Upcoming: Manitoba Mega Train 2017

Pano view of Manitoba Mega Train
Pano view of Manitoba Mega Train 2016

Manitoba’s premier model train show is happening at the end of this month! The Manitoba Mega Train show will be on September 30 and October 1 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 AM to 5 PM at the Red River Exhibition Place.

I went last year and it was a lot of fun! There are a lot of model train displays of various sizes, vendors of new and used equipment, and even a miniature train you can ride!

I’ll be there this year! Will you?


Manitoba Mega Train 2017
Manitoba Mega Train 2017

For more information, visit Vector Garden Trains’ web site.

Read about last year’s show

Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

Nothing ever goes as planned
It’s a hell of a notion
Even Pharaohs turn to sand
Like a drop in the ocean
Styx (from their great album Paradise Theatre)

I had a little solo operating session on my layout a few weeks ago. It was really a positioning move for a “real” operating session I hope to have soon.

I wanted to place some grain cars at the Cargill elevator so I wrote up a Work Extra 3665 and sent it along with a half dozen grain cars and a caboose from Winnipeg to Helene to deliver the cars.

The move to Helene went OK, but while doing the switching moves at the elevator, I hit some dead track with the locomotive and everything stopped.

I tried cleaning the track but that didn’t help, so it must be an electrical issue. I think that section of track could use a set of feeders. Currently it gets power from an adjacent piece of track. The peninsula can shift a bit and maybe the connection to the next piece of track is loose enough now that it isn’t conducting electricity. Something to work on.

Anyway, here’s the video. I hope you like it!

A Giveaway!

Over on Confessions of a Train Geek I am giving away a copy of Eric Gagnon’s new book, Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections. The instructions to enter are at the bottom of my book review or you can sign up for my mailing list for a chance to enter. The deadline is the end of May 8, Central time!

See Also

The 2017 Winnipeg Model Railroad Club Open House

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club 2017 Open House
Winnipeg Model Railroad Club 2017 Open House

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club held its 2017 Open House this past weekend. It was held on April 1-2 at the club’s regular meeting place in the basement of the Legion on Roblin Boulevard.

The open house featured several layouts from several local modeling groups as well as some private portable layouts, in a variety of scales. I was impressed by the modeling talents of every display.

The winners of the modeling contests were displayed along one wall, with the winners of the photo contests on an adjacent wall.

Here’s some photos I took of the open house.

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club 2017 Open House
Winnipeg Model Railroad Club 2017 Open House
Rail Train!
Rail Train!
Winnipeg Model Railroad Club 2017 Open House
Winnipeg Model Railroad Club 2017 Open House
Bents Grain Elevator
Bents Grain Elevator
The Assiniboine Valley Railroad was there!
The Assiniboine Valley Railroad was there!
I really liked the detail on the locomotive and the pump jack.
I really liked the detail on the locomotive and the pump jack.
Ian Plett at work!
Ian Plett at work!
Trains and Grain Elevators... mmm.
Trains and Grain Elevators… mmm.
Paul Ullrich's layout is always popular with the kids.
Paul Ullrich’s layout is always popular with the kids.
I liked this N scale layout.
I liked this N scale layout.
A nice compact layout!
A nice compact layout!
An overview of the room
An overview of the room
Photo contest winners!
Photo contest winners!
Last but certainly not least, the modeling contest winners.
Last but certainly not least, the modeling contest winners.

Thanks to the WMRC for putting on this open house! It was fun!

See Also

Brain Dump

I know I haven’t posted in a long time, so I’m just going to do a brain dump and list some things that I’ve been picking away at.


  1. I added fascia to the majority of my layout! I’m pretty pleased by how it looks. Photos to come soon.
  2. I bought a bunch of “inexpensive” freight cars, some of which I have refurbished for my layout, and some that I resold on the excellent CANADA HO/N Yard Sale group on Facebook.
  3. I started doing some weathering with PanPastel artists’ pastels. So far I weathered one Bachmann grain car and sealed it with Dullcote. I’m pleased.

The Fleet

These are the DCC-equipped locomotives / RDCs I have. Only CN 3665 (third from left) has sound.

Current Fleet

New Acquisition

I bought another locomotive and I hope to receive it by the end of next week.

It’s a Kato/Atlas GP38 custom painted by Scott Holmes in a fantasy CN/VIA scheme.

I’m not sure if I will repaint it… I’ll have to see it and operate with it for a while first to see how I feel about it.

I’m excited!

Time For DCC

Speaking of exciting, I bought a trio of TCS T1 decoders to go into my two VIA “blue box” locomotives and an old Bachmann “RS18”.

Ready for DCC
Ready for DCC

These VIA units have some extra detail on them – handrails, grilles, etc. – so they are definitely a step above your normal Athearn “blue box” quality. I believe Craig Takahashi did the detail work.

I’ll be following these instructions for DCC installation. It’s definitely not my first decoder installation – see my RDC installation – but I don’t do it often enough to be able to do it without glancing at instructions.


I haven’t done any formal operations sessions in a while. I have run trains a few times when my nephew came by – he does love the trains but I think he likes driving my toy trucks more.

I am getting the itch to run trains so I think I’ll be doing that soon.


Next Steps

These are the next things I plan to do on my layout / trains:

  • Install the three decoders
  • Run an operations session
  • Weather a few more cars

Operations with Nick

My oldest son Nick came to visit for Thanksgiving. He’s attending the University of Waterloo so it was nice to have him around for a few days. We did our traditional visits to the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada and to Marway Militaria. Nick has a fair amount of N scale equipment (some from my dad’s collection) and hopes to build a layout someday.

He expressed an interest in operating on my layout, and I jumped at the chance. I had never had anyone operate on my layout before!

After cleaning the track and a few locomotive wheels, we were ready for action.

Nick decided to take CP and I took CN.

First up for him was the VIA RDC off the Minnedosa subdivision into Brandon, followed by CP 976, also off the Minnedosa to Brandon.

As he ran his trains, I ran mine. CN 404 was first, working the Manitoba Pool Elevator and Irving Oil.

Working the Manitoba Pool elevator
Working the Manitoba Pool elevator

CN 404 was pulling some cars out of the Pool track before putting the grain cars in.

In the following clip you can see it rolling into Winnipeg (staging) after doing its work. It was pretty long for my layout!

Nick was working Georgetown with demonstrator 769. Unfortunately it derailed due to a misaligned switch. The crew easily rerailed it and carried on.

The roadmaster had a little chat with the engineer afterward about speeds in the yard!

Later, CN 403 was working in Georgetown while a CP freight was also working in Georgetown. This has never happened before, since I can’t run two trains at once by myself!

CN and CP working Georgetown
CN and CP working Georgetown

Note the single grain car spotted at the elevator by CN 404 earlier.

After working in Georgetown, CN 403 proceeded to Helene to work the Cargill elevator. One more clip, showing the train backing into track HI01 with the full train.

Nick shows the finer points of using a tool to uncouple cars…

Uncoupling pick
Uncoupling pick

We operated for about an hour and a half and finished everything up. It was great to have a guest operator and the fact that it was my son made it extra special. Thanks, Nick!

See also:

Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis. This is me right now.

I have a number of model train projects on the go, and I’m not executing on any of them.

Lance Mindheim just wrote a post “Fear of the Inconsequential” where he wrote about the “fear of getting it wrong”. That’s me, all right.

What do I have going on?

  1. Neglected fascia
    Neglected fascia

    Fascia – I started installing fascia on the layout, but I quickly realized I don’t know how to get around the corners. I’ve reached out for help, got some, but I lack confidence. Some of it is too long and needs to be trimmed, and I don’t have a table saw. I feel like it’s not going to look very professional, so right now the majority of the fascia sits in my garage, painted and slowly getting dirty and unusable.

  2. Ballast – I’ve ballasted all of the visible CN track that I am going to do. I’ve done patches of the CP track but I haven’t finished it. Why not? I really don’t know.
  3. Scenery – I’ve done some bits of scenery here and there, but the main part of the layout – Georgetown – is undecorated. I have an idea in my head of what it should look like, but I don’t know where to start so I don’t.
  4. Kits – I have several model kits that I haven’t started. Some are Intermountain grain hoppers and for those I am just intimidated by the number of parts. I have a couple of Athearn “blue box” kits that I know I can do, but I haven’t done them. Also I have a grain elevator mostly complete, but I can’t move from 85% complete to 100% complete because.. I don’t know why not. I have some great decals from Precision Design on it but I need a few more.

I know I should “just do it” as Nike said. Something is better than nothing. I can always go back and make it better if I don’t like the result.

I know this.

But I have to get over this internal fear of screwing up before I can move forward.

Here’s hoping that happens soon.

What do you do to push past these internal roadblocks?

The Manitoba Mega Train Show 2016

Pano view of Manitoba Mega Train
Pano view of Manitoba Mega Train 2016

I went to the Manitoba Mega Train show yesterday (September 24). The show is being held at the Red River Exhibition Park. The venue is spacious, allowing lots of room for train layouts, vendors and for other activites like model ship builders, Lego, face painters and more!

Some of the non-train exhibits

I was in line for the 9 AM opening. I’m normally not quite this keen but I had someplace to be in the afternoon, so I wanted to maximize my time there.

This was the view right at 9 AM.

Opening Minutes

You can see John Longhurst in the foreground starting up his portable Thompson River Canyon layout. I interviewed John over at Confessions of a Train Geek.

I spent the first few minutes walking around and looking at the various layouts, in all sizes from Z to HO to O.. maybe even G?

I liked the Pioneer grain elevator

The N scale yard below was quite impressive!

N Scale Yard at the Manitoba Mega Trains show

I saw Sterling Schabler’s impressive square layout and admired his CN slugs. I wish I had taken a better photo, but the photo below will have to do.

Sterling Schabler and his layout
Sterling Schabler’s slug

I chatted with Morgan Turney, publisher of Canadian Railway Modeler and one of the founders of the Kildonan Short Lines HO scale modular layout seen below.

Kildonan Short Lines

The Winnipeg N Trak group was out in full force. It was a very impressive layout!

Winnipeg N Trak!

So many great layouts.

N/Scale Mainliner

I loved the great mile 10.6 Manitoba Pool elevator and the Agricore concrete ‘vator!

Grain elevators FTW!

There were other displays beyond trains… like these ship / submarine models. There were a lot of ships and boats on display. Note the pool where they were running radio control boats!

Dive! Dive! Dive!

There was some face painting too…

Face painting

There was LOTS of Lego, which I love. Very impressive.

Lego displays at Manitoba Mega Train
A very impressive ore dock in Lego
Cool VIA and CN trains in Lego

I bought a few things at the vendor tables… mostly timetables and books but I did buy an Athearn CP crane. I had a lot of fun chatting with vendors and exhibitors and I think the social part of the morning was the best part.

I’ll leave you with a few videos and one more photo of yet another impressive layout. Thanks to the organizers and exhibitors for a great show!