The car barn: all the rest is scenery

Does it run? The short answer is, “I don’t know – but I’ll soon find out!”

Earlier this month I reported that I’d finished laying ties for my first layout in almost two years – a 2×8 foot endeavour representing the car barn for the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway, modelled in S scale. Oner the past few weeks I’ve made significant progress, specifically:

  • I have built five Number 7 turnouts, using Fast Tracks tools and fixtures
  • I have spiked down all the rail (which prompted me to buy a Kadee Spiker)
  • I have built and installed Fast Tracks “Bull Frog” switch machines
  • I have installed a Frog Juicer to control polarity in the frogs of the five turnouts
  • I have soldered a gazillion drop feeders to the rails, then wired these to a main wiring bus

In other words, the layout is almost at the point that I can start to run trains and test my track work. I say “almost” because I’m waiting on a bit more DCC gear and some hardware for those switch machines.

The anticipation is so thick I can cut it with an X-acto.

It looks messier than it is. I like to leave plenty of service loops in my wiring. Everything is zip-tied to the benchwork and all splices properly insulated. Furthermore, I’m confident I can trace it to find any faults, so I’m comfortable with the results.

While I wait for the Postal Gods to smile on me, I’ve been doing more work on the freight motors. I realized that I forgot to paint and install the re-railers on the three sisters – NS&T 8, 15, and 19 (seen in the lead photo). I’ve just painted those detail parts and will glue them in place once dry. At that point, my first freight motors will be finished.

What’s more, I’m in the home stretch for NS&T 20 and 21. They’ve been painted, lettered, and weathered, and are ready for DCC. After that, I’ll install a motorman in each and glaze the windows, and I’ll have five electric locomotives ready for service.

Meantime, I’ve received an order of brick sheet and an order of windows, so I can start to build the car barn structure.

All in all, I’m really pleased. I’m looking forward to a season of train-related projects this winter.

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

19 thoughts on “The car barn: all the rest is scenery

    1. Well, this IS a car barn. It got stuffed with equipment. I have plenty of room on this section for all of the NS&T equipment I have built, plus many more. Now I just need a place to send them all as they leave the barn.
      (Interestingly, while this was used as a service area – and the place where crews picked up their power for their jobs – it doesn’t seem like the NS&T ever stored cabooses here. I guess the engine crew must’ve come here, then met the caboose crew at the freight yard.)


    1. An excellent question. I have not.

      At this point I’m not sure how I’ll use this layout: will it be a working diorama or part of a larger empire? How will freight motors work their way through the car barn – where will I park them when they’re not in use? And so on.

      Your question also prompts me to think about this some more (thank you!) – so I will do that and will likely comment further.


    2. Hi again:

      Your question about power sections was a good one. Rather than provide a half-answer – and because I use ESU LokSound V5 decoders AND an ESU ECoS 50200 DCC system – I posed the question Matt Herman, who heads up ESU’s North American operations.

      Matt says for my layout, wiring in isolation sections would be a matter of personal preference – adding he does not plan to do this on his own layout, which is much larger and will have a much larger roster of decoder-equipped locomotives. Matt says if the sound and lights are turned off (which I’ll do when freight motors are parked at the end of their crew’s shift) a decoder’s power consumption is quite low. It’s basically sniffing the track, looking for a signal to start up and do something, but that’s it. Also, even if a decoder-equipped locomotive is on a live track and thus using a bit of power, this is unlikely to decrease the life of the decoder in any measurable way.

      So, it’s really personal preference. Isolation switches were definitely required to shut off locomotives in the pre-DCC days – and, I would say, in the very early DCC days, when decoders tended to do alarming things when the DCC signal was interrupted. They’re also handy, but not required, if one is trouble-shooting a track wiring issue.

      But it basically comes down to what makes you comfortable.


      1. Believe me… I am not trying to suggest extra work for you. I was only mentioning it now while you were in a “Soldering/wiring” mood

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I didn’t think you were. It was an interesting question though and I thought it deserved a more complete answer. I’m glad you asked!


  1. You are welcome. Also, something I didn’t think about it that electric engines (unlike steam or diesel locomotives) probably don’t generate as much sound when they are standing still. Indeed, even moving they are sometimes near-silent. It might not be a problem (aside from the desire to reduce the current draw of 5 decoders at the same time)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true – although all modern sound decoders can the turned off. Diesel sound files have a startup / shutdown sequence. Steam simply fades in / out.


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