Saturday, July 30, 2011

CPR Tunnel - South Portal

Thursday, we decided to use only PECO turnouts on the new part. They work fine in manual mode and doesn't need unsightly switch machine.

Layout plan updated

Friday, we made the decision to replace all turnouts on the new layout extension with PECO. I had to redraw the track plan to make sure everything you fit. Doing this enabled me to modify some sidings, particularly the Ore Terminal and the Oil Loading Docks. Jérôme switched some cars yesterday and built mock up sidings. It was clear we had to redesign these area to fit our needs.

Wolfe's Cove CPR Tunnel - South Portal

Portal in 1930. The road was above the entrance.

Last Friday morning, we decided to railfan at L'Anse-aux-Foulons to get first hand data and watch some operation there. We also measured the south tunnel portal which turned out to be in major dilapidation. This fine Art Deco portal was built in 1930 to reach new CPR Steamships Terminal. For this reason, it received a special architectural treatment the north portal cruelly lacks. For more information about this forgotten engineering work, you can read this bilingual brochure written by Denis Fortier.

Pointe-à-Pizeau's purple limestone cliffs. The track is lost in the bush!

We also took advantage of this little trip to gather few rock samples from the cliff. Pointe-à-Pizeau is an important scenery feature on our layout peninsula with the landmark gothic church.

L'Anse-aux-Foulons, west side. In the background is Pointe-à-Pizeau

It was fun to find out CN used a pair of GP40-2W to switch the industries. It's been a month since we bought a pair from Atlas. Very nice little engines indeed.

L'Anse-aux-Foulons, east side. Tunnel portal behind concrete abutment.

Portal in 2011. Most concrete pilasters and abutments are in bad shape.

 With the help of pictures and actual dimensions, I was able to reproduce the portal in AutoCAD.

HO scale portal elevations.

I printed the drawing to make a quick mock up. Looks pretty nice to me.

CPR 4061 (Athearn) emerges from the south portal.

The portal will be made out of 1/4" thick masonite with 2mm thick styrene sheets for pilasters.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Laying Track at Basin Louise

Work has resumed at Basin Louise. Track laying started a weeks ago and yesterday, we completed the carfloat and yard entrance.

The new Basin Louise extension with the large grain elevator.

Back in the 1970's, Canadian Pacific had plan to use a ferry to move car from Quebec City to Baie-Comeau. They started to build the pier, but stopped before they finished this foolish endeavour. The carfloat on the layout is protofreelanced concept inspired by this. The carfloat will be christened "Leonard", which was the historical name of a carfloat that operated between Quebec City and Levis before Quebec Bridge was completed.

Car float with the yard behind.

Apron and pier.

Gradually, PECO turnouts are making their way on the layout. Atlas are good but since I can get my hand on PECO for the same price, one would be crazy to hesitate. Space is at premium and the yard ladder was made with curved Setrack turnouts. At first, I was a little bit scared, but this tricky and sharp radius section operate without a glitch. Inside radius is a little under 18", however, most 4-axles engines worked their way without problems. Most of the time, this part will be switched with a GE 44-ton, SW, Alco S or small GP.

The new curved yard ladder.

3 PECO curved turnouts make the yard ladder and save a lot of space.

The new yard now enjoy 4 tracks instead of 3. Place was available and a short operation session proven us it wasn't a luxury.

Carfloat and yard. Main line is at right with the GP40-2W.

News from Hedley Junction

Fournier & Papillon building is almost completed and Saul Assh Scrapyard is now housed in a Walthers 2-stall engine house. Maybe this industry will be replaced by something else. Who knows?

The first building is scratchbuilt in styrene according to an Insurance Map.

Canardière Road overpass was completed with slightly kitbashed Rix Products kits. The concrete girder with decorative panels was scratchbuilt from memory according to the prototype. Final painting and weathering not done yet. We will have to rebuild this part of the yard for better operation soon, so the finishing touch will be done after that.

Canardière Road concrete overpass.

Next time we work on Hedley, we will get rid of all 18" radius curves and replace them with at least 22" and higher radius. This decision was made to get smoother operation, visual appealness and to run 6-axles diesel and larger steamer is wanted. We are also replacing, according to our budget and ressources, all #4 turnouts by #6 when possible.

By the way, the club members finally made the decision to move from DC to DCC. It took us 4 years to decide.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Return to Bassin Louise - Part 2

After a few comments from fellow club members, it was decided to eliminate the yard lead in the port area. We found it useless since the main line could do exactly the same job without operation issues. It is also more respectful of our prototype.

The oil platform was also trimmed to one siding only. The major difference is a new diamond to shuffle cars at the grain elevator. This device eliminated the need for a troublesome double crossover that would have been a nightmare operation with 50' cars.

Revised layout plan

I also worked on Pointe-à-Pizeau. The actual location sports a wonderful gothic church overlooking the St. Lawrence River in the same way as depicted on the layout. It will help to blend the background. I don't expect to crowd the place with a lot of buildings. We will see what we can do when we will build the cape in real life.

Second revision

I decided to eliminate the yard lead completely near the grain elevator. The siding now looks more prototypical with fewer turnouts and lesser track. Also, no more S-curves, which was an important thing I wanted.

Second revision - Third version

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Return to Bassin Louise - Layout Extension

Funny thing, English royal couple just toured Quebec City last week-end and our layout is back to Princess Louise Basin. What happened?

In fact there's no connection with the British Crown. To put it short, we had a little mixed feelings over the last weeks about the Murray Bay extension proposal. Benchwork had been built and looked promising. The peninsula with a central background work nicely to create two different scenes. There was a consensus among us to keep it. However, the theme and trackage our this extension remained full of question. It was like running a train to nowhere.

Last Monday, we decided to start planning a serious proposal for the extension. Over the last weeks, we already explored ideas about rolling countryside with a farmer's cooperative (mainly inspired by Lyster Station, Quebec) and bringing back the harbour scenes, notably the huge grain elevator and the car float.

I was also personally concerned about providing a mean to return trains and engine. It was decided to build a returning loop. The good thing is that it will need a tunnel and one exist in Quebec City Harbour near Wolfe's Cove (aka L'Anse-aux-Foulons). On the other hand, Lyster Station was also a junction so it will fit perfectly in the setting.

Overall, this new extension proposal will complement nicely our existing industries at Hedley. Also, the idea to have a point-to-point layout with two yards will give enough opportunities to have three people operating at the same time which was lacking on the actual setting.

The New Layout

New layout extension proposal.

Design criterions:

-22" minimal radius (only once in the tunnel), average radius is between 24" and 36"
-#6 Turnouts on mainline and other places were switching can be tricky or 6-axles engines can be used
-No S-curve
-Long sidings with large industries

Typical Train Operation

Imagine a grain train leaving Hedley-Junction. It crosses the furnace tunnel and exit at Lyster Station were it must enter the passing to let pass an eastbound train. Then it exist Lyster and come near St. Lawrence River when it gently run through the peninsula ends. At this point, the train continue, pass the diamond with the diverging route and enter the yard siding. At this point, all cars are left in the siding and the engines continue to the end of the layout were they can stop at the engine house. The staff take a break, a lunch and prepare the engines for the next trip back to Hedley.

Meanwhile, a switcher exit the yard, take the train and bring him back to the yard. Grain cars are then shuffled into the grain elevator and the switcher use the small crossover at left to escape from the siding. A new train is assembled in the yard and put back in the siding. Our original crew put the caboose at the end of the new train, runaround it and finally can head back to Hedley.

Grain elevator cars will be spotted by a motorized cabestan that will move the cars without the need for a locomotive. This kind of device is often seen in this kind of industry.

As you can also see, the switcher can operate in the yard without having to use the mainline. Most industries face the same direction which will eliminate most of the tiresome runaround. Once a while is fun, too much is just a bother.

Now, time to put these idea in the "real" world.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Improving Bachmann GP40

Since I recently receive my new Atlas GP40-2, I wanted to run her in consist. A few months ago, an old friend of mine whom did some modelrailroading with me as when we were teenagers gave me a box with his original cars and trains. It contained an old metal-truck Athearn GP9 and a rundown Bachmann GP40. The first one runs like a clock as it always did. The second was so bad I don't remember we ever used it on the layout back in the mid-90's. Every details was already broken on it and the motor was worthless.

Original model as received and as I always knew it.

I was a little bit reluctant to kitbash these old models. They are full of memories and remember good times when I first learn to make "real" operation sesson with my friend. However, the Bachmann engine was always an eyesore to both of us, I didn't mind to rebuild it. I even remember asking him to do this back in 1997! This long overdue work had to be done.

The model as it was prior to any work. Even the pilots were destroyed.

I replaced the missing pilots with a set of kitbashed stairs from an old C424 shell from Atlas. Handrails are made out of brass wire and Athearn stanchions. The bell was kitbashed from a brass steamer bell and bits of styrene. Shields were made out of styrene too and others details are remnants from previous superdetailling projects.

The redetailled model.

 Everything was repainted with Krylon black primer and True Line CN Orange and sealed with a coat of Dullcoat. Decals are from various sheets from Microscale.

Rear with new handrails. Marker lights still to be painted in silver.

Weathering was done with a light wash of Citadel Chaos Black acrylic thinned in alcohol and pastel chalks. I tried to not overdo the weathering and to stay close to the original prototype.

Locomotive CN #4009 in 1979, (Don Jaworski), 2011