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.

Foundation and Machine Shop*

Snippet from a larger photo in E. L. Moore's  Grusom Casket Company, RMC, June '67
If you've been following along you know there're a lot of variations on the AHM Machine Shop kit out there. One of the significant differences between some of the variants is in the foundation and loading dock. Ok, so which one of the variants is the 'real' one?

It's the ones with the stairs outside the front door like those on the original AHM kit, not the ones with the concrete loading dock. Burn's Engineering is a good example of one that has a loading dock, but there are several that do as the kit list at the Moore's Balsa Products shows. Although, the ones with stairs outside the front door also have a junk strewn base, which as you can see in the picture from E. L. Moore's article is a fabrication - the area near the base on the original is junk free.

Since I'm doing a deep dive into authenticity minutiae, I'll point out a couple of other things. The back half of the original is clad in red brick and the front half in yellow - notice in the photo the darker back half. This is deliberate. The yellow brick part is meant to represent a new addition. So, if you're building a Grusom Casket Company kit, or maybe an 'authentic' Machine Shop, consider making the back half red brick and the front yellow. Also, take a look at that front door. It has a classic three-window design common on suburban houses of the '50s and '60s. The kit's door is somewhat more standard. Ok, now that we're nitpicking, the upper portion of the front facade is somewhat different from that of the kit, but that is almost impossible to fix without a complete overhaul, so I'll overlook that. And one more thing if those weren't enough: the skylights only extend over the red brick half and not over the newer yellow brick portion. Ok, I'm done. For now :-)
*Isaac Asimov's Foundation series is another we tried to read, but didn't even get through the first book. I bought Foundation in the '70s and the other three at a secondhand book store in the '90s (?) for 50 cents each. I had high hopes I'd try the series again. And, yes, I've tried the first volume twice again, and each time couldn't get through it - it seemed rather dull. Well, just as E. L. Moore was saving television for his old age, maybe that's what I'm saving the Foundation series for.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Snowplow & crane

This is my rough attempt at creating a composite image from two smaller ones I took back in the '70s at the Havelock yard. Here are the originals.
There was one photo of mainly just the crane on the flat car.

And the second was mainly of the snowplow, which looks like some sort of caboose converted for snowplow duty.

Hopping in the time machine to Havelock yard

After seeing those hoppers in Havelock yesterday I started to wonder if I had seen any when I visited that yard back in the '70s. The answer is yes, I did find two photos.

I can't narrow down the exact date I took these pictures. All I can say is that we periodically dropped by for a few minutes at a time in the summers from '73 to '75.

These pictures were probably taken with my 110 pocket camera, and they're printed on a textured paper that was common at the time. So, they're quite low resolution compared to what we're used to these days.

I did a little bit of fading correction, and tried to lighten up some of the deeper shadows. The originals now have a quite strong yellowish tinge to them.

I have a few other photos of the Havelock yard from that time, and I should set aside some time to scan them.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Way out west in Havelock

Early this morning I rustled up some provisions, wrangled the accord from the paddock, and then headed west for the country, shaking the dust from my shoes and the cobwebs from my head all the way. Sometime around mid-day I made a side trip to the Havelock yard to see what freight cars might be parked there. There were a few.
I saw this one lettered for the Boston & Maine.
I saw this lettered by an unknown graffiti-ier.
There's a string of flat cars in front of this hopper.
There was a lot of stuff in the yard. No, I didn't trespass. These were all shot from the parking lot beside the highway.
The old station is still there, but these days it's a restaurant. We've eaten there many times, and although I'd love an amazing Montreal smoked meat sandwich, I stuck with my provisions - but, I'll be back sometime this summer for one. Today was the first day restaurants could re-open.
This little gem is across the highway. It's very model railroad-able - basically a chocolate box with interesting surface detail. The summer's just started, and I can see a few more stopovers to this yard in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Snapshots from the gap filling trials

I've been doing some testing of ways to solve the 'Portacabin Problem'. That is, how to eliminate, or at least reduce, the gap between the base of a building and the surrounding sidewalk.

I've been using the restored Post Office building for these tests as it's no stranger to being abused :-)

The technique so far is to place the building on a flat surface - I'm using the MDF surface of the layout table - with a piece of wax paper underneath, then carefully dab filler - I've found Deluxe Materials' Prefect Plastic Putty has worked best so far - in the gap between the foundation and the surface. After drying, the wax paper is peeled away, and the hard putty on the side walls is sanded smooth and painted to blend into the foundation wall.

Because the sidewalk is slightly off-flat compared to the layout table's surface, I then took some very fine slivers of modelling clay and worked them into a few remaining gaps. In the lead picture, the right side of the facade has clay worked in, the left doesn't and neither do the front steps. The clay improves the look, but it's tricky to get it into place and look right.

I took this picture before filling the gap with clay, and you can see the gap is still quite noticeable. Although, the unclayed side foundation wall doesn't look too bad with just the putty applied. 

I think further refining of this technique will reduce the worst offending foundations, but clearly having an extended foundation that sits into a hole in the layout is the best. For me though, I want the flexibility of arrangement that a flat sidewalk surface allows.