Long Story Short

So today I decided to visit the local hobby shop and get myself a pair of  new 3800cu ft cylindrical hoppers from Rapido Trains Inc. I have to say they did a good job on these models. Finally!! A fully accurate 3800 that isn’t a 4550cu ft grain car prototype with round hatches. (ITS A LONGER CAR!!) These models look great out of the box however there are some minor issues with the roof walks warping but that can be fixed with a little CA. Kind of a downer for the price but something that can be easily fixed in my opinion.. Plus what’s the point of a hobby if you’re just buying RTR stuff without actually doing anything to it. Back to the models. Below are examples of two different styles of cylindrical hoppers that CN had on their roster from the early 70’s to present day. The one on the left was built by NSC and the one on the right was built by Marine Industries both have small variations that set them apart such as air reservoir placement, roof walk support bracket size and weld seem lines.

The NSC car on the left is painted in generic CN grey representing a car built circa 1974 and the marine industries car on the left built in the late 60’s is part of the CN billboard car circa 1971 railway promotion campaign. Or as my girlfriend calls it. “The rainbow car..” There are a couple of details to add to these cars not to mention weathering. Some of the details I’ll be adding are ACI labels, Kadee #158’s and material data labels as per prototype.

So as you probably already know if you regularly read this blog. I’m working on a new modular mid 70’s layout project that hosts two small mining operations on it. These operations one being based off of a mine in Uhthoff near Orillia Ontario and the other a generic open-pit aggregate quarry that is loosely modeled after the Lafarge pit in Uxbridge Ontario. Having a bunch of 3800’s was and is a must. These two mines will generate most of the traffic on my layout and that means more 3800’s will be needed but for the time being they will be mixed into my fleet of LONGER Intermountain cars that I am slowly replacing as time goes on.

This 1960’s hopper  or “billboard car” was part of a series of cars used to advertise how the CNR at the time was a leader in transporting various resources across Canada. It was one of 4 cars that where painted to represent the commodities that they carried and ran in a short 4 car consist across Canada. the cars later went into regular service and were seen mixed into regular freight consists. They where NOT part of the EXPO 86 ads.

Back to the models. They run great out of the box with no issues negotiating my network of hand laid track. The only issue I could find in terms of running was that they should be a couple of ounces heavier. Though that’s a personal opinion due to the fact that a large portion of track on my layout is covered with static grass made to represent deferred branch line maintenance. Other than the weight issue and roof walk warping issue I couldn’t really find anything else to complain about. Great job Rapido! Also these cars are hand-built so hats off to the workers at the LRC factory for building these near perfect representations. I’m pretty happy with them. Hope there will be a second run in the near future EH..


Today I decided to visit the CN Macmillan Yard in Vaughan as I do at least once a year. With the apparent increase in traffic and new leased power this year Mac yard was bound to be busy.. (Or so I thought) Now. Before I go into more detail. Let me warn you. Railfanning the CN Macmillan yard is not easy and very annoying at best. My spot (or only legal spot) to railfan from is located on the Southeast corner of the HWY 7 overpass. The spot is off RR property so you won’t get nabbed for trespassing and is also neatly tucked away on a sort of elevated dirt platform right beside the bridge abutments making you somewhat invisible to yard crews. Now I’ve been hearing on online articles and from CN employees that because of the recent surge in traffic most of the major CN rail yards are at capacity. That might not be true. I’ve been to Mac Yard on and off ever since I was a kid and I can tell you that it looks the same in fact the whole left side of the local yard is empty and the tracks on the far right half as shown below are in the process of being torn up. Or maybe I came on a slow day. Who knows..

Here’s a shot of Mac yard facing North. You can see the local yard bowl, west departure tracks, main yard pulldown tracks and MofW building. The local yard has its own hump however it seems to get smaller every year I come to visit. Hope it doesn’t get completely torn up anytime soon.

I usually start my trip with a stop to eat. I grab a burger at A&W and off I go. I usually walk the length of the HWY 7 bridge first to see what’s out there before I head over to my spot. Once at my spot I check my scanner and wait. The first train today was led by a pair RC SD40U’s bracketing a 200 series road slug. Kind of like the one I modelled a couple of years ago. (See my post from Nov 2015) The pair of units where screaming when they passed meaning a heavy train. I think these particular SD40U’s where trimming cars in the receiving yard but I could be wrong. It’s cool to see that CN is holding on to its SD40u’s. They sound and look great not to mention can pull 10x more cars than the regular GP9rm’s without suffering from frame damage.


The second train was quite interesting and sadly didn’t come close enough to get a good photo. The train in question was led by an unknown SW1200rs which is really really rare in to see in 2018. Here is what I got of it switching the trans load facility on the north-west side of HWY 7. I caught this during my initial walk. I know there is another SW1200rs on the property that belongs to a steel dealer on the south side of the bridge but just the fact that there are two SW1200 units in service here is kind of exciting.

BIG MAC ! 1200RS
If you look way off to the left you’ll see the lone SW1200rs switching a cut of cars into the CN transload building. I stood there for almost 20mins hoping it would come closer with no luck. On the right is a yard job assembling an outbound train. The cut of cars was so long they had to use the whole westbound departure track all the way past the HWY 7 overpass. Quite a heavy train for a lone GP9rm + HBU to handle. It was screaming when it passed under the overpass.

With the sw1200 teasing me in the back I didn’t really notice how close the east yard job was to the bridge so I scrambled to take a picture as it came close. Sadly I missed the opportunity. The locomotive was already under the overpass. The east yard job had a GP9rm and a hump booster unit with it. This is the first time I ever caught a GP9rm with a HBU on the south end. The HBU’s are usually on the north end mu-d to pair of GP38-2m’s and are strictly assigned to the dual hump. I guess maybe they where short on GP9 slugs so they used a HBU. It’s anyone’s guess. After 7253 passed I caught an eastbound departure with a pretty crazy lashup consisting of a new tier 4 Gevo, SD70ace, GP9rm and slug. Yet again I was too far to snap a pic of the power. I’m guessing the GP9 and slug where dead in tow probably in transit to another yard or facility. After that the SD40u’s came back and blocked my view. This time with a crew of three. Fearing that they would raid me in to security. I grabbed a quick farewell shot and decided it was time to go. I spent a good 2hrs at Mac Yard today and really didn’t see much in terms of leased power nor did I see the GEXR freight from Stratford that usually runs on Wednesdays.. Oh well. I hope to go back this summer and catch some more action. I think the cold limited my time there today. Hats off to the CN employees that have to work out there everyday it’s not easy. Cheer’s!


March Madness

Yearly Motive Power Inspections:

Yes oh yes its that time of year. Motive Power Inspections! Once a year usually around March I take all my power off the layout and inspect every locomotive on the roster for damage. I currently roster a whopping 12 CN locomotives 😉 lol and another 10 on the CPR. Not much in terms of motive power compared to other layouts but good enough for my needs. Anyway the process in question is quite simple..

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Here we see gp9 4411, 4493 and 4769 in the shop. 4769 received some repairs to the railings due to chipping paint. All the couplers on these units will be replaced with Kadee #158 scale head couplers once the inspection is completed.

Each locomotive shell is removed and the motor and gears checked for wear. Parts are oiled if needed and the shell goes back on. Next is the shell. The shell is inspected for damage and if the damage is found it is corrected. For example my Athearn Genesis locos have a tendency to loose paint on the railings. A quick touch up and the locomotive is cleared to proceed to the wheel cleaner. Once the locomotive passes its yearly inspection it is tested on the layout and either kept out or boxed.

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9675, 4789 and 9601 await inspection in “shop bay one”. Looks like my wide cab fleet is due for weathering and will be receiving a light coat some time this summer. 9675 is a GP40-2W, 4789 is a gp38-2w and 9601 is a GP40-2l all are Athearn Genesis models. 

This year I’m currently in the process of replacing all the couplers with Kadee #158’s. So far all my rolling stock has them installed. I bought two bulk packs to make sure my fleet has the same couplers. One thing to add to that. I usually cut the trip pins off to avoid them getting caught on crossings and speeder platforms. I don’t use magnetic uncoupling blocks so they’re useless to me..

Ugh.. Waiter? I asked for medium well: 

Lessons in the model RR world come in all shapes and sizes or depths of dirt for that matter. I was recently looking at some photos of CP 4507 on Flickr the other day when I decided to try my hand at weathering my bowser MLW c630M. I copied a picture of 4507 that was taken in the summer of 1990 somewhere between Sudbury and Levack Ontario. At that time 4507 was demoted to trailing unit status and had a pretty hefty collection of  grime on it. As a modeller I said PERFECT! But as I soon learned that its easy to over do it when it comes to weathering. “Weathering is like cooking. If you leave it in for too long. You’ll burn it!” Like I did with 4507. My initial coat of grime was too dark. The whole side of 4507 was wayyyy too dirty compared to the pics on flickr. luckily I didn’t seal anything with dull coat yet and slowly rubbed off the black soot (acrylic paint and powder) with a Q-tip till I was happy with the end result. 4507 had the wintery grime look to it where the rain washed off certain spots and the salt built up on others.


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I used a mix of powders, acrylics, oils and airbrush to capture the grime that collected on 4507 over the years.  

After my issue with the grime was corrected I proceeded with airbrushing the kick up spray on the trucks. I painted the bearing covers light blue and added fuel spill on both sides of the fuel tank. I also added some oil spill on the walkways and re-decaled all the safety labels fire extinguisher, first aid and finished it off with a torn ACI car trak. As of now I would call this unit about 70% complete. I still have to add the MU stands and wheel slip detector’s on the engineers side. For now she goes back into service on the layout. All in all a fun one night project..


CN GMD GP40 #9316:   

CN 9316 has been in the shops for almost a year its the first of 3 CN 9300 series GP40’s that I’m currently working on. CN 9316 started out life as a undecorated Atlas gold line model with DCC and sound. I custom painted and detailed it according to prototype photos. 9316 represents the prototype in its 1990’s form with the exception of the early high mounted ditch lights and the striped rock plow. The plow and ditch lights where in that configuration on the prototype unit pre-1990’s however I decided to make an exception with this model. It just looked too good to change.


9316 good

 With 9316 finished I’m turning all my attention to my current Kaslo shops GP9RM project that has been in the works for a little over a month now. Both will be at the Toronto RPM meet at Humber College on March 17th. So come on by!


Toronto RPM Meet:

The fact that its march doesn’t only mean spring is around the corner or that its time for my yearly locomotive inspections or…my birthday etc etc. It also means the Toronto RPM meet is just around the corner.


I really enjoy this event. I’ve been going for a couple years now and I’m always impressed with the level of modelling on display. From boats, stations, live steam and brass the RPM is must if you model any kind of prototype anything not to mention a way to learn new modeling techniques from the two clinics they put on.


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These are some fine examples of some of the work on display at the RPM meet. This I believe is Ryan Mendell’s work from 2015. Really liking the the CN tank hopper and refer. Above is a CN Alco/MLW s4 built and painted by Sean Steele.


With that said this year I will be bringing the following items to present:

  1. CN GP40 #9316
  2. CN GP9RM #7278
  3. CN/CP Fairmont speeders
  4. CN Fairmont tie crane
  5. CP US&S co. relay mounted intermediate signals

I also want to note that CN slug #223 will not be at the show due to a repaint. I will cover this in the next update. All in all I’m pretty excited to put #9316 on display. She’s not perfect but still one of the best locomotives I’ve built so far. Anyway. Hope to see you all there. That’s it for this update happy modelling! 🙂

A Quick CN #7278 GP9RM Update

My Cn 7278 project has progressing quite nicely so far. I’ve been trying to squeeze in as many hours into it as possible. It has been a very time-consuming project that I initially wanted to get done in time for the 2018 Toronto RPM Meet which is in a couple of weeks. I soon realized that it wouldn’t be even close to being finished in time and didn’t want to rush it. It’s better to do things slowly the right way rather than rush it and just get-r dun. Something I’ve learned the hard way in the past.  With that said I recently finished the “cab face” and interior. The locomotive cab interior is not included in the Kaslo kit so I bought one made by Miniatures By Eric. It consists of 4 brass parts. 2 seats, control stand and radio. I went ahead and painted the cab interior a shade of tan even though the real #7278 had a black and white interior. I found painting the cab interior a tan colour makes it more visible through the glass. After mounting the assembly on a styrene insert. I installed the interior into the shell after the glass inserts where permanently glued in. I realized while writing this article that taking a picture would’ve been a good idea before permanently installing. Oh well. Live and learn I guess…


After the cab interior was finished I turned my attention to the cab face. The cab face was a bit of a challenge. Call it a face lift.. Literally. 😉 My model of CN #7278 initially had a 3 class light configuration and low number boards making the cab look a bit off in appearance compared to the prototype. The real CN 7278 had a dual class light arrangement meaning I had to take all the etched parts off. (Something I realized after painting. D’oh!) I quickly modified them and “re-re-re-painted” the front of the cab. 3rd times the charm I guess. You can see the new arrangement in the pic above. Once I was happy with the cab I proceeded with the installation of the glass. Installing the glass was pretty straightforward however VERY time-consuming. All windows with exception of the all weather windows (not done yet) took me a good 2hrs to install. Each individual glass insert is mounted internally with canopy glue to keep them clear followed by the windshield wipers on the outside. With the cab glass assembled and cab interior installed work continues on the long list of things that need to get #7278 closer to being complete. I plan on bringing CN #7278 (in whatever phase its in) along with GP40 #9316 (article coming soon) to the Toronto RPM meet in a couple weeks. If you’re attending stop by and take look. Anyway.. That’s it for this update. Happy modelling! 🙂