Saturday at the WRMRC

Each summer, the WRMRC closes operation sessions for the summer in order to undertake major construction projects.  We chose to start our summer work season in May this year because we have major goals and some ambitious workers who couldn’t wait to get started.  Last Saturday, we held our May construction day.

Generally, we set our summer construction goals at our Annual General Meeting, which is slated for June.  These priorities have not yet been formalized, but the work that was done on Saturday foreshadows what some of those goals might be.  You can find the track plan here while you read through the rundown of the projects that were undertaken on the weekend.

Sudbury Roundhouse

Steve Lyons is managing a major worksite at the Sudbury roundhouse scene on Level 1.  This project involves nearly the whole summer work crew. Phil Trudel has undertaken some improvements to the flooring on the second floor, above the Sudbury roundhouse area.  There will be a helix on the second floor, directly above this scene, which serves to carry the Little Current Subdivision from Espanola to the Lawson Quarry scene, and on to Turner and Little Current.  Though the ceiling above the Sudbury roundhouse scene is in place, the flooring on the second floor was never properly completed.  Phil’s work will ensure that construction can proceed on the second floor without causing damage to the scenes below.


This view looks across the back of the Sudbury roundhouse scene. The backdrop will have the horizon scene painted this summer, and at the far end, Steve will rebuild the benchwork to accomodate a lift-out.

Phil’s flooring work needs to be completed because Steve Lyons is working on the roundhouse scene below.  This is a multifaceted project which involves rebuilding the benchwork to facilitate a lift-out section. Jurgen Kleylein will be painting the backdrop behind the scene.  Steve will be laying the track and installing the turntable.  Chris Vanderheide has commenced work on some of the building flats for this area.


This angle shows the turntable pit in the centre. The roundhouse will be behind the pit, and the car shop building will be to the right of the drill and tool box.


Cartier Subdivision Helix to the Second Floor

Another site of major construction this summer is the double track helix that will take trains to the second floor.  Bob Carter and Jurgen Kleylein worked on the math to work out how to get a helix to float in mid air through seven-sided irregular opening.

This helix is need so that we can build temporary staging on the second floor for North Bay and Cartier, and ultimately facilitate the construction of the Cartier Subdivision to its eastern and western limits.


The opening in the floor at the centre of this image is the space which will be occupied by the helix.  The flooring material will be cut back to the floor joists, so the opening will be larger than what you see here. The opening to the left is for the stairway up to an intermediate level. The steps in the foreground come up from the intermediate level to the second floor.


Naughton Helix Area

The third major project is the one I’m leading.  This area shows up in the far left corner of the track plans for Level 0, Level 1, and Level 2.  I’m carrying forward the benchwork, track, and scenery to finish off all four scenes here (two scenes on Level 1, and one each on Levels 0 and 2.  This project is a long term one, and I’ve been working on this since I joined the club in 2011.

The scenery that I’m building at the top of the helix in this area has been halted while I wait for the lighting to be installed.  I have virtually no knowledge of how to wire up electrical mains, so I need to wait while that work gets finished.  I want to be sure that all of the lighting is in place and the ceiling is finished before I proceed with scenery.  It’s probably best to work on scenery from the top level down to the bottom in this aisle.

With the scenery work stalled, I recruited Phil’s help to correct some facia that I installed last year.  It was clear to Phil that we needed to install the roadbed on Level 0 in order to get the facia right.  I’m pretty lousy with wood so I deferred to Phil’s expertise.  I embraced the role of “assistant/go-fer/comic-relief” while Phil led the process of making a cardboard template for the roadbed, then cutting out and installing it.


In this scene, we see the Copper Cliff industrial area on the left. This is Level 0 on the track plan. On the left, a track emerges through the backdrop. This track comes from the Webbwood Subdivision at upper right (where you see the blue foam scenery base) and descends a helix to get here. Trains from Sudbury into this area will enter through the backdrop, pull past this scene, and the push cars into the area curving off to the right.


Here is a tighter shot of the area showing the ramp coming down from the helix behind the backdrop. There will be two buildings in this scene, about where the wires hang down for future lighting. Three tracks will pass between the buildings and proceed through a hole in the backdrop at the right. These tracks will be long enough to hold unit trains of sulphuric acid tank cars.


Here’s a shot looking into the hole in the backdrop for the three stub-ended staging tracks. We had to join this roadbed to some roadbed that was installed last summer. The staging tracks go through the opening and curve to the left to wrap around the base of the helix.



While work on these three major projects was underway, Chris Vanderheide worked on some scenery in the area around Coniston.


Coniston is shown on the upper deck in this area. This is Level 2 on the track plan. The junction between the Cartier Sub and the Parry Sound Subdivision to Toronto was just behind and to the right of me when I took this shot.

I joined Chris, Steve, and Bob at Spice 11 in Guelph for an excellent feast of Indian cuisine.  It was a great way to finish off a productive work session.

Ore Cars Step 17 – Action Red

I shot all of the cars with a coat of True Line Trains CP Action Red and moved them from my work bench to the club.  The rest of the work will take place there, so I’m going to store them in the Crean Hill Mine scene while they’re being finished.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAObviously, the scene is still very much a work in progress.  Back in September, I started a series of posts that give an overview of this part of the layout (all of those posts are under the “Copper Cliff” category on the side bar).  I managed to connect the spur track that comes off the Webbwood Subdivision at the Victoria Mine Switch some time ago.  The spur comes off the Webbwood at the far east end of the shelf with the Nairn scene, just above this shelf.  Jurgen started to work on the loader and then got sidetracked by dozens of other projects, but these shots give a bit of an overview of what’s happening there, and how these ore cars fit into the operation.

Copper Cliff Scene part 4 – Spelunking in The Ninth Circle of Hell, or, Tunnelling into Treachery

Progress on the Copper Cliff scene at the WRMRC took a few more steps forward at a recent weekend work session.  I recruited some help, and I thought it might be interesting to outline some of the dragons we’re slaying in this corner of the layout.

The track plans for our layout illustrate how three levels of the layout converge in this corner behind Copper Cliff.  We have a helix inside of another helix at this location.  The inner helix is actually two helices stacked on top of each other.  The upper half carries the Webbwood up from Copper Cliff to the Victoria Mine switch, Nairn, and points west.  The lower half of the inner helix carries the Copper Cliff spur down to the Copper Cliff industrial area.  The outer helix carries the branch line down to the Crean Hill mine from the Webbwood.   It’s complicated.  This shot clarifies things.  Or maybe not.

The work I’m doing at Copper Cliff is related to everything else in this area, so  I needed to complete a couple of long-neglected track projects before I could carry the scene too far.  First, I had to make the connection between the Webbwood and the top of the outer helix (to go down to the Crean Hill Mine).  And before I could install all of the necessary backdrops in the various scenes here, I needed to build some hidden staging that wraps around the very bottom of the double helix.  I’ve spent many work sessions contorted like Houdini in a steamer trunk while working in this confined space that I’ve named Treachery, or the Ninth Circle of Hell.  In typical railroad fashion, I’ve given the same place two different names.

The construction of these staging tracks at Treachery was somehow overlooked back when the club first started building the layout.  It was in the plans, but the construction crew just kept going right past it.  Eventually, the space for these hidden tracks was buried under a labyrinth of rails, wires, and wood.   But Treachery is the where our sulphuric acid unit trains will be staged out of view, and these trains are an essential element to our depiction of Inco operations around Sudbury.  Incidentally, the real facility that these staging tracks represent is truly a sulphurous miasmic pit, and I’m sure Dante would approve of my appropriation of the names.

To build model railroad roadbed in a place like this is no less torturous than an appointment with an iron maiden.  Being the resourceful fellow I am, endowed with both charm and cunning, I managed to recruit young Justin’s assistance, due in part to his youthful naïvety, but also owing to a furlough from his regular assignment with the mainline roadbed crew on the other side of the building.  As a result of Justin’s help, I was afforded the opportunity to take a few pictures, drink a soda, and gab with Chris.  In tribute to Justin’s enterprise and youthful exuberance, I’ll share some great shots of the Ninth Circle of Hell, featuring young Justin affecting the mannerisms of a hunch-backed culvert dweller.

Looking down from the second floor of our layout, the end of the two longest tracks in Ninth Circle of Hell are on the left, deep in the pit between the helix and a staircase.  The outer helix is next to it, and the inner helix carrying the Webbwood sub is on the right.

This view is similar, but shows the tracks of the Ninth Circle of Hell wrapping around the helices.  I had to lay the tracks and detectors onto this piece of plywood before it was put in place.

Here’s Justin, shoe-horned into the mere inches between the helices and the outer wall of the building, which curves inward behind his head (it’s a quonset hut). Only one of the staging tracks has been placed.  A second track will be beside the one in the photo.  A third track will end about where Justin has taken up his leisurely repose.

Here, Justin can be seen spelunking behind both helices.

We had to clear a path through the benchwork for the new roadbed to be installed. Incidentally, I spent some time down in this part of the Ninth Circle of Hell making cardboard templates that I later traced onto four pieces of plywood. The space is so tight between the wall and the helix that I had to cut the plywood into very short pieces just to get them in there.  When I was a kid, my dad had a friend who built a single seat airplane in his basement and had to excavate the side of the house to get it out when he was finished.  Huh.  And I thought he was nuts.

This is the view looking back into the staging from underneath the Copper Cliff scene.  The backdrop at level 0 is about a foot to the left of this shot.   Three tracks will curve onto this roadbed from the left.  Two tracks will hold the sulphuric acid unit train, and a third will store boxcars loaded with nickel anodes.

Progress in this corner happens very slowly.  In addition to this torturous job, there are backdrops, facia, and scenery to be built on all three levels.  This hidden track represents the source of traffic for the Copper Cliff spur, so while it’s not part of the scene I’m working on, it is an element of the overall project.  These staging tracks represent the most difficult and time-consuming dimension of the work in this area.  Thanks go out to Justin for his contribution.

Copper Cliff scene – part 3

In the previous instalment in this series, I showed the first attempt at building the scene at Copper Cliff on the WRMRC, and described the problems with the scene’s geometry.  From that point, I tore out most of the scene, leaving only the Webbwood mainline.

To begin the work on this scene, I had to correct a track gauge problem where the Webbwood curves onto the helix behind the backdrop.  This isn’t a component of the scenery, but it was work that necessary because the track would eventually be buried behind the backdrop.  An important point here is that before scenery can progress, track has to function flawlessly.  Fixing track after the fact would require dismantling some of the scenery.

I’ll be building the highway 17 bridge over the Webbwood right at the backdrop.  The highway bridge is used to conceal the hole in the backdrop for the Webbwood (track on the right).  That hole will be a wide rectangle similar to what was built into the backdrop that I tore out.  Because the opening in the backdrop will be large, I had to build a backdrop and some scenery that will extend behind the main backdrop.  You can see in the photo below that I’ve started stacking the white styrofoam to create the land form that will be behind the backdrop.

The track that you see in the foreground of both of these photos is the new alignment for the Copper Cliff industrial spur.  It goes through the backdrop to a helix that takes it down to the industrial area on level 0.  After removing the old track, I had to build new roadbed out of spline for this section, and hand lay track on it.

In the next shot, I’ve placed a mock-up of the Inco loader, and the three tracks associated with it.  This complex is positioned to hide the point where the Copper Cliff spur goes through the backdrop.  The white backdrop you see in this image is a cardboard mock-up as well.  As you can see (actually can’t see), the loader hides the hole in the backdrop behind it. It looks like things will work out nicely.


I’m using lots of mock-ups to fine tune this scene.  What the photo doesn’t show effectively is that the curved “wall/roof” of the quonset hut is immediately behind the back drop here. I’m trying to make the backdrop curve on the horizontal plane so that it wraps out to the aisle, but also on the vertical plane because the external wall/roof curves inward.  It’s nearly impossible for me to measure and cut flat pieces of masonite to fit, so I’m doing the majority of the trial and error with cardboard.  When it fits properly, I’ll trace the shape onto masonite.

The first attempt at Copper Cliff

In the previous post on this topic called Modelling Copper Cliff on the Webbwood Sub, I introduced the scene at Copper Cliff on the WRMRC layout, and put it into context with the surrounding rail network.  In this post, I’ll show you how I got started building, or should I say rebuilding the scene.

The Copper Cliff scene is situated at the end of an aisle that has one long shelf with scenery more-or-less complete. Scenery was roughed in at some point in the distant past, and someone made a start on the non-operational tracks at the Inco mine loader.  Here’s what it looked like when I started.

You can see that someone got a pretty good start on building the scene.  I initially expected to be able to put the Highway 17 bridge in front of the hole in the backdrop and start laying the rails for the Inco loader.  After I built a mock-up of the highway bridge, it became apparent that there was at least one major problem.  The bridge is supposed to go over the Webbwood, but the Copper Cliff spur is supposed to look like it’s running beside the highway.  The distance between the mainline and the spur was insufficient to build the west bridge abutment.  I decided that the best approach was to move the spur toward the edge of the layout.  Doing this would encroach upon the tracks at the Inco loader, so in the end I chose to tear out and relocate the spur track and the Inco tracks.  And in order to remove the industrial spur track, I had to tear out the curved part of the backdrop behind the scene.  In the military, I think they call this “mission creep.”

After the devastation, I started to experiment with the new alignment for the industrial spur.  Initially, I expected to build the roadbed on plywood sections joined with biscuits and held up with risers.  You can see in this shot that I was able to move the industrial spur away from the Webbwood Sub by a few inches – enough room to put the abutment for the highway bridge and the fill for the highway.

I bailed on the idea of using plywood very early on.  I decided that I would have to build the new connection from the Webbwood to the helix down to the Copper Cliff industrial area using spline, which is the standard roadbed at the WRMRC.

In the next update, you’ll see how the roadbed, track, and backdrop progress.