The TNSF is the result of a lifetime interest in trains. I grew up on Vancouver Island and the back of our property overlooked the E&N Railway tracks. Back then the daylliner went by every day and a freight train would make the trip once or twice a week.
My earliest memory of trains was at the age of three when I dragged the garden hose across our front lawn so I could ride my tricycle over my railroad crossing. Dad built me some railroad crossing signs.
I got an N-scale electric train for Christmas when I was ten years old and from that point I was hooked. I wanted my own layout, but with Dad working and us busy with school there was no time to build one. I still have my old train and it is on display in front of my TV set.
I had several encounters with trains over the years. Most notable was in June 1975 when we went on a special trip aboard the Royal Hudson. We left North Vancouver in the morning and rode past Horseshoe Bay and up Howe Sound to Squamish for lunch; then the train was turned around and we rode back again.
I have been to a number of model railroad shows and exhibits. There were times I would spend days designing layouts that I knew would probably never be built. And then came 2011.
I met Warren through work and found he was a model train enthusiast like me. We decided to go to Nanaimo together to the NMRA train show in March. Two days before the show I made a conceptual drawing of what would become the TNSF.
I've been dreaming long enough and I wanted to build my own layout, so to get the ball rolling I bought a pair of Canadian Pacific cabooses. Most people start at the front—I started at the end.
I've known Paul for over twenty years. His drawing tools helped me draft a detailed plan of the layout and I spent the next few months drawing and redrawing everything from the mainline right of way to the location of industrial spurs. (There are programs for drafting track plans but I use the old faithful method—paper and pencil.) I've been told, and I know it's true, that even after I start building I will be making changes to my plan.
Eventually I became tired of having a railroad made of paper. Paul has a garage filled with woodworking tools and he generously offered to help me build the bench. In my apartment I have limited capacity for such an endeavour and I gladly accepted. Paul and I picked up the building material, cut the wood to size and delivered it.
Warren came over for a few afternoons to help me put the pieces together. One of my goals was to have a bench started in the summer, and by the end of September the whole table was complete.
Then it was time to start transfering the scale plan to the table. The compass used for drafting is not large enough for this. Mark and I went to high school together and have kept in touch over the years. Mark built me a compass capable of drawing curves of over one metre in radius.
Foam insulation is great for building a model railroad layout. The table top has a one-inch covering and cork roadbed is affixed right on the surface. Layers of foam can be glued together and carved, and this makes scenery that is light in weight. Slegg Lumber in Comox and Cumberland have given me chunks of broken foam insulation which has saved me from digging through dumpsters at construction sites.