is facing west with the real Comstock Road is directly to the right. In the absence of any 1970’s photographs, I am going to take this and run with it, or at least what will fit.
The building front will be a maximum of 38 scale feet wide and mirrored to what is here. Main truck docks to the left will be implied to be in the off layout space in front.
Things I like about this and hope to capture:
Side by side truck and rail doors with the truck dock ramped down.
Despite a lack of any windows, there is a lot of things going on.
Clear progression of additions at different heights/widths.
Whatever that machinery on a plinth is to the right.
I have a big pile of 1:48 embossed brick sheet!
Things I am reasonably sure don’t belong in the 1970’s:
That metal siding at upper left. Covered windows perhaps?
Security camera on corner of building.
Gas bottle storage with exchangeable 20lb propane tank.
My current plan is a foamcore shell with brick sheets applied thereon. I will do the foamcore as a mockup to see how it looks.
As stated long ago, I want to light the layout with the actual lighting solution so that I can eliminate variance in light from the colour selection problem and this requires the prerequisite infrastructure. I have happily arrived at that point! Next up is working out how to actually mount the chosen LED strips to the valance/pelmet (I previously referred to it as a pelmet but I am going with valance since it is the more familiar word).
Questions to be answered:
One “daylight” strip or a daylight and a warm white?
Is one strip bright enough?
Can the strip(s) be mounted parallel to the baseboard (facing straight down) or does it need to be angled?
Do I need something to shield the back edge to direct light down?
The internet is full of various opinions on these questions with no clear consensus. I thus set out to experiment and determine what works for me. I cut a 4′ long cardboard strip and stuck lengths of both types of strip (the excess not needed from 5m rolls for Comstock Roads less than 4m length). After some practice soldering wires to the pads on the strips, I had a working light.
Actual experience was informative. It was immediately obvious that the addition of the warm white strip made the overall effect way too yellow for my taste. (1970’s summer smog is not what I want to remember!)
I am unconvinced that one daylight strip is enough but it is at least adequate. It also has the advantage of only needing the default power brick for a power supply. I have decided include space for a second strip but not delay things on its’ account.
The default straight down mounting seems to be close to enough. The spread of light is more than enough to shine well above the backdrop edge so no need to aim it further back.
Here is the test shot with just single LED strip, no room lights and a car on the front track.
You can see in the first photo where I put a bend in the cardboard to simulate some sort of backside restriction of the light arc. The LED strips are bright and nobody looking at the layout from the back is going to appreciate looking in the direction of the strip so something needs to block that. As well, any illumination above the top of the backdrop is wasted and perhaps a distraction anyway.
Here is my makeshift back bend in action. I am not excited by the angled shadows on the tall side boards but I can live with that. If people are looking up there, I have lost their attention anyway. With room lights on, the shadow is also much less prominent.
After some sketching and pondering, I think I will go with a simple right angle back of appropriate length rather than fooling about with an angled piece. Ease of construction isn’t my usual motivator but perhaps I am undergoing character development!
Way back when, I set a goal of getting Comstock Road self-illuminated so that I would be choosing the best colours based on the actual light conditions. (Or at least the best that I can). I have finally got the enclosing infrastructure to the point of proving that my light support concept can work. The first dry fit is pictured with a clear span of just over ten and a half feet.
The only support is the two visible clamps holding the light support to the side wings. Both side wings now have their front flush mounts to transfer weight directly downwards. I will be adding a couple of clips to each end of the top/side joins for the permanent attachment. Also missing is the front layer of hardboard.
The two sections are hinged together on the bottom edge with the biggest strap hinge that would fit which is not as bit as I would like. In place, the hinge is in tension and easily does the job but when moving the piece separately it is prone to twist. Definitely the weak link. A draw latch holds the back face together at the top but the two together are no match for the leverage of a six foot lever on either end if care is not taken.
It looks like it will do for the first iteration but I expect that it won’t take many outings before a second version gets developed.
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.
Above is the trackplan for my previous, un-achieved layout, the Manhattan Terminal Railroad. I was corresponding with Chris Mears over our mutual interest in densely packed little bits of industrial railroad somehow I committed to posting the plan, so here it is.
The plan is on a 1 foot grid, the scale is still 1:48, the main entrance is through the drop leaf at the top. The overall concept, as suggested by the title, was an offline(accessible only by carfloat) terminal operation on the island of Manhattan, somewhere on the west side in the 30th-40th street range. (40th was the PRR, the Erie, B&O and several others were also there. I cherry picked the bits I liked to produce a proto-freelanced line that would fit my space. The ruling curve around the end was a flange squealing 38″ so fit was tight and the location provided the excuse for the intense switching I desired.
In no particular order, here are some things I like about the plan:
The carfloat based fiddle yard: instead of hidden cassettes, I imagined waterline model carfloats with felt lined bottoms manually pushed over the resin “water”.
Water covered drop leaf. I generally wish to avoid this sort of entrance blocking compromise but a surface merely for sliding floats across would be quick to raise and replace.
Plausibly scaled carfloat and pier warehouse. The proposed carfloats would be over 250 scale feet long which approaches prototype dimensions and would hold about 15 40 foot O scale cars. You can see why sliding is indicated!
Multiple routes through the trackage. The float bridge can be switched from both a front and back lead. One could conceivable have two switchers going at once.
Working a landmark, the expressway in. Most of the prototypes had to cross under that expressway to get from shore to the trackage that earned the money.
What killed it? Other than life distractions that may have provided an excuse, the scope of the structures required matched against the prospect of an eventual move. The backdrop would need to be 40+ feet of multi-story masonry buildings with the exception of the merely tall single store pier warehouse. I shudder to think how many windows that would require in the days before 3D printing was a thing. I am sure others could get it done but it eventually became obvious to even me that I was not that guy, at least not then.
As a contrast, Comstock Road is mobile, not just movable and will have, depending on whim, no more than 5 major structures. It offers much less scope for switching operations but, other than rolling stock, it is operational now. It took me (this is where a blog is handy to avoid rosy recollections) Roughly two calendar years to go from trackplan to operable with no scenery or structures yet in sight but momentum has been preserved.
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″.
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. 🙂
I use Templot to generate templates for hand laying track. Templot is a very powerful program that knows way more than I do about prototype track design. It also has a unique user interface that takes time to learn. My challenge is that I don’t create new track templates very often and so tend to forget a lot and have to relearn things.
I was therefore pleased when my friend Trevor Marshall asked me if I would produce a template for a simple Proto:48 test track he is contemplating. Since my entry into 1:48 scale was largely due to enablement by Trevor, I am happy to return the favour and enable right back at him.
I will let Trevor share the details of his project if and when he wishes but I will say that he is using different track castings that I have (more that one choice, we are spoiled!), different rail size and different frog numbers. All of that meant I was essentially creating the template from scratch rather than just copying the old reliable #6 I created many years ago.
After much googling for AREA standards, measuring castings with dial calipers (because my digital one’s battery up and died…), and poking about in the Templot menus, I achieved what I will call success. Because Trevor was mostly concerned about turnout geometry I forwent the refinements like shoving ties around, adjusting the length of guard rails and such.
I got it done and printed out in time for delivery at via dinner at the Harbord House last Tuesday. Pub based delivery best delivery.
After much pondering (variations on that phrase get used a lot around here), I have decided to go with the simplest (relatively) solution for propelling the traverser, a single lead screw. It was always one of the options and after chatting with Trevor Marshall and Ryan Mendell at lunch, it was decided. Ryan deals professionally with assorted ad hoc projects and he tells me that lots of people try belt drives and fail to consider the tension required to get them to work properly. Since I have no desire to see if the traverser baseboard will bend under sustained tension, lead screws are the best alternative.
I conflate ball screw with lead screw in my thinking but I understand a lead screw is better for my applications since there is not requirement to handle heavy loads or avoid backlash of a couple of thousandths of an inch. My concern with this option was that aligning the screw, table and baseboard would be tricky and prone to binding. Ryan suggested attaching the nut (brass bit in the picture) so that it floats a bit. I thought about it and I have a plan to do that.
So, the alternatives considered:
single lead screw
single belt drive: two pulleys doing the same job as the lead screw but avoiding fine alignment challenges
two sychronized steppers with two lead screws or two belts attached to each end of the table.
one belt attached to each end of the table belts driven by pulleys mounted on a common shaft attached to a single stepper.
one belt routed so that it was attached at each end of the table. This is a simplified version of how printers are designed.
As you can see, I have been looking at all kinds of fun approaches. I still like the single last one but, besides the tensioning challenge, it represents a substantial increase in required hardware with an estimated 5 idler pulleys in addition to the driver pulley as well as roughly 8 feet of belt. None of that is especially expensive on a per unit basis but the total adds up. At that point, I am would be investing in additional entertainment value.
I ordered an 8mm lead screw, nut, flexible coupler and bearing combo of the required length (sadly not available locally as far as I could discover) and it arrived yesterday. Actual installation work will wait on vacation and the right mood.
I spent a long weekend traveling to watch migrating birds so no active modelling happened. On the other hand, the evenings do provide some quiet time to do some reading. One of my finds at the Great British Train Show 2018 was Layouts to Inspire compiled by Mike Merritt for the Gauge O Guild. The Gauge O Guild is the UK based association of 7mm (and the other “O”‘s including 1:48) modellers so naturally the layouts featured are all of some flavour of “O” scale.
An entire book of layout features is just the sort of thing I like. The layouts in the book were selected by the members of the guild and cover everything from indoor/outdoor garden layouts to micro layouts. O Scale Magazine contributor Neville Rossiter’s Bay Ridge Harbor Rail Road makes an appearance but otherwise it was all new to me. The photography is excellent and the articles are generally in the layout creator’s words which gives insights into how they go about the hobby.
The only downside for an inveterate layout planner like myself is that not all the articles include a track plan. This is a foible of British model railway journalism as far as I can tell since I have noted the same lack in some articles in UK periodicals as well.
Inspire was published in 2016 but does not appear to be still available. I acquired mine from a vendor at GBTS 2018 so presumably one has to get lucky at a show.