Tuesday, February 18, 2020

One step back, Three Steps Forward (?)

Somehow this was all supposed to be
the CV yard in St. Albans, the
interchange with the CPR in Richford,
and the CPR Yard, also in Richford.
I'm not going to try to explain how all
that worked since I'm not entirely sure!
It's tempting to include additional elements into a model railroad - especially in the drawing lines on paper stage. After all, lines are skinny and don't have volume meaning they're easy to cram into place. And model railroaders sometimes seem pre-wired to think if they're not filling every available square inch with something, they're somehow squandering the railroad's potential. 
Let's focus for a minute on that most model railroady of all model railroady things, staging. 
For those who might not know what staging is, the concept is quite simple. Since we don't have room to model an entire railroad, or even portion of a railroad in our basement, the Ancient Ones devised the concept of "staging" - which most often takes the form of a large number of parallel tracks representing "everywhere else." Think of it as similar to "backstage" at a play - after all when Sir Whomever announces "I'm off to see the Queen in Paris" and walks off the stage we don't believe he actually went to France. We know that he's backstage having a smoke sitting on a pile of old sets and the like - but we accept this as part of the story telling. Staging yards on model railroad aren't much different. 
At some point in the hobby's history we somehow intertwined "satisfying layout" with staging yards - and to be a "real" model railroader, or to have a satisfying layout, you had to have staging. And if some staging is good, more must be better - with two or more staging yards equating to some sort of model railroad nirvana. 
You'll frequently read an article or blog post from some model railroaders who apologize for their inadequacies in the staging realm. 
"You can never have enough staging;" 
"Take the amount of staging you have, double it and then add one!" are frequent chants of this crowd.
Perhaps for some layouts these statements are true. They aren't true for me. 
When Lance Mindheim designed my Richford Branch, he included a small three-track staging yard along one long wall. (You can see the plan HERE). Lance drew a 12" wide shelf for the staging yard, but when I measured the basement - before the interior walls or even the staircase was installed - I was off by a foot - meaning the room is a foot wider than shown in the plan. Naturally the intelligent thing to do would have been to build the benchwork according to Lance's plan and have a foot extra in the aisle, but space abhors a vaccum, and I've been accused of a lot of things, but prudence isn't one of them, so I built a 24" wide shelf. 
The Richford Branch starts in St. Albans and ends at an interchange with the Canadian Pacific in Richford. I came up with a scheme where the same staging yard (now more than twice the number of tracks that Lance designed, after all I had the space . . .) would serve as both ends of the railroad.  Yes, I built the staging yard (see above). I also addressed the temptation of this whole scenario in  a previous blog post (HERE). 
While hunting around for some photos of any of the towns along the Richford Branch, I came across this image of the creamery in East Berkshire, Vt. I like how the building is set into a hill, and I especially liked the large sign on the exterior wall. I also dug up a track map of East Berkshire (from Nimke's books). 
A remarkably simple scene - a double ended siding, and a couple of spurs. At first I tried to cram it in somewhere on the existing layout, but for once the "simpler is better" motto won out and I avoided the temptation. Then I figured I could add the creamery to another one of the modeled towns on the layout, but I'd always know it really belonged in East Berkshire. 

Then it dawned on me, other than some sort of acknowledgement of conventional wisdom, and "state of the art" layout design, why do I need a staging yard on the layout at all? This is, after all, a one-train-a-day branch. 
At some point during this process I happened to re-read Randy Anderson's article on his Huntington & Broad Top that appeared in an early issue of Model Railroad Planning.  I'd asked Lance include the small three-track staging yard in order to provide some variety in consists - I do like freight cars - but my excess cars can be stored off layout in drawers or boxes. 
Through all this I was having trouble picturing what would end up looking like a big blank "spot" along a large, highly visible portion of the layout. Even a scenicked staging yard, perpetually filled with cars, would seem contrary to the feeling of a branchline. 
The solution seemed obvious. Replace the staging yard with a new town based on East Berkshire. A single staging track was all that's needed to hold the branchline local before it starts it's run. Frankly, I don't even need that. 
You can see the vestiges of the old staging
 yard tracks on the left. The spur with
the pushpins is the team track. 
Long time readers of this blog will recall I spent years doing, then redoing things on my last layout. I'm really trying to avoid a similar waste of time and resources this time around. In this case, a step back might permit me to take one or more steps forward. 
In any event, the recently concluded long weekend was put to good use as a I removed the staging yard and started installing East Berkshire in its place.  
A from the same vantage point as
the lead photo of the old staging yard above.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Schedule for the Year

I have several clinics already booked for this year, with the potential of a couple of more. 
Here are the ones that have been confirmed so far:

14 March: NMRA James River Division March Meet. I'll be doing a clinic on Scratchbuilding Prototype Structures

26-29 March: Valley Forge RPM Meet, (http://www.rpmvalleyforge.com/), Scratchbuilding Prototype Structures

04 April: NMRA Potomac Division MiniCon (http://potomac-nmra.org/PDnewsite/Minicon/Minicon.php), Live demo in the morning on Building Foreground Trees, followed by a TBD afternoon clinic 

10-13 September, Mid Atlantic Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet (MARPM), I've signed up to a do a clinic, topic and time TBD. Check the website for updates: https://www.marpm.org/

These events are all fairly local - but I am working through some logistics for other, further ranging, events. I'll keep this post updated. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Quick (very quick) Progress Report

I've been spending time trying to locate the structures I do have into logical places on the railroad. Getting water served mills located correctly (so they look right, and fit the layout!) can be a considerable challenge. My admiration for Bob Van Gelder and Dick Elwell's abilities to do this on their railroads has increased ten fold as I try to do the same with mixed success. 
Short work session yesterday led to determining the logical place to locate Ben Thresher's mill. I like how the model came out, and want to use it on the railroad. I've plopped it down in a number of locations over the past few months, but in the end the most logical place to locate it was between the track and backdrop by the Williams Creek Bridge. Not only does it seem to fit here, it will also give a different look to the scene which has been photographed and featured perhaps a little too much!

Williams Creek, stripped of its landform, trees, 
and even some of the riverbed. 
After determining the best position to place the building, the footprint served as a template to trim a piece of foamboard to fill the somewhat odd-shaped site of the building. 
The piece of vertical black foamboard is a stand in for the dam. It needs some tweaking but I think the final location looks pretty good. I've included a test shot to show how the various elements will (hopefully) work together. 

Crowd Funding HO Scale Models

I just uploaded a post to my Modeling Steam Era Freight Cars blog discussing the Prototype Junction crowd sourcing ATSF Bx-11 & 12 (and other railroads) project. 
As these aren't directly related to the Central Vermont, but are most certainly steam era freight cars, figured I'd limit the post to that blog and simply post a link here. 


Friday, January 17, 2020

Then and Now

A quick look at 371 Main Street, Enosburg Falls, as it appears on Google Streetview today:

Here's how this building looked in 1941:
J. Delano photo, FSA Collection, Library of Congress