WRMRC at Kitchener Train Show – Sunday 28 November 2021

As Ontario opens up again, we are excited to announce that the Waterloo Region Model Railway Club will have a display at the Kitchener Model Train Show being held Sunday, November 28th, 2021.

The show will be at the Bingemans Conference Centre (Marshall Hall) located at 425 Bingemans Centre Drive, Kitchener ON from 9:30am to 3pm. Please note that COVID-19 health restrictions are in effect, with masks and vaccine certificates being mandated by the province of Ontario. More information can be found on the collectorshows.ca website, and on the Kitchener Train Show Facebook page.

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The show features many vendors, displays, several operating layouts, and railway memorabilia. 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.

2021 Open House Cancelled

Due to Ontario being stuck in phase-3 of COVID reopening, it is with reluctance that the WRMRC executive has decided to cancel our 2021 Fall Open House which was scheduled for October 16th this year.

We had been procrastinating and hoping for better news from the province, but with the occupancy conditions currently in place our club could not reasonably hold a public event.

Phase-3 conditions require us to cap the capacity within our Quonset hut to 25 people, which would have to include the ten or so members volunteering to guide visitors and operate trains. Despite any limit our aisle-ways would prevent proper social distancing, and that cap would obviously cause line-ups before entry. There was also the matter of Ontario’s new vaccine passport system, something we would need to enforce and that none of us wish to police.

In closing, our club recommends you protect yourself and others by following the medical advice of your doctor, and to be vaccinated if you are able to. It is the only way forward for society to return to normal, and for train shows to happen again.

We are hopeful this will all be resolved by the end of March for our club to participate again in the 2022 Doubleheaders Layout Tour, and of course we fully expect to hold our Fall Open House again next October.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Kitbash Free Or Die

or: How to Salvage a McKean PS-1 Kit and Create a Cool New England Boxcar

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NSRC 481, a typical North Stratford Rail Corp 40ft PS-1 boxcar, was photographed rolling through Pomona, California on 07 June 1982. – Tim Brooks photo (courtesy canadianfreightcargallery.ca)

This latest project originated from an evening bout of model train show withdrawal symptoms, as the lack of flea markets and swap meets during the pandemic restrictions caused me to review my boxes of surplus models. There I re-discovered all the old McKean and Front Range rolling stock kits that I’ve been offering for sale over several years worth of Kitchener Train Shows.

NSRC_logo1Looking over these kits my mind began to meander and imagineer various modelling possibilities, somehow wandering back to the late 1980s where I recalled seeing North Stratford RR boxcars rolling though southern Ontario. They were curiosities back then, not only because they were probably the last 40-foot boxcars still in interchange service, but from their bold logo and distinctive ‘Live Free or Die’ slogans (the state motto of New Hampshire). But then I remembered the kitbashing involved to get these kits up to modern modelling standards, and reasoned there must be some manufacturer out there that produced a good ready-to-run North Stratford RR boxcar.

Well a quick internet search found there were none, but there were decals available for the project. That caused more research on the real North Stratford Railroad, and whether the WRMRC’s CP Sudbury Division layout could see any of their boxcars. The short answer was yes, which caused me to pull an 8-foot door undec McKean kit from the surplus box, followed by an online decal purchase. The kitbash was on.

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Left-hand (tall-ladder side) view of the kitbashed McKean model, ready for primer. You pretty much have to toss all the manufacturer-supplied details when bashing these old 1980s kits.

A brief history of the North Stratford Railroad can be found on their Wikipedia entry, and a Google search will provide you with plenty of information if you wish to learn more. From this research, for the purposes of club operating sessions, it was plausible that NSRC boxcars could be hauling furniture from the former Ethan Allen furniture factory in Beecher Falls VT to the greater Chicago area over the CP Sudbury Division. CP trains 911/912 captured a lot of New England – Chicago bridge traffic through the 1970s, as shippers used whatever means possible to avoid the lengthy transit times caused by the Penn Central merger mess.

I’ve written before about my old kit salvage jobs, specifically here and here. Basically my goal is not to create a contest model, but to make a reasonable representation utilizing the many boxes of spare parts I’ve accumulated over the years. The challenge is to create a boxcar that will not melt if coupled between a Kadee and Tangent model, and not to spend any extra money aside from decals and maybe paint.

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Right-hand (shortened-ladder side) view of the model. The various detail parts used came from the author’s spare parts collection. Roof-walk and ladder supports were fabricated from styrene.

Before you copy my work, please note there was a mistake made because I began kitbashing the car before thoroughly researching the prototype. Bashing enough of their kits over the years, I habitually began by adding the roof walk supports that McKean inadvertently missed on their model. This was done using .060” styrene angle, chopped to the appropriate length, and glued on the roof rib peaks. After doing this I came across a good roof-view photo of an NSRC boxcar, and discovered the roof had been completely rebuilt with no roof-walk supports. It turns out their entire fleet of 100 reconditioned 40-foot boxcars had rebuilt roofs. So I actually went out of my way to goof this boxcar up. Oh well, good thing this isn’t a contest model.

As for the other details utilized, most came from my collection of left-over parts from old Intermountain, Branchline and Proto-2000 models purchased over the years. The ladders, grab irons, and tack boards were all surplus left-overs from those kits. The 8-foot Superior doors were excess parts from a Sylvan Scale Models double-door boxcar kit. I never throw any good spare detail parts away. Additionally there were some wire 18” drop grab irons on the car ends, and a a wire corner-grab on the roof utilized also. I often re-bend staples to create new metal stirrups on my kitbash projects, but went the easy route and used A Line Products stirrups on this one.

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‘B’-end view. The McKean brake housing was salvaged, but with a Kadee brake wheel and metal wire used for the brake and air lines. A couple of re-bent staples support a Details Associates photo-etched brake platform. That jade green tack-board must have come from an old NYC kit.

They might have been good for their time, but the underbody on these McKean kits needs a lot of work too. First I body-mount scale #158 Kadee couplers in their own boxes (nothing works better than a Kadee in it’s own box), which requires you to remove the molded-on McKean coupler housings. Doing so will expose a square hole which needs to be filled with styrene. After that’s plugged you can drill and tap a #2-56 screw to mount the replacement Kadee coupler boxes.

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Underbody view. Most of the original details were cut away, and a new Accurail 1-piece underframe brake rod set was installed. Kadee #158 scale couplers were also added.

Though the underframe brake rods look complicated, they are actually very easy to add. The hard work was cutting away most of the old McKean details in order to add them. Once that was all done and cleaned, I installed an Accurail one-piece underframe brake rod set which gives your model the appearance of having a super-detailed underbody with minimal effort. To finish, I installed a set of 50-ton roller bearing trucks equipped with Intermountain 33” wheels. All the NSRC 40-foot PS-1 boxcars rode on these style trucks.

In order to blend together all the different coloured detail parts before paining, the model was first primed with light grey Tamiya Fine Surface Primer.  Yes, right from a rattle can, and you get a wonderful finish. I then looked for whatever green the WRMRC paint collection had that best matched these NSRC boxcars. Photos show a dark green / bluish colour when new, fading to a lighter, truer green as they aged. Needing to replicate a nearly new car I chose PolyScale F414188 CNW Green, unfortunately now long out of production. If you need help, I’m certain the CNW modellers know of a good replacement paint match. I then sprayed Tamiya clear gloss coat, as PolyScale paint is flat and a gloss finish helps with decal adherence.

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In progress photo of the decal application. K4 Decals go on well, but you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions beforehand, and apply on a glossy finish to maximize adherence.

As noted earlier, an online search turned up the appropriate NSRC decals from K4 Decals. They are well-printed, good quality decals, fairly easy to work with, and yield excellent results as you can see from the photos. K4 were a new supplier for me, but I’ll definitely buy again from them when the need arises.

However there were some minor miscellaneous odds and ends I needed to add that were not supplied by the K4 sheet. Specifically the near-microscopic bank trust stencil lettering found on the top left of the car, along with the tiny ‘Retaining Valve’ and ‘Defect Card Holder’ stencils along the bottom side-sill of the boxcar. For that I used some Microscale decals I had in my collection to replicate those. For the bank trust lettering I used some N-scale tank car decals I purchased specifically for cases like this. If anyone is able to read them directly off my model with the unaided eye, I’ll buy you a coffee.

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Completed model. Some light weathering was added, mainly road grime around the underbody, and some grunge coming from the roof eaves. A clear flat finish was then sprayed to protect it.

I probably over-weathered this model considering it should still be shiny after it’s rebuilding in 1979, but it just didn’t look right mixed with all the other really grunged-up rolling stock on the club layout. So I airbrushed a light coat of grime along the underbody, and added some dark grungy weathering powder along the roof eaves along with some running down from the door guides. A clear flat coat was then applied to protect the weathering. Combined with the original base gloss finish the model still has a bit of a shine to it, so I’m happy with the over-all result.

In closing, I just wish to reiterate that this kit was up for sale for $5 at the WRMRC table over several Kitchener Train Shows, along with a lot of other surplus ‘fleas.’ For all the complaints on model train forums about the high cost of our hobby, here is proof that if you have the time and are low on cash, you can create quality models while on a budget. You also get the added satisfaction of owning something unique. Personally, I get a kick out of re-creating something I’ve seen in the past, and the research and efforts towards that goal are what make the hobby rewarding. I hope this story inspires others to dig around in future train shows, and look beyond the latest ready-to-run models.

2021 Virtual Tour Video

We are pleased to present another new video for your enjoyment, this time featuring a tour over the current operating portions of the CP Sudbury Division layout.

This video was originally created as our club’s submission for the 2021 Doubleheaders Virtual Layout Tour. Though the event was a great success, the nature of Zoom Meetings prevented the greater masses from being able to view our presentation. There was also the inconvenience of it only running once, and at a fixed time slot.

So we’ve decided to add our video presentation to the club’s YouTube channel for everyone’s entertainment, for anyone to view, pause and repeat at will.

All of us at the WRMRC are looking forward to the near future, where we can meet together again at real club open houses. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for October 16th. In the meantime, we hope this video will suffice.

 

Virtual Doubleheaders Tour 2021

COVID-19 scuttled the 2020 Doubleheaders Layout Tour, but not this year!

This Saturday March 27, 2021, the Doubleheaders will be hosting a free, online Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph model railway tour, featuring a number of great home and club layouts from the area.

The WRMRC CP Sudbury Division Modellers will be participating, with a 25 minute presentation touring the operating portions of our layout, and a live question-and-answer session afterwards.

The virtual tour is being held over the Zoom platform, and interested parties must register in advance for information, schedules and Zoom meeting links.

To register, please contact the Doubleheaders via their website.

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Switching ‘The Canadian’ Video Posted

Our club has been rather neglectful in video creation lately, due in no small part to COVID restrictions keeping us from hosting operating sessions and filming the events. However we’ve cleaned the cobwebs and dusted out our YouTube channel, and are pleased to announce a new video.

This explains how a typical 12-car consist of CP train #2 ‘The Canadian’ was switched out at Sudbury into Toronto (CP train #12) and Montreal (continuing as CP #2) sections, and goes through the shunting step-by-step.

Our club goes through this process each operating session, and the reverse process as well (combining Montreal and Toronto sections into one) at the close of the session. It takes up one scale hour (15 minutes real time) to complete, requires four operators to perform all the moves, and completely shuts down the yard while in progress. Needless to say, it’s a pain in the backside for whoever is performing the Sudbury Yardmaster’s roll that op session, but it’s also an operational highlight of the layout.

As the vaccine roll-out continues, we are hopeful that full club operating sessions can be held again later this year, and you may be able to witness switching ‘The Canadian’ in person again.

 

How Do We Do It? Volume.

There is a current trend among prototype railway modellers to build smaller more sustainable layouts. It was once an ideal to construct very large pikes geared towards operations, where you and a good number of fellow hobbyists would operate together. The problem was that layouts of such size rarely ever are completed within one’s lifetime. So modellers have been pursuing smaller layouts designed to be more faithful to the prototype, operated by a small number of friends, and which can be ‘finished’ within a realistic time-frame. This is a positive movement in the hobby, and a roll-call of some of the layouts featured within the Prototype Modelling Layout Links and Blogs section in the ‘Links’ page of this website shows this to be true.

But on the other end of the sustainable layout spectrum, you’ll find the WRMRC CP Sudbury Division layout. After over 20 years of our membership constructing an entire division of the Canadian Pacific Railway, we can report that this is not something any individual modeller should attempt. There is a lot of time, effort, research, and of course money, that is required to build a layout of this scope.

Volume 5 Rapido FAs

Fresh from some basic decoder programming, a bulk purchase of Rapido CP FA-2, FPA-2 and FB-2 locomotives are gathered together for their official company photographs on the WRMRC layout.

This topic came up at a recent Wednesday work night, when a bit of a WRMRC tradition was being observed. Our latest locomotives from a bulk purchase were belatedly gathered together for their group ‘official company photographs’. In this case it was a dozen Rapido MLW FA-2, FPA-2 and FB-2 locomotives, some of which had to be searched for as they were already in service. With the anticipation of club operating sessions being held again in the future, it was best to gather them all together for their official portraits now before the CP Motive Power Bureau scatters them to the four corners of the layout.

Volume 1 Hoppers

Three dozen 4550 CuFt Hawker-Siddeley cylindrical hoppers decorated for Canada Wheat Board (CPWX) and Saskatchewan Potash received from the  North American Car Corporation.

This brought up a discussion later among the membership present about layout size, sustainability and how fortunate we are in the WRMRC where we all get along so well. The obvious advantage of any train club is to be able to finance and construct a layout larger than any individual could. Unless you are independently wealthy, who can afford to buy 10 DCC sound-equipped locomotives in one shot? But there is much more than pooling our time and resources. From its founding the WRMRC set clear goals for modelling the CP Sudbury Division, and from this came not just a combination of talent and resources, but also friendships and an overall camaraderie have developed.

CP vans on WRMRC

After a delivery of 12 Rapido CP Angus wide-vision vans was received, a group photo of our entire cabooses fleet was taken. These include CP wood-sheathed vans from True Line Trains, some Overland brass cabooses, and a few craftsman resin models built from Sylvan kits.

Volume 2 Canadian

Two full sets of ‘The Canadian’ trainsets from Rapido Trains. This delivery made the longstanding WRMRC dream of operating the CPR’s transcontinental passenger flagships come true.

That said, when we do pool our resources together it really is something. One of our members suggested we show some of these bulk equipment pictures. This makes for a bit of a ‘shock and awe’ photo collection, but these are some of the pics taken over the years.

Volume 3 Paper Cars

Two Ontario Northland cars are dwarfed by 15 CP Rail models in a bulk purchase of NSC PD Boxcars from the Atlas Model Railroad Company.

Volume 4 Big Alcos

A delivery of ten MLW model M-636 locomotives from Bowser Trains.

That old advertising line ‘How Do We Do It?’ may be passé, but in regards to large club layouts, it is true.

Sudbury Icehouse

Another WRMRC landmark structure has been completed recently, this time it’s the large icehouse that once stood along the backtracks of the east-end in Sudbury Yard.

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The newly completed Sudbury icehouse, being set into position on the WRMRC layout.

We have not been able to pinpoint when the icehouse was first erected, but photos show it already standing by the 1920s. It was decommissioned sometime in the mid-1960s after the CPR discontinued “The Dominion”, and the need to ice any heavyweight coaches had ended. However the structure managed to survive until late October of 1974 when it was unceremoniously razed by CPR bulldozers.

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The Sudbury icehouse, as it appeared in the early 1970s.

This project was seven years in the making, and the first structure (kitbash or scratch-built) ever attempted by our club’s treasurer, Phil. He agreed to tackle the icehouse under the tutelage of our late president (and experienced model builder) Chris Bennett. Armed with official drawings of the CPR standard icehouse provided by the Canadian Pacific Historical Association, Phil and Chris began working out the basic structure out of sheet polystyrene. Chris’ untimely passing resulted in this project being mothballed for years. But Phil began to work on it again recently with fellow member Julius (who constructed the Car Shops building and Doran’s Brewery).

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CP RS-18 #8799 and assigned S-2 switcher #7090 share time alongside the icehouse on the morning of 08 July 1970. We can now recreate this scene on the WRMRC Sudbury Division layout.

We believe that this should be classed as an excellent job by a veteran structure builder, let alone someone’s first attempt at scratchbuilding.

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The icehouse, looking towards the southeast.

Due to the building only surviving the first half of the 1970s, the plan is to make this a removable structure. When operating sessions set in the later ’70s are held, just a foundation will be visible here.

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Sudbury icehouse, looking west towards the Elm St crossing and CP Express sheds.

As per Phil’s suggestion, our Sudbury Icehouse will be dedicated in fond memory of Chris Bennett. The WRMRC hopes this story inspires some armchair modellers out there to move over to a workbench and start working on an outstanding project.

When a Plan Comes Together

It has taken a long time to collect all the information we have about CP operations over the Sudbury Division. Most of it has been acquired through dedicated research, photo studies, and conversations with former employees. Even though the WRMRC has been at this for, literally, decades now. there will always be new things to learn. Research and education are lifelong pursuits after all.

A case in point; within our photo archives we have discovered three separate instances of CB&Q 2-bay Center-Flow hoppers travelling over the Sudbury Division. As the WRMRC’s chief operations guru, I’ve developed some plausible waybill information for mid-western US covered hoppers to run over our layout (note – we will be publishing a series of club operations posts in the future). However, finding out the prototype shipping information for why these specific CB&Q railcars were showing up in Sudbury would be our desired goal.

Despite the hardships one should normally expect with prototype research, sometimes good stuff just falls into your hands when you’re not even looking. Recently, Mike Confalone‎ posted a model photo on his Allagash RR Facebook page of Minnesota Dakota & Western (MD&W) boxcars being loaded on his layout. He had seen these being used in Maine in real-life back in the 1980s, and had always wanted models of them for his own layout. The problem was that despite these FMC-built combo-door boxcars being available in HO-scale for years now, they were never offered in this particular ’80s re-paint scheme. So he painted and decalled his own.

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Mike Confalone’s MD&W boxcars on his Allagash RR layout.

Mr. Confalone is an incredibly skilled modeller, as you can see, so it is no surprise his efforts would be top notch. The surprise for us was; why the heck are Minnesota Dakota and Western boxcars being used to load paper in Maine? The answer is forestry giant Boise Cascade (parent company of the tiny MD&W RR) owned a paper mill in Rumford ME. Apparently some of these boxcars even had “Return to Rumford ME” stencilling applied to them.

This one model photo along with the real-world information about Boise Cascade’s Maine paper production helped to resolve a number of CP Sudbury Division puzzles, ones we didn’t quite remember even existed. This explained occurrences of Boise Cascade MDW boxcars on prototype photos of CP train 911, a manifest freight that had rolled daily through Sudbury ON. This train operated from St Luc Yard in Montreal to Sault Ste Marie ON; then continued via CP’s US-affiliate SOO Line to their Schiller Park IL Yard within the greater Chicagoland area. CP #911 carried a lot of New England paper traffic bound for Chicago during our 1970s modelling era, as many shippers were avoiding the transit-time mess created by the Penn Central merger. Service was so good in fact that CP Rail continued to ship a decent amount of New England rail traffic well into the 1980s.

4232 leads train at Sault Ste Marie 09 05 1981

MLW C-424 #4232 leads train 911 at Sault Ste Marie ON on 05 Sept. 1981. Note the four MD&W boxcars behind the CP steel-coil service gondola trailing 911’s locomotives.

Our original assumption was that these MD&W boxcars were lumber empties being returned to the US mid-west, with no idea of their true origins. The truth was they were hauling newsprint bound for the Chicago area, and for all intents and purposes are as New Englandy as any paper-service boxcars painted for the Maine Central or Bangor & Aroostock.

Topping this off, one of our club members had purchased two recently released Athearn HO-scale models of FMC-built combo-door boxcars painted in the 1970s as-delivered MD&W white scheme to operate on the WRMRC layout. Being uninformed at the time, they were placed within our “Pool 733 – US mid-western misc boxcars” category (more information about our pools when we publish operations articles) and tried to stretch excuses for why some lumber might be rolling through Sudbury from International Falls MN (where the actual MD&W RR is located). Knowing the real story about why these boxcars were rolling though Sudbury, they have since been re-classed into our New England newsprint service boxcar pool. In fact our layout could now use a few more models.

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Produced by Athearn, MD&W 10009 wears the as-delivered 1970s white Boise Cascade corporate scheme. This car is now in New England paper-service on the WRMRC layout.

This information comes at a great time, as the Coronavirus break from operating sessions has given our club a chance to update and fix a number of older waybill shipping inaccuracies. But this MD&W boxcar mystery has to be one of the easiest puzzles we’ve had solved. When something just falls together like this, one is reminded of that old catch-phrase that Lt Col Hannibal Smith used to say on the old ’80s television series ‘The A-Team’ – “I love it when a plan comes together.”

WRMRC Op-Session and Activity Update

Due to Ontario’s extension of emergency orders regarding COVID-19, the WRMRC has cancelled the annual Junk Night operating session which was scheduled for Saturday May 9th; 2020.

At this point the club is planning to start the 2020-21 operating season again in the fall, with the next scheduled op-session planned for Saturday 12 September, 2020. Please continue to monitor this blog along with the WRMRC’s Facebook page for future updates.

While layout progress may have been hampered by the public health crisis, our members have been busy working on many projects from home, or coordinating amongst themselves to limit numbers when visits to the club are required. Here are just a few club ventures while under quarantine.

Romford/Coniston signal project

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Romford Operator Panel

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Reverse side of the Romford Panel – for those who love wiring

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Searchlight signals for Romford and Coniston

Wanapitei River Bridge

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Wanapitei River bridge (in development)

Nelson Street Bridge

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Bridge abutments and scenery repairs (in progress)

Sudbury Ice House

Ice House

Ice House (in development)

Ice House

Ice House

The club is also preparing to work on scenery in a number of areas which will require trees. Many, many trees.

Conifer 01

Conifer 02

One silver lining to the cancellation of operating sessions is that preparations have begun to build the permanent trackage into Espanola, home of the large E. B. Eddy paper mill. Thanks to Fast Tracks, a number of code-70 turnouts have already been built towards this goal.

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Code-70 right-hand turnout built with Fast Tracks jig.

While we certainly miss the comradery that comes with our group work sessions, we are fortunate to live in a time where we can connect digitally. All of us at the WRMRC wish you good health, and to keep up your spirits with good model railway projects.