Thursday, July 20, 2017

Photobucket Mess and Blog Restoration

Like many other blogs and forums around the world, my blogs are also among the recent Photobucket new policy victims. While I have no interest discussing the great loss of information suffered in terms of knowledge, I certainly can recognize Photobucket was in its own right to do so. Most of us were there for the free ride and we should be glad it lasted for such a long time. I'm in no position to complain though I feel Photobucket made itself infamous in a matter of a few minutes.

That said, it means most of this blog posts were rendered almost useless. I estimate about 200 posts have broken links and that represents about 2/3 of everything I wrote on Hedley Junction until I switched to Blogger’s option to directly embed the material in late 2015. Given I generally use 3 to 4 pictures per post, it means I would have to restore more than 600 to 800 images. That’s a lot of work! However, I feel I have a duty toward the readers here to keep things in order.

As a matter of fact, over the last weeks I already started restoration work and can announce Hedley-Junction satellite blogs such as Quebec South Shore Railway, Temiscouata Railway Connors Branch and Erie Harlem Staion are now fully functional again.

In the case of Hedley-Junction, the sheer amount of information means I’ll do the work as time allows. Don’t expect a swift restoration as I have many other commitments. However, I already restored the first posts describing the origin of the project and now plan to restore posts from the most recent to the older since I think older content was less relevant to the actual version of the layout. I certainly hope the blog will be back in its glory by September.

Finally, my summer vacation starts today and will be quite busy, including a large scale home improvement project. I suspect I won't have time to model as much as I would want, but probably will continue working on my cement car weathering which is quite much involving that I first thought.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


As I'm moving forward with my intention of getting rid of useless material so I can start renovating the "old kitchen" - an unnoccupied room in my 1875-built house, I can see in front of my eyes many layout projects, ideas and ephemeral inspirations that shaped my vision of railway modelling. While it is easy to look down on such artefacts and consider them incredible waste of money and time, they are, in fact many steps that helped me to achieve a better understanding of my hobby.

A fraction of things that no longer have a place in the collection...

No toddler starts walking on his two feet the first time he tries and the same applies to all the aspects of our lives. At some point, you've got to experiment and start grasping the several aspects of the surrounding environment. The small 0-6-0 saddle tank speaks of a time when I was investigating local limestone and marble quarry operations, which led me to discover the presence of Maine Central in Southern Quebec which opened a larger door into Northeastern railways in general, both in Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Even a single picture of Ciment St-Laurent plant put me on the track to discover the Shawmut Line, its coal mines and the intricate history of Pennsylvania Railroad's coal hopper fleet.

At some point, I'm doing archeological work on my own life and turning upside down at least 15 years of active modelling since I decided to get a layout of my own once for all.

As I recently said, what recently surprised me was the large fleet of American cars I had while I generally don't model such roads. However, looking back at Harlem Station, I couldn't help but see many interesting projects that would fit perfectly that layout theme. Funny how I'm constantly brought back to that layout since the first time I witnessed that prototype back in 2010 when Jack Trollope was creating a version of it presented by the late Carl Arendt on his wonderful Micro-Layout website. Little I did know at that time Harlem Station would became a fascination for me. And while all the other New York harbor terminals are much famous because of their intricate track plan, I was in fact attracted by Erie's diminutive yet highly efficient use of space. At Harlem Station, you can't add or remove a track, everything is highly optimized in that weird spartan railway fashion. And while small, this terminal - for me at least - is a window on the 1950s United States since cars from everywhere in the country gathered on that small city block.

And while you think I'm diverting from my propos, in fact I must admit thinking about the Harlem Station layout is a good way to see if something can have a second life or if it is truly unneeded in my collection.

Except a few emotional pieces, many were steps I won't visit again and if I ever do, my approach will be drastically different and shouldn't be tied down by a collection built when I was ignorant about the subject. They served their purpose and clinging to them wouldn't make me move forward.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ciment St-Laurent - Part 3

Villeneuve is progressing at a steady pace! Among various chores that had to be done, we raised the landforms around the cement plant and tracks to better match the buried look that could be seen on the prototype.

To do so, a new layer of cork sheet was glued down and nailed on the benchwork. This layer of cork is slightly lower than the surrounding cork roadbed to still keep some topography there.

The track was also painted Krylon Limestone Gray. This may sounds absolutely weird, but when the ties are weathered with oil paints and rails painted dark camouflage brown with some weathering powder, the results is quite good. I tested it on a scratch of flextrack beforehand.

Jérôme is putting the cement plant mockup back in place.

As for the cement plant itself, a new 5/8 high MDF base has been made and fitted on the layout. This baseboard will serve as the foundation for the plant and will be removable so we can build and detail the structure on the benchwork.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Railfanning CFQ SW1200RS

The new Rapido's announcement about the SW1200RS got us digging our photo albums from the late 1990s to find what pictures we had of these emblematic locomotives when they served the ex-CN Murray Bay Subdivision under Chemin de fer Charlevoix tenure. In fact, we found out very little pictures of that era can be found online.

While it appears our teenager budget didn't allow us to take a lot of pictures, we managed to snap all three locomotives in different locations. While we didn't care about write the date, these pictures were shot between Summer 1998 and Spring 2000. They aren't very crisp, but at least we get the gist of the paint scheme and weathering.

Let's start with locomotive 1303 parked at Clermont's Wieland shops circa 1998. I took this one while visiting a my grandfather's friend back then.

The other one is locomotive 1323. It was also shot by myself on Fall 1999 or Spring 2000 in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. The field at the right of the locomotive used to be the old QRL&PCo roundhouse and turntable. Not a great shot I must concede, but it gives a good idea how CFQ operated their SW1200RS cab forward.

Finally, the last one - locomotive 1330 - was shot by Jérôme in Maizerets. You can recognize the large oil reservoir in the background and his bicycle in the foreground. He certainly had a better camera and skill than I back then! This picture is particularly interesting to understand the weathering pattern on these otherwise rather pristine and clean locomotives.

These pictures, while not great, will provide a good starting point to detail, paint and weather models on our layout.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Avenue du Sous-bois

The first visible change in VIlleneuve is the new Avenue du Sous-bois asphalt road. While I recently experimented with spackle and other similar products, I find it easier to work with illustration board as done by Gordon Gravett. Not only it is less messy and easier to control the final result, but I can take the part on the benchwork and work under better conditions.

Since the track geometry is not parallel where the road crosses the track, I had to find a trick to ensure all the parts would fit perfectly. To do this, I used a sheet of paper and placed it exactly were the road will go. Then, using a truck equipped with metal wheels, I rolled over the paper and track. This little trick left flanges impressions on the paper that were used as a template to cut the illustration board.

After an hour of cutting and fitting, the road is now done and ready to get cutters and a good coat of paint. It won't be installed until the tracks are painted. In that regard, I'm actually developing a new approach to painting track with oil paint washes.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Last Train To Clermont

Not so long ago, back in 2011, the last freight train to Clermont ran over the hundred years old rail linking Quebec City, Montmorency County and Charlevoix. The goal was simple but charged with deep meaning as all freight cars were towed back to Quebec City, ending effectively regular railway traffic on the line since 1889. Not only it was a sad say for railroading, but it also meant Côte-de-Beaupré and Charlevoix's industrial core was no longer viable enough to support rail service. While the first will be succumb to Quebec City's urban sprawl, the fate of the latter is still unknown. There is always a limit to what tourism can accomplish.

That said, someone took the effort to document that last trip over the subdivision and as since posted his pictures online. This is a rare and late glimpse at what regular operation on the line looked like. At some point, it is quite weird to model a railroad that is now gone when that was only 6 years ago. I must admit the last few years made this particular railway a nostalgia vignette similar to a transition era prototype. What used to be the peaceful and almost uninteresting line got a new veneer of respectability as memories of it started to fade away.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

CN Chevrolet Suburban - Part 2

Another wrap up! The CN truck is now complete with decals by Highball Graphics and a light coat of weathering per prototype (which incidently isn't picked up by my camera).

I'm glad to see how this little project was a fun break from trains. However, as I look at the photos, it seems to me the truck is riding quite high. But as matter of fact, the truck is now in service, guaranteeing the security and maintenance along CN Murray Bay Subdivision.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Ad Mare Usque Ad Mare

Canada is 150 years of today, or rather should we say the Confederation - a political body - is now celebrating its 150th anniversary. As with everything happening in our peaceful and monotonous country, the celebration are low key for the most and quite cheesy. Don't expect fanfare, military parade or anything else... business as usual.

CPR No. 374. 23 May 1887 (Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN No. 3191726)

Most Canadians (I hope!) knows the country as we knows it it far older than that in a similar fashion than United States were officially proclaimed in 1776 but their real foundation goes back 400 hundred years ago, just like Canada.

I generally try to keep myself away from politics when blogging, but that political anniversary can't be understood outside the realm of railways. Without trains, which were a condition for many provinces to join the Confederation or to be created, the creation of a unified federal administration would have been almost impossible. In 1867, most of the population centers and activities took place along the St. Lawrence River and Gulf and the Great Lakes, exactly the same areas explored and envisioned a future prosperous country by Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century. By the First World War, the geographical expansion of the country was achieved. Imagine, in about 40 years, more territories were developed than before in three centuries. The same happened in the USA at a similar rate and often, by the same companies, railway tycoons and engineers. Sure, a lot of odious acts occurred during that era of transformation and I certainly won't gloss over it.

The funny thing is that Canada is now completely forgetting the force that gave it a coherent shape. Talk to anybody under 30 years and they are oblivious to trains. As if it never existed. However, they travel a lot in foreign country, discovering the advantages of railways and when you tell them we had it all less than 50 years ago, they ask what happened to reach such a pitiful state.

As far as I can recall, I've heard about fast trains linking Quebec City to Windsor via Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. How many fruitless studies were made? It took more decades to write these useless shenanigans than to link British Columbia through wilderness with the rest of the country. Can you believe they built several thousands of track using man power and early industrial machine on hostile terrain while just putting a passenger train on existing rail seems to be an impossible task. This is fascinating and at the same time, the most horrific truth about Canada: nothing ever gets done... and unfortunately, not by lack of talent or resources, but by some psychological blocage. I can't help but think about the Arrow plane which was cancelled and almost completely erased from the records, the same happened with the Turbo train and many other breakthroughs.

If I could only wish something for our country before the 200th anniversary would be that citizens rediscover the railway's fascinating history shaping the landscape and lives of millions... in the past and in the future.

With that said, Happy Canada Day from Coast to Coast!!!!