Sunday, February 5, 2017

Building the Fleet

It will be a long time before I build a CPR themed layout, but it won't stop me from building the fleet. Over the years, I collected many Canadian Pacific locomotives and rolling stock which can make up for a nice little fleet. They include all kind of rolling stock and many will need extensive rebuilding to be up to my modelling standards (separate ladders, metal stirrups and wire grabiron). Since I don't plan to add any cars to Hedley-Junction, when I feel like building an HO scale car, it will probably be a CP one.

To start this long term program, I acquired a few decals and paint supplies. The first projects will be about the conversion of old Bachmann, Model Power and MDC/Roundhouse 50ft plug door boxcars. CP Rail used to have a large fleet of them in lumber service and they were a staple of Quebec Central back in the 1970s and 1980s.

I this regard, I'll build a few variation of them with different door arrangements, roof types and car ends. The next project to be documented here will be CP 49100, a one-of-a-kind double door boxcar.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Improving a Track Plan

I believe a good design is one that is simple, easy to understand and free of hindrance. While I want continuous running, I certainly don’t want gimmick such as duck unders and lift out sections. Also, having large aisles is on top of my list. Because, it's much practical when building the layout and doing maintenance. I'd rather sacrifice layout benchwork than aisle space.

For this reason, I bumped the room width to 14’. It makes a huge difference and will be much more interesting in the long run.

It was also a good opportunity to fine tune the concept. No surprise I removed some trackage and took the occasion to slightly relocate Tring on the long wall. Many reasons are behind this but the first one is to clear the staircase well. I have no problem having trains running over the the staircase, but I don’t want any operation to happen there, particularly such an important spot as Tring. Also, the prototype was located on a long straight stretch of track right after a curve, exactly as represented on my most recent track plan. It also allocates more space to correctly model the old Placo veneer factory which is a landmark in the area. While it could be operated, this industry was a dying one at that time and probably saw very little rail traffic. I'll will be a scenic element so I’m not bothered it is over the staircase. Placo can use Tring team track if they want to ship by rail!

Another benefit from this new Tring location is I can decently stage large way freight trains on the wye legs. Two operators could virtually schedule meets if wanted. There is also a better spatial and scenic separation between Tring and St-Sébastien, made even more dramatic by the staircase. Finally, removing curves from Tring yard will make operation far easier. I certainly hate coupling cars on curves and I’m probably not alone. With repeat mistakes of the past when they can easily be avoided.

Also, I decided to place all the industries siding facing the same direction. Not only it makes operation easier (yes, I’m not that much excited running around a train) but improve the feel of a long main line run. The reason is easy to understand. We you leave Tring, you have to travel all over the layout without stopping nowhere. You blow the horn and control your speed, that’s all. But the best as yet to come: you’ll meet the 1.6% ruling grade in this direction which will be more interesting to battle against that way. On the return trip, you take your time and switch the industries one by one as required, taking your time and increasing the perceived distance. With five industries, whom many have multiple spots, I think there would be more than enough action for a single operator. Keep in mind designing a track plan for operation isn't just about meeting the requirements, but also about telling a story.

It is certainly a little bit weird to put so little track in such a comfortable space (14’ x 23’), but I think it’s for the best to be immersed in scenery. You can't reproduce a backwood branchkine with dozen of towns and industries! Such a railway is generally dominated by forests and fields which can’t be traded for a higher track ratio. Keep thing simple and manageable! Also, given my freight cars weight a lot and only stations are on flat lands, there should be enough challenge to make this a decent layout. Also, you can’t model the branchline look by stuffing all kind of stuff.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Layout Ideas - CPR Tring Subdivision

Time to update this blog according to the new direction this project may take. This will be a long term personal project and thus Hedley-Junction always take priority on other modelling endeavours. This time, I'm experimenting with something that always fascinated me but never fully embraced by fear of lack of operation interest (oh, THAT fear!).

For the sake of convenience, I repost here the blog entry on Hedley-Junction that explain the reason behing reviving again that old foolish idea of a CP Rail-based layout. While building layout at home is directly dependant on available space in the future, I will, from time to time, start to refurbish and improve my Canadian Pacific locomotive and rolling stock fleet. I recently dug into my boxes and was astonished by the amount of material I already had. I suspect I have well over 50 cars, if not more, that can be used to build a decent train. Since Hedley-Junction has already all the freight cars required for normal operation and that I still enjoy building HO freight cars, everything new will be CPR and posted here. As a preview, I can already announce I'm actually looking for a way of improving the weird MDC/Roundhouse 50 ft plug door boxcar.

As for the Temiscouata project, it's still alive and will be built as a 1:65 (S scale) modular layout. For the sake of clarity, a new blog dedicated to this stand alone project now exist under the moniker Temiscouata Railway Connors Branch

A New Layout Concept

Last summer, I explored a few layout concepts that could be implemented at home for a future layout. Among many ideas, a few things were found out, including the possibility for continuous run while keeping the idea of a point-to-point operation scheme.

Most theme explored dealt with the idea to model only a few scenes, maybe just one location. Prototypes like Temiscouata Railway's Connors Branch and QRL&PCo Beaupré station were scaled down to HO and S scales.

Among the themes proposed, a rural Québec CPR branchline was among my list. However, I failed each time I tried to make a layout out of it in the past. It's not for a lack of interesting prototypes though. Canadian Pacific had a lot of small subdivisions which would make terrific layouts, both in the steam or diesel eras. In fact, I'm surprised we rarely hear people modelling these little gem.

Just to list a few of them, you have le Petit Train du Nord in the Laurentides area for people loving grades and mountainous layouts. The very short but extremely interesting St. Lin Subdivision near Montréal (if you are well aware of Trevor Marshall's Port Rowan layout, this subdivision is equivalent and somewhat similar to the Bruce Lines). Another great one is the St. Gabriel Subdivision, which still exist nowadays and could make for a very impressive switching layout under the Chemin de fer de Lanaudière tenure. The operate the branchline exclusively with first generation MLW locomotives.

Finally, another interesting area is the Eastern Townships. A lot of CPR branchlines existed there. I've often talked about MEC Hereford Branch and Cookshire, unfortunately none of these ideas coalesced into a decent or interesting project.

I've also explored the old Quebec Central, particularly near Lac-Frontière with my fictious Quebec South Shore Railway located in the nearby town of St. Pamphile. While this layout was bogus, I still think the grain elevator scene and track plan to be one of my best to this date. Unfortunately, this concept was plagued by several issues that doesn't fit well with my personal tastes when running trains. First, I like when there is an originating point to my train. Second, I like to railfan my models in "boring" landscapes that put the trains in a realistic context. Third, while I don't like spaghetti bowls, I appreciate when the tracks can connect and form a continuous run. I already explored that last principle when designing the Beaupré Station track plan. I think it had merits without killing the impression you are going somewhere. And fourth... having the ability to run way freight trains in such a fashion you don't have to find a "reason" or "excuse" for some cars and locomotives.

I must admit I've been looking for such a "CPR-looking" prototype for years and I don't know why I never cared to look at the now defunct Quebec Central Tring Subdivision (also called Megantic Branch) connecting Tring-Jonction to Lac-Mégantic. In fact, I know. I was always lured by branchlines... but didn't care for bridge line.

The Tring Subdivision was about 50 miles long and bridged the QCR Vallée Subdivision connecting Québec City to Sherbrooke and the CPR Shortline to the Maritimes. A lot of Québec City-USA traffic was rerouted by that line built in 1894-1895. Local traffic was scarce and mainly oriented toward agriculture and natural ressources.

According to various maps I studied, most common commodities carried for local customers were cattle, grain, feeds, lumber, oil, granite slabs and gravel. At least, three feedmills existed by the end of the steam era (Tring-Jonction, St. Éphrem and Courcelles). A Co-Op or creamery (or similar rural business) seems to have existed in St. Évariste (now La Guadeloupe). Several freight shed - some still surviving - existed in most towns. A few gravel pits were rail served and a large granite quarry now owned by Polycor. Finally, sawmills and lumber yards were numerous, most towns had at least one and many sidings in the middle of nowhere served to load logs, dimensional lumber and pulpwood.

I also found a description of each stations on the line by Charles Cooper. Here are the characteristics of each ones from Tring-Jonction to Megantic. They are relevant for the steam era thought photographs show substantial structures survived until 1969 and a few until the line demise.

Tring-Jonction (MP 0.0, acting as a division point for Sherbrooke-Vallée-Jonction traffict):

  • 1 concrete passenger station
  • 2 water tanks
  • 1 coal tower
  • 1 icehouse
  • 1 feedmill
  • 1 three-stall engine house & turntable located inside the wye (demolished in 1940)
  • 1 bunkhouse (demolished in 1940)  

St. Jules (MP 4.4) No description.
  • 1 saw mill
  • 1 gravel pit

St. Victor (MP 11)
  • 1 station (demolished in 1968)
  • 1 saw mill
  St. Éphrem (MP 17)
  • 1 station (demolished in 1968)
  • 1 large feedmill
  • 1 saw mill
 St. Évariste now La Guadeloupe (MP 24)
  • 1 station (demolished in 1968)
  • 1 freight shed
  • 1 saw mill
  • 1 Co-Op or creamery (to be verified)

Courcelles (MP 32)
  • 1 station (demolished in 1968)
  • 1 freight shed
  • 1 enclosed octogonal water tank
  • 1 cattle pen
  • 1 saw mill
  • 1 grist mill
  • 1 feedmill
 St. Sébastien (MP 41)
  • 1 station (demolished in 1968)

St. Samuel (MP 46)
  • 1 station (demolished in 1968)

Ste. Cécile (MP 50)
  • 1 station (demolished in 1968)
  • 1 water tank 

Mégantic (MP60, division point on CPR Shortline to St. John, NB)

According to old timetables, until dielization, the line was served by a mixed train. It was abandonned after 1960. No regular train was scheduled in 1970 and traffic was handled on according to demand. The line was operated at until 1984-1985 and abandonned in 1991. A caboose, a derelict passenger coach and a small steel trestle survive near Courcelles.

Old photographs also show a lot of variety in rolling stock, including several New England roads, which helps to strengthen the fact it's a bridge line. In fact, while I have several CPR cars, good American cars are easier to find than Canadian ones.

Tom Johnson's INRAIL layout

With all that info on hand, I decided to see if something could fit my future space. I used to place the layout on the future garage first floor, but finally decided to move it on the second floor were space is larger and easier to work with (less doors, less windows, less obstacles). It's also better since I prefer to keep the layout in a dedicated room isolated from the more dusty activities performed in the garage.

When thinking how I would handle the project, I decided to follow Tom Johnson's excellent INRAIL layout which I consider a perfect layout for solo operation. His layout was also featured in Model Railroad Hobbyist May 2014 issue. His way of doing modelling isn't very different from mine and I particularly liked when he said to not fear redoing unpleasant scenes and removing unrequired elements to streamline scenes: "By removing some of the clutter it actually makes the layout better." 
 and you gotta love Tom's word of advice about model railroading: "Overall I would say my philosophy is model what you love, and less is more." Isn't it sweet!

It is interesting to note Tom Johnson's INRAIL track plan is the most boring out there. Even MRH didn't care to draw a nice looking version of it. It's a single track mainline crossing fields and serving a bunch of decrepit grain elevators and feedmills in the middle of nowhere. But as mundane this theme can be, it makes for impressive pictures, memorable scenes and a convincing depiction of a rural community. Tom's layout got character which is only achieved by making things as simple as can be. Unfortunately, will his attractive photographs are well known, it sad most people fail to understand they can only exist because their author carefully choosed to stick to was does happen in real lif, i.e., lots of nothing ever happen. Take a look at the ratio of "empty" scenes (or Scenery Zone Only as Lance Mindheim would put it), most people would feel worried to waste so much space.

Modelling the Tring Subdivision

A lot of lessons can be learned from Tom's INRAIL and most, with other principles I advocated over the year here, can be implemented on a Tring Subdivision.

To make the concept work, we need two destinations for the point-to-point operation. In our case, it's Tring-Jonction and Megantic. Since we need continous running, they will be located back to back for ease of connection.

Each end point has a wye on the prototype. This is a practical way to create interchange opportunities as done on INRAIL. This way, no need for staging or worst, hidden staging, which I always think kills the magic behind a model railroad.

Then, we need a "leitmotif" that will enhance the nature of the line. It can be defined by a set of commodities plentiful of the area: grain / lumber / granite. Everything else is cake icing. It thus means we should find these almost everywhere to show us it is the breadwinner for the railway. Tom did it and Mike Confalone too.

Given I would use a peninsula to separate scenes visually and increase the amount of mainline running in wilderness, I consider that only two other locations can be added without killing the branchline theme. Among the various known stations, it seems St. Éphrem is a must because of the large feedmill and lumber yard. Readers well aware of my former Quebec South Shore Railway switching layout will recongnize instantly the track plan and general arrangement.

The next location is harder to decide. St. Évariste (La Guadeloupe) and Courcelles are ex aequo. Both have a sawmill and a feedmill/Co-Op, they also had freigh sheds (La Guadeloupe still surviving to this day) and Courcelles had a cattle pen. At this point, I'll have to do more researches to see which town is more interesting to model. Also, they both shared a somewhat similar track plan.

Mégantic won't be modelled. The railway facilities there were quite important and hard to model. Also, they play absolutely no role in this particular "game". Tring-Jonction was the division point and much smaller and easier to model. The station was also preserved and is iconic of Quebec Central architectural standards. For this reason, I would only model partially Mégantic wye for interchange and keep the area forested like the real thing. Since Tring-Jonction will be the largest facility on the layout, it would look silly to have another large location just beside. Better tone down things a little bit.

Since we have kept Mégantic at bay, it leaves space in that area to spice things up with a very locale and peculiar customer: the granite slab manufacturer. St. Sébastien granite is well-known in Canada and USA for it's nice light gray regular color. It was used extensively when building Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica between 1923 and 1976. It is also well-known it travelled by rail to reach larger markets. It is also interesting to note this large customer is locate absolutely in the middle of nowhere and nested in a heavily forested valley, which is perfect to keep things simple.

Finally, the last iconic element that could be added would be a very small steel trestle that once existed in St. Victor. I call it a trestle, but in fact it was a three-part deck bridge supported by a few bents. I'm not sure it could be implemented correctly, but it could help to give a sense of place.

I didn't decide on a particular era, but I had in mind the diesel era. While attractive, adding a roundhouse at Tring-Jonction could be problematic from a scenic standpoint. While the combined icehouse/water tank was great looking, I must know when it was demolished and it was located in front of the station and would block the access to several turnouts which isn't interesting.

In Courcelles, I used the steam era track arrangement. Courcelles could be simplified though the possibility to schedule meets there is a nice touch. Certainly, things would have to be tested on the benchwork to make sure it is practical, particularly the passing track which seems quite short (and was in real life).

Operation potential

While simplistic, I think this layout have a operating interest and diversity. The yard in Tring-Jonction is a nice place to set out motive power, build small consists, interchange cars and serve a few customers. It makes for a natural spot to start and end a session. The various customers along the line are coherent and strengthen the idea you are service rural communities. While similars customers exists, many are somewhat different in size and location. While St. Éphrem elevator is larger and works as the regional provider of feeds, fertilizers, heating oil and building supplies, the one in Tring-Jonction is simply a feedmill and the Co-Op in Courcelles only handle very limited traffic. The same applies to the sawmill. Courcelles does have a side track sway mill while St. Éphrem only offer a team track where trucks bring finished lumber for exportation. Granite Polycor acts as the oddball industry with its own set of particular needs.

Operations can be cut into three types: way freights, local switcher and interchange run from both points. Trains are generally short, about 4-5 cars with a caboose, never more than 8 cars.

Scenery and era

At this point, I didn't gave much thought about it. I certainly would love to do a CP Rail post-1968 Multimark era layout. Since I like the mix of old and new rolling stock typical of that specific period, I feel it should be in the early 1970s when the line still saw a "decent" level of minimal service.

As for the season, I have no idea. Maybe summer or fall, or should I say, a season with foliage to help conceal the fact the layout will often be less than 1 feet large. It's also something I never did and I like when Multimark rolling stock is in stark contrast with its environment. While "New England in fall" is a beaten to death theme, it's still the best period to model freight from feedmills. I see two options: early Autumn with mostly olive green and yellowish leaves or late falls when everything turns brownish orange and yellow. I would certainly stay away from the vivid colors when forest seems to be in flames.

The layout would also have two distinct districts recalling the nature of the landscape on the line. The first part from Tring-Jonction to Courcelles will be agricultural lands and gently sloped while the section between Courcelles and Mégantic should be more heavily forested and sports a few rock cuts, marshes and more conifers.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Temiscouata: A Track Plan

While waiting to get 4-4-0 shells from Bachmann, I designed a new version of the Temiscouata layout after getting some new and inspiring information from fellow modeller Trevor Marshall.

The new plan reuse the Connors terminal as it was discussed a few months ago. I think it can hardly be better than that. On the other side of the room, I dared to add the next stop on the line which was a single end siding called Little River Mills. A nice flag stop station lied there and lumber was shipped all over North America from this remote location. I also added the low but long trestle that existed on the river by the station. Wood trestles were a staple on Temiscouata and many still remains to this day supporting a very scenic bike path.

You can find more detail about the discussion here and some interesting comments made by Simon Dunkley. We discussed the possibility to represent Connors at its peak circa 1910 which wouldn't be harder to do than a 1940s layout.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Temiscouata Railway: Building the Fleet

With my Harlem Station project nearing completion, I'm actually in the process of reviving my project of building Connors (and maybe more). That's not in a near future and I don't plan working on it before a year when major home improvements will be done and more space available in my house.

However, I started to sift through my steam locomotives collection and old freight cars. I found out more than I need, including several Intermountain and Accurail cars.

With locomotives I have on hand, I model a few ones with average kitbashing implied.

I have a Bachmann Modern 4-4-0, an old IHC old time 4-4-0 and recently acquired a Bachmann 4-6-0. According to pictures, I'll have to replace most of the cabs with new ones similar to Bachmann 2-6-0 or IHC 2-6-0 ones. Unfortunately, Bachmann doesn't sell the cab individually. On the other hand, I got 3 Bachmann Modern 4-4-0 shells in a recent sale. They will provide parts to upgrade all the locomotives.

In a perfect world, I'll need 4 locomotives to run the layout, including two 4-6-0 for freight trains and two 4-4-0 for passenger/mixed trains. The old 4-4-0 survived up to 1929 and will probably be used on some extra or work trains if I feel like improving it à la Harold Minky.

I'll purchase the locomotives only when I'll find good deals. I'm not in a hurry. All locomotives will be sound equipped, probably Loksound decoders.

On the other hand, I'm also planning to revive the Quebec South Shore Railway switching layout. While not in good shape, the module is still  there. However, I'll improve the trackage to make switching more interesting than my original version.

Don't expect frequent updates, but related projects including rolling stock and locomotive kitbashes will find their way here. I have plenty of time to build the fleet at a leasure pace while focussing my energy on Hedley Junction.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Temiscouata Railway

After many researches and mock-ups, it was clear Temiscouata Railway was the best way to use the footprint. This is a prototype I've know for years and I'm quite comfortable working with it.

Using several pictures, including the panoramic view of Connors, NB, taken in 1894, I was able to recreate the track plan almost faithfully. The result is a long and narrow small branchline terminal. For ease of building, the layout will be made in three 13" x 60" modules. By the way, there is no selective compression. What you see is the real thing as if I drawn the footprint on a real map.

I'm seriously thinking about setting the layout era in the pre-WW1 years. I recently found I had many craftman kits of pre-Canadian National boxcars. I've also many models of that era rolling stock that only need some assembling, detailing and painting.

Modelling this era is also a good opportunity to save space. In that era, 36ft cars were the big cars around the block. Lots of 28ft, 30ft and 32ft cars were still in revenue service.

As for locomotive, the Temiscouata Railway rostered mainly 4-4-0 back then. Most of them were built in 1887-1888 but the original one, still in service, was a venerable locomotive from 1873.

As I'm writing, the last and third module is under construction.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hereford Railway - A Final Sketch

First of all, thanks to all people who commented about the track plan both on the blog or on Big Blue. I was surprised both by the shear amount of comments but also by their positive review.

Many people commented the wye was a very interesting feature, both from an operation and scenic point of view, which I agree. However, the wye would have been quite small with sharp radius. I have a beautiful mental image of the scene but I'm well aware the available space will only be a parody of that grand vision.

Anyway, I measured the thing and it takes a lot of space in my already small office in the house second floor (you know, one of these lovely 19th century cottages with cellar and gabled attic). Forget the neat and spacious Sears catalog houses, my home have that traditional French room layout full of charm... and windows with no blank wall to mount a layout. That said, the small peninsula would be bothersome for many other reasons including hard to reach area including turnouts and impossibility to move the layout to my workshop for messy work. The layout height will be at 54 inches from the floor and nature gave me a very short stature so I won't create artificial problems that makes operating the layout frustrating.

A few people pointed out the wye wasn't a very efficient use of space and they are quite right. So back to the drawing board and here's what I come with as a working concept:

I analyzed the layout from three angles: artistic (scenic composition), realistic operation (trackage) and traffic requirements (industries, etc.).

Temiscouata gave me hints at scene composition. When you analyse the layout, you find out it is divided in three equal parts. The left-most has low human density (aka wilderness, woods, stream), the center part is characterized by medium density (meadows, team track, small structures) and the right-most part has a high level of density and operation (station, water tower, engine facilities, etc.). This density progression tricks you in believing the train is going from afar and must travel a stretch of land to reach the station/town. I feel this must be kept. Another key factor is using odd numbers for featured objects. It means having only a station and a freight shed in the high density area isn't correct. It's why I've decided to add a structure to balance things out. It could be a small feedmill, a warehouse or a cattle pen. That will be decided when I'll build the layout but my only prerequisite is that this structure is a car spot for the sake of operation. I could have added a house, but the real prototype station was out in the middle of nowhere.

The second aspect is about realistic operations. Trevor Marshall (once again!) was of a big indirect help. I tried to understand how trains were handled at Port Rowan and finally got a grasp of what was branchline railroading. Further reading of many stories in old Canadian Rail magazine and Old Time Trains on the web provided other pertinent example. In fact, many terminus I thought the track plan didn't make sense finally became clear as water to me. Knowing that, I was able to determine the exact lenght in inches each move required. I found out very little track lenght is needed to handle a small mixed train. A very good thing! This exercise also provided me with a crucial information: the exact location of the station. It was determined by the place where the passenger cars must align when the train reach the end of steel. Once I knew that, two parameters were set in stone: not only the station location, but also the exact place where the transition between medium and high density.

The third aspect was not as easy to understand. I stayed up to 2 A.M. for two days, trying to fight that "I want it all" mentality. To get it right, I tried to understand what a small community like East Hereford would need from a railroad in the 1950s. You can sum up as the Holy Trinity as Jim Dufour likened it: wood products, farm products and fuel. Passengers are also a part of it. Add to this the railway requirements about turning and fueling the engine. Let's break this into something more intelligible.

Most wood products can be handled at the team track. Farming products need a warehouse to store grain, flour and potatoes. Add to this the fact Hereford Railway aka The Raspberry Branch earned its nickname because of the gigantic amount of wild berries moving by rail to be sold in New England. Finally, fuel can be handled at the team track. Basically, to handle freight, we need a team track and a freight shed.

Since the line was once used by a daily passenger train between Portland and Lime Ridge connecting with trains connecting Quebec City, we need a sizeable station. Not too big, but not a shanty either. The neighboring towns on the line had medium sized depot and we will settle for that nice building telling us about good days from the past when the line was making cold hard cash.

Finally, we need facilities to take care of our locomotive. Given the fact MEC had locomotive facilities at Beecher Falls, Cookshire and Lime Ridge, it is unlikely that East Hereford would have been equipped with such a fancy thing. Their was a nearby rail servved quarry and I'll make the assumption a wye could have been located there about less than a few hundred feet from the station. Taking that into account, exit the turntable from the layout as there's no place to make it believeable in anyway. I'll handle that in the staging area. However, water is the most important thing for a steam locomotive and thus watering facilities are a must have for the return trip. Good thing, the real station at East Hereford was called Hall Stream and more than 3 little streams crossed the track within a few hundred feets. There's no coincidence, I tell you! So the water tank will be located by a small brook where there's a transition between the low and medium density area.

The next task was to reconcile all these excellent concepts into a working layout. First of all, I studied many topographic maps of the area, the oldest going back to 1921. I've learned a lot of thing including the nature of road (metalled, un-metalled), the location of marshes, streams, forested areas and telegraph lines. The real station was located out of the town, on Hall Stream banks (which means it was about 100 feet from the international boundary between Canada and the U.S.) and accessible by a small unfenced dirt road. The general area was open field with marshes and bushes on the riverside. Add to this a small dirt road and a wood bridge connected a few houses located in New Hampshire on the other side of the river. Thanks to Bing Maps and Google Earth, it was possible to visit the area and better understand the feel of the place. Instantly, I was able to picture a sleepy station located between fields of rich grass by Hall Stream meander and hear the steam whistle echoing in the valley. The image was half real, half fantasy. Hall Stream station did exist in that very place and the train did travel it. But the last time was in 1927, not in the 1950s, and the station was minimal at best.

East Hereford in 1921 (credit: BAnQ)

Forging a mental image of the place was needed to make the layout works out. If I'm convinced myself, I'll convinced others. The trick was to prune carefully the ideas and assemble them in a logical and artistic fashion that support the story I want to tell. By the way, East Hereford will be operated as a terminus for the mixed train, but the trackage will reflect a town on the main line. That means, if required, I could stage train coming from the right side.

With all that said, it's time to mock up that layout in 1:87. I just got my tracks in the mail today and I've enough supplies to build everything. I believe the actual layout merge the best ideas from my two original concept into something that makes more sense and addresses most planning issues. Also, the keen observer will find out this layout isn't far away from my original Quebec South Shore layout. In fact, it could depict exactly a similar area, before and after it was pruned off during the 1960s.

Just for fun, I'd like to say this draft is the 81th since I started the project a few weeks ago!!! And it doesn't include the hand drawn sketches!