Saturday, August 19, 2017

Weathered Intermountain Cylindrical Hoppers

When Rapido announced their new "correct" cylindrical hoppers for bulk commodities like cement, I knew a few of my Intermountain cement cars would be phased out in a distant future. With that in mind, I thought it was an excellent occasion to weather them and get some experience before messing up with the Rapido fleet.

Interestingly, cylindrical hoppers develop great weathering patterns over a relatively short amoutn of time, particularly cement cars. Cement is highly corrosive and take a toll on a railcar fleet in no time. Thus, armed with prototype pictures, I was ready to try my hand.

I certainly didn't reinvent the wheel, only using my habitual weathering techniques (oil, powder, washes, India ink, etc.) to get the look right. As always, a good weathering job should always be about layering several coats of dirty to replicate correctly the natural process. If you want to rush things or treat weathering as a single coat of dirt you will fail to capture the real thing.

Meanwhile, I've also started to work on a bunch of Procor cement car, which are even more interesting to weather. They are certainly not straightforward to do and I had to way a month for oil paint to dry, but patience is the only way to get good results. More on them on a later post.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Photobucket Mess and Blog Restoration

Like many other blogs and forums around the world, my blogs are also among the recent Photobucket new policy victims. While I have no interest discussing the great loss of information suffered in terms of knowledge, I certainly can recognize Photobucket was in its own right to do so. Most of us were there for the free ride and we should be glad it lasted for such a long time. I'm in no position to complain though I feel Photobucket made itself infamous in a matter of a few minutes.

That said, it means most of this blog posts were rendered almost useless. I estimate about 200 posts have broken links and that represents about 2/3 of everything I wrote on Hedley Junction until I switched to Blogger’s option to directly embed the material in late 2015. Given I generally use 3 to 4 pictures per post, it means I would have to restore more than 600 to 800 images. That’s a lot of work! However, I feel I have a duty toward the readers here to keep things in order.

As a matter of fact, over the last weeks I already started restoration work and can announce Hedley-Junction satellite blogs such as Quebec South Shore Railway, Temiscouata Railway Connors Branch and Erie Harlem Staion are now fully functional again.

In the case of Hedley-Junction, the sheer amount of information means I’ll do the work as time allows. Don’t expect a swift restoration as I have many other commitments. However, I already restored the first posts describing the origin of the project and now plan to restore posts from the most recent to the older since I think older content was less relevant to the actual version of the layout. I certainly hope the blog will be back in its glory by September.

Finally, my summer vacation starts today and will be quite busy, including a large scale home improvement project. I suspect I won't have time to model as much as I would want, but probably will continue working on my cement car weathering which is quite much involving that I first thought.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


As I'm moving forward with my intention of getting rid of useless material so I can start renovating the "old kitchen" - an unnoccupied room in my 1875-built house, I can see in front of my eyes many layout projects, ideas and ephemeral inspirations that shaped my vision of railway modelling. While it is easy to look down on such artefacts and consider them incredible waste of money and time, they are, in fact many steps that helped me to achieve a better understanding of my hobby.

A fraction of things that no longer have a place in the collection...

No toddler starts walking on his two feet the first time he tries and the same applies to all the aspects of our lives. At some point, you've got to experiment and start grasping the several aspects of the surrounding environment. The small 0-6-0 saddle tank speaks of a time when I was investigating local limestone and marble quarry operations, which led me to discover the presence of Maine Central in Southern Quebec which opened a larger door into Northeastern railways in general, both in Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Even a single picture of Ciment St-Laurent plant put me on the track to discover the Shawmut Line, its coal mines and the intricate history of Pennsylvania Railroad's coal hopper fleet.

At some point, I'm doing archeological work on my own life and turning upside down at least 15 years of active modelling since I decided to get a layout of my own once for all.

As I recently said, what recently surprised me was the large fleet of American cars I had while I generally don't model such roads. However, looking back at Harlem Station, I couldn't help but see many interesting projects that would fit perfectly that layout theme. Funny how I'm constantly brought back to that layout since the first time I witnessed that prototype back in 2010 when Jack Trollope was creating a version of it presented by the late Carl Arendt on his wonderful Micro-Layout website. Little I did know at that time Harlem Station would became a fascination for me. And while all the other New York harbor terminals are much famous because of their intricate track plan, I was in fact attracted by Erie's diminutive yet highly efficient use of space. At Harlem Station, you can't add or remove a track, everything is highly optimized in that weird spartan railway fashion. And while small, this terminal - for me at least - is a window on the 1950s United States since cars from everywhere in the country gathered on that small city block.

And while you think I'm diverting from my propos, in fact I must admit thinking about the Harlem Station layout is a good way to see if something can have a second life or if it is truly unneeded in my collection.

Except a few emotional pieces, many were steps I won't visit again and if I ever do, my approach will be drastically different and shouldn't be tied down by a collection built when I was ignorant about the subject. They served their purpose and clinging to them wouldn't make me move forward.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ciment St-Laurent - Part 3

Villeneuve is progressing at a steady pace! Among various chores that had to be done, we raised the landforms around the cement plant and tracks to better match the buried look that could be seen on the prototype.

To do so, a new layer of cork sheet was glued down and nailed on the benchwork. This layer of cork is slightly lower than the surrounding cork roadbed to still keep some topography there.

The track was also painted Krylon Limestone Gray. This may sounds absolutely weird, but when the ties are weathered with oil paints and rails painted dark camouflage brown with some weathering powder, the results is quite good. I tested it on a scratch of flextrack beforehand.

Jérôme is putting the cement plant mockup back in place.

As for the cement plant itself, a new 5/8 high MDF base has been made and fitted on the layout. This baseboard will serve as the foundation for the plant and will be removable so we can build and detail the structure on the benchwork.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Railfanning CFQ SW1200RS

The new Rapido's announcement about the SW1200RS got us digging our photo albums from the late 1990s to find what pictures we had of these emblematic locomotives when they served the ex-CN Murray Bay Subdivision under Chemin de fer Charlevoix tenure. In fact, we found out very little pictures of that era can be found online.

While it appears our teenager budget didn't allow us to take a lot of pictures, we managed to snap all three locomotives in different locations. While we didn't care about write the date, these pictures were shot between Summer 1998 and Spring 2000. They aren't very crisp, but at least we get the gist of the paint scheme and weathering.

Let's start with locomotive 1303 parked at Clermont's Wieland shops circa 1998. I took this one while visiting a my grandfather's friend back then.

The other one is locomotive 1323. It was also shot by myself on Fall 1999 or Spring 2000 in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. The field at the right of the locomotive used to be the old QRL&PCo roundhouse and turntable. Not a great shot I must concede, but it gives a good idea how CFQ operated their SW1200RS cab forward.

Finally, the last one - locomotive 1330 - was shot by Jérôme in Maizerets. You can recognize the large oil reservoir in the background and his bicycle in the foreground. He certainly had a better camera and skill than I back then! This picture is particularly interesting to understand the weathering pattern on these otherwise rather pristine and clean locomotives.

These pictures, while not great, will provide a good starting point to detail, paint and weather models on our layout.