a thousand cuts

It seems that this year everything has crowded in to the months of August and September.

Meetings, travel, visitors, new opportunities, household repairs, appointments, special events, etc.

I've never had to turn down or miss so many things in rapid succession.

Additionally, the change of seasons is virtually upon us. A whole raft of tasks that must be completed before the snow flies now loom menacingly close.

On the upside, I have achieved more in the last few weeks than I have in some time - which is very gratifying. The back deck has been repaired, a park bench rebuilt, kitchen walls repaired & plastered, front door & kitchen walls painted, and flooring repaired.

Only a thousand more little things to do…


a grand day out

A visitor came to call from far away, a friend of Pierre Oliver's.

I zipped in to the top end of town and took the subway south. It was one of the new Bombardier-built trains without bulkheads. Going around curves can be a bit disconcerting, but the equipment seems well made and the ride is smooth. A big difference from the old British-made equipment I remember travelling on many (many?) years ago.

Pierre's friend Thorsten is a Fremo modeller from Germany who is also planning a US style layout in a rare European basement. Pierre went to a big Fremo meet in Nordhorn back in 2009 and wrote extensive commentary in his own blog.

If you don't know what Fremo is, you should look into it. Their organisation, display, and operation of massive modular layouts puts most of the public efforts I've seen here to shame.

As an aside, Pierre happens to be the proprietor of Elgin Car Shops and makes some of the finest resin rolling stock kits you'll ever see. Crisp and clean castings, fine etched frets, and clear instructions.

We all gathered at Trevor Marshall's Port Rowan layout for an op session. Initially, I played the dual roles of Fat Brakeman and Confused Conductor while Thorsten operated the locomotive. Trevor had added yet another refinement to the paperwork which, of course, threw me off for no good reason.

Later, he performed the conducting duties while Pierre ran an extra. Frankly, Thorsten did a better job than I did despite never having seen the layout or paperwork before. I'd better pull up my socks!

Thorsten had brought along some of the new leg brackets being made for Fremo modules. They seem to be galvanised steel, water-jet cut and stamped, with a swaged threaded insert for an M8 thumbscrew. Very nicely made. These take a square aluminium tube or wooden leg and offer a slight amount of adjustment for height via the thumbscrew. It shows what can be done by a focused group of builders looking for good engineering solutions.

After the trains were all safely back on the sector plate, we dropped in at Harbord House for a meal and refreshment. Long and enjoyable  discussions of trains, both real and model, followed.

A quick run up the subway brought me back out of the core and homeward.


passing on

Oliver Clubine, owner of Ridgehill Scale Models and founder of the S Scale Workshop, passed away on the morning of April 22, 2014.

Oliver built race cars, model railways, and friendships.

I remember meeting him briefly at the annual Copetown Train Show quite a few years ago. I was just getting into S scale, and he was THE local supplier for all things 1:64. Once you knew Oliver, you were in touch with the whole S community and a wealth of information.

Over the next few years, I attended several of his annual Christmas S get-togethers. I was dabbling with Newfoundland Railway equipment in Sn42. At one of these events he opined that I should enter one of my scratchbuilt cars in a contest, and gave me one of his over-the-glasses "Are you pulling my leg?" looks when I said I didn't think it was good enough to do so.

For many years Oliver and his model rail crew (including his son David) displayed and operated the S scale Ridgehill Central Ry at local shows. The workmanship was excellent, and I always enjoyed seeing the layout in action.

When it came time to build a new layout in a modular format, he asked me to participate; he thought I would "fit in" with the group. Frankly, I was flattered. While I tried to come up with something that was "good enough" visually and was an electro-mechanically reliable part of the whole arrangement, I always felt like I was somehow letting down the side except for the electron-pushing part of things - dealing with any DCC issues that cropped up.

One day a couple of years ago, on a whim, I paid him a visit at his race shop. We had the chance to talk about a lot of things (including model railways), and I was able to lend a hand unloading a semi-trailer full of specialty racing tyres. Shoving a 2-wheeled dolly back and forth through the tall stacks of rubber was easy enough even in the (indifferent) shape I was in at the time. Afterwards I shared a very nice, homemade lunch with Oliver and his wife Sandra. It was a good day with a friend, and I'm glad I made the trip.

My own health has been up-and-down for some time now which has limited certain activities in the hobby, especially with respect to public shows. I've missed quite a few events where Oliver was present, despite his own tribulations. Opportunities lost.

His passing gives me a lot to think about. I will greatly miss his input and enthusiasm.

Goodbye and thank you, Oliver.