Roger Marler from Calgary, Alberta, contacted me recently with more information on the The Crowsnest Tramway Co. Rather than adding it as a comment I thought it made more sense to put it up front. BTW for some fine model building, be sure to check out his blog — see his link at the end. Here’s Roger…
This diorama was built by Roy Link in Norfolk, England in the early 1980s and sold to Mike South a few years later. At that time it had just 1 loco, 3 tipper wagons, and a flat wagon. The loco was based on Bagnall’s 0-4-0 IST works number 300 built in 1880 and was scratch built by Roy, as were the other items of rolling stock. Mike had it all shipped to his home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where it stayed until Mike’s death in August 2009, when it became mine. And it immediately disappeared for a few months until I discovered it in someone’s garage in rural southern Alberta. Coincidentally, Craig Parry had posted a request for information about this diorama in the ezine of the Calgary Model Railway Society. A few emails back and forth and, after help in crating it all up again by some other friends of Mike South, it made its way to Craig in Belleville, Ontario, where it now resides. However, in the meantime, Craig has been successful in obtaining some of the other 20 or so locomotives, and other wagons that had been built by various artisans around the world, on commission for Mike South, but which had somehow been divorced from the layout. Craig has also taken the diorama on the road to a number of shows on both sides of the 49 parallel to much deserved acclaim.
Chicago & Eastern Illinois 64471 is a class XM steel box car. It’s an AAR 1937 design built in 1949 with an inside height of 10′-0″. It’s in the 1953 ORER (Official Railroad Equipment Register).
I built this car from an Intermountain 1937 AAR box car kit back in the 90s. Being only four years old, the prototype would be in pretty good shape in 1953. I doubt the details are spot on so it’s likely a stand-in — but no worries. The ends are dreadnaught 4-5, the roof is Viking and the roof walk is wood. Based on info compiled by Ed Hawkins and Ted Culotta the doors should be CRECO 3 panel, not Youngstown, and be painted black; the ladders should be 8 rung, not 7. The build date is conflicted: one table says built 1949, the other 1937. The car is lettered 1949 so that’s what I’ll believe.
Weighing 13 oz. it’s a little light in the journals. It has a light filter spray to tone the lettering down (typical technique in the 90s) but needed a little more weathering. I decided not to replace the doors but I thought they should at least be painted black.
Here’s what was done to bring it up to snuff:
Replaced the wheel sets with NWSL P48s.
Replaced the couplers with Kadee 745 AAR “E” Type.
Painted the doors black.
Added light weathering with Pan Pastels and artist oils.
Sealed it with Testors Dullcote.
In operation, this box car might bring in bricks, tires and other goods from the upper Midwest. Outbound it might be loaded with chairs, piano stools or maybe a load of famous Green Mountain Baskets destined for a Chicagoland distributor.
It’s a nice model. Not exact in every detail but a great example of a typical 40′ box car of the era.
D&H 5794 is a class HM fishbelly style twin hopper built in 1942. The D&NE roster needs a few twin hoppers to haul anthracite coal to various fuel dealers along the line. The coal comes from Eastern Pennsylvania and typically arrives in hoppers lettered for one of the anthracite roads (LNE, D&H, CNJ, Reading and PRR are examples).
I like the Atlas diecast 50 Ton fishbelly hoppers. They’re perfect for the transition era I model and they are heavy! I try to weight all of my cars up to a pound or so. Marshalling heavy cars is very railroady. These bad boys go two pounds! Being RTR, they’re a relatively easy addition to the roster.
Here’s what was done to D&H 5794:
Replaced the Atlas couplers with Kadee 745 AAR “E” Type.
Retained the Atlas trucks but replaced the truck bolsters with the Shapeways DIR OAtOP48 Andrews Conversion Bolster designed by Jim Lincoln and the wheel sets with NWSL 33″ P48s.
Updated the reweigh data to “O 8-52” (Oneanta, Aug 1952).
This is not intended to be a finescale model but just a good looking runner to fill out the roster. I didn’t want to make a career out of getting it on the layout. The brake detail is not complete but good enough. The details are a little heavy, I guess, but I can live with that.
BTW the weathering is inspired by Mike Confalone’s excellent video, “Weathering Freight Cars and Locomotives”. This video is available as a series now from Trainmaster.tv.
D&H 5794 will usually be seen bringing in a load of anthracite coal for home heating to the King Coal Co. coal shed in St. George. It might be confiscated from time to time to haul out a load of gravel from Trap Rock Quarry.
From time to time as I build the D&NE I think about where I’m headed with the equipment roster. The D&NE is set in August, 1953, the late transition era. Much of the wood sheathed and composite equipment, worn out during the war, is gone by now. K brakes are a thing of the past in interchange. You won’t see any arch bar trucks. 40′ box cars still dominate the rails.
The D&NE is situated in north central Vermont. It is no longer a bridge route to the Canadian transcons but a rural shortline. St. George, now the end of track, is just a few scant miles short of the Canadian border. The southern end of the line is a nondescript interchange with the Central Vermont near Montpelier, the state capital.
There is no large industry in the area. Primarily, the D&NE serves agricultural and rural customers. Inbound is coal for steam and home heating, animal feed, petroleum products, tires, hardware, machinery, building supplies and some food stuffs. Outbound you see products from light industry, furniture, lumber, pulpwood, stone products and fresh milk. Trap Rock Quarry, just south of St. George, is the largest shipper.
Much of the freight traffic is regional so it stands to reason that most cars you see on the line are from northeast roads. Everything travels via the CV, now the D&NE’s only connection to the outside world. Traffic to southern New England goes by B&M. Mid-Atlantic traffic goes by NYC then maybe PRR or B&O. Traffic to and from the upper midwest and beyond might be routed via NYC but also CN or CP.
The most frequent roads that appear on the D&NE would be NYC, CP, CN, CV, PRR, B&O and B&M. Of course, a car from any road might appear from time to time. I have my favorites. A few cars from the sunny southland (SAL, C&O). A western box car or two (UP, SP, AT&SF, MILW). A Park & Pollard (PRKX) insulated box car is on the list. A pair of Swift reefers, one red and one yellow for a weekly delivery to the Swift house in St. George. Twin hoppers from the anthracite roads (D&H, CNJ, RDG) deliver fuel for home heating.
So how does this lead to planning a roster for the D&NE? First, how many cars will I have, eventually? My guess is two dozen or so. Well, maybe three dozen for some variety. How many will be on the line at any given time? Two or three in St. George, two or three at Trap Rock Quarry, another five or so in transit. When the line is extended to Morristown one day, another two or three there. By then maybe I’ll want four dozen cars. But that’s a ways off.
National freight car distribution lists don’t help very much for a local shortline. I don’t care what percentage of railroad cars are stock cars or TOFC flat cars. Or cars that carry industrial chemicals or bananas. Solid reefer blocks won’t be seen on the D&NE.
Looking at photos of northern New England consists in the 1950s, the most prevalent car is, by far, the 40′ box car. There are still a lot of coal hoppers and more and more petroleum tank cars. Gondolas are often seen too. On the D&NE, steam coal comes in by gondola from the New England coast and there is a large quarry operation shipping stone products so there’ll be more of these than average on the line. You’ll also see the odd flat car and an occasional reefer or insulated box car. And of course, milk cars. That’s about it.
With a budget of three dozen cars, what might a potential roster look like?
So I guess I’m off to a pretty good start. There are about a dozen cars from my Ow5 days that need conversion to P48. There are a few RTR cars (Atlas) that need little work. And, no surprise, a shelf full of kits, largely resin type. I have culled what isn’t appropriate so whatever I have is useful. I plan to scratchbuild a caboose, a triple combine, two Swift reefers and a Park & Pollard (PRKX) insulated box car.
Since finishing up the St. George freight house, I’ve been busy at the workbench getting a few cars on the track. Putting the finishing touches on a NYC class GA gondola. This car was built from a West Shore Lines kit and has been around for 20 years but needed a little sprucing up and conversion to P48. Also nearly done is a USRA composite gondola I’m building from an old Intermountain kit. I’ve taken a few liberties with the kit replacing much of the fragile polystyrene detail with brass and styrene fabrications. It’s in the home stretch and will be lettered for B&M.
Two Lee Turner 1932 ARA box cars are under construction. The Seaboard car is on the rails but not finished. The C&O car is barely started. These kits have been haunting the shelves for 20 years. Before I start on some new models, I thought I should get them on the track.
A C&EI box car that has been appearing in photos lately has been converted to P48 but needs Protocraft couplers and some more weathering. It’s an Intermountain kit I built 20 or so years ago and has held up well. In a similar state are a couple of Atlas fishbelly twin hoppers that are on the rails but need Protocraft couplers and weathering. Most of my existing rolling stock needs P48 truck conversion or replacement, Protocraft couplers and reweigh data appropriate for Sept. 1953 along with minor repairs.
With these cars running it will be time to get back to the 44-tonner. I’m not happy with the original drive and hope to come up with something a lot better involving a couple of Faulhaber micromotors.
Several USRA box car kits, a couple of flat cars and a CP minibox all are waiting to be built. And that’s not to mention a dozen or so cars still on Ow5 trucks that need to be dusted off and converted to P48.
Before painting the freight house it got a bath in Dawn dish detergent and warm water. After it dried overnight I sprayed a coat of Tamiya Surface Primer (beautiful stuff) thinned 1:1 with lacquer thinner. I let this dry a few days until the smell was gone.
Next, a variegated undercoat of Vallejo Basalt Gray and Medium Sea Gray was applied to everything. These being the Vallejo Model Color paints meant for brushing, I thinned them 2 parts paint to 1 part Vallejo Airbrush Thinner with a drop or two of Windex as a flow agent and sprayed at about 35# pressure.
The doors, railings and weather boards got a coat of Vallejo Military Green taken down a bit with gray. The walls were painted D&NE mustard, a mix of 10 parts Vallejo Golden Yellow and 1 part Flat Earth with a touch of gray. Windows, roof trim and soffits are Vallejo Off White.
Afterward, I came back lightly with a fiberglass brush to reveal just a little of the undercoat. I followed that with dry brushing Basalt Gray to show some weathered wood, then a dry brushing of Golden Yellow on the battens for highlights. Now was a good time to install the windows and doors. But no glass yet. A light dusting of Pan Pastels helped tie everything together. I used grays and earthy shades to take the brightness down a bit.
The slate roof is intended to be the original roof with some repairs through the years so the slates don’t all match in color. Luckily, there are a lot of old slate roofs around Manchester to go by. But you must be careful not to over do this on a model. I brush painted Vallejo Basalt Gray with touches of Medium Sea Gray and Burnt Umber blended in at random. The copper flashing was painted Game Color Verdigris, the color of oxidized copper, knocked down with some gray. I touched the snow birds with Vallejo Black Gray and Burnt Umber. The chimney was brush painted with Vallejo Burnt Red and Leather Brown. Testors Model Master Old Concrete was used for the chimney top. The mortar is a soupy mix of Durham’s Water Putty brushed on and then wiped off the brick faces. A final dry brushing of light gray from the bottom of the roof highlighted the tips of the slates. Various gray Pan Pastels were used to knock a little shine off of the roof and black to soot up the chimney area.
The decks were sprayed with Tamiya Surface Primer and then Vallejo Basalt Gray. After giving that a few days to dry. Testors CreateFX weathering colors were applied board by board to highlight the grain I had worked into the styrene surface. Again, a dusting of Pan Pastels gave the decks a worn, weathered look.
Signage for the ends was setup in Word, laser printed and sealed front and back with Dullcote. The paper was glued with spray adhesive to a cardstock base and then glued to a #40 styrene back trimmed with black.
Finally, the entire model was then sealed with Testors Dullcote and the window glass finally installed.
In the end, I mounted the structure on a 1/8″ hardboard base thinking I’m likely to remove it from the layout from time to time.
I think this is the largest structure project I’ve ever taken on. Styrene is a joy to work with and can be brought to whatever finish you’d like. Assembly is fast, relatively speaking. Scratch building siding and roofing (doors and windows too for that matter) is time-consuming but, after all, this is a hobby.
Cleanliness is next to, well, certainly not railroadiness. So, the freight house will be surrounded by dunnage and other junk scattered among the weeds and puddles. There’s almost always a boxcar or two spotted trackside at the freight doors. Trucks come and go throughout the day. Sometimes the lights are still burning late into the autumn evening. A busy place indeed.
My next structure project for St. George is the passenger station inspired by the long gone B&M station at Peterborough, NH. (The Toadstool bookstore now occupies that site.) It has clapboard siding. I’m carefully laying up my own to get that subtle effect of not quite absolutely perfect. The doors and windows are scratch built or bashed using Tichys as a starting point. A few are pretty elegant. It’s going to take a while…
Here’s another story about a 7/8″ scale Welsh two foot narrow gauge model I built a couple of years ago…
For some reason, despite 3 or 4 unfinished projects on the workbench, I got the bug to build a model of the original Talyllyn No. 7 for my 7/8” scale Idlenot Light Railway. The prototype was the Penrhyn Quarry Railway quarrymans carriage “H” but with a roof – essentially an open third.
In the early days of the Talyllyn preservation society, six Penrhyn quarrymans carriages made their way to Pendre. The Talyllyn shops constructed three cars from them: Nos. 7, 8 and 9. Nos. 7 and 8 were simply Penrhyn carriage bodies (“H” and “P”) with their 2′-0″ wheels replaced with 2’-3” gauge wheels from Corris slate wagons to suit the Talyllyn’s gauge. Each seated 18 passengers. (The Penrhyn though squeezed 24 workmen into each carriage!) No. 9 was an 8 wheel, bogie trucked frame with 2 Penrhyn carriage bodies (“C” and “D”) mounted on top. The volunteers added a roof to No. 7 while Nos. 8 and 9 ran open to the sky. Being a bit decrepit to start with none of these cars were in service all that long (we’re talking the early ‘60s) but they helped fill a shortage of passenger rolling stock at a critical time. By the way, the frame from No. 7 was later repurposed for the Talyllyn Refreshment Van or “tea van”. The Idlenot is certainly going to need one of those. It’s on the short list.
Despite laser cut kits being available in 7/8” scale for these carriages I decided to build mine from scratch. I worked primarily from old photos and plans in Bernard Rockett’s Penrhyn Quarry Railways, Part 1. In addition, Great Railway Eras No. 9 Talyllyn 60 has nice photos of both No. 7 and No. 8. The Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modelers’ Penrhyn Quarry Railway Modeler’s Guide had a few pages on building the 16mm kit versions of these carriages and that was helpful too.
John Bate’s tome, The Chronicles of Pendre Sidings, provided much behind the scenes information – he was there, after all! I learned of the channel underframe stiffeners from the text and a photo showing No. 7 tipped partly over. The stiffeners were added to stop the shimmying that was causing alignment the axleboxes. That’s certainly something we want to avoid on the Idlenot.
The body and underframe of Idlenot No. 7 are made largely from basswood. The ends are aircraft ply scribed to the correct board width. A 16g steel subfloor gives the car a little heft. 7/8ths Railway Equipment Co. axleboxes and Sierra Valley gauge 1 spoked wheel sets were used in the spirit of the basic running gear on the prototype. Many brass “lil” pins were added for carriage bolt detail. (I always thought my English granddad was saying “Lillpins”. Fifty or so years later, I realized they were just small.) Corner strapping was formed from styrene strips and dress pins. Angle braces for the seat backs and the underframe’s channel stiffeners came from styrene shapes.
Accucraft round face chopper couplers – standard on the Idlenot – were mounted along with Penrhyn style eye rings from Talisman. The inevitable holidays were filled with Squadron Green putty and the body given a coat of sanding sealer, then gray primer. In deference to its Penrhyn roots, the finish coat is a dark, brownish, purplish eggplant color. Not having a color sample to work from I mixed Polly Scale PRR Maroon and AT&SF Blue to get a shade I thought close – maybe aubergine. It took quite a few airbrush coats to get even coverage. The number “7” was hand painted in white on each end.
The seats are bench slats, as on the later run of home-built Penrhyn cars, with a varnished finish. These went in last. Two letters “H” were fashioned from brass, shined up and attached to each side. Not trusting adhesive to hold these on for very long a sturdier mounting method was sought. I drilled through #70 twice on each letter then through the car sides. Dress pins were pushed through from the inside, soldered to the front of the letters, trimmed and cleaned up. They’ll never come off!
The roof and stanchions are constructed from brass for strength. Using the car body as a jig, the stanchions were cut from square brass tubing, drilled and mounted to the sides with 0-80 nuts and bolts. Then, when everything was squared up, the letterboards were soldered to the tops of the stanchions with resistance soldering tweezers.
Brass crosspieces were fashioned to the arch of the roof by sawing and filing. Soldering the two frames foresquare to the crosspieces was problematic until I thought to leave the side frames bolted to the car sides and push them together against the crosspieces with bar clamps. I turned to an 80W iron for this work being careful to keep each stanchion clamped to the letterboard as I went around. Now the entire roof assembly could be easily handled as a unit.
I decided on tinplate sheet as a sub-roof. It solders so easily. And it was easy to bend to the arch of the roof. The roof frame was turned upside down and soldered to the sub-roof in a rolling fashion, again using the 80W iron. Once in place, the sub-roof was trimmed to size with a pair of household scissors.
After an overnight bath in citric acid the roof assembly was clean and ready for paint. Masking off the roof top, I gave the frame a coat of rattle can etch primer in that lovely new shade of monkey vomit green followed by an automotive satin black.
The finished appearance of the roof was to be a canvas look which I do with cotton cloth. Since I couldn’t shellac to the nonporous tinplate subroof I instead used rubber contact cement. After ironing the cloth smooth and wrinkle free I coated it with cement. The tinplate was cleaned with acetone and it too was coated with cement. In 20 minutes or so the cement flashed dry. Then, the cloth was carefully draped over the roof and, with the help of a warm dress iron, bonded to the tinplate. Finally, the rooftop was given a coat of gray primer and several coats of white to represent a heavily leaded paint finish. I don’t weather my passenger rolling stock as the Idlenot volunteers take loving care of their roster so it’s finished off with Testors Gloss Cote.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that everything went smoothly. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Ask my wife about the film of rubber cement I left on her iron. Some ideas just didn’t work out. I can be ham fisted and sometimes a little impulsive. Part of the model building craft is learning to overcome or at least skillfully hide your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to throw out a part or an entire assembly for that matter and do it over! The first body for No. 7 went straight into the tipper. I didn’t like it. It just didn’t look right.
My large scale models are meant to be viewed from several feet away in the garden so I try to strike a balance and not rat hole into too much fine detail. The three foot rule is in force. Or is it the ten foot rule? I forget. Generally, I don’t bother much with underframe or interior detail if it can’t be seen with the car upright on the rails.
With the roof assembly bolted to the body the carriage was finally complete. It’s numbered Idlenot Light Railway No. 7 and, I must say, looks quite the tart – making the scene in aubergine.
Just returned from the enormous Springfield, Mass., model railroad show. Picked up a few things for the layout. Not really much scale O there. In fact, there’s more scale S given Des Plaines Hobbies’ presence. Stopped by the new San Juan Model Co. tables for their excellent AB brake sets to find someone had just bought them out! I suppose they were the biggest scale O presence albeit narrow gauge. We swapped a few Cliff Grandt stories and I wished them well as they have taken on quite a project that we’ll all appreciate in years to come. Still hard to realize Grandt Line and San Juan Car Co. are gone.
Crusader Hobbies was there too and always has a great selection of O scale figures and details. I picked up a few items for the freight house. Bought a few hand tools for the workbench. Picked up a supply of SuperTrees from Scenic Express. A great day was had by all!
Monica was with me and, as usual, we finished up at the Steaming Tender Restaurant in Palmer, Mass., where, if you close your eyes, the Central Vermont still crosses the Boston & Albany.
This season’s (Winter 2018) Classic Trains magazine has a nice article by the late Jim Shaughnessy on the Quebec Central. The QC has always been of interest to me.
Back in the 1990s I was railfanning the CP Lyndonville and Newport subs watching Montreal Alco RS-18u and C424s hauling freight at speed in and out of Newport, Vt. They were still running 5 man crews and cabooses. A few miles of the Quebec Central were still in operation north out of Newport.
The original Dominion & New England Railway concept usurped the Newport sub from Newport, Vt to the Canadian border past Richford, Vt. including a short bit of the QC. But it proved to be just too much model railroad for me.
My much more modest fictional short line D&NE is situated in northern Vermont and once ran into Quebec to a connection with CP’s transcon. St George, just a little south of the Canadian border, is now a terminal but once saw through trains to Canada.
I’ve actually ridden on the QC. About 20 or so years ago Jack Keene, John Nichols and I rode a fan trip from St. Johnsbury down the Lyndonville sub to Wells River, back north through St. Jay to Newport and on to the Canadian border just past Newport Center (we couldn’t cross the border for insurance reasons). Then, back to Newport and up the first bit of the Quebec Central before returning south to St. Jay.
Off topic, I suppose, but I thought I’d share a few photos of one of my favorite layout themes: Roy C. Link’s Crowsnest Tramway Co., the 1:32 version. It was on display at the 2015 Narrow Gauge Convention in Augusta, ME. I had seen the odd B&W photo in publications but never dreamed I’d get to see it in person. What a surprise when I walked into the convention display room!
If you are familiar with the Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modeling Review magazine then Roy Link needs no introduction. He’s as famous in the UK as Bob Brown and the Gazette are over here.
Roy is a master model builder. The Crowsnest Tramway is an ongoing theme. A new diorama pops up from time to time in whatever scale Roy chooses. There have been versions in O14 (On2 over here) and 16mm (a popular large modeling scale in the UK) in addition to the one pictured here in 1:32.
I love everything about it. The scenery connotes an airy, sparse landscape up in the hills. The backdrop is beautifully done. Trackwork is typical industrial narrow gauge. As far as I know most everything is scratch built. The detail is enchanting. Notice the chickens next to the scale house.
Roy sold the diorama to another notable UK modeler, the late Mike South, who brought it with him to Calgary, Alberta. After Mike’s passing, it passed into obscurity until located by Canadian Craig Parry. Craig restored the diorama and built the wonderful display cabinet you see above. He has been bringing it to various conventions in North America.
As I recall, this Crowsnest Tramway diorama represents the end of the line where lead ore is weighed and then tipped into road vehicles.
The D&NE is a modest achievable layout intended to be built to a high standard. And then you see workmanship like this and just ponder…