The CN Point Ellice Layout

The CN Victoria Layout of Al Lill
Welcome to my sectional layout in my daughter's former bedroom (accessible by stair lift). Since it was last operated at RMMBC and Van Rail in 2017, a significant extension has been made to enhance operations and lengthen the run , albeit all within yard limits. The main feature of my layout is still 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 in Victoria BC was the (geographically southern) eastern 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 a wye at MP 1.6 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 going beyond yard limits were turned on a wye at MP 1.6. However the original plans for the roundhouse did show a 70-foot long turntable. For now I have incorporated Brian Pate's turntable from his former layout, but plan to replace it with turnouts.
    As the layout is to remain demountable, it is highly condensed compared to the prototype. The operational plan focuses on cars going to and from the Canora and industries within yard limits as well as interchange with the E&N (CPR). There are about 50 cars on the layout to be switched per session- the majority being highly detailed and weathered that were built from resin kits by Stafford Swain, Brian Pate, Pierre Oliver and others. We utilize three DCC sound-equipped locomotives which are either small steam or diesel locomotives. There are computer generated switch lists for car forwarding which are included with each train/ switcher instructions.
Typically an ops session begins with two locomotives pulling industries and assembling cars in blocks to be loaded on the car ferry after the docking of the Canora. While this is going on, there will also be either a westbound work train or a special passenger extra which leaves for staging , where the locomotive runs around it's train for the return trip. The Canora 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 spotted and the westbound way freight (Train 585) leaves town. The extra returns from staging and meets Train 585. An afternoon switch run may also be made to spot cars beyond the yard itself. Finally an eastbound way freight (Train 586) returns with cars from points beyond yard limits, which have been held in the staging area.
   The layout keeps two or three operators (engineers, yard foreman/ conductor and brakeman) busy for about three hours. 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&NSizeL shape 16 feet by 10 feet with a 7-foot extension for staging in a loft.
ScaleHOEra1954 steam, 1958 diesel
ControlNCEClock None - Sequence in Prototypical order
Session length3-4 hourscrew size3
Dispatchingyard limitsCar ForwardingComputer generated Switch lists
Communicationverbaljobs2 engineers, yard foreman/conductor
accessibilityStairs , accessible via stair liftWebsiteCNRHA
Prototype/Freelance ScaleProto based on CNRLength of mainlineall yard limits
Yards1Number of passing siding1 plus active staging
% scenery completed-50%Number of car spots38 plus yards and staging
Motive Power3 Steam or DieselRolling Stock50 freight. 2 passenger
Train lengthsup to 7 carsTrack construction: Mostly ME codes 83, 70 and 55.
Session Atmosphere: Continuous action focused mainly on switching