The CN Point Ellice Layout

The CN Point Ellice Layout of Al Lill
Welcome to my sectional layout in my daughter's former bedroom (accessible by stair lift). Many of you will have seen it at Vancouver Train Expo 2016, but now it is set up semi permanently in my home with demountable backdrops added as well as two cassettes to extend the switching potential. The main feature of my layout is Brian Pate's museum quality models of the CNR railway car ferry Canora and the ferry/barge slip that was located at Point Ellice in Victoria West.
Point Ellice was the (geographically southern) western terminal of the CNR lines on Vancouver Island from 1920 to 1990. During the steam era, it had a brick five-stall round house and support facilities, yard office, barge/ferry slip, freight house, coal dealer and team tracks. Several industries were located within yard limits out to MP 1.75 on the Cowichan Sub. as well as two on the remainder of the Patricia Bay Sub. The roundhouse was not served by a turntable - locomotives were turned on a wye at MP 1.6. However the original plans for the roundhouse did show a 70-foot long turntable. I have incorporated Brian Pate's turntable, but only have room for two roundhouse stalls (to be built).
As the layout is to remain modular, it is highly condensed compared to the prototype and the cars for several industries are switched to and from a cassette. The operational plan focuses on cars going to and from the Canora. There are about 32 cars on the layout to be switched per session- the majority being highly detailed and weathered built from resin kits by Stafford Swain, Brian Pate and Pierre Oliver. We utilize three DCC sound-equipped locomotives which are either small steam or diesel locomotives and a pre-done switch list for car forwarding.
Typically an ops session begins after the docking of the Canora with the arrival of the daily westbound freight. We may include a special eastbound passenger movement and then cars are pulled from industries and presorted in the yard for loading onto the Canora. The ship has three tracks fed from a three way stub switch on the slip apron and must be switched blind utilizing reacher cars, while being careful not to overload the ship from one side or the other. Once the unloading/reloading process is done, the ship is ready to sail. The industries are switched, the passenger special returns from the cassette, the eastbound way freight leaves town and finally the switcher returns to the shop area.
The layout keeps two or three operators (engineer, yard foreman/ conductor and brakeman) busy for about three hours - as it would have done on the prototype. The Canora and slip models are fragile so a protective plexi shield is provided. Operators need to be careful in uncoupling cars and throwing switches, but should enjoy the unique challenge of switching a beautiful model of this historic ship which operated between Port Mann and CNR Vancouver Island points from 1919 to 1965.
Superintendent Al LillPrototype LocationCNR Victoria BC
InterchangeCar Ferry to Mainland, E&NSizeCurrently 16 feet long
ScaleHOEramid 50s
Control Lens/CVPClock 1:1
Session length3-4 hourscrew size2or 3
Dispatchingyard limitsCar ForwardingSwitchlist
Communicationverbaljobsengineer, yard foreman/conductor, brakeman (optional)
accessibilityStairs , accessible via stair liftWebsiteCNRHA
Prototype/Freelance ScaleProto based on CNRLength of mainlineall yard limits
Yards1Number of passing sidingnone
% scenery completed-100%Number of car spots12 on Canora, 5 on cassette, 11 in yard
Motive Power3 Steam or DieselRolling Stock32 freight. 2 passenger
Train lengthsup to 5Track construction: Mostly ME codes 83, 70 and 55.
Session Atmosphere: continuous action