John Armstrong

Lighting Night Scenes on the Canandaigua Southern

John Armstrong
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Duration:   6  mins

A night scene means you get twice the railroad in the same space. On John Armstrong’s Canandaigua Southern, the Cattaraugus Engine Terminal with the 2104 is coming in after its run to dump the ashes and get new fuel for the next run. The next stop will be on the turntable to be spun around for the trip back towards Canandaigua. If the shadows don’t come out properly with lighting, John just paints the shadow in. If no one notices, then it is fine!

He uses tin cans for lighting to reflect light where it is needed. A shredded piece of tin modulates the light between light bulbs that are next to each other. If two seperate light sources are hitting the same place, a double shadow is made, which is not typical in the real world. The shredded can then shades the light gradually to look more natural. A small round piece of tin is used to keep the light bulb from shining into a tunnel portal a few feet away.

John’s initial thoughts on having his own railroad as he became aware of trains was to call it the Tolledo and Northwestern, drawing inspiration from the Chicago and Northwestern from a book he read. He admits it would have been a disaster trying to build a nice railroad with mountains in the lower peninsula of Michigan. He changed it to Canandaigua Southern.

One of the reasons he didn’t go into prototype railroads was because he would have had two other railroads coming in. His first layout was a 6 by 12 in O scale. This meant his curve radius was 33 inches maximum, coming very close to the edge of the table. He learned a valuable lesson and added a reversing track in the middle, which had the same radius. His next layout was built in his parents’ house and was 14 by 21. John goes on to detail this layout.

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