Author: Ralph Lloyd
Photographer: Wally Noble
The hobby of model railway entered my life in 1989. I was 65 years old at the time and I am now retired. The scale I chose was HO and my layout was completed in 2000. That year we visited our family in Alberta, Canada. One day my son Eric drove me to a train store in Calgary to see what was available in HO. The shop owner had installed an overhead track loop with a G-scale set running. Eric commented; “Dad, that is the scale you should get.” I said, “But, that is not my scale”. The salesman then showed me an LGB starter set in the box. The set contained a Stainz locomotive, 2 log cars, plus track and a controller. It looked very impressive and was hefty in weight. I did not purchase it and soon returned home to Peterborough, Ontario. That year was our 50th wedding anniversary. My wife Mary said “Would you like an Anniversary gift?” “How you like a brass HO locomotive?” My response was, “What an offer! That is very generous, but I saw an item in Calgary that looks better….a G-scale set.” I telephoned Calgary, ordered by phone and it soon arrived.
I quickly telephoned a model railroad friend, J.P. Cahorn, who models in narrow gauge On30. Since I am visually impaired I was afraid of assembling items incorrectly. In a short time we had the train set up on the floor and running. It looked and ran just great. The next step was to build a 5 foot by 8 foot table. I am a member of a model rail group, “The Kawartha Rail Modellers.” There are nine members, including myself, that meet regularly in our homes: Jon Archibald, John Bright, Jean-Pierre Cahorn, Bill Edgar, Kim Lehvenon, Wally Noble, Gary Waklin and Wilf Smith. They all have good skills and are quick to help me when I cannot do a task due to poor vision. We had organized our first train show in 2000. Other clubs took part by setting up layouts of HO, On30 and O scale. A space for one layout was not filled and the show date was 4 weeks away. I phoned our group leader, Kim Lehvenon, and offered my G-scale layout, a Plywood Prairie. The next 3 weeks found our basement a busy area. Our railroad group came here in small groups of 2 or 3 and installed all the scenery including a station and a pond in 3 weeks. At the show it made a great impression.
Like many layouts, it was time to expand. Step 1 was to add a 2’ by 8’ yard module on the south basement wall. Later, Mary and I went out for lunch and a visit to the train store, buying three freight cars. Driving home, Mary said; “What you need is more track!” This was music to my ears! Step 2 was a 2’ by 12’ yard, which was accomplished by constructing two 2’ by 6’ modules and connecting them together. They were placed on the north basement wall with a bridge section, 16” by 5’ long. Later it was hinged, with help from Bill Edgar, one of our railroad group members. Step 3 was to add a second bridge with a 16” by 11’ long module. This would connect back to the first yard providing a complete second loop. Over the next 5 years, locomotives and rolling stock were added and the scenery completed.
All locomotives and rolling stock are European (Switzerland, Austria and Germany) and short LGB covering the period 1892 to 1925. I should mention that I have never visited these countries. I just liked the appearance and I thank J. P.Cahorn for introducing them to me.
BUILDINGS and SCENERY
The station is a kit from POLA, number 902. The engine house is scratch built with 1/2 inch plywood covered with coarse aluminum oxide paper to represent stucco. The doors and trim are 1/16 inch balsa wood. The passenger shelter is scratch built from balsa wood. Authentic drawings were supplied by J. P. Cahorn. The trees on the north and south wall use armatures of actual branches cut from an apple tree, with polyfibre and leaves from Woodland Scenery Company added. Figures are Preissner, plus figures from a doll house store. Operating lights are in the engine house, station platform and streetlights to the left of the passenger shelter. The passenger cars have interior lights, some track powered and some battery powered.
The 15’ by 13’ size of the layout is at its limit, set by the room size of 15’ by 24’. The other half of the room is filled with the HO layout. For me this is fine since I am visually impaired and when standing at the middle of the layout I can only see the 7’ distance to the far wall. You may have noticed the numbers on the sidings are much larger than normal. This is so I can see them. Some rolling stock may be added in the future. One candidate could be a streetcar. Older European models are out of production, so if any readers know of a source it would be helpful. Please contact me through the BTO. I enjoy the models plus reading the history of them. Our local railroad group is very helpful also. The best part is the full support of my wife Mary.
The Small Engine Shed
This model was inspired by the original locomotive shed in the narrow gauge station of Bergen, on the island of Rugen, off the Baltic coast of Northern Germany. Built about 1896, it was later doubled up to house two locomotives and was replaced in 1952 by a modern structure. (The prototype information was supplied by J. P. Cahorn)
The Small Passenger Shelter
The model is derived from a small wooden passenger shelter with a freight room that
once served the village of Montherod, located above the North shore of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Built in 1898 for a meter gauge electric rural tramway, the structure did not survive the demise of the small line in 1952. (Prototype information supplied by J. P. Cahorn)