Sunday, November 04, 2018

Walter Gretzky Visits Mike's Model Railroad

What a thrill it was for me to host Walter Gretzky to my model railroad about a year ago now.
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Along with Walter came, from left to right, Jacques (former NHL trainer), Walter, me and Charlie Henry, former NHL scout and chief executive.  To view the images in larger format simply click on the picture.  To return to the default setting, click outside the image.

We're in the train room.  How did this visit come about, you may be wondering?  Well, over fifteen years ago, Charlie's grandson was in my class as a grade 4 student.  He visited my model railroad when the class came by on a Saturday morning in June.  The young boy showed some pictures of the layout to his grandpa (Charlie) and Charlie simply had to visit the next time he would be in town.  Well the next time came about ten years ago, but on that Saturday I was out of town giving a clinic at an SLD/NMRA meet down in Smith's Falls.  Walter would have accompanied Charlie at that time.

Well it took a number of years, but the rain date materialized this afternoon.  My wife, Lisa didn't really want to get into a picture, but Walter insisted!

Walter turned 78 the day after his visit to my place.  He suffered a stroke a while back, but, boy oh boy, is he still "sharp as a tack" keeping Lisa and me in stitches all afternoon long with stories from way back.  He told us how his family came to Canada.  He mentioned how proud he is of his five children, 14 grandchildren and one great grand-child.  He certainly kept me on my toes asking a series of historical and geographical questions.  Lots of fun!

Joanne Henry, Charlie's daughter and the mom of that young lad who visited my trains when he was in my class was thrilled to make it over.  A great thrill for me was having Michael Allan Henry (that young grade 4 student of mine who is now 25 years old) telephone from his home in British Columbia during the visit.  Joanne still insisted on calling me "Mr. Hamer" and not Mike.

The gang got to see the Maine Central ply B&M rails.

They railfanned a 40-car outbound B&M manifest train.

They were keenly interested in the scenery making.  It was Walter's birthday the following day.  I explained to him that when you step into my model railroad room you go back in time to the day I was born, May 27, 1958.  Yessirree, I model New England as it would have appeared on that day in history.  I tell the school kids who visit my model railroad that I'm always happy to enter the room as it's always my birthday!

Before I got to say to Walter and Charlie what an honour it was to meet them, they beat me to the punch, both saying, "Mike, what a thrill and an honour for us both to have finally enjoyed the opportunity of meeting you and seeing this marvel of a railroad you have."  Indeed...salt of the earth people!  Thank you for allowing me to digress away from the garden aspect of things...well, not entirely...for you see, almost all of the trees on my HO scale railroad were made from the flowers of shrubs in my garden...spirea, hydrangea and sedum!  All the best,
Mike Hamer, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, November 03, 2018

B&M Train N6 "The Newsboy"

The next inbound train to North Dover will be Train N6 "The Newsboy". In the image above we see the local North Dover crew having blocked traffic for this train.  Moments earlier, they pulled the required freight cars dispersed in among the lines of cars located along the two major sidings in town.
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The switching order for the local crew indicates the cars to be found in the yard and blocked.

They've placed the cut of four cars to the "inbound" end of the North Siding in town.  This will allow "inbound" Train N6's crew ease in lifting the cut onto their train before they set out some cars from their consist for North Dover. The switch crew verifies the cars with their switch list.  A Pennsy flatcar, a B&M boxcar and two tankers all with proper identifying marks.

With the block of cars in place, the local crew moves their locomotive out of the way.

They will park the switcher on the South Siding in short order. 

In due time, Train N6, "The Newsboy" approaches town.

The train crosses Stanley Bridge over the Salmon River.

Hitting the Boundary Road crossing, the locomotives are now in the state of New Hampshire with the remainder of the consist back across the river in the state of Maine.

They round the big curve in North Dover with the Holy Spirits Distilleries complex towering above the yard.  (Due to selective compression on the model railroad, the mainline in North Dover, along with its two sidings (aka service tracks) act as a yard for the local switcher when dispatch indicates no incoming trains.

The train orders for the crew of N6 "The Newsboy".  It will determine their moves upon arrival at North Dover which is their only stop en route between Rigby Yard in Portland and Lowell Jct. outside of Boston.  The train orders indicate which cars the crew will drop (set out) from their train and which cars they will lift from the town.  Note the Slow Order Restriction they must observe at Marshall Cut.  Our train orders tell us our first drop is a Santa Fe reefer, so the model railroad operator will be looking for this car in the lengthy consist.

We locate the SFRD reefer which we have determined to be the first car in the cut to be removed from the long manifest freight.

On this day, the movement will be an easy one with four cars being set out and four lifted.

The cut is made behind the Southern flatcar which is the final car of cut of "set outs" from the train.

The gondola of scrap metal to the left heads up the remainder of Train N6 while the crew pulls the train ahead of the turnout for the siding..

The engineer guides his train on to the North Siding where they have grabbed their lifts.

They pull the lifts from the siding while still holding on to their set outs.

They bring lifts along the main to the rest of the train.

N6's crew then uncouples the setouts from the train once again.

They spot the set outs back on the North Siding.

Almost there.

Set outs complete.  The crew uncouples to head back onto the mainline to pick up the remainder of their train.

N6's crew verify their set outs with their train orders.  A Santa Fe reefer, a B&M 40' boxcar, a B&O hopper with loads and a Southern flat with all identifying marks corresponding.

The crew of N6 has performed their brake test and are now underway.

We say good-bye to the buggy as the train enters the tunnel beneath the main street of town.  In an hour or so they will arrive Lowell Jct. outside of Boston.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Boston and Maine Manifest Freight MP3

In my previous two posts you watched as the Lowell switcher blocked the traffic at Lowell Junction for outbound B&M manifest freight MP3.  You also witnessed the crew in North Dover ready traffic for this train in advance of its arrival.  Let's head to the duckunder location of the train room where Lowell Junction is located.  The hostler has placed this beautiful looking trio of F-units on the head end of the train in Lowell and the crew has boarded.  They are snaking through the yard ladder on their way to North Dover, NH.

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Let's examine the train orders for MP3.  These are similar in appearance to the real orders the B&M crews would have used with the only difference being the smaller papers I've chosen to use.
We read our current location as being Lowell Jct.  Our train is MP3.  The date is always May 27, 1958, my date of birth.  I've also added additional information up top for my operators that we are an outbound manifest freight.  When we arrive North Dover, we have three drops (or setouts) and two lifts.  We have a short order restriction at Marshall Cut (Milepost 39).  Finally, the paper clipped addendum tells us that we will meet Maine Central train #390 "The Oil Can" at the Interlocking.

These are the three cars that were added to their train at Lowell.

The train winds its way through the staging tracks that surround the layout.
MP3 gets its designation due to the fact the train originated in Mechanicville, NY and is destined for Portland, ME.  The number three indicates that it is outbound along the Western Route of the B&M.

MP3 finds daylight as it exits the tunnel below the main street of town.

Looking down the track from the station we spot MP3 approaching with bells ringing as the train slows to pass the station.

Looking out over the station parking lot, we see the engines in front of the large Wingate Wholesalers/Scodras Grocers building.

There is lots of activity on the station platform on this morning.

Because the layout is in an 11x13 room, I have had to use many interesting artistic devices to create the illusion that the layout is much larger than it really is.  I have purposely angled the streets in the lower section of North Dover to help create this illusion.  Another trick I used is to place some of those background buildings on hidden shelves.  To the viewer, some of the background buildings appear to be about seven or eight storeys tall when in fact some are only three and four storey wall sections.

Train MP3 rolls through the yard.

I've pulled back even farther from the photo above.  Another trick to create the illusion of "bigness" is to have the land vary in elevation.  The waterfront area to the far left is about an inch below track level, but it really creates an effective illusion that the landscape is large.  

The crew pierces the two sidings as it slows to a roll on the mainline.

Looking back at North Dover from a rooftop near Boundary Road.

The train blows the crossing at Boundary Road.  The schoolhouse on the other side of the tracks is a replica of the two-room schoolhouse I taught in for eight years in a remote fishing village near the Quebec/Labrador border.  Sure, the building does not exist in New England, but on my layout it does!  I built this structure from a cereal box and a file folder with some Grandt Line windows and doors added over twenty years ago!  It's a little crude by my standards today, but, heck, it's a sentimental piece!

The constraints of a smaller layout mean that the mainline must be used as a lead for switching the town.  No problem as dispatch tells us that there are no trains approaching for a while.

The crew steps onto Stanley Bridge which spans the Salmon River.  Soon, the locomotives will be in the state of Maine while the remainder of the train will be in New Hampshire.

The train rolls to a slow stop.  Another illusion to make the visitor forget they are in a small room is having the trains pass behind scenery, be it buildings, rock cuts or stands of trees like the ones you see to the right and left of the train here.

The crew have made the cut behind the last of the three cars that will be set out in town today.  That's the B&M car you see to the left.  You can also see the Grand Trunk Western 50' boxcar on the north siding.  It is one of the cars that will be lifted from the town that the North Dover's switch crew earlier spotted to the outbound end of the siding to help facilitate MP3's moves to the best degree possible.

 MP3 slowly pulls ahead.

It's drops must first clear Boundary Road before they can be placed on the North Siding track.  Here we see the crew has backed up far enough and the switch has been thrown to the far track.  They've already begun their shove back.

The setouts have coupled onto the lifts.

The engineer pulls the train ahead where the cut is broken behind the last lift, the Nickel Plate gon.

The lifts are now place on the train on the mainline in town.  For switching moves on a smaller layout, the main simply becomes another yard track.

The crew has split the lifts from the setouts.

They've now placed the setouts on the North Siding in town.

Uncoupling from the setouts.

They pull ahead and back onto their train and with a blast of the horn the crew will be on its way out of North Dover.

Meanwhile, Maine Central Train 390, The Oil Can has arrived the interlocking. 

 They must hold at the junction for their meet with our B&M train which is superior.

What a gorgeous sight capturing two EMD-inspired paint schemes on these F-units from both roads.

MP3 blows the horn for the crossing of the diamond with the MEC.
It ducks under the Howard Street overpass.

This aerial view showcases this scene located above the duckunder entrance to the room.

At the spur to Conley Lumber and Coal.

The trees frame the shot nicely.

Heading into Marshall Cut at Milepost 39.

A nice "going away" shot.

Exiting Marshall Cut outbound.

MP3 on its approach to Haney Gorge.

Tiptoeing onto the New England River Bridge.

Heading into Haney Cut and the hidden portal to staging.

We spot the lifts in the train.

The sun went behind a cloud temporarily.

The buggy tells us that that's all we'll see of this B&M manifest freight for this day.
I hope you enjoyed this little analysis of one of the many trains that ply my little layout!
Have a great train day!
Mike Hamer - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada