Making Legs

The New, New Project Part 2

When I decided that I was going to build new tables rather than re-use my IKEA tables, I had to come up with a design for their construction. I found pre-fab tables available from one of the model railroading vendors. I briefly considered using them but the sizes they came in wouldn’t work for my space. I did note how they were put together, though. The design seemed simple yet sturdy so I used it as the inspiration for my tables.

I noticed they had adjustable feet on their table legs which can be used to level the tables. I decided to incorporate that idea into mine as well. I checked aorund and found something called a T-nut which is drilled into the bottom of each leg. A foot with a screwed stem is threaded into that which allows for the levelling. I went shopping and found something called threaded glides which had a plastic insert and the feet all in one package.

Bottom of table leg with 11/32" hole drilled.

Bottom of table leg with 11/32″ hole drilled.

According to the package I needed to drill a 11/32″ hole for the insert, tap it in then thread the foot, or glide, in.

I started by drawing lines from corner-to-corner on each leg. This gave me something close to the centre. I tapped the centre point with a large nail to make drilling easier. Then I drilled out the hole. You can see it’s not exactly on centre but that isn’t critical.


Tapping in the insert using ancient rock hammer

Next I tapped in the plastic insert, using a small rock hammer (which I made in metal shop hundreds of years ago), since I didn’t want to damage the insert. Then I threaded in the foot.


Threading in the foot using giant lobster claw.

Below you can see the finished product, ready to be attached to the tables. Now I only had to repeat this operating for as many legs as I needed. My original design called for 22 legs. That has since changed but you will read more about that in a future post, or not if this all bores you to tears.


Finished table leg with adjustable foot. Hooray only twenty odd more to go!

The New, New Project

Wall showing faux finish and blue paint

Wall showing faux finish and blue paint

Having moved out of my apartment within the last year (I write about it here), I have now embarked upon a new model railroading project. The Love of my Life, not only gave me a bedroom to use but redecorated it as well. She redid the walls in a faux finish and painted them in a nice blue shade for a sky backdrop. You can see an example on the right.

This is a wonderful space in which to build a layout, a blank canvas on which to create. I made several plans using the Goderich concept that I was using at the apartment but I found the space did not lend itself to that idea very well. So I thought about what kind of layout I would like to build. I’ve always liked the concept of an urban layout, built in a big city. I’ve also been attracted to Toronto’s Union Station with its busy schedule of trains arriving and departing from under the train shed.

I drew some designs using RailModeller Pro for the Mac and they worked. I went through several revisions and came up with one that I really liked. I’m using the same era from my earlier projects, the early 1960s, since I like the diesels and colour schemes from that era. It also allows a nice mix of railways since Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Ontario Northland and New York Central/Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo, all had trains which used Union Station. I also included some freight switching of the Toronto harbour area, plus express freight and trucks-on-flatcars (aka piggyback) operations.

Then I planned out what I would need for tables. My IKEA shelving units wouldn’t serve for this project so they will be repurposed for storage (after all, that’s what they’re designed for). I designed all new tables for this project.

I will be detailing the construction in future posts so stay tuned.

Finished room with my supervisors Tolkien and Dave the Minion

Finished room with my supervisors Tolkien and Dave the Minion

Layout Update

It has been some time since I’ve posted about my train layout progress. I haven’t been idle but there was a trip to England that drew my attention away for a bit. Anyway I’m moving along and hope to have more to show a couple of weeks. The base level sub roadbed and scenery are almost complete. It needs to be painted then I will snap a few photos. I’ve made some changes to the design. I’m now incorporating Canadian Pacific operations in Goderich as well as CN. This should make the whole thing even more interesting.

I’ve been working on the planning of structures as well. I’ve just finished a water tower which is similar to the Goderich tower. The CN and CP stations are proving a challenge but I have an idea to recreated them. That will require a trip to Goderich which I don’t plan on taking until the spring.

In the meantime here’s some photos showing my water tower and some locomotives. The water tower still needs the town name applied, the base to be painted like concrete plus overall weathering but I’m pleased so far.

Freshly painted water tower with it's inspiration in the background

Freshly painted water tower with it’s inspiration in the background

CN Dayliner with baggage and Railway Post Office

CN Dayliner with baggage and Railway Post Office

CN switcher

CN switcher

CP Roadswticher

CP Roadswticher

The New Project

Over a year ago I wrote a post about winding down my last model railroading project. After some life changes I became an apartment dweller and decided a layout was still something I wanted to do. I remembered reading an article in Model Railroad Hobbyist about a layout built in an apartment using Ikea shelving. This intrigued me since I dislike the carpentry aspect of the hobby. I set about designing the new layout based on the dimensions of the Ikea shelving.

At first I thought I was going to build an HO switching layout but elected to build an N scale layout owing to the fact I had a supply of Kato Unitrack, locomotives and rolling stock from my old Peninsula Southern.  Then to pick a subject for the layout. I was going to build s switching layout based on the Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto line (I can look out over the site of the former NS&T car-barns from my apartment window).

Then a friend gave me some old railway books he had acquired from a late relative. One of these was a book called Rusty Rails by John R. Hardy which covers the branch lines of Southwestern Ontario from the early 1960s to the 1990s. The subject matter really appealed to me, weedy branch lines that still saw both freight and passenger trains. I supplemented my research material with a borrowed copy of Under Steam to Stratford by Ian Wilson.  Wilson’s book covers the CN lines in much the same area but at the end of the steam era in the late 1950s. So which location to model? I settled on Goderich.

Why Goderich? The fact that it is a shipping port, that it had passenger service until 1970 and it was served by both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific all really appealed to me. Also, Goderich proclaims itself as Canada’s prettiest town and they’re not wrong. The town centre  alone is worth the trip. Both the CN and CP passenger stations are attractive buildings and both are still in use, albeit not for passenger service.

Next, I need to choose an era. The era I chose was the early 1960s. I like this era for the early diesels with the older paint schemes and active passenger service.  So my Goderich Eastern was born, set in 1962. It will feature mostly CN freight and passenger operations with some CP freight as well (CP ceased passenger operations to Goderich in the late 1950s).

I hope to document my progress on this project. At this stage the benchwork is up and I’m progressing on laying track and scenery, some of my work is pictured below. I will write some posts on how I got this far. Stay tuned.

CP Rail bridge over the CN

CP Rail bridge over the CN

So Ends Another Project

I was just getting going on my Peninsula Southern layout when life changes necessitated dismantling it. I have sold my house and I’m moving into an apartment. I will have limited space for a layout and the current project just won’t work in it. So now it’s all packed into boxes.

I haven’t committed to what I’m doing in the apartment yet except to say that it will be a shelf layout. I’m seriously considering HO for both it’s variety and larger size for my aging eyes and hands. Having all that N scale track and rolling stock gives me pause though.

Stay tuned to see what I decide.

World’s Greatest Hobby: Thoughts on model railroading

I have been in and out of this hobby since I was a teenager and have early memories of playing with my older brother’s Marx trains. I currently have an N scale layout of 108” x 38.5” based on the Canada Southern (New York Central) in Welland, Ontario in 1962.

NYC passenger train crosses Welland Canal Bridge 15 on my Peninsula Southern

NYC passenger train crosses Welland Canal Bridge 15 on my Peninsula Southern

World’s Greatest Hobby: OO Memories

Tri-ang model train collection at the Milton-Keynes Model Railway Society

Tri-ang model train collection at the Milton-Keynes Model Railway Society

On a recent trip to England I happened on a model railway club while visiting Bletchley Park (I wrote about it here). It was the Milton Keynes Model Rail Society. These guys had several layouts on different gauges, scales and themes. One that really caught my eye was a Tri-ang layout. I almost got misty-eyed as my first electric trains were Tri-ang.

We got started with Tri-ang when Andrew, my younger brother, got a CN set for Christmas (my dad was a closet railfan and model railroader). I got playing with it and was hooked. I went to Consumers Distributing (now I’m *really* dating myself) and bought the CP set. We fooled around with it on the carpets for a while but didn’t do much more. The next thing I knew, my dad found a slab of plywood and spiked down some track. We went to our local hobby shop, bought some brass Atlas switches and fibre-tie flex track and we were in business. As I recall the slab was about 30″ x 40″. We had an oval with switches but I can’t recall the exact configuration, it was fairly simple in any case. I later got a CP Pacific steam engine with working smoke and blind flanges on the centre drivers for my birthday. I read a book on how to build station so I bought some balsa and built it. I used scotch tape for the windows and a drinking straw for the chimney. I took a block of wood and it became the raised platform on which it sat. We bought some lights from the hobby shop and had working lamps on the platform, a light in the station and street lamps in the painted parking lot. We scenicked the whole thing with coloured sawdust and ballasted the track. It was, in effect, a complete working layout.

An example of a Tri-ang Canadian prototype

An example of a Tri-ang Canadian prototype

None of us knew what were doing, the curves were *way* too tight, I don’t believe we had any passenger cars so the passenger station served no real purpose. I didn’t know the North American stations, especially small ones, don’t have raised platforms. We didn’t know that brass rail isn’t as good as nickel-silver, that our equipment, being OO scale wasn’t really compatible with the Atlas HO track, that fibre-tie track isn’t as good as plastic ties and that coloured sawdust isn’t the preferred scenic material. We didn’t know any of that and yet we had fun. Sure, you couldn’t pull a complete train around the too-tight curves and the huge flanges on the Tri-ang locomotives used to bump over the frogs on the Altas switches but we had fun with it. We also learned a lot in the experience. The most amazing part to me, when I look back, is that there was no sense of ‘we can’t do that’ or ‘that’s not the right way’. We didn’t know any better so we just went ahead and did what we wanted. How many times since have I thought ‘I can’t do that, I need to (fill in roadblock here) first.’ So maybe I learned a few things but maybe what I forgot was that sense of fun and that ‘go for it’ sense of adventure and isn’t fun what model railroading is really supposed to be about?

Props to my friend John Longhurst whose blog post here got me started on this journey down memory lane.


%d bloggers like this: