Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bob Fallowfield's CP Rail Galt Sub.: A Great Canadian Model Railroad

When Bob Fallowfield was a kid, he enjoyed nothing better than going down the CP Rail tracks in his hometown of Woodstock, Ont. to watch trains.

Bob isn’t a kid anymore (he’s 39), and he doesn’t live in Woodstock. But he can still relive those memories through his Great Canadian Model Railroad—the CP Rail Galt Sub.

On Bob’s layout, it is always October, 1980. He chose that date not only because of childhood memories, but also because that was a good time for CP Rail.

Traffic was high, and there was a mix of newer and older power—leased units from the U.S., different paint schemes and wooden and modern vans.

The Layout

Located in a 12 x 30 foot basement room, the layout is centred on the city of Woodstock and the CP Rail Galt Sub. line that runs between Toronto and the U.S. border at Windsor.

It also includes branchlines to St. Marys, St. Thomas and Tillsonburg/Port Burwell (represented by staging).

All track on the layout is handlaid, including the switches (using jigs from FasTracks). Mainline track is code 83; the rest is code 70 and 55.

Train lengths are 15-20 cars, and the locomotives a mix of Bowser, Kato, Overland, Atlas, and Proto.

Bob uses DCC from Digitrax to control the trains. The scenery base is extruded foam and plywood. Static grass and ground foam are used for ground cover. The structures are all sratchbuilt or kitbashed.

Signature structures on the layout include the Canada Cement LaFarge plant at Zorra and Highway 59 over the tracks and the Thames River at Woodstock.

The bridge is a special place for Bob.

“As a kid I took many trips to my dad's shop on evenings and weekends, which meant two trips over that bridge,” he says.

“Given my love of trains, Dad would often detour through the yard so I could take it all in.”


The idea behind the layout for Bob is to replicate the railfan experience. All photos of his layout are taken as if they were taken trackside. No drone shots allowed!

To operate the layout, Bob uses prototype CP Rail forms from 1980 to govern train movements and switching. Four operators can be kept busy during a session.

Operations are fed by two ten-track staging yards for east and westbound traffic beneath the layout.

There are also four staging tracks representing St. Marys, St. Thomas and Tillsonburg/Port Burwell, although part of the St. Thomas Sub. is modelled behind the backdrop along one side of the layout.

Trains begin their journeys in staging, climb to appear on the layout itself, and then disappear into staging again after travelling once around the room.

Many trains roar right on through Woodstock, but some stop to drop off cars for nearby Zorra and the branchlines to St. Thomas, St. Marys and Tillsonburg/Port Burwell. There is also switching to be done in Woodstock itself.

No Longer a Lone Wolf

What’s truly amazing, considering the quality and completion of the layout, is that Bob did it all by himself—in just five years.

For inspiration and information, he relied on magazines, websites and how-to books.

“I’m a sponger for information and enjoy research,” he says. “I'm also not afraid to dive in and botch it up and try again.”

Although he built the layout himself, now he is happy to share it with others, mostly through the Canadian Railway Modellers page on Facebook.

“Sharing photos of the layout is a way I can give back the hobby,” he says. “I’ve been a taker for a long time. Now it’s time to give something back. I really want to be a contributor . . . . I am more than willing to share my techniques, successes and failures.”

The Future

As for the future, Bob has more details to add, and he wants to finish the backdrop. That, and enjoy operating the layout, either alone or with friends.

That, and take more photos to share with others.

“I’m like a chef. I don’t want any other cooks in my kitchen,” he says of his modelling philosophy. “But once the food is ready, I am happy to share it with anyone.”


  1. the 'fall feel' to it all as well. Great modelling

  2. Thanks John for posting this. Bob's layout is truly inspirational.I hired on as a brakeman for CP in January 1980 so I can really relate to his work!

  3. Superb and inspiring...I like the remembering of times past...just Great!!!

  4. Gorgeous layout! Very life-like: Well done indeed!


  5. Great work on the layout (and the story). Inspirational!