Elora in the 1940’s

Terrific archival film footage shot in and around Elora, Ontario in the 1940’s. So much detail in here for the modeller and the trains start around the first minute mark (looks like some kick shunting in there too). I’ve never thought of a layout set in the mid-20th century but film footage like this sure makes thinking about it fun.

Want more? You really owe it to yourself to check out Trevor Marshall’s blog post introducing this area as a subject for a terrific model railway on his Achievable Layouts blog:

A big thank you to Ken Chrysler for finding the footage in the first place and sending me the link.

CP plywood-sheathed van in N scale

CPR Van 436980-437264 preview no scale
This is another of those projects I’ve wanted to try for a while. I love these plywood-sheathed CP vans (cabooses). Over the years I’ve often kitbashed stand-in versions based on the Bachmann, Model Power, or AHM three window, end-cupola cabooses by blanking out the extra windows in the body and cupola. While I’ve liked every one I’ve done they all are missing the proportions of the prototype.

This model is designed to fit exactly on an Atlas or similar end-cupola caboose floor. This helps keep the costs down and if you select a newer production model, like the Atlas Trainman version, you not only get the floor but some nice, low-profile wheels, and Micro-Trains compatible couplers. I have included the railings as moulded on parts. With no real extra details required, all the modeller should have to do on receiving the model is to clean and prepare it for paint, paint, and finally rub on some classic CDS dry transfer lettering for these vans.

GM Oshawa – July 2001

These photos are marked as July 2001 but they may well have been taken a little earlier or later. Regardless they are “summer 2001” shots and I think I can live with that. From talking with my railfan friends in Hamilton I had heard alot about the maze of trackwork both CP and CN had inside the GM plant in Oshawa, Ontario. My road map certainly seemed to imply there were at least a couple of public roads into the plant so armed with a borrowed Pontiac Sunbird (heck, when in Rome) I made my first trip in and I sure am glad I did.

The big prize of the day was this mother-slug pairing. The slug was rebuilt from some sort of GM switcher and it was paired with one of CP’s chop-nosed GP’s. While I gravitated more toward this pair of switchers, the yard was full of CP SD40-2’s and even a lone van.

There was some CN in there too, but with so much great Action Red I just couldn’t tear myself away. As for the plant itself it was huge. I’d never been inside anything like that before. I can’t even begin to imagine what Detroit’s must have felt like.

More sw1200rs pics. Sure, why not?!

I think these are from the same trip to Kinnear Yard. Boy I’d sure like to spend some more time watching these working the yard and chasing them down along the Belt Line.

CP Kinnear Yard – July 2001

A year after I was travelling around PEI I was living in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a strange turn of events that brought me to Hamilton but the city itself fast became one of my favourite adventures. I really enjoyed my time there.

I’ll never forget the first time I discovered Kinnear Yard and the trio of sw1200rs’s that worked the Belt Line out of Kinnear. I inherited my Dad’s fascination with switchers and sw1200rs’s are among my favourite diesels. Heck, in CP’s action red they might actually be my favourite locomotive altogether. I’m ever so glad that I’ve found some of the photographs I took in the yard. These sw1200rs’s always worked as a dedicated trio but within a couple of years the first GP9’s showed up and then GP38’s not long after that.

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:

CP’s Kinnear yard in 2001 and the sw1200rs trio

I hadn’t been living in Hamilton too long before I started to discover just how much great railfanning there was to be had in the city and just how it easy it was to do. I started to become immersed into all things great and wonderful that are the TH&B. I never spent too much time around Aberdeen but I sure made up for it with trips to watch GO trains shuttling in and out of Hunter Street. Then of course was the siren call of Kinnear and the trio of sw1200rs switchers that called Kinnear home. This trio always seemed to be busy.

List of favourite locomotives, yup chalk in some sw1200rs’s for me. Action red with Pacman logos too. I get this from Dad on both counts and savour this interest. I spent a lot of film on these three engines but, so far, these are the only shots I’ve been able to find so I figured I’d share them here until I can post better ones.

Within two years this trio was broken and replaced with GP38-2’s so I’m ever so glad to have had the opportunity that I did. Of course in the decade since then things have no doubt changed even more. While CP has retreated even further from Hamilton, GO has intensified their service and there is still the occasional talk of Niagara-bound trains stopping at the old John Street (CN) station.

I wonder if the Railink yard is still such a mess? I remember it just being the most odd collection of partially disassembled locomotives.

Of course, chief among my curiosities was the star of the entire Hamilton rail scene in my opinion: the GE 45 tonner in charge of switching the Canamera foods operation on the Hamilton waterfront. I wonder if it’s still down there shoving huge strings of hoppers into and out of that elevator. What a machine! Living mechanical things, this was as close as I’d ever gotten to one that could have been.