Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CN Woodchip Gondola - In Service

Finally, the dreaded woodchip car made its revenue service debut last weekend during an official operating session with guest operator Julien Boily. With very limited knowledge of the subdivision, he was still able to perform quite well the task to run the train up to Clermont.

Things started to get spiced up when he had to deal with Donohue, which is truly a challenge even if it looks quite tame at first sight. Nevertheless, Julien never lost his cool and found his own original way to switch the plant, once again proving you don't need a lot of turnouts to generate lots of interest.

Julien taking a pause to think over the next move in Clermont.

Funnily enough, it was the first time since we started rebuilding the layout back in early 2014 that a guest did operate the layout in a serious manner. I was quite pleased to see Julien enjoyed his time on the layout and found it interesting.

Most Canadians used to think modelling our country railways needed huge space to get the feels of large open spaces, but it seems the mid-sized realistic layouts are taking roots and prooving their worth.

While operating, we had a nice discussion about the future of Canadian models on the market, mainly such obvious things as the CN Transcona woodchip gondola. Julien himself own a large fleet of woodchip gondolas - mainly Walthers proxies - and would probably buy a dozen if they were available. Once again, one wonders why such a staple car seen from coast to coast for half a century isn't available. Mystery! Anyway, I succeed to convince another man MLW M420 should be the next big Canadian locomotive announcement!

Meanwhile, Mathieu Gosselin was also among us with David that evening. Mathieu decided to bring his new Vermont Railway locomotive to test it on the layout and we took an official picture over Malbaie River bridge. Once again, I must admit Athearn did an outstanding job with this model.

David did some operation by switching Ciment St-Laurent and doing some transfer move between Villeveuve and D'Estimauville.

As for Jérôme, he has now engaged himself on a slippery slope: adding weight and sound to a Bachmann GE 45-ton locomotive. I'm not sure you can have both, but he did some pulling power testing. The results are encouraging, but on the other hand, our Bowser hopper fleet will need a serious rebuilding program. So far, the locomotive is able to pull about six 10 oz. hopper cars, which is our goal. At some point, we believe the answer will be a compromise that will require a slight weight reduction of the cement hoppers. Maybe I went a little bit overboard with the weight, but I'd rather alter the locomotive than remove weight if I had to choose.

Finally, Louis-Marie and I agreed to start scenery work at D'Estimauville since the area is the less challenging and the one ready for such work. The track is already ballasted and painted. The initial work will be to scratchbuild roads before proceeding to ground cover. I've got quite a precise idea of what I'm trying to achieve and Jérôme gave some interesting advices on a realistic way to build D'Estimauville Avenue.


  1. I gotta say , being a Conductor/Breakman at CN for the last 3 years made the task a little more easy... ;)

    1. It was very professional indeed! You are the third one to operate the plant and so far, everybody has a unique way to plan its moves. You are welcomed anytime!