Saturday, January 20, 2018

Do all roads lead to E. L. Moore?

[Image snipped from the Feb '79 issue of Model Railroader article, It sure doesn't look like a powder works, by George P. Landow]

Thus far I had built a Campbell wharf, a few other scratchbuilt docks and buildings in HO scale, and was trying to devise a good plan for a marine supply company when I opened the pages of the April 1977 MODEL RAILROADER. There I encountered E. L. Moore's Cannonball & Safety Powder Works. Granted, it does not look that much like my completed structure. But those of you interested in the way one kind of model can be developed into a very different one will be able to apply some of these construction techniques to your own modelling.
And so begins George Landow's article on how to build the Frary & Hayden Marine Supply Co., appearing appeared in the Feb '79 issue of Model Railroader, that was based on E. L. Moore's Cannonball & Safety Powder works that appeared in the Apr '76 issue of Model Railroader.

As I thought more about those AHM Trolleys, I remembered that Art Curren's Kitbash a rail bus article that appeared in the June '79 issue of MR used a trolley as its basis. It turns out it was a Tyco Trolley - which maybe is the AHM trolley - but his article stated he also did a doodlebug kitbash in the Feb '79 issue, and following the trail to see if that also used a trolley, I stumbled across George Landow's excellent marine supply based on E. L. Moore's powder works. Do all roads lead to E. L. Moore? Apparently when you ride with me they do :-)

AHM trolley couplers

If you saw the video in the previous post you'll have seen the segment where the old AHM trolley and trailer got stuck in the Neville Park Loop. The curves have a 7" radius - which is ok for the single-car operations with the fleet - but cause a problem when the trolley is pulling a trailer. I think the problem is with the coupler - which is just a short metal bar that pivots on posts moulded on each trolley. The bar isn't right for such tight radius track. I need to replace it with something that has more free-play so the trucks aren't forced into odd angles against the rail during turns. An interesting problem.

Power at the Alta Vista TC Electric Street Railway!

I had some pleasant time wiring up the new streetcar layout. I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time and now that I was sort of in the groove with things electrical on the EVRR, I thought I’d do the long postponed Alta Vista TC wiring.
[That power plug on the front connects to a terminal strip where each track section gets a feed. The end panels are connected to the strip via plugs so that they can easily be disconnected for transport - that's one over on the left.]

Ok, well the Alta Vista TC trackage is just a big, thin loop with funny shapes on each end, so not much wiring. All I did was add power leads to each track section on each panel so that power wasn’t dependent on good inter-panel connections and power drops were minimized. Also I wanted to make it easy to plug in my DC power pack as well as my DCC so I could quick change from running DCC equipment to DC stuff. So, nothing really exotic, just making sure the solder joints were solid and that the panels could be easily plugged and unplugged from the main power terminal. I used 2.1 mm jacks and receptacles for all that.

Once everything was done, and some DCC streetcar runs were made, I pulled the old AHM DC powered trolleys from the shelf and gave them a try. It's a good feeling to have some track ready-and-able for testing and playing with streetcars again.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New track in the Valley

I've been staring and staring at the potato-shaped loop in the inner valley over on the right side of the layout. Trains ran ok, but it looked wrong. I decided to remove it and replace it with a smoother loop. I did and it's done! Looks better and there won't be as much strain on the trucks and couplers as trains roll through.

A mountain lake

I was happy to finally find the lost lake photos I took in Utah. Geologically speaking, I don't know if this body of water is actually referred to as a lake. Maybe a pond? Maybe something else? The photo's composition isn't so great, but it gives an idea of what it looked like. And it's Kodachrome too!
Now, this is a lake in a western mountain - Mount Timpanogos in Utah's Wasach range I believe - and I think E. L. Moore's Elizabeth Valley lake is similar to lakes he saw in The Great Smoky Mountains in the east.

For comparison, during the search I found I had this little video I shot of a July day on a lake in Ontario. Clearly bigger than Mr. Moore's EVRR lake, but maybe visually in the same spirit. It's -25C today, so those lake memories are particularly good right now :-)

"Toronto Railway Lands, July 1988"

In the last post there was a little discussion in the comments section about modelling water. Since E. L. Moore was modelling a small mountain lake, I thought I'd try and find some slides I shot of mountain lakes I saw while hiking through Utah a long time ago. I haven't found those slides yet, but I stumbled across a sheet of Kodachromes where I penciled "Toronto Railway Lands, July 1988" in the title block.

For some reason, I can't recall why, my cousin Ken and I went down to those "Railway Lands" for some sort of trade show. After we were done he told me he knew some secret way to sneak down to the tracks. It was no doubt trespassing, but we were pretty stupid then. I had my trusty Minolta with me and I couldn't resist. I don't recall much of anything about the background or circumstances of these photos, but here they are in lovely Kodachrome.
Looks liked we poked around the old John Street Roundhouse.
I believe this is that roundhouse. Strong backlighting that I can't seem to correct has obscured a lot of foreground detail in this shot.
Some sort of equipment we saw while wandering around.
That looks like the SkyDome - called the Rogers Centre today - under construction in the background.
That looks like one of the TTC's Peter Witt streetcars. I have no idea where I took that, but it was in the sheet.
This one looks more July-like.
And it wouldn't be Toronto without a shot of the CN Tower. Well, the search goes on for those Utah slides.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

EVRR as wall art

The EVRR's home will eventually be a wall since there isn't any permanent horizontal space around here for it. That shelf sticks out about 10" from the wall. It provides space for the control box, power pack, rolling stock and loose scenery like unattached buildings, and it helps create a modest barrier to help protect the terrain from being bumped. 
[The nebulous void latter brought into focus by the gravitational pull of a passing EVRR.]

It's held up by two screws and wall anchors. The layout's frame rests on those and the package states they should support around 60lbs. Later I'll add Ikea-style wall plates to the frame to prevent accidental falls - there have been earthquakes here that have shook things from shelves, so better safe than sorry.
At this point it's not beautiful enough to be hung in any prominent place, but once scenery dominates, and the pink and white foamy roughness of this stage is gone, it'll start to look quite acceptable.
After many tests I've started to think of the layout as having two parts: a classic dog-bone folded over on itself (marked with a solid black line in the above picture), and a valley section suitable for simple switching operations if you're so inclined. It could be wired to run with two power packs for 2-train operation. Maybe it was. Mine won't.

Friday, December 29, 2017

EVRR upper loop test run

[Four cars is the limit for pulling up that grade. With five, the train gets about halfway up and then just sits there spinning its wheels. I've also got to sort out the couplers on the rolling stock. There's a ragtag collection of coupler types and some work better than others. Right now it's finicky to get things properly linked into a train.]

Yesterday it was around -23C during the day and they say with the wind chill it felt like -30C. Normally it's around -5C, but a 'Polar Vortex' is sweeping down from the arctic and has put us in the deep freeze for a couple weeks. I had no desire to venture out, so I hunkered down in the basement and worked on testing the EVRR's grade and upper loop.
A couple weeks ago I started soldering the power leads to the valley track. I bought a new plug-in-the-wall soldering iron because my battery powered one - that's it in the upper left - didn't provide uniform heat. It's good for soldering in tight quarters on the HO layout when it has fresh batteries, but that's about it.
Over on the workbench the EVRR coaches are being re-decaled and now need a spray of dullcote, but with the frigid weather I don't know when that'll be. Maybe now's the time to look into setting up a spray booth. The 4-wheel caboose is an ancient Bachmann item I found at George's. It's quite toy-like, but with some painting it should look acceptable.
Once soldering in the valley was wrapped up, I started on building the grade to the upper loop through the mountains.
Pink insulation foam was used for the upper loop base. Those blocks where the bridge crosses the valley are temporary.
In case there is a scholar in the 22nd century who wants to ponder the meaning of my workshop in the same way I've pondered E. L. Moore's, there you go.
And there's the loop in all its foamy glory! The track is all Peco flex and it's held in place with transfer tape and glued pins inserted through the centre of a number of ties. All the switches are also Peco.
Underneath it's still a jumble of power leads. The next job is to put together the control box so I can run trains over the whole layout. So far testing has been piecemeal with jumpers here and jumpers there to test out the blocks. For the test over the mountain loop I jumpered the grade track to the mountain loop so I could get a long run, but since I don't have any reversing toggles installed yet, I couldn't run the train back down the grade - it had to be backed down.
I was looking over the layout and comparing it to some of E. L. Moore's EVRR pictures to see if I had things in more-or-less the right place when I came across that one up there. Turns out I hadn't posted it, but more importantly, I saw the lake has that little point sticking into the water. 
[This is the back of that photo. 20 November 1956 is the date. And you can see he was still living at his old Pine St. apartment and hadn't yet moved to Oakland Ave.]

Take a look at his plan and you'll see the point isn't there. So, since I want this layout to be close to his as-built layout, I added that point back in by gluing down an appropriately shaped piece of cork.
If you look closely at the lake scene, you'll see a peeper hiding behind the fallen tree on the point watching those bathing beauties. And, I didn't realize that is a stone wall along the shore and there's clearly a road on the other side.

They say the weather won't ease up to a balmy -14C until Tuesday, so until then I'll drop you off in 1949 and leave you with Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalbán, Betty Garrett, Keenan Wynn, Xavier Cugat and Mel Blanc. 

Stubby PCC

While browsing through the December 1954 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman I stubbled across this shorty PCC, made by Herman Eschador of Pennsylvania Scale Models, in the Dispatcher's Report . The accompanying text says that is was made by cutting out the center section of a regular casting. Although, I must admit, when stubbies are mentioned, it isn't PCCs that come to mind,

Thursday, December 28, 2017

But what about this one?

With the office closed between Christmas and New Years, and temperatures in the -20C to -30C range, leisure and cold have combined to reek havoc on my mind. To tweak Vince a little I suggested in the coming year I'd build the greatest streetcar layout known to men, women, children or beasts of the wild. What ensued was an exchange of YouTube streetcar layout videos as the discussion on great streetcar layouts went on into the frigid depths of cyberspace.

All this got started with my mentioning that the streetcar layout I admire most these days is Glennofootscray's Victoria_Street, whose blog is here and Youtube channel here.

But YouTube is chock full of fascinating model streetcar* layouts. We exchanged videos. It's up to you to figure out who picked which.

Wandering through YouTube's streetcar layouts is humbling. My tweaking boast was ill founded. There are many more excellent layouts than can be noted here. No doubt many are going to inspire me as I work on my layout over the coming months and years. Although I can't seem to find any that use some part of Toronto as their starting point. No doubt some such layout exists somewhere in TO's vastness and I just need to look harder.
*Being an ex-patriate Torontonian I think of these vehicles as streetcars, not trams or trollies