Monday, October 24, 2022

Stanstead Branch – Steady Progress

I don’t want to spend too much time on building Stanstead and it’s also a good excuse to unglue me from a screen and do something positive. The first steps of a module are generally quite straight forward when you know what you’re doing. Regarding Stanstead, I want to have it done in a timely manner, before Christmas. It means tracks, wiring, ballast and groundwork should be mostly done by then.

During the weekend, I had the chance to have a lot of free time and the project progressed at an unexpectedly fast pace. Knowing what you are doing help and also knowing how to optimize your time: painting when something is drying elsewhere, etc.


I was able to lay the tracks, including custom distorted ties (about 120 of them), shape the embankments with fiberboard, create landforms out of foam, install a fascia, build control panel (DCC and turntable) and cover everything with a generous coat of mud (Celluclay and latex interior paint). At this point, we can conclude the canvas is now completed and the funny artistic work is beginning.

You will also remark the fascia isn’t straight but rather follow the track geometry. I didn’t like the artificial linear limit created by the rectangular footprint and wanted something more organic and free flowing. I’m really impressed how a simple 2 inches variation can have so much impact on a layout.


I’ve yet to commit to a season for the layout. I’ve been seriously thinking about late summer or late October. Spring could be another good alternative. I’m not sure what I want but I know I’d love to have rich color variations applied in an impressionistic way. It will probably be October for this reason.

The next challenge will be to build the turntable. It will probably be a mix of hard wood, 3D print and a jack plug. It must be both sturdy, simple and efficient.

Finally, I’ve been also working on small projects such as telegraph poles and customizing an Accurail 40ft wooden reefer. Canadian Pacific reefers used to have wooden platform around the ice bunkers. I simply remove the hatches, shaved off the molded grabirons and straps, created new supports and added custom platforms made of styrene. The hatches were glued back in place and new wire grabirons were added. It’s an easy modification and while not 100% accurate, it add a layer of variety to a very generic kit.


  1. I really like your modification to the Accurail reefer to "CPR-ize" it. You found a great way to get a very useful transition-era car!

    1. I was surprised myself how little was required to give a new identity to an ubiquitous kit. I'm probably build a few more for the fleet.