Rethinking Table Size

The New, New Project Part 3

I originally designed my tables to a generous size which allowed for the maximum amount of model railway. I designed four tables which would run around the walls of the room in a letter G shape. I made two of them 30″ wide and the other two 24″ wide.

My first cut a table design.

My first cut a table design.

I purchased lumber and had it cut. Rather than use dimensional lumber for the frame (i.e. 1″ x 4″), I bought 3/4″ plywood and had it cut into 4″ wide strips. I could then cut these to the desired lengths for the various tables using a chop saw that The Love Of My Life owns.

I eagerly assembled my first table frame, a 30″ wide by 88″ long monster. I screwed the frame to my legs and admired my handiwork.

My first table frame

My first table frame

I called The Love Of My Life in to show it off. She looked it over and asked. “If we ever move, how are you going to get it out the door?” Oops. Hadn’t considered that. Then she looked it over some more and asked, “How are you going to reach trains in the back corner?” Dang! She was right. Unless I could grow Gorilla arms or jump up on a stool, I wouldn’t be able to reach a train, or throw a switch in the back corners.

The problem is that I needed the 30″ width the accommodate a planned version of the Spadina Roundhouse. So back I went to Rail Modeller Pro to see what I could do. I divided the tables up into smaller ones which allowed one to 29″ wide and 38″ long. This would allow it to fit, though snugly, through a door. It still fit the roundhouse I was planning as well. Woohoo!

The reworked table design.

The reworked table design.

I dismantled the large table and started planning out the smaller ones, now seven in number. More about that, though, next time.

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

New Love, New Life

So I figured if there can be the occasional lunar eclipse I guess I can write a blog post. I think the lunar eclipses are more frequent though.

The last time I wrote I was at the beginning of a new life as an apartment-dwelling single man. Surprise! Things have changed again. Almost a year and a half ago a new person came into my life and she has changed my world for the better. Her name is Pam and she is amazing. After we had been dating for a few months she invited me to share her home (Tolkien too of course). So in December of 2014 I moved into her home. Not only that, she renovated a bedroom so I could build a train layout in it. How cool is that!

I will be writing about that project as it moves along.

So how does Tolkien like his new situation? He loves it. So much more room to move and places to explore. We are both very happy in our new life.

Tolkien. Same pose, new location.

Tolkien. Same pose, new location.

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

Oh Them Changes!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, over a year, and in that time there have been many changes in my life. To sum up, I’ve gone from being a married man, surrounded by other family members, owning a home, living in the suburbs, owning a car; to a single man, renting an apartment, living downtown, alone, without a car. So many changes in rapid succession, some of them on the same day almost too much to bear. The first month was the hardest but thanks to support from my community of family, friends and Church Of The Transfiguration, I have made the transition.

Did I say alone? Well, there is my new roommate, a cat named Tolkien. He, in his own way, has been a source of comfort and amusement and even inspiration. Inspiration? From a cat? No I haven’t completely lost it. He inspires me because like the lilies of the field, he just is. He doesn’t agonize over how to be a cat, he just does it. I find that an inspiration.


Tolkien J. Cat (he hasn’t told me what the J. stands for).

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.

Stop ACTA Now!

I’m not one to spam my friends with a lot of email for a cause so I will blog about it instead. The large content holders such as the movie industry and the music industry don’t seem to care for the Internet much. They know some of their material is being stolen and even where they are making money it’s not the type of controlled channel they are used to. Instead of shelling out for a whole CD or album to get the one or two good tracks, people can buy a single track for $1.99 or so. Instead of spending upwards of $7 a ticket to see a movie, we can rent it through iTunes or even pay Netflix a monthly subscription and watch as we want.

They’ve lost control and they don’t like it. They would like this whole Internet thing to go away. For the past few years there have been repeated attempts to get legislation created that would allow them to remove Internet access for anyone accused of downloading copyrighted material illegally. That’s accused, not found guilty. No due process, just an accusation. Shades of witch trials in the middle ages!

Most the arguments are couched in terms of how the poor content creators are being harmed by pirating. Really, the people losing the most money (if indeed it really is that much) are the content holders. By that I mean the recording and film industry. The content creators don’t make most of the profits from music or film sales. So this is largely a smokescreen argument. They quote losses based on the number of downloads. This assumes that everyone who downloads would have bought a copy otherwise or that they didn’t later go and buy a copy.

The real way to battle piracy is to make content available easily, such as iTunes, Amazon or Netflix, and at a good price. Those methods have been proven to work. There are existing laws and means to deal with cases of continuing piracy. Witness the recent arrest and charging of the owners of the site Megaupload. Even in that case, not all of the material on the site was copyrighted, people were storing and exchanging their own personal data which they have now lost.

So what can you do? Glad you asked. You can start by going to the OpenMedia site and adding your name to the email petition. Let our politicians know that we don’t support these measures.

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

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