My Vancouver Wharves HO scale layout is set in the Vancouver of the early 1970's featuring CP Rail switching operations from 'N' yard, on Burrard Inlet. Industrial switching of nearby waterfront, and some farther afield, is performed by three switch jobs, with cars cycled off the layout via the Burlington Northern elevated interchange and CP carferry to Vancouver Island. Recently, while card-making by my wife and niece was taking place in the other end of the railway/craft room, I decided to make some long-awaited scenic enhancements to the layout, plus some important impromptu improvements!
CP switch job crews discuss how the day is unfolding (top photo) in front one recently-improved area. Though I'd long employed my Maple Leaf Meats structure flat, left over from my previous Winnipeg-prototype layout, I hadn't realized its full potential. Shacks, rusty vehicles and various distracting, lazy viewblock details had to go. Here was one part of my layout heretofore trackless! (above) That had to end! Soon, CN work crews arrived and you can see two mock-up stock cars placed in the scene:
Not that I'm operating a spaghetti-bowl layout, but once I'd completed the trackwork on my nearly-without-a-trackplan layout in 2010, I was surprised at how few industrial car spots there were to switch! Only nine? I no longer had a place to spot my extensive CN and CP stock car and reefer fleets. This was one of my favourite spots on the layout, with the elevated BN interchange visually hiding access to my Alberta Wheat Pool harbourfront terminal grain elevator, while increasing trackage for interchange cars via an ascending loop. A right-hand No 4 switch, two short pieces of flex track, a rattle of Robertson screws, and the CP script-lettered switcher was working the Maple Leaf spur before the tools were even cleared away:
But I also needed to improve my Atlas two-span bridge. This involved securing the spans to the track they held, painting and improving the abutments and middle piers (readers with a P.Eng., please forgive my lack of proper structural support here!), adding a small interlocking tower at one end, and adding scenery to tie in the bridge and structural flats to the scene. I had to regrettably use in-camera flash to properly show the stock cars in this shadowy scene. The CP script picture-window, CP Rail single- and double-deck cars I kitbashed, painted and decalled myself.
A contented crew enters the switching lead, watched by a vigilant ground-bound tower operator:
An overhead view. Remaining vestiges of green plywood paint have to go! (Readers with railway engineering experience, please forgive my total lack of ballast!) Cars on the two-track BN interchange rise above the switching lead giving access to the terminal elevator at left, and new Maple Leaf spur at right:
Kitty-corner to this improved area lay another problematic, unresolved scenic dilemma...how to bridge the gap between the backdrop showing the harbour and North Vancouver with the entrance to the below-city loop track up to the interchange, loosely based on CP's waterfront Dunsmuir Tunnel portal leading to the Drake Street yard:
Believing structures to look better on a foam-core base, I screwed one in place with Robertson screws (possibly the best Canadian invention ever, besides The Unnecessary Apology - sorry for bringing that up!) left sticking up to anchor the structures (above). A structural flat and a boiler house/smokestack were painted and put in place:
In a nearby corner was Pacific Produce, a fruit-and-vegetable wholesaler receiving reefer-loads directly onto a loading dock, where the perishables were trans-shipped to waiting trucks and trailers. This balsa-wood unloading-dock was made decades ago by my Dad for his Cataraqui Northern Lines, still sturdy and still serving! Thanks, Dad!
I added vegatation under the dock and paper-paved the lot, adding more scenicking, an office, and fencing where the lot met the retaining wall. I printed a new sign, glued to supports so I can move it around while I decide where to put it! The CP switcher soon spots a Northern Pacific 57-foot Athearn mechanical reefer of soil-borne spuds as the conductor and his con-freres confer confidentially close-by.
On the backdrop between these two corners, I fit in a perfectly-sized skyline view (New York, meet Winnipeg in Vancouver!) and broke up the space between track-level, structural flat, ascending loop and backdrop with some trees.
This was a blitz of basement modelling begun before the balmy summertime season of bird-chirping, squirrel-scrambling, chipmunk-chomping front-porch layout-building begins. So far, the minimally-sized, minimalist 2016 front-porch layout exists only in my imagination.
CP has begun building railfan remotes. I photographed these ingenious railfan retreats at Roblin, ON last weekend, featuring lockable a cabinet to store your stuff, sling a hammock or gain some unique photo angles from this trackside all-weather photography platform. Thanks, CP!
Thanks to Trackside Treasure reader Rod McKiggan for sharing this up-close view of Hydro One Schnabel car HEPX 200 spotted on CP at Myrtle Station, ON. A new gravel pad was laid to facilitate the movement of the car's transformer load to a nearby transformer station.
Is this Open Doors Toronto, or has the TTC finally found an outlet for transit fans via the Vestibule View? Beautiful footage of the Bloor Viaduct from an open-air subway car. Lush green foliage! Your life flashing before your eyes? Proof Of Payment becomes Proof of Life!