Barrie Train Show - 2009

Category: Trains
Mon, 16 Feb 2009, 19:33

A couple of winters ago, I was feeling rather glum. I get that way sometimes, probably due in part to seasonal affective disorder (or SAD). Grudgingly, I forced myself out of the house, and drove to Barrie for the train show. Within seconds of entering the show, my mood changed dramatically, and my slump was over.

Such is the healing power of model trains. And so I try to attend as many of the local model train shows as I can. To make it easier to keep track of the local shows, I've listed them on my Ontario Shows page. Recently, I added Google Maps links for each upcoming show to make it even easier to find the shows.

Barrie Train Show
Nottawasaga club layout.

So far this year, I've been to the shows in Port Hope and Barrie. The Port Hope show was nice, with excellent signs leading to the show. I saw the first sign as soon as I got off the 401. Although a bit on the small side, there were about ten club layouts: four H0, five N, and one O-27.

But back to the Barrie show. For the second straight year, the show was held at the Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery, west of the city. Holding a model train show at a garden center is a wonderful idea. During the winter, garden centers have a lot of unused space, which is exactly what a train show needs. And as an inducement for train show visitors to shop at the garden center, Bradford Greenhouses offered $6 discount coupons for each paid admission to the train show (which perhaps not coincidentally was also $6). Certainly, this was a win-win situation for the Barrie-Allandale Railway Modellers, for Bradford Greenhouses, and for the numerous visitors.

Holding a model railroad show under a greenhouse roof does offer challenges, though. I had to wear my sunglasses while shopping and watching the trains. And taking pictures was a challenge too. Although there was plenty of light, it was also very contrasty lighting with a lot of shadows.

Normally, shopping at the local train shows is not that easy for me since few dealers at the shows sell European trains. But I usually still manage to spend a few dollars. At the Port Hope show, I bought a set of H0-scale people, dressed in 19th Century garb, which will fit in nicely on my layout. And at the Barrie show, I bought the Atlas lumber yard kit, a tube of plastic cement, and another set of people.

Omnifariously yours, Hans

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Fire Engines and Cliches

Category: Trains
Tue, 03 Feb 2009, 20:28

While having breakfast in a small hotel in Bavaria years ago, I heard some music playing outside. I saw a small group of people, some playing instruments, all singing. They then came into the hotel and continued their music inside. Later, the desk clerk told me that they were celebrating someones birthday the night before, and they decided to come back to continue the party. After that, I thought that a small group of musicians playing on the street would make a nice addition to a Bavarian-themed layout.

A parade in the Rheinland.

That's what I was thinking of when I read the "Railway of the Month" article in a recent issue of one model railroading magazine I regularly read. The author wrote the following about his layout:

"There are none of the clichés that seem popular - not a fire engine or burning building in sight, no cavorting couples, and certainly no Bavarian brass band. Instead we have chosen the few figures on the layout so that they are in natural 'still' or 'resting' positions."

This person has a reputation for building fine layouts, and I would love to see more layouts like his at the local shows. But is it wrong to use a cliché in a layout? What exactly is a model railroading cliché? Are burning buildings, cavorting couples, or Bavarian brass bands really so out of place on a model train layout? Do such things not exist in real life? As I pointed out above, bands occasionally do parade down the street, either in an official capacity in an annual event, or just on a whim.

Not that there's anything wrong with being selective about the little touches on a layout. But one should not be critical of those who choose a different approach, or a different style of layout. My point is that there are different tastes in model railroad design. While one modeller might not want to have a burning building (along with the requisite smoke) on a layout, such touches can be quite popular with visitors to model railroad shows, especially children.

T3 emerging from the woods on my layout.

In closing, I'd like to add a photo taken on my own layout. I've always said that a layout can never have enough trees, and lately, I've been slowly growing a small forest on mine. Bachmann offers a nice line of ready-made trees, including some nice pine trees. Perhaps I'll add some wild animals within my forest. Or would that be considered cliché too?


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Windmills in Toronto?

Sun, 01 Feb 2009, 17:44

Recently, we visited Kingston, as we occasionally do. As some of you might know, a major installation of wind turbines is currently under construction on Wolfe Island, about 3km across the lake from Kingston. At the time of our visit, about 26 turbines had been erected. But 86 all together are planned for the site.

View from Kingston
View of Wolfe Island from Kingston waterfront, wind generators in the distance.

In this city, Toronto Hydro wants to investigate the feasibility of building a wind farm in Lake Ontario, about 3km south of the Scarborough shore. As a first step, they want to install an anemometer to collect wind data over the course of a year.

We believe that a wind farm is a great idea. The burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of the growing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is a major factor in climate change. Therefore, alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power must be pursued.

View from Kingston
Telephoto view of wind turbines under construction.

However, there are some people in our neighborhood (Guildwood Village) who oppose a wind farm off the Scarborough shore. What logic can there be in opposing the necessary development of a clean energy source? Some argue that a wind farm would destroy the natural beauty of the Scarborough bluffs. But look at the first photo above. Wind turbines 3km off the Kingston waterfront are barely noticeable on the horizon. How can a wind farm 3km off the bluffs affect their appearance? Besides, the appearance of the bluffs is already changing. The construction of a roadway at the base of the bluffs has benefits in reducing erosion and providing the public with easier access to the lake. But it also means that more vegetation is taking hold, thus hiding the natural soil of the bluffs.

The local opposition to the project is simply yet another case of NIMBY thinking. People want action on the environment, but only if it doesn't directly affect them. But we're all in this together. We all have to make an effort to support environmental concerns, or we'll all have to live with the effects and costs of climate change.


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