It’s been a busy and just plain overwhelming summer and fall, which has not left me with a lot of time or capacity to build.
But, with things calming down and signs of winter starting to appear, I figured that it might be an appropriate time to build the Eastern Road Model’s CNR Double-ended Snowplow kit I’ve been sitting on for a few years.
For those unfamiliar, Eastern Road Models was the moniker Steve Hunter used for his PEI prototype-focused Shapeways 3D printed model shop.
CN built a small handful of these Double-ended plows at the Transcona shops in the 1930s, and while they could be seen elsewhere in the system from time to time, I am all but sure they were built with PEI in mind; they could be seen on the island right up until abandonment.
The body and cupola are supplied as separate purchases, and the rest is up to the modeller to source and more or less figure out.
Sparing a novel, essentially up to this point in the build, what I have accomplished is as follows:
Prepared the Shapeways parts by leaving them in an ultrasonic bath filled with a mixture of Simple Green HD and water.
Sanded the body of print lines and removed any excess wax material from the printing process.
I drilled for the grab irons and other necessary holes.
I primed the body and cupola.
Applied Micro-Mark rivet decals to the body and cupola (has to be closing on 1000 rivets).
Bent all grab irons from scratch, including the drop grabs, using .010” PB wire.
Installed the brake wheel and staff.
Installed the wire, receptacles and snow shields for the snowplows power connections with the locomotive.
Installed hinges on the journal box access hatches using Grandt Line reefer hinges.
All that remains is the installation of the roof grabs around the cupola, stove stack, horn, headlights, paint, decals, couplers.
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.
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
ORIGINATING CARLOAD / DAY
TERMINATING CARLOAD / DAY
Other Lake Verde, Vernon and Murray Harbor Subdivision Stations
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:
Livestock: 1% (Aprox 13 carloads per year)
1958 Terminating Carloads: Murray Harbor, Vernon [Loop], Lake Verde, Montague and Georgetown Subdivisions:
Sand and Gravel: 27%
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…
Hello and welcome to my brand new blog. This blog will document this model railway’s research, planning, and eventual construction.
After researching many 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 scaling means I can model the railway buildings, track and landscaping with absolutely no compression while still having an eight-car public siding and a three-car CO-OP warehouse siding. A small prototype 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 mean I can take the time to super detail the entire scene without getting 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 bitten off way too much. It’s manageable.
Vernon River, while small, offers a lot of different types of traffic. Some examples of equipment 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 its 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 dig further into this great prototype.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown