setting the scene

Last weekend I learned some techniques for making scenery.

Trevor Marshall asked me to visit the TrainmastersTV studios with him so I could participate in his latest "Roadshow" episode. My job was to ask silly questions, and he would show me how easy it was to generate basic grasslands. It was far easier than I expected.

My forte has always been electrical and mechanical aspects of layouts. If you want a pair of .128" diameter holes drilled .750" apart, or you need a wiring harness connecting you control panel to the tracks, I'm your man. But high-school art classes were a long time ago, and I was much better at mechanical draughting than "sketching from life" even then.

Starting with a blank slate (a 12" square slab of extruded foam insulation in this case) Trevor showed me how to add gentle contours, foundation colour & texture, realistic ground cover, and even small shrubs to create a pleasing diorama in just a few hours. The results I achieved were satisfying and visually acceptable; I'm sure with more practise I could improve to the point where I would surprise myself with the finished product.

Trevor has a more complete write-up of the event. Please visit his site for more detailed description.


after the long pause

Nothing happens for a long time, then everything happens at once.


The recent Schomberg Narrow Gauge Show (the 10th annual!) was an excellent outing; a full day of discussion, diversion, and divesting.

I was happy to find new homes for a number of items, including a bunch of On30 equipment that has been ageing in its boxes in my basement. I was also able to pass along sizable quantities of good reference material to two fellow modellers in the area; all the Mainline Modeler mags & all the Railroad Model Craftsman mags that have been thumbed through and referenced for several years. These go on to a new life and stay out of landfill (where they don't belong).

In a feat of heroic restraint, I purchased nothing for myself save a delicious currant cake from the Scottish bakery down the street. Ravening hordes of model railroaders had already swept the venue clean of meat pies prior to my arrival.


note how I blend into the wall using urbane camouflage
Not long before the aforementioned event, a show organiser asked me to present a short clinic on the use of machine-tools for model making tasks. I had no idea what would be appropriate to offer, as the days of Model Railroader magazine contributor Carl Traub & home lathes seem long past. After much head-scratching, I decided to cover what could be done with a basic drill press that went beyond just drilling single holes in pieces of wood. Different accessories and processes were presented, several of which the group were unaware. One retired machinist told me that he'd never heard of one item I'd shown; the sensitive drill chuck. The talk went long (and cut into lunch time) but it was well attended and everyone stayed until the end. Enough interest was shown to prompt me to think about a recorded demo (on that, more later).

Dinner with friends at the local pub afterwards put the icing on the cake that day.


The module wiring episode of TrainMastersTV has been released, where Trevor Marshall and I tackle the problem of getting electrons to the trains. Hard to believe this segment was filmed several months ago. Great fun to do, though I wish there were more time to explain some of the "whys".


In moving the RMCs to their new home, I was able to stop by the TrainMastersTV studio and check out producer Barry Silverthorn's latest layout build progress. It looks like a great start to an engaging track plan, offering some unique viewing angles of the trains in operation.


Trevor Marshall held an op session on his Port Rowan branch layout last week. I finally got to meet D&H modeller Michel Boucher from Ottawa, and learned some new ways to think about train moves during switching. Premium resin kit designer & builder Pierre Oliver joined Trevor, Michel and I at a favourite local restaurant to have dinner with 23 other railway enthusiasts to top off the day's activities.

A visit to the Credit Valley Railway Co. for more supplies  (followed of course by lunch) the next day made for a well-rounded visit with a new friend. I now own my 5th set of Xuron cutters which hopefully will not share the sordid fates of its earlier brethren (lost, stolen, destroyed, lost).