Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kamloops comeback

While my layout featured a location representing my favorite town in central British Columbia, the site is little more than a hidden staging area that's only visible to visitors through a closed circuit video feed to a TV in another room. That's no way to treat a great Canadian RR town (kinda hard to beat Field, BC)!
Kamloops features mountains, rivers, and no less than two Canadian Class 1 railroads! Plus, there are other industries and terrain features that call me to model this site to a greater extent. Check out the map to see for yourself!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Desert do-over?

Semi-arid CPR Thompson Sub at sunrise, east of Ashcroft, BC
After years of modeling the Canadian Pacific Rwy. main line from a major coastal city (Vancouver) to massive mountain ranges (The Rockies), I’m now looking to take on desert scenery. What’s that you say? Desert terrain in Canada? Cactus in the land of wheat, coal, moose, Molson, and sub-zero cold? You betcha!
If you can recall your high school geography studies, desert regions are determined by how dry they are, not by temperature. A part of the B.C. Interior receives less than 10 inches of annual precipitation (rain, snow, etc.), so it technically rates as a pocket desert. And yes, Canada’s Okanagan Desert hosts cacti, sagebrush, and even tarantulas!
While CPR tracks don’t route through this part of B.C., the mainline does traverse nearby semi-arid parts, namely through the Thompson River Canyon, and also between Ashcroft, B.C. and Kamloops, B.C. Modeling the upper canyon country was my initial target, but I have to admit I’m starting to see the merit of building up an extensive span of terrain like this – the “other” half of CPR’s Thompson Subdivision is already on my short list!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My View of Vancouver

Here's a quick (and perhaps final) look at the city scene I built to resemble downtown Vancouver, B.C. The details of this completed scene are revealed in the September 2013 issue of Classic Toy Trains magazine.
While I have enjoyed modeling a contemporary urban scene, it's hard work to keep up with an ever-changing city skyline! New skyscrapers abound since I last photographed (inset) the CPR Waterfront Yard in 2004, so I have to decide if I'm up to the task of revamping this scene again.
Perhaps the best solution is to abandon my quest to keep all things contemporary? Or maybe I'll need to rethink how much of my pike is dedicated to big-city scenery?
Fall is here, so my plans will have to solidify quickly if I want to take full advantage of the prime modeling months this winter. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MRVP tours Kent's CPR layout
Sorry I’ve been absent since May, but I’ve been a bit busy. After hosting NMRA regional visitors this spring, I’ve been eager to make some more progress. Not long after I completed the narrow canyon scene, I started the construction of a highway bridge modeled after the Park Bridge spanning the Kicking Horse River near Golden, B.C. I also started to build out a grain export terminal in the turnback curves near downtown Vancouver, B.C. I even built a car float and float bridge structure to install along the Vancouver waterfront. But rather than tell you about these additions let me direct you to a video overview capturing some of my various “homework” projects. The guys at MR VideoPlus were kind enough to capture (in HD!) my current layout construction efforts forboth MRVP and CTT readers to see. Thanks, David and Ben!

While great summer weather has brought construction to an absolute standstill, that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about my next big effort this fall – Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Candid Camera

At a recent train show in York, PA, a fellow hi-rail modeler asked me what I thought was the most essential tool in my toolbox. Without hesitation I responded, “A point-and-shoot camera.”
When I’m out and about, regardless if I’m actually railfanning, I rely on my p&S (or iPad camera) to capture quick images of real (1:1 scale) trains and interesting places/people I want to model on my layout. These resulting images are rarely publication-quality, but they’re regularly the most valuable photos I shoot. Valuable? Yep, valuable!
Take for instance the simple image of a Canadian Pacific target signal I shot from a back alley in downtown (Gastown) Vancouver, B.C. Won’t find a single choo-choo in the frame, but the wealth of detail in this one image has fueled my recent efforts to revamp and enhance portions of my completed Waterfront Yard – starting with the signal featuring trimmed targets.
It turns out the real signal was modified to permit West Coast Express bi-level commuter trains to pass without issue. By studying the photo, I saw the MTH no. 30-11025 1-over-1 signal had a very similar appearance, even without altering the targets. Next, I saw the chain link fence resembled O scale fencing sold by Scenic Express or kits produced by Brennan’s Model Railroading Products. Barricades and concrete jersey barriers reminded me of items from Model Tech Studios or Saint Charles Model Works. The more I studied the pix, the more items I found and installed -- as I demonstrated for a forthcoming article in the pages of Classic Toy Trains magazine.

Without my essential tool, it would have taken me countless trips (as of today, a R/T tix between MKE and YVR costs more than $700) to recall a fraction of the details contained in a one free, yet priceless, photo!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nearly completed Canyon

With the temperature promising to dip into the sub-zero range next week, I figure it's time to retreat into a warm basement and finish up a few loose ends on my Canyon scene. While space is narrow along this section, there was still plenty of room to add detailed rock faces and foreground scenery. For details how I assembled the components in this area, be sure to check out the feature I wrote for the March 2013 issue of Classic Toy Trains magazine.