Monday, December 1, 2014

On The Road Again

Last Saturday, the layout nailed its last spike (for the moment) without fanfare. The event may seem irrelevant, but it ends a quest for a new layout that lasted well over a year. One year without “real” train movements. One year of trial and error… but that paid off quite a bit when you think about the effort involved in design.

Wiring is still to be completed and peninsula trakage will have to be relaid in code 83 in the future, but at least, the layout is 100% operable with all its customers and industries. Ciment St-Laurent plant is quite impressive with the long yard and sidings. This is truly a emblematic scene and I’m quite proud to say I didn’t use any selective compression on buildings. The longest siding is about 16 feet long!

Meanwhile, I also started to bash Atlas telegraph poles into typical Murray Bay Subdivision poles. The prototype was quite simplistic, only one cross arm, but there’s more history behind it. These poles started with two cross arms full of insulators, but as telegraph became obsolete, the upper cross arm was removed. By the end, only two insulators remained. They were used to carry two wires controlling grade crossing signals. It may seem an unimportant detail, but when you put it on the layout, it really gives a sense of place. Also, I took care to place them 130ft apart (about 18 inches), just like the prototype.

I also put in place the steel electric poles running along the cement plant. Those were put in place in the 50s to replace wooden catenaries. With all these specific poles back in place, hard to not feel you are indeed in Villeneuve.

We still have a lot of work to complete, but things have settled down and I’m looking forward for the first prototypical operating session during Christmas vacation. Now, I should concentrate on completing the photo backdrop before that time.

We also built the unloading pit for coal and gypsum using 1/8" MDF and window screen. Simple but effective.

And a few scenes, including a GE 45-ton shoving cars under the silos and the cement plant lead track.

By the way, it has been discussed to connect the scene into the furnace closet holding Villeneuve turnouts with Villeneuve scene. There are many reasons: an overpass will be too intrusive, the closet trackage is already visible from the layout room and we have to see clearly what happens there while switching. A part of the wall will have to go away.

Just like the prototype, the closet scene will be the site of Brique Citadelle. In the past, I already bashed a few structure kits into this brick plant, so I plan reusing part of it. Once again, I’ll have to visit the archives to find pictures of the plant during the 60s, 70s and 80s.


  1. Congratulations on getting the railway back into operation. It's the goal towards which we all work in the hobby, and it's never easy to take an operating layout out of service in order to improve it. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks Trevor!

      You are totally right. The hiatus lasted from May to late November and it wasn't an easy decision. However, always keeping some tracks in service was a good idea to make sure interest didn't die... and to try out concepts as they were built. Jérôme switched most of ours industries while trackage wasn't completed and it helped a lot in improving design.

      I feel the biggest challenges are in front out us now, but at least they won't impede with running trains. May I say I now perfectly understand how you can keep yourself busy with Port Rowan!

      We hope to hold an official operating session during Chrismas Holidays. I'll probably try to make a formal report of this session.

      The layout was out of service from May to late November, however, we always kept some tracks in service to keep interest alive and it paid off. In fact, it was a great incensive