Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Conley Lumber and Coal

In my last posting I received a message from Laurent in Switzerland offering his appreciation for my modelling work...and I would like to thank Laurent for his many comments. Laurent then asked me to post some images of the area of my layout between the Howard Street Overpass and Marshall Cut at milepost he had not seen any pictures of this area in his search through the magazine articles and on the internet.

I hadn't realized that this area had been neglected so this posting will deal with the area known as Conley Lumber & Coal named after my good friend and fellow modeller, Stan Conley.

The image above is an "overall" view of the layout as it appears in the corner of the room. Note how the valence, fascia and curtains are all black with the layout being lit from the lighting source behind the valence. I purposely utilized this method to help create that museum diorama look...where the only thing highlighted is the layout itself!

The second and third images showcase the single track entrance to Conley Lumber & Coal. The flatcar acts as an idler car or "reach" as railroad regulations forbid the switcher to travel below the wooden structure due to potential fire hazards of any sparks flying from the engine's exhaust.

That's Mitchell Creek in the background. There is a fork in the creek where a narrower section travels below Conley trackage in the foreground. Can you spot the pileated woodpecker wrestling with a tree on Conley's property?

This aerial shot shows the lumber racks to the left of the facility with the main office located in the white building to the right. I scratchbuilt the small coal bin after plans I found in Model Railroader from an issue way back in the sixties, I believe.

The portable conveyer was built and painted by Stan Conley and he surprised me by "planting it" on the Conley property without telling me during an operations evening. Boy, was I surprised to find his beautiful model on the layout! Thanks Stan!

Here is a view from a slightly different angle. Usually there is a boxcar spotted in front of the lumber storage area, but I removed one to show you the interior.

This facility was built from a John Rendall craftsman kit. It was the first craftsman kit I had attempted and the experience taught me that I could also scratchbuild structures, which I have later done and placed on the layout elsewhere. The inclusion of smaller details in and around the structure and facility help to create the sense that this industry is alive and well!

This final view is a "helicopter shot" looking down on the Boston and Maine mainline where a short local is passing by in care of S2 #1170. The diesel servicing Conley Lumber & Coal is SW9 #1231.

The mainline train will soon pass through a "viewblock" where it will enter a new scene and travel below the Howard Street Overpass and reach the interlocking with the Maine Central.

For the Conley crew, having to use the flatcar as a car reach creates operational challenges as the flatcar cannot travel on the mainline. It can only be used momentarily to spot cars there if needbe...provided dispatch has given clearance to use the main for a short time to conduct the moves at Conley Lumber & Coal.

Thank you, Laurent, for your kind words and hopefully I've answered all of your questions. The only other place you will find photos of my layout that you have not seen would be at the railroad forum I belong to at where you can look under the threads I started called "An Overall View of Your Layout Room" in the Model Railroad Forums - Model Railroad Construction section and "Diesels in Action on Your Layout" in the Shop Talk - The Diesel Shop section.

Check out to see the great group of modellers I hang out with!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Quite the Quartet

Mainline trains on my layout are often found in care of multiple-unit assignments varying from double headers to three and four locomotive consists depending on power needs due to train length and weight. One such train is PM4, an inbound hauler from Portland, Maine to Mechanicville, New York. This train does not make it to Boston. Rather it diverts west at Lowell Junction headed westbound for New York state.

This first scene depicts the four units required to haul train PM4. The locomotive set is spotted crossing the New England River Bridge after exiting Haney Cut at milepost 42.

The four units drawing the train are GP7's #1568 & 1566, RS2 #1503 and RS3 #1519. The beautiful maroon and gold paint scheme of the Boston and Maine sure looks handsome along the flanks of all these powerful units!

The photograph above is from a vantage point operators would not normally see. The elevated landform with a stand of trees noticeable to the left of the tracks helps to create Haney Cut and effectively disguises the portal to staging.

This scene clearly depicts the verdant landscape so prevalent in New England. At this point the train is still in the state of Maine. In a few miles, it will cross the Salmon River where it will then enter New Hampshire on my version of the B&M.

Little did I know that while I was snapping these views of train PM4, my good railfan buddy, Marty Phillips, had travelled to North Dover from his home on Vancouver Island to railfan New England on the very same weekend! What were the odds of that?!

While I was on the high ridge above track level, Marty apparently had decided to tackle the same shot from water level below the New England River Bridge.

Later on, it was fun to compare shots of the same train from different angles! Marty sure has captured that artistic 45 degree shot looking up from below!

Meanwhile, I managed to head over to the Salmon River where I captured this image of the lead unit above the beautiful stone arches of Stanley Bridge. Picnickers near the gazebo must have had their afternoon peace and quiet momentarily disturbed when this quartet arrives on the scene! Some of the best salmon fishing in the northeast is found right here at, you guessed it, the Salmon River!

I met Marty later on at a restaurant along Boundary Road and he showed me this ground level image he just managed to grab way back at milepost 39...the inbound approach to Marshall Cut.

Mitchell Creek sure looks murky with all that spring runoff. We both couldn't recall the creek level being that high near the culvert entrance from past railfan trips. New England must've seen a lot of rain recently! While we enjoyed a lunch of smoked meat sandwiches Marty asked me about our American buddy, Mike Sherpak. I knew that he was back in Iraq...and that he was thinking about coming up to Canada in the fall. Marty wondered if he would make it all the way out to the west coast. "Hey, why don't you come back to Ottawa during his visit?" I asked the Marty Man.

Marty also shared another shot he managed to snap out by the interlocking tower where the diamond with the Maine Central is located. There seemed to be a work gang doing some track repair along the MEC right of way so the B&M had the highball through the interchange.

"Boy, there sure is a lot of traffic along the Howard Street overpass," mentioned Marty.

I showed Marty the remainder of the shots I managed to get as the train entered yard limits and prepared to stop in North Dover to exchange a cut of cars.

This image of the lead unit entering yard limits as it passes Haney Fuels was taken from the steps of another industry in town. What I particularly enjoy about this photograph is the B&M's creative use of an old boxcar as a storage shed for heavy equipment. This is but another example of the Boston andMaine Railroad trying to be cost effective during a downturn in the economy!

I managed to snap this last image from my railfan trip looking back down on the station platform from above the ridge in town. Then it was back in the car to head north to Canada.

While Canada may be my home, North Dover is a close second!

Everytime I railfan here, I meet warm and caring people...many of whom are train nuts themselves. One thing's for sure...that quartet of diesels sure made for a great day of railfanning for both Marty and I!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Little Red Engine That Could

I run a shortline branch out of North Dover on my Boston and Maine Railroad. The St. Clare and Northern RR is a Pinsly inspired line with its 44-tonners and 70-tonners adorned in the vibrant red Pinsly colors with black stripes and yellow lettering.

In the first image we spot a St. Clare & Northern light move crossing the Salmon River on the outskirts of North Dover.

Currently, 44-tonner #14 is the only lettered unit in the stable at this point. We spot the shortline crew traversing the New England River Bridge with a Nickel Plate covered hopper in tow...a typical small train for this shortline railroad.

That's St. Clare and Northern buggy #1 on the rear. This train will head across the New England River where it will diverge from the mainline and head onto St. Clare and Northern trackage.

Note the verdant landscape so common to New England in the late spring and early summer. It's a rare New England photograph that does not contain a green background and the image taken on this day is no exception!

This close-up view clearly shows the silver trucks which adorn this proud little unit. My good friend, Mike Mueller painted and lettered this locomotive for me.

44-tonners are a common sight throughout New England and they are spotted in a variety of brightly decorated paint schemes.

This train is outbound from North Dover where it will shortly meet the junction with its own line to head inland.

Our St. Clare and Northern train has just crossed the Salmon River outside North Dover and is now in the state of Maine.

It is spotted passing the Boston and Maine junction with the Maine Central this afternoon.

Judging by the bright blue sky, it is a beautiful spring afternoon in New England and that black covered hopper looks like the proverbial "thorn" between "two roses"!

And...what is this we see? Two 44-tonners in the same picture! Why, of course...this is New England is it not? This scene is just outside North Dover. The St. Clare and Northern train has just left New Hampshire as it crossed the Salmon River and it is approaching the interchange with the Maine Central.

No, that's not a black Maine Central's a B&M unit on loan to the MEC where it is performing spot duty with some track removal.

One thing is for certain in New England. You never know what you'll find when you head out for a day of railfanning...but don't discount a 44-tonner or two!

Cheers, Mike

To see other model railroads in my round robin train operating group, feel free to visit where other surprises await you!