Monday, September 16, 2019

Thoughts on an 'Ocean Park Loop'

I've been thinking about what's causing my mental blocks to creating the Alta Vista TC layout. I've realized: the residential panel didn't seem right with its small island of buildings surrounded by a road; I wanted an ocean / water / beach feature as I had on the LOL; the straight centre panel isn't long enough; the weird orientation of the end panels didn't play out as I had hoped; and I didn't like the name :-)

I removed the residential panel, and it's going to be rebuilt into an end-of-line loop near oceanfront. But, more importantly, I'm going to focus on getting the Neville Park loop scenicked and running to see if it can be saved, or if it should also be changed, which would basically mean scrapping the layout if I can't get it looking and running to my satisfaction. Other issues I'll put on the back burner until I sort out the Neville Park loop.

Ok, I have tentatively sorted out a new layout name: The Ocean Park Loop, since the track forms a loop that has a park at one end (Neville Park and its turnaround) and an ocean at the other (TBD on the name at this end).

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Light rail? Subway? Streetcar?

This is admittedly a nerdy topic, but indulge me for a few minutes.

The O-Train Confederation Line is referred to as a light rail system, and I guess it is within the common use of the term. But I've been wondering if it's actually a 'light rail' / subway / streetcar hybrid - even wikipedia notes that it's difficult to pin down an exact definition of what constitutes a light rail system. That is certainly true of the Confederation Line.

On the 'light rail' side of things, The Confederation Line has many segments as per the tight definition in Wikipedia: light rail operates primarily along exclusive rights-of-way and uses either individual tramcars or multiple units coupled to form a train that is lower capacity and lower speed than a long heavy-rail passenger train or metro system. But, there's a subway side too: there's 2.5 km of underground track downtown servicing the equally underground Lyon, Parliament, and Rideau stations. 
The last line refers to the Confederation trains as streetcars: snapped 19 Sept '19

And you may recall from an earlier post that the trains themselves, the Alstom Citadis Spirits, are basically very large streetcars, even though they aren't running on the streets of Ottawa. Interestingly, even Alstom's own site refers to the cars used on the Confederation Line as streetcars.

Does any of this make any difference to day-to-day operations? Likely not. Definitions don't matter much when it comes to designing and building a railway. It's the requirements and costs and such things that need to be paid attention to.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Opening Day of OCTranspo's Confederation Line

Mayor Jim Watson, Provincial Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, and one of the winners of the train naming contest get ready to turn the power on to the Confederation Line at the opening ceremonies.
Today was the first day of operation of OCTranspo's Confederation Line, and this morning's inaugural ceremonies and ride were pulled off without a hitch. The event was fun and flawless, and it appeared a good time was had by all.

Watson & Mulroney unveil the commemorative plaque
A little background. Ottawa hasn't had a electric railway to provide its citizens with urban transportation since it closed down its streetcar system in May 1959. Up until then it had an urban street railway - first  horse powered and then electric - that had been in continuous operation since the summer of 1870. In 2001 a diesel powered light rail system, the Trillium Line, was introduced by OCTranspo, and today it forms the north-south branch of the O-Train system, with the fully electric Confederation Line providing east-west transportation. The Trillium and Confederation Lines come together at the Bayview station. Neither of these lines run in the street, but on their own dedicated track. 

Getting ready to board for the inaugural ride
The event got started around 10:15 with speeches, recognition, and congratulations to all governmental organizations, aboriginal peoples, contractors, builders, construction workers, and city staff who made the Confederation Line a reality. This is a project that broke ground in 2013 and finished all up system testing just a few weeks ago. It's been the largest project undertaken so far in the city's history, and it's had its share of problems, one of which was being well over a year late.

After the ceremonies it was on to the main event: the inaugural ride from Tunney's Pasture station, where this event was taking place, out to Blair station at the east end, and back again. It was standing room only in the train, and there was maybe around 300 people packing the vehicle - likely a good simulation of rush hour traffic :-)

As I mentioned earlier, the ride down the 12.5 km line and back again was flawless. The train stopped at each station, but didn't open its doors, and after a brief stop was on its way again. By chance I was jammed in a car not too far from Mayor Jim Watson. For a while John Manconi, the general manager of city transportation services, who is basically the head cheese project manager on this project, was standing near the mayor and looking a bit tense. I assume it was because last week he had to explain why a train on the Confederation Line got stuck in a tunnel for several hours one night which, among other things, involved an odd semantic discussion on whether the train was actually stopped as opposed to stuck. However, he didn't need to worry today. The only thing that seemed a little odd to me in an otherwise perfect trip was the train seemed to have a little trouble climbing an uphill grade. I was standing sandwiched between suits and a French language camera crew, so I have no data to substantiate my feeling other than the sense of a little hesitation in the train.

John Manconi, on far left, is all similes at the end of trip media scrum
If you're a regular reader of 30 Squares you know the main topic here is model building. And a version of model building that leans towards aesthetics and story telling - the romance of the rails. However, the purpose of the O-Train isn't that, but the more pragmatic goal of providing safe, reliable, and useful service to everyone in Ottawa. It's an engineered system that has to perform over the days, months, and years ahead. 

The Confederation Line opened to all riders at 2pm today, is open for regular Sunday hours tomorrow, and sees its first day of busy commuters and rush hour service on Monday. It's what's ahead that will tell the Confederation Line's story, but today was a great beginning. 

Postscript: Dave told me I had to make sure I got whatever swag was being given out at this event. Dave, that's it over there :-) Down in the lower left is my certificate that I rode the inaugural ride in case any proof is needed in the future :-)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Word on the street, er, at the bus shelter

The OTrain Confederation Line is still 'on track' for opening on Saturday - well, if the bus shelters are anything to go by :-)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thinking about the Alta Vista TC

Work on the Alta Vista TC has been stalled for a very long time. Everyday life has made its demands of course, but that doesn't account for the entire work stoppage. I think the layout isn't up-to-scratch in the simple pleasures department

Although the old Lost Ocean Line wasn't a layout in the standard sense of the word, it was a lot of fun to build and tinker with. And it was also a good place to stage photos. 

The AVTC was never meant to be an operational or classical setup. It was just a place to loop streetcars from time-to-time, stage photos, and let me shuffle buildings around. I need to think about what's missing before I get going on a round of construction in preparation for Christmas.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Record bins installed at Stella's

The record bins and checkout counter were installed in Stellas along with the LED light unit. I just need to add some stuff on the counter, like a cash register and maybe some loose records, a few customers, a cat, and that should wrap things up. Although, on the outside I still need a sign and some ads in the windows of the 'We buy good used vinyl' variety. 

That reflection in the upper level? The big giant hand of course :-)

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Balsa: The Official Wood of 30 Squares

The Bookery's balsa facade
I wasn't actually reading through Louis Hertz's The Complete Book of Model Aircraft Spacecraft and Rockets looking for something about the Aero Miniature Flying Machine, but was looking to see if he had anything to say about the history of balsa wood as a modelling material.

Mr. Hertz notes that balsa wood, while neither unfamiliar to nor unused by a few model airplane builders prior to World War I, was to remain to most hobbyists for some time a rather mysterious and obscure material whose qualities and advantages were little known or understood, and was not readily available until the 1920's.  And I assume if it was little known to model airplane builders, it might also have been little known to model railroaders of that era. Maybe model ship builders used it? That's something to look into.

Apparently in the pre-1920's era materials such as cane, reed, rattan, cigar-box wood, spruce, basswood, bamboo, poplar, maple, white holly, and birch were all used for various model airplane parts. But once balsa hit the scene, it took over.

In Model Railroader's archive the first mention of balsa is on page 7 of the June 1934 issue where it's noted that a Mr. Forest Fottler had built a baggage car of balsa wood. The first use of balsa wood as a primary construction material for a miniature building story in MR appears to be Small Station by Frank Taylor that appeared in the October '38 issue; however, he only recommends it as an alternative for the project in case a power saw isn't available to cut the recommended 1/8" 3-ply veneer for this HO scale model. Maybe balsa use was still catching on in the 1930s model railroad world even though it might have been fully adopted by model airplane builders.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

A&A facade framework

The skeleton for A&A's facade is more or less done. It's cut from 0.040 inch styrene and skeletal is the key word here. There wasn't much left after I cut out the openings for the windows and lightboxes.

The corrugated signboard is also 0.040 inch, so when it was glued to the skeleton it firmed up the structure quite a bit.

I think the frames for the signs will be the next step, or maybe the frame for the entrance.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Was The Chinese Cat loose in Washington DC?

Vince did a lot of research to figure out where that streetcar scene in The Chinese Cat was shot. It looks like the producers used stock footage of Washington D.C. streetcars. Ok, that video above is from the early 1950s and not 1944, but you can see the streetcars are quite similar to those in the movie, and the D.C. system at that time used the conduit system for power distribution, which is also seen in the movie. The similarities are similar, and I agree that D.C. is probably the location. Thanks Vince and it looks like a promotion to VP Research is in order ! :-)

Aero Miniature Flying Machine

Ad for the Aero Miniature Flying Machine; pg 197 in Hertz's airplane book
Louis Hertz is a writer who looms large in my reading from long ago. He is likely best known for his four volume The Complete Book of... series, which included Model Railroading (1951), Model Raceways and Roadways (1964), Model Aircraft Spacecraft and Rockets (1967), and Building and Collecting Model Automobiles (1970).

Back in the day when I was new to model building and trying to read everything I could about the hobby, I checked out Mr. Hertz's books from the local library more times than I can remember. Back then I was mainly looking for information on construction techniques, and trying to see what was available. The thing I didn't realize at the time was that each book is an amazing reference volume on the early history of their respective fields. The aircraft book is probably the best example: Chapter 9, The Story of the Model Airplane, is a 90 page wonder of arcane scholarship. Ok, the book was published in 1967, and here we are 52 years later, so no doubt much has been learnt since then, but it makes for good reading in that it provides lots of clues for further internet searches to see where those clues might lead.

While reading Mr. Hertz's history of balsa as a material for model airplane construction, I stumbled across some discussion about the Aero Miniature Flying Machine, which Mr. Hertz claims was likely one of the first flying models to be manufactured and sold in the USA. Apparently is was first sold in or around 1909, and probably remained in production until around 1916. The model looks like a tailless biplane design with curved upper and lower wings. It sold for around $1 [the internet tells me this is about $28 in today's money], and it was claimed the 14" wingspan model could fly 100 ft. Another claim was that if a flight started upside-down, the plane would right itself. It sounds like an intriguing airplane, but I wasn't successful in finding more information with Mr. Hertz's clues. The search continues.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

A&A sign board

I had some corrugated sheet plastic left over from the WBB project and used it for the A&A sign board that the letters will attach to.

The plan is to place a light box behind the letters that'll shine through the opening in the sign board and light up the letters. I cut the opening with a 5mm border, but after thinking a little more about this structure I'm going to cut it back to 1mm. I think that'll be sufficient for getting the letters and their supporting structure securely attached.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Condor by Quercetti

Condor by Quercetti; Made in Italy
This little tailless glider is definitely a survivor. I was cleaning out a closet and found it stuffed in the back, and given that I bought it in '86 or '87 or thereabouts, it's a small miracle that it's still around and in one piece. It's been flown a few times over the years, but I've always been so impressed by it's elegant look - which translates nicely into smooth flight - that I've never wanted to fly it too much and risk destroying it. 

Bayview Station's Trillium Line Level

The Bayview station's Trillium line platform is on the lower level. The way it's outfitted seems pretty much standard issue for these sorts of facilities. However, the one thing that struck me is that it's an open air level: entrance, platform, it's all completely open and exposed.

On a perfect summer's day like we had yesterday, being open to the elements was great. But, Ottawa is far from temperate in January and February with it's -20C to -30C temperatures, winds, snow, and ice. People here are hardy, but I wonder about those entry gates, and anyway, waiting outside is no pleasure no matter how hardy the riders are. It'll be interesting to see what happens this winter.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Bayview Station

After breakfast Debra and I went over to the OTrain's new Bayview Station. It's one of the stops on the not yet in service Confederation line; however, it opened last Thursday for Trillium line service.

The city is still doing test runs of the Alstom Citadis Spirit trains on the Confederation line in preparation for opening on 14 Sept. That's one over on the left heading into Bayview. Dead centre and above is the Peace Tower at the Parliament buildings. Its gothic architecture is in stark contrast to all the modernist stuff popping up in the core.

Bayview station is a two-level job: the upper services the Confederation line, and on the lower you can catch a train on the Trillium line.

That's an Alstom Citadis Spirit departing the station on the Confederation level.

And down on the lower level is a Trillium line diesel waiting a few minutes before taking another run.

There's a number of bike paths running along side the station making access good.

Bayview is one end of the Trillium line, and there's a serious end-stop where the track terminates.

The Confederation line opens for business at 2pm on 14 Sept and hopefully your intrepid 30 Squares reporter will be there for all the electrified action. It turns out the city accepted my request to be invited to media events, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that it'll happen and see if I can get the inside scoop on day one operations :-)

Stay tuned.

Letters for A&A Records

I did a bit of work on cutting the basic shapes for the A&A sign from clear plastic.

First, the two pieces were cut from the drawing, which was done on a sheet of Bristol board, and then used as tracing templates. Once the shapes were traced on the plastic with a fine-point Sharpie pen, they were carefully cut out. 

The first attempt on the inner piece caused a nasty crack to develop while cutting the base on the left A, so it was scrapped, and a second was made - good thing I used a template to make drawing shapes easy. These pieces need a lot of cleanup, but it's not too bad a start.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Streetcar sighting in The Chinese Cat

About three-and-a-half minutes into the 1944 Charlie Chan movie The Chinese Cat, cab driver Birmingham Brown nearly swerves into the path of an oncoming streetcar when he discovers Charlie Chan is the passenger he's taking to the Francis Hotel. 

We briefly see the oncoming streetcar from Brown's point-of-view. Interestingly, these streamlined streetcars appear to be cable driven: you can see the slot in the road between the rails, and there's no overhead wiring straddling the street. The movie takes place in San Francisco, but if this footage was actually shot in San Francisco, I wonder where? It seems quite flat, and I didn't know they ran cable driven streamliners. I need to investigate.

[Update: Vince mentioned that maybe it isn't powered by a cable, but maybe by a conduit system. I don't know if SF had such a system. Maybe this was some convenient - and cheap - stock footage? Maybe some more investigation is needed?]

Glyn Lewis, Sage of TT

While we're on the subject of TT, back in the 1950s Railroad Model Craftsman ran a regular column by Glyn Lewis called Off'n the Table Top: News and Views of TT.  The column delivered what it said in the title in several densely packed paragraphs sandwiched between ads from TT manufacturers. 

The Feb '56 column had an interesting block of text on the adoption of plastic as a modelling material, and viewing model railroading in TT as a 'constructive' hobby as opposed to a passive one - which really applies to any scale. Here's what Mr. Lewis had to say (The … in the text are Mr. Lewis' , but the division of the single block of page-saving print into more readable paragraphs is mine):

Of late we have been getting quite a few inquires (mostly from HOers) asking how we feel about plastics. This is supposed to be the "needle"…

S'funny really, back when we said that the Starline cars in TT were good, many sneered and said "Ugh, plastics…toys!" Here is how this writer feels…

We don't care what material is used…

the result is what counts. Back when we were very young, there was, and perhaps is, a man in Canal Dover, Ohio, who made model Locomotives. These locos were considered so fine, so accurate, that railroads all over vied to buy them. His materials? Wood, bone, coal, tin, in fact anything! But the important thing was the result…

a fine model that he ENJOYED BUILDING. The culprit is NOT plastics or brass or lead zamac or chewing gum! We deplore the "ready to run" aspect of model railroading. It's great for kids or for those who want it, but it is NOT a constructive hobby.

We are NOT knocking it, anymore than we would knock anyone whose hobby is going to baseball games, but most baseball fans don't call themselves baseball players. 

We like television, but not to replace living, it's strange that years ago people enjoyed "parlor games" found them mentally stimulating, but now pay fabulous salaries to "experts" to play the same games on panel shows on TV.

The age of "do it yourself"…

non-sense! Kid yourself into thinking you are doing it yourself.

We know of a fellow who had all the signs of a "successful" man, an ulcer, a divorce, and an analyst. This headshrinker told him to get a hobby. That's right, "get a hobby"…

man, you develop 'em, don't get 'em, and the desire must come first. He suggested stamp collecting as soothing, so our hero bought a complete collection for $1500.00 and sat back waiting for the cure.

See? No, we don't wish to deprive the "put it on the track - see it run - boys" of their fun, but if you don't mind we will continue to enjoy kit building, with a little "scratch" and maybe a bit of free-lancing. To the manufacturers we would say, better and more products in TT, but let us build 'em. IT takes longer, but the hobby will last longer, and so will we!

Maybe replace We like television with We like the Internet, successful man with successful person, put a little extra emphasis on will last longer, and so will we, and this almost could have been given last week in a TED talk about the life enhancing virtues of the old-school hobby of model building in comparison to more screen time :-)

Friday, August 30, 2019

A garden of TT delights

I was chatting with a friend of mine this week about a Rocket Garden he's building where all the rockets are being made from Lego. He recently finished a Saturn 1B, an impressive work of Lego kit mingling supplemented with carefully chosen speciality Lego blocks, that will be parked next to a massive Lego Saturn V. The scale of these turns out to be 1:110, and I mentioned that was close to TT, which I thought was 1:100.

It turns out TT's scale ratio is more complex than I thought. Wikipedia tells me this: in its country of origin, the USA, it's 1:120; in the UK its 1:101.6; and in Russia it's 1:130. Clearly my thinking was stuck on UK usage. 

And, as it turns out, Revell’s Jupiter “C” rocket and rail-based gantry kit, is also 1:110, not quite TT, but close, and it's the same as the Lego rockets. I haven't yet finished the kit. About a year ago I added some more details and stripped off the HO trucks. I was going to replace the HOs with N-scale trucks so I could use Kato Unitram track as the basis of the launch pad layout. Watch this space - so to speak - but don't hold your breath :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Bandaged Dark Passage

I don't know what to say about Dark Passage. It has the elements of both an excellent noir, and an odd B-movie all in the same movie. But, it stars Bacall and Bogie, not to mention it features the awesomeness of 1947 San Francisco, so based on those things alone I watched it all the way through. 

Lauren Bacall is infinitely watchable as always. And Humphrey Bogart was surprisingly expressive when bandaged.

Well, ok there were the cable cars and the possible streetcar diner, but as far as movies go, those usually aren't enough to hold my attention. I can't believe I wrote that, but it's true :-) 

Look, if you're a Bacall and Bogie fan, watch it.

But, I must admit that Humphrey Bogart as the bandaged, plastic surger-ied Vincent Parry reminded me of Nash the Slash.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

More paint-by-coat-hanger

I've been reading my way through Louis H. Hertz's  1970 book, The Complete Book of Building and Collecting Model Automobiles. On page 76 I came across this image attributed to the Testor Corp. It's a sequence of images showing how to spray paint a model while using a bent coat hanger to handle the piece. As you know this has been something of an ongoing topic here at 30 Squares (you can find the other posts here, here, and here) so I couldn't let it pass un-noted.

The caption reads:

Some tips on painting. In sequence: employing a bent wire coat hanger to hold a model while painting; cleaning dust and oil from model parts prior to painting; holding spray can at a distance from model for the first coats; attaining a high-gloss finish by close spraying of final coat, and hanging unit up to dry by using the coat-hanger holder.

A Pacific Electric red car in the opening to Ace in the Hole?

On Saturday evening we watched the 1951 noir Ace in the Hole. Given the ongoing discussion here about Dark Passage, I was surprised to see a streetcar used in Ace's opening sequence. The movie starts with Kirk Douglas, as Chuck Tatum, nonchalantly sitting in the driver's seat of his car reading a newspaper while the car is being towed to a garage. We're then cut to a scene of a streetcar rolling by a Spanish colonial building, the offices of the Albuquerque Sun=Bulletin newspaper where Mr. Tatum is going to get a job as a reporter.

I thought, ok interesting, later I'll capture an image for a post, but as I looked at the scene in detail, the streetcar looked like a Pacific Electric red car. I'm no expert on either Albuquerque electric railways or the PE, but it seems unusual for what looks like PE red cars in PE livery to be in operation in New Mexico.

My guess is that this scene was shot somewhere in or around Los Angeles where the PE was still running. The cameraman is sneaky in that the shot starts low, near street level, where it's easy to see the car's paint job and markings, but pans up as the car rolls by to centre on the building's sign, thereby making positive identification of the car more-or-less impossible.

That is a PE car for reference. You can see a number of features similar to the film's car. My gut feeling is that it's a match, but I don't have strong proof.

I guess the moving streetcar, plus the upward camera pan, adds visual interest. I also suspect the use of an old streetcar, in a shot with an old building, is to suggest that life here in this corner of New Mexico is old, sleepy, and a bit out-of-date, which is in stark contrast to Chuck Tatum's style when he makes his entrance to that newspaper office. 

PE cars aside, the movie is excellent, and still seems relevant today. Here's the trailer.

[Update, 4:30pm, 25 Aug: Vince alerted me to this interesting post at Cocoposts. The writer thinks the scene was shot in Albuquerque, as streetcars were still running at that time. Although, I must admit the streetcar in question still seems quite similar to a PE red car. I need to do some investigation.]

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Dark Passage to the Powell Street Cable Cars

Cable car 510 from pg. 334
Over at Orange Crate Art Michael Leddy wrote an interesting follow-up to his Harry's Wagon post. The location looks like the famous cable car turntable at Powell and Market in San Francisco.I can only make out the car number, 520, in middle photo. According to Mr. Smallwood in his book, The White Front Cars of San Francisco, 520 and 510, shown over on the left, were from the same batch manufactured in 1891 by Carter Brothers.

Cable Car 514 from pg. 332
I've shown 514 over on the right only to note that you can see a piece of the façade of The Owl Drug Co. in the upper right corner of the photo. It's quite different from that shown in Dark Passage - an earlier incarnation maybe? 514 was manufactured by Mahoney Brothers in 1887.

To wrap up his discussion of the Powell Street cable cars, Mr. Smallwood mentions: It is interesting to note that the Powell-Mason cable line has provided service from terminal to terminal over the same route, using the same method of propulsion and operated by the same cars, for more that 90 years! Certainly this must be a world's record for city transit.

So, if Dark Passage was made in 1947, car 520 had been in operation for around 56 years - not a bad service life.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Was Harry's Wagon a White Front Car?

Car 990 began service 1 Aug 1933; pg 186
Over at Orange Crate Art there's an interesting post about a diner called Harry's Wagon that appeared in the 1947 noir Dark Passage. The movie is set in San Francisco, and stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The diner reminded me of the streetcars in Charles Smallwood's The White Front Cars of San Francisco that was published by Interurbans in 1978*. Harry's was a real place, so I leafed through the book to see if by some wild chance Harry's Wagon might be in there amongst photos of repurposed cars. No dice. 

Naturally, the book is jammed full of streetcars that look quite similar to Harry's Wagon, but there's no obvious match, and no reference to that diner. One major difference: Harry's has a 4 window front, and all the similar streetcars had only 3. Maybe Harry's was reno-ed? Can't say for sure.
*I bought this book back in January after seeing an ad for it in an old issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. On a lark I looked for it online, and found one for $5 plus $10 shipping. I bit and the rest is reading history :-)

Monday, August 19, 2019

New stock of records

I surprise myself sometimes. I got up Sunday morning, put on some coffee, and decided to cut some records. Well, make some record sleeves for Stella's.

So yeah, I took an impressionistic approach, cut up some coloured paper into squares, 4mm on each side, and then glued them into the bins.

This is a shot midway or so through the process.

Over on the left is the partially depleted record pile. I didn't cut enough on the first go-round, and had to cut an additional pile of about the same size. Those bins hold a surprising number of records.

As well as records, I cut some pieces of file folder into 5mm x 4mm rectangles to act as bin index cards. They were inserted randomly to give the impression that Stella took the time to identify artists. 

Speaking of surprises, a few months ago I bought a copy of Bill Evans' Waltz for Debby on vinyl. I have a copy on CD, but now that I'm a certifiable vinyl snob, I wanted to find out if I could hear the difference between the vinyl and CD versions. Well, one thing lead to another and I only opened the album on the weekend. I found that inside the sleeve was a Ray Charles greatest hits album! Awesome indeed, but I was in the mood for some BE. Lesson Learned: Open The Album As Soon As I Get Home. In case you were wondering, here is Waltz for Debby:

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A&A façade drawing

I dropped by the drawing board and drew out A&A's facade. I like to do these things with traditional drafting tools instead of software because I feel pencils and rulers help me better understand a project. 

A&A's façade underwent a number of stylistic changes over the years. I've chosen one that I think dates to the early '80s. Also, I think this version will give the most impressive night photos.

Dimension-wise, this model's façade is working out to be about 50' tall and 43.5' wide. And you can see that the main signs will take up about 2/3 of that area.

I'm thinking about being more ambitious with this project. That photo over on the right is sourced from Wikipedia, and it tells me that version of the façade dates from around 1975. The ambitious part is I'm wondering if this façade could be put on the back of the building. Basically, the model would have two façades - think of it as if it were a record with an A and B side - and you'd just flip it around to the side you want to see. Although, that is one complicated façade they had back in '75! I'll have to see how I feel once the main façade is built, and then I'll decide about adding one on the back.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Well Appointed Site Office

The scene of wanton miniature building crushing in The Case of the Golden Oranges took place in this trailer that was being used as a subdivision construction site office.

On the outside it looks like any other trailer of it's type being put to this use, but on the inside it seems rather well appointed.

It's got faux wood panelling, curtains on the windows, a selection of hardcover books on the shelf - not to mention pottery - as well as very decent furniture. I guess this is for the benefit of potential buyers and well-heeled investors. Or maybe it's just product placement. Or maybe the set dressers used whatever they had on hand.

And as you can see from this and the previous photo, there was more than one miniature house - or 'little trinket' as the characters called them - scattered around. It looks like there are 2 on the drafting table, 1 on the desk by the woman, and another in the foreground by the man's elbow.

The fictional development was called Sunrise Hills, and you can see the Modern Homes it offers start at $22,500, with no down payment. That was in the spring of 1963 in an equally fictional, although likely close to reality, soon to be ex orange grove in the outskirts of Los Angeles. My parents first home, in 1957 in a then non-fictional, far-flung hinterland of Toronto, clocked in at $16,025

(If you're wondering about the differences between US and Canadian currency in that era, Wikipedia has this to say... Canada allowed its dollar to float in 1950, whereupon the currency rose to a slight premium over the U.S. dollar for the next decade. But the Canadian dollar fell sharply after 1960 before it was again pegged in 1962 at C$1.00 = US$0.925....This peg lasted until 1970, after which the currency's value has floated).