WRMRC at the Kitchener Train Show – Sunday 04 Nov 2018

The Waterloo Region Model Railway Club will have a display at the upcoming Kitchener Model Train Show being held on Sunday, November 4th, 2018.

The show will be at the Bingemans Conference Centre (Marshall Hall) located at 425 Bingemans Centre Drive, Kitchener ON from 10am to 3pm. More information can be found on the Ontario Train Show website, and on this Facebook page. The show features many vendors, displays, several operating layouts, and memorabilia.

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Our display features club photos, an electronic slide show, and hands-on demonstrations with members working on various modelling projects. There is also a side table with second-hand or surplus models and equipment for sale. If you are attending the show please stop by and pay us a visit.

Hope to see you there.

November Operating Session: Saturday Nov 10, 2018

Extra 8798 West

Extra 8798 West rolls through Sudbury Yard on the WRMRC’s CP Sudbury Division layout.

A reminder that the next regularly scheduled WRMRC operating session will be held on Saturday 10 Nov 2018, from 12:00 to 6:00PM.

If you are interested in attending the operating session as a guest, please contact us via our Facebook page so we know how many people to expect.

For a full list of upcoming club events, see the calendar page.

September Operating Session: Saturday Sept 8, 2018

Extra 8798 West

Extra 8798 West rolls through Sudbury Yard on the WRMRC’s CP Sudbury Division layout.

A reminder that the next regularly scheduled WRMRC operating session will be held on Saturday 8 September 2018, from 12:00 to 6:00PM.

If you are interested in attending the operating session as a guest, please contact us via our Facebook page so we know how many people to expect.

For a full list of upcoming club events, see the calendar page.

Rescuing Old Kits

A while back I wrote a blog post on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum about resurrecting old rolling stock kits developed in the ‘80s, back when the hobby finally began to move past the ‘blue-box’ era. Over the course of that decade, companies like Robin’s Rails, McKean, C&BT, Front Range and Innovative Model Works had sprung up to challenge Athearn and MDC. This was a big leap forward for HO modellers; as these kits were based on specific prototypes, were well researched, and offered a core model with all details applied separately.

Since those times we’ve moved into a model railway world of ready-to-run (RTR) pre-assembled models of exquisite quality. New manufacturers like Tangent, ExactRail, Scale Trains and Moloco (just to name a few) now offer 1:87 rolling stock replicas that truly are museum-quality models. However for those who crave the days when we used to build our models, and paid less than $10 for a freight car in the process, there is something to be said for resurrecting these old kits.

My latest example is this old McKean 40ft PS-1 boxcar painted for the Louisville & Nashville RR.

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A good friend and fellow WRMC member had this kit for sale amongst a pile of surplus model train stuff at a previous Kitchener Train Show. It went through two shows without anyone showing interest. What struck me was its 1960s paint scheme, a relative minority in a model railroad world where the popularity of the ‘40s-‘50s transition era dominates how manufacturers paint their products. However it was dismissed at the time due to it being a southeastern US boxcar, which I assumed would be a rare traffic event over the CP Sudbury Division in the 1970s.

My thoughts changed recently in my continuing efforts to update the club’s traffic/waybill system. It turns out the southeast US offers northern Ontario a lot more than just orange juice and kaolin. Using the OPSIG Industry Database I’ve found a long list of products that one could see routed through the Sudbury Division which are mainly supplied by the southern states. Cotton, rice, peanuts, casting sand and even mining equipment are just a few of the commodities that were uncovered over a couple of hours of research and coffee consumption. So it turns out the WRMRC had been neglecting a traffic source, and  this L&N boxcar was resurrected from the flea market table.

This photo shows it fresh from the ‘grunge factory’ (a.k.a. – the spray booth) after all paint, extra decals and final weathering had been applied; along with one of the prototype photos used to aid in its kitbashing.

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As described in the MRH blog, you pretty much have to throw away all the kit-supplied detail parts. I used better ones which are stuffed away in my surplus parts boxes. The underbody was completely gutted, and replaced with Intermountain underbody details – yes, they sell their detail parts separately. The brake detail on the ‘B’ end was fabricated from brass wire, a brake wheel and housing I had lying around, a bit of photo-etched roofwalk material, and a couple of staples I re-bent to hold the brake platform. Likewise I used staples as stirrups to replace the crude ones supplied by McKean.

It should also be noted I used the internet to research these cars, in order to find as many prototype photos as possible. Turns out the L&N 11xxx-12xxx series cars were 1960s rebuilds, with DF loaders, moveable bulkheads and other features added for specified commodities. However with more modern 50-foot cars being purchased, I’m certain that by the 1970s these cars were already relegated back to general service by the L&N.

Though it took a few evenings worth of kit-bashing and research, these efforts are what make the hobby rewarding for me. As the price of RTR models continue to climb, I hope more modellers come to discover these old kits from the ‘80s. There is real value to be found here, and you don’t need to dig too deep to uncover them at any train show.

 

The Saga of the Bellequip Geeps

Part 2 of That ’70s Rent-a-Wreck Fleet

The story begins in the early 1950s, as Iron Ore of Canada was nearing completion of their Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway between Sept-Iles and Schefferville QC. This was a massive project, with a mainline consisting of two full operating subdivisions running a total length of 357 miles (over 200 of which were inside Labrador), and all of it located in the harsh and desolate landscape of Labrador and the Quebec north shore. The railway was completely isolated from the North American rail network, requiring all their locomotives and rolling stock to be shipped by lake freighters down the St. Lawrence River to Sept-Iles QC. The QNS&L locomotive roster began with a fleet of GMD-London built ‘Geeps’, specifically 24 model GP7 units (road numbers 100 to 123), and 54 model GP9 locos (road numbers 124 to 177), all delivered between 1953 and 1960.

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Bellequip #118 (ex-QNSL GMD GP7 – blt 1953) sporting neatly patched CP Rail-style Helvetica bold/italic font at Smiths Fall ON on 20 Oct 1971. Bruce Chapman photo.

On an interesting side-note, the paint scheme the QNS&L selected their new diesels to wear came straight from the EMD styling design scrapbook. While that in itself is not unusual (several railroads chose GM designed schemes) they selected the same one chosen by the New York, Ontario & Western RR over a decade earlier. For anyone unfamiliar with the NYO&W, they operated through the Catskill mountains of New York state while avoiding any sizable towns along the way; and thus unsurprisingly became bankrupt during the 1930s, and fully liquidated by 1957. The ‘O&W’ dieselized early hoping the cost savings could help their railroad, and as a result they never rostered anything newer than their final 1948 purchase of a couple of F3A/B sets. So for any NYO&W fans who might be reading this, if you ever wondered what an ‘O&W’ Geep would look like, you should check out old photos of QNS&L GP7/9s.

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PNC 177 (ex-Bellequip, nee-QNSL 177) was the last GP9 received by the Quebec North Shore & Labrador Rly in May 1960. It is seen here by the Medicine Hat AB roundhouse along with CP GP7 8421 on 18 May 1974. Bruce Chapman photo.

Actually the QNS&L was not the only Canadian railway to select a GM pre-designed diesel scheme worn by a US railroad. The Algoma Central selected the Delaware Lackawanna & Western (Lackawanna Road) passenger scheme for their locomotive fleet. But unlike the ACR who kept their Lackawanna colours until the end, the QNS&L dropped their attractive NYO&W colours for a bland dip gray with yellow end-stripes scheme in the mid ‘60s.

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PNC GP7 #108 (ex-Bellequip, nee-QNSL 108) is an example of the QNS&L’s 1960s repaint dip-gray scheme. CP Rail’s patching efforts on these was never pretty. Unit is seen at Alyth yard (Calgary AB) on 12 May 1973. Bruce Chapman photo

The Quebec, North Shore & Labrador is hard on its locomotives. After all they are an isolated railway that operates heavy ore trains over rugged terrain through extreme weather conditions. So the QNSL Geep-fleet started to be retired early, once the company began purchasing large numbers of SD40/SD40-2 locomotives to replace them.

Initially the QNS&L sold 17 GP7 units and 14 GP9 units to Canadian Bellequip Ltd of Montreal in September 1971. If you had never heard of Bellequip, you are not alone. They were a short-lived Canadian locomotive leasing company who only lasted between 1971-72. The rumour back then among CP employees was that Bellequip was started by some CP directors to see if leasing locomotives made money, but this was never confirmed.

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PNC 118 with more hastily patched lettering (see photo of Belllequip 118 above) is seen here stored at Alyth yard (Calgary AB) on 09 Sept 1975. Photographer unknown

All ex-QNSL Geeps were loaded onto lake freighters for their one-way trip to Montreal, and of these most were immediately leased to the perennially powershort CPR. Once they arrived on CP property they were all cycled through St Luc shops, where their QNS&L markings were removed and replaced with ‘Bellequip’ lettering and road numbers in a black Helvetica bold/italic lettering font, the same used by then new CP Rail. While the dip gray ‘60s repaints did not look so great with the patched Bellequip lettering, the units still wearing the original NYO&W-inspired scheme seemed to be treated better, as most were carefully patched to mesh with their original paint jobs.

On February 29, 1972, established US locomotive dealer Precision National Corp purchased the entire fledgling Bellequip locomotive fleet, and these Geeps changed hands yet again. As before they were cycled through the CPR’s shops, but this time more brutally patched with new PNC lettering. In June 1972 a further 3 GP7’s and 17 GP9’s were sold to PNC with some leased to CP and 15 to CN. Eventually the 15 units leased to CN also wound up on CP Rail by November of 1972.

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PNC 122 at Squamish BC on 26 April 1975. The 122 was one of a few ex-QNSLs be leased short-term by the British Columbia Rly in 1975. Photographer unknown

For the record, the 24 original Bellequip units on CP Rail (as of 01Nov71) were ex-QNSL – BQ (Bellequip) #’s:- 100 104 108 110 111 112 113 114 118 121 122 123 124 126 127 130 135 142 148 150 152 158 162 166.

By January 1973, when the CN leased units were added to the now PNC (ex-BQ) fleet, the 36 ex-QNSL units on CP Rail were #’s:- 100 104 108 110 111 112 113 114 116 118 120 121 122 123 124 126 127 130 132 135 137 138 142 143 144 145 148 150 152 158 162 164 166 170 171 177.

There is some discrepancy to whether QNSL GP7 #117 was ever within the PNC fleet. Bruce Chapman records it was leased in June 1974 (from his personal records when working for CP’s power bureau at the time) but this was never listed in a published all-time list in Extra2200South. This also would incorrectly put 46 PNC geeps on lease to CP Rail between 1973-74 when records only show 45. It is possible that the 117 was planned to be part of the fleet, but ended up becoming a parts source instead.

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PNC GP10 #3419, a full Paducah Geep rebuild by Illinois Central Gulf for Precision National, rests in the back tracks at Smiths Falls ON on 04 March 1972 – Bruce Chapman photo

PNC’s other non-QNSL leased units on the property were GP7s 969, 970 and 971 (ex-Detroit, Toledo & Ironton), GP7s 1505, 1506 & 1507 (ex-Florida East Coast) along with GP10s 3419, 3445 and 3634. These final three were ICG Paducah-shops rebuild units that were refurbished specifically for Precision National, and they wore the full PNC green/yellow paint scheme.

Following the QNS&L’s lead, by 1975 the CPR had purchased over 200 new SD40-2 locomotives from GMD of London. With all these new units, an economical slowdown, and decreased grain shipments to the USSR and China; they began to return all their leased units. CP Rail also retired a large number of older units over 1975, including the entire fleet of CLC and Baldwin built units, in addition to storing all MLW FA- and FB- locos, and a good number of RS-3 and -10 diesels.

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Chicago & North Western #4352 at Oelwein IA in 1976. Unit was ex-PNC, exx-BQ, nee-QNSL 145 (GMD GP9 blt 1955). Jim Sands photo

By April 1975 all the PNC units went off-lease and were either stored at St Luc or Alyth yards, or returned to Precision National. Several of the tied-up ex-QNSL units went on a short-term lease on the British Columbia Railway for a few months in 1975. After they all returned from lease, PNC sold most of these units to the C&NW and ICG. Many of these units went on to various regional and shortline railroads in the US through the 1990s and 2000s. In fact there are still a handful of ICG-rebuilt GP10s of QNS&L heritage still active as industrial switchers. So the saga of the Bellequip Geeps has yet to finish completely.

Junk Night – Nuit de Junque

This past Saturday, the WRMRC marked an annual tradition that dates back to times before the formal creation of the club. Our infamous ‘Junk Night’ operating session.

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Engineer R.Bosma carefully backs a cut of Toronto-bound cars into the interchange track at Romford ON. Locos for this Junk Night edition of the North Bay Turn are a CN GMD-1 / SD40-2W motive power duo.

It is much better described as a non ’70s CP session, where our usual Sudbury Division trains are powered by whatever locomotives our members wish to showcase. Railway, era, prototype or totally fictional; for one day none of that matters.

Many have asked us how we came up with the name. After all, none of the motive power is ‘junk.’ All are high-quality models.

Well, there is a bit of history to it.

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A fictional MR&T widecab GE Dash-8 leads two Conrail GP40s on a Junk Night edition of CP train 921 near Sprecher ON.

Like many model train clubs, the WRMRC was born from a private home layout. That owner (and founding president) had a large pike depicting the CP MacTier Subdivision, forged from his memories of cottage country in the 1960s. As the MacTier Sub motive power fleet was being improved, earlier locomotives purchased to get the layout up-and-running had been retired. These were mostly old ’70s-era models, mainly Athearn ‘blue box’ and Atlas ‘yellow box’ locos painted for various US railroads. So in the middle of a regular CP MacTier Sub operating session, he once quipped that we should hold a session where we break out all this “old junk power.” And from that our junk night sessions were born.

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WRMRC member S. Lyons brought out his lovingly rebuilt brass model of CN J-4-e #5126 (4-6-2 MLW-built ‘Pacific’) to fill the duties of the Sudbury east yard switcher. Models like this are what cause some to question our ‘Junk Night’ moniker. Now you know the full story.

It should also be noted these sessions had been held on Saturday evenings in the past. This explains the ‘night’ part in Junk Night, as we’ve switched to afternoon-held operating sessions for a number of years now. Finally, the traditional day for Junk Night was always the operating session that fell closest to April Fools Day. With the WRMRC eliminating April sessions in recent years, this now applies to our May operating date.

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No, this train did not take a wrong turn at St Thomas. Baltimore & Ohio power finds its way to Sudbury on this Junk Night operating session.

Junk Night has always been a big hit at the WRMRC. It often morphs into a show-and-tell session, with members often displaying their models in various stages of completion, sometimes even in different scales. So if you ever visit the layout for our May operating session, don’t be surprised if you spot an Erie Lackawanna SDP45 leading one of our trains. It’s not leased power, and it’s not a detour; it’s ‘Junk Night.’

Doubleheaders Layout Tour – Saturday 24 March 2018

This coming Saturday March 24, 2018, the WRMRC layout will be open to the public as part of the annual Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph area model railway layout tour organized by the Doubleheaders Model Railway Club .100_2860

This is a self-guided tour of a large number of club and private home layouts in the area. For more tour information on some of the other layouts that will be open, and where to get tickets and layout information packages to start the tour, please visit the Doubleheaders Model Railway Club web site.

Please note: the WRMRC layout will be open from 9 am to 5 pm only.

 

Old Soldiers

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CP # 8448 leads the Espanola Turn through Nairn Ont. in the summer of 1973. In reality; this is a Van Hobbies brass model rebuilt with a Kato RS-3 drive. It is equipped with an ESU LokSound decoder with a 12-cylinder 244 diesel sound file.

Years after most other major North American railways purged their rosters of 244-powered ALCO diesels, CP Rail continued to employ a good-sized fleet of them throughout the ‘70s. Mainly due to chronic motive power shortages, and maybe a little by their corporate desire to milk locomotives for every mile they could to ensure their return on investment; the CPR would continue to operate 244-powered units until 1982.

In this light we find a pair of old soldiers in charge of the Espanola Turn on the CP Webbwood Sub, continuing to battle friction and gravity in defiance of the scrapper’s torch.

CP #8448, built by MLW in 1954, is noteworthy for being the second-last RS-3 to wear maroon and gray paint. She would eventually receive a new coat of Action Red in 1975, only to be retired the following year due to a major mechanical failure.

RS-10 #8464 fared a little better. Rolling out of MLW later the same year as sister #8448, she would persevere to the end of the decade. It should be noted that regardless of the differences in exterior appearance, the RS-10 is mechanically the same as an RS-3.

The model 244-diesel prime mover may have been plagued with reliability issues and earned a notorious reputation as a maintenance hog, but they endure at the time-warp known at the WRMRC – CP Sudbury Division layout. Here the 1970s never ended, and the burbling sounds of 244 diesels continue to echo throughout the Sudbury Basin.