Beaconsfield magic

High on the adrenaline rush of trains already sighted, we were pacing that AMT West Island train and the temptation to indulge in a chase was too great. Between stations there would be no way we could keep up but the traffic was moving really nicely and, unlike the train, we didn’t need to stop at every station. I reasoned we could run as far as Beaconsfield and that distance might give us just enough time to park the car, grab the camera, and get out onto the platform in time for the train to arrive. With only minutes to spare we wheeled into the parking lot and with the car barely stopped we ran onto the platform in a manic style that really only those that have gone train chasing can truly know. We were in luck. The train hadn’t arrived yet and for those waiting on the platform, our mania provided a little evening rush hour entertainment. The evening’s sunset was just beautiful and I’m pretty proud of this set of photos.

Walking back to the car I remarked that it would be evening cooler if we got to see one of the evening VIA trains. No sooner did I finish that comment did it appear.

What a great pile of fun!

Not done yet

Still on Autoroute 20 we continued our drive west across Montreal Island. It was around six o’clock and I hoped that we might see one of AMT’s West Island trains rushing commuters home.

“Hey Dad!” was the battle cry in the car and then the train appeared beside the car. Emi still had the camera in hand and she grabbed this shot:

DSC02108Another great photo Emi.

She’s shooting this through our bug-stained windshield and into the sun. You’d never know it. Heck, with this kind of talent on the camera I really don’t think I need to be a part of that at all. The future of railfanning in Canada? The kids are going to be okay and everything is going to be fine.

Prince Street progress and photos

I’m just wrapping up a few more tasks on Prince Street tonight and thought I’d share an update on the layout. As mentioned, I have the first half of the track in place now and this means that if we had power in the rails we could bring a train from the fiddle yard and into the back platform. I have the second siding in place as well now so once that train has arrived, the station pilot can be used to move the coaches from that train and place them in the departure siding, thereby releasing the engine so it can be serviced and made ready for it’s next run out.

I dug out an old 1/4″ DPDT slide switch and modified it to function as means of actuating, holding and routing power through a turnout. I also drilled out the throwbars on the two installed turnouts so they could be connected to this switch. I did try fitting this switch to see how well it would work to throw these turnouts and everything looks like it’s going to work out great. The slide switch’s throw is greater than I need for my N scale turnouts and I’m relying on the actuating rod (music wire) to compensate without placing too much stress on the turnout’s throwbar – I find that placing about 1-1/2″ of distance from the turnout to the switch seems to be the happy balance. The wire I’m using is 0.020″ diameter. I’m not sure what I’ll elect to use to actually throw the switch back and forth but I think a piece of brass rod should be fine to move the slide switch. Of course there are much more attractive options than the ubiquitous knob-on-the-fascia route. I think that Trevor Marshall’s use of large scale stands is very cool. Given that I grew up on a steady diet of British model railway magazines I think a small lever frame like this one from Brassmasters would be extremely cool and it might be something I try out here. With only three turnouts to move I feel this might be a great opportunity to try something different. One thing is for sure, no Caboose Industries ground throws.

I thought I’d take a few progress photos of the layout and starring in these shots are a pair of Micro-Trains CPR heavyweights. The cars are generic designs but should be perfectly fine standins for the 1300 series cars that CP had been using in Montreal commuter service through to the of the sixties. Here’s the photos:



It’s always fun to daydream and as I knelt down low enough so I could peer down along my little layout and imagined myself into the scene I couldn’t help but recall some photos from this article on CPR Montreal commuter train, steam hauled, in the late-1950’s:

1988 and yes, that’s an RS18 leading that commuter train!

This photo appeared on the Canadian Railway Observations Facebook page this evening and I was really excited to see it. I have seen RS18’s on the point of Montreal commuter trains before, well photos anyway, but this might be the most “modern” one I’ve ever seen. I have had the pleasure of standing on that platform though.

Here’s a link to the photos on

Out of curiousity I took a quick look around the web to see if I could find anything else on that engine and I found this photo of it in maroon and grey colours on the CPR Diesel Roster website:

CP commuter consists – first hand

The 800’s, introduced in 1953, replaced open platform wooden coaches*, some of which I’d seen in Lambton later, awaiting conversion to service cars. When I began to use the line In 1965, the 800’s were then 12 years old, slightly older than some of the RDC’s used on occasional trains (where you could indulge in baggage compartment riding). Still used too at that time were 40 to 50 year-old ex-mainline coaches. These survived until the early 1970’s and would sometimes be mixed in with 800’s. The new gallery cars retired them in 1970, around which time the RDC trains seemed to become longer. I frequently came home to Pointe Claire on a nine or ten-car RDC train.

There were also a couple of experiments. For a while in 1969 we had a full-length smoker, 1700, at the end of train 270 each morning. It had been built for Calgary to Edmonton service between 4-4-4’s. There was a short period when a bar car was attached to the end of one of the afternoon trains, but it didn’t last long.

Motive power was always a steady diet of FP7A’s as now, with help from RS18’s and E8’s such as 1802. I would have hoped that with today’s new cars would come locomotives with about a thousand more horsepower to allow a faster schedule.

Those paragraphs are ones that railfanning legend Robert Sandusky shared in 1989. I enjoy reading his work and these kinds of first hand experiences really help illustrate the types of trains and operations one would have seen if railfanning CP’s Lakeshore trains in and out of Montreal during this time.

Those RDC’s eh? I never doubted the many credible resources that spoke of how CP used RDC’s in commuter service but I’m really starting to buy in to it now. I have seen pictures of these massive RDC consists but had always assumed they were exceptions and not rules. In terms of attempting to translate the prototype into a convincing model I had assumed I’d need some RDC’s but wouldn’t typically need to consider their operation in much beyond perhaps a three car train. Looks like I was wrong. I have a couple of the old Con-Cor RDC1’s with the Roco drives in N scale. I consider these some of the finest operating models I’ve seen in N. I’ve seen the Kato model but never bought one. Looks like I should scramble and pick up a few while I still can.

I’m really excited to see a new question stemming from Mr. Sandusky’s reminisence above. He mentions heavyweight coaches that were still appearing in commuter service. I bought a pair of those really amazing N scale Micro-trains coaches last fall and want to buy a few more. I wonder how close they could be to the ones CP was using? I’ve compared the window and details to the ones that CN was using on their Montreal lines and they compare favourably so I’m hoping to strike it as lucky with CP. There really aren’t any decent photos of this car on the Microtrains website so here’s a link to M.B.Klein’s: