Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gordon Gravett's books

Gordon Gravett's name as been talked about a lot recently and I was curious to check out his technics after seeing his wonderful layout pictures.

I just received those books this morning and was quite impressed. Quite pricey, they are totally worth their price. Pertinent information and great looking technics. What I like is the fact most process are quite easy to understand, it's up to the modeller's skill to push them as far as he wants.

Highly recommanded and inspirational, Mr. Gravett's books gave the hobby a fine tool to reach another level. What may looks like skilled masterpieces are in fact built upon a simple thing all model railroader can attain easily: observing real things.

Books are available Wild Swan Publications Ltd. in UK and available at many respectable UK online bookstores:

  • Modelling Trees Part One - Broadleaf Trees
  • Modelling Trees Part Two - Conifers
  • Modelling Grassland and Landscape Detailing

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tweaking "again" the track layout

Last Thursday, we decided to start rebuilding Lairet Subdivision. All tracks, el cheapo Atlas and Life-Life Code 100, were removed. We also enlarged the hole in the wall to get more place for locomotive storage.

We mocked up the new peninsula and tracks. Thus, I had to modify the track plan accordingly. Following Jerôme's suggestion, I decided to remove the bypass track in the yard. Not only is it useless for operation, but it takes up to 18 inches of length in the yard. It means the capacity storage went up by 8 x 50ft cars! And we also saved a few costly PECO turnouts.

It also makes the yard more simpler, thus more realistic since it is so small. Less is more again and again. And that makes me happy that way. I was fortunate to be able to modify the turnouts order. Dave Cool at Canadian Express Line is always a nice fellow toward his customers. Not the biggest inventory online, but definitely good service, good prices and faster than light shipping. I wish the LHS was half that good!

I took some picture of the new tunnel. Great photographic angles were discovered. I tell you, that knew layout's gonna be a great one!

I also continued working on St-Sacrement freight station. The building is now 80% painted and need some weathering and glazing. By the way, I've been told by Jean-Pierre Veilleux that CPR piggyback loading at St-Sacrement was called Bell's Road. Since the layout only depict CPR trackage near Allenby, I consider I should name the CPR building: Bell's Road... I'll see.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Improving a Life-Life Pick Up Dump Truck

I got this little 50s pick up truck from a Life-Like construction set.

The vehicle itself isn't half bad. Not a foreground model, but still decent. I thought it would be a nice truck to have near St. Sacrement team track. The kind of truck general contractor keep under good shape for years.

The model was easy to dissamble.

I primer everything in brown red primer (Krylon spray paint).

Then, using Citadel acrylic paints, I painted the carbody robin's egg blue, a popular color of the time, the underframe brownish and rubber parts (tires, etc.) in a light dusty grey. The dumpster was painted a greyish-whitish aluminium color. I didn't bother covering completely the inside side and rather drybrushed it go keep some red primer visible. That would make a nice base for weathering. Strokes were done vertically to make it realistic.Once done, the model was dullcoated.

Finally, weathering was done with pastel chalk. I dusted the carbody with white to fade down the color. The frame received a generous coat of rust according to real life pictures. A dark brown color pencil was used to make some scratches here and there. The model isn't great even after a paint job, but still far better. Next step will be, someday, to add Quebec 1975 licence plate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MLW RS18 Madness - Part 1

I've been inspired by Marty Bernard's pictures of Quebec City in 1970 for a while. As I said in a previous post, he did a fine job in depicting the roster of an ordinary day.

Thus, I decided to make a fleet of MLW RS10/18 to have motive power on hand for operation purpose.

I already had an Atlas/Kato RS11 on hand from a former CPR/MEC ill-fated switching layout. Also, one of or best runner on the layout is an excellent DW&P Atlas Classic RS11. A fine exemple of a pleasing locomotive to run.

Since I'm fighting a nasty cold since last week end, I decided to think about how I would tackle the project. In the end, it appears the kitbashing proposed is relatively simple and straighforward. Using the Atlas/Kato locomotive as a guinea pig, I started some bashing to find out the most efficient way to convert this locomotive. It shoudn't be to hard.

Today, I found out my best bet was getting Atlas Trainman RS32 shell and scavenge them for parts. At 4 bucks a piece, it's almost free and save a lots of work!

Also, I discovered using the Atlas Classic revised version was the best option. Since it's more accurate, there's less work, fewer commercial parts to get (saves money) and the wheelbase is correct. BTW, second-hand newer RS11 aren't that expensive compare to some Atlas/Kato version.

I was also able to work some details out while discussing the project with fellow modeller Wayne Toth whom experience in kitbashing spans decades and hundreds of models. I'm confident the price of each unit should be about 125$ once completed - including the decoder and acquisition price. It far cheaper than getting a Proto 1000 RS10/18 which dimensions are off at many places. Also, I can freely detail each unit according to the prototype.

I also set my mind on which unit I will model. I really wanted locomotives that worked in Quebec City at some point in their respective career. Thanks Marty Bernard, I know what to do now:
  • Canadian National MLW RS18 #3714
  • Canadian National MLW RS18 #3729
  • Canadian Pacific MLW RS10S #8586
  • Canadian Pacific MLW RS18 #8800

Lairet Subdivision : Updated layout plan

As the moment to receive tracks and rebuilt the layout is nearing, the Lairet Subdivision layout plan is maturing.

I had the pleasure to discuss a lot with good railfan friend Jean-Pierre Veilleux who knows Quebec City area since is childhood in the 50s. His input conforted the club choices over track arrangement. Leaving the anecdoctical aspect of the area, the layout will focus on industrial switching on Lairet Subdivision, a 5-mile CN former subdivision that covered our area from Limoilou Yard to Allenby Jct with CPR. Not depicted is Hedley Jct itself that connected St. Raymond Subdivision (to Chicoutimi) and Murray Bay Subdivision south to Limoilou Yard at Hedleyville (which is staged and hidden in the furnace room left to the yard).

If you want a good idea of Limoilou yard in the early 70s, take a look at Marty Bernard's collection. Very impressive exhibition of first and second generation diesel locomotives.

Modifications are minor but make a big improvement. I decided to rebuild the peninsula at 45 degrees to use commercially available crossings at Allenby. This new design makes the room larger and can accommodate easily two operating team. Until recently, operators at Limoilou yard were obstructing the only aisle in the room.

Also, it makes Allenby more similar to the real thing. Curves are gentler and longer which helps make things look bigger than they are.

Not seen on the layout plan is a rebuilt returning loop in the storage. Minimum radius is now 24 inches instead of 18 inches in the hidden part. Much before operation-wise.

On visible parts of Lairet Sub, minimal radius is 32" with an average of 36" on mainline. Maximum goes at 78" at Allenby. Mainline turnouts are #8, yard is made of #7 curved turnouts and #6 turnouts. "Large enough for passenger traffic, but designed for freight operation."

Personally, I love to see trains flowing smoothly on gentle curve, makes the best pictures!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Locomotive Roster - Part 2

Marty Bernard's journey to Quebec City in August 1970 gives us a good idea of locomotives working there on a typical day. He bothered to photograph almost every locomotives he encountered that day, making it an almost perfect snapshot.

Using his pictures, I was able to get a quite precise idea of the roster. That way I was able to figure out how many locomotives of each type could be found at Quebec City. Then, I scaled down the number of units to represent the fact our layout is about half the size of real life operations.

Number per type reads as 2 (1) [1].

2 stands for the number pictured by Marty Bernard.
(1) is half that number to fit the layout
[1] is the adjustment I make to make it more realistic
Then some pertinent remarks as needed.

Canadian National:

C424: 3 (1.5) [2] - I rounded at 2 because they always run in pair and 1.5 is practical! I have one Atlas in wet noodle [#3214] and 1 Atlas-Kato in zebra stripes [#3201] (may need a repaint or to get another one in the right scheme since Atlas Classic locomotives are better detailed).

GP9: 6 (3) [3] - The work horse at Quebec City. I have 2 new Bachmann waiting their new paint scheme [#4492 & 4521] and probably will need another one, probably a Bachmann to have a consistent fleet at low price. Or maybe a Proto 2000 in green/gold livery since there's photographic proof one still operated at Limoilou in 1967 [#4509].

RS18: 3 (1.5) [1] - I'll have to get and bash an Atlas Classic RS11 [#3714]. I already gathered the detailing parts. Since it's a serious and costly bash, I don't expect to make a second one.

S4: 2 (1) [1] - The club has an Atlas GT S4 that will be detailed and painted to fit one of Quebec City switcher [#8176].

FPA4: 4 (2) [1] - The main passenger locomotive in Quebec City. However, since we don't model Palace Station, I feel it's useless to get more. I already have a Proto 2000 PA4 in CN livery that will make a good stand-in [#TBD].

B-units: 2 (1) [1] - EMD and MLW, only needs one to complete a set [#TBD]. Since FPA4 often pushed short local trains in the 70s, I'm not in a hurry to get one. Maybe a Rapido in the future, who knows.

Steam Generator: 4 (2) [1] - Lots of freight locomotives pulled trains in Quebec City area, mainly on Murray Bay Sub [#TBD]. Since we don't operate passenger trains, getting one from Rapido would be more than enough.

Budd: 1 (0.5) [1] - Acquiring a Budd in the future would be a nice move to get the feeling of the era. But it's not a priority so far [#6116].

Wood caboose: 2 (1) [2] - I already have a True Line caboose in wet noodle. Since we operate many freight trains, I have also built a Sylvan Scale resin Pointe Saint-Charles caboose that also fits the era.

Canadian Pacific:

RS10: 2 (1) [1] - We already own a Proto 1000 in Multimark scheme.

RS18: 2 (1) [1] - Building a RS18 is a costly and lenghty endeavour. If I can grab a Proto 1000 specimen in Maroon & Grey scheme, it would be a possible way to add it to the fleet.

S2-S3: 2 (1) [1] - I have a Proto 2000 S3 in Maroon & Grey scheme, block lettering).

Budd: 2 (1) [1] - Would be a nice future addition to depict passenger operation at Saint-Sacrement Station.

Wood caboose: 1 (0.5) [1] - I own a True Line version in Script scheme as found at Palace Station on 1970s pictures.

Steel caboose: 1 (0.5) [1] - We've got a Rapido Transcona caboose in Multimark scheme as seen on era pictures.

National Harbour Board:

GE 44-Ton: 1 (0.5) [1] - I already repainted a Bachmann Spectrum in the correct paint scheme.


Other locomotives will be added to this preliminary roster. In fact, other locomotives such as M630C weren't unusual on CP Rail intermodal trains to Wolfe's Cove. I already got one from Bowser. Also, M630C were also a common sight in Quebec area, pulling long intercity freight trains, including grain trains. I also have two Bowser unit in wet noodle and zebra stripes schemes.

Finally, GP38-2W, GP40W and M420 were often seen in the mid-1970s. So far, we got two Atlas GP38-2W in zebra stripes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Locomotive Roster - Part 1

Setting the layout in a 1972-1976 bracket made me wonder about locomotives used in Quebec City at that time. Quickly, a coherent fleet appeared. Pictures used are from Marty Bernard, Gerry Burridge and a few other collections available over Internet. This overview will help me to build the required fleet. So far, I've got most models needed thought many need redetailing and repainting to better represent the prototypes. Models are Life-Like Proto 2000, Atlas Classic, Bowser and Bachmann (new generation).

Canadian National:

Most locomotives are in CN Wet Noodle scheme (post-1961).

C424: #3222, 3236, 3212 (Always paired, sometimes with a GP9, for freight trains)

GP9: #4101, 4105 (excursion trains in Charlevoix), 4423, 4492, 4455, 4463, 4509 (green and yellow scheme), 4521 (Alone or paired, always with a steam generator while pulling a passenger train. Definitively the multi-purpose work house in the area.)

RS18: #3714, 3729 (pulling passenger and freight trains.)

S4: #8176, 8189 (Yard switchers.)

FPA4: #6768, 6769, 6771, 6786 (Alone or paired with a B unit.)

FPB4: #6863 (Paired with a FPA4.)

F9B: #6635, 6863 (Paired with a FPA4.)

RDC1 Budd: #6116

Caboose: Older wood type with wet noodle scheme and Pointe-Saint-Charles design.

Canadian Pacific:

Most locomotives are in CP Script Maroon & Grey scheme.

RS10: #8580, 8586

RS18: #8779 (Multimark), 8800

S2: #7013 (Script, this yard switcher was assigned to Quebec City for a long time.)

S3: #6523 (Block)

RDC1 Budd: #9055, 9309 (all Multimark)

Caboose: Older wood type with Script scheme and Transcona design (Multimark).

National Harbour Board:

GE 44-Ton: #1

Friday, December 13, 2013

Some lesson of Geography

I’ve been talking a lot about this layout but never really presented a comprehensive understanding of the area. Quebec City never was an important rail hub but rather a secondary terminal. For this reason, I don’t expect railfans across the nation and worldwide to know it. Nowadays, rail transportation is rather minimal here compared to what it used to be. But truth to be told, there’s still a lot of action, mainly in handling of bulk commodities like grain, alumine, coal, jet fuel, fertilizer, salt and others. Quebec City is also home of Canam-Structal plant shipping many steel bridges and building structures by rail all over North America.

On the map, most important railway related features of the city are presented. Also, some well-known landmarks as Château Frontenac, Palace Station (terminal of VIA Rail Corridor) and Plains of Abraham where Canada’s fate was decided in 1759. CNR tracks are orange, CPR tracks are red and abandoned tracks are blue.

Three areas inspired our layout, namely “Lairet Subdivision” located in Limoilou Ward, “Bassin Louise” which is Quebec City old harbour and “L’Anse-au-Foulon” (Wolfe’s Cove) which is a bulk terminal.

Our layout isn’t an exact reproduction of these areas, but still faithful enough for someone to recognize clearly them in HO scale.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saint-Sacrement Station – Good Enough! – Part 1

Sometimes, you just need to call it good enough to move forward. It’s more about knowing where your efforts pay the most.

Saint-Sacrement station is a now abandoned modern station located in St. Malo industrial park in Quebec City. It was built by CPR in the wake of Quebec City downtown urban renewal when historic and iconic Palace Station – built to fit Château Frontenac architecture – was closed down and slated for demolition. Don’t ask me what those people where thinking, but feel safe, Palace Station survived in this ocean of destruction and reopened later under VIA Rail.

The new station was/is a spartan building design in a dirt cheap brutalist architectural style. Forget fancy brick and wood work from old times; forget modern free layout plan and flowing style. It had none; just a cheap stand-in for a dying transportation mode.

As bad as it was, it still had some charm from a modeller perspective, including a piggyback terminal, a gritty industrial setting and a signal bridge! Why the signal bridge? Because they are seldom found in Eastern Quebec were single-track mainline is the rule. When you think about signal bridge in the area, you automatically think about CPR mainline East to Allenby in Quebec City.

Anyway, when came the time to model the station, I automatically thought about a half-finished kitbash of DPM generic structures (Cutting Co. and Taxi Cab). Originally, it would have been a factory on an ill-fated switching layout but I felt it was fine material to depict a modern freight-oriented station. In fact, it reminded me ex-CRP Farnham station located in Southern Quebec (home of now infamous MMA’s Quebec operations).

Farnham Station was built in the early 50s, replacing a grandiose burn down structure from Victorian era. Not a masterpiece, it’s not an ugly duckling either. Honestly, it has charm with its pure brick and stone lines; a perfect prototype for a dying CPR line in downtown Quebec City.

The DPM bash, with its two-storey office and station and a one-storey warehouse was perfect to fit the bill. But to get a modern flavour, it definitely needed large and gracious steel over hanged roof so typical of the era. Using laminated styrene sheets and Evergreen roof cladding, I easily made one similar to Farnham. It totally changed the look of the building, helping to hide its DPM origin.

Another crucial detail was windows. Often, in the 1950, it was popular to had horizontal mullions on sash windows to express better a sense of horizontality and speed so dear at that time. It was done by gluing thin strips of paper on the back of the structure with solvent cement. Yes, solvent cement is an excellent bonding agent between porous material like paper and styrene when used with care.

Downspouts and electrical wiring were added to the structure to hide non aesthetical seams and give some depth and realism to the station. With most bashing done, only painting and adding small details such as railing and light fixtures are left. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Streamlining your intentions: "Less is more" approach to track planning

The layout design is now more than 3 years old. Many concepts, ideas and revolutions took place since the first run, but I’m quite pleased by the fact my original design still stands its ground so far. At least, I like to believe it…

I remember when I planned it all back in early 2010. At that time, I was playing avidly OpenTTD, a classic 90s computer game about transportation. It was a revelation because before playing that game, I only focussed my model railroading in replicating what I saw. How trains looked was important but I gave little thought about how they operated.

OpenTTD isn’t the paragon of realistic operation, but at least, it’s rational. At some point, my rail network grew beyond my limited knowledge of railway managing. What a mess it was! It took me hours to learn about signals, orders and many other neglected aspects. Soon, stations and yards grew in size but also became more effective and fun to run. Mainlines, branchlines and sidings now had a purpose. Better, the invested money started to pay off. Want a thrill to see these hundred trains running through the land, delivering goods in a timely manner. To me it all became clear: operation was fun! So much fun it was also a food for thoughts instead of a cosmetic hobby like other modelling. This game sparked my renewed interest in model railroading big time. Lessons learned virtually had to be applied to the “real” modelling world… I was ready for a challenge and Hedley-Junction layout was soon to be born.
Small but effective, the new layout was built around a desired flow of operation inspired by the minimalist CN Lairet Subdivision in downtown Quebec City. Tracks needed were identified, their role defined and relation between them established. From that sketch of interactions a new yard – Limoilou – was born. A small yard I’m still proud of after many operation sessions. A yard that survived all makeover schemes since then. I could hardly add a new track; I could hardly remove a single track. It’s not perfect, but to be honest, it perfectly fills in the role it has been designed and built for. It’s all about pertinence!
On the other hand, I had quite a hard time settling on an efficient pattern of industries. Honestly, too much ideas, too little place… Or to be exact: too much conflicting ideas for a given place. I was afraid to make things clean and logical like the yard. I went for the anecdote instead of brushing an overall operating scheme. And you know what? I knew all about it from the start… but couldn’t accept the cold hard facts. Man, we like to fill up every little empty space! Almost a phobia!

The ill-fated St. Lawrence Cement plant

Earlier this year, a big ill-conceived cement plant found its place on the layout. Track design was realistic and well-done but the structure couldn’t fit the available space. It became quickly a parody of itself. No wonder it was dismantled as soon as it was built.

More than you can handle - The cement plan layout

Finally, in a recent realistic operation session, I found out switching about 30 feet of mainline was taking almost 3 hours. Enough to tire any operator I know. It was clear, we had to make room for something new and start thinking all over.
The savior was a small 14-miles railway in Joliette, QC called Chemin de fer de Lanaudière. Utterly minimal, it was everything but plain. Operation made sense, switching industries called for simple but interesting moves and interchange with Class I railways made it feel larger that really was. I was convinced Hedley-Junction had to disappear and quickly studied the new prototype. Soon a new streamlined layout plan was born. I can’t say my fellow club members were enthusiastic, but they recognized it had its strong points. We knew we had to do something, but we had to step aside for a while. It was decided we would take a break for model railroading, as long as needed. Talk about a smart move!

Then a few weeks ago, club resumed its activities. First of all, we evaluated the layout features coldly. Good designs would be kept as they are or improved, other unsatisfying area would be modified to suit our needs. Funny as it can be, we found out most of the layout was good enough to survive. But Hedley-Junction industrial district was identified as a real let-down in term of appeal and operation. We particularly discussed the small peninsula future. I was convinced it had to go, but Jerome and Louis-Marie had a different opinion.
My Lanaudière layout plan used it to create an interchange point with a diamond and that caught their imagination. Jerome always advocated we should represent Allenby, a busy CPR-CNR crossing in Quebec City. The peninsula was good enough to make it happens following the Lanaudière proposal. It’s no exaggeration to say this was the layout turning point. It was now possible to envision the entire rail network before us and select pertinent features over anecdotes.

The actual updated track plan - "Less is more"

The result was a stunningly streamlined but realistic track plan. Over 50% of available area is now pure mainline running in a suburban Limoilou’s neighbourhood. Most scenery is focussed toward a realistic depiction of track roadbed and we now have a real interchange point with CPR. This gives the layout a real destination for its trains and a great photogenic spots for Multimark CP Rail MLW fleet!

BTW, track will soon be upgraded with PECO code 83 turnouts. We particularly appreciate how easy to operate PECO turnouts are. They are fairly nice to look at and no need for complicated and costly operating devices. Most turnouts on mainline will be #8. Yard will be made out of curved #7 and straight #6 turnouts. Minimal radius is 36 inches, maximum is 44 inches. Why? Because it's more realistic, but mainly because operation is easier. Having a yard on a curve can only works if you have no coupling issues. Also, I wish my U-2-g can travel again the rail without causing shorts. Anyway, with less track you have more place to use longer and better looking turnouts for smoother operation.

Seeking your state of mind

Everybody who built a layout knows at some point it is an evolving beast that follows many rational and irrational influences.

When the project started, we were stuck on the 50s and the 60s. The idea was all about diesel, steam, CNR green and yellow, CPR maroon and grey. We also thought it was the busiest and most interesting era of Quebec City, before the golden era downfall occurred in late 1959. People here like to think they had their “revolution” but one must admit the same process occurred all over North America about the same time. 60s and early 70s were all about perceived modernization and rejection of the past. Mid-70s onward marked a shift from industrialization to a tertiary sector-oriented economy were trains struggled to keep their place. All this may seems a big caricature of recent history but it helps show us how simple minded we can be when picking up our modelling era. At this point, I feel like all railroading eras are in fact great opportunities. The real deal is to find an era so rooted to our personal experience that we want to replicate it in miniature to be able to live it again.

A "wet noodled" locomotive pulling a string of brown boxcars...
Our club story is no different. All three club members grew up discovering trains by watching CNR orange and black “wet noodled” locomotives pulling strings of brown boxcars, dirty hoppers and a guy waving the hand in the caboose . All we knew about CPR was their flashing Multimark-schemed rolling stock only seen on toy trains. Only Louis-Marie, the older of us three had faint memories of seeing regular local passenger services while a young kid.

Despite loving the 50s, we must admit we get excited every time a new Canadian prototype HO locomotive is released, especially 1960s and 1970s Alco-MLW stuff. We all love classical caboose designs such as CNR Pointe Saint-Charles and CPR Transcona. We hardly have the same feeling for late steamers. We like them, but hardly can feel the same nostalgia. Truth to be told, we never saw them in action but we witnessed MLW M420 in their glorious days. As poetic transition era can be, its memories aren’t ours. In that state of mind, it’s hard to feel totally involved into a project and more honest to just take a leap toward what made railroading such a blast when we were kids.

Many have said it about model railroading… Better stick with what inspire you and makes you feels trains are great.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Moving forward!

Some would think that switching eras, particularly moving from the 50s to the 70s, would mean a loss in charm and historic background. But when you think about it, you find out this era was thriving and full of details that make model railroading so exciting and fun...

The 1960s and 1970s were tough years for railroading in Quebec City area. At that time, important cuts affected passenger services prior to VIA Rail, including the closure of St. Raymond and Murray Bay Subs and discontinuation of service on Quebec Central. But the most drastic change was closure of historic CPR Palace Station in the wake of an ill-conceived urban renewal projects featuring highway junctions sprawling over the former transportation hub. Tracks in downtown were removed up to Cardona junction, now a simple track leading to Wolfe’s  Cove tunnel. Lack of interest about sustainable transportation, in particular railways, was underscored by the new location of Quebec City passenger terminal in a decaying WW2 industrial neighbourhood located in the middle of nowhere and not linked to bus routes. That new station’s life would be as short as can be and was quickly closed by VIA Rail. That epoch also saw the destruction of most railway structures still standing in the area, including virtually all train stations and service facilities. One could have though was definitely done over railways.

At the same time, CPR was trying to diversify its activities by implementing an important container business at Wolfe’s Cove. It didn’t last long but still was a thriving source of traffic for the time. At the same time, CPR was also fancying the idea to ferry cars to Quebec North Shore. A new pier was under construction when the deal fell through. The new ferry would be located in Matane and operated by arch-rival CNR.
Meanwhile, CNR operation in the area were still the same as the 50s, even if the downtown core businesses were closing down one after another.  Most subdivisions were intact and profitable at some extent, including textile, cement and paper industries. At this time, a decade before Ultramar built a refinery at St. Romuald, Wolfe’s Cove was covered by dozen of oil tanks were another source of recurrent rail traffic.
This era was also best characterized by many attempts by CNR and CPR to modernize their corporate image with mixed results. The colourful new schemes, side by side with older designs weathered by times, created a mosaic bringing together two worlds. It wasn’t unusual to take a glimpse at a glamorous but faded yellow and green CNR locomotive lashed up with a dramatic and contrasting orange and black engine sporting the undying “wet noodle” cleverly designed by Fleming. Later, CPR would make its own bold statement by unveiling the CP Rail era with its mind boggling Multimark logo. Ill-fated and despised by hard core followers, one must still admit it was the most coherent answer to CNR made by CPR executives since the 50s.

At the same time, car designs evolved quickly in size, specialization and shape. Iconic Canadian rolling stock like slabside hoppers, cylindrical hoppers, modern all-steel caboose were shaping a truly indigenous railway landscape. It was also the last days of large scale competition on diesel locomotive market with manufacturers such as MLW and CLC still in business. In that respect, another Canadian feature, now a staple of North American railways was introduced: the safety cab, known as the wide nose cab. Appearing on iconic locomotives such as M420 and GP40, it spread like a wildfire across the continent. Meanwhile, larger 3-axle designs were hitting the rail, including Alco Century series.
No wonder the 60s and 70s were a pivotal era of railroading, as much as the golden 50s. It was a time of modernization, rationalization and reorganization that would bring our actual understanding of a freight-oriented train world.