Saturday, May 31, 2014

Locomotive Roster - Part 3 - Selecting the right things

Recently, I had the occasion to discuss with a gentleman from Montmorency about locomotives running over Murray Bay Sub during the 60s-70s-80s.

The fleet was quite small as I once explained on this blog, after information from Mr. Denis Fortier where handled to me. Here you'll find a loose translation of Mr. Fortier's explanation:

"Locomotives used during the 1960s were GMD1, CN 1917 by example - with a built-in steam generator - for passenger trains; RSC-24, CN 1801 by exemple, with A1A-A1A trucks, coupled with a steam generator (see timetable, trains 171-178-179 and 522, photo 1).

Dunring the 70s-80s, RS18 (3100-3700-3800) were mainly sighted, often combined with GP9 (4400), often in group of 3, pulling about 50s freight cars... MR420 3500 (2500 whom fuel tank were shortened to reduce locomotive weight) became prominent... [...]

In 1969, to reduce cost from a ever unprofitable passenger service, CN decided to reduce trains to only railiners (BUDD) #CN 6205 and CN 6206. Even then, these"singing diesels" would make the run in about 2h45, often with only one passenger onboard according to some testimonies!

Passenger service ended in 1977 on Québec-La Malbaie line when VIA Rail was created and Palace Station was closed (see timetable, trains 678-679, photo 2).

Even if the line saw limited traffic, most iconic canadian locomotives did run on the rails, even the RSC-24, an interest group of oddballs built especially for this line (they later saw use on New Brunswick light-rail lines.

From a modeller standpoint, many of them are nice models. But at the same time, from experience, I know having too much locomotives dilute the fun you can get from them. At some point, you develop a personnal link with an engine while operating. So much it end up being the layout "mascot", incarnating the crew that run the layout. I have very few locomotives that got that special treatment. I remember my CP P2K GP9, my CNR P2K 0-8-0, a cheap weathered Backmann RS3 with sound and a very few selected others.

For this, reason, I reduced my spectrum of locomotive to model, to save on cost, but also to develop a deeper attachment to what is going on on the layout.

So far, the actual fleet is made of 2 superdetailed Bachmann GP9, 3 kitbashed Atlas RS18 and a P1K RS18 (the one with the wrong dimensions!). I'm actually wondering if they are worth investing a few hundreds dollars installing sound in them...

The main thing is to focus on what is essential, normal and ordinary for this line. I must admit I'm not set on the layout era. 1977 with last passenger trains and RS18-GP9 lash up or 1985, with a pair of M420 and a short lived touristic train called Le Tortillard du Saint-Laurent, made up of a chop-nosed GP9 and a few GO Transit Bombardier Bilevel coaches.

For now, I think it is safer to model the 1977 era since I already have the rolling stock needed, except a facultative Budd car. 1985 could be achieved - without altering the layout - when suitable and affordable M420 model will be, I hope, available. Yes, I'm a believer, just like Montreal Canadiens fans' are foolish enough to think this ever loosing team can win back the Stanley Cup after a 20-year hiatus!


  1. I agree completely with you. I model the D&H in the 1980s which had a fair share of engines, but there were one or two specific engines that featured special paint schemes and assignments and I am personally drawn more to them then the roster as a whole. Those 2 engines are the only ones I have invested sound decoders in.

    1. Thanks for your reply. At one point, we have to draw a certain limit with locomotives. Too much make each of them less special.