Sunday, July 6, 2014

Here Comes the GMD1

I did it... 

Well, I've been wondering recently if I should buy or not a GMD1. I never saw one in real life and didn't suspect they even visited Eastern Quebec before I learned Rapido was releasing the model in plastic. I could get the locomotive for the sake of uniqueness, but I felt it was a stupid reason. Anyway, this prompted me to do some researches and I found out they did venture on Murray Bay Subdivision back in the 60s, pulling the passenger trains before Budd cars replaced them. Denis Fortier wrote an interesting article (French only) about it in Januray 2011 and this isn't foreign with my decision to buy one.

A few months ago, I contacted Jason Shron of Rapido Trains about my interest in making a prototypical Murray Bay passenger train of the 1960s (train #171-178-179). Coaches were still available, but he kindly asked me to wait a little bit since Rapido would soon announce a new edition of their steam generator.

A typical train over Murray Bay Subdivision was made of a GMD1 (units 1025, 1026 and 1027), a steam generator and two coaches.

What really convinced me about getting a Rapido GMD1 - albeit the high price tag - was several facts.

First, locomotives on Murray Bay were always limited by weight per axle. The part in Charlevoix is particularly risky with its light rail and unstable roadbed continually undermined by St. Lawrence River. For this reason, many trains in the 1960s were pulled by RSC-24 and GMD1 which had in common 3-axle trucks in 1-A-1 arrangement. This kind of truck makes locomotives particularly interesting from a visual point of view.

Secondly, Rapido makes unit number 1027 which was assigned to Murray Bay for a few years, making it very interesting. This locomotive is also "famous" to have been featured in a Walt Disney movie titled "Bid Red".

Finally, I've always been impressed by Rapido's quality and it would be another step toward completing an iconic train on the line. I missed my chance to get a 3-axle unit during the pre-order, but finally managed to find 1027 today at a decent price. Now, I only need to pre-order the steam generator. It's great to see it is now possible to make prototypical canadian passenger train nowadays without bashing entry-level models. Hats off  to Rapido for bringing us fine quality items. The next step would be to recreate the first Tortillard du Saint-Laurent, made of a chop nosed GP9, a special paint-scheme baggage car and 5 Bombardier bilevel GO Transit coaches. But that can wait...  Acquiring a static grass applicator is my main concern.

Le Tortillard crossing Baie-Saint-Paul Bridge (postcard, early 80s - Ebay)


That said, I'm actually rebuilding the freight roster for the reengineered layout. I quickly came to the conclusion I already had most cars needed, except a very few I'll be able to acquire without ruining myself (mainly a few hoppers from Bowset and Accurail and JM Huber kaolin tank cars). In fact, I found out most models were already acquired many years ago, at a time I thought transition era was for me.

I'm just a little bit disappointed to find it took me so much time to go back to my era of interest: CN Wet Noodle on Murray Bay Sub (60s-80s). I'm always impressed how we can collect quickly and blindy useless models in the blink of an eye but will ponder a lot about allocating few bucks to scenery material. Rolling stock and motive power is self-gratification: already done, looks sharp... scenery isn't glamour and needs a lot of effort to look as nice.

First of all, I was always reluctant to get american cars. Not that I hate them, not at all, but they virtually never ventured in my area, except a few notable examples. Also, I'm a little bit impressed by the number of locomotives I acquired over the years. Too much for my own good. Many of them are out of era and upgrading them would cost much more than they are worth. At this, point, I'll keep them since I never sold anything from my collection and prefer to keep everything "just in case". But I think I'll probably get rid of some stuff at the next area train show.

But honestly, I wish I would have set my mind on a specific era sooner. My collection would be more coherent... and smaller! I think I'll have to redo my inventory as soon as possible to figure out what I have on hands. It will be a good exercice to decide what will go to storage and what will be part of the layout on a regular basis. I think the layout could be run with only 5 locomotives: 2 industrial switchers, a pair of freight locomotives (RS18 or GP9 or M420, depending the era) and a passenger locomotive. The entire fleet could be assembled by the end of the summer, thought I'll need to get a GE 45 Ton switcher and repaint it in Ciment Saint-Laurent scheme.

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