Thursday, June 25, 2020

East Angus Paper Mill - Final Thoughts

I've now reached the point where I can confidently say I closed the circle on the East Angus paper mill concept. As often, I could hear Chris Mears' voice asking a myriad of questions and felt if I failed to address them, the design wouldn't be optimal.

Once again, I optimized the footprint to fit perfectly my IKEA cabinets. To make it possible, I bent the track plan over the corner, creating a L-shaped layout not very different from my first draft about this prototype.

Overall, it creates a visually more pleasing scene, articulated between a very industrial part dominated by an old power house and a purely scenic area over the long and photogenic bridge. To be honest, it seems to me the new L-shaped disposition provides for a more balanced layout that wraps itself around you, strengthening the immersive nature of this concept.

For the sake of operation, I also added a narrow shelf running around the room and over the workbench. It could work as an interchange point and be tastefully scenicked. In that regard, Tom Johnson proved us more than once that you can do wonders with only a few inches.

To be honest, I'd love to build that layout, which would be a perfect CP Rail-themed diorama. Unfortunately, I'm not sure building another paper mill layout is a great idea. However, it could provide inspiration to anybody wanting to develop such an industry in tight spaces. It's the proof you don't need a lot of trackage to create an expansive vision.


  1. It’s so enjoyable following along on the evolution of this plan. In no order, some thoughts:

    I think it’s neat that this design fits over the footprint of the Ikea cabinets you’re using under other layouts. Working within that constant dimension connects each layout as an expression of alternatives for that space and I always like seeing how we react to constraints like this. Even though they’re not connected by being attached to each other they share common space constraints and could even share common things like fascia treatment.

    If this could share the space with the Avenue Industriel/Glassine Canada layout than they are connected both in terms of theme (paper industry) and also also their interpretation of that space itself. It might be too much to actually operate them together – cars moving from one layout to the other over the span of multiple operating sessions but one could still enjoy that their subject matter relationship and that’s neat. On a much larger basement empire we could model both ends of an industry (the mill and the manufacturer) but we’d also include other elements that would probably subtract from the main story. Having two distinct model railroads connected like what you have (both are paper industry, both are in Quebec, both are in the same part of Quebec) they are thematically connected and the story is concentrated into something that could be very rich.

    I like that you’ve suggested a section of the layout (the staging on the right) as a slim, unscenicked shelf. Within the scenicked section there is already a contrast between the built environment of the mill buildings and the natural scenery the trains traverse on their trips into and out of the mill. This unscenicked section in “staging” adds one more contrast between the modelled area where the models are meant to related to as we would the real world where on the unscenicked section, the models are enjoyed as they are. The unscenicked section could be presented as “raw”: clear finished benchwork, unpainted track, just the models moving through the parts as they are. This would provide a place to serve our combined interest in model trains and using the medium of model trains to relate to the real world.

    Thank you for continuing to share these plans. There’s a richness in your planning and presentation style that makes this work so enjoyable.


    1. Hi Chris, once again it's a pleasure to read your thoughtful exploration of ideas!

      Once thing that has come quite clear over the few last months was that trying to implement a layout spilling over the cabinet footprint was visually and ergonomically a no go.
      Outside of that very constricted footprint, everything falls apart. If it must spill, it must be thin and understated. Seems we are on the same page about the staging.

      Both plant indeed work well together and the combined scenarios you mention isn't far fetched. East Angus used to produce wood pulp at some time in its history while Glassine Canada make finished products from wood pulp. Physically connecting them wouldn't bring anything more to the story, but in this case, a shared pool of freight cars, randomly used on both layout, you stress the inherent link between both industries. And that is an idea that could bear fruits.

      As for the staging, I also agree the actual scenicked scene is well-balanced and self-contained. I thought about adding more scenery on the staging, but it wouldn't add that much to the story while probably looking clumsy. This is also an area where I plan to have my workbench, thus keeping it simple provide a functional set of track to display WIP or test various equipment.

      The interesting with East Angus paper mill is it's generic look of a North Eastern brick plant from the late 19th century/early 20th century. I could be operated with a vast array of locomotives and rolling stock to represent basically several eras from the 1920s to the 1990s without problem.

      Some other ideas are being developed for the cabinets. I revisited the Monk Subdivision idea in a more compact shape and also, a friend sent me a 1965 map of Avenue Industrielle as it was in 1965. It was an eye opener!

  2. Sorry if that comment appears twice. I tried commenting earlier, from my phone, and was noticing that the comments don't appear - something about Blogger not liking mobile browsers - who knows? Ha!