Saturday, July 16, 2016

Can you spell Tedious?

I can now.
While waiting for the paint to cure on a quintet of SFRD reefers, I decided to work on a personal project.
The DT&I 41'-6" Mill gon. In fact 6 of them. Cause nothing succeeds like excess.
Actually, a significant number of these gons were in autoframe service and no doubt many would have traversed the Cayuga Sub, on the way to the factories in NY state, so half a dozen doesn't seem outrageous to me.
This model was a "Shake and Take" project from the Cocoa Beach RPM in 2010. It takes me time to catch up sometimes. The original project called for chopping up an Athearn gon and creating drop door ends. Most of that work has been solved by Frank Hodina and Tom Madden. Frank did the pattern using a Proto 2000 gon and Tom cast up a limited number of car bodies. I believe he's sold out of these now.

Right now the tedious part is bending all the grabs, 96 in total. Of which 72 are drop grabs. I'm having to bend them because I don't have any 24" grabs here and I don't want to wait for them to be delivered. So it really is my own fault.

But I'm well versed in the art of wire bending and the radio is good company. It'll be over soon enough.
With any luck I'll be cobbling up the loading frames for the car frames tomorrow.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

In an Aylmer state of mind

What do you do when it's stupid hot outside?
You crawl on the floor of the basement and draw out a town for the layout.

I spent a few hours this afternoon sorting out the town of Aylmer, Ont. Not a large town, but in the era I model it was a busy place. A large canning plant, a milk condensing plant, a huge tobacco warehouse, along with the requisite coal dealers, stock pen, feed mills, team tracks, etc.
Not counting the team track there are 8 distinct car destinations/shippers. Should keep the way freight crew busy banging cars around.
I purposely kept the scene as open lengthwise as I could. This scene will be a good 28' long when it's done. Not bad given that the prototype is almost 2 miles long.
What I like about that is that the way freight crews will be covering a lot of distance to get the jobs done, which requires time and will give a sense of accomplishment. And hopefully crews will remember not to leave the brakemen stranded at the other end of the town!
Of course serious compromises have to be made.
Imperial Tobacco is located further north than I can represent it and the spur turns 90 degrees from the main before entering the plant. Instead I have the spur parallel to the main and the plant will be represented with building flats on the wall.
Aylmer Canners should be 1/2 a mile south of the main on it's on spur, but again space limitations require that I make the spur parallel to the main. I'm also going to have to, mirror image the structure and rotate it 90 degrees to get it into the layout. That building is represented in the photo by the block of styrofoam furthest from the camera.
The closer block of foam is Carnation Condensed Milk. It's going to be a busy place. A coal spur for the boilers. and multiple loading spurs for crated product. Daily inbounds of tin cans from Simcoe.
I'm going to leave this on the floor for awhile and stare at it off an on before I make sawdust.
One needs to be sure about these things.

Chipmunk Wars after action report

I'm pleased to report that it has been 5 days since I've heard the pitter-patter of tiny feet on my basement ceiling.
I am declaring victory in this latest skirmish with the little beggars.
And in separate but related incident, we had a chipmunk being overly curious about our garage and it's contents. My wife and I startled it one day while we were in and out of the garage and he scampered down the floor drain.
I was convinced he was on the way to the septic tank.
We finished our business in the garage and closed the doors. 2 days later I came into the garage to discover a chipmunk in the window trying to get out. The little beggar was relieved when I opened the door for him. 2 days without food or water will alter your thinking about investigating garages, I guess.
And, of course, in fine chipmunk fashion, once he got outside, he turned and scolded me as only chipmunks can.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's Gems like this

That make my work such a pleasure.
This is an O scale Chooch Ultra-scale resin kit all finished and ready to deliver.
The workmanship in the patterns is exquisite. They even went so far as to include the interiors of the ice bunkers. Who does that?!
So has a result the hatches just had to be open.
The kit is full of specifically designed injection molded parts. Ice hatches and hardware, sill steps, ladders, corner brackets, door latch bars, and underside bolt straps. All of which go towards creating a stunning kit.
It's too bad that Chooch has ceased his O scale kit line. I'd happily build stuff of this quality every day.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Chipmunk Wars

One of the surprise appeals of this new home was the discovery, last summer, of a population of chipmunks living in the trees on the property line and under the back deck.
They are impossibly cute and with a little patience can be trained to take nibbles from your hand. And, bonus round, they upset the cat to no end. He doesn't care about the squirrels, or birds, but the chipmunks really get him going.
About a month ago I discovered that one of these little fellows has discovered a path into the basement. For days I've been listening to him scampering around on the ceiling tiles. He's completely ignored the live traps I've placed for him. This seems to be one chipmunk who doesn't care for peanut butter.
Every other day now for weeks, I've been sticking my head up into the ceiling area, trying to determine how the little bugger is getting in. I've done dozens of laps around the house, looking for any holes. I've crawled under the rear deck. All to no avail.
Today I pried up a deck board as a last resort and discovered a potential point of entry. When the current deck was built, the old concrete stoop was left in place and just built over. That left a previously unseen spot where a bump-out for the kitchen comes over the stoop and the underside is inaccessible to humans.
I went back inside and pulled out an insulation batt and discovered a piles of nesting material, feces and chewed insulation. I think I found the point of entry. I've boarded over the joist bay.
Here's hoping.
If I had a shotgun, I'd be replacing ceiling tiles this weekend.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ready for St Louis

And the official  announcement.
The newest kit from Yarmouth Model Works, the Semet-Solvay AC&F Type 103 tankcar, will be released at the St Louis RPM this coming August.

The kit includes cast resin frame, tank, expansion dome and detail parts, along with etched dome platform, ladders, sill steps, tank anchors and other details. Various wire sizes and plastic details are also included. Custom decals from Black cat Publishing are part of the kit. Truck frames are included, but not wheelsets or couplers.
The kit will retail for $65.00 USD.
Now for the really important bit. This is a limited run kit.  I will be bringing 40 kits to St Louis and selling them there first. If there are any left over I will offer them online.
I will only be making more kits available once those are sold, if I get enough requests and if I can convince my production partners to make more.
See you in St Louis?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Looming Mail Disruption

Once again, Canada Post and it's unionized work force are at loggerheads with each other.
And I'm torn.
On one hand, as a small business, who is dependent upon the post office for shipping services, I'm pissed off. Neither side seems to care at all about the impact this dispute will have on me and others like me.
On the other hand I a member of a labour union, in my other guise as a stagehand and arena rigger, and some of the demands being made by management are a outrageous.
At the same time, the union is being rather short sited on a major sticking point, that is a change to the pension plans for new hires.
The day of the defined benefit pension plan is over. And it's time the union accepts this. Now they should get something in return for agreeing to the change, but holding the mail as ransom is unacceptable.
And the company needs to address the massive pay inequity issue between rural and urban letter carriers. The company's argument is specious at best.
But everything else aside, both sides need to stop holding the country ransom because they can't figure it out.

As far as my business is concerned, as of today, I'm not shipping out any orders for parts or kits until I know that mail service is assured. Finished freight cars will go by courier.

It's days like this where I hate Canada Post. Llabour and management.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Ruminations on layout building

Last week yet another high profile Canadian modeler passed away suddenly. Dan Kirlin, who was a year younger than I, had a heart attack while mowing his lawn.
Dan was a very talented modeler, who had a hand in my evolving into a prototype modeler, when he helped make and market the huge pile of proper ends, doors, roofs and running boards for modeling Canadian 1937 AAR style boxcars.
One of the things Dan left behind was an idea for building a layout. Which for some reason never really moved forward.
I'm always struck by the number of people who have plans for a layout, but never get it into gear.
My advice;
Just bloody do it!
You're not getting any younger.
You have no idea what tomorrow's going to bring.
In my case, I've decided to push ahead with my layout in a fairly aggressive fashion. I want to get the "heavy" work done within the next couple of years. I'm finding it more difficult to do now, what I used to be able to do fairly easily a couple of years ago.
My long term mobility remains a permanent question, as a result of an accident when I was a teenager. So I push ahead now, knowing that in a few years, flinging plywood sheets onto the table saw won't be an option.
My friend Trevor and I have discussed this many times. And we share a very similar mindset. Neither of our spaces is optimum for what we had hoped to model. But the spaces , if planned properly, will serve our needs quite well. That perfect solution is likely never to be there.
We both know of individuals who held off their layout building, for a variety of obscure reasons and as a result never got to achieve their  dreams.
It's a hobby guys. It's meant to be fun.  And nowhere is it written that you can't have fun now.
Saving for retirement? How much do you really need? And are you going to be in good enough shape to enjoy it the way you think you will.
When Rich Chrysler was dying of pancreatic cancer, he made a point of continuing to work on his layout for as long as he could. And when he finally passed, I had a couple of months of "what's the point?" The point is, I'm here to enjoy life. And building a layout makes me happy. And I know that sharing the layout progress brings pleasure to others as they read about my ups and downs.
If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I won't be spending my last moments saying to myself,"if only I'd..."