Posts

HBR History and Layout Background

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A little background on the prototype: The Hudson Bay Railway (HBR), owned by Omnitrax, took over Canadian National’s lines to Flin Flon (Flin Flon Subdivision), Lynn Lake, Thompson and Churchill Manitoba in 1997. These lines were built to access northern Manitoba’s mineral wealth and forest products. The Flin Flon Subdivision was completed in 1928, the line to the Port of Churchill in 1929, Lynn Lake in 1953 and Thompson in 1958. Another line to Snow Lake was built in 1960 and abandoned in the late 1980’s. Major traffic generators for the northern Manitoba lines include outbound concentrates and ingots from Flin Flon, Lynn Lake and Thompson, predominantly Copper, Zinc and Nickel. As well, inbound concentrates, mill and smelter supplies for the smelters and concentrators at these mining centers is shipped by rail; raw logs and chemicals going to, and finished wood and paper products coming from the Tolko lumber mill and pulp mill, frack sand from Channing, grain loads going to and grain

Señor plow

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  I have previously covered my lightweight GP9 build on this blog.  One notable (at least to me) missing item was the plow between the footboards on the CN GP9 fleet.  As the models come from Athearn and Proto 2000 they lack this feature, although Athearn has apparently remedied this on later models.   I wanted to complete my models as close to the prototype as I could so I needed these plows.  I gave thought to scratchbuilding them for each model, but making reproduceable parts would be a challenge with that approach.  What about 3D printing? I lack a printer myself, but my friend Mike M. has one.  I broached the idea to him and he was receptive to the idea.  I sent him a bunch of photos and based on those and some measurements from the model he quickly created a 3D model and got them printing on his printer.  Being conservative I asked for 30 plows for my current and future fleet... I'm quite happy with the result and my GP9 fleet is now pretty much ready.  I do need to weather t

Across the Canadian Shield - 1970's style

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M420 mixed train

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 Three M420 lead a northbound mixed train.  I'm sure this must have happened somewhere at least once in the real world, right?

Trains and Ladders

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I have enough #6 switches built to relay the Flin Flon yard throat.  I was never happy with my original setup, mostly due to the need to have a siding for the station now that I have backdated to the early 1980's.  There was still a mixed train operating between Flin Flon and Snow Lake in the early 1980's so I needed somewhere for it to come and go from.  However the original track arrangement made it difficult to have a station.  I decided to relay the yard throat to remove a couple of #4 switches, as well as add a siding for the station.  I think the new arrangement looks better and will likely operate better as well.  I'll have to operate the yard for a while to see if anything else needs adjustment.   Generally the yard will be switched from the other end except for the bulk fuel dealer, propane dealer, smelter fuel tanks, station, freight shed and team track (actually that is a fair bit of stuff now that I write it...), and this is the end of the branchline so I won

Down the 3D CAD rabbit hole we go

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 I've been hemming and hawing about starting to do my own 3D prints for locomotive and freight car details.  The latest generation of resin printers has really tested my will power.  Seeing what my friends Dave B. and Mike M. have been able to accomplish with their printers got me to give 3D modelling a try.  Mike has offered to let me print on his machine so down the rabbit hole I go.   Thanks to Andrew C. (friend I've only ever met via email and texts) I have plans, measurements and photos of the genset that some of the CN Pointe St. Charles cabooses were equipped with. These were common on branchline trains and were often in use in northern  Manitoba.   Based on Andrew's work I have started doodling up a 3D model of the genset and mounts.  My plan (if it prints) is to convert at least a couple of my TLT PSC caboose fleet to have gensets.  And then the possibilities are endless.  Apparently the new Elegoo Saturn will fit a 50 foot car so that will really open up some poss

Train room decorating

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 I'm slowly getting some railway themed items put together to go with the layout room.  It is another aspect that is an interest.  While I won't be installing a full sized passenger car in the basement like some people have done, a few small things are starting to show up.   I recently purchased the builders plate and number board from a CN MLW C630m, number 2032.  I also have slides of this unit in CN and its later Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia guise. These along with the air starter instructions I picked up from a sister C630m make a nice framed item.  These now hang in the hallway leading to the layout room.   I have other number boards from various locomotives and some other plaques and builders plates that will start appearing on the wall.  I prefer railway collectibles that are flat and relatively small, as does my wife.  Of course my layout wasn't actually designed and built by Budd...  

Now for something completely different

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I've managed to acquire most of the items I need to build my own switches.  One hang up was that I had a bunch of stuff shipped to a friend's PO Box in Blaine Washington (just over the border from us) to save on postage as there is a significant difference between shipping in the US versus to Canada.   Unfortunately the border was closed to cross border traffic due to the pandemic just after the items arrived in the PO Box.  My friend finally decided to have everything shipped by a broker so after almost a year (!?) I finally got the track building supplies.  Funny thing is with the brokerage fees I ended up paying roughly what it would have cost to ship directly to Canada!  Ah well, such goes life.   After watching the Fast Tracks instructional guide  on Youtube (an 11 part series in 12 parts) I got underway.  I managed to follow the instructions and have built two #6 switches so far.  Both seem to be of decent quality so I'll move on to building some curved switches next

Lightweight GP9 modelling

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The lightweight trio leads 4 standard GP9 into the smelter in Flin Flon.  The 70T waits for them to yard the train so it can start its work. I've been working on a trio of lightweight GP9 for the Hudson Bay Railway.  These were common power on the northern network from the 1960's through 1980's.  They are a bit of a challenge to model as most rode on Flexicoil trucks and had other modifications from standard Geeps.   I used Rapido trucks from their GMD-1 model along with Athearn Genesis GP9 to build two of my units, while a third kept its factory Blomberg trucks to represent a unit that had its Flexicoils removed. I substituted a P2K shell for one unit as I had already started modifying it.  I decided it would be easier to use the Athearn drive instead of the P2K drive as it was pretty much a swap out.  I have an extra Athearn CN GP9 for future use.  Maybe I'll put it on a P2K drive.   I am planning a future post about the details of this build, but figured posting a fe

VIA Rail Colonist Combine Article

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The December issue of Railroad Model Hobbyist 's Running Extra magazine has an article I wrote about building a VIA Rail (ex CN exx Canadian Northern) Colonist combine.  I built this car from a BGR Group kit (unfortunately now out of production) resin kit.   The article covers the building process and some of the changes I made to accurately model VIA 7189.  Hopefully this will be of some use for other modellers building these kits.  

CN Boxcars a Plenty

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Canadian National had a long lasting fleet of 40 foot boxcars, some of which lasted until 1996 in grain service.  Modelling northern Manitoba in the early 1980's requires a significant number of 40 footers in both grain and general service.   Over the past several years I have been building out my fleet of these cars using RTR, kitbashed kits and resin kits.  There have also been numerous CN painted models done over the years, with some being relatively accurate while others are stand in models - some call these foobies. First Thing To  Do If you want to accurately model any CN steel boxcar your first stop should be to find a copy of Railroad Model Craftsman's August 1993 issue with Stafford Swain's seminal article "Canadian National's 1937 AAR design 40-foot steel boxcars".  It covers the entire range of 40 foot steel cars from 1937 to the end of 40' car deliveries in 1957.  This is "must read" material.  CN Lines has a number of articles on the