Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chris Round's Atherley Narrows: Another Great Canadian Model Railroad in England

In 2013 I wrote about a Great Canadian Model Railroad in England—Chris Round’s Stoney Hill Yard.

Chris is at it again. He has built another portable layout based on a Canadian prototype: The Atherley Narrows.

Like Stoney Hill Yard, Atherley Narrows is also HO Scale and also features CP Rail in the 1990s.

Although Chris’ previous layouts successful and well-received at exhibitions, he wanted to build a better layout and remove some of the irritations with previous plans.

This included how operations on Stoney Hill were limited since all the industries were accessed off the main line—through trains could not be operated at the same time as industries were being switched.

The track plan allows for the seven industries on the layout to be served from loops off the main.

For inspiration for the new layout, Chris used a photo he had taken in 1994 of a swing bridge at Atherley, Ontario, at the confluence of Lake Simoce and Lake Couchiching near Orillia.

The bridge was already out of use when he took the picture, and was a CN line, not CP Rail. Not being a stickler for absolute authenticity, Chris was willing to pretend CP Rail owned it.

His initial thought was to build a simple diorama of the bridge and its approach piers, but he then decided to build something grander.

The layout is 20 feet long and 8 feet wide when set up. Individual modules are 4 feet by 18 inches wide. The modules (which the British call “baseboards”) are made of plywood.

Track is Peco code 75 rail and all switches and crossovers are handlaid. The switches are hand operated by rods attached to electrical switches at the rear of the layout.

Control is old fashioned DC. “I’ve too many old locos to convert to DCC and I can’t afford the cost of the better sound equipped new locos which are available,” says Chris.

“Much of my rolling stock is second hand, and all of the buildings and main scenery elements are scratchbuilt.”

As for the swing bridge itself, the base is a metal shelving bracket and the bridge is constructed from plastic. And, yes, it pivots!

The layout is not yet complete, Chris says; the edges of the boards need painting, details need to be added and a lighting unit and upper fascia needs to be built.  

Even then, it looks great to me—it surely is already another Great Canadian Model Railroad!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Alpha and Omega on the M & M Sub.

2017 marks 30 years since I got back into model railroading.

I had liked trains my whole life up to that point, starting with Lionel as a kid before moving to Tri-Ang, HO, and then N scale.

I sold my N scale stuff in 1976 before heading off to university and a more unsettled life that took me to Manitoba, B.C., Europe and Texas.

It was in Texas, in 1987, 11 years later, when I got back into the hobby. I had $50 to spend on some trains before returning to Manitoba.

I went to the late and great Bobbye Hall's model railroad store in Dallas, where I lived. (It was described in 2001 by the Dallas Observer as "the best hobby house owned by a 92-year-old woman who still comes to work every morning at 9.") 

I bought a locomotive and eight or nine freight cars—yes, for only $50 (you could do that back then).

Of those items, only one piece of rolling stock remains on the M & M Sub.: SHPX 60751—Stauffer Chemical Company. The others were sold or "scrapped."

In the Greek alphabet, alpha is the first letter, and omega is the last one. So SHPX 6071 was among the first of my current model railroad possessions, and also the last from that time. And it is also the last in line on DUL-WPG MX (Duluth-Winnipeg Mixed) on this July day, 30 years later.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Little Bit of July Railfanning

Getting ready to leave the yard

Sometimes I want to write a post; other times, I just want to share some photos. This is one of those times—a bit of railfanning on the M & M Sub.

Come along as I follow a train from Fort Frances, Ont. to Nance, Minn.

And arrived at Nance.

Thanks for coming along for the trip . . . .

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada 150: The 1967 Confederation Train, Prototype and Model

The Confederation Train; photo by Jim Brown.

I originally published this post in 2013. On the occasion of Canada's 150th anniversary, it seems appropriate to post it anew.

Forty-six years ago, in 1967, a special train crossed Canada--the Confederation Train.

The train, made up of two FP9A locomotives (numbers 1867 and 1967) and eight colourful cars, was a travelling exhibit about Canadian history.

The lead locomotive had the Centennial symbol emblazoned on its nose under the headlight, and its horn sounded the first four notes of O Canada. (Hear it here)

The train made its public debut in Victoria, B.C. on January 9, 1967. It arrived in Atlantic Canada in October, and ended its journey in Montreal in December of that year.

During its tour, it stopped at 60 cities and towns, and was visited hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

In Swift Current, Sask.; Scott Dunsire collection.

Modeller Fred Barkhouse was so enamoured of the train that he decided to make a model of it--something he described in Canadian Railway Modeller.

Fred's inspiration for the project came from a Lionel HO scale train set called the Confederation Flyer that was owned by his father. The train set had a locomotive, ten 50-foot boxcars and a caboose; each boxcar was painted for a province with their flag and the date they joined Canada.

Lionel's Confederation Flyer.

Since Fred made his train before InterMountain brought out its units in Confederation Train colours, he used Highliner F9 shells on Athearn Genesis drives for the project. The cars were made from Rapido Super Continental passenger cars.

(Eleven years later, in 1978, the National Museum of Canada created the Discovery Train, which crossed Canada for two years as a mobile museum. That train showcased the landscape of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific.)

The 1978-80 Discovery Train.

2017 is the 150th birthday for Canada. I wonder if there will even be a passenger train left on the rails in this country to make into a similar travelling exhibit? (Update: Yes. The CPR has a special Canada 150 Train, and CN ran a short Father's of Confederation Train from Montreal to Ottawa.)

See videos of Fred's Confederation Train on YouTube here and here. Read more about the prototype train and see more photos here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Canadian Railway Coins

When I heard the Royal Canadian Mint had made a special railway coin to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada, I thought I’d check it out.

Naively, I thought that might be the only railway coin the Mint has made. Boy, was I wrong!

Turns out the Mint has made a number of railway-themed coins over the years to commemorate achievements, specific railways and even locomotives.

(It also made a $10 bill featuring a VIA Rail locomotive.)

But back to the anniversary edition; the Mint had a competition to create its new 2017 Canada 150 circulation coin series featuring the work of five Canadians selected by popular vote.

Each coin had to be designed according to a theme. The two-dollar coin's theme was Our Wonders, the one-dollar theme was Our Achievements, the 25-cent coin theme was Canada's Future, the 10-cent coin theme was Our Character and the five-cent coin theme was Our Passions.

The winner of the competition for the $1 coin was Wesley Klassen  of St. Catharines, Ont. (photo above).

Klassen had two inspirations for his design; A love of trains, and Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister and a father of confederation.

“The coin got me to thinking about how Macdonald created the national railway,” he said of his design, which he called Connecting Canada. “Then I added in scenes from my boyhood vacations.”

The design shows two trains, and landmarks such as Vancouver’s Lion’s Gate Bridge, a prairie grain elevator, the CN Tower, Quebec City’s Chateau Frontenac, and an East Coast lighthouse.

Which is cool—but that’s not the only train-themed coin the Mint has made over the past 30 or so years.

Also this year it made a three-coin series called Locomotives Across Canada. It features an
4-4-0 steam locomotive, an RS 20 (I can’t tell if that’s true or not, but someone reading this blog can confirm it); and an ES44AC.

Another coin, made in 2011, commemorates the creation of the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railway in 1836.

Another coin was issued in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Grand Trunk Railway.

In 1986 the Mint issues a coin to celebrate the Steam Expo at the Vancouver World’s Fair.

In 2018-11 it issued a set to commemorate the creation of the CPR, featuring a D-10, a Royal Hudson, a Jubilee and a Selkirk.

It also commemorated the Countess of Dufferin, on display here in my hometown, the first locomotive in western Canada.

The building of the CPR received a coin in 2015.

The contributions of the railways to the winning of World War 1 was marked in 2015.

In other words, there are lots of train-related coins! So if you are a model railroader and coin collector, you are in luck in Canada. There's even one for those who like a train around the Christmas tree!