Operating on the Bayside & Tidewater

055I was on Prince Edward Island recently for work. Shortly before I left Manitoba, I mentioned to Chris Mears and Taylor Main that I was headed for the island, and they invited me to join them for the Half Nuts operations group on Sunday evening. They meet regularly and operate on one of two layouts in the Summerside area. I was pleased to accept the invitation and I met them in Charlottetown for a carpool to Summerside to visit Scott Jay’s Bayside & Tidewater Railway.

056In their last operations session they had some issues with the wireless control system, so the layout was halfway through an operating session. Because of that, this session would be shorter than usual.

I met Scott and he introduced me to the other Half Nuts present… more than half a dozen! I wish I was better with names but I did meet Trevor Delaney, and Scott of course.

Scott assigned roles to everyone on the railway. He asked me if I would like to operate or to observe. I said I’d love to operate, so he assigned me to the Bayside yard.

Bayside Yard Diagram
Bayside Yard Diagram

Many of the yard tasks were already done, but I had a few jobs left to do:

  • sort the incoming wayfreight into the appropriate tracks
  • build the US-bound train on the “Build” track
  • sort the other incoming train wayfreight into the appropriate tracks
  • service a couple of local industries

For switching power I had switcher CP 7111, equipped with DCC and sound.

CP 7111
CP 7111

Scott uses the WiThrottle app to wirelessly control the layout. There’s an app to install on your phone (iPhone or Android) and then you use the app to connect to the appropriate locomotive (or consist) and drive the train using your phone! It worked very well and it didn’t take long for me to get used to it.

The first wayfreight arrived from Tidewater, and after they cut off the power, I began sorting the freight cars. Since there is no actual track after Bayside, the cars are sorted into one of three tracks: boxcars, reefers, and “other”.

A view of Bayside yard
A view of Bayside yard

CP 7111 drilled the yard, putting cars into the appropriate tracks and picking out the few cars that were going onto the US-bound train. I also stuck the power for the US-bound train onto the train to get it completely ready.

Only a few minutes after I finished that, the US train operator showed up and took the train away. At this point I had nothing to do until the second wayfreight showed up, so I took a walk around the layout to see what other people were doing.

CP 8407 and another loco were working in Stevenville. This area has a lot of switching action.

Stevenville switching
Stevenville switching

There was a lot of action at the Tidewater yard as well. Scott has made the most of the room to incorporate two yards as well as a couple of significant towns. You can see his full track plan here.

Action in Tidewater
Action in Tidewater

Scott has used a lot of backdrop buildings to add industrial switching areas and use the most of the space. I was mentally taking notes for my own layout!

Here’s a view of one end of the layout, with Tidewater on the left and Chappellton on the far right.

An overall view
An overall view

Chappellton was my favourite area, with lots of switching possibilities as well as a rail car ferry to work.


Anyway, back to work. The second wayfreight arrived in Bayside so I had to put its cars away as well. It was a tight fit putting that last boxcar in its track but it did fit. Scott has a custom program developed to route his cars and it produces paperwork like this.

It's all about the paperwork
It’s all about the paperwork

The crossed out cars were already dealt with before I arrived. The far right column indicates what train is to carry it (E1 and E2 are the wayfreights). After I put the second wayfreight away, I had to deliver the Mainzy cars to the nearby industries. It was a fairly simple job to deliver them and then put the switcher to bed.

Good night!
Good night!

You can see how the boxcar track was chock full.

It was a real pleasure to operate on Scott’s railway. Everything ran very well, the emphasis was on operation (my favourite) and the layout is nicely laid out and provides a lot of operational interest. Most of the layout has scenery with only a few bare spots where track revisions are being made / remade.

Thanks to Scott for being such a gracious host and letting this transplanted Maritimer operate out east for a bit. Visit Scott’s web site to learn more about his layout.


Guest Post: CP 1597 and 5911, Recreated

This is a guest post by Braedan Dunne. Thanks, Braedan!

After looking for prototype images a few months ago, I came across a photo at traingeek.ca featuring CP GP9u 1597, which I have in HO scale converted from a Walthers Trainline GP9m. However, what was connected to CP 1597 in that photo made me all the more interested. It was CP SD40-2 5911, which is one of only two locomotives still on CP’s roster that remains in the ‘Large Multimark’ paint scheme.

I was lucky that a good friend of mine from Medicine Hat, AB, who is currently a CP conductor, had his new Bowser HO CP SD40-2s renumbered and/or weathered by a couple of talented modellers in northern Alberta. During our last club meet at the Southern Alberta Model Railway Club of Lethbridge, my buddy made it down to run his completed SD40-2s. One of those models was CP 5911. With the opportunity there, I took my GP9u and connected it to the SD40-2 in the main yard of the club layout and shot a recreated scene of the photo I first saw.

Braedan's CP 1597 and the Bowser CP 5911
Braedan’s CP 1597 and the Bowser CP 5911
Steve's photo of the prototypes
Steve’s photo of the prototypes

Thanks Braedan for the post and the images! You’ve done an excellent job updating the Walthers Trainline model to accurately reflect the prototype… and that Bowser SD40-2, upgraded and weathered, looks great too. I’ve stuck the two photos together for comparison below. The models look fantastic!

Model and prototype together
Model and prototype together

Ballasting in Georgetown

It’s been maintenance time on the layout for the past month or so. I decided it was time to do some more scenery, so I set out to do some ballasting in Georgetown on the CN side.

I spread the ballast over the main track and the siding track.

Ballast spread
Ballast spread

Then I sprayed it with a mixture of water and alcohol, to soak it, and dribbled on a mixture of white glue and water.

After a day, I vacuumed it up… and I mean I vacuumed it up as in about 80% of the ballast went up into the vacuum. 🙁

Very disappointing.

I think I did a couple of things wrong:

  • I had too much water and not enough glue in the mixture; and
  • I did not let it dry long enough

So after a suitable mourning period, I laid more ballast down and did the same process, this time with a much greater concentration of white glue.

Glue and ballast
Glue and ballast

I let it dry for about five days when I was away on business, and when I came back, it was hard as a rock and quite dry. A little bit did come up when I vacuumed, but not very much.


I’ve finished ballasting the main and siding in Georgetown on the CN side. To celebrate, I sent Extra 3665 West from Winnipeg to go pick up the five CN ballast cars I had in the siding there, simulating the work train that was in the area. Here’s the video:

There is still a lot to do!

  • Take all the ballast off the tops of the ties
  • Fix up the little bits that I missed
  • Ballast the Manitoba Pool and Irving Oil spurs
  • Add bits of ground foam and grass here and there for weeds
  • Ballast the CP side!

It’s a start.


Further reading:

Third Operating Session – CN 403 and 404

Over the past few weeks I have held another solo operating session. This follows the CP operating session I had. I ran CN 404 and then CN 403 through the layout, doing some local switching along the way.

CN 404

On my layout, train CN 404 runs east from Melville, SK to Winnipeg, MB. This train performs local switching in Georgetown, the town that is the main focus of my layout. CN 404 switches the Irving Oil spur and the Manitoba Pool grain elevator, when required.

In this session, CN 404 spotted a tank car at Irving Oil and exchanged grain cars at the Pool elevator.

Please note that I had the train number wrong in the video. In Canada eastbound trains have an even train number and westbound trains have odd numbers.


CN 403

As you might guess, CN 403 on my layout runs from Winnipeg to Melville! The train also does local switching in Georgetown, but only switches the CP interchange track as required. It also switches the Cargill grain elevator in Helene.

I had to split the videos to get them under the 15 minute limit.

In the first video, CN 403 switches Georgetown. It had one car to drop off for CP and picked up three cars.

The second video shows CN 403 working the Cargill elevator.

Thanks for watching!

PS if you want to see the real train CN 404, I happened to catch it in Winnipeg in March.

Ready for Service

Walthers All-Door Boxcars
Walthers All-Door Boxcars

I picked up these two Walthers all-door boxcars at a toy show in Morden, Manitoba. I just had a few steps to go through before they were ready for service.

This kind of car was used for paper service and most were owned by paper companies, such as Boise Cascade and Weyerhauser as seen here. I paid $30 for the pair and I was pleased to have them, as I didn’t have any cars of this type.


Coupler Height Check

First it gets put on the test track to check coupler height.

Coupler height check
Coupler height check

That end was good. I flipped the car around to check the other end.

Coupler height FAIL
Coupler height FAIL

This was a FAIL. The coupler was way too low, with the whisker hitting the plate before it could even couple up. It was also obvious that the coupler itself was too low.

I checked the coupler and there wasn’t much play in the box so the solution was to add some washers between the truck and the car body to raise that end.

Adding washers
Adding washers

It ended up taking two washers before I could get the end raised enough. I also snipped off most of the whisker using side cutters.

Good coupler match
Good coupler match

When you raise one end, you have to check the other end again to ensure it didn’t throw that end off! In this case it was OK.


Weight Check

Now it was time to check the weight of the car to see if it matched NMRA standards.

Car Weight Check
Car Weight Check

5 ounces was about right for the length of the car, so there was nothing to be done here.


Wheel Check

Finally I checked the wheel spacing using an NMRA standards gauge.

Wheel Spacing Check
Wheel Spacing Check

No problems here! There is rarely a problem with wheel spacing on cars, but if there is, the usual fix is to twist one of the two wheels until the spacing is correct.


Finish the Paperwork

I printed up the car cards in Easy Model Railroad Inventory and stuck some destination cards in the pocket, then put the car cards into the appropriate slot.

Car Cards - Check!
Car Cards – Check!


Ready for Service

The last step was to actually put them on the layout, ready for operation. They are on the CN-CP interchange track now and will get picked up by CP 948 on my next operations session.

Ready for service!
Ready for service!

Further reading:

CP 949 and CP 975

After the last operating session, I had two more trains to run:

  • CP 949 (Winnipeg to Brandon via Georgetown); and
  • CP 975 (Brandon to Minnedosa)

Both are fairly limited in the switching they do in Georgetown, so they were quicker than CP 948 in particular to run.


CP 949

The instructions for CP 949 specify that it runs from Winnipeg to Brandon, picking up any westbound cars from the siding and dropping any Georgetown-bound cars in the siding. As it happens, it did both!

Here’s the video showing CP 949 from start to end:

I also recorded a short “on board” video using my cell phone in a very Rube Goldberg style mount on a gondola.

Check out the setup:

Rube Goldberg would have been proud
Rube Goldberg would have been proud

Note the weights clamped on to the right to counterbalance the phone. This made for a very wide load and it is not ideal. I’d appreciate any suggestions for inexpensive on-board cameras…


CP 975

The last train was CP 975, the Minnedosa local returning to Minnedosa.

Its switching instructions for Georgetown are to spot any Georgetown-bound cars, pick up any Minnedosa-bound cars, and head out on the Minnedosa subdivision to staging.

The train did have a car to spot on the interchange track, but it had nothing to pick up, so it was a quick stop in Georgetown before going to staging.



That’s the end of the CP trains that operate on my layout! The four trains that operated were:

  1. CP 976, Minnedosa local, from Minnedosa to Brandon
  2. CP 948, eastbound mainline freight, from Brandon to Winnipeg, with a lot of switching in Georgetown
  3. CP 949, westbound mainline freight, from Winnipeg to Brandon
  4. CP 975, Minnedosa local, returning from Brandon to Minnedosa

The only train I can see adding on the CP side of my layout would be a VIA Rail RDC to run on the Minnedosa subdivision. I don’t have room in CP’s staging for a full size passenger train.

Next I will be working on the scheduling for CN trains, and then I’ll be running those. I might work on coordinating the schedules to have a meet or two in Georgetown rather than just running them in sequence.


ALNX 396400 – A Comparison

I was out railfanning this morning along the CN Redditt subdivision. I photographed an eastbound freight train and snapped a few photos of the rolling stock. One that I photographed was ALNX 396400:

ALNX 396400 near Anola 2016/03/13
ALNX 396400 near Anola 2016/03/13

When I was processing them in Lightroom, I recognized the road number as being the same as a model I have! Here’s the model, posed similarly:

ALNX 396400 model
ALNX 396400 model

You can see that they aren’t the same at all! The model is a Bachmann Silver Series car, which is a lower price, decent quality car.

Now here are the two of them, stuck together for easy comparison:

ALNX 396400 Comparison
ALNX 396400 Comparison

To be very critical, they don’t look a whole lot alike. The detail just isn’t there on the model in comparison with the prototype, and the lettering is larger than the prototype.

On the other hand, you can buy one of these for $15.99 Canadian and they are good operators, with metal wheels and Kadee couplers. They’re certainly better detailed and much better runners than the Life-Like cars! It would not be fair to compare it to, say, an Intermountain car, because you can buy two of the Bachmann cars for the price of one Intermountain car.

I don’t want to sound like I’m crapping on the Bachmann car. For the price it is a good deal and I would be glad to buy more like it.

I was tickled pink blue to see the prototype of one of my cars!