Ramblings of a frustrated armchair Railway Modeller

Everyone is entitled to my opinion, so I've decided to enter the blog-o-sphere in order to share them with you.
My focus is the rationale and development of my model railway, but I am likely to wander off topic from time to time.

Friday, March 10, 2017

On30 Modules? You'll be sorry you asked...

I'm a Canadian On30 Module Pioneer.

My experience with On30 goes back to ~2000 through the Ask the Bachmann forum and the On30 Conspiracy.

Realizing that I didn't have the time or space for a home layout, it was suggested that I build modules.

The Bachmann forum also got me interested in On30 so I joined the On30 Conspiracy.

A few people asked about Module Standards for On30 and were shouted down with:

St@nd@rds? We don't need no stinkin' St@nd@rds!

So a new Yahoo! Group was spun off to develop On30 Module Standards. Through lots of debate we developed OCUMS (On30Conspiracy Universal Module Standards) which Bobber Gibbs arbitrarily mid-stream changed to OCMODS (On30Conspiracy Module Standards).

But in the end; the OCMODS did not receive an On30Conspiracy endorsement.

A few of us who had worked to develop the Standards re-branded them the On30 Coalition Module Standards (OCMODS) and I put together the website to preserve them. 

In 2003 I presented my first (Still under construction) On30 modules at the Maple Leaf Train Show which was part of the NMRA Convention that birthed the Canadian Association of Railway Modellers (CAoRM).

I even wrote a couple of articles about building On30 Modules for Light Iron Digest, but my best work on the subject are these two articles:
Free-MOn30: Interface Plate Scenic Profile:
Interface Plate White Paper:

However, without the endorsement of the On30Conspiracy combined with the lack of interest locally I was ready to dump On30 and Modules.

Then Chris Abbott pulled me back in. He, along with Lynn Caron, Don Hamilton and Rob Hupfield were going to build a bunch of On30 Modules with narrow (12" wide) scenic profile interface plates and 4% grades on the mainline.

We presented our work-in-progress Upper Canada & Algonquin Railway (UC&A) at the Ontario Narrow Gauge Show in Schomberg Ontario.

I was also one of the original organizers of the Ontario Narrow Gauge Show in Schomberg Ontario, along with Chris Creighton, Brian Fayle, Chris Abbott and a few others for the first six years. But that's another story...

Then it seemed that On30 Modules became a dead end. I got fed up with the shrinking group and the failure to attract new members. Combine that with my own frustrations with my own lack of progress on my own modules and I found it difficult to proceed.  

My own interests in model railroading were leading in a different direction.

Chris Abbott dropped out of the Module Group to pursue S-Scale Standard Gauge with the S Scale Workshop.
Don Hamilton supported the group in spirit but did not build any modules.
Work and other interests pulled Rob Hupfield away from the group so that he was absent from some showings and work sessions.
Lynn Caron continues to muddle along, I suppose.

I left my big balloon loop module set with Lynn Caron, who was able to find it a new home...

Modular Persuits (appended)

On the subject of Modules, I've written plenty... (Edited on Aug 9, 2018)

Several connected webpages and documents starting here on the On30 Coalition Module St@nd@rds (OCMODS)

I don't want to duplicate what Bob has written on Railway Bob's Module Building Tips except to add a bit to his T-Nuts For Alignment Pins/Bolts 

Using blind T-nuts to help align Module Interface Plates is a great idea. 

From experience, it can be a PITA to get the bolts to start threading into nuts. Cross threading is a real hobgoblin. So, I suggest using longer bolts with the threads filed off the first 3/4" of the end. Then you can slip the bolt into the nut nice and straight and then start turning without having any crossed threads.

This will give you alignment AND make it easy to thread the nuts and bolts together...

Use an even longer bolt and you can add a wingnut for easy finger tightening...

Having the Blind T-nuts on one end of the module and the "sighted" T-nuts on the other will work for N-Track style modules with a front and rear.

For Free-Mo style modules that can be turned end-for-end you have to put a Blind and Sighted T-nut at each Interface Plate as shown in the diagram.

As an addendum I've realized that another quick and effective fastener would work.

A Toggle Bolt like the one pictured here would be easy to slip through the interface plates and finger tighten with a Wing-Nut. The holes in the interface plates can be lined with T-Nuts that have the threads drilled out or tubes that are epoxy glued into place for accurate alignment. Fender-Washers would also be advisable.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Frivilous Passtime Part D'oh!

Model Railroading and I have had a life long love/hate relationship.
That light you see at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train...
That light you see at the end of the tunnel...

Space/Time/Money are finite as is the amount of energy I can generate.

I started with an HO trainset and then dabbled in On30 and fell in love with Narrow Gauge. However, On30 doesn't fit.

I really got my heart set on HOn42 but that only lead to agony and grief.

I'm stuck in a very deep rut.

If you observe the publication dates on the blog you can see it's been a while.

I've been stuck in neutral, going nowhere fast. If only I could finish one little project it would be a real breakthrough.

I've recently come to a realization that I've got too much junk and it is like carrying around some sort of anchor holding me in the past.

I've accumulated a bunch of HO stuff over the years and almost none of it fits the era/theme/gestalt of what I want to do in model railroading and the effort and expense of bashing and converting everything is overwhelming.

I need to purge as much stuff as possible so that I don't feel so beholden to it and maybe restart with a clean slate.

I started going through my Model Railway stuff and a lot of it I haven't touched in nearly a decade. A lot of it is cast offs from other people from when they decluttered.

There's some stuff that I want to keep for sentimental reasons.

There's some stuff that will hopefully be useful in the future.

However, there's a bunch of stuff that I just need to get rid of.

Some of it I want to give back, other things that I can pay forward and maybe a little that will pay off.

Hopefully, not too much will go to landfill.

May the gods of evilbay smile upon me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rebuilt F-Unit for HV&S

Here's the latest drawing of the Humber Valley & Simcoe Road Switcher
It's been ages since I started this TinGoat project and most of that time it has been sitting in mothballs.

I floated the idea on The Diesel Detailer Forum in the "A naked Cab Unit" thread.

Those guys over at Diesel Detailer have ruined me.

I would never have noticed the sharp angle of the piece between the front windows and the small creases on the top of the nose would never have bothered me, but now I have to sand them out or be haunted by them.

To my eye the F7 shell was good enough as a base to do a little surgery on. Now, however, I can see some of flaws in the original that I'll have to correct.

Of course, I'm not planning to spend another dime on the project and that means I've got to work with what I have instead of getting better ready made parts. I'll exhaust all the bits that I can refurbish, scratch build or fudge.

To start, here a couple of pix of what I've done so far.

Front pilot has been trimmed and GP Porch added.   
There's a lot of sanding and filing required to get these looking decent.

I think that the original Nose MU Doors are too small and I need to make them a little taller.

The Steps need to be plated over and made to look more like the ones on a BL2.

The Number Boards are unsightly and the Class Lights can be removed.

So, I'll start hacking, chopping and sanding everything to a blank sleight and then build back up from there.
Another view of the new front porches. They're mounted on the original Anti-Climber

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TinGoat Again?

Here is a redesigned version of the TinGoat.
In the pursuit of a Modern Canadian Narrow Gauge Locomotive I've redesigned the TinGoat.
I haven't flexed any styrene in a long while but there's one project that continues to haunt me....

So here goes another iteration.

The Humber Valley & Simcoe bought third hand F7's and put them on 42-inch gauge A-1-A trucks.

Switching  Pilots were welded on and Hostler Controls at the rear were added to these road engines.

Used, abused and ready for the scrap heap they've just recently gotten a new lease on life after limping through the last couple of decades.

With recent Government Green Initiative grants the locomotives have been upgraded  with skid mounted GenSets and other high tech goodies are added.

The Prime mover EMD 16-567B rated at 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) has been swapped out for a pair of skid mounted 600hp John Deere 6135H's for 1200hp.  To make up the hp deficiency a  skid mounted 350hp John Deere 6090H has been placed in the Steam Generator area.  Thus bringing the rating up to 1,550hp.

The 350hp provides power for hostling, hotel power and HEP when in Passenger Duty.

350hp, 600hp, 950hp, 1,200hp or 1,550hp are available on demand.

To make room for the GenSets, the Hostler Controls in the rear have been removed.  Reverse moves are now made from the Cab by utilizing the new video equipment, or with Belt-Pack R/C units that the Engineer can use from the Porches or on the ground.

The upgrades allow for One-Man Crews even when MU'd, Distributed Power or in Push-Pull duty.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Frivilous Passtime

This Blog is just a fart in a hurricane, but it's therapeutic to vent my spleen.  I imagine that most people will read a line or two and then move on.

So, why the hell am I a model railroader - anyway?

It's really hard to describe the mixed feelings of joy and frustration that a trainset brought me.

Once upon a childhood I received a trainset for christmas and/or my birthday circa 1974, or there-about.  Hard to say which event since they are less than a month apart which sucks.  If you get toys for christmas then you are pretty much assured that you are getting clothes for your birthday, or vice-versa.

All of those warm and fuzzy bonding stories of father and son  model railroaders don't apply.  My Dad restores antique radios and he taught me some basic soldering skills, but we didn't build any basement empires together and I didn't know any other model railroaders either.

Shortly after receiving the trainset, the circle of track was tacked down to a 4'x5' scrap of plywood that was painted the same turquoise blue as the kitchen.  Scenery was limited to some paper mache that I slopped around and some black tempera paint for a road.

Don't get too excited about my first venture into scenery.  A couple of blobs of unpainted paper mache and a large spill of flour/water paste didn't amount to more than a slick and a couple of knolls:  There were no tunneled mountains.

A long and barren stretch of double track that was a half-mile away from my childhood home was the closest real railway.  With a friend or two, we would walk a mile or two up or down the line and almost never see a train.  Sidings were few and far between and were almost always empty.  I was an adult before I learned that it was the Canadian Pacific MacTier Subdivision originally built by the Toronto Gray & Bruce Railway over a century ago.  Seeing a locomotive rush past is always exciting but watching the rest of the train is monotonous and boring.

All I knew as a kid was that trains ran very rarely and the locomotives didn't really look like my trainset.  My Bachmann Canadian Pacific F9 didn't look like the GP's I saw once in a while.  That first trainset locomotive still runs:  Eight wheel electrical pick-up and power with a center mounted can motor.  Which is unlike a couple of other locomotives I got later that have pancake motors that are ozone emitting pieces of crap that stutter and stall.

I received a pittance of an allowance.  Friday evening I could get some pop and candy and the whole amount was spent.  So the only hobby money was from the annual christmas gift from my Grand-Parents.  Upon receiving my first cheque, I was dragged to the bank and forced to open a savings account and be taught to save money.  It was a complete waste of time!  I didn't learn how to handle money because I was never allowed to handle any money.  At the first opportunity, I'd withdraw all the money and go the hobby shop.  The money never went very far and I'd be lucky to get a couple of pieces of track, a turnout and maybe a piece of rolling stock.  Most locomotives were out of reach, except for those pan-cake motored pieces of junk.  At the hobby shop I looked at the N-Scale trains and wished that I had them because they were half the price of the HO-Scale trains that I had.

The layout graduated to a 4'x8' sheet of plywood with some 1x2 strapping to make it a little more rigid but didn't quite keep it from sagging a little in the middle and four wobbly legs to stand on.  It was kept in the back corner of the unfinished basement under a bare 100 watt bulb.  I cut a hole in the table for a turntable that never got made.

My first steam engine was a Tyco 0-4-0 that had the rods bind up on it.

The couple of manuals that I got, I didn't read except for the picture captions.

I'd let the train run in circles and when I got bored, I'd reverse direction and all the cars with talgo horn/hook couplers would derail through the turnouts.

I went to a model train show down at Harbourfront where everything was literally and figuratively out of reach.  I was especially put off by the guy who was hand laying his track and pontificating that any other way was inferior.

I was introduced to an older boy who lived in the neighbourhood who had a model train layout which was impressive but he was moving-on to R/C planes..  Those .049 airplane motors were beyond my reach too...

The Delaware & Rutland Railroad Club was impressive but aside from the annual open house, joining wasn't an option for me.

One friend got a trainset and tacked it to a piece of plywood that was hinged to the back of his bedroom door.  It wasn't much better than my layout except that he had a couple of animated bits, like operating crossing gates and a car with a horn.

If I only had the skill, knowledge and resources:  I just didn't know how to get beyond the plywood plain in front of me.  Paralyzed, I would just watch the locomotives do laps around the loop of track and feel a great sense of frustration.

After a couple of years, I gave up on model railroading and packed everything away for over 20 years...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Library "Minority Report"

Finding new efficiencies at the Toronto Public Library will result in staff redeployment and loss of staff hours.

Radio Frequency Identification [RFID] has overtaken bar codes for cataloging and processing library materials.

As the Shipping & Receiving Supervisor, I've been keeping statistics of daily deliveries for many years.

I can confirm that circulation of library materials has increased over the years and I believe that there has also been a change in seasonal circulation.

In past years circulation drops off during the summer months but it remained high this past summer.

The Library books are transferred between branches packed in reusable gray plastic bins.  The Book Returns come at an average of 50 bins per day and the "Holds" average 25 bins per day.

They were being unpacked at an average rate of roughly 45 boxes of returns and 20 boxes of "Holds" per day and a back log would accumulate until there were upwards of 200 boxes of returns and 100 boxes of "Holds" waiting to be unpacked and processed.

At this point, extra staff were required to blitz the back log and catch up.

With the introduction of RFID technology at the Toronto Public Library the back logs have disappeared.

Instead of scanning one bar code at a time, a half dozen books can have their RFID tags scanned at once.

Now, after many years, the Circulation Department has gone from slowly getting buried in work to whizzing through it in record time and new efficiencies have been realized.

The tables have been turned on me: Before; it was a matter of informing the Circulation Department to pick up the pace in order to clear the back log and make room for more delivery: Now the Circulation Department is demanding that the delivery come earlier.

But it doesn't end there!

So, this brings me around to the title 'Library "Minority Report"'.

Exhibit A

The introduction of RFID technology in the Library allows for further automation.

Sorting machines are being introduced that will receive materials on a conveyor belt, scan and sort them into boxes reducing human involvement in the process.

The masking tape on the floor is like the chalk marks outlining the victim at a crime scene.

The "Minority Report" refers to a crime that has not happened yet, but this is the place where it will happen soon.

The sorting machine is outlined by the masking tape and it is the sorting machine that is going to MURDER jobs.

Before the Ford Brothers' Circus came to town, it was understood that staff would be redeployed to other tasks, like getting out and assisting more patrons...
Exhibit B

Additionally; over the past several years the Library Executive and Board have been considering keeping the Library open until Midnight!

This plan would keep the lower seniority, part-time and predominantly Female staff at work until the wee hours instead of closing at 8:30pm.  The staff that are being displaced by machines would be spread thinner to cover more hours of operation.

Now that the Ford Brothers' Circus have come to town, Branch Closures and reduction of hours are being discussed.

According to the report from the Library Executive and Board regarding cutting costs and finding new efficiencies, the new book scanning / sorting machines will eliminate Three Full-Time Equivalent Jobs [FTE].

That's up to SIX Part-Time Jobs Murdered by each Sorting Machine....

End of Minority Report.