TH&B 70 Ton Hopper #1234: Finished

This model was completed some time ago, but I was deliberating the various approaches I could take with the weathering.  I had to consider how the car was utilized while I thought about the various media that I’ve used for different effects.

I built TH&B hopper #1234 for a small pool of cars used on the WRMRC in slime service for Inco.  TH&B didn’t serve any mines on line, so they used these cars like many roads used boxcars, meaning that, stead of hauling minerals for a specific customer, they shopped around for ways to put them into service earning revenue.  Aside from hauling slime for Inco, some of the cars contributed to a pool of cars assembled by CN, TH&B, and PC.  Others were used in a variety of ways, like hauling limestone from the quarry in Dundas, or scrap steel between industries in Hamilton.  Even cars used ore service were  rotated in and out of the pool.  As a result, they didn’t weather quite the same as hoppers from a road like the Pittsburgh and Shawmut or Lehigh Valley, where the such cars were used to haul coal for the duration of their useful lifespan.

In the end, I decided to try a combination of acrylic model paint, artist oils, and chalks.  The first step in the weathering was actually in the base colour of the car.  I used Polly Scale paints, and instead of using straight black, I mixed in some Reefer White to fade the black a bit without making it look grey.  This also helps to give more depth to the details.

After the decals and flat finish were applied and cured, I brushed a rough coat of white artist oil paint on the outside and bottom of the car.  I don’t use Titanium White because I find it has a hint of blue that works nice on canvas, but isn’t so good for weathering model trains.  Once the car is covered in a thin layer of white, I use a series of four progressively softer brushes to remove the paint.  The first brush is a 1″ flat and the last brush is large and very soft fan.  This step fades the car.

After I was satisfied with the fade, I used three different mixes of light grey on different parts of the car.  In this step, I didn’t whisk quite as much of the paint away because I wanted some streaks left behind. After the grey streaks, I put a few very subtle rust patches onto the sides with Burnt Umber and Raw Umber.  For these I put tiny blobs in place with a small brush and then dissolved the blobs with mineral spirits until the edges softened up enough to look natural.

When I was satisfied with the oils, I went at the car with some Bragdon weathering chalks, mixing and blending their Dark Rail Brown, Old Tuscan, Antique Iron for the inside, and a bit of those plus their Ash colour on the outside.

I think this one is ready for the layout.


The Pulp Train and the President

We were talking about the pulp train at the club tonight, and my friend Ted gave me more insight and related an funny anecdote.

Turns out there were actually two pulp trains.  The Ramsey Swing portion of the pulp train took empties from Cartier to the E.B. Eddy loading facility at Ramsey (mileage 70.7 on the Nemegos Subdivision), swapped them for loads then returned back to Cartier yard.  The Nairn Turn is the train we refer to as ‘the pulp train.’  This job takes the loads that the Ramsey Swing brought in earlier and forwards them to the E.B. Eddy plant on the Pineland Spur just west of Nairn.  After swapping loads for empties at the Pineland Spur, the Nairn Turn retraces its route back to Cartier. I outlined the details of operating that job in my previous post.

Ted related an interesting anecdote about the pulp train.  Apparently, Bruce Chapman, who worked all over the CPR in northern Ontario was working in Sudbury in the late 70s.  One day he found himself responsible for finding replacement power for the pulp train as it died in Sudbury on one of its daily runs.  With nothing else to use, he assigned two nearly new SD40-2s to the train.  Just as the train was about to leave the yard, Bill Stinson, then President of the CPR, arrived at the division headquarters to find brand new engines coupling onto this lowly train.  To make matters worse, the Webbwood Subdivision was strictly four-axle territory.  Stinson questioned Chapman about this, but he got a laugh out of it when the situation was related to him.  Stinson remembered Chapman from then on.   We might have to represent that day at one of the WRMRC operating sessions.

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.

Modelling Copper Cliff on the CP’s Webbwood Sub

Copper Cliff is a community surrounded by Inco’s immense mining endeavours about four miles west of CP’s Sudbury yard.  It’s a former company town, and as such, it is comprised of a small gathering of residences nearly besieged by industrial lands.  Indeed, Inco’s famous superstack looms across the road from homes on Venice Street.

CP’s Webbwood Subdivision passes just to the south of the residential area in Copper Cliff, and connects Sudbury to the international border at Sault Ste. Marie, some 200 miles west. See the key map below, which I copied from the Waterloo Region Model Railroad Club (WRMRC) website.  I added a grey oval to highlight Copper Cliff.

On the WRMRC, we are modelling the scene where the CP Webbwood Sub goes underneath Regional Road 55 [Since writing this post, I was reminded that Regional 55 was actually Highway 17 and called the Trans Canada Highway in the 1970s.  I’ll leave this note here until I get a chance to change the label on the image below.]  Click on this satellite image from Google Maps to see a larger version.

There are two places on our layout where Copper Cliff shows up.  On Level 1, the Webbwood Sub proceeds west from Sudbury, through the New Yard (behind the car shops and roundhouse), and through Copper Cliff before going into the backdrop to climb a helix up to Level 2.  Just before the Webbwood goes into the backdrop, an industrial spur track branches off to the south and goes through the backdrop into a helix that carries it down to Level 0 where the CP interchanges with the Inco railway and serves some other industries from their own trackage.  On the track plan for Level 0, the interchange with Inco on the Copper Cliff spur is the trackage farthest to the left.  [You will notice that there are no place names labelled on the track plan for Level 0.  Nearly all of Level 0 is made up of hidden staging yards and connecting tracks.  The Copper Cliff industrial spur, however, will be on a very narrow shelf with scenery].  It is the scene around the junction of that industrial spur with the Webbwood Sub in Copper Cliff that I’m modelling on the WRMRC layout.

The scene shown above is challenging to pull off in the space we have available, but when the layout was planned by Jurgen Kleylein 15 years ago, he visited the location and took stock of the dominant features to inform his track plan.  Inco’s North Mine dominates the scene as the only major structure immediately adjacent to any tracks, aside from the highway bridge that carries Regional Road 55 over the Webbwood.  That highway bridge and the loader at the North Mine would become the set pieces Jurgen would deploy to hide the places where trains would otherwise plunge into a hole in the backdrop.  These two structures become crucial scenery elements.  Their positions would be dictated by the exact locations of the holes in the backdrop, and the spectators’ viewing angles into the scene.

If you checked out the track plan for Level 1, you’ll appreciate how complex our layout is.   I’ve isolated the North Mine area of Copper Cliff in this shot.  The track plan generally shows the position of each key scenery element, and again, the intention was that their exact location would be determined during construction.

The dark blue line is the CP Webbwood Subdivision.  The light blue lines are backdrops.  The green line delineates the aisle. The area to the left of the aisle, circumscribed by the grey oval, is part of the Copper Cliff North Mine scene on Level 1.  The part of the layout to the right of the aisle (Crean Hill mine scene) is unrelated to Copper Cliff, despite the fact that it appears to be connected to it in the drawing.  The Crean Hill mine also on Level 1, but what you don’t see in the drawing is that its benchwork is slightly higher than the scene across the aisle, and it is framed in a sort of shadow box.  Just ignore that side for clarity. For the purposes of this series of posts, I’m referring to the area in the grey oval.

The Inco trackage is in the foreground of the scene, but is not operational track.   The WRMRC puts a priority on realistic operation, and the creation of scenes that resemble the real world, as much as can be accomplished within a given space.  In this case, the three tracks at the loader and the transfer track were deemed significant enough to warrant inclusion.   There’s not enough room for the mine headframe to be modelled, so that will have to be implied by the presence of the loader spanning two of the Inco tracks.  The plan also calls for the connection between Inco and the CP Webbwood to be modelled, but again, this will not be operational.  Its purpose is solely to add important scenic elements.   In reality, this connection wasn’t used often, so it doesn’t represent a significant on line traffic generator for the operation of the layout.

That’s an overview of what the real scene looks like and the plan for building a model of it in HO.  But even the best laid plans are always only plans.  It is in execution that every plan is tested.  All of the principles in this plan are solid.  You’ll read in the next instalment how difficult it can be to try to build this scene into a mushroom-style layout inside of a quonset hut.