Thursday, July 28, 2016

Kitbashing Grand Trunk 719 - Part 7

While the progress on boiler modification is moving at a fast pace, I sprayed the model with black primer to see if there was any obvious defects on the shell. So far, it is better than I thought and touch up will be minimal.

My next challenge was installing inspection and clean out plugs. I had two choices: buy expensive brass parts that don't look like the prototype and are oversized or make them myself. I went with the Red Green's second option as you can guess.

I made the plugs with a combination of holes and 0.040" styrene rod. I first drilled a small pilot hole in the shell of same diameter as the rod.

Then, using a 5/64" drill bit, I enlarged the hole surperficially to create a small recess in the boiler jacket.

Finally, a piece of styrene rod was glued into the small hole. The rod was extending from the surface and was later cut flush with the boiler using a X-Acto blade.

Sure, it lacks the typical rim around the plug, but on many older pictures, it is almost undiscernable. If one would want to make more detailed plugs, I would advise to make the parts independantly, then drill the boiler and insert the plugs. The plugs could be made out of a sprue or a styrene rod with a diameter slightly larger than the largest drilling bit used to shape the plug. Follow my original instruction and you will soon have cheap and easy to install inspection plugs.

To be noted, I also drilled the stanchions mounting holes according to the prototype and enlarged the cab windows. There are still a few holes to drill and running boards to mount.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kitbashing Grand Trunk 719 - Part 6

The biggest problem you will encounter while kitbashing a Bachmann 2-8-0 is related to the running board height. If they are mounted lowe, i.e. flush with the cab bottom, there will be lower than the boiler shell.

This is a double issue. First, the Bachmann boiler is made a a plastic shell and a pair metal weights. You'll will see the seam between both part and slots for mounting screws. Also, the weights are undetailed (no boiler straps, etc.).

The second problem is related to mounting the running boards. You need them to be sturdy enough to survive normal handling conditions and to be locatedd in a such fashion they won't be nuisance when dismantling the locomotive for maintenance. This means you have to mount the running boards on an incomplete shell and this is the big challenge.

The milling in progress. The smokebox will need to be thinned down too.

After discussing the problem with Doctorwayne, we came up sith a set of different solutions. I decided to use one of them and will explain how it works. I suspect this is a solution similar to the one Marty McGuirk and Iain Rice came up in a 1999 MR article which unfortunately I couldn't locate at the local model railway association library.

The basic idea is to simply extend the plastic shell as low as the running boards will be mounted. It means adding extra styrene sheet at the bottom of the shell. However, this simplistic solution require you to mill the metal weights to remove a equivalent amount of metal. In my case, 2 mm thick of styrene must be added to the boiler. This is exactly the thicknees of the metal weights walls encasing the motor.

Milling the frame took about 90 minutes using unspecialized tools like a tool grinder, a Dremel sanding drum and a large flat file to finish the work.

When done, styrene sheets were laminated against the boiler and left to dry overnight. At this point, the metal weights slide easily inside the shell as it should be. It must be noted you must mill the weights on all their height to make sure it will be possible to insert it. You also need to mill it up to the fron too.

To attach the running boards, small brackets will be pinned and cemented into the new shell extentions. Brass wire, music wire or phosphore bronze wire can be used: choose a material that will be strong enough to keep its shape under normal handling conditions. The new running boards will be them glued on the brackets, exactly just like the real prototypes. If wanted, the running board could be made out of brass and soldered on the bracket to make a single and sturdy assembly.

Sure, there is more than a way to tackle this problem, but I feel this option is manageable even for a not-so-skilled kitbasher.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kitbashing Grand Trunk 719 - Part 5

Kitbashing isn't an easy process. There's to approach: the casual one when somebody loosely follow a prototype to make something similar and prototypical one when you try your best to reproduce exactly the real thing. None of them are superior because they serve different purposes and both require the same skills. The first one is pragmatic, the second one exacting. And both find their way on real railroads: at some point the railway decides to do what it can with a limited budget, on other moments it needs to respect standards and established practices: just like building a locomotive.

In my case, the GTR project is in the second category. My big problem is that I have very little understanding of what I'm doing (early 19th century compound locomotive) and have limited access to information. To be honest, I started the project without thinking too much, knowing I would find my away around arising issues. Worst, while the Bachmann locomotive is indeed a good starting point, the way it is built isn't compatible with a prototype with low running boards. This is going to be the most challenging part, even if almost invisible.

Today, it came to my attention I goofed on two key parts. I first used wrong measurements to make the cab window. All week long I found them very weird and badly proportionated. This evening, I opened my CAD drawing with 719 pictures and verified the results against my HO scale version. I was 2 mm off! Not wide enough and not by a small margin. So I'll have to enlarge the windows and make new parts. Well, it's not a bad thing since my window frame were oversized and badly attached to the cab walls.

The second problem is more important. Wayne pointed out my cylinders weren't correct. In fact, he was polite because they are total bogus. He kindly sent me good reference pictures and the conlusion was easy to reach: a GTR compound had two cylinders on the fireman's side and a single large cylinder on the engineer's side (with a flat top). It was also a good occasion to find out my running boards were also wrong.

I'll have to start again on these 3 elements. It could be disappointing, but in fact, it is motivating. Sure, it's a "waste" of time, but I had fun making the wrong parts and it was about doing what I had never done before.

There's no shame in going wrong when working on a project, except for abandoning. Except for brass locomotives, I've rarely seen people modelling compound cylinders. I knew when I started the project that kitbashing a "correct" Grand Trunk compound Consolidation as built by Schenectady wouldn't be a walk in the part. At some point, I could have abandonned the idea of making a Russian iron version in favour of building a later rebuilt with normal cylinders and black paint scheme. But I feel it wouldn't have been beside the point of modelling something unique: big early Canadian steam in Russian iron.

By the way, I got my hand on a stash of old CDS dry transfer including Grand Trunk, Intercolonial, Canadian Northern, Canadian Pacific and Temiscouata. All are for freight cars. I'm not sure if they are in good shape, but I thought an alternative could be to scan the lettering and make custom decals out of it.

Old Time Decals

As you know, I made HO Grand Trunk locomotive artwork. I also intend to make a set for Canadian Northern.

I also redrawn the Central Vermont pre-wafer sans serif lettering artwork. However, most CV locomotives used the serif lettering. Using commercial fonts is a no go and I prefer to redraw each letter from actual pictures to be prototypically correct. If some of you are interested (and I know some are), high resolution pictures of CV locomotives (preferably side views with minimal distortion) would be very useful. The biggest challenge is to have enough photos to have an example of every numbers from 0 to 9. It is interesting to note some CV locomotives kept the old GT-inspired paint scheme until the late 1930s.

Kitbashing Grand Trunk 719 - Part 4

The GTR 719 is progressing little by little. Recent work includes modifying the cylinders, sculpting and detailing the turret and adding cab roof hatches.

GTR 719 was built as a compound locomotive. I was required to remove the steam pipes out of the cylinder and replace them by square boxes made out of laminated styrene filed to size. Small steps with rounded corners were added on top of the boxes just like the prototype. Before gluing the boxes, I filed the cylinder tops flat. This way, I didn't have to adapt the boxe profile to the cylinder radius, which could have been tricky and not easy to glue. Archer anti-skid thread pattern decals will be added later on top of the steps and lubricator pipes too.

The steam turret is made of a Roundhouse sand dome from a 0-6-0T shell. I extended it with Magic Sculpt putty filed to size then glued with putty onto the boiler. When everything was dried, I drilled a small pilot hole on top and carefully using a larger drill bit by hand, I hollowed the interior.

A flat floor for the turret inside was made out of 0.5 mm styrene. Safety valves taken from a Bachmann 4-4-0 shell and one salvaged from the 2-8-0 shell where glued following the prototype.

The new cab roof got a putty job to smooth rough parts. New roof hatches are being build from styrene sheet. The hatches aren't yet glued, what you see are the side extensions that will be later filed down a little bit to the correct height.

Completing the running boards and drilling mounting holes in the boiler are among my next challenges. A tedious sand job to smooth out the surfaces before painting will be also required.

I'm really pleased to see the Bachmann stock model morphing into something completely different.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Kitbashing Grand Trunk 719 - Part 3

The work continue on GTR 719.

Among many things, the firebox was slighlty enlarged with putty to make it sloped just like the prototype. A new ashpan was build from styrene sheet to conform to the real prototype. I still need to file the plastic shell that exceed the ashpan.

Magic Sculpt putty was used to fill boiler slots. Since the running board will be lowered, I need the boiler to be extended down. I used paper strips to keep putty in place until it dried hard. If the loco was painted black, that shouldn't be a big problem, but a Russian iron boiler won't forget such details.

The domes were reattached to the body using screws. Since the domes are black and the boiler in Russian iron, I prefer to paint them separatly and attach them later.

The only exception was the steam turret which is permanently attached to the boiler.

Correct cab windows were also added. I feel the frame are a little bit large even if I carefully measured them on scaled pictures. I'm afraid one painted bright read, they will look odd. Maybe redoing it could be a very good idea.

You will see I cut then reattached the cab roof overhang. At some point, I got sidetracked while measuring the cab for modification. I was convinced I had to lower the roof and proceeded to remove it... until I found out the Bachmann cab, while not a 100% perfect match, was far better than I thought... Fortunately, I didn't butcher the overhang... unfortunately, I made my life harder and the roof is now much more brittle than anticipated. I'll cover it with a .25mm styrene sheet, hoping it it be enough to hide the problem and strenghten the parts together.

There's still a lot of prep work to do, but just adding the boiler straps is a good indication I'm in the more rewarding part of the work.

By the way, I've redrawn Grand Trunk lettering in AutoCAD using several pictures. The process was tedious as I had to draw each letter and each number individually to make sure they matched the prototype. Each character was reverse engineered to fit out the geometric rules used by the typograph to make them.

I was just not interested in using an "almost similar" commercial font, I want the real thing. While doing this, I found out GT had at least two variations on this classic paint scheme: one with bold numbers and stripes and one, more common, with regular numbers and thin stripes. I've drawn both.

Now I'm looking forward to recreate at least two CNoR paint scheme commonly seen in the early 20th century.

It should be noted I discovered Grand Trunk, Intercolonial and Canadian Northern shared the same number font on several locomotives. Also, the regular cab font was also the same for the three railroad. Temiscouata seems also to have used a  variation of the same font and I have photographic evidence QRL&PCo jumped in the bandwagon too. Well, it seems Canadian railways lacked imagination or hired the same designers or just copied available fonts from graphic standard books. The good thing is that reproducing many paint scheme shouldn't be too hard.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Kitbashing Grand Trunk 719 - Part 2

I need some help to get the piping right on 719. As built, the loco wasn't superheated and was a compound with Stephenson valve gear. It was later modernized, but I'm doing the as built version. The piping is quite simple but I'm more comfortable doing later steam locomotives with feedwater and other such appliances.

Be aware that Grand Trunk used jacket over the boiler and smokebox, means some pipes are hidden under the lagging.

I want to make a locomotive with all the piping, not just a botched approximation.

Thanks for your help!

Canadian National Original Paint Scheme: More Than Meets The Eye

EDIT: After writing this article, I've been shown photographic evidence of Canadian National Consolidation #2648, freshly painted in the 1920s and featuring a gray boilet jacket and gray cylinders. That's starting to be extremely interesting. The photo can be seen in Donald R. McQueen "Canadian National Steam! Volume 5: Consolidations".

Library and Archives Canada are full of good stuff isn't it. While scrolling again Canadian National locomotives I found out something disturbing. I didn't read a lot of books about Canadian railways in my life, but I'm still surprised to find stuff that should be more mainstream.

A series of photos taken in 1926 should freshly painted locomotives posing for posterity. At first, they look plain with their spartan à la CNoR lettering, but when you start to look in detail you find out the boiler jacket is sometimes painted in gray on passenger locomotives (at least from 1936 until WW2). I suspect the 2800 series (freight) is all black but the difference in lighting and finish (smoke box) induces a visual hallucination (I'd love to believe it's gray, but there's several shots of both locomotives taken the same day from different angles). Look for yourself, and if I'm wrong... well, let it be!

CNR 2801 (1926)

CNR 3198 (1926)

This is a case of a black boiler:

CNR 2800 (1926)

In 1934, the old CNoR paint scheme is still in use. In 1936, the tilted wafer is seen on many locomotives, but the grey boiler is there.

Move to 1936 and the streamlined 4-8-4 are also sporting the grey boiler. Fortunately, that fact is well known and a few brass models are indeed painted in that original scheme. The 5700 series also originally had a grey boiler and firebox.

CNR 6400 (1936)

Once again, maybe I'm just a poor uneducated soul, but I find it quite disturbing to rarely see this paint schem. Particularly the passenger one with gray boiler. I'm curious to learn when the practice started (back in 1936 or before?).

It has often been said that CNR, strapped by cash and the war, took the easy way out and reused CNoR paint scheme as an expedient in its formative years.

Looking at these pictures show us this postulate, while true to some extent, is in fact biased. It has been argued Canadian National strong corporate identity only formed after the introduction of the tilted wafer, maple leaf and green color. I agree it was the first time CNR developped its own image and design since it formation. But it is doing a dissservice to say the previous paint scheme was a make shift, hardly attractive and spartan while photographic evidence show extremely neat locomotives with bold and modern sans serif police in white, high gloss paint and, sometimes, gray/metallic boiler jackets.

In fact, Canadian National during the 1920s had a fashionable look that was similar to other first class railroads in North American. The sleak paint scheme - which I would described as an elegant merger of CNoR modern design, GTR attractive painting practices (high gloss) and CNR home-brewn distinctive details - was far to be pitied and fitted perfectly that era of after war opulence.

I've used to believe CPR was glamour and CNR pragmatic before the introduction of the green color. Books told me so and I never questioned what I was being told. Seeing the photographic evidence, I can no longer subscribe to such a partial and deformed vision of a past era.

I'm more and more convinced the mainstream Canadian modellers are forgetting a marvelous era that existed between 1900 and the Second World War. Our judgement has been clouded for too long, thinking is was an era of failure when it layed the foundation of our modern world.

I remember an architecture teacher with whom I made many historic reasearch telling me many things that happened in the 50s and 60s were in fact planned in the late 1920s and 1930s but were postponed by global conflicts. I feel the same when I see the original Canadian National paint scheme. Black, white, pure fonts and a slight touch of red on the front plate... Doesn't it sound like a description of the celebrated CN wet noodle concept?

If I had to build a CNR steam fleet, I would seriously give a thought about the 1920s...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kitbashing Grand Trunk 719 - Part 1

Change of plan, I'm now modelling a 1907 Schenectady-nuilt Grand Trunk engine. The lure of Russian iron won me over this idea.

Ask Canadians about iconic steam locomotives of yesteryears and they will invariably list the Royal Hudson, CNR streamlined "Confederation", CNR #6060, CPR Jubilee and many other Canadian Pacific locomotives in tuscan red livery with a stainless boiler jacket.

You end up getting the feeling Canadian locomotives began to look great in the 30s, which is plainly wrong. In fact, we underestimate how much reshopping can change a Belle into a Beast.

Such is the tale of Grand Trunk #719 who started life with pure lines, high gloss paint and a planished iron boiler jacket... and ended up as a hardworking powerhouse with a gritty and industrial look thanks to a wealth of appliances.

I took the liberty to merge together two pictures gleaned from "Canadian National Steam!" volume about Consolidations. Since it is for educational purpose only, don't expect better quality pictures by respect toward the author. The books are well worth their price for the consciencious modeller.

Credit: Donald R. McQueen, "Canadian National Steam! Volume 5: Consolidation Types", DC Books, 2014


While I tried to keep a maximum of details from the original shell, it was evident stripping them all and start all over would be less frustrating and not that much more complex. You will also see the nice Walschaert valve gear is now gone. It took some courage to dismantle it, but I had no choice if I wanted to go the prototypical route.

Domes were trimmed to be the right size, in particular the original sand dome which was cut in to halves to remove excess material and glue back together to make a correct-shaped steam dome.

As the evening progressed, my interventions on the locomotive were more bold. The cab was seriously modified to fit the builder photo and CN diagram. Yes, the cab window now looks large, but that's how things were in the good old days.

The cab roof overhang will be reattached later when it will have been lengthened and modified. There's still a lot of puttying to be done, but I'll be soon able to add details.

The big challenge of this locomotive will be the painting process. It will be a real challenge because Testor Buffable Gunmetal Metallizer must be buffed to get the correct shine. It means I'll have to pre-drill the boiler and apply many details like piping and handrails later on, which isn't exactly my definition of fun. But it's for the sake of doing something unusual. Unfortunately, I can't provide the prototype builder picture, but I can assure you it will be classy.

Talking about unusual, a reader kindly provided a NMRA Achievement Program link exhibiting some work of Clare Gilbert (owner of Sylvan Scale Models) who built many nice early Grand Trunk engines.Unfortunately, the pictures are not high resolution, but nevertheless, they are enough to show the amazing level of craftmanship employed to make sure the models were prototypical.

Thinking Out Loud – Part 7

This series of blog posts is taking me in varied directions I never envisioned! From layout design to turn of the century Canadian modelling, it’s been a fun endeavour albeit mostly a virtual one…

My desire to take action led me to launch my personal project to show that pre-CNR model railroading is an achievable goal. While I’m not planning a layout, I feel I have the duty to do a few demonstration projects because lack of motive power often translates in lack of motivation for many people. My guess? It’s probably not harder than modelling the following decades of steam operation in Canada. It's why we will explore a few reasons why Model Turn-of-the-Century (TOC) Canadian Railways. And don't freak out, I will also list arguments against it.


Before Canadian National was formed between 1919 and 1923, the railway scene in Canada was varied and graced by the presence of numerous actors of all size (well, it stayed true to some extent, but CNR and COP domination was overwhelming). Well established companies were competing against newcomers in an intricate game of power and influence. There are a lot of prototypes to choose from.

In that era, many companies were modernizing their fleet meaning vintage 4-4-0 operated along the most recent innovation on the market. If you want to run larger steam engines but still like the look of older motive power, you are in the right time. A quick survey of CNoR pictures available online showed me that in 1907, they rostered 4-4-0 with fluted domes and wood cabs, modernized 4-6-0 and just started to operate brand new large 2-8-0.  If you like Canadian Pacific, you can even throw in some experimental Mallet in the Rockies.

There’s also diversity in rolling stock since industry standards were evolving very fast with the introduction of all steel construction. From 28ft boxcars to 40ft OSB boxcars from the late WW1, you’ve got a lot of choice. Model Railroad Hobbyist published an article about freight car trucks evolution showing the impressive diversity of technologies at that time. Small details like trucks make a big difference!

Diversity because it was a time when Canadian rolling stock was a little bit more than a continuous string of red oxide cars. CNoR rostered a fleet of attractive white reefer (Atlas made a nice looking O scale version of the CNoR Quebec reefer), Grand Trunk had a few colourful cars too. Passenger cars were also more diverse.


This argument is self-explanatory, TOC trains were smaller both in length and car size. It makes them highly useful to model in smaller spaces. It also translates in less compression and more realistic scenes and track plans. I scaled a few major locations in Quebec City from insurance maps and most of them fit very tight quarters. If you remember what I said in previous Thinking Out Loud instalments, it’s all related to the achievable layout concept.


Paint schemes and data

Painting an early 20th century locomotive is much more exacting than painting the entire engine black and slapping adequate decals on it before call it a quit. Modellers who dabble in that time period and real life locomotive restorers know it is far more complex than that. Back in the days, many locomotives were painted dark green. Unfortunately, if you don’t look at first hand data from the original order, you are bound to believe they were black. That’s the plague of black & white photography. Now, imagine you are an amateur like me, working with very little information, low to medium resolution scanned pictures and a very little access to first hand evidence… you’re definitely bound to make a lot of mistakes. At least, one thing must be clear, the change from colorful paint schemes to a drab coat of black took several decades. War restrictions, economic down turn and change in fashion slowly but surely affected the industry.

Working as an architect specialized in heritage building restoration and having done some academic research in that domain, I came to doubt about the so-called accurateness of restoration projects I’ve seen. When you visit, you are always assured the professionals did their “utmost” to make it looks as it was back then, only to find out the most basic errors have been made and the result isn’t no more than a patchwork of overlapping layers of interpretation. Unfortunately, even the most careful professional will hit a wall when data no longer exist and he must fill the gaps as best as he/she can. The only thing that changes is how much effort they will put in making sure they pushed that wall as far as they can.

That said, we must strive to find a decent “compromise” without losing sleep over it! As knowledge surface, it will be easier to do a good job at representing period paint scheme. Fortunately, most major Canadian railways of the time didn’t seem to have favoured outlandish paint schemes. They follow general North American practices of their time. Bringing these paint schemes back to life via modelling is a very motivating challenge in itself. As for commercial decals, there's hope I guess.

Nostalgia (or lack of)

This is a limitation identified by Steve Boyko in a recent comment and I gave it a lot of thoughts. It seems superficial at first, but he put the finger on something that's grounded in human psychology.

It’s well known our dedication to this hobby is fuelled by nostalgia or raw emotion. Unfortunately, nobody actually alive ever experienced that era except a handful of individuals. The chances you witnessed a Canadian Northern consist passing by your backyard is probably zero. As for the transition era, even if we are many to not have known it first hand, we are flooded by a wave of people who did know about it and documented it in detail.

By example, my interest in Quebec Railway Light & Power is more than curiosity for a historic road. My father did see it in action back in the 40s and 50s and told me about the sparking trolleys and old abandoned roadbed he play on. These are vivid memories that have been passed down to me. Unfortunately, I have no such relation with the Grand Trunk and Intercolonial, and since railfanning was virtually without a voice back then, we can’t recall the era by looking at it through the eyes of fellow hobbyists as we can after 1934.

Since we tend to recreate what we know well (old or actual), it’s hard to be drawn to that era. I suspect only a few individuals are genuinely fascinated by that era enough to dare modelling it. John Ott is such an example among many others (Aquia Line, Stockton & Copperopolis, etc.). My small goal here is simply to make it clear to such minded people that TOC Canadian modelling is viable and interesting, and probably as rewarding as building a neat Colorado mining layout of same era.

P.S.: While talking with people involved in the decals trade (when hunting decals for my project), I've been told that when CDS Lettering stopped making dry transfer a few years ago, the remaining stock of GTR locomotive lettering sold like hot cakes. They are now virtually impossible to find while other old time CDS dry transfer can be easy found. To some extent, it means interest in the era does indeed exist but the question remains unanswered: has anybody built and painted a “correct” Grand Trunk locomotive?

By the way, I've been told by Louis-Marie work on our Murray Bay Subdivision club layout won't start before the end of August. But don't fear, the Grand Trunk and Harlem Station projects will fill the gap meanwhile.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Canadian Northern Logo Color(s)

While looking at this picture, I quickly discovered the Canadian Northern logo on the cab wasn't monochrome. If you look carefully, you'll see it is darker than the cab.

Library and Archives Canada/PA-188842 (MIKAN no. 3516147)

In the past, when I modelled British-American Oil tank car, the color difference between black, dark green and red was very similar.

Generally speaking, the Canadian Northern was Black/White/Red. Montrealers remember seeing an updated version of this logo on the Deux-Montagnes original electric boxcab locomotives to celebrate their retirement in 1995. I'm pretty sure the shady CDPQ's REM electric train won't have the sturdinesss of CNoR rolling stock!

However, a green version also existed.

If you have any hints about what was standard practice at CNoR, let me know. Meanwhile, I contacted Canadian Northern Society, a historical association located in Alberta and dedicated to preserve CNoR heritage in the Prairies.

By the way, any information about fonts and font sized used by CNoR to letter the engine would be welcomed. Also, it's quite hard to figure out what was written under the engne number on the cab. Probably the locomotive class and rating.

Prototype Information: Library and Archives Canada

While doing research about Canadian Northern and other CNR predecessors, I stumbled upon Mr. Harold Aaskup website dedicated to old Canadian steam locomotives. While discussing with him, he indicated me a good deal of information was available online on Library and Archives Canada website.

The search engine is simple and user friendly, making the searches quite easy.

Also, the documents have been scanned in good quality and thus a lot of details can be seen. Sure, you won’t find everything but that’s a good starting point.

I particularly recommend you to active the Architectural and Technical Drawings checkbox because engineering drawings of railway structures are available. In that respect, take a look at “Intercolonial Railway” archives. A lot of drawings and pictures document the construction. It is particularly useful to anybody modelling a 19th or early 20th century North American railway. Now, you will understand why Sir Sandford Fleming was considered a perfectionist!

Here are some bulk results:

Canadian Government Railway (this is a wide search not closely related to the federal entity)

And my favourite: Quebec Montreal Ottawa and Occidental Railway… What a fantastic paint scheme that would be a great challenge to bring back to life. And if you wonder, yes, I’ve once thought about reproducing the original QMO&O station in Downtown Quebec City which was a nice brick covered station.
Even typing very generic words such as “boxcar” can yield impressive information about Canadian and American prototypes. This is a highly recommended website and definitely now in my top list.

A big thanks to Harold for the useful tip!

Pre-CNR Challenge: CNoR 2-8-0 - Part 1

I officially started working on a Canadian Northern (CNoR) 2-8-0 (CNR Class N). The starting point is a sound-equipped Bachmann Spectrum Maine Central #507 Consolidation.

Using Adobe Illustrator, I compared both the model and the prototype identify where major modifications will be required and to determine the precise dimension and location of new parts. I made a quick mock up of a Grand Trunk 2-8-0 with the lower running board.

Then I made a second mock up for the CNoR locomotiqve. It's that version I'll be building.

The first big challenge was removing the domes. The glue used is incredibly strong and I broke the model in two halves when trying to get rid of a stubborn sand dome.

Fortunately, I found out lacquer thinner was strong enough to molten the glue and pop the domes with a small metal rod.

I'll be honest, I had quite a good laugh when I saw the boiler split in the middle... It was totally impredictable. But don't worry, the fracture is neat and once glued and sanded down, it was no more apparent.

Here a quick shot of the progress so far. The domes have been swapped and the large sand dome is under surgery to slim down enough to fit the prototype. More on that unusual method later.

Most of the work on the cab is now done. The windows are now back to their original dimensions, leaving a nice flat panel to paint the CNoR logo. I used 2mm styrene strips to reframe the opening. Two roof hatches were also sanded down. A second one will have to be built at a later time.