Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tri-ang Trains

1969 Tri-ang catalogue.

Like many model railroaders my age (early 50s), I got my start in model railroading in Lionel. But before I moved on to HO, I spent a few years with Tri-ang trains.

1973 catalogue, in English and French.

Tri-ang was made in England. Its scale was OO, a bit bigger than HO. Since Tri-Ang made Canadian trains, it was popular in Canada in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The models were crude, even for the time. (The F unit was a cross between an F7 and an FA-1, but did disservice to both with its high pug nose and small windows.) But for a kid who loved trains, it was just fine.

By the early 1970s, sales of Tri-ang's Canadian trains had declined and the business was closed.

A typical consist, with the pug-nosed F unit.

Another look at the "interesting" Tri-ang F unit.

I got into Tri-ang by accident; an uncle had some Tri-ang and, when he lost interest, he gave them to me.

By the time I sold my Tri-ang to go into HO, I had several locomotives, about 15-20 freight cars and a passenger train.

Today there are people who avidly collect Tri-ang; all I keep are my memories of laying on my living room floor and watching the Transcontinental fly by.

1970 catalogue.

More information about Tri-ang trains can be found at
http://www.tri-ang.co.uk/ and http://www.tri-ang.com/

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

They Saved the LRC

They did it—they saved the LRC.

In April I noted that the Toronto Railway Historical Association (TRHA) had launched a campaign to save one of Canada's unique LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) locomotives. Well, they did it, with help from generous donors: #6917 has been purchased from VIA Rail.

Next up: The Association wants to raise $75,000 to move the locomotive to its Roundhouse Park railway museum in Toronto.

In the meantime, a local shortline in the Toronto area has offered to store the unit on its property for free. It the plan goes through, the Association will move it there in fall. The plan is to move it to the museum in four years.

All I can say is good on them, and good on all who donated. We might think that thre's not much to do to save the recent railway past, but when was the last time you saw an SD40-2 in a consist? These units, and others like them, that once seemed to be everywhere, are disappearing fast. Soon the railways we grew up with in the 1960s-1990s will be memories.

(Find out more about the campaign to save the LRC at http://www.trha.ca/LRC/).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Twin City Model Railroad Museum: A Must-See In Minneapolis-St. Paul

Overall view of the layout, looking towards St. Paul.

When you think of great layouts that are open to the public, you think of the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum near Pittsburgh, the Great Train Story at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Add to that list the Twin City Model Railroad Museum in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The scratchbuilt Great Northern station.

The museum, which is located in Bandana Square, a former Northern Pacific repair facility, boasts a fine (and large) O scale layout that showcases the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in the 1940s and 50s.

View of the Mississippi River side of the layout.

I had a chance to visit the museum in August, during a trip to Minneapolis. With four 220 foot-long mainlines, two smaller loops and a working trolley system, it's very impressive!

The car barn for the streetcar line.

If you're thinking of going to Minneapolis, make sure to include a visit to the Twin City Model Railroad Musueum in your itinerary. It's a must-see!

You can visit the museum's website at http://www.tcmrm.org/index.html

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Easy & Cheap Pulpwood Loads

Recently, on a model railroad forum, someone asked if anyone knew of a manufacturer that made pulpwood loads for Walthers pulpwood flatcars.

I have to admit that my first thought was: Doesn’t anyone make anything by themselves anymore? Do we need to buy everything ready-to-run? Whatever happened to making things yourself?

But that thought was left unspoken. Instead, I described how I made my my own pulpwood loads, using ivy.

The ivy that I use grows on the side my house. It grows long vines with a tough, slender stalk. In fall, when the leaves die, the ivy needs to be pruned. These brown, lightweight stalks are perfect for making log loads for the Walthers’ cars.

To make the loads, start by saving the piece of Styrofoam that Walthers includes in the package to prevent the sides of the cars from breaking. Cut the Styrofoam to make it narrower, so that the ivy can be glued to each side (and the piece of Styrofoam can still fit into the car).

For the loads themselves, I built a simple jig that enabled me to cut the stalks to uniform lengths. After they were cut, I glued them (with white glue) to the sides and top of the piece of Styrofoam. When dry, I touched up the “logs” with a bit of brown and black paint to simulate different shades of bark. I also added a twig or two to break up any uniformity.

Since the load is attached to the piece of Styrofoam, it is easy to take out when the car is returning empty from the paper mill.

Ivy stalks can also be used to load bulkhead flats which lack side pieces to keep logs in the car; see photo below. For this I glued the first layer of "logs" to a piece of wax paper; when dry, I added the rest, using the car itself as a template for the load.

That’s it—a simple, lightweight, realistic and cheap way to make log loads, and no manufacturers (or money) required.

A bottoms-up view of the Styrofoam insert, with
the "logs" glued to the sides.

Another view of loaded pulpwood cars.

Ivy stalks can also be loaded into bulkhead flats.