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.

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.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Amalgamation Failed and left all the Gravy on top

Let's review history as I recall it, shall we?

The 80's were great! Empires were built. More workers created the need for more managers. Managers hired more workers to build their empires and so the cycle goes.

Through the 90's there was a push for fiscal belt tightening in the Public Sector.

Many front line workers in the public sector were phased out through attrition and early retirement.

With the labour force cut to the bone an imbalance was tilted towards the bloated middle management. There were too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.

The Rae Government recognized that the herd of front line workers were thinned to the point that they couldn't take any more culling.

Taking time off without pay was a hardship, but at least there weren't any layoffs.

As a side effect, middle management was pushed into a position of having to get their hands dirty by picking up the slack and possibly justifying their own existence.

It was a temporary solution.

Along came the Harris Regime and Amalgamation.

Labour is politicized by nature. It was surprising to see Management become politicized.

My manager dialed the Premier's Office and handed me his personal cell phone so that I could protest the amalgamation of the city. We couldn't use the company phone for fear that the call could be traced back to a Civil Service and not a private citizen.

I had my own personal fears of what the amalgamation would do to the city but I didn't realize at the time that the manager was fighting to save his own job.

Whatever else the Harris Regime did to the city and social services, amalgamation was supposed to skim the fat off the top of government agencies.

To thin out the middle and upper management while leaving the front line more or less intact.

The reality didn't pan out the way it was supposed to and very few managers were cut.

Several managers that were on the verge of retirement were retained in a consultants capacity in order to advise the ones that were being permanently retained.

The redundant managers were being nursed through the first couple of transition years until they could retire with full pensions. In the meantime they were allegedly supporting their counterparts to bring them up to speed on how to run unfamiliar territories.

Once the dust of amalgamation settled, the redundant managers were retained. They stayed beyond the time that they could retire with full pension and were able to top up their pensions. The redundant managers argued that the amalgamated city was too large for the designated managers to handle and the manager work load had to be broken down and shared with the redundant managers.

Ten years after amalgamation, many of the redundant managers have finally retired: Only to be replaced with new hires!

Several supervisory positions have been undermined by middle management. For example, I used to do the departmental scheduling and fill in the time sheets for payroll. This is now done by the admin assistant. The manager spends most of his time in his ivory tower while the redundant junior manager does the leg-work.

Don't bother wearing a starched shirt to work: With the micro-management breathing down your neck, the fabric will be puckered and wrinkled within minutes.

Now we're in Ford Nation. The Ford Brothers' Circus has come to town and there's smoke and mirrors and a lot of uncertainty.

Change is scary.

You'll find the Gravy on top of the Civil Service meat and potatoes
It has been suggested that Ford Nation is here to finish what the Harris Regime started.

There is no Gravy Train as far as the front line workers are concerned, but there's still plenty of fat that can be trimmed from management.

So when the smoke clears and the mirrors have been carted away, my hope is that the grand finale will be the disappearance of the micro-managers. Unfortunately they won't go quietly and they'll take as many workers with them as they can...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Capitalist Plot!

We are all pawns in this big game of life and we are being played by the Right Wing agenda.

If you have the time, go visit the Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey website and bring yourself up to speed on the current economic crisis.

It helps to see the big picture.

Now narrow your focus on the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Mayor Rob Ford.

He is creating a crisis in order to push forward a Right Wing Agenda with threats of closing down or selling of City facilities and services.

Toronto's libraries are under threat of privatization. Tell city council to keep them public now.

Let's clear away the smoke and remove the mirrors to reveal what is really going on behind the scenes...

Doug Ford and his cronies want to reduce corporate tax rates. The corporations have been complaining for years that they carry more than their fair share of the tax burden in the city compared to hard working home owners.

There's no way that the Right Wing can arbitrarily lower corporate tax rates and shift the burden to home owners, so a plot is hatched...

Doug Ford became popular by attacking the workers who provide city services and facilities by villanizing them as lazy, greedy slobs riding the "Gravy Train". He's an every-man's hero by eliminating some nickel and dime fees like the Vehicle registry. However, this is only a drop in the bucket of the billions of dollars in the city budget.

Not to mention the selling off of some city assets which is a short sighted stop-gap because you can only sell something once and then it is gone, which also cuts off a small revenue stream because you can no longer rent out what is no longer yours.

The cuts to city revenue sources are overlooked while a crisis is created by fear mongering over the potential budget shortfall.

In the meantime, the corporate sector gets some of these assets at a bargain price and can then turn them over for profit.

So a half-baked investigation at arm’s length to investigate potential savings is being conducted.

The consulting firm can tell you what any moron can figure out for themselves.

Cuts to city services and facilities will save money. Well, D'uh!

If your only criteria are to cut costs, this is a no-brainer.

The hard part is determining which to cut and which to save? A snip here and a slash there in order to meet the short-fall are really destructive to the overall fabric of the city.

To paraphrase: A capitalist knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

So, if you weigh the value of the services and facilities against mindless cost cutting, you won't get very far.

By creating a budget crisis and attacking the service providers, the Right Wingers can distract everyone to their real agenda.

People are starting to see the value of the services and facilities they have and a message is forming: People are saying that they'd be willing to pay a little more on their property taxes to preserve the services and facilities they have.

The Right Wingers have everyone eating out of the palm their hand! People are going to volunteer to pay more property tax.

“Please, raise my taxes! I don't want to lose any public services and facilities!”

The Right Wingers are trying to manipulate us into voluntarily paying more property tax and shifting the burden off of their Corporate Cronies!

All of the gaffs regarding Libraries and Tim Horton Franchises and the disrespect for Canadian Icon Margaret Atwood, not to mention the recent "Fuddle-Duddle" is all smoke and mirrors to distract everyone from what is going on behind the scenes.

This is a strong case for having Coulrophobia.

The brothers Ford are Evil Clowns and they should be feared because behind their buffoonery there is an evil plot.

As a public employee, I've been through this type of process before.
Bob Rae asked everyone to find ways to save money and we all scrambled to find savings, but in the end, the government did what they were planning to do all along. Save money in a way that they could control by having "Rae Days". A better alternative to layoffs, but it basically boiled down to the government creating a crisis and then doing what they wanted to do all along.

Bob Rae soured the relationship between the NDP and Labour and it has taken years for the rift to heal. In hind-sight, Bob Rae wasn't a socialist at all: Only a political opportunist.

A change in government lead to the Harris regime and another round of scrambling to find savings; which in the end was realized through amalgamation and financial downloading.

Now, here we go again with another kick at the cost-savings can in order to stop the alleged Gravy Train.

To flaunt my Edge-u-my-cation and stuff that I get from Liberries and the Inter-web I'll stroll out the following gem.

"Those who forget History are doomed to repeat it"

As the scars of previous cuts start to fade, we are attacked again.

Capitalism desires the privatization of public property and services for corporate profit and gain.
Recently I saw Rob Ford depicted as Benito Mussolini and I thought that it was very apropos when you consider that "Fascism is capitalism in decay". I guess that I could have done the same thing, but it is so much easier to draw a Hitler mustache on him. Although, that distinction should probably go to Stephen Harper.

From the nation’s capital on down, the Center has fallen out and society is being polarized between the Capitalist Right Wing in power and the Socialist Left in opposition.

I'll cast my lot with the Left Wing to close down the Ford Brothers' Circus.