Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Clipper Vessel Adds to the Scene Along the Salmon River

I haven't updated the blog in awhile, so here goes.  Here is a picture of a Clipper vessel I built a couple of years ago (from Model Tech Studios) and placed on the layout along the Salmon River near the legion hall. The model took some forty or so hours to complete.  It's a really nice addition to this waterfront scene and many visitors comment on the interesting look of this vessel with all its intricate rigging.

Here's a closer view of the area.  The Salmon River acts as a border between the state of Maine (to the left foreground) and the state of New Hampshire (to the right where the legion hall is located.  The structure was a scratchbuilt affair.  I really like the look of buildings that jut out over water along hillsides.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Boy Scout Troupe Visits the Layout

It's always fun to host visitors to my model railroad, and recently a group of local scouts and cubs wanted to come by. These young lads are very enthusiastic to learn about model trains. I enjoyed a fun visit.

The boys enjoyed viewing the layout, and each lad was given the opportunity to run a train into North Dover, blow the horn at the crossings and use the bell in the yard. They also switched out a local industry as they teamed up to be part of the North Dover engine crew.

One lad found interest in the smaller of locomotives, the 44-tonner. He was impressed that such a little engine could pull a cut of cars...indeed it is the "little engine that could"!

Another lad was given the throttle as a crewman on the Maine Central. We see his train arriving Boundary Road on the outskirts of North Dover.

A couple of the Scouts crewed the North Dover switcher, Alco 1170. Here we see them heading into the siding at Haney Fuels to lift a tank car.

A great time was had by all as evidenced in this picture with many smiling faces!

Scenes From an Ops Session

This shot was taken during a recent ops session.  A crew is working the yard at the duckunder portion of the layout.  The RS2 is blocking traffic in a long cut of cars and when the work is finished, the FT  pair trio-ed with a Boston and Maine F2 will be hostled on to the train for its run into North Dover and beyond.

The units are now on the train and the whistle has blown.  Shortly she'll be on her way.  This is the view from the entrance to the room.  These are the staging tracks that surround the layout.

A lower angled view at the same location.  Because these were staging tracks, I originally was not going to scenic them.  However, when I refurbished my crew lounge, I chose to do so as this area is what you see when you look over to the layout room from the lounge.

Here is an interesting shot taken from one of the corner access areas in the layout room.  You can see the train progressing on the ouside staging track.  Note how the staging surrounds the layout!

The train has exited the tunnel under the main street of town and will soon arrive the station platform in North Dover.  Oops, I'll have to adjust the front coupler on the diesel locomotive!  Yikes!

An aerial shot of the same location.  This scene is reminiscent of a similar one located in Bellow's Falls, Vermont.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Duckunder Section of My Layout

This image above shows the staging area on the crew lounge side of the duckunder area of my Boston and Maine layout.  The two tracks to the right can be used to stage two trains or they can be used as a small yard to make up trains.  This allows a crew to have more work rather than simply take a staged train out on its mission.  The interlocking tower is an American Model Builders craftsman kit.

This "going-away" shot with the FT's shows B&M train MP3 (Mechanicville - Portland) traversing the diamond with the Maine Central.  This scene is located right above my duckunder on the layout room side of the duckunder.  The MEC track is a dummy track serving as a scenic element.  The interlocking tower is a plaster craftsman kit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Car Loads Along the B&M

There are many types of rolling stock that carry loads that can be seen by the railfan trackside. Above we have an elevated view of the Conley Lumber and Coal facility where a loaded hopper has just arrived and will be unloaded using the conveyer system just in view to the right.

During a train operating session, the Conley crew returns an empty hopper to North Dover where the North Dover crew will provide an "assist" as the two crews exchange the empty for a load. I enjoy watching as two crews work cooperatively to move freight along the system.

Here is an interesting load. Trevor Marshall made this flatcar model with its load of tractors which soon will be offloaded via the team track. A team track is such a valuable industry on any model railroad as a great variety of freight cars can be spotted beside the elevated ramp.

Flatcar loads are always fascinating to me. This Northern Timber Company flat was a gift from my good friend, Jacques Thuot. Jacques' layout has been featured in Model Railroader as well as Great Model Railroads!

Railfans along the Boston and Maine are pleasantly surprised when they spot an unusual car carrying an interesting load nestled in the consist of a long manifest freight and this B&M well bottom flatcar is no exception.

School Kids Visit Mr. Hamer's Model Railroad

At the end of every school year, I invite my students and their families to visit the model railroad. I fly the train banner outside the house as a landmark to make it easier for them to locate my house along the street. To say the least, the kids are thrilled to visit their teacher's home with their moms and dads and siblings.

Each student is given the opportunity to run a train around the layout. They learn to bring the train slowly into the station on a slow order and they learn how to blow the horn as a warning of the approaching train and to ring the bell in yard limits as a safety procedure.

I ask each student to bring the train to a stop at specific intervals so that I can instruct them about the different types of rolling stock. The parents take great interest in this as well.

They learn to blow two longs, a short and a long through the road crossings. Moms and dads (and some grandparents as well) are amazed at the level of many think that when they bring the kids over, they are probably going to see a model railroad on a 4x8 sheet of plywood.

Each child is given the opportunity to board the switcher and perform some rudimentary switching moves at the local industries.

Moms are just as keen as dads and the girls are as thrilled as the boys to run the trains. Each visitor signs the guestbook and I provide a lovely photograph from the layout for each visitor. Here we see two families with the moms. Dads come too, but they aren't as pretty as the moms! (big grin) While each group waits in the crew lounge for their turn in the layout room, I offer many model railroad magazines for them to peruse and there is a railroad DVD on the big television.

Yes, it is as much a thrill for me as it is for my visitors. I strongly encourage anyone with a layout to offer an open house for young people. After all, they are the future of the hobby!

I was thrilled to learn that my layout wound be featured in the 2010 version of the NMRA calendar, Canadian edition. The image shows Maine Central train #391, The "Oil Can" crossing Boundary Road on its approach to North Dover yard limits. The flare on the locomotive headlight is purely accidental. I took the shot with an ordinary point and shoot camera and the Athearn Genesis F-Unit has such a bright headlight! Yup, I am Mr. Month of May (which happens to be my birthday month). Two good friends, Chris Lyon (Mr. August) and Trevor Marshall (Mr. September) also appear in the calendar. To say the least, this was a big thrill for me as I am just a big kid at heart!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Industries as Friends

On my Boston and Maine layout, I have a number of industries which I have named after friends in our Friday Night Group. Bill Meek is a great friend of mine who lives a few streets over from me here in Ottawa. The industry in the background of this image is named after him. Seeing as Bill works in the business machine industry, Meek Ltd. produces business machines and on my layout its head offices are in North Dover. Note the vines growing on the industrial structures in the foreground.

Scodras Grocers is an industry served by rails in my town of North Dover. It is named after a dear friend, Howard Scodras who sadly passed away in 2008. Howard was an instrumental member of the FNG (Friday Night Group) and his modelling inspired us all. His layout appeared in Model Railroad and its trackplan was in the latest Kalmbach Issue entitled 102 Realistic Track plans. My track plan also appeared here. For crew members to switch out Scodras Grocers, they must use one of the two sidings of the Phillips Furniture Factory as a lead. This makes for interesting switching possibilities.

This scene shows the upper section of North Dover where the main street of town is located. The structure to the left is part of the Wingate Wholesalers complex named after my street here in Ottawa, Wingate Drive. I built the town on a hillside to help create a strong vertical dimension to the scene. The red brick building in the distance houses the local offices of the Boston and Maine in North Dover. My good buddy, Chris Lyon, brought this sign back for me from a train show he attended. You can just pick out the peak of Marshall Creamery to the lower right. This industry is served by rail.

Because I play a Martin guitar, I simply had to have the Martin Guitar Company on my layout even though its actual facility is located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It is a lot of fun naming industries and buildings on your layout!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Visitors to the B&M

Haven't posted here in quite a while as I've been busy keeping the Friday Night Group weblog updated each week after our train sessions. Check that blog out at where you'll see many of the other fine layouts I operate on in the Ottawa region!

Just last evening I had my good buddy (and original Friday Night Group member) Marty Phillips in town for a visit. Fifteen lads descended the basement stairs to run trains and what a fun session we enjoyed. I brought out the Bluebirds from the display case for "old time's sake" and Marty really enjoyed seeing them run!

Here we catch a glimpse of the Bluebirds in care of train N2, "The Newsboy" as it traverses the New England River bridge. The train will enter Marshall Cut and will soon be in range of North Dover.

Bluebirds 1746 and 1701 are spotted exiting the inbound end of Marshall Cut at milepost 39. "The Newsboy" is a train laden with newsprint for Boston. Judging by the murky nature of the water, there'll be no swimming today!
A railfan trackside has spotted the train piercing the rock cut out by the Conley Lumber and Coal spur. The crew will duck under the Howard Street overpass and will meet a Maine Central Train at the interlocking tower.

The Boston and Maine train has superiority here as it crosses the diamond with the Maine Central. The crew aboard MEC train #390 has been holding the interlocking for some time now. The B&M will have siding priviliges in North Dover.

Another aerial shot shows the train crossing the Salmon River on the outskirts of town. Making the crossing, the crew leaves the state of Maine and enters into New Hampshire where they will shortly traverse Boundary Road.
This photograph was taken from the Main Street on the upper level of town in North Dover looking down on the station tracks. Train N2 will drop off a cut of cars to the north siding (at the right) and will lift an assigned block as well. Those tankcars resting on the south siding (to the left) will be exchanged with the Maine Central.

After the Boston and Maine crew depart town, the Maine Central train is granted traffic rights into the station. Here they will exchange some tankcars already in view along the south siding.

Wow! What's wrong with this picture!?'s "Back to the Future" time! Look closely and you'll see what I mean!

Here's an interesting perspective of the train as it slows to a crawl near the station. The cars on the south siding to the left will be lifted by the crew and some others will be dropped.

Looking down the length of the track in North Dover we see the large Phillips Furniture Factory in the distance. I hope you have enjoyed the pics of these two trains...showing but a fraction of all trains run during the session last night.

I'll close with these two pictures taken of a bunch of the lads in the crew lounge. That's Chris looking up at the camera with Joel and Bob sharing the sofa. Fred, Peter and Rick are off in the distance on the other sofa. That's the back of Jim's head sitting on the church pew!

Peter and Fred seem to be enjoying themselves as well. Peter is another B&M modeller in the group and he models the Peterboro Branch of the B&M in steam days with those beautiful 2-6-0 Moguls!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Season of Train Operations

Hello all. As always, our Friday Night Group commences its new season of train operations with a visit to my Boston and Maine Railroad. It's always good to get back and see all the "boys" and share our summer stories and modelling projects.

Here I am in the red T-shirt I am wearing to support our Canadian troops overseas. That's my friend, Don, beside me and we're standing at the duckunder entrance to the train room.

Initially the staging tracks at the duckunder were just that...staging. Then a lightbulb came on in my head...why not make them an active yard where one more crew can make up trains?

And, that's what I did. So, Don's task was to make up the consist for train MP3 in the yard located at the main entrance to the train room.

For the job, he used a local B&M switcher assigned to this area known as Lowell Jct. Once the train was assembled, as hostler, he set out the mainline power for the train, an AB pairing of FT's.

While Don was busy at Lowell Jct. two other crews were occupied in the train room, one crew assigned to the North Dover switcher and another assigned to the "Mill Run" from Conley Lumber & Coal into North Dover.

Yes, I can easily keep three train crews occupied simultaneously on my 11x13 layout! Typically two crews of two are busy at any given time though.

That's Stan (supporting the troops as well) and Jim. They are on their way from Conley with an empty hopper car to be exchanged in North Dover for one fully loaded.

I see that they have returned to Conley with a new and loaded hopper car. An idler car is required to work Conley Lumber & Coal as sparks from the diesel locomotive could easily set the wooden industry ablaze in no time at all.

The Conley crew must seek clearance from the dispatcher before they head out onto the mainline in order to conduct their switcher here at the mill.

It's later in the evening and I see that Don has taken another job this time as one of the crewmen aboard S2 #1170 which works the town of North Dover.

With him is regular operator John Mitchell and judging by the smiles on their faces, they are having a fabulous time. Who wouldn't when you're running trains!

Before they spot any traffic to North Dover's industries, their first order of instructions is to lift a milk car from Marshall Creamery. The milk track is an extension of the team track and we spot the crew crossing Station Road.

The North Dover crew is always vigilant when heading down the team and milk track as the rails traverse the paved station parking lot before they enter the road crossing.

We spot the corner of an 18-wheeler in the photograph as it turns into the station lot.

Don and John flow forward at a snail's pace to make the coupling at Marshall Creamery. There is a slow order restriction on the trestle which bridges the loading area of the creamery to the team track.

That's a Hoods car with an interesting picture of a cow on the side. Milk cars had to get to market quickly and many of the milk producers took pride in the appearance of their rolling stock.

For those interested in milk cars, Intermountain, Walthers and Roundhouse have come out with wonderful offerings for the modeller. The car in this picture is a Roundhouse product.

While Don and John are in the process of setting out the milk car, Chris is at Lowell Jct. where he is making up the consist for train #11 "The East Wind" which will have some milk traffic on the headend this day.

Again, this photograph is taken at the duckunder entrance to the layout room. If you look carefully, you will see the valence that protects the viewer from the lighting when they are standing inside the room. I utilize a combination of flourescent and incandescent lighting to get optimum results in the train room.

Chris's smile tells me that his train is made up and ready to go. He'll come into North Dover and the the boys in town aboard the 1170 will give him an assist with the milk traffic. Chris, of course, will conduct a station stop for the passengers before the milk cars are handled.

Here we see "The East Wind" slowing down as it makes its station stop. The buildings of North Dover loom in the background and the reflection off the Salmon River add a touch of interest to the scene. I wonder how the fishing is this day as all I see are a few seagulls at the water's edge!

I could show many more images from our first train operating session, but I would be here all night. Instead, I'll leave you with a photograph of my summer modelling project...the Alder Model station kit made out of resin. Chris had asked me to build and paint it for him, and it was a pleasure to do so for a dear friend. The station will reside on his model railroad, but I couldn't resist creating a diorama for it first. I didn't have to worry about the track because the diorama will settle just as it is on his layout in front of his existing track.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures and stories from my first operating session of the new season in the Friday Night Group!

Check out my railfan pictures at and our Friday Night Group at

Cheers, Mike