I’ve spent a lot of time so far in 2021 thinking about my next layout. Back in December, I shared a plan for the CNR on Ferguson Avenue in Hamilton – and it was promising. But I really didn’t like the duck-under. So – once again – I’m exploring alternatives.
One of those is the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. I grew up in St. Catharines and while I missed the NS&T by about a quarter century I did see its remains in daily use by the Canadian National Railway. So, it’s meaningful to me.
That said, I’ve never built a layout under wire, so I haven’t committed to filling my layout space with the NS&T. But I do want to explore this idea – and I have a good place to start.
The NS&T built its second Number 8 in its own shops. A book by John M. Mills on the railway lists it as a 44-ton model and while there’s no build date for it, Mills notes it probably used some gear from the first Number 8, which was scrapped in 1924. Mills also notes two almost identical freight motors – NS&T 15 and NS&T 19 – were built in 1925, but he lists them as 50-ton models. While the 15 and 19 received solid steel pilots at some point, Number 8 retained its boiler tube pilots until the end. All three were scrapped in 1960.
A few years ago, I acquired S scale kits for a half-dozen NS&T freight motors – including partially-built models of 15 and 19, and a kit for Number 8. These were designed by William Flatt and photo-etched in brass. Having taken lessons on working brass from my friend Andy Malette and needing a manageable project, I’ve decided to finish these. The logical approach is to bring Number 8 up to the same state of completion as 15 and 19, then work on all three in assembly line fashion, so that’s where I’ve started.
To tackle this project, I first needed to prep my new workshop. A Vertias portable work surface from Lee Valley sits nicely on the countertop in my shop, providing a solid surface for attaching a vise with a hold-down clamp so I can deploy my resistance soldering gear. A dog-hole fitting on my swing arm magnifying lamp means I can deploy it on the work surface, too. And there’s plenty of space to set up other tools, like my Brazelton precision drill press.
Building my stash of NS&T locomotive kits is the first step towards determining whether I can build an NS&T layout.
The second step will be building some track under wire. For that, I’m looking at a scaled-down version of the Welland Avenue car barn and storage yard as a good place to start. It’s fairly straight-forward, although has enough turnouts to challenge me. If I can hang wire over that, I can hang wire over anything and can proceed on a larger layout with confidence. If I find it frustrating, or discover I do not enjoy the experience, I can plan for a different layout and use the car barn as a diorama to display my NS&T equipment. Either way, progress will have been made.
As the photos show, work is already underway on Number 8. It does feel good to be building something again!