After years of aimless poking about, I've decided to get serious and model an actual railway. Since I want a good amount of scenery with long track runs, high trestles and a couple of ships, and since I don't own a warehouse, I'll be working in N.
After careful consideration, I chose Algoma Central for a number of reasons: It has an interesting history, runs through some of the best scenery in Canada, plus it has an operating schema that is easy to model if you're working alone (with occasional help from your wife). It has an interesting variety of rolling stock - some of it unique to the AC, plus it has a harbour and a marine division - an added bonus if you want to include model ships. It also has several impressive steel trestles, including one with a dam directly underneath it.
Although I now live in BC, I have fond memories from the 70's when I sailed the Great Lakes as an oiler with Shell and Imperial, and thus passed many times through the Soo. I never actually rode the AC (aiming for next year, providing CN doesn't drop the tour) but I'm familiar with the area, and as much as the railway itself, I want to capture the beautiful scenery.
I'm in the hunting and gathering stage right now. No track laid, but a lot of rolling stock that fits the theme, plus the time and inclination to actually do it, although I'm sure it will take many years.
To that end, I'll be asking a lot of pesky questions in the weeks and months ahead. Hopefully there are others here who are as enthusiastic about this road as I am, who can perhaps fill in some of the blanks.
For starters, here are the links I've found so far.
The Algoma Central Story, by Wilson, Nickel Belt Rails, 1984, ISBN
0-920356-04-4 (hc) or 0-920356-05-2 (sc).
Tracks of the Black Bear, by Domini and Wilson, Nickel Belt Rails, 1990, ISBN 0-920356-06-0.
Sadly, out of print, but your library should be able to get copies for you through interlibrary loan.
The Michipicoten branch through Wawa to Lake Superior has been lifted, unfortunately.
Do _not_ put off taking the Agawa Canyon trip - ridership has fallen since CN took over, and I fear it won't last much longer, despite the Sault's habit of begging for federal and provincial money to keep its tourist attractions going.
I have a collection of clippings, photos, etc, and would be happy to make photocopies for you. E-mail me off-group (there is no 'e' in the correct address.)
Hey, me too ;-) -- both the scale and the railway. It really is a neat line. We did the Canyon tour five years back, when it was still pulled by the old E8s in ACR livery. This year we rode all the way to Hearst and back, just to see what was north of Canyon. Had a great time; spent about half the trip out on the rear vestibule, must have taken close to a thousand digital photos in the two days. In fact, here's one of mine:
(Memo to self: sort through pix and post the good ones somewhere).
So will you be doing that era? I'm also interested in c.1980 (though I'm un-picky enough to blur the timeline and run anything from 1960 through 2000).
If you're worried about it going away, consider the Canyon Combo -- time to poke around at Canyon, then ride the rest of the way to Hearst. It's not as spectacular, but still interesting, especially to a modeller, and if you're interested in seeing the operations.
I have a mental list of features I just *have* to include (which as usual is somewhat larger than my basement will contain). It goes:
Sault passenger station St. Mary's Paper Algoma Steel Steelton Yard Montreal Falls dam & bridge (I've seen one done full-scale in N -- very impressive) Agawa Canyon (small piece thereof -- it's three miles long!) Log pick-up siding (1 or 2 of) Lumber mill Hawk Junction and Michipicoten harbour Junction at Franz (CP) or Oba (CN) (can't really manage both) Pile bridge at Lake Oba Excuses to run ONR power, just because. Some just plain rocks and trees and water.....
Kato has the SD-40 in two road numbers; Atlas has the GP-9.
Thanks for the link, KC! I lived in Ottawa in the mid-70's. Looks like there's some good modeling going on up there.
If you want to post pics, but don't feel like going the web route, maybe you could put them on alt.binaries.pictures.rail? They'll be archived here:
so all you have to do is remember the date you posted.
Those pass. units were FP7/9's BTW. Here's what Chris VanderHeide has to say about them on his site:
absolutely essential resource for AC modelers BTW. Thanks Chris!)
********* These units were built for CN and transferred to VIA Rail in 1978. They were acquired for use on the Algoma Central's passenger trains in 1995.
When CN took over the WC, all of the F-units were taken out of service and put up for sale as surplus. CN engines now run the freights and passenger trains out of the Sault.
********* This came as a surprise to me. My first impression was that they'd been around since day one. The paint scheme looks 1st generation, which I guess was the plan. Unfortunately they had a lot of problems, as you might expect with old units. I guess CN wasn't thrilled to see them again either, and they promptly got the boot. Here they are at the IC Homewood Shops, waiting to be sold.
I know 1752 and 1753 ended up at The Alberta Railway Museum
where the plan was to paint them CN green. Fair enough, since they started out that way, but it's a shame to see the AC paint disappear. Even if it's not 1st generation it's worth preserving, as it represents the only attempt (I know of) to recreate that look on a contemporary road. Besides, it just looks good! Fortunately, some units ended up on US tourist roads, so the scheme will probably survive. Be nice to have at least one or two of them in Canada, though.
Some of the ex-CP coaches ended up here:
Looks like they'll keep their livery (if not the road name). Hopefully the little bears will survive as well.
I think 75 to 85 gives you the best blend of old and new, so I'll likely aim for that. You don't have to make as many adjustments to switch timeframes as you do with other roads. The GP9's were there for the duration, and some passenger equipment lasted nearly as long. Ditto the gondolas. It doesn't hurt that they kept the same paint either.
I was thinking of taking a page from Allen McClelland's V&O, and having the road move forward in time. If you start at 1955, you can run steam and diesel - even an EMD F7 demonstrator! Then every couple of years you advance a decade. Or if you let a week represent a month, you'll be moving ahead by four "scale" years for every real year, pushing the fast-clock concept to it's logical conclusion.
That way you can introduce new equipment gradually, while old equipment can go to service, rebuild or scrap. You can emphasis the passage of time by gradual weathering and repainting, swapping out friction for roller bearings, removing roofwalks and ladders. That sort of thing.
Then you'll have something that feels like a prototype railway being managed over time. By year eight you'll be at the WC era, and you'll finally get to run those F9's for a year or so. Then you can either reset the clock, or sell everything and continue on as CN .
But hey... let's build it first!
Sounds like a plan. I have family in Ontario, so I'll be combining the two trips. What I'd really like is to stop at Montreal Falls and take pictures of the dam and trestle from below. (everything I've found on the web is either from the train, or from above) I'm not even sure you can do that, since it's inside the power district. I wrote to Brascan
who operate the dam, and predictably got no reply. The dam itself is called MacKay, not Montreal Falls BTW, and just to confuse things, there's a MacKay dam in Idaho, and another in Oregon!
I've done much noodling on how to best capture this road and it's major features. The trestle/dam is the big issue for me. I want to do it to scale (10 ft long... yikes!) but it also has to come apart. Everything must be modular. I don't EVER want to have to do this:
I think this subject deserves it's own thread, actually. Coming up!
Hey, that's what Santa's bringing me for Christmas! How did you know?
there's also the GP7:
's.htmand the FP7!!!
That leaves only the GP38-2, and I imagine that'll be along eventually.
There's some details you'd want to add/change to make them authentic. Plows, shrouds, bells, etc. The biggest job is moving the headlight onto the nose on the low hoods. I don't know how Kato missed this. It's not like it's unique to AC. Most Canadian, and many US roads have nose lights. It makes seeing ahead in a blizzard so much easier. Maybe someone out there has a conversion kit? Something that includes ditch lights even? (I'm not greedy - just lazy)
OK, that's an entire thread in itself, so I'll just leave it for now. At least this stuff is available. I definitely would not want to do all that painting myself.
Thanks Wolf. I was aware of these, but have never actually seen them. I'll try the library route like you suggest.
Yup. Just as the steel industry finds it's legs. I guess it wouldn't matter though. Wawa is pretty much played out, at least on a cost basis.
I'll take that advice to heart. I actually meant to go this year, but one thing and another.... Have to go next year though. Parents are getting on, and I haven't seen them in quite a while. I'll mooch a car and drive to the Soo while I'm there.
Will do, and thanks Wolf. Do you post on the Yahoo AC board? I'm going to take my quest over there soon. Just thought I'd try here first, since it's a wider audience.
I meant to add that Microtrains makes a drop-end gondola in AC. Not a perfect match, but close enough. I have one of the first ones from back when they were Kadee. Looks like the same tooling, but the car number is different, the road name is not as tall, and it lacks the reflector strips and end numbers. Good for variety, if you can find it.
Lifelike makes box car #2901 - the only AC box car to carry the bear logo. You'd have to change the doors and lose the roofwalk to make it presentable, but at least it's got the bear.
Also, Microtrains makes the Ortner car, but it's a US model - no diagonal bracing, the end railings are slightly different, plus it rides a bit too high. Good starting point though.
There are a number of Ex AC Stone cars near me in Birdsboro, Pa. They were bought by H & K (Haines & Kibblehouse) for their stone quarry business. Their engines have the name Traprock Transport on them but also the H & K logo. I will be getting some pics soon if your interested. I go there all the time as i work as a railroad taxi.
Sound interesting. I wonder if those are the old NSC Ortner cars? (big boxy things with ribs and end platforms) If so, I have quite a few pics already, but if they're drop-side cars I'd certainly be interested. Haven't seen anything like that in any of the AC pics I've got.
I know some of the NSC Barrel cars were rebuilt as ballast cars, and those turn up various places. You'd recognize them right away - big round tubby things - open top. Nothing else like them - they were unique to the AC.
I believe these are Trinity's or at least they're quite like the Trinity Stone hoppers Conrail got before the big screwing er i mean sell off...
These cars belonged to SSM or SSA (i think) which also had some ex Wisconsin Central cars so when H & K got the AC's they also got the WC's... See? hehehe... At any rate i'll send you a few as soon as i get down there in daylight and you tell me if you want them... Rich
Ah yes... the Ortner car. The AC version was a bit different - built in Canada under licence by National Steel Car.
Note the larger end panels with diagonals, and slightly different end railings.
The WC converted some of them to ballast cars. Probably sold the rest. No idea what CN did with them. If they don't have that diagonal end brace, they weren't AC, although WC might have owned some of the American built cars as well.