MAIL CALL: Overland Models CNR Transfer Van #76617 – Custom Painted by David Browning.

It’s not often I post about anything ready to run on here, but I think my most recent acquisition is a good exception.

On a night not too long ago, instead of sleeping, I was cruising around through my PEIR files looking at pictures, as I often do.

I was about to turn in when I stumbled across a beautiful David Othen photo I’d never noticed before of RSC-14 #1751 hauling a classic PEI train consisting of three boxcars and transfer van #76617 at O’Leary dated June 1982.

While I unfortunately do not have the right to post the David Othen photo here, this watermarked photo of Van #76617 from the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library is from the same era and location as David’s.

The following day on break at work, I came across a Facebook post by Otter Valley Railroad of pictures of a brass estate they had just brought in and when I saw the green box with “CNR Transfer Van” on the sticker I thought it was probably meant to be.

When Hilda at OVR wrote me back to tell me the model was still available and that if I wanted, they could have David Browning, who used to paint for Overland, paint it for me; I knew it was meant to be.

#76617 arrived late last week, and I am thrilled with how it turned out. It will look great behind RSC-14 #1751 when the Rapido models are finally released.

– C

SCRATCH-BUILDING A “GROUP C” CNR 46’1” STEEL PRE-WAR FLATCAR

#660213 completed and in all its glory.

Buckle up, y’all; here comes a long one.

In my last update, I mentioned that my scratch-build of one of CN’s 1929 built “Group C” flat cars was drawing to a close. I am happy to report it is indeed now complete, sans a retainer valve. As I could never discern the valve’s location on the prototype, my thoughts were that it would be better to leave the part off the model entirely rather than guess and find out later it was put in the wrong location.

Let’s begin.

In 1929, CN had 300 46’1″ flat cars built. What makes these 300 cars unique was they were the first flat cars CN had built to its own design. Until this time, all of the flat cars on the CN roster were a hodge-podge of assets inherited from its predecessors, from varying builders and designs.

I learned about these “Group C” cars while working on my CN “A-3” cars: scratch-bashes of two Tichy kits; they are featured in the same two 1994 articles by Stafford Swain in CN Lines (issues V5N3 and V5N4.)

Using the supplied drawings, I cut out a piece of .060″ V-Groove styrene to act as the car floor, and from a sheet of .030″ plain styrene sheet, cut out the side and centre sill plates. The centre sill of the car was then assembled as a sub-assembly, using strip styrene for the bracing, spacing and to simulate the rivet plates. I also added the rivets to the center sill at this point using Archer Fine Transfers, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to get at it after all of the details and side sills were installed.

I took a piece of plain paper, taped it to a piece of glass and then measured out the distance between each stake pocket for the car side sills. I then taped the side sills onto this and glued each Titchy stake pocket to the side sill using the paper as a guide. After the glue had ample time to dry and the styrene had time to properly re-solidify from the solvent glue, I used a #17 blade to take all of the “U bolt” details off the stake pockets. I used the #17 blade to notch a horizontal line across the middle of the face of the stake pocket. Utilizing the notch in the middle of the front of the stake pocket as a guide, I used my flush cutters to cut a roughly 45-degree angle from the center of the face of the stake pocket down to the bottom “foot.” This mimics the prototype more accurately than the Titchy pockets that come from the package. After the stake pockets were completed, I set them aside.

[As you can imagine, the entire process for the stake pockets was an absolute nail-biter because one mistake would render the whole side sill junk… I took a lot of time to make sure I did this cleanly and accurately. I luckily only made one small mistake, which was easily hidden with some Mr. Surfacer 500 painted over the dent in the sill and sanded flat.]

Before installing the centre sill, I drilled out two holes for each truck at a spacing of 35’9″. I then screwed two Titchy Bolsters to the car floor and cemented them in place. Once the cement dried, I fit the scratch-built centre sill snugly between the bolsters, centred it to the car and glued it in place.

The car mostly assembled, but before the final installation of rivets and decking.

I installed Z-bracing to the car floor parallel to the centre sill. The z-bracing was scratch-built by threading two 1×3″ and one 1×2″ piece of styrene through a homemade jig and glued with Tamiya Ultra Thin. Then I used my JMC Micro Saw to cut out notches to fit in the four more prominent cross members, pre-drilled to accept the train line.

The article didn’t include any photos or drawings of the underframe, so I studied the rivet patterns on the car sides from prototype photos and similarly built flat cars to conclude the location of the cross members and brake components.

The fourteen Z-shaped cross members were installed using leftover z-bracing. I notched out one end of each cross member with a 400 grit PC board file to fit flush against the centre sill. I then ran a sanding block vertically down the side of the car floor to ensure there was no overhang into where the side-sills would be installed.

Next, I installed brake levers fabricated from strip styrene into the sill and the Cal-Scale brake parts. This required me to modify the triple valve mount with a file and make hangers for the air tank from phosphor bronze wire.

Before installing the brake piping and rods, I scratch-built a slack adjuster from scrap pieces of styrene and used a Titchy NBW to simulate the bolt into the associated brake lever. The airlines were installed with .010″ wire and the rods with .0125″ respectively. I used Titchy turnbuckles cut in half to act as the clevis on the connections to the brake levers, and scale chain was used between the brake cylinder and associated rod. The last thing I installed on the underframe was the train line, using .015″ wire and a scratch-built “t-valve” from styrene rod, connecting the train line to the triple valve.

Close up shot of some of the under-frame detail, including the t-valve.

While this might seem like a disjointed way to go about building the under-frame of the car, I did it in this order because I knew once I put the car’s body sills on, I wouldn’t have much room to work on the small parts. I had to be careful not to box myself in.

With the under-frame assembled, I next installed the side-sills. To get an excellent 90-degree joint, I used a machinist square on its fat edge to push the sill flush while the glue set. The car ends were installed using 1×12″ scale strip styrene and reinforced from behind with 1×10″ to prevent warping.

The joints were sanded clean, and then corner irons were installed with strip styrene.

I used a single edge razor blade to shave the poling pockets off some spare Titchy boxcar ends I had lying around. I glued the poling pockets on top of the corner irons and purposely used a liberal amount of styrene cement so they would melt into the corner irons to look like one solid part.

With the general shape of the car completed and the underframe more or less entirely assembled, it was now time to install the Smokey Mountain scale coupler pockets.

I measured the centre of the car ends and then cut notches for the width of the draft gear box with my JMC saw. I scored the inside of the car end that was to be removed with a #11 blade and then snapped it out with my tweezers.

This shows the addition to the buffer plate.

The Smokey Mountain coupler pockets were fitted into the car ends, the screw-hole marked with a pencil and then drilled out and installed. As the prototype had a slightly wider buffer block than the Smokey Mountain product, I used a 1×3″ styrene strip on each side of the buffer block on the car end. This also covered up any visible slop between the draft gearbox and the notch cut out for it.

The brake wheel and its mechanism were installed on the car end. I used the Titchy rachet part but decided to upgrade to a brass Precision Scale brake wheel.

The Yarmouth Model Works Carmer Cut Levers were then installed. I used a 4×4″ square of styrene to mount the cut lever, and put a Titchy NBW on top of it to simulate a bolt.

The grab irons were drilled out and installed with .010″ wire, my new go-to over .0125″ as I find .0125″ looks large when painted.

The A-Line stirrups were held over a candle and flattened out straight, re-bent to match the prototype and then installed by first drilling into the bottom of the side sill before being glued in place.

Before painting, I installed all the remaining rivets onto the car using Archer Fine Transfers and the articles drawing as a guide and then installed the Tahoe Model Works Trucks. I also at this point installed the weight into the center sill, which was lead shotgun shot given to my by a friend.

The car was then primed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer and allowed to dry overnight. I used my regular mix of Vallejo paints to paint the model CNR #11 red. Future floor polish was used to prepare the model for decals.

Black Cat CNR Flat Car decals were applied with the car being lettered for road number #660213, coated again with future floor polish. The car was matte-coated with Vallejo Matt Varnish.

It was then time to install the car’s decking; for this, I used 3×8″ scale lumber from Northeastern Scale Lumber cut into 9′ lengths. I began by first installing a single board on each end of the car, ensuring they were dead centre to the car. After the (15 minute) JB weld had dried overnight, I set a ruler against the boards previously installed on each end and on top of the stake pockets; this created a dead straight line between each back of the car and allowed me to install each board dead center as well. This is an aspect of the build I spent a lot of time thinking out before tacking, as I knew that if the boards waned and weren’t straight, I would not be happy. It turned out to be a straightforward process in the end.

Close up detail of the cars under frame.

Lastly as far as the decking installation was concerned, I drilled out the holes for the end stake-pockets and squared them up with a #11 blade.

With the decking installed, I took a sanding block with 400 grit sandpaper on it. I sanded the deck to level it out a bit and get rid of any fuzzies from the wood I didn’t get before installing. I stained the wood decking on the car with a light mixture of India ink and isopropyl alcohol.

I decided I wanted to try simulating the nails that hold the decking to the car floor. For this, I went to a pharmacy and asked for some of the smallest hypodermic needle tips they had. I measured out where each “line” of nails would be on each end of the car and then used the hypodermic needle against a ruler to install over 400 “nails” into the car deck. I then gave the deck another coat of stain, sanded it, and then stained it one final time. The result is subtle, but I think it turned out well as the nails in a wood deck aren’t that noticeable on the prototype once the deck becomes dirty.

Close-up shot of the completed decking, including the subtle nail details.

Finally, Hi-Tech Details rubber air hoses were installed on each end of the car along with Kadee #158’s.

The completed model on the bottom vs the mock-up I made prior to deciding to proceed with the project. The “stripe” in the middle of the mock-up separates two different paint formulas I was testing at the time for #11 red.

That’s a wrap! A long and complicated build is finally completed, and I am very proud of the end result. It is my intent to eventually have this model judged toward an NMRA car-building merit award. Find below a parts and materials list for this build.

Next up, finally more work on that pesky CNR wood-reefer scratch-build (and maybe a new not-so-much scratch built reefer project…..)

CM

RAW MATERIALS:

Evergreen Scale Models:

  • .060” V-Groove Siding (#14060) [12”x24” sheet, special ordered]
  • 1×2” HO Scale Strip Styrene (#8102)
  • 1×3” HO Scale “       “ (#8103)
  • 1×4” HO Scale “       “ (#8104)
  • 1×6” HO Scale “       “ (#8106)
  • 1×8” HO Scale “       “ (#8108)
  • 1×10” HO Scale “       “ (#8110)
  • 1×12” HO Scale “       “ (#8112)
  • 2×12” HO Scale “       “ (#8212)
  • 4×4” HO Scale “       “ (#8404)
  • .030” Sheet Styrene (#9030)
  • .040” “         “ (#9040)

Northeastern Scale Lumber:

  • 3×8” HO Scale Lumber (#3811)

Plastruct:

  • .010” Styrene Rod (#90850)

Tichy Train Group:

  • .008” PB Wire (#1100)
  • .010” “     “ (#1101)
  • .0125”     “ (#1106)
  • .015” “     “ (#1102)

COMMERCIAL PARTS:

  • A.A.R. 22” Air Hoses, x2 / Hi-Tech Details (#6038)
  • AB Brake System, x1 (Plastic) / Cal-Scale (#283) 
  • Barber S-2 50 Ton Trucks / Tahoe Model Works (#113) 
  • Bolsters, x2 / Tichy Train Group (#3069)
  • Brake Wheels – 6 Spoke, x1 (Brass) / Precision Scale Company (#31117) 
  • Carmer Cut Levers / Yarmouth Model Works, x2 (#404 & #401) 
  • Scale Draft Gear Boxes / Smokey Mountain Model Works, x2 (87-DP-401-GY) 
  • Stake Pockets, x26 / Tichy Train Group (#3006) 
  • Stirrup Steps, x4 / A-Line (#29000) 
  • Turnbuckles, x4 / Tichy Train Group (#8021) 
  • Vertical Brake Staff & Support, x1 / Tichy Train Group (#3003) 
  • 7/8 Boxcar End, x2 / Tichy Train Group (#3058) [Used to harvest four poling pockets]
  • 33 Inch Semi-Scale All-Metal Wheelsets / Tangent Scale Models (#137)

SCRATCH-BUILT PARTS:

  • Side sills, x2. [.040” Sheet Styrene]
  • End sills, x2. [2×12” & 1×10” Strip Styrene]
  • Corner gussets, x4. [1×12” Strip Styrene]
  • Grab irons, x8. [.010” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Center sills, x2. [.030” Sheet Styrene]
  • L brackets for centre sill. x4. [1×6” & 1×4” Strip Styrene]
  • Center sill foot plates, x2. [1×6” Strip Styrene]
  • Brake rods, x2 [.0125” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Brake lines, x3. [.010” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Retainer valve line, x1. [.008” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Verticle buffer plates, x4. [1×3” and 1×2” Strip Styrene]
  • Wood deck boards, x60. [3”x8” Scale Lumber cut into 9’ lengths with a NWSL Chopper II. Installed individually on car floor.]
  • Z-Bracing [1×2” and 1×3” Styrene fed through a scratch-built jig and glued into a “Z” with Tamiya Extra Thin.”
  • Crossmembers, x10. [Same process as Z-Bracing.]
  • Crossmembers, x2. [1”x4” Strip Styrene]

PAINTS / FINISHES:

  • Brown / Vallejo Model Air (#71.105)
  • Camo Medium Brown / Vallejo Model Air (#71.038)
    • [2pts #71.105 + 1pt #71.038 = CN #11 Red]
  • Fine Surface Primer, Oxide Red / Tamiya (#87160)
  • India Ink, Super Black / Speedball
  • Nato Black / Vallejo Model Air (#71.251)
  • Polyurethane Matt Varnish / Vallejo (#26.651) 
  • Revive It Floor Gloss (Future) / Johnson

DECALS:

  • Canadian National Flat Cars / Black Cat Publishing (#289)
  • Freight Car Chalk Markings /  National Scale Car (#D135)
  • Railcar Rivets / Archer Fine Transfers (#88025)

ADHESIVES / WEIGHT:

  • 15 Minute Epoxy / JB Weld
  • Medium CA / Mercury Adhesives
  • Extra Thin Plastic Weld / Tamiya
  • Lead Shotgun Shot [Used as weight] / Western Metal

Building a CN automobile boxcar for a friend. (Sylvan HO-1078)

Jim Parker photo courtesy of CanadianFreightCarGallery.com – Click for link

At an operating session not so long ago, my friend Derwin asked me if I’d ever considered building a kit for somebody else; and if I’d make a Sylvan CNR Automobile Boxcar kit (HO-1078) for him.

I’ve had a lot of fun operating on Derwin’s “Canadisle” layout over the years, and I thought building this car would be a fun way to give back. Additionally, Derwin models the late 70’s and early 80s, which allows me to explore another era with no commitment. I decided to break from my Group C flat-car scratch build for awhile and put together the kit.

[Note that I don’t currently have any intention of changing my period of focus, although I do have 4 Rapido RSC-14s on pre-order, but I digress.]

Derwin didn’t have a specific road number in mind, so I cruised around on the Canadian Freight Car Gallery until I came across an excellent Jim Parker photo of #740215 in June 1980, right in the middle of Derwin’s era, and decided this would be the one to model.

The completed model, from the same view as the prototype photo. Note the simulated “remnants” of the ladder brackets I added to the top of the car body, mimicking the prototype.

The car is built entirely to the kit’s instructions, except for the prototypical differences such as the removed running boards, cut end ladders on the “A” end of the car and a few upgraded parts, such as Des Plaines Hobbies 8 Rung Canadian Ladders, A-Line stirrups, cut levers and Cal-Scale brake details. Derwin also supplied Tahoe Model Works trucks with Intermountain wheelsets, my suggestion.

The car was primed with Tamiya FSP Oxide Red, pre-shaded and painted with Vallejo acrylics, gloss-coated with Future Floor Polish, decals applied with the included Black-Cat Decals (+ Highball ACI Labels and National Scale Car Chalk Mark) matt coated with Vallejo Matt varnish. The matt coat was followed by a very light mist coat of white to simulate paint fade and then sprayed again with Vallejo Matt varnish.

I’m pleased with how this project turned out, and it was a lot of fun to explore a different era for change. This model was the first I’ve ever applied a noodle decal to, let alone an ACI label!

I’m happy to have been able to contribute to Derwin’s layout, even if it’s a small piece of it, and with that in mind, I built this car as if it were for myself.

Calvin

PS: That Group C flat-car scratch build is coming to a close; post coming soon!

The ties that bind…

Ok. So, before the world exploded my focus in Vernon River land was more or less on preparing for the laying of ties, ballast and track.

For a man who hasn’t even laid flex track before, you could imagine how deep of a daunting rabbit hole this could be.

It has been my full intent since Day 1 with not only this project it’s-self, but my modelling as a whole to hand lay my track. It just seems like the right thing to do and nothing looks exactly like wood, but actual wood.

Instead of just going in blind and starting to lay track on my actual bench work I figured it might be fun / a good idea to teach myself this group of skills by building a display / test track.

So that’s what I did.

I ordered a “Ultimate Track Sample Starter Pack” with Code 55 rail and 8ft ties from Proto87, snagged a 1×3 that a buddy of mine had from his old deck, got some 1/2in extruded foam left over from a different buddy’s garage build and got to work.

I’ll go over the actual test track it’s self another time. What I want to show off here are my ties.

Hunter Hughson has a great post on Weathering Ties with Acrylic paints over at his blog that I more or less followed to a tee, and man am I ever happy with how they turned out. The only thing I changed from his process was how I went about beating up the ties. Instead of a dental pick, chisel tip and #7 Exacto blades I used a dental pick and wire brush at the suggestion of Chris Mears.

I had the idea to perhaps switch it up and represent a later era with my test track; say the late 70s or early 80s, where tie plates would be more prevalent on the prototype [AKA a excuse to use more of the beautiful Proto87 tie plates that came with the sample pack]. However, I’m leaning back to sticking with the late 50s. I’d still perhaps throw a couple tie-plates down here and there on newer looking ties.

Next up will be ballasting. If I stay with the late 50s it’ll be cinders, if I go with the late 70s / early 80s it’ll be a mix of crushed rock.

C.M.

Vernon River Co-Op Warehouse: a study on shared building plans.

IMG_1210

The former Vernon River Co-Op Warehouse built in 1947. July 2013. Chris Mears photo, used with permission.

Since the very conception of this layout, a mystery has been at the back of my mind. That is the mystery of the Vernon River Co-Op Warehouse.

I guess perhaps not as much of a mystery, as a minor annoyance. You see, the photos I have are only but a tease- only providing partial views of how this building looked while it was still rail-served.

There is one fact working for me, and that is that the building still stands today- rails to trails use it as a workshop. Having an accurately sized model will not be a problem.. however, its freight doors and roof vents have been removed, and the roof and siding have been replaced.

I’ve reached out to local area Facebook groups to try to find a better photo of the building with its freight doors still intact, to no avail. I’ve reached out to the archivist at St. F.X. University, which does have a giant photo collection of Co-Op buildings, PEI included- to no avail. (One avenue I have not yet explored is to contact rails to trails and see if I could be allowed inside to see if the door framing is still visible.)

This has mostly left me to fill in the blanks myself.

However, just this morning, I had a bit of an “ah-ha” moment.

I don’t know why this didn’t hit me before now, but I had already been aware of direct evidence that the co-operatives routinely shared building plans, being co-operatives and all. One such example of this is the Co-Op Potato Warehouses at Morell, Tignish and Souris being nearly identical.

Could the Vernon River Co-Op warehouse just be a shortened version of these other warehouses?

IMG_1199

Morell’s Co-Op Warehouse. Year and photographer are unknown. St. F.X. University Archives.

20935076_1902309463423996_4088096629602011681_o.jpg

Souris Co-op Warehouse. Steve Hunter photo, year unknown.

IMG_1209 copy

Tignish’s Co-Op Warehouse. Year and photographer are unknown. Note that the building is nearly identical to Morell’s warehouse, a county away.

What caught my attention is how similar the front of the Morell warehouse looks to the front of the Vernon River warehouse. The large double door and loft door are of identical construction. The chimneys are identical. While in different locations, the man-door and window are of very similar construction. What we can see of the first freight door shows us that these doors are also very similar, if not identical, to the Morell warehouse.

To corroborate my theory, I took to Google Earth and went back in time to 2015 when the Morell warehouse still stood. Now, the two warehouses’ lengths obviously differ- we don’t need Google to tell us that, but what I was most interested in was finding out if the buildings were the same width.

I’ll be the first person to tell you that Google Earth’s measurements aren’t always so accurate (they even admit this themselves). Still, I figured that if I measured the buildings from a satellite image taken on the same day, I’d be able to figure out if they were the same size.

What I came out with was this:
Morell warehouse= 43.24′ x 122.82′
Vernon River warehouse = 44.91′ x 82′

The widths are very close indeed, given Google’s inaccuracies and satellite imaging variables. I’ll take that as a win.

So now we know that the Vernon River and Morell warehouses were in all likelihood the same width. The similar width dimension, look, owner, and use of the building make me feel comfortable using the Morell and Souris photos as a reference for the Vernon River build. The Morell and Souris photos, along with a scale drawing of the Morell warehouse Steve Hunter gave to me, will most certainly get me most of the way there.

Without a photo showing the Vernon River warehouse’s full side, we don’t know how far apart the two freight doors were.

I can figure this out in two ways:
– Obtain permission to enter the warehouse as it stands today and see if the door framing is still visible from the inside.
– Measure the outside of the warehouse and use the 1958 air photo to scale out the door centres.
These methods will have to wait until the snow melts, but I’m happy having figured out the process I’ll have to follow.

One final question I may never have a firm answer on involves the relationship between the truck door and the foundation.

In the Souris, Tignish and Morell photos, the land is built up to the top of the foundation to meet the truck door- meaning the truck door doesn’t go through the foundation. However, in the Vernon River photos, it appears as if the foundation has been cut to allow for a taller truck door. The man door placement above the foundation caught my suspicion. It made me believe that the ground was initially built-up like the other warehouses, and for some reason, the door’s height needed to be increased, so the foundation was cut into to allow for this.

As you can see in the 1981 Vernon River photo, it looks as if a whole new door frame has recently been installed and the earth around the foundation excavated. The man door remains above the foundation. Perhaps this is all the evidence I need.

After studying the images, I have come to the conclusion that it’s very likely that at some point, the foundation was cut to accommodate a taller truck door- most likely in the early 80s. If the building was initially built like this, wouldn’t the man door be cut into the foundation? I feel confident I can create the door as shown in the Morell photo, with it being accurate.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until the spring to go much further with this research as it requires a field visit. Still, I feel confident that I have most of the information I’ll need to scratch-build this building.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks for reading.

CM

A sunny winter’s day prototype visit.

After Wednesday’s hangout with Taylor, Chris and David I was feeling pretty pumped about the direction of things.

That feeling was only amplified after a Saturday afternoon spent in New Brunswick operating on Doug Devine’s Island Central Railway and Steve McMullin’s Carelton railway.

Even though we we’re very much in the dead of winter here on Prince Edward Island, spring was definitely in the air this Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t resist making the first of what is likely to be many visits to the prototype location.

I can look at photos all day but to catch onto the feeling of the layout I really needed to get out to Vernon River its self and get an idea of how the land lays in 1:1.

Instead of photos, I thought it would be easier to just make a short video which you can find right here:

 

I will return when the snow melts and again in the summer. I plan to take many photos of the right of way,  trees, buildings, farmers fields and farm roads in the area to get a good idea of how I’ll model them.

C.M.

Benchwork!

VernonRiver

Preliminary layout plan. The plan doesn’t show tree lines or service roads.

With most of the planning of the Vernon River layout complete, or at least on the way to completion, I felt confident that it was safe timing to get some benchwork built.

Given the likelihood of a move in the not so distant future I applied the TOMA concept and based my track plan on two 2.5ft x 6ft modules and two 6in x 5ft single track removable staging cassettes- one for each end. The fully sceniced staging cassettes will use bolts and tee nuts to securely connect them to each end of the layout.

This modular setup not only allows me to easily move the layout when moving time comes; it will also allow for easier layout expansion once I have a house with a layout room. A little forethought now will hopefully suppress future tears.

It’s also important to note that the full 12ft of layout will allow me model the village with almost no compression at all aside from the neglecting of the curve of the track. There is one small potato warehouse that will be slightly cut off of the layouts edge. This provides an interesting opportunity to model the building as a cross-section. From behind the building, you’ll be able to see directly inside to a potato filled warehouse. From the front, all you’ll see is the exterior.

Taylor Main had previously offered me his help in anything benchwork related, so this past Saturday I took him up on that. We met and Kent, picked up the supplies needed, headed back to his basement workshop and got to work.

We made great progress- all that remains to be completed is the legs and the installation of 1″ foam. The foam will be recessed level with the top of the modules. We’ve made plans to complete the modules this coming Sunday.

Vernon River / Murray Harbour Subdivision traffic analysis [PT:2 Researching Traffic Amounts and Crunching the Numbers]

7751 on Murray Harbour Sub CN002589
44 Tonner #7751 leads a mixed train on the Murray Harbour Subdivision. #7751 was renumbered #2 June 1956. Photographer unknown. CSTM Collection (#CN002589)

In my previous post I used newspaper archives to determine and describe the types of traffic I thought Vernon River would normally see.

My goal is now to not only determine the amount of freight traffic Vernon River would see but to also determine the average train length, loads and percentage of originating vs terminating traffic on the Murray Harbor subdivision as a whole. Having these statistics will allow me to accurately model the car movement both through and at Vernon River.

This info is important for a few reasons, but mainly I need to be able to:

  • Determine in general terms the amount of switching moves per operating session
  • Determine to the average train length through Vernon River
  • Determine the usual ratio of originating to terminating cars
  • Use the above information to figure out how long the single track staging cassette will need to be on each side of the layout.

With the new Drive-By Truckers record on in the background, into the rabbit hole I went.

In my files I found a summary written by Shawn Naylor of a freight report CN completed in the early 1960s. Apparently this report was prepared to propose reductions in PEI’s rail service. In the report CN used carload data from the mid to late 1950s which makes it super conveniently accurate for my layout’s era.

Below I’ve created a spreadsheet of carload data as it applies to the Lake Verde, Vernon [Loop] and Murray Harbor subdivisions from this summary (the same mixed train #240N / #209S served these subdivisions.)

1958 Daily Carload Data: Lake Verde, Vernon [Loop], Murray Harbor Subdivisions

STATION

ORIGINATING CARLOAD / DAY

TERMINATING CARLOAD / DAY

TOTAL

Millview0.4NIL0.4
Vernon [Loop]0.51.01.5
Murray Harbor0.10.10.2
Mount Albion0.6NIL0.6
Other Lake Verde, Vernon and
Murray Harbor 
Subdivision Stations
2.00.72.7
TOTAL3.61.85.4
If you’re not familiar with island railroading it’s important to note that “Vernon” and “Vernon River” are two different locations. I’ve marked Vernon with [Loop] to make it less confusing.

Using the numbers on the chart it would be fair to say the average train could include around five freight cars- a pretty low key operation. Most photos I’ve seen reinforce this, showing on average zero – three freight cars plus the baggage and coach car. [With a train so small I should be able to get away with a 5ft staging cassette on each side of the layout]. Obviously not all of these cars would be destined for Vernon River. In fact, it probably wasn’t a daily occurrence that anything would even be switched there. For the sake of fun, my layout will only operate on days where there is an originating or terminating load for Vernon River.

Knowing the average train length I now need to know what types of freight we’d see on that train. Naylor’s summary includes traffic types for the Murray Harbor, Lake Verde and Vernon [Loop] subdivisions but the figures are irrevocably lumped together with the Montague and Georgetown subdivisons. I can live with that though- the Montague and Georgetown subdivisions would have seen pretty similar types of traffic. It shouldn’t distort our reality too much.

1958 Originating vs Terminating Carloads: Murray Harbor, Vernon [Loop] & Lake Verde Subdivisions:

  • Originating Carloads: 67%
  • Terminating Carloads: 33%

1958 Originating Carloads: Murray Harbor, Vernon [Loop], Lake Verde, Montague and Georgetown Subdivisions:

  • Potatoes: 57%
  • Turnips: 33%
  • Other: 9%
  • Livestock: 1% (Aprox 13 carloads per year)

1958 Terminating Carloads: Murray Harbor, Vernon [Loop], Lake Verde, Montague and Georgetown Subdivisions:

  • Other: 54%
  • Sand and Gravel: 27%
  • Fertilizer: 13%
  • Coal and Coke: 3% (Aprox 30 carloads per year)
  • Animal Feed: 2% (Aprox 27 carloads per year)
  • Petrol Products: 1% (Aprox 9 carloads per year)

In Naylor’s summary is it said that a contributing factor to PEI’s high operating costs was the need to use different cars for originating and terminating traffic; cars used to import things to the Island tended to leave empty. As such, local moves will range from very rare to non-existent on this layout.

With these statistics I now have a great foundation to base my layouts operations around. Even though I’m only modelling a single village, I think its important to consider the subdivision as a whole in order to serve my chosen village accurately. 

Now I just need to figure out how to work these averages and percentages into a car card system…

CM

 

Vernon River / Murray Harbor subdivision freight traffic analysis [PT. 1 Researching Traffic Types]

With a prototype chosen it was time to dive a little further into my research.

My first goal was to figure out the types of freight traffic the village would see in a broad sense and not just my chosen era; after having that information I could then, through logic and evidence, figure out what would be applicable to my era.

One of the primary tools for the research job was islandnewspapers.ca. – “a fully-searchable online archive of PEI’s main newspaper of record, The Guardian, from 1890 to 1957.” This archive along with a document by Shawn Naylor that Steve Hunter passed to me a few years ago provided me with a wealth of information.

What I found was that Vernon River received quite a few different commodities ranging from general merchandise to mussel mud. Its main exports would have been produce (potatoes likely being the majority of this) and livestock (mainly hogs). 

I have compiled the following list of inbound and outbound traffic. Everything listed is based upon direct evidence (unless marked with a “*” or “**”) found in newspaper archives or in Naylor’s document. 

  • Outbound Traffic:
    • Produce (Potatoes, Turnips and other crops)
    • Livestock (mainly hogs but also cattle)
    • Finished Wood (*) (not likely in my era)
  • Inbound Traffic:
    • Animal Feed
    • Limestone
    • Fertilizer
    • Bulk Oats
    • Barley
    • Bulk Wheat
    • Fuel (**) (would oil and gasoline be pumped from tank cars into trucks to supply farmers with fuel?)
    • Coal (OCS and revenue)
    • Ties (OCS)
    • Mussel Mud (not likely in my era)

(*) Outbound loads of finished wood is a assumption at this point and only that. This is based on the existence of a saw mill about half a km away from the station. While I have not found any evidence to back up this assumption I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to consider them using the public siding to ship finished wood at some point. I have not found much information on the saw mill and it’s hard to tell in my air photos if it exists in a operational capacity in my era. 
(**) There is no evidence I have found of fuel being received at Vernon River. Would it be possible that fuel would be pumped from a tank car into a truck to deliver to farmers? The farmers had to get it somehow and even still by the late 1950s not all of the roads east of Charlottetown had been paved. I am genuinely not sure how this worked.

Based upon the list above its easy to imagine the types of rolling stock the village would have received, namely lots of reefers, boxcars and stock cars. 

Next time I will delve into the research of the daily amount of carloads both originating and terminating (along with their types) to try to get a sense of what a switching job at Vernon River consisted of.

Thanks for reading,
-CM

Modelling Vernon River c.1958

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog. This blog will document the research, planning and the eventual construction of this model railway.

After researching manny different Island prototypes (Cardigan, Charlottetown waterfront and Murray Harbor to name a few), I have settled on modelling Vernon River for my modular switching layout.

Here are a few points that helped me settle on Vernon River:

  • Vernon River scales out perfectly for a module. Switch to switch the village scales out to just under 6ft long. Measured across it comes in at about 2.25ft. This means I can model the railway buildings, track and landscaping with absolutely no compression while still having a 8 car public siding and a 3 car CO-OP warehouse siding. A prototype so small also affords me the option to have staging on both sides of the module. This should be more than enough to keep me entertained.
  • Only three switches and six or seven buildings means I can really take the time super detail the entire scene without getting totally hung up on the research (which is classic me.) I could hand lay every piece of track and scratch build every building if I wanted without having bit off way to much. It’s manageable.
  • Vernon River while small offers a lot of different types of traffic. Some examples of equipment that would be appropriate for this c.1958 prototype would include: reefer cars, stock cars, flat cars, coal cars, boxcars, boxcars with grain doors and potentially even the odd tank car.
  • Vernon River still had mixed train service in this era- hauled either by a GE 44 Tonner still in it’s black steam era paint scheme or by one or two GE 70 Tonners in the classic CNR green and gold scheme.

Stay tuned as I post my research and start to dig further into this awesome prototype.

-CM