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!