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 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!


Second Operating Session with Car Cards

After my first operating session with car cards, I made one significant change, then started running some CP trains. Here are a few videos showing the trains.

Train Information Card

Train Information Card from second operating session
Train Information Card from second operating session

I added a train information card to the front of the card packet. This gives the train number, origin and destination of the train, departure time, and switching instructions en route.

I’m not using the maximum cars yet, and the departure time is only used to determine the sequence of trains. At some point I’ll jiggle the times to set up meets in Georgetown.

I’ve seen one problem already – the train number is hidden by the clip. Rev 2 will be better!

The Minnedosa Local

CP 976, aka the Minnedosa Local, was the first to run. The train had GMTX 768, five cars and a caboose, which is about the longest train you can stash in the Minnedosa sub / staging without the head end being visible.

CP 976’s instructions are to proceed west to Brandon, dropping any eastbound cars in the Georgetown siding and picking up any westbound cars from the Georgetown siding. As it happened, the train had two eastbound grain hoppers that it had to drop. There was nothing to pick up so it was a relatively short run.

CP 948

CP 948, the Brandon-Winnipeg (eastbound) train was next. This is the busiest of the four CP trains I have on my layout.

CP 948 runs from Brandon to Winnipeg through Georgetown, and works Georgetown industries while it’s there. The switches to the three CP-based Georgetown industries (warehouse, team track and grain elevator) and the CN-CP interchange track have eastward-facing points, so an eastbound freight can work them easily.

948 was short coming out of Brandon, with only three cars and a caboose behind big MLW CP 4505. They had one BN car for the CN-CP interchange, an eastbound scrap gondola, and a centerbeam flatcar for the team track.

There was lots of work to do in Georgetown. The three boxcars at the warehouse had to come out, the interchange track had two cars and a locomotive to remove and deal with, and the team track had a car that was heading out.

I had to split this into two videos to stay under the 15 minute YouTube limit.

In part 2 they switched the warehouse and put their train back together before continuing on to Winnipeg.

Next Up

The next train is CP 949, the Winnipeg-Brandon train, followed by CP 975, the local going back to Minnedosa. Neither of them have much work in Georgetown so they should be quicker to operate. Read on!