PSC Cabooses on the ALDR!

I’m going to go right into this one because like most “CN guys” having a Pointe St. Charles caboose is essential. Now.. It’s been a long time coming for these gems to finally hit the market as an RTR model. Let me tell you! And yes yes, I know this article is kind of late due to the fact that they where released over two months ago. But whatever. Still relevant if you’re as big of CN fan/modeller as I am.

Lets get into a brief background on this model and prototype for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. Back in the late 60’s early 70’s CN had an aging fleet of post war wooden cabooses built from old boxcars. With the aging fleet getting becoming problematic across the system tail end crews needed something that was more comfortable and reliable.  CN commissioned the construction of over 700 steel cabooses. They had better visibility, built in marker lights, wheel generators that powered the lights and oil stoves. They came in 3 types. The “transfer van”, the Hawker Siddeley and the PSC. The PSC was the most common system wide. The PSC’s where all built the same however they came in various paint schemes depending on what they where assigned to do. With the advent of EOT’s in the late 90’s CN didn’t see a need for the caboose fleet and most where sold or scrapped. Some managed to stay on the roster. There currently 14 are still in work service on the CN network today.

Now back our regularly scheduled programming! .. – Changes channel – 😉  .. Okay so True Line trains announced this model a little over a year n a half ago. (To my knowledge at least). I first saw a sample at the local hobby shop and was sold on the spot. That same week I had some money saved up for a brass model so it didn’t come at a better time plus the price was a steal compared to the overland one that I was going to buy. Anyway.. I went ahead and ordered two variations of the reg. CN plus an un-numbered kit for some added flavour. After the long wait they finally arrived and MAN did they ever look good! I gotta hand it to Darren at Trueline Trains really did a really nice job getting all the details correct. There are however some factory issues (extra flashing) with the inside of the front and rear back plates but nothing too serious. Just a slice with the hobby knife will fix it. Before I go into more details about my new cabooses here’s a couple photo’s I took of them on the layout.

The first one 79399 is an early version of the PSC. It has centred stove exhaust stacks and ACI labels. The second is 79883. 79883 is a later model with the standard exhaust stacks. It came as an un-numbered kit. I chose 79883 because it was photographed in the area I’m modelling on the prototype. 79883 still needs to be sealed with gloss and matt varnish.  

Although I don’t run through trains on my modular layout yet. Both cabooses still serve many purposes on local freights and yard movements. Operating them adds some variety to the workload of spotting and dropping off transfers not to mention the realism it adds to the era I’m trying to model.

Here is 79399 sitting on the CP/CN interchange track waiting to pull forward. Today its heading up to the CP interchange yard to drop off a couple of pulpwood cars.

All in all I’m pretty happy with these RTR models. They’re a must have for any CN layout. They will eventually get weathered.. Along with my CN fleet.. Hopefully.. One day aha.

Back to the model. The international service caboose I bought is currently getting front and rear ditch lights. I noticed that some modellers have attempted to add them with some pretty impressive results. I thought why not? So I will update this post in the future with a “Part Two” showing how I managed to get the LED’s working. Also., I will add I am not a fan of the yellowy green interior lighting so like all my cabooses I run them dark.

With all that out of my system lol.. Hope you guys enjoyed this rant/post on the Trueline Trains PSC. Till next time and happy modelling 🙂



image2This past summer I haven’t done much blogging because of the nice weather, my job commitments etc. I’m still here and i’ve got a lot to talk about so let me start by sharing what i’ve been planning for the layout. As you know my layout is made up of 3 modular sections… “The CP/CN Junction” (module 1), “The yard lead” (module 2 featured in most of my photos) and lastly “The CNR North Bay yard”.

My focus is to finish “the junction” module by December 2016. I’ve already started hand laying tracks, building, wiring the road crossing and did some basic scenery work.

Here are some pictures of the CN crossing, the CP Rail interchange track is on the left of the picture. It connects to the CP North Bay sub. in the background.


All of the CN Alderdale Subdivision west of module 2 is now completed. This weekend I plan on focusing on getting the CP interchange track down and tested. The road crossing was the most time consuming part of the whole project. I hand cut scale lumber to custom fit this odd road crossing. then I had to test sand down the flange ways so the train wheels can smoothly roll through the crossing without derailing. As for the crossing gates I used NJ international pre-assembled gates to protect the road however I think the crossing gate arms are too short and don’t match the prototype. I plan on making longer arms out of styrene strips to match the proper length of 15ft.


The crossing gates have an interesting story. The crossing gates are salvaged from my North Toronto module I built as a teen. I learned may lessons on how not to install working grade crossings on that diorama lol.  Now.. I wanted to match the round concrete bases that most of the gated crossings in the North Bay area have. I achieved that by using a large diameter styrene tube. The tube doesn’t just add realism. Once its painted it works as a way to neatly thread the wires to the circuit board under the layout that operates the crossing. As you can see in the picture there’s a smaller second tube. This tube is used to house the small steel arm that opens and closes the gate. It needs to be clear of any layout scenery obstructions so the servo under the layout can raise and lower the arm properly.


This past March I attended the 2016 Toronto prototype modellers meet. I put 3 of my models on display my CN slug 223, CN GP40 9312 and my CN GP9RM. 223 seemed like an interesting addition to the the meet but I never thought it would be featured in the August edition of RMC. I hope to have both the GP9RM and 223 fully completed for the  March 2017 meet!


I have a couple models I’m currently working on for the next meet and hope to have them finished  and ready to display.

Before I go into more details about what I have planned for the 2017 RPM meet I’d like to thank  Trevor Marshall for featuring my work as part of RMC’s coverage of the Toronto RPM meet. You can check out his amazing S scale layout here

The models that should be finished for March include my CP GMD SD40, CP GMD GP38-2 and the rest? Well, That was the hint. 😉

With all that said I hope to post some more progress pics later this week. Hope y’all enjoyed my story/gallery. There is a lot more to come. Happy model railroading!


A couple summers ago I decided to modify a 40ft boxcar for a freelanced project I did for my layout. It was for a CN version of Canadian Pacific’s robot cars. Canadian Pacific used them mostly for transcontinental grain service. This car would support 1-3 mid train locomotives remotely. They where made from a range of old 50ft boxcars, locomotive B units and old baggage cars. The CP units or cars where gutted to house Locotrol equipment that was used to control the trailing (sd40-2’s) mid train without the use of MU cables. With technology becoming more versatile the Locotrol devices became smaller and smaller. By the late 80’s locomotive designers where able to fit the devices directly into the nose of the locomotive which lead to the demise of these unique railcars.

At the time CP and CN where both still very competitive against each other. So a CN version of the Robot car would’ve been possible at the time. I don’t personally know if CN experimented with Locotrol or distributed power back in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. However I do know that CN runs most if not all of it’s modern trains with mid train units today.

With that said and the #1 rule of model railroading being “its my railway” I decided to build a plausible CN Robot car.

Now the model itself has already been completed but it had a ton of inaccuracies that I thought would not make this model look authentic. The first and only problem wasn’t a major one. I used a boxcar that was painted for revenue service. So it needed a new paint job. It also needed to be renumbered into company service. Other than that the model needed some MU cables to connect to the trailing locomotives and some other small details here n there.

Here is an article I wrote last summer explaining the main idea behind its construction:

Here is the model now. Its been repainted to represent a company service car. There are still some odds and ends to clean up and… It also needs a dull coat to seal in the decals.

image4-2The railcar is an Atlas 40ft boxcar model with various details added. I used pictures of a CN M of W fuel car as a reference. The decals are from Highball Graphics. They come from various sets. The road numbers and noodle are from a locomotive set and the other small decals are from various boxcar sets I had laying around my work bench. image1-2(Above) You can see the antenna racks used for receiving the signals for the Locotrol device. The antenna racks are from BLMA Models (Now Atlas) and the antennas are from details west. I left the roof walks in for maintenance crews to easily service the antennas.image3-1(Above) This car has rebuilt roller bearing trucks from Rapido trains for added realism. I also decided to add re-railing frogs to both sides of the car. It traveled right next to the units so it would make sense to put them in. Both re-railing frogs are from Details West. The only modification I did to them was add the chain and repositioned their mounting hangers.

(Below) Here is a close up of the end detail. The MU cables are from Details West. There are two types of MU cables here. 4 for locomotive control and 1 large cable to power the Locotrol equipment inside the car. There is a MU receptacle on both ends of the car to receive a signal from the locomotives. Both receptacles are magnetized and are compatible with NAR Corp. magnetic MU cables. That means I can physically connect the car to any locomotive in my roster that has the NAR Corp magnets installed.image2-3image1-3(Above) I bent the MU cables to match the height of the MU cables on this GP38-2W. They touch the units cables giving it the effect of both units being connected.

(Below) Here is another shot of the car hooked up to a GP38-2W. I still have some end detail such as a small road number decal to add to both ends. The paint I used for the car was BC Rail Red from True Line Trains it matched the orange from the CN fuel car I copied.image2-4

I finished this project while writing this article. The rest of the decals are now on and the Railcar will be getting some dull coat paint this week. I will post some of the finished photos of this car in the photo gallery when I get the chance.

I find its good to model a couple of freelanced pieces every once and a while so I’m not constrained to following prototype practices all the time. It really opens my mind to any ideas I want to get out there. It was a satisfying project to say the least.







CN 223 Road Slug

I recently posted about a slug project that I was working on this past summer. It’s just about finished with some minor work still to be done on the lighting and weight. This project was very fun to work on to say the least.

I use to see a lot road slugs and YBU’s (Yard Booster Units) at the CN Mac yard in Toronto. Making them a common sight in my area. I’d see them either paired up with a GP40-2W or a standard GP9RM switching at the Esso storage plant on Finch near my house. A very common sight across Canada as well. It seemed like a no-brainer to have one or two on my model railway.

CN 223 started as a resin kit from Maple Leaf Trains. They are a Canadian company operating out of Israel that specializes in canadian prototype kits.(  )

I wanted 223 to look as close to the prototype as possible. I came up with the road number after I saw 223 pass York University station while waiting for my train home after a long week of work in Toronto. After consulting the “bible of trains” AKA I found that it was a perfect match in terms of parts that I had available.. It had the standard Blomberg B trucks, However when I saw the prototype pass York U station it had its bering caps removed and was showing the actual roller bearings inside. I thought that was pretty odd for CN practise. However I went ahead and added that. Its my railway after all.:)

With the research done! I got to work.

Here are some of the features I added to this model:

  • Rotating bearings (that actually rotate with the modified trucks)
  • Removable non-powered Athearn blue box Blomberg B trucks
  • Sand lines on only one side of each truck (Like the photos)
  • Mu boxes, brake lines and traction motor cables from Details West
  • Bi-Directional lighting with connection pins to mother GP9rm

Here are some photos of 223’s details:

CN 223
Here you can see the rotating bearing caps. I hand drilled out Athearn blue box trucks. Drilled a hole into the face of wheel. Attached a metal pin with CA to the back of the cap and wheel face. I also had to make the hole on the truck a bit wide so that the cap doesn’t get stuck or rub onto the side of the truck causing the wheels to get stuck.

The Details:

I also used some spare parts from the Details West air tank kit that I used for my CN GP40-2 project earlier this summer. The parts included piping to the air tanks that matched the prototype.

The Paint: (Tamiya)

The paint that I used was Tamiya spray paint. To match the colours I went to the shops at the Mac Yard in Toronto and got some pics of an actual slug. It helped me with painting and matching the colours. I find that spray on model paint is more accurate with the small details rather than my airbrush. It also saves a lot time as well.

The Decals: (CN from Highball Graphics)

There are no sets made specially for CN slugs. So I tore apart an old set I had laying around from CN 9314 and 9312. The yellow stripe on the side worked well and I even cut small strips to fit in the step wells.

Here’s a full view of the decals shortly after the unit was finished:

CN 223 Col..
Here is 223 shortly after completion. Not 100% satisfied with the red paint but it’ll do. The spray spray paint helped me capture the “fresh out of the shop” metal shine. The model is meant to represent 223 in 1992 so at the time it would be only 7 years old. BLT. 1986 ex GP9

After all the decals where applied and some minor touch up work on the frame was done. I started to apply the railings. It was a first for me and a very hard task to say the least. Every post had to be bent over the brass wire with tweezers one at a time. It took me 4 nights to do the whole thing.

With everything aesthetically done. I started to focus on the guts. Lighting and weight. the frame and trucks are removable so I started to wire the lights, plugs and dcc chip for directional control.

At this stage all thats left to do is mill out some weight from an old P2k Geep 38 that I had the top part of the frame fits perfectly inside with a well for the cables and chip. the only thing to do is to mill it so it fits inside.

Here’s a look at 223’s underbody detail. Including sand lines, speed recorder bell (unpainted) and all of the brake rigging I made.
Last but not least. Here is the real CN 223 in Sarnia ONT. Note the new parts added to the trucks. This was prior to its repaint in 2012. the slug itself was built at CN PSC Shops (Montreal) back in 1986. The brake wheel was painted red and the railings where all black at the time it was put into service at the CN Mac Yard in Toronto.

ON The Layout:

On my layout it will work with a sister GP9RM in the CP/CN/ONR transfer yard just East of North Bay. (None where ever assigned to North Bay) The yard so far has CN 4411 (GP9) assigned to road switching and yard movements. It will be accompanied by a sister unit (Also GP9 high nose).

The yard power that I will eventually have in North Bay will be:

  • CN 4411  GP9
  • CN 4572  GP9
  • CN 7029 GP9RM 1992+
  • CN 223  Road Slug
  • CN  242 (Flexi Coil) Road slug

Some of 223’s sister units will be built and put for sale this winter. I have a Flexicoil version and a HBU in the works as well.

Hope you enjoyed my article for this week. If you have any questions or comments feel free ask!