Saturday, July 22, 2017

News from Bowser: Canadian GP38-2 and GP9u Chopnose Locomotives Planned

As Canadians, we aren’t used to Americans noticing us.

We’re like the nice people in the apartment upstairs who are quiet and never make a fuss—easy for the people downstairs to ignore.

So when Americans do take note of us, we are both proud but also little embarrassed by the attention. 

We’re Canadians, after all—saying “sorry” is our national pastime!

One place where Canada has been getting some attention from the U.S. recently is in the model railroad world.

In HO scale, American manufacturers Athearn, Atlas, Bowser and InterMountain have all been making Canadian prototypes.

It’s an embarrassment, alright; an embarrassment of riches.

Of the four, it is Bowser which has taken the deepest plunge into the Canadian market with its HO scale Canadian locomotives.

In 2015, I asked Bowser rep Scott Davis why that was. 

Back then, he said it was partly because the Canadian economy was doing much stronger than the U.S. economy at that time—so why not take advantage of it?

Things have evened out since then, and still Bowser is making Canadian models such as the C-630M, M636, RS3, SD40-2, SD40-2F (Red Barn), and the SD40.

And now Bowser is planning to make the CN and CP GP38-2 and GP9u chop nose. (Yes, you heard that correct!)

Bowser owner Lee English confirmed the GP38-2 and GP9u in an e-mail this past week.

Lee English of Bowser.

The CP version of the GP38-2 will be measured this month, he said; Bowser has already measured the CN version.

The unit will go to the designer by the end of the summer.

As for the GP9u, it was also measured recently. There is no date yet set for when it will go to the designer. Bowser also plans to make a slug.

As for release dates for the new models, “I hope it can go fast,” Lee says, but adds, as a joke, that he has to be careful not to go too fast or he might “run Canadian model railroaders out of money!”

Intrigued by all this emphasis on Canadian prototypes, I asked Lee what causes him to continue to make models for this market.

A main reason, he said, was the great support from Canadian model railroaders—both in offering advice and ideas during the design stage, but also in buying the products.

When designing a model, Lee sends out an e-mail to Canadian modellers for help.

“The response is great,” he says. “The guys that want to help have been great.  I cannot ask for more. The info flooded in.”

As for sales, “the SD40-2 has been a very good project,” he says, and it has led him to consider other Canadian models.

It also helps that he employs, or has employed, staff who like Canadian railways.

“Matt Herman worked for me and pushed to make the C630M,” he said. “He loves Canadian railroading and knew the differences between the Alco and MLW.”

As for the Canadian GP38-2, for that “you have to blame Rich Cox,” his store manager and researcher, he says. “He loves Canadian railroading, too.”

Rich's job is to research potential models that Bowser could make—models not being made by others. 

Knowing that a lot of Canadian model railroaders would likely want a 4-axle locomotive made the decision easier.

Plus, Lee says, “the GMD version has not been done.

I finished my questions by asking Lee what it he wished model railroaders knew about the life of a small model railroad manufacturer.

We need help,” he says. “The modelers need to know we do not know everything about every road name.They need to let us know what they know before the locos goes into final production.”

If they see a new announcement, “offer to provide info,” he says, adding they should be sure to provide photos or other documentation.

As for the future, Lee says “I will continue to make Canadian locomotives.”

Those of us who are Canadian, or who model Canadian railways, are glad he will.


  1. Great news John. Thank you for the news!

  2. Thanks Lee, and all the folks at Bowser. Your Canadian SD40's are going to break sales records.

  3. John, I intend to buy a few Bowser TTC PCCs but the ones I'd really blow the bank account on are the pre-WW2 PCC AIR-electric versions built from 1936-1945. Con-Cor has versions in Pittsburgh, Pacific Electric liveries but not to Bowser's level of quality. What do you say?