2019 SE Lounge Swap

After some thinking, I decided to build the small shelter for the swap project. Its design is not intended for extended exposure to the outdoors; rather, I built it as a display model for photography or for an afternoon steamup.

I started out by gathering my supplies back in May and picked away at the construction over the summer. I decided to build a plywood substructure and panel it with the popiscle sticks; I read that others were having issues with warping when using just the sticks.

Other than the plywood and some dimensional lumber, I had all of the other materials on hand: popiscle sticks (my wife Robin uses them for her garden), some 30 year old stripwood I had stashed away and some plastic vegetable garden markers for the hardware.

The following gallery shows the various steps of the project:

I spray-painted the main structure with Rustoleum Flat Red Oxide primer and then did a few washes of diluted Polly-S Grimy Black. The support timbers were painted from a 30-year old bottle of Floquil Grimy Black. The roofing material are Avery labels coloured with a wide black Sharpie marker.

I’m pretty happy about the way it turned out and hope the recipient feels the same.

Popsicle Stick Models

The SE Lounge, my favourite source of inspiration in 7/8″ scale, has traditionally done a yearly swap where people build a 7/8″ scale model and send it to another swapper. They in turn receive a model from yet another swapper. The swap give people a good opportunity to try new techniques as well as build camaraderie within the group.

For 2019, there is a proposal to do a swap but also to constrain it more than previous years: the bulk of the construction should be made from Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors and coffee stir sticks. The idea is that this would keep the costs to participate low. Now that I have a workshop, I decided to participate, should it go forward.

I am using this thread to capture ideas for swap items.

Idea 1 – Shipping Crate

This would be the simplest build. Shipping crates have been around for a long time and would be relatively straightforward to build. Labeling them is probably the way to personalize them for the swappee.

A simple wooden shipping crate.

Idea 2 – Covered Van

I’m not sure I’d swap this, but for my own purposes, converting an Acme Slate Slab Car into a covered van like those used on the Talyllyn Railway up to the 1940’s looks like a fun project.

Talyllyn Covered Van circa 1930

Idea 3 – Shelter Box

This would be the most complicated build. I don’t remember where I found the jpg of the drawing but as soon as I saw it, I squirreled it away. A simple shelter based on this English prototype could be purposed for many applications around a narrow gauge railway.

Line Drawing of MS&L Railway's Fogman's Permanent Shelter Box
Shelter Box Plan circa 1895

IDea 4 – B&SR Coal SHeds

A number of swappers model the Maine two-footers. A search around the Internet found some drawings for B&SR coal sheds which look rough enough for building with Popsicle sticks.

The downside is that they are large structures. I may have to selectively compress it for the swap.

Inspirational 7/8″ Scale Railways

My previous garden railway (pictured above) provided me a lot of enjoyment over its four-year life. It was simple in design, quick to construct, easy to maintain and quick to dismantle when we finally moved. It was a great first outdoor layout for me but as I look to design and build the MQR, I am planning on setting my sights higher.

I’ve been a member of the 7/8″ scale forum, The SE Lounge, since 2007. Over the years, members have documented the creation and development of their layouts.  Here are three that have captured my imagination and will provide inspiration for the MQR design.

Rich Chiodo’s Isle of Shoals Tramway

If you are not familiar with Rich’s layout, I strongly encourage to go through all 23 pages of the post linked above. The IST is a wonderfully executed garden railway that fully captures British narrow gauge.

Things I like about the IST:

  1. The brick tub supporting and surrounding the IST is just gorgeous; it creates a nice edge which photographs well. However, Rich mentioned that it took a long time to construct. 30″ feels about the right amount of elevation to design for.
  2. Rich’s design allows access to all parts of the layout.
  3. Low track-to-scenery ratio.
  4. Very simple track work: wide curves, little straight track, 5 switches in total.

Things I’d do differently:

  1. I would like to have the option to run both point-to-point and continuously.
  2. I am on the fence when it comes to the “pit”. It is a sunken area in the middle of the layout where people can sit and enjoy the layout from a different angle.

Chris Bird’s Summerlands Light Railway

Chris has documented his layout extensively on YouTube.

Things I like about the SLR:

  1. Once again, a very simple track work: wide curves, little straight track, 6 switches in total.
  2. Many small scenes that photograph or video well and make the layout seem much bigger than it is.
  3. Because Chris has included a reserve loop, he can run the SLR in an out-and-back configuration.
  4. The layout is elevated along the main operating side; looking at photographs, I would estimate the elevation difference to be about 15-18″.

Things I’d do differently:

  1. I’m unlikely to have tunnels on the MQR.
  2. No passing loop on the mainline.

Rob Bennett’s Weston Railway

Rob Bennett is another well-known 7/8″ scale modeler from the UK. As I understand it, his Weston Railway was originally at ground level but was elevated in the late 2000’s. I mostly seen Rob’s layout through the various YouTube videos he has made.

Things I like about the Weston:

  1. The two sets of spurs running off to the lower right give Rob the option of running point-to-point. They also serve as steam-up bays.

Things I’d do differently:

  1. The Weston is quite a bit more complicated in track design compared to the IST and SLR: I count 16 switches in Rob’s diagram. I expect the MQR design to come in around 10 switches maximum.

Photo Set: On TraXS 2017

I returned once again to the Dutch Railway Museum for the 2017 edition of On TraXS. This year 28 exhibition style layouts were set up throughout the museum.

Once again, there were some very well-done layouts on display. I especially liked:

  1. ‘t was in Amsterdam (recreation of 1950’s trams)
  2. S&G Vancouver Island, HOn3
  3. Vivat Viaduct, Spoor 0

As always, I’ve made a photo set available on Flickr.

Photo Set: On TraXS 2016

I returned once again to the Dutch Railway Museum for the 2016 edition of On TraXS. This year 28 exhibition style layouts were set up throughout the museum.

Once again, there were some very well-done layouts on display. I especially liked:

  1. Stirmouth and Southern, On30
  2. The Fridge, HO
  3. Red Hook Bay, HO
  4. Trinca-Vecnou, HO
  5. Tripton by the Sea, 1:43

As always, I’ve made a photo set available on Flickr.

Photo Set: On TraXS 2015

I returned once again to the Dutch Railway Museum for the 2015 edition of On TraXS. This year 27 exhibition style layouts were set up throughout the museum. While the number of layouts was down slightly from last year, the number of vendors in attendance was up significantly.

Once again, there were some very well-done layouts on display. I especially liked:

  1. Pit Karges, First Snow on the high line, HOn3
  2. Collectief Chemin de Fer Forestier, Mocanita, Oe (it’s based on a real railway)
  3. Halleluja Players, Orange River & Pacific, Fn3
  4. Thomas Schmid, Île VaOù, Oe
  5. Arcamodellismo Torino, Vallescura, HO
  6. S&G hardrock mining, Leo Bettonviel, HOn3

It was interesting that HOn3 was so popular this year; in 2014, On30 was the preferred narrow gauge scale. And while it is not a traditional model railway, the execution of Peter Dillen’s IJsselstein module, with its use of perspective, was stunning to see in person:

IJsselstein by Peter Dillen
IJsselstein by Peter Dillen

As always, I’ve made a photo set available on Flickr.

Photo Set: On TraXS 2014

I returned today to the Dutch Railway Museum for the 2014 edition of On TraXS. This year another 30 exhibition style layouts were set up.

Once again, there were some very well-done layouts on display. I especially liked:

  1. Team Mitropa Leden, Oosterbeek-Hoog, HO – NL
  2. Christopher Payne, Pynton Tramway Co, 1:45 – UK
  3. Alexander Lösch, Harbour Street Yard, HO – USA
  4. René Paul, Herbert’s Crossing, On3 – USA
  5. Martin Welberg, Mara Harbour, On30 – USA

I’ve made a photo set available on Flickr.

Photo Set: On TraXS 2013

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a train show; I suspect it was SuperTrain 2003 in Calgary. So when Robin and I visited the Dutch Railway Museum last week and found that there was to be a model railway event this weekend, I decided to go back. On TraXS 2013 brought together close to 30 exhibition style layouts and 40 vendors for a three day event.

There were some very well-done layouts on display. I especially liked:

  1. Michael Kirsch, Cursdorf, HO – DDR
  2. Johan van Balberghe, Balmount River Railway, On30 – USA
  3. Ernst-Jan Goedbloed, Stefanowo, HO – PL
  4. Bernard Junk, L’aubraie, Gn15 – F
  5. René Wolf, Wolf’s Creek Railway, On30 – USA

But the most impressive was Thomas Schmid’s “La Valise”, a Gn15 layout in a small suitcase. Brillant!

Thomas Schmid's La Valise Railway at On Traxs 2013
Thomas Schmid’s La Valise Railway at On Traxs 2013

I brought both my new Sony DSC RX-100 and my Nikon D7000 and made a pass of exhibit hall with each. I’ve made a photo set available on Flickr.

Photo Set: Ridge Live Steamers

Robin and I visited my dad and stepmother at their house in Florida over the last week. While there, we were invited by a friend of my parents to visit the Ridge Live Steamers layout in Dundee. The Ridge Live Steamers have a large 7 1/2″ gauge layout covering several acres. Our host Allen Newcombe took us all for a tour of the facilities and a ride around the layout on his diesel-powered train. Very impressive. A photo set is available on Flickr.