Friday, December 30, 2011

Layout Progress: Done! (Sort Of)

It's taken awhile, but trains are finally running on the new one-level centre penninsula. Yesterday I reconnected the track leading from the Fort Frances yard, around the penninsula and into the storage room with the lower level loop and helix. It's good to finally have this part of the reconstruction done!

Now comes the fun part: Scenery. Right now I'm thinking I will reconstitute the old upper level town of Ritchie (named after my good friend Rick Ritchie) on the new lower level, albeit with fewer sidings.  I don't intend to install a view block between the tracks on either side of the penninsula, though--just some hills and lots of trees.

Altogether, the new addition adds just over a minute of running time to the layout; including the helix, it takes about seven minutes between staging yards.

In other words, it's been a constructive Christmas break. Now I can take my time to creat new scenery over the next months.

Below find a photographic timeline of the progress to date.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Visit to the Winnipeg Railway Museum

The Winnipeg Railway Museum is located in the
historic Union station.

The Winnipeg Railway Museum is dedicated to preserving Manitoba’s railway heritage. Located at historic Union Station, it shares space in the train shed with tracks used by VIA and is right beside the CN transcontinental mainline.

Although Winnipeg would not exist if it wasn’t for the railway, the Winnipeg Railway Museum doesn’t rank very high on the list of funding priorities for the provincial, municipal or federal governments. It is dependent on individual and corporate donations and private foundations to keep going—and on the dedicated work of volunteers.

If there was more funding, it could complete the restoration of more rolling stock, re-do the interior, and add better heating and cooling to the train shed. It might even be able to bring indoors some locomotives currently languishing outside in various parts of the city.

That said, the museum’s volunteers have done a great job—as you can see by the photos on this page.

The prize of the collection—the Countess of Dufferin, the first steam locomotive in Western Canada. (Arrived in Winnipeg Oct. 8, 1877.)

CNR 1900 (GMD1), built in 1958. It was the first of a series of passenger locomotives equipped with a steam generator. It’s stored serviceable.

Winnipeg Hydro #4. Built in October, 1927 by the Davenport Locomotive Works. It was used for freight and passenger service.

CP Rail Track inspection car M300 was built in Great Britain; it’s one of only five ever imported to Canada from that country.

City of Winnipeg track inspection car. This 1946 Packard was rebuilt by the CPR to run on rails. It was purchased by the Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway in 1953 for use on the that Railway’s line serving Winnipeg's water aqueduct between the Shoal Lake inlet and the city of Winnipeg.

This Mac B-1 Railbus was built in 1922 by the Mack International Motor Company of Allentown, Pa. for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Purchased by Winnipeg Hydro in 1929, it ran in regular service until 1962 from Pointe du Bois to Lac du Bonnet carrying freight, mail and passengers.

CNR #7188 is a combination car (passenger/baggage). It was built in 1919 as a Colonist passenger car and rebuilt into a combination car in 1955. It was retired in 1977.

Wide vision van (caboose in the U.S.).

CN Jordan spreader, built in 1911.

Nearby at The Forks, some other equipment is on display; the passenger cars house a candy store. These items do not belong to the museum.


Finally, the Manitoba Children's Museum, also at The Forks, is home to a CNR F unit. If you're nice, they may let you in to look at it without charge. Or you can pay the entrance fee and be a big kid in the cab, if you want!

Click here for more info about the Winnipeg Railway Museum.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More Layout Progress

Time off during the Christmas break is allowing me to make substantial progress on the new one-level middle penninsula--see photos above and below.

Right now I am cutting Styrofoam to fit, cutting support pieces to hold it, and adjusting the longer 2 by 8 pieces for the slight grade up into the storage room and helix.

It's much too early for track laying, but I couldn't help myself; I needed to see what it would look like to have a bit of track down.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Locomotive from Rapido Trains: The Unique GMD-1

In keeping with his commitment to producing unique Canadian locomotives and rolling stock, Jason Shron and the Rapido Trains crew are bringing out one of the most unique Canadian locomotives--the GMD-1.

Produced by General Motors Diesel (GMD) from 1958 to 1960, the GMD-1 was created to handle trains on light rail branchlines in Canada's prairie provinces. Of the 101 units produced, 96 went to Canadian National Railway and five went to Northern Alberta Railways.

Over time, units migrated east and west for use as switchers in yards and in other duties. Today a few can be found in the U.S. in shortline railroad service.

The new GMD-1 model is the latest in a series of new Canadian offerings from several manufacturers. It's quite a change from when I started back in the hobby in 1987. Back then, there wasn't very much available for Canadian model railroaders; today, we are almost overwhelmed by the fine array of models available to us. It truly is a golden age for those of us north of the 49th parallel!

Now if we could just get Atlas to make a CP Rail SD40-2, my life would be complete . . . .

You can learn more about the GMD-1 on the CN Lines website.

You can view the unique way Jason chose to unveil this new product by clicking here.

Photo from CN Lines.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

More Pierre Dion Quebec Subdivision Photos

I have some more photos of Pierre Dion's great Canadian model railroad; find them below, as a Christmas present on this Christmas Eve.

Click here for more photos of Pierre's layout, along with info about his newest venture.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Layout Progress

The reconstruction of the middle penninsula is slowly moving along. Bascially, what I'm doing is taking the Styrofoam subroadbed from the former upper level and putting it on the new lower level (as in the photo above). You can see the outline of the old tracks.

At this point, the pieces are just being test-fitted together; I'll glue and screw them to the benchwork later.

At this point, I don't know exactly what kind of scenery I will employ in this new section. At one time I thought it would just be hills and trees; now I'm thinking it could be a good place for some grain elevators that currently don't have a home. We'll see where it goes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Valley Railway

Note: Since this post was written in 2011, Bill Taylor, the creator and owner of the Assiniboine Valley Railway, passed away (in 2013). Although the trains still operate in December, the volunteers who have kept the railway running no longer are able to put on the Christmas light runs. 

One of the great Christmas traditions in Winnipeg is the annual Assiniboine Valley Railway Christmas train ride.

The AVR is 1.6" scale 7.5" gauge riding railway located in the backyard of local Winnipeg Model Railroad Club member Bill Taylor—if you can call a seven acre site a backyard.

Started in 1995, the AVR has a 3,700 foot long mainline, and about 6,400 feet of track altogether. There are three diesel locomotives, one box cab and several steamers, plus 39 cars.

Each Christmas Bill puts on a light show, with over 100,000 lights illuminating the line, along with nativity scenes, angels, stars, snowmen, candy canes and more.

The train rides are available every evening in December, with the exception of Dec. 25. Between 10,000 to 13,000 people come out each year to ride the trains. Donation boxes are set up around the area to raise money for local charities.

Not being much of an outdoor winter person, I prefer to ride the AVR in summer. Click here to see a video of a ride along the line, and click here for a summer photo visit.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Great Canadian Model Railroads: Pierre Dion's CP Rail Quebec Subdivision

For me, it was like the quest for the Holy Grail: Could I get photos of Pierre Dion’s magnificent CP Rail Quebec Subdivision, and post them on my blog?

The answer, as you see, is yes. A couple of weeks ago I was able to track Pierre down.; in addition to receiving permission to scan and post some photos of his layout from the November, 2004, Railroad Model Craftsman, he sent me some other photos, too.

And now, for what I think is the first time on the Web, you can see them again (or for the first time), too.

Like the CP Rail M & M Sub., the HO scale Quebec Sub. was set in that other transition period—the late 1980s-early1990s. This was the time just before CP Rail started to sell and or abandon its lines in Quebec.

Also during that period, CP Rail was still using MLW units, like the RS-18u, c-424u, Rs-23, C-630M, M-630 and M-636—units featured on Pierre’s layout, most of them detailed and weathered.

The layout itself was in a 17 by 21 foot room, and featured a double track mainline through generic scenery. But, oh—what scenery it was! “Lush” is the word that most often comes to my mind, along with extremely realistic. Pierre has a knack for creating believable ground cover, ballast and trees, along with buildings and various line side and other details.

I have been speaking of the layout in the past tense; it’s gone now, being replaced by a bigger layout. This time Pierre has a 24 by 25 foot room to work his magic in, plus a 9 by 12 foot room for staging.

The new shelf-style layout will have a 150 foot mainline, and will once again focus on CP Rail in the Montreal area and eastern Quebec in the late 1980s-early 1990s—with the same roster of unique units pulling their last miles. And, just like with his first layout, it will also be called the Quebec Subdivision.

Here are some more classic shots of Pierre's layout from Railroad Model Craftsman. Click here for more photos of Pierre's layout on this blog.