Lyon Valley Northern

This site is designed to promote the hobby of ferroequinology. It also provides an opportunity to show the development of the "Lyon Valley Northern": an HO railroad featuring CN and BNSF action in the West. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments at

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Starboard Coal Mine in

After a great Friday night with the boys, we had a great session as we made our way back in CP time to the steam transition era. Have to visit the blog to see a 1970s vinatage hand laid track with panels and dispatchers board. Got me really motivated to lay more track today. The Stbd coal mine. Four hours of afternoon tracklaying and she was done. Got to thinking about what was left and started to replan.

Off to Petawawa next week on TD so I think I will take a couple of kits to keep me happy. Pictures this time give you a perspective on the mine. It comes off of the staging yard around the corner and along the wall.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mini Tripod - New Siding and Closeups

On my travels with the Friday Night Gang I had experienced some difficulty taking pictures at our host's layouts. I had ventured out to Walmart photo department to drop off a disposable camera for my daughter and saw this little 5 inch high tripod that was just perfect for what I needed. It was small enough to fit in my pant pocket and the legs do expand to get more height on the shot. For nine bucks Canadian it was a great deal. I zipped on home and mounted it on the ol' Canon powershot pro1....started zoomin in on some trains. Maximized the apature to 8.5... put on the macro feature and started firing away. This first shot is of an Overland SD38-2. These ran from Edmonton to high prairie and eventually were bought by CN and still run today in the Sgt Stripe paint scheme.

My next shot I decided to photo the oil storage facility with power on the inbound tracks. You see the BNSF SD70Mac beside the MLW 424. I used a kitchen flour tile that closely resembled concrete around this facility. The track is peco code 75. The process I used for laying track was to take cork underlay and glued it to the 3/4 inch composite board with yellow carpenters glue. Then I painted flat black acrylic house paint where the track was to go. Then when dry, I poured 100% white glue over the black track area and rubbed it around to ensure the area was covered evenly.... no blobbs:) Then I connected to the finished track letting it lay naturally in the wet glue. In the area of turnouts I made sure there was no glue where the points and throw bar are, Look close at photo. Then, I liberally poured on the ballast taking a fine brush to spread it evenly between the ties so that the ballast and thin layer of glue met. When dry I took out my trusty dust buster stricly used for ballast clean up and ran it over the completed area. I emptied the contents back into by ballast jar and this saved a whole bunch for the next laying.

The next picture is taken in staging where the coal drag is parked on three tracks. The overland SD50AF 5501 and BCR Dash 8 4612 are waiting their train orders. Mike and I had a great time yesterday moving this big train through the crossover with the oncoming grain train approaching. The cars were from Atlas and are sold in 12 packs.

In the next picture the entrance to the main classification yard shows a mixed freight on the inside main and on the outside main a Unit BNSF grain train with an Overland gp60M and B unit at the front. The container transfer facility is behind. I am standing in the isle right at the siding that leads into three industries. A two track grain transfer elevator....a two track furniture manufacture company and a single track lumber ditribution centre. You can see the alco switcher heading toward the furniture industry. The bulkhead flat is an old roundhouse 61 footer that is custom painted using tamiya colours to be a blackish green. CDS dry transfers were applied to produce an exact car I had photoed in Halifax years ago. The lumber load was also from that car as you can see it was stagger stacked. last day of leave will be spent completing my track work. Then the fun begins. I think I will start back at the time saver and paint the backdrop. Finish the kit for the cement industry lumber mill and go from there. Maybe detail the locomotive facility: Man this is fun

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Test Run for next operation session

Mike Hamer is on his March Break and me... I am burning up the last of this fiscal year's holidays:) I asked Mike to drop over so that I could bounce some of the ideas I had for operations. We started by operating the coal drag to see if indeed we could keep an engineer and brakeman active for two hours. I put some traffic on the mainline (A BNSF GP60M and its B unit hauling a dozen BNSF grain hoppers. We started out with our snake of 19 atlas green momba coalveyors hauled by a BNSF SD70 and AC4400 in the heritage II scheme. Five times around the layout as the main line run. At turn four the grain train crossed over onto our main and we proceeded to cross over to their main giving us access to the passing siding next to the mine. We put the hoppers into the siding and sent the two locomotives to the engine facility for servicing. Two CN RS18 road switchers came out to the coal drag and promptly lookeded at the switching problem.
There was a string of five well container cars in the runaround track. They had to be moved first. Took them to the container transfer facility and came back. The next step was to replace 12 coal cars in the three track mine with the empties we brought. That being done we now had 12 full and seven empties on our train. The switchers went back to the yard having completed their mission and a CN SD50AF 5501 and BC Rail Dash 8 BCR 4612 moved across to pick up their coal train on the passing siding.

The train was now ready to travel back the other way 5 times around the layout. It finished its run in the visible staging. Wow it took two hours. Perfect for the next operating session. Next it was a grain train move. We grabbed our BNSF power and proceeded to staging where we picked up seven cylindrical grain cars from the elevators. We proceeded to town to the main grain terminal and parked them in the classification track. We moved five empty cars from the terminal and placed them on the back of five fulls on the next holding track and then put them in the terminal track. We pulled the fulls out alone and linked them to the empties we brought from the elevators. We then put 5 fulls on the holding track. We kept two fulls and five empties to go back to the elevators. We then took the two fulls from that cut and put them in the flour mill track removing the two empties there and took those empties to the elevator as well. Enough for another pair of operators two hours. I guess we will have to do the intermodal, tank train and mixed freight next and have a classification track operator as well. I think we are good to go for next month's Friday Night Boys visit.

That was great...Then it was off to OVAR where we were treated to a fine presentation of slides entitled 50 years of Railfanning with pictures dating back to the 30s of Railroads in the east. The meal was excellent as usual Breaded veal with pasta veg, salad and dessert.

Great converstation was had by all at our table as we teased Stan who purchased a new RR book but would not open the seal until he was home. Fred and I got some old MRs and we all did the video loan for the next month. I would encourage anyone who is in Ottawa for the second Tuesday of each month and join us as our guest.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Concept Report

Lets start with the comments received from the blog and response.

Hi Chris:
Wow - sounds like quite the layout. You certainly have a vision for it!
Thanks for the description - it'll be much easier to track your
progress on your blog now.
Maybe you should post a note on the blog somewhere outlining your
concept and some of the other things you explained in your note to us?
- Trevor

From Michel....Thanks for your description of both your vision and operating plan. I must admit that I like to plan and see my concepts on paper before I lay track to plywood. You seem to be doing well and if your trial and error approach works for you so be it. Your progress is your statement. Like Trevor I would suggest that you add this reply to my question to your Blog. By the way you inspired me to get rid of my website ad go to a blog instead. I find that the website requires more maintenance which does not happen often and is more cumbersome to update. The blog would allow me to add week to week activity reports as you do.

My concept....Thanks for your comments Michel. I have not progressed to the point to have
a track diagram to publish. Believe it or not I developed my layout in conceptual layers versus a track plan. I started by building my space so that there was adequate isles and that all track work would be accessible so that turnouts could be all hand thrown. As I laid track my ideas changed as the reality took form. Not having a plan really made it possible to change
and keep building without being trapped with the old idea. Also I did not have to struggle to get it right on paper before I started. Really free lance every three feet:) In addition, I wanted to be able to view the same scenes from many angles and I could make it visibly pleasing as I went.
From an operational point of view, I decided I would not go with a linear concept where one goes from town to town lifting and dropping as you go.
Instead there would be three levels of operation. Continuous running, classification, industry delivery and pickup. It is an around the room layout with access on one leg from both sides. There is a middle island and a scenic wall divider in the middle.
Lets start with the classification as this really is the centre from which all action stems. In the main the inside main there is one arrival departure track with three classification tracks all... double ended. There is a yard lead at one end so the switcher can classify and
build or break trains without interfering with the inside main. The outside main has a passing siding with a run around track. There are crossovers between the inside and out side main. Now any time a train leaves the yard onto the main it must continuously run around the layout five times. If things get busy I have a visible staging yard just like in many prairie towns which consists of ladders off each main. Now for the industrial switching.
The concept is not new though rarely seen. It is industry based. It always starts with the loading or refinement of raw materials to next go to a factory and then from the factory to the warehouse for distribution. Empties must go back the other way. On my layout there are a number of these and they are facing in both directions. Also there are numerous equirements for run arounds. Example..Lumber is milled then goes to either a distribution facility or to a factory. The finished products go from the
factory to a distribution warehouse. Also there are chemicals delivered to these plants as they are needed for the processing (plastics, resins etc).
For grain it is collected in elevators in a prairie town. It then is delivered to a central elevator. It either then leaves for export or is delivered to a flour mill. Coal is simply mined and exported. Containers arrive or depart and what I have built is a transfer facility where trucks either pick up or drop off containers. Oil is simply delivered to a storage facility and distributed by truck. Cement aggregates arrive by rail and mixers get their product for distribution. I made some of the sidings long so there will be some shared sidings as new industrial links are created.
That is the long and short of it.
As far as the trains themselves. Some start from visible staging with northbound as odd numbers and south as evens. Container hotshots are 100s, mixed are 400s, ore trains are 700s and foreign thru are 900s. The locals that deliver and pickup the traffic are 500s. Others start from created
trains in staging as the traffic moves in and out. I plan to use a card system eventually. Hope this gives you an idea of what I plan to do.
The layout is modern era and is a fee lance design that connects BNSF with CN from Montana to Alberta.

The pictures you see today start by looking at the first four feet... the beginnings of my backdrop painting. The foothills are in and I still have to put distant mountains behind. This was done with two colours. Cadmium yellow and Mars black. I use the black to darken the shades and yellow to lighten. The reason you get green is that Mars black has a blue black base. Blue and yellow make green. By changing the mix and changing the amount of water you get the effect you want. The hills are dabbed, the forest trees are small upstrokes and the fields are horizontal long strokes. The second picture is my port coal mine. I am going to use the walthers gravel crusher as the basis for the structure and there will be an open pit with cliffs behind and to the left. The last photo is an overall view of the layout. On the back wall you can see the staging to the right the classification and an industrial area to the centre where the oil refinery is. In the distance on the right you can see the container transfer facility. Will keep you up to date as about 80% of the track work is done. If you would like more info on painting techniques I will do a seperate post.