Tuesday, March 6, 2018

St-Pie Layout Greenlighted

Some progresses occurred during the last weekend about the St-Pie Layout as we shall call it now. A few prerequisite conditions had to be met before we ever ventured into this project, namely finding suitable motive power. A successful trip to Van Horne Hobby in Laval, QC, last Saturday helped us secure a brand new Atlas B39-8 in LMX scheme equipped with a very old original QSI sound decoder… While the paint scheme will require some touch up to match prototype pictures, this is an excellent start for a project.

Once we got the locomotive, we bought a few grain hoppers to complete the fleet. Before visiting hobby shops all over Montreal area, we made sure to survey every rolling stock that could be seen on MMA St-Guillaume subdivision’s pictures. Grain hoppers are costly and we only wanted to purchase relevant material that characterized the road.

A few other items were also acquired, including a pair of Central Valley 150ft Pratt Truss bridges, a Lonestart grain semi-trailer and rooftop details for the future scratchbuilt grain elevators. In that respect, we now have everything on hands to make this project real.


Meanwhile, Jérôme has been fiddling with the track plan a little bit over the last week. I certainly think mocking up the layout on the floor was a great thing. While I’m a big fan of over-designing track plans, I know too well scene composition and operation must be tested in real life before committing to a final plan.

Using Google Earth and a measuring tape, Jérôme found out St-Pie runaround could only handle two grain cars at once. Yes, you read well… two cars in 2010. That may sound ridiculous, but it seems MMA deemed it was enough for their needs which is ideal for a small layout. Peculiar operation patterns are bound to happen. This discovery also has an unexpected impact on scene composition. Initially, we placed the grain elevators too far apart. But now, they are closer on the layout, making for a much interesting scene framed by two tall structures. It also means the lead track on the left side is now much longer, which is indeed a positive development.

Finally, another parameter surfaced: the layout must be fully independent from the walls (supported only by legs) and modular for ease of transportation is a move is required. I don’t see it as a constraint since it will be easier to build each module in the workshop and do the messy work there.

So now it’s time to rip some wood and assemble the benchwork… Meanwhile, back to Hedley Junction where I still have a lot to do!