Sunday 27 September 2015

Ottawa Layout Tour...Part 1


 Two Ottawa Don Janes

     A few weeks a go my wife and I took an RV trip which included a three day stop in Ottawa. While there I decided to call my friend John Mitchell and set up a time to visit his New York Central layout.  While there I also wanted to meet Mike Hamer, a friend of John's and a fellow B&M modeller.  Mike's layout was the cover story in the 2004 edition of Great Model Railroads so I was really hoping John could arrange a visit there also.  Mike graciously invited me to his home and a tour of his beautiful model railroad.  Both layouts were a treat to visit and both were very different.  John's layout filled his entire basement and is very operation oriented while Mike's is in a 11' x 13' basement bedroom and is also operation oriented.  I had a great time visiting both layouts and as usual the time at each place flew by since our interests are so similar and we have so much to talk about.  I also learned there are many more fine modellers in the Ottawa area and some very nice layouts so I definitely have to get back there and do another layout tour someday.
Three GP-7's lead a forty car freight train over the New England River on Mike Hamer's B&M Western Route layout

Mike Hamer's B&M Western Route Layout

     Upon walking into Mike's basement I was a little surprised as I was expecting a layout as soon as I walked in.  In fact I didn't even see the layout at first.  Instead  there were beautiful structure dioramas on a shelf all around the basement and some G scale locomotive on a coffee table in the middle of the room.  There were also several guitars on stands and in cases at one end of the basement.  This is another interest of mine so I could see we definitely had a lot in common.  It turns out that besides being an excellent model builder Mike is an awesome guitarist.  I know he blew me away with his talent.  After making introductions Mike showed me his work then we proceeded to the back of the basement where the layout is located.  I was surprised how little space it took up but the room was filled with everything from the big city scene of North Dover, NH to peaceful countryside scenes like the New England River Bridge and small village along the Salmon River, all beautifully executed in this small space.  
A B&M passenger train is just pulling into North Dover.  The scene behind where the train is coming out from beneath the street and buildings was based on the tunnel in Bellow's Falls, VT
     Mike's layout is quite unique in the fact that there are three hidden staging tracks that run all around the layout behind the backdrop and the layout is in the middle of the room.  They come together at the entrance of the room and trains can be routed either into staging or onto the layout from there.  If you can get your hands on a copy of great Model Railroads 2004 you can see an excellent track plan showing exactly what I am trying to describe.  Mike told me that Trevor Marshall, our mutual friend had a lot to do with this impressive track plan.  
     It was a pleasure to meet Mike and visit his excellent model railroad.  His work top notch and he is willing to share everything about his modelling skills.  The following photos will show you what I am talking about.
These two views show the staging tracks and how they wrap around the outside of the layout.

Here are two more views of North Dover showing the various industries and all the operating potential.
Mike likes to add a personal touch to his scenes as illustrated by his model of the Martin Guitar Co. building.
This rural scene includes a model of the first country school that Mike taught in.
North Tower is where trains enter or leave the layout in either direction.  Here  an MEC freight is waiting for the B&M train to clear the junction.

The New England River bridge is a good spot to railfan and this day we were lucky to catch three trains crossing the bridge.

I got two more shots of B&M 1746, one at North Tower and the other crossing the stone arch bridge over the Salmon River before it was time to pack up and head back to my trailer.
Here's Mike proudly displays his recently completed Mt. Albert Scale Lumber new HO scale kit.  Behind him is the poster of his GMR cover and several of his structures.


1 comment:

  1. I had the pleasure of meeting Mike at the June OVAR meeting, at which I gave a presentation entitled Kingston Platform Scenes. Mike is an enthusiastic modeller and he and many others in the group made me feel most welcome. Great to see his modelling here. It's almost enough to get me to switch modelled locales away from Vancouver in 1970-1976. Almost...
    Thanks for sharing,