Monday, November 14, 2016

It's Here!

After what seemed like a long wait (but I'm told really wasn't) the St. Johnsbury station model arrived from Jim Rindt's workshop!

This was the first time I'd commissioned a professional to build a structure for me - I really enjoy doing that kind of thing myself - but I was glad to have had Jim build this station.  It is beyond my modeling capabilities (at least as they now exist).  That said, I've learned a lesson in patience as it took nearly two years for the station to be built.  At various times I wondered if I'd ever see the finished station, and gave thought to how to re-configure the layout if it never appeared, but now I'm glad to have it.  Jim did a very professional job; thank you!

The station is going to be a signature structure on the layout, and with it now in the house I can get busy fitting it into the St. Johnsbury yard scene.  More to come!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back on track . . .

Well, it's been several months since I've spent any time working on the railroad, but I have been busy.  My most pressing project was rehabilitating a corner module owned by Northeast Ntrak, the Ntrak club for folks in eastern Massachusetts and parts of southern New Hampshire.  The module was simply track laid on plywood, with a coat of green pain and a bit of ground foam for scenery.  Fortunately, the mechanics were all good, so what was needed was to enliven the scenery.

The fun thing about Ntrak, or any modular approach to model railroading, is that it gives you license to experiment and create something that might not work on your own layout.  For me, this meant the scene for the module would become a farm field set outside Mattoon, Illinois (translation: very flat terrain) with an approaching thunderstorm.

The soybean fields were created by taking corrugated cardboard, stripping off the top layer, and then painting them camo brown.  Once the paint dried, I put a bead of wood glue down along each ridge, and lightly set a string of multi-hued green yarn down.  I had wanted to use chenille, but apparently the product is out of favor with knitters (it's too stretchy and won't hold shape), and so not available at a reasonable price at knitting stores.  I then put down another bead of glue on top of the yarn, and covered it all with green ground foam.  Once the glue is dried, I simply vacuumed off the excess, and drew a pencil through the rows to create a bit of separation - and ta da!  Soybean!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Waiting for my train to come to the station

In April of last year I commissioned Jim Rindt of Rindt's Relics (Sheboygan, WI) to build a replica of the massive train station in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  I love building craftsman structure kits, but this would have to be scratch-built, and I knew it was beyond my capabilities to do.

The last I heard from Jim (end of July) he's trying to figure out how to make the porch sturdy enough to survive the mailing, and add the glass to the windows.  I'm told the station will be to me by Labor Day.  I'm looking forward to seeing it!

So in the meantime I'll keep waiting to see that train pull into the station . . .

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Inspired by Friends

Whether it be something we saw as a child, from the pages of Model Railroader, the blogs on Railroad Model Hobbyist, or some other source, we see something, and we say, "Oh, that's something I'd like to see on my layout!"  For me, one such scene is what I saw on Mike Confalone's Allagash Railway:

This simple pastoral scene just screams northern New England, and would make a tremendous transition from the Village of Lyndonville and the paper mill, to the more rural stretch of track before the trains reach the Town of Barton just up the line.  Of course Mike's layout is set in Maine, in early early  Spring, and mine is in Vermont in May after the trees have started to leaf out, but you get the idea.

So what little construction work I did over the last weekend started with creating the rough forms for the hills with foam board:

 The farmhouse is a Creative Laser Design building that actually exists in Lyndonville:

Across the yard from the farmhouse will be another Creative Laser Design kit, the long barn, that existed in Lyndonville as well.  This barn sits on sloped terrain:
This is a stock photo of the barn, not what I've built.  I haven't yet decided what color the barn will be, or whether or not to simply leave it weathered as Mike has done so well, but construction will be starting shortly.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A railroad inspired by . . .

I'm sometimes asked if my Lyndonville Sub is a model of a prototype, or a free-lanced railroad: the answer is "yes."  I'd prefer to say it is "inspired by" simply because there are elements of the prototypes and much that is my own.  I suppose that probably describes most model railroads!
You might have noticed too I’m just calling this layout the Lyndonville Sub, instead of calling it XYZ railroad.  The place I’m creating is a stretch of track that has seen trains led by motive power belonging to Canadian Pacific (and later CP Rail), Boston & Maine (of which I have no power and am trying to discipline myself to not buy!), Maine Central, St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County, Lamoille County, New Hampshire Vermont, Conway Scenic (rarely, to bring equipment or supplies to Conway), Vermont Northern, Bangor & Aroostook (Iron Road era), Quebec Southern, Canadian American, and Vermont Rail System (Vermont Railway, Washington County, Green Mountain, and Clarendon & Pittsford).  If I were including Newport on the layout, I could have added Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, and Central Maine & Quebec Railway.  You’d think that ought to satisfy anyone's hankering to run a variety of railroads.  Today the only trains running are the Vermont Rail System’s – and they only on a one-train-a-day basis.  I figure if they don’t make it, I can always freelance of my own railroad for the area.

And while several of the buildings and scenes on the railroad are pretty strictly prototypical, I wanted to put a paper mill on the Lyndonville Sub because I like having an excuse to run trains that have boxcars, covered hoppers, tank cars, bulkhead flats and woodchip cars - but given what’s happened to the paper industry in New England, its sadly required more and more artistic license.  Most of the prototype traffic on the Lyndonville Sub today is paper from Canada in boxcars, with on-line shippers handle road salt, grain for Shipyard Brewery, and seed & feed all in covered hoppers, and plywood and other wood products on center-beam and bulkhead flats.  Essentially three types of railcars, so adding a fiction of the re-opening of the paper mill in Gilman and one in Lyndonville gives me a bit more leeway to explain other types of freight traffic.
The other fictional addition will be the tourist railroad.  My wife gave me a birthday present last year of a ride on the Hobo Railroad from Meredith, NH to Plymouth, NH, and I thought, why not add something like this from the grand station in St. Johnsbury?  So that's what will happen once the station is completed and in place.
So I haven't gone so far into the freelanced world to have a Big Boy hauling auto racks, nor am I counting rivets, but I'll settle for the inspiration, and enjoy it from there.  I hope you will too.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Memories

Many blogs I enjoy have a "wordless Wednesday" photo, so I thought I'd add some where I can.

This is the Dairy Association building in Lyndonville, circa 1983.  By the era of my layout, the back roof overhang has been removed, and the building painted light grey.  But thanks to Creative Laser Designs, there is a craftsman kit available and the building will be found on the Lyndonville Sub.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Track Plan

The layout is a 14x9 island-style, enabling the operators to walk around on all sides.  The staging yard, not drawn, contains seven tracks and is accessible by trains coming up from the south into St. Johnsbury, trains departing St. Johnsbury yard via the old Maine Central Mountain Division (the right-hand track above the ET & HK Ide plant), and finally from trains continuing around the layout and leaving Orleans.

The track plan is not showing every building, as I've a large number of kits waiting to be built.  I'm very grateful Creative Laser Designs produces N scale kits of various buildings in Lyndonville.  Even though Lyndonville is not prototypical (there's no paper mill there), it'll be fun to have some recognizable features of the town present, like the freight house that's now Carmen's Ice Cream, and the Dairyman's Association buildings.