Saturday, May 30, 2015

CP Rail SD40-2 Elephant Ears

Learn something new every day! While searching photos of CP Rail SD40-2 units on the Web, I came across a photo of one of them with elephant ears.

Elephant ears were used on steam locomotives to deflect smoke away from the cab. On diesels, they were used by railways that ran trains through tunnels to keep the units cool.

In 1982-83 CP Rail experimented with metal hoods, or elephant ears, on two units: 5639 and 5640.

The idea was to force them to draw air from the bottom of the tunnel, where the air was cooler. That way they wouldn't be in danger of overheating.

Apparently, the idea worked. But the ears created maintenance problems and were removed.

Since I model the early 1990s, there won’t be any elephant ear units on the M & M Sub. But it’s still an interesting idea.

Bob Boudreau's version of an elephant ears unit.

Click here to read an article by Bob Boudreau about how he built an HO scale version of an elephant ears unit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mr. Dressup, Fred Penner, Annie Lebovitz--and Canadian model railroader Bob Boudreau

Canadian model railroader Bob Boudreau is in the news, profiled in The East, a magazine in the Maritimes.

This is great for Bob, and good for me since I can share my admiration for his modelling and photography—and share some of his photos.

Where some model railroaders are known for their layouts, Bob is known for his highly-detailed modelling and for his photography.

In the article, writer Alex Cook says that meeting Bob was one of his first brushes with celebrity, on par with meeting Canadian children's entertainers Mr. Dressup and Fred Penner.

“He was the Annie Leibovitz of the model railroading world,” he says, evoking the famous American photographer.

“King of a niche market, with 32 covers and 851 photos featured in magazines like Model Railroading, Railroad Model Craftsman and the big one, Model Railroader.

As for Bob, he is quoted as saying “I’ve often said to people I don’t know if I’m a modeller that takes pictures, or a photographer that builds models. It’s either or.”

Congrats on the article, Bob!

Visit Bob’s website here. 

Learn about his photography tips and techniques here. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Victoria Day Railfanning on the Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision

It's Victoria Day in Canada (or Firecracker Day, as we used to call it as kids in the 1960s). It's a day off for most Canadians, like me, but not for railroaders, including those operating trains on the M & M Sub.

So I took advantage of the day off to do a little railfanning. Hope you enjoy the photos!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Passenger Train Service to Return to Banff?

The Canadian stops in Banff.

Earlier this year it was the city of Thunder Bay hoping for the return of passenger service along Lake Superior. Now town officials in Banff, Alberta are hoping passenger trains will once again return to their community.
According to CTV News, community leaders see it as a way to reduce the number of cars in the picturesque town in the Alberta Rockies.
According to the news report, preliminary discussions are underway between the Calgary Regional Partnership and the town of Banff about the feasibility of train travel between the two places.
Robert Earl, Banff’s town manager, is hopeful it could happen.
“Long term, the more we can move people to come into our community collectively, the better,” he said.  
“Whether that's on a bus, coming in groups, or potentially on a train. A long time ago, people used to come here by rail, there is a rail coming right through our community.”

The Dominion calls at Banff, a long time ago.

An estimated cost of a tourist train has not been released, and a summer trial of the service, if it goes ahead, is at least three years away.
It’s a nice thought; who wouldn’t want to take the train to Banff? 
But like the hoped-for re-routing of The Canadian on the more southerly CPR tracks along Lake Superior, there are many obstacles in the way—not the least of which is whether the CPR, which owns the tracks through the town, would be open to the idea.
Then again, stranger things have happened—like the NDP being elected to govern Alberta, ending a Conservative dynasty of over 40 years. 
Who knows? Maybe one day we could take the train from Calgary to Banff.
Note: Passenger service through Banff was available until 1990, when VIA Rail routed The Canadian through Edmonton. Today the Rocky Mountaineer is the only passenger train that uses the line.
Photo credits: Top photo from an interesting web page titled Across Canada by Train. Middle photo from Wiki commons.

Friday, May 15, 2015

New GO Transit End Cab Units Revealed

The new GO Transit cab cars have been revealed.
The new units, which will give a sleek look to the end of push-pull commuter trains in the Greater Toronto Area GTA), are being manufactured by Bombardier in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 
They are due to arrive in Toronto in the next few weeks.

The units are part of a $200 million order for 60 new bi-level cars that will enable GO Transit to offer two-way, all-day service on all seven of its lines.

What the current end cab units look like.

For more information, check out articles in Blog TO  and the Toronto Star. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

CP Rail's SD40-2F Red Barns

What is it with CP Rail’s Red Barns? 

Why does a locomotive, of which only 25 were produced, hold such an attraction for so many?

Is it because of how they look? Personally, I think they look handsome and powerful, if a little boxy.

Is it because of the fact so few were made? They are the only cowl units on CP Rail, while CN built many of them.

Is it the nickname? I can’t find out who came up with it or when, but I assume it has something to do with the fact they were red and looked like barns.

Or is it because, until now, it was impossible to get an RTR Red Barn in plastic? 

They were produced in brass (expensive!) and as resin kits (not always easy to work with). Rarity equals desirability for many things, so maybe that's the reason.

Whatever the reason, lots of people seem to like the unique units. When I posted about Bowser planning to make a Red Barn in HO scale, there were over 1,400 views.

As for the Red Barns themselves, there are technically known as GMD SD40-2Fs. CP Rail was the only railroad to order and buy them. 

Numbered 9000 to 9024, they were delivered in 1988 and 1989, and spent the first parts of their careers in western Canada hauling unit coal trains from the interior of B.C. to the Robert’s Bank coal port. 

They were bumped aside for that service by the new AC4400CW units in 1995, and then could be found across the CP Rail system.

Unlike other CP Rail units, the Red Barns never received the Multimark (or Pacman) scheme. 

Two units, 9000 and 9022, were painted in the dual flags scheme. The rest just have "CP Rail" emblazoned on the sides.

According to information found on the Web, units 9000, 9002, 9005, 9010, 9016, 9018, 9019, 9022 and 9024 have been retired and sent to Progress Rail to be rebuilt as SD30C-ECO units. 

Apparently, only three units are still active.

The M & M Sub. has a Red Barn, an old Associated Model Makers (AMM) resin kit that looks OK, but not great. 

Whoever made mine (I bought it used) did a good job. It runs on a modified Athearn Blue Box SD40-2 chassis.

When the new Bowser Red Barns come out, it won't last long!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Calgary Supertrain 2015: A Bit of Mexico on the Prairies

Another great layout at Calgary Supertrain was Larry Dickinson's O scale Mexicale Grande.

Larry, who lives in Saskatchewan, wanted to do something different when he decided to make a portable display layout. Since he also likes to vacation in Mexico, he decided on a Mexican theme.

I think you'll agree that he did a good job of bringing a bit of Mexico to the Canadian prairies.