Friday, May 6, 2022

Hanley Spur Diorama

Using some of the signature buildings from my HO-scale Hanley Spur layout (National Grocers, Bailey Broom factory, Rosen Fuels and Woolen Mill), I constructed a diorama for an upcoming exhibition. The signature scene is Kingston's Rideau and Cataraqui Streets, where three of the four buildings are extant. I took the diorama outside for some natural-light photography using my iPhone camera and my Canon point-and-shoot camera in March. In most cases, they are presented in parallel order when portraying a similar scene. The iPhone really allows for low-angle photography due to the corner-position of its camera lens. In each scene, I'll point out some features I included in the diorama design and construction. But first, the build.

I began in early January, spending about an hour each night on the diorama. Early stages in planning the non-powered trackage were including CN's Hanley Spur and CP's parallel Kingston Subdivision trackage, as well as the nexus of local industries. On the prototype, the two lines were poorly-drained and low, though I elevated mine to make them more prominent. Some structures were placed on an additional layer of plywood, with papier-mache filling the gaps over modelling clay. Then, I gave the various areas a brown, green or black base coat, painting the edges black, and added roads and some details. I took care not to 'over-detail', in order to not detract from the overall scene.
Rosen and Woolen Mill in background, Bailey and National Grocers in foreground. The entire diorama measures 39 x 48 inches.
The concept was to show the importance of rail (and road) transportation in developing industrial development along Kingston's downtown waterfront. I made a point of painting the railheads silver on the spur leads, with the spurs rusted. I added a small oil dealer at right, low river/swamp backdrop with vegetation, pole lines and wires, signs, figures, and vehicles.
The diorama is on the move, able to fit in the back of the van for its voyage. The renumbered CN 7123 now includes a full crew. All rolling stock, vehicles and structures were wired to the plywood to keep them stationary and make their eventual removal and return to my home layout easier. I'm pleased to say that this diorama is now on display as part of the 'On The Move - 400 Years of Transportation in Kingston' exhibition at the Pumphouse Museum. The exhibition opened April 22, and will be open until November.
I included hydro and telephone lines, these being the last details added - they're virtually invisible when looking and working down at the diorama and therefore prone to accidental removal! The sky backdrop is printed bristol-board clouds, gamely held in position on a windy day by my wife!

Looking north at the National Grocers spur, from the CP side. The low-level photography readily reveals modelling gaps that the naked eye is less likely to perceive.

Colour views. A peril of outdoor photography is inclusion of trees and the neighbours' houses in the background. Fellow blogger Chris Mears suggested photographing the railway models in front of the prototype structures. Definitely an intriguing idea!

CN 7123 (since renumbered from the incorrect 6012 factory number) on CN's Hanley Spur at left, with CP's differently-ballasted Kingston Subdivision at right, with its spur to Dyeco and tannery branching off at right. The Rosen building is realistically nondescript and grey one that I had already built - it fit the space I had available.

A boxcar spotted on the Woolen Mill CP spur. Slight diffferences in the angle and photo-editing result in remarkably different results!

Some various iPhone views of the CN switcher, formerly owned by my Dad, positioned with an ice-reefer and an loaded American coal car. The black & white format reveals the easily-backdated nature of this trackage, and I look forward to holding some steam/transition-era operating sessions on my home Hanley Spur layout.

The billboard along Rideau Street is transportation-themed, and one that fits with the steam era. The molding, painted black,that I nailed to the front edge of the diorama is just visible here:
Before renumbering and crewing, the CN switcher is crossing Cataraqui Street. The backrops are paper-printed on foam-core, with the top edge of the backing painted to match the photo, and the backing screwed to the base using brackets. The Cataraqui River and upper storeys of the Woolen Mill are intended to add perceived depth to the diorama as well as adding context.
Final iPhone photo, showing the Cataraqui Street crossing fom the CP side, with my imagined Abramsky's truck patiently waiting:                      

CN and CP were given different balasting to give viewers the idea that they are operated by different railways. The Dyeco spur 'disappears' into the backdrop, partly hidden by foliage, the Rosen building and 'ballast' painting on the backdrop.
Back where we started - a slightly suspended point-and-shoot view of Cataraqui Street.
I haven't made it to the exhibition at the Pumphouse Museum yet, but I am looking forward to going to see it in its entirety.

Running extra...
Atlas Model Railroad Co. is releasing a Ukraine Peace Car. Proceeds from sales are to go to Ukraine relief. Personally, I'm surprised it wasn't lettered with yarding instructions for HO-scale trainmen: 'Russian Warship - Go Hump Yourself'. Oh well, there is lots of room for custom decalling. Delivery expected in December, hopefully after this evil war ends.

Speaking of war and peace, let's talk marriage. And how to get one off on the right track. Not my photo (for which I'm thankful). I hope the happy couple enjoyed many years of welded bliss, holy matrainmony and are still a happy coupler. Though I'm still asking myself...What The F-Unit?
No-one is wedded to his hobby like Rapido Trains Inc.'s Jason Shron. He is the cover story of the June 2022 Model Railroader and MR is giving him the perfect platform. Rejected article titles: "Taking Kingston and Brockville All the Way to the Top (Level)", "Did I Mensch That I Like Model Trains?", "Spadina -The Interminable Terminal"  and "40 Days and 40 Nights - Building the KingstonSub!" 


chris mears said...

My gosh this scene turned out well. I really enjoy how well it photographs. It feels like something that really invites an exploration with a camera and looking at how you've composed it there's all kinds of neat places to drop a slim cell phone's eye into the scene to explore it from a miniature human's perspective.


Eric said...

Thanks, Chris. It did indeed, even though the move outdoors brought in the lighting, added some unwanted background elements, but allowed 360-degree exploration I just couldn't get down in the layout room.

Legal disclaimer: I did not consult my neighbours about their houses and/or vehicles and/or really, really big trees possibly appearing in the background of these photos!