Wednesday, July 8, 2020


I haven't given up on the Canadian Press complex, just parked it for awhile. It's in the final stages of detailing, but with summer weather here, my mind isn't aligned with the concentrated work this will require to get the buildings finished.

Although, a few weeks ago I added some detailing and framing to the street-level restaurant on the leftmost building. It's basically built up from construction paper and glued to the acrylic base with Weld Bond. It still needs a little more framing detail and some light weathering.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Cal's Coastal Café

The day started like most other work days. My cousin Cal and I were in my kitchen getting some coffee and shooting the breeze before heading off to the shop.

I was fiddling with the coffee machine on the counter, and Cal was in his usual place in the breakfast nook with his nose buried in the newspaper's classified ads section.

Something caught Cal's attention. He carefully laid the newspaper down on the tabletop and smoothed out some creases in the paper before asking me, "There's an ad here for the old brewery down in Ocean Park. Isn't that the one our great, great, great uncle built?"

"Yeap. There might be another great or two in there 'cause he built it in 1842", I replied.

I finished loading up the coffee machine and started it brewing. I turned to Cal and asked, "I don't think that place has ever been up for sale. And I think its been abandoned for a long time. What're they asking?"

"Don't know. The city's seized it for unpaid taxes and is auctioning it next Wednesday. It's open from 2 to 4 this afternoon for inspection. Do you wanna go have a look?"


Awhile back I was able to find a 1967 release of AHM's Brewery kit, which was designed by E. L. Moore. I was planning on combining it with a Model Power version I already owned to build Art Curren's Perry Shibbel Fruit & Produce Co-Op. But, after I inspected the AHM's parts, I didn't have the heart to cut them up and repaint them for the kitbash. 

I thought about what I could build, and what I could use on the layout, and after a long time, the outlines of Cal's Coastal Café slowly started to gel. I figured I'd build it from the Model Power kit, and later I'd build the AHM kit box-stock, no painting, no modifications, no nothing. 

I'm not going to explain all the construction steps, just touch on the main changes from the kit's instructions. If you're interested in seeing the kit's parts, you'll find some pictures here, and the instructions can be found here.

As you can see in the lead photo, I didn't use the  little brick addition that is attached to the left of the main building. So, I had to sand off the alignment mouldings and part numbers from the main building's wall. In the photo on the right you can see what they looked like before being removed.

We got to the open house around 3:30. There was nobody else there. Just as well. The old thing didn't look in too bad shape. Cal seemed fascinated by it and was absentmindedly running his hands over the old brickwork was he wandered around the place.

"What's up Cal?"

"I'm buying this for Cathy!"

"For Cathy? Why?"

"She's looking for a place for her café and this is it. Solidly built, great views, tourists, and right beside a streetcar stop."

"Sounds good, but maybe you should ask her first."

"I need to find a phone."

The other bit of minor prep was to open up the front wall of the wooden addition on the right. This part was to be the outdoor dining area, and I wanted the wall to allow free passage to the deck. Sprue cutters, sanding sticks, and the Dremel drum sanding attachment were used for this job.

So, as far as part modifications are concerned, those two minor changes were all that were done prior to painting. Ok, well, all the parts were washed with a mild dish soap to remove any remnants of mould release from the factory. 

I chose the colours from leftover spray cans I had in the workshop. The only guidance in selection was that they had to suggest a seaside restaurant or resort.

Cal found a pay phone at the streetcar stop. By the time he got back the open house was over and they had kicked me out. I was sitting on the steps waiting for him.

"She says ok. And she's going to name it after me!"

"That's great. I'm going to have to put on my thinking cap and figure out how we can turn this old girl into a café."

"She's going to come by the shop after work and we can discuss it with her."

"Sounds good."

I got up from the steps and we took one last look around before heading out to catch our car.

I had a funny feeling come over me as we walked to the stop. I turned to Cal and said, "This place reminds me of something."

I probably should have done the modifications to the brewery's chimney before painting, but, for some reason, I thought it should be done after. I cut 5 cm off the top so that it only extended slightly above the main building's ridge line, and then cut a fireplace opening in the front facing wall. That was done by first opening the hole with a drill, and then finishing with files and small sanding sticks.

This picture gives a better view of the finished fireplace. The mantle was cut from a piece of strip balsa - I needed to include an homage to the kit's designer :-)

Yes, the lighthouse tower is a bit wonky, but it doesn't seem that distressing in person. 

Cal was looking at me funny as we walked across the parking lot to the car stop.

"You've got that look on your face."

"What look?"

"The 'I know a story about this building and one of our ancestor's' look."

"No I don't."

"Spit it out before you burst something."

"I seem to recall that in the '20s those islands off the coast put in prohibition. For awhile one of our uncles - I have to ask Ma which one - performed a delivery service for the owners of this place. His boat had two gas tanks: one for gas and one for hootch. One night a week he'd motor over to the islands and make a delivery. When he got back he'd give them the cash and he'd get a small cut. One night he never came back home. Ma seems to think he decided he wanted all the cash for himself and disappeared."*

"That's it?"

"That's it." 

The light tower is built from a core of 0.040" styrene, faced with styrene brick sheet. 

The light is an N-scale street lamp post that I scavenged from the old layout.

The frame around the light that supports the tower's little roof is built up from 0.040" x 0.060" styrene strips. The roof is just the cupola roof from the kit.

It gives a nice glow when it's lit up. In this photo it's powered by a 9v battery, but I think it's rated for 12v, so it should be a bit brighter when installed on the layout in Ocean Park.

The lighting in the outdoor dining area is by an LED strip.

I have a roll of LED strip lighting I bought a few years ago from a lighting store in Montreal, and all I had to do was cut off a piece and solder on some leads. A hole was drilled in the main building's right wall for the leads, and installation consisted for sticking the strip to the inside surface of the right building's roof.

There's a second Moorian homage on this build. 

I didn't spray enough window frames with turquoise paint, and found myself two windows short during assembly. I pulled two more from the kit and brush painted them a Moore green.

The ladder to the light is some stock I had in my spares box.

You can see a ghost of the alignments for the left building that were ground off. Such ghosting often appears on real buildings for various reasons, so it's not too out-of-place. 

Argh, that tilting tower :-( I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the digital camera is a harsh mistress.

The railing is some stock that I bought a few years back and had in my spares box. For safety reasons, one can't have an elevated deck and walkway without a railing.  

And speaking of tilts, the roof on the outdoor dining area's got a little slant to it too. In my defence I'll note that it fits solidly on its supports and joins the main building cleanly and without gaps. $%&@ digital cameras!

When I started this project I made it a point to build it as fast as I could. Usually I'm dead slow when it comes to my building projects, but on this one throwing caution to the wind was the name of the game. It took 5 days of on-and-off, part-time work. And I decided I couldn't declare the thing done if it didn't have signs and lights, which I usually leave to a 'later' that is often a long time coming. The downside of speed is that the project's got some odd tilts in it. I'd like to blame my camera for them, but in the end they're there because of the throwing caution to the wind thing. Maybe they add a little character :-) But, I'm glad I did this little test, and am happy with the result.

*Based on an apocryphal story in my own family, but it involved a car with two gas tanks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A kit for summer?

Since the model was built in 2014, I didn't need to crank the time machine up to full power, I merely left it in idle to shift through alternative universes on its own while I sat back with a cold drink.  

Monday, June 29, 2020

Another from Germany

Image snipped from box of Vollmer 45612
This is another kit Martin found that has similarities to the Machine Shop. It's Vollmer kit # 45612, called the Workshop.

Frankly, its look doesn't say Workshop to me. It says things like bank, library, accountancy, or post office. Removing the peaked ends to convert it to a flat roofed building, and getting rid of the roof-top stuff as well as the decorative insignias, it could reside on the OPL. 

These Machine Shop like buildings are no doubt a common building type in the world of HO architecture.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

A relation in Germany?

Old Machine Factory by Auhagen
While Martin was searching for Grusom Casket kits he came across this beautiful model by the German company Auhagen. I must admit the overall form and arrangement are indeed reminiscent of the AHM / Pola Grusom Casket kit as Martin pointed out to meNot to mention that the kit's name has 'machine factory' in it, and a spin-off from Grusom Casket was a 'machine shop'. And, Grusom Casket was originally manufactured by Pola of West Germany. Was Grusom Casket chosen to be manufactured by Pola because it had some similarity to a German building type that suggested the kit could be successfully marketed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe as well as the US? Interesting speculations aside, I can't draw a direct connection with Grusom Casket. But, as I've said before, the similarities are similar :-)

Repair Shop by Auhagen
Well, there's one other thing. Auhagen is also marketing the one storey part as a separate kit - the Repair Shop in the photo on the right - which is what AHM did with the 'machine shop' end of Grusom Casket. As well as the Repair Shop there is also a red brick variation in their Gas station with a car workshop kit.

Much thanks to Martin's eagle eyes for finding these kits! I continue to be amazed by what's out there.

Friday, June 26, 2020

All the news that's fit to mold

While we've been on this Machine Shop journey, there've been some related sightings along the way.

Martin found this Globe News kit from Model Power. It seems to bear a passing resemblance to the Machine Shop

But, as you can see when you lay the walls out for comparison, Globe News is much larger than the Machine Shop.

Like the Machine Shop, Globe News has seen several boxings, and the one in the comparison photo is one of the many - I know it isn't the Model Power, and I need to note which one it is. However, for size comparison purposes, all Globe News kits are the same.

It was seeing the roof in the Globe News' box top photo that made me think of the Machine Shop, but without a size reference, I wouldn't have known that the Globe News' roof was much larger - the box top photo played on my desire to want to believe that the Machine Shop was the Globe News' mold ancestor. Scales and rulers can help straighten out the mind games of photos :-)

Jilted ancestry aside, I rather like the Globe News kit. Without the rather elaborate roof top decorations, it could pass on my layout. I might go so far as replacing the roof with a flat one. Actually, this might make for an interesting N-scale streetcar car barn.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Havelock visitor centre

I swung by the Havelock yard to see what I could see, and one thing I saw was this visitor centre located in one of the off-highway parking lots. It's closed of course, but if it opens I'll drop in to see if it's a restoration of an old railway building, or if it's a replica built to fit in with the locale. It does look quite railway-like. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A Machine Shop boxing found ....

... while I was cleaning out the Time Machine's trunk. I must have had the thing set to Alternative Universe when I picked this up.

Time travel is weird :-)

A side order of Machine Shops

If you've been following along with the Machine Shop boxing saga you know there were many variations. 

I find this view of Martin's collection of several of those boxings quite interesting. Over on the left are the original AHM and Pola boxings. On the far right is the last boxing, the one from Walthers. I'm not quite sure just yet what the order should be for the other boxings, but it's interesting that the kit box went from a lively little offering with a colourful painting on the lid to a much larger box in a bland, utilitarian style (the Walthers site says it's now out of stock and discontinued). In his Machine Shop journey Martin has found a number of other kits that bear some resemblance to the Machine Shop - although they don't appear to be derived from it - and I hope to post some pictures of them in the days ahead.

Building of Interest

You're right, I've been spending too much time with miniature buildings. In this composite image, the building on the left is a screen grab from an episode in Season 3 of Person of Interest, and on the right is a cropped box-top photo of Walthers' HO scale Bralick Building kit. The similarities are similar :-) Years ago I used the kit as the basis for Mr. Scott's Dilithium Crystal Factory and for The Oceanview Hotel. Interestingly, the kit includes a roof-top water tower, like the Person of Interest building, but it has been apparently airbrushed out of the box-top image. No doubt the architectural style of the Bralick kit is common, and I wouldn't be surprised to find similar looking real buildings in many locations.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Now there's something you don't see everyday

Everytime I see these photos, only one thing comes to mind: Ghostbusters

These pictures aren't date stamped, and all I can say is they were likely shot between '74 and '76 in the Havelock yard.

Is this some sort of scale house? Please leave a comment if you have any information. I need to investigate.

Thoughts on modelling the Havelock yard

It was Vince who told me that the best way to find the track plan of the Havelock yard is to go to Google Maps. So, over on the left is the yard plan according to Google Maps as of 22 June - you'll need to click on it to get a better view. Did it look like this in the mid-70s? I don't know.

I was thinking about what would be involved to build a simple diorama of the yard - selectively compressed of course - for taking photos. I figured I'd use track from my scrap box to lay out the plan on a 2'x8' piece of thick foam. There'd be a row of trees along the back, and blue sky above. Simple. No station, just track, parking lot, a switch-stand or two, and some scenery. In some ways it might resemble an airport runway scene from Thunderbirds.

Then I thought, do I really care about laying down the exact track plan, or even a compressed version? I've never had a birds-eye view of the yard either in the '70s or now. I've only seen it at eye-level from the parking lot along highway 7, and that's the view from which my memories were created. If all I want to do is to create scenes as I might have or could have seen them, from the vantage point of loitering around the edge of the yard, then something highly simplified may suffice. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Going deeper

The pandemic has got me thinking about a lot of things, one being what do I still want to do in this hobby and with the blog? Sure, I want to improve my technical skills, but I have a feeling I haven't yet communicated what I need to communicate. Here at the blog I've dove into a number of topics over the years, and although I think they're headed in the right direction, they've left me with the feeling that there remain deeper, more nuanced stories to tell. Keep on keeping on and take care. Thanks for dropping by and spending a little time here!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Speeder Shed; Location Unknown

Stuffed away in a corner of a photo album, with nothing in common with the surrounding photos, I found these two of some speeder shed. I have no idea where it was located. And there's no date stamp on the back, but my guess is that it was taken during the summer of 1975.

You can see there're buildings in the background of both pictures. They might provide clues as to location.

Back in '75 I can only assume that I thought I would never forget where I took these, and it didn't cross my mind that 45 years in the future I might not remember - I could barely look beyond when my next math test would occur :-) My usual train haunts were Hastings, Havelock, and Marmora, so I assume it was located somewhere in that rather large area.

Friday, June 19, 2020


If you've been following the posts about the railway stations in Hastings, Havelock, and Marmora you'll know that I keep saying that I shot the black-and-whites with a Kodak Brownie that used 120 roll film.


I went and looked for the camera in the momentos stash, and found to my embarrassment that the camera used was a Hawkeye that shot 127 size rolls of film.

But, there's an old Brownie somewhere in the momento boxes, although given my track record it'll likely be some other brand :-)

Hornby gets Grusom

This is quite a find that Martin sent my way: A Hornby boxing of the AHM Grusom Casket company kit. 

I don't see a scale noted on the box top, but I assume it's the same HO scale kit we've seen before. I tend to associate Hornby with the UK's OO market. I would think this building would look a tad small on an OO layout, but if it was placed in the background, maybe with some HO figures or vehicles, it could look ok. Forced perspective and all that.

Hastings Station: 28.8.74

I keep going on about how I mis-identified the Marmora station as the Hastings station. So, I guess the next question is: do you have any pictures of the Hastings station? Yes I do!

But, unfortunately, only pictures of sections of the station, and not any complete overviews or facades. As far as the front elevation goes, that partial photo is all I have.

Unlike other photos I have, these are stamped on the back with a date, which in this case is 28.8.74. Back then I would process a roll of film as soon as I could after it was shot. So, these photos were likely taken sometime in August 1974.

As for the back wall, I at least have two photos that could be stitched together to make a complete back wall view. 

This end is some sort of freight section. I don't know what that little building is on the left.

And this is the other end of the back wall. That's my father's Chevrolet Biscayne parked in the middle.

At least I've got uncropped views of the end elevations. If the car was removed from the scene, one might think the photo was from an era much earlier than the '70s.

That's my sister providing scale. And it looks like my parents are getting back into the car, no doubt with my father suggesting that if we don't hurry up and get in he'll leave without us :-)

Unlike the stations at Havelock and Marmora, I don't think this one still exists, but I'll look into it. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Marmora Station: Yesterday & Today

I've been doing some work to organize my old photos and get them properly identified. 

This is a photo of the train station in Marmora, Ontario that I took back in the early '70s. For some reason I thought this station might have been located in Hastings, but I was wrong. I've updated the posts and tags appropriately.

It turns out the old station has been moved to a community park and sports area in Marmora, and has been refurbished and preserved. I took these photos on another trip out west. I swung by the site in Marmora where Mr. Google told me the station was now located.

Although, the ratty, ad hoc garage that was there in the '70s has been removed.

The current station even has a plaque, which informs us that the Station was named for a man murdered near its original site. And they say Canada is dull....

Monday, June 15, 2020

Tool & car shed in Havelock?

My old photos are in need of serious organization. I found this one stuffed in the corner of an album where it had no logical place being. I think this shed was located in the Havelock yard, but there's a slim chance it could have been located down the road in Hastings. Those were the only towns I indulged in nerdy train watching in those days.

I likely shot this in '72 or '73 - maybe '74, these pictures aren't date stamped, arrgh - as I didn't have my little 110 camera then, and was still using an old Brownie that shot 120 rolls of film. I don't know if you could buy those rolls in colour, but black-and-white was all I used.

[16 June 2020 Update: After reviewing several old photos I think this structure was actually located near the Marmora station. I'm in the process of that long overdue photo reorg and I hope to fix identification problems I've made with some of my old pictures.]

[18 June 2020 Update: Yes, this building was located in Marmora, Ontario.]

Streetcar wire support poles - 1st attempt

I've been watching some of the videos about Philip Reed's ship modelling work. One of the things I've noticed in the few I've watched is that he talks about solving this problem and that problem and not so much about creating details. Model building as a problem solving activity as opposed to a detail creation activity? I liked that and started to think about some of the model building related problems I want to solve. The Portacabin Problem is one. Poles to support the streetcar overhead wire is another.

At first I thought I'd take some old Model Power light standards I have, remove their disk bases, paint them more realistic colours, and then insert them in holes drilled in the layout's sidewalk. And that's what I did. It turns out I should have done some measuring and thinking first. The problem is the overhead wire needs to be about 19' above the track, and the poles are too short to allow for that, especially when one factors in the span wires, hangers, and other support do-dads. I pulled up some reference photos I'd taken along the King St. streetcar line, took out my scale, and did some thinking.

One thing to keep in mind: my overhead wires aren't powered and are for scenic purposes only.

On the right is my first attempt at a pole. It's made from a 1/8" diameter aluminum tube I had in my scrap box and the light part from a Model Power highway light standard. The bottom 5mm sits in the layout, and the light is at about the 20' mark. I think the pole needs to be a few feet taller and there needs to be a foot or so more space between where the span wire connects and the light insertion point. I'm also going to try making one from styrene to see what happens.

I read somewhere that these poles are spaced around 30m apart, so I might not need as many as I've drilled for on the layout. Anyway, problem solving continues.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Spreader in Havelock

I believe this thing is a ballast spreader? Given these photos were taken with a fixed-focus, 110 camera, it's amazing how much that thing captured on its tiny film. I had to do a little cropping and enhancement of the digital images because of the backlighting, and was surprised at how much interesting stuff appeared in the lower image after just that little bit of fiddling. A big improvement from the '70s where I had to live with whatever image I got back from the photo processor.