Sunday, October 30, 2011

Great Canadian Layouts: Patrick Lawson's CP Rail Cascade Subdivision

When I first saw Patrick Lawson’s CP Rail Cascade Subdivision in model railroad magazines, I was awestruck.

The HO scale layout, which was set in B.C.’s Fraser River Canyon and Mission Junction, was complete in almost every way—scenery,  structures, locomotives, rolling stock. One look and you knew he  had captured the essence of modern railroading in that locale.

The double-deck layout, which was set in 1990, filled a 16 by 14 foot room. It featured lots of CP Rail’s ubiquitous SD40-2 units (including a kitbashed SD40-2F Red Barn), vans (the Canadian  term for cabooses) and modern unit grain and coal trains.

That alone made the layout great, but what made the Cascade Sub. stand out was the details—drains in parking lots, drainage ditches and culverts alongside raised track bed, and proper handrails at the front and rear of Canadian locomotives.  

As it turns out, the Cascade Sub. was one of three layouts built by Patrick. His first effort was the freelanced Northern Railroad. He then turned his attention to modeling CP Rail, first building a shelf-style layout before creating the Cascade Sub.


The layout featured code 70 Shinohara track and number six and eight turnouts. Train lengths were about 20 cars, plus three locomotives. Trains were operated with walkaround throttles.


Since Patrick built the layout in the 1990s, he had to build all of his unique Canadian Teoli coal cars from kits—no ready-to-run Intermountain cars were available back then!


The Cascade Sub. is gone now—Patrick dismantled it about ten years ago. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still modeling; he built a model of the Point Ellice Ferry Slip for the Maritime Museum of Victoria, B.C. (see photos below) and is currently building models for  the Revelstoke Railway Museum's model railway club.


Patrick also works with Jason Shron of Rapido Trains on the drawings for The Canadian and other models, such as the CP & CN wide vision cabooses, and the CN & CP FP9s.
Like most layouts built in the previous century, no digital photos were taken (that technology not being available then), and Patrick hasn't gotten around to scanning his prints or slides. Hence, a search for images of the Cascade Sub. on the Web turns up  nothing—until now. 

With Patrick’s permission, I have scanned  photos from Railroad Model Craftsman (June, 1989, Dec., 1991, Nov., 1992) and Great Model Railroads (2002). 


Patrick's modelling on a friend's layout.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ever Wonder What Your Layout Would Be Like If It Came Alive?

What if they really could move?

Ever wonder what your layout would be like if it could come alive?

What it would be like if those little plastic people, and the cars and trucks, could actually move?

Click here to watch the first minute or so of this video--made as a sponsor reel for the Association of Independent Commercial Producers for their 2011 conference--and wonder no more!

(The rest of the video is OK, but not as interesting to model railroaders as the first 1:21.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Rapido Trains Locomotive Announced

Rapido Trains has announced its newest locomotives—the FP4A and the FP4B.

Only 34 FPA4 and 12 FPB4 units were ever built, and only for CN—it was the only customer. The units were transferred to VIA Rail in 1978 and retired in 1988-89. Numerous tourist lines, such as the Napa Valley Wine Train and the Grand Canyon Railway, have preserved these unique locomotives in service.
Rapido’s commitment to accuracy is legendary, but owner Jason Shron has taken it to a new level; the nose contour of this newest unit will be accurately rendered in model form through a 3D scanning process of a real FPA4 unit—#6765 at Exporail, Canada's national railway museum in Montreal, Quebec.

The units are expected to be avaialable in 2013. Click here for more information.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ontario & Eastern Update: The Ontario & Quebec

As noted in the previous post, the much-lauded Ontario & Eastern was sold or divided among former members when the group that built it disbanded. One former member who took a few sections home was Tony Van Klink, who incorporated former sections of the O & E into a home layout and a portable layout he takes to shows.

Below find a few photos of Tony's beautiful layout, photographed at the Brampton, Ont. Train Show in early October; I hope to have an article about it in a future issue of Canadian Railway Modeller.

Compare this to the same scene on the O & E.

Staging yard behind the layout.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Great Canadian Model Railroad: The Ontario & Eastern

Maple Leaf 2003 is remembered, unfortunately, as the SARS convention—the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Toronto caused the cancellation or curtailment of many conventions, including that year’s NMRA National Train Show. (Local modellers created their own very fine replacement.)
But that’s not all I remember of that convention; for me, an outstanding memory is seeing the Ontario & Eastern for the first, and only, time.

The layout was right across from the Canadian Railway Modeller display table, so I had lots of opportunities to watch it in action. And what a layout it was!
The HO scale Ontario & Eastern was pretty much the first sectional layout I had ever seen, and it left quite an impression on me.

By sectional, I mean it was unlike most modular layouts—layouts that can be put together in any configuration. The Ontario & Eastern, on the other hand, was designed to fit together only one way in order to preserve continuity of scenes.
But that wasn’t the only thing that impressed me. I was also struck by the level of detail.It really made you feel like you had gone back to Ontario in the 1950s.

Construction of the O & E started in 1987. The 16 by 20 portable layout built by a small group of friends to display typical southern Ontario scenes and railway operations from the 1949 to 1959 time period. The layout sections were individually owned by Rich Chrysler, Brian Dickey, Jim Ellis, John Mellow, John Spring and Tony Van Klink.

Their goal was to bring a high standard of modelling to a show layout—a goal they more than achieved.
Public showings of the layout started in 1990, with the last showing of the entire display taking place in February, 2005. The layout was featured in the February, 1998 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.

After the group disbanded, the sections went back home with their original owners or were sold. One former member, Tony Van Klink, incorporated some sections into a home layout, and also into a portable layout, called the Ontario & Quebec. He brings the portable layout to shows in southern Ontario; I was fortunate to find him displaying it at the Brampton Train Show in October.
Tony Van Klink with his O & Q.

The Ontario & Eastern is gone now, but I’m sure you’ll agree it was a Great Canadian Model Railroad. And now, for the first time, photos of it can be found on the Web.
Thanks to Brian Dickey for information about the layout, and to Godfrey Hall for some photos. Other photos (and layout plan) from RMC, or by me at the Brampton Train Show. Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Putting on those @#$%&$!! Kadee coupler springs

HO modellers know only too well the frustration that occurs when you have to try to replace a spring on a Kadee coupler.

Not only are those tiny little springs hard to put on--they sure can fly a long way when they spring off the coupler. And forget ever finding them. Impossible!

One way to avoid seeing them fly off into space during replacement is to use a trick I learned from my friend Ron Einerson. When he has to replace a spring, he first puts a dab of white glue on the pin on the shank of the coupler, then puts on the spring. He lets the glue harden, then slips the other end over the pin on the knuckle.

When that's done, he puts another dab of glue on the other end, and lets it set. Voila! No more lost or flying springs.

Of course, the trick is to only use a little bit of glue, and to be careful not to get any on the coupler itself.

Now excuse me while I see if I can find that missing spring . . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Holy Helices!

The CP Rail M & M Sub. has one helix. My brother-in-law's former layout, the Cougar River Subdivision, had two. There may be a layout or two out there with three. But ten?

That's what the Waterloo (Ont.) Region Model Railroad Club has on its layout--or will, when the layout is completed.

The seven-level layout (that's right--seven levels) is connected by a series of helices taking trains up and down the layout. It's an incredible sight.

The mushroom-style model railroad, which represents CP Rail in the Sudbury, Ontario area in the 1970s, is under construction in a 40 by 50 foot quonset hut in Maryhill, just outside Kitchener-Waterloo.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say club members aren't constructing a layout--they are building a building inside a building, and the building they are building just happens to support a model railroad.

I had a chance to visit the club again recently, and took a few photos of progress to date. Simply put, it's amazing!

You can get more information about the Club on its website, including layout diagrams and photos. There's also a link to the Club's Yahoo! forum and YouTube videos. Prepare to be amazed!

A finished scene on the layout.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good Times, And Sad, at the Annual Winnipeg Train Show

The annual Winnipeg Model Railroad Club train show was this weekend. As usual, it was a great time--a good mix of layouts, displays and sales tables. It's always fun to watch the kids watch the trains, and watch buyers get bargains. I even bought a couple things myself.

But mixed with the good times was some sadness. One local hobby shop had three tables of consignment items that belonged to someone who recently passed away. Like many, he collected lots of model railroad stuff for that layout he was going to build "someday." Unfortunately, that day never came.

Stuff intended for that "someday" layout.

Also on sale was a large amount of stuff belonging to a local modeller who, due to health reasons, needed to move into assisted living. He had to give up his layout. A friend and his son were selling his extensive collection. He came to the show for a short time, but left early--it was just too hard to watch his stuff be sold.

Other sellers had their own stories. One was moving from a house to an apartment, so his stuff had to go--that "someday" layout never happened. Others were thinning their collections; those locomotives and freight cars that once looked so cool now were just taking up space. Out they went!

Just another typical train show, in other words, repeated across Canada and the U.S. almost every weekend.