Friday, June 30, 2017

Here Comes Miss Modern...

Maybe the extremely obscure reference will go unnoticed by most readers, however, I suspect the meaning behind it isn't missed at all. Hedley Junction is modernizing and improving.

An artist impression of things to expect...

After a good discussion at the club yesterday, it was decided not only to upgrade the car fleet but also the locomotive fleet. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but while browsing through the locomotive drawer, it was evident the poor thing was cluttered with absolutely useless items. Imagine... CP Rail F9s, Atlas GP40-2W with wrong noses, GE Dash 8 and an incredible load of RS18s. They will have to go... along with other stuff to make room for more relevant stuff. Some will be sold, others will enter the display cabinet.

It certainly isn't a new subject here. But managing a layout (yes, owning a layout is much more than just building and operating the thing) can be a hard task. While I admire guys with large layouts and dozen of locomotives, my context is different. For example, I have no time or interest in fine tuning a large motive power fleet for the sake of using almost never. On the other hand, Putting a lot of efforts on a very few models is more appealing to me because there is a reward at the end of the day. As I explained on my Quebec South Shore Railway blog, I've come to love doing smaller layouts with focussed scope because I feel, when I work a few hours on them, that I can see substantial progress. This is an important motivational factor, particularly for a motley crew like Hedley Junction.

But I also feel it is a good way to clarify the story we are telling to ourselves and others throught the intermediary of the layout. Should it be a cluster of nostalgia? Should we approach it as a messed up collection of "likes" or should we simply tell the story through the lenses of our artistic choices? As it stands, Hedley Junction (which incidently is misnamed) is nothing more than a vehicle showing us how freight was handled in rural Quebec City area before desindustrialisation killed landmark industries. I think we should see it as a canvas, or a series of vignettes. Just like a professional photographer, we have selected and framed a few subjects we thought would help to understand the big story behind all this.

In this regard, nobody will be surprised that I officially announce we have pre-ordered a fleet of three undecorated Rapido SW1200RS that will be painted as CFC 1303, 1323 and 1330. And no, it's not a matter of jumping in the proverbial bandwagon, but rather an excellent occasion of focusing our project and giving it more personality and individuality. It shrinks the fleet drastically while creating a sense of uniqueness to the layout, rooting it closer to its identity, which in return strengthen that goal of telling a story.

Technically, it won't have any relevant impact on the layout as built and designed, except it will help a lot to push our modelling and scenery efforts to another level, particularly in Villeneuve district. I'm already working, as we speak, to develop coloration for track and ballast on scrap of flextracks. So far, what I see is well worth the time and effort and I hope to soon document it on the blog.

Upgrading Rolling Stock

Sometimes, I'm absolutely stunned to see how I can take years if not decade to adjust to common practices. Most people would be surprised to hear I hear owned a coupler height gauge nor a NMRA gauge until a few days ago. As you can guess, coupler height had been a recurring problem that was addressed with a lot of guesswork.

Now these days are gone and we've started to standardize all the fleet for flawless performance. The work involves replacing defective couplers, check wheel gauge, replace wrong era wheels (all those ribbed back wheels are now discontinued and will be installed on older cars in the collection).

Another aspect of the fleet improvement program is adjusting the weight of every car so that each conform, as much as possible, to our standard.

As you can expect, a lot of discrepancies were discovered. The most worrying one was Kadee wheels which seem to never fit plastic trucks without some work. I've decided to remove every Kadee wheels on the layout with remaining P2K stocks on hand. They roll freely without having to mess up with the trucks. Kadee wheels will probably be assigned to another task later on.

As for locomotives, no upgrade at this moment, but the fleet will be streamlined as much as possible before. Lots of unused locomotives we have no purpose for.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Weathering Intermountain CN Cylindrical Hoppers

While I'm eager to get my fleet of 12 Rapido cylindrical hoppers later this year, I still have two Intermountain foobies that could serve another purpose. It's for this reason they were slated to receive a coat of weathering.

It's been almost 17 years since I last weathered a cylindrical hopper (a Model Power Canadian Government grain car) and I wanted to try my hands on models I wouldn't cry if I messed up.

The weathering was do with various media including PanPastel, weathering powders, India ink and alcohol and various washes of oil paint. Nothing fancy here, but trying to get that abused look so common on cement hoppers. While weathering patterns change from car to car, it must be noted the dirty streaks running down the running board supports seem to be a constant on these cars.

The next project will be to severely weather a set of four Intermountain Procor pressure cars. This time, I'll have to be much more bold in my approach to ensure I'm following the prototype.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Rapido GMD SW1200RS vs Hedley Junction

Well, Rapido decided to take us by surprise announcing a new HO GMD SW1200RS model... Sure, this new product announcement generates its share of hype and ethic questions, but don't count on me to thread that field of mines.

Now possible in HO?

Far to jump on the bandwagon, I must admit the SW1200RS is a key element in the history of Murray Bay Sudvision, particularly when the line was sold to Chemins de fer du Québec and became known as Chemin de fer de Charlevoix (CFQ). Should I note that most railfans still call the line "Le Charlevoix", even if I feel this moniker is quite recent and erase the CN and QRL&PCo heritage. Being born on Côte-de-Beaupré, maybe I feel bad seeing my birthplace's railway being plastered with the name of a remote neighboring area. Oh! Nostalgia.

That said, I must confess the team behing Hedley Junction often discussed quite seriously the possibility to simply model the early days of CFQ back in 1992-1993 when the black and yellow trio of SW1200RS made its dramatic appearance. Yes, the lost of zebra painted M420s was a real shock for many of us... Truth to be told, as a kid I held for a few years the belief CN locomotives would return unaware the line was no longer a federal property. That said, they idea to model CFQ goes back to many years ago, but that could only be possible if suitable models would be available. Brass and kitbashes were out of questions for many reasons. Now, we have a more definite answer to that problem and it raise its share of questions.

Why would we be tempted to move in the early 1990s when we have already invested a lot of effort in the 1980s? Well, let's face it, this project started in the 50s, then moved in the early 1960s, later the mid-1970, the early 1980s and now somewhere in 1985-1987. Would moving up to the 1990s would hurt the overall project? Most readers know how much I'm tired of doubting my projects!

The short answer is no. The actual layout depicts the subdivision as it was in the mid 1980s. However, big changes and track modifications didn't occur before the late 1990s and early 2000s when customers started to die off and sidings were removed. Thus, from a scenic point of view, we are spot on.

From an operating point of view, Dominion Textile was still standing though it had closed by 1985. Ciment St-Laurent shifted from coal to oil (now trucked) and didn't seem to receive gypsum by open hoppers anymore (that question will have to be answered, I wouldn't be surprised it was shipped from the Maritimes to Quebec City then trucked to the plant). Only the cement was hauled by rail at that time.

On the other hand, the paper and lumber trades were doing fine. CFQ attracted a lot of business by using Wieland as a transloading facility for finished lumber often ship from Côte-Nord. At that time everything moved on bulkhead flatcars and centerbeam cars, with some Railbox-type boxcars.

As you can see, in a matter of a few years, a lot of diversity was lost in term of railcars. And God we know model railroaders love to have any kind of cars on their layout. Sure, it's our layout and we could do what we want (which is a rule I've never been fond of) and fudge things up (we are already by keeping the coal and gypsum while it ended in the early 1980s), but that wouldn't feel like the real thing. We should also note CFQ never used caboose which take out a big chunk of nostalgia out of the project.

Thus, there is a big choice in front of us: a typical CN subdivision with all the goodies or a CFQ branchline with less stuff. It's not an easy choice.

However, we noted not long ago that our memories of the 1980s are quite imprecise. My interaction with trains was scarce, from afar at best. I recall details and general impression but I would struggle in certain areas. In contrast, we all knew well the CFQ from its inception up to its untimely demise. CN planted the seed, but I grew up with CFQ. Even if my nostalgia for CN was intense (and still is), my first serious diesel kitbashing and repainting project was a pair of CFQ SW1200RS back in high school. I still have these engines which I painted in CN colors when I found out the hobby shop clerk sold me unsuitable models (Athearn SW7). As for Jérôme, being younger, his memories of the 1990s are more vivid while he remember almost nothing from the 1980s.

Would I make the move and switch eras? I certainly don't know at this point, but I'm able to see some merit in that idea, But as I noted, the layout would remain the same so I think sticking with 1985 is the right choice since running the CFQ only require to not serve Dominion Textile and keep the open hopper fleet in the drawer.

So, after talking for the last weeks about focusing our efforts and framing our project, I have to sit down and think about it without rush. Will I model CFQ SW1200RS independantly. Probably, it's on my wishlist since the late 1990s...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The State of My Collection

While decaling my Procor pressure cars today, I took sometime to organize my rolling stock collection at home. It accounts for about half the total collection, the other half being store at the club layout.

I was aware I had too much stuff, but this little exercise proved me I should think twice before buying anything new without a good reason.

For the purpose of classification, I used different color Post-It to identify each box by its general theme:

Orange: Modern CN (post-1960)
Green: Old CNR (pre-1960)
Violet: CPR (all eras)
Yellow: American roads
Blue: Old Time

The results were astounding. American cars were the largest group, followed by CPR, Old Time, Old CNR and modern CN. While arguably most modern CN cars are in service on the club layout, it was disturbing to own so many American cars I have almost no use for. I recall many of them are realted to the Harlem Station layout, but the real problem is they were bought before that layout even came to fruition. It means I collected American cars for almost no reason except kitbashing purpose to such an extent I know have no idea what to do with them and no longer remember what conversion I had on my mind back then.

The same thing apply to the Old Time cars which I bought in numbers back in the days in hope of making a QRL&PCo layout, or a logging layout or something else. They piled up, and now I have a bunch of half kitbashed cars in such quantity it could crowd a medium sized layout. I even found out a disturbing amount of small Bachmann, IHC, Pocher, Roundhouse and Mantua steam locomotives... In fact, I'm starting to believe I could build the Temiscouata layout in HO without buying a single piece of new equipment... It's frightening.

But to speak frankly, the problem is that most of these cars (Canadian, American or Old Time) were bought with the future in mind. "Just in case" or for the "future layout". Most of them require extensive kitbashing, detailing and painting, which can be a serious investment both in time and resources. Unfortunately, they are also models from another era, mainly blue box kits, sometimes detailed plastic models or craftman kits. It means they no longer fit the level of detail and accuracy I want from my model. Also, meanwhile, many cars I bought for the sake of kitbashing a particulay prototype have been superseeded by accurate models. What's the point in installing state of the art decoders in old P2K EMD and ALCO locomotives. I have lots of F and FA units I have absolutely no purpose for. They don't fit my interests but they sure eat up a lot of space.

While I'm confident many cars and locomotives will find a purpose someday, I'm also aware many of them no longer hold value in my eyes. As much as I would like, it is not realistic to think I'll kitbash dozens of cars for the sake of completing long overdue projects. One day or another, I'll have to trim down the tree... You can't have it all and these models, as fun as they were and supported my dreams, must be shed like a snake shed its old skin...

Maybe layout design ideas are just a nice little cute excuse to buy more and more... because we can justify impulsive consumerism with vague and idealized dream layouts.

By the way, don't expect picture of that messy collection, it is quite humiliating, even for me!

On a positive note, I'm glad to find out I don't need cars for Hedley Junction and can now put my effort on detailing, weathering and fine tuning the fleet. Rapido's cylindrical hoppers are likely to be the last cars to be acquired next Fall.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Relettering Intermountain CN Procor Hoppers - Part 2

The three Procor cars are now repainted in CN Grey No. 12 or should I say, a custom mix made to fit the rest of the Intermountain fleet.

As a matter of fact, paints are always tricky when it's time to choose a color. By mistake, I sprayed the first car with True Line CN Grey No. 11 only to discover is was too far off and didn't even match my other True Line hoppers! Maybe the color is right, but it seems to be far to greenish. But the mistake didn't end there. CN indeed changed it's hopper color to Grey No. 12 in the late 60s, exactly when the Procor cars were built.

A quick search in local and online hobby shops yielded poor results and I had to make my own mix. As I often hear from my older architect colleagues "a good painter should be able to eyeball any color". Well, I guess that's true. In my case, seeking the perfect color was trivial since the cars will be heavily discolored and weathered per prototype. Thus, it was much more important to blend the color with the existing similar cars in my fleet.

In fact, getting the mix right took about 1 minutes. A lot of white, a sizeable amount of Tamiya German Grey XF-63 and a bit of Tamiya Flat Flesh XF-15 yielded quickly a satisfying mix. The color was tested on a prepainted Intermountain car until a perfect match was achieved. In a matter of a few minutes, the three cars were covered in a nice coat of warm grey paint. Later, a coat of Future gave them a nice glossy finish for decalling, which I hope will occur during the weekend when the paint will have cured.

When completed, this will bring the Procor fleet to 9 cars. Add to this 2 Intermountain cylindrical hoppers, 12 Rapido new cylindrical hoppers and we've got enough car to serve the cement plant. Meanwhile, the slabside hoppers will be phased out when the Rapido cars will be available next fall. By the mid-80s, none of them served the plant anymore. However, they could be extremely useful if we want to backdate the layout a little bit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ciment St-Laurent - Part 2

I'm back to the drawing board! This time, to design a way to build Ciment St-Laurent loading facilities. While the building is rather spartan, its size (42" long in HO scale) and structure offer a structural challenge.

I have also to take into account how I will detail the interior and maintain the rails located right under the structure. Our initial approach was to build a single structure with protuding columns. While definitely feasible, this option has a few disadvantages. First, it's hard to make all columns sit correctly against the soil without having some small gaps. Second, the aforementionned columns lack bracing and are quite flimsy. It could be worked out though.

I'm exploring the possibility to break up the building in two parts: the structural columns and the superstructure. Columns would be inserted and glued into a sturdy base and connected together with a web of structural members similar to the prototype. The base could be scenicked and detailed while tracks could be embedded in the base. The superstructure would sit on top and could be removable for maintenance. It is quite more complex than the original one-part concept, but would ensure a more realistic approach.

As for materials, no definite choice is actually made but whatever is used should be braced and sealed to some extent to reduce warping.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Memories of QRL&PCo

I often lament the disappearance of QRL&PCo-related heritage in Quebec City area. While this is inevitable and I'm coming to term with that, I was quite surprised to discover a 60-years old manhole cover installed by the defunct utility company probably in the early 1960s on Rue Vallière. My estimate is based on the fact the text is French, which was a trend in the 1960s as seen on CN bilingual car lettering. Quebec Power was absorbed in Hydro-Québec by the late-1960s.

Meanwhile, I walked the bike path up to D'Estimauville to see the state of the track after a long winter. Well, nothing changes here but vegetation do grow. At least, it will be handy for scenery reference.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Relettering Intermountain CN Procor Hoppers - Part 1

While I'm certainly not a rivet counter in terms of lettering, I still consider a car should reflect its era and while I've seen many people use post-1990 white-colored CN covered hoppers for gray-colored hoppers, it's certainly not a path I want to thread.

Colors and shapes are the most recognizeable aspect of an object (given we can't reproduce smell in a practicaway). Failing to graps these fundamental characteristics won't pay off if your goal is to reproduce something.

A few years ago, I made the mistake to buy CN Procor hoppers in the wrong color. More than once I thought about selling or swapping them for correct ones, but as high quality car prices raise, repainting them quickly became a practical option.

But at the same time, being practical has a lot of advantages. Instead of completely disassembling, stripping paint and repainting my fleet of white Procor cars, I've decided to erase the lettering. My technic is simple and only require fine sandpaper and Solvaset. This particular product is generally strong enough to soften pad printed lettering. In case of small letters, they disappear in a matter of a few seconds while large logo like the CN noodle can take more time and care. To prepare this model, it took me about 90 minutes, which may seem long but is a fraction of taking the longer route.

When lettering was completely removed, I repaired and glued back loosen parts, wiped the model clean with 70% alcohol and misted a light coat of white primer to give some tooth for the new coat of paint. As for decals, high quality Highball products will be used. Two others to go!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Back in Villeneuve

Gosh, getting back on your feet after a few months far from intense modelling isn't exactly what I call a walk in the park. However, nothing moves on until you give some impetus to the wheel!

After a good discussion at the club yesterday, it became quite evident progress is slowed down in Clermont because I'm wasting a huge amount of time modelling roads. They take a lot of time and thus are keeping us tied down. However, all the grade crossing signals are now in perfect shape in Villeneuve and D'Estimauville which means we can now think about completing this scene.

Villeneuve... ready for an overhaul

Following Jérôme's lead, we started to plan out the new structure that will replace the cement plant mockup. Scale drawings are already done and it's only a matter of building them. I must admit Jérôme did a good job at researches recently and found out bagged cement shipped by insulated boxcar was an important traffic at Villeneuve even during the early 1990s. Having a few Walthers FGE insulated boxcars and the new excellent CN decals by Sean Steele on hands, it will be easy to add two cars to the fleet. I've also started to remove some weight from the cement cars. The reason is simple, there is a limit to Bachmann GE 45-Ton's performances. We are looking for someone to install sound and a small keep alive into this tiny locomotive. All suggestions are welcomed.

As for the plant itself, it will require a lot of corrugated siding material. I used to use corrugated paper but my stock is depleting and unfortunately, I've been unable to locate that product at local art and craft stores. On Internet, it was the same, probably because I didn't search using the right English words. Personally, I'd prefer to use paper than corrugated cardboard or styrene because it is more versatile and easier to glue and stack without looking out of scale. If anybody has a suggestion for a decent material that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, let me know.

Meanwhile, I've completed the CN Suburban truck and weathered it but forgot to take a picture! And I also started to try weathering a few Intermountain cylindrical hoppers carrying cement. They generally weather badly in real life. So far, I'm happy with the results, but feel they could be far better. I'll post a few pictures when they are ready to hit the rail again.

So, if I had to set up a goal, I'd say I'd like to complete scenery in Villeneuve and D'Estimauville by our next open house which is generally during Christmas holidays. And, as a matter of fact, I'd like to complete the main cement plant structures by the end of August. Is it realistic? Maybe. After all, they are a bunch of big steel clad boxes.

By the way, I started to build a baseboard and proscenium for the new QSSR layout. I certainly won't start a revolution with that layout, but I'll try to approach the diorama from an artist point of view instead of a model railroader. In that regard, I won't approach the layout as a chunk of real world I want to model, but rather as a canvas on which I'll paint my impression of a railroad if I wanted to boiled down my love of train and convey that feeling to others.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lessons Learned: Framing Your Approach

It seems summer is always about reflecting on someone’s approach to model railroading. It has probably a lot to do with winter being associated with the highest peak of modelling productivity for most of us.

My recent one-month trip to Japan made me realize how little North Americans struggle to compose a scene and frame a subject. While this art is well-known in Japanese gardening and traditional architecture, it can be seen in the most mundane streets and back alley of their country. If it was in some other country, one could infer it is an happy result due to sheer luck. However, it is so common there that you start to understand it is the result of their peculiar relation with space. While North America is blessed with vast expanse of space, this is also a pitfall since we are never faced with situation where we have to make the best of it. If we lack space, we quickly think about enlarging rather than focusing our efforts. Standing in a middle ground, European modellers, at least a substantial mass of them, have for a long time developed a sensibility toward smaller and contrived spaces.

Mike Cougill recently asked me what I’ve learned from that travel. Most people talk about the initial cultural shock, but it wasn’t. I saw what I expected to see, however, there is a huge difference between knowing something and experimenting it first hand on a daily basis.

But more seriously, I was impressed by that people's obsession toward excellence which can be quite humiliating when you come from a background where most people don’t care about result or quality. That excellence can be witnessed at every level, from a generic sidewalk to a nicely assembled sliding door. Even a gravel parking lot will be built and maintained with a care we don’t even think of for a more glamour object here. And that notion have nothing to do with objective beauty (if that exist), but is truly the embodiment of their approach with the physical world. Certainly, it wouldn’t fit our mindset, but lessons can be learned from that and I feel that model railroaders – who by trade focus on putting a lot of effort replicating the most mundane and ugly things – should easily relate to this dedication at some level.

The other lesson learned is truly about framing a concept, an idea or a space. Japanese have a special way to take one simple thing and bring it to an art level. Did I lose my breath often there, having no words to describe my amazement? Yes, often… and it happened with temples for sure, but also with lunch boxes and other such “insignificant” things.

How can that translate to model railroading? Well, it can be seen in term of operation which means focusing on a particular limited set of actions, but rendered and executed with care, thus bringing a lot of emotion with performing them.

It can also be seen in term of layout planning. When you visit a traditional Japanese garden, you rarely grasp the entirety of the plan… and it’s not required. You are treated to very focused and framed scenes that emphasized a limited set of well-proportioned subjects. Thus, a garden is no longer a single entity, but rather a succession of scenes. And if the garden is well designed, this succession will make sense and will some story… That, I think, could benefit many layouts.

In fact, it’s not that I didn’t learn these lessons from my modelling experiences, but rather they take a cohesive shape when witnessed in another cultural context in which they were actively cultivated for centuries…

Their art also lifted the last doubts I had about lack of space. It’s no longer a matter of lacking space but rather a question of how to frame and compose a scene the best you can using a given area.  And not only that scene will make sense, but it will also give hints of a larger world without revealing too much about it. This approach has also another tremendous effect on planning and composing: you now longer require to “compress” a scene to get the feeling of the place, but rather, you frame what could be realistically be seen and grasped in such a given space… At this point, you probably see a pattern in my explanations: frame space. You will also remark I’m no longer referring about plan, talking in term of elevation and depth. Yes, at this point, the plan, to some extent, is almost irrelevant. You model the perception of a location rather than a 3D plan. It may sound semantic, but it has an important impact how you interact with a layout.

If you think in term of small layout or even cameo layout, it’s no longer about vast panoramas, but rather about offering a point of view, a particularly significant perspective on a railway operation.

For this purpose, I tried to revisit my Quebec South Shore Railway layout and found out many things already discovered or hinted by other modellers. However, I’m taking this farther and propose something else based on my personal experience with railways.

When you are standing by a track, you never see the entire scene. Your own sight and the surrounding vegetation and structures clearly frame the scene. This is also emphasized by the fact we are standing still in a particular spot of a larger area while the trains are the moving parts of this world. The contrast between of small and fixed presence and the larger yet moving trains create that impressive feeling of standing by the track and experiencing an operating railway.
My experience in railfanning is often about the impossibility to see everything. At some point, you find a clearing or a street and enjoy the spectacle from there. You rarely see very far and only from a few angles, just like a movie or a painting. If you deal with a smaller layout, this can be a blessing since you don’t need to model a contrived fantasyland, but rather focus on a given perspective that blurs the junctions with the rest of the world. In term of scene composition, you only need to keep a few elements required to build the scene and give it purpose… And it can be drastic. Maybe you don’t need to show the turnout for that siding since it exists only outside of your line of sight. Are all cars required to be shown on the layout, maybe not… they could only roll in front your eyes, going to a nearby destination that you can’t unfortunately see right now but which you know and give sense to the move. In that regard, Chris Mears explored such a concept and Mike Cougill too. While I thought their ideas were cute, I failed to see nothing more than a desperate attempt at minimalism. However, when you take in account what I said, it’s no longer an obsession with nothingness but rather an ability to tell a lot more with a few but well-designed elements.

Therefore, I can propose a new version of the QSSR layout which get rids of elements that felt forced and were never the focus of my attention when switching the layout and framing what matters. In that regard, a 80” x 18” layout can be summed up as a 48” x 16” cameo layout devoid of any compression and compromise. In fact, this new approach creates an impression of a larger world out of less space than a larger layout. Operation use the same amount of cars and require similar moves, with the exception the scene composition focus our attention on them which is a direct incitation to carefully replicate procedure and bring a good deal of life to the revenue equipment that is now a true actor rather than a small part diluted in a large expanse of space.

For me, this approach has many direct benefits that can help to fit my apathy with building a home layout. First, space is no longer a concern about quality. No need to turn the house upside down or buy new furniture. A layout can now fit a living space without hijacking it. Second, building a layout is not about investing vast sum of time, money and resources, but rather how to assemble a few elements with care and replacing them with better attempts as experience is gained and modelling interests evolve. Third, framing a given perspective is an occasion to truly grasp how the real world is perceived by ourselves rather than recreating a large part of the world believing that a larger chunk of reality is the only way to immerse ourselves into the fiction called a layout.

By the way, what I just said is nothing new in the modelling realm, however, it may be the first time I have a better grasp at looking at model railways from another perspective, one more akind to a real life experience and freed from physical parameters we usually believe set the frame of our ideas. I'm well aware a lot of literature - which I often didn't read - has dealt with such an approach, however, I think we can never repeat enough how space is never a matter of quantity but rather a matter of composition. The first one can't be eluded, but it will never offer satisfying answers to most modellers nightmare about "lack of interest". I've seen plenty of large layouts devoid of any interest even if they fully reproduced a world... They were no more than magnified carpet central. And yes, I believe a lot of these lessons can be applied to our club layout while working on the scenery.

Friday, June 9, 2017

After A Long Absence

As many of you probably guessed, I was out of town during most of May and early June... In fact, more precisely, out of the country and visiting Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun being all about trains, it was a excellent occasion to board many of them and visit some related museums which, I hope, will be described in future posts.

As for Hedley-Junction, we held our last meeting yesterday and took time to assess the several tasks to accomplish toward completion. In terms of layout, many, many things remain to be done, but all depend on backdrops. They are probably what we should call my "bête noire" and I especially don't like to create them even if I like their overall effect. But things must be done and neglecting that won't do anything good for the project. While I'd like to work on many things, it's time to concentrate my effort to complete Clermont and the Donohue paper mill before moving to other areas.

In terms of motive power, we decided to concentrate our efforts on less locomotives to better fine tune the ones we regularly use. For this reason, GP9s, RS18s and GMD1s will be upgraded to LokSound Full Throttle as initially planned. All the rest will be stored for a while, maybe much longer.

I also came to the realisation many of my recent experiments with roads are failure. No, it's not easy to accept given the huge amount of time and resources wasted, but I don't feel comfortable showing that work to anybody visiting the layout nor am I proud of my work. Roads are common elements of our daily lives and can't be represented by half baked efforts. So far, plaster, lightweight spackle and concrete patching products didn't yield convincing results. It may be my own lack of practice, but I feel I don't have the level of control I want with these materials. I'll probably go back to illustration board roads which give a lot of latitude in terms of coloration, distressing and details. I particularly appreciate to work on a road at my desk then later glue it in place.