Friday, April 15, 2016

Signs... Lots of Signs

When I visited Modèle B.T. last weekend, I purchase a few railway signs made by a small one-person company called in S.T.T. and based in Quebec. All I know is that the company makes limited batches based on demand and mainly sell through Modèle B.T. in Drummondville. I’m not aware of any other outlets.
Clermont's grade crossing protected with typical Canadian-style crossbucks.

Quality-wise, the product is top notch and made of sturdy metal, which make them strong enough to sustain layout usage while still looking good. The guy making them took great care to design them and all signs follow prototypical practices found in Canada, including the iconic red and white Canadian crossbucks. Road signs are also available and follow M.T.Q. (Ministère des Transport du Québec) practices, making it useful for people modelling Quebec. To some extent, many of the signs could be used for other Canadian provinces without problem.

A very old French Canadian crossbuck surviving at Dominion Textile.

 The signs are interesting because they follow the prototypical practices of Canadian National and Canadian Pacific from the late 60s to now. They can fit a lots of Canadian-themed layout over a 50 years period.

Just like the prototype... forbidden access to Donohue's bridge.

The downside is their price which can be quite steep if you want to populate a large layout.  It varies from less than 2$ up to 5$ depending the sign complexity and size. Smaller signs are sold in 2 and 4-packs. But that said, one should keep in mind they are craftman limited productions. And seriously, instead of buying yet another useless 30-40$ car, I suspect it is a better investment in the end with a better play value is you like when things look and work like the prototype.

Signs are small, but they have a great impact on a scene.

Sure, one can scratchbuild his own signs – which I would do if I had more time – but I felt it wasn’t a bad idea to support a local guy trying to do something special for the train community. Also, the possibility to make special orders seems to be possible, which makes it even more interesting for custom projects (station name signs, etc.).

Whistle posts signaling D'Estimauville Avenue.

So far, I thought I bought about 50% of required signs. But just like trees, a layout can absorb a lot of them. Jérôme installed a few of them in key location and the result is quite good. We will probably order more in a near future.

Finally, Jérôme added a custom made derail for the propane dealer siding in Clermont. All sidings in Clermont are protected by such devices. His prototype isn't that great, but there's place for improvement.  Also, Louis-Marie started working on infrared detecting units for our grade crossing. He figured out how to make a decent system with an Arduino board. Don't ask me the details, I'm illeterate in electronics, but from what I heard, it will do the same thing as higher end commercial systems but at a fraction of the price. So far, the mockup works nicely, so I'm pretty sure this is going to be an amazing achievement on the layout.

On a side note, I started working on scenery, particularly at Donohue and D'Estimauville. Stay tuned!

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