Rapido Newsletter Vol. 119
©2019 Rapido Trains Inc.
Dear Rapido Customer,

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year! If you're reading this at the office in January, we're glad we're helping you procrastinate from work. Go ahead - procrastinate more and read the whole thing!

This action-packed newsletter marks our 15th anniversary! Read all the way to the bottom for a potted history of Rapido Trains Inc.

In this newsletter:

  • Amtrak Action! HO Scale Rohr Turboliner!
  • Commuter Action! HO Scale GMD F59PH!
  • Freight Action! HO Scale MLW M420!
  • Rapido N Scale Update
  • RS-18 DCC Motor/Decoder Issue - Update
  • We're hiring... again!
  • Congratulations Janet on Ten Years at Rapido!
  • Rapido/WCRA FP9A Restoration - New Video!
  • Delivery Schedule
  • Looking Back on 15 Years of Rapido
Yes, we are really making this!
Space-age graphic courtesy Amtrak.
Amtrak Action! HO Scale Rohr Turboliner!

Yes, it's true! We're really planning to make the iconic Rohr Turboliner! But there's a catch... We honestly don't know if enough people want a Turboliner to make it happen. So this is a conditional announcement. Please reserve your Turboliner by March 17th. You will get an early bird discount of 5%, and it will give us an idea of whether or not the Turboliner is a viable model.

We did this with the N scale TurboTrain back in 2017 and it worked out really well. Enough people wanted the train for us to make it, and it ended up being a smashing success.

Please click here or on the image below to watch our Rohr Turboliner launch video.
Jordan has found true love... in the Turboliner!
What is the Turboliner?

In the 1970s Amtrak successfully operated French-built RTG Turboliners in the Midwest. Looking to build more Turboliners for the Empire Corridor, Amtrak turned to Rohr Industries in California.

Entering service in September 1976, these new RTL Turboliners quickly proved their value, bringing passengers back to the rails. Painted in Amtrak’s stunning red, white and blue Phase III paint scheme, they operated on most Empire Corridor services out of New York City. They also operated to Montreal, Buffalo, Detroit, and occasionally Toronto.
Preliminary artwork for the complete Turboliner set.
This is Amtrak Phase 3 (Early)
The Rapido Model

We have visited the remaining Turboliners and taken hundreds of photographs and measurements, and we have original blueprints of the train. This model will have the usual Rapido level of detail.

Each Turboliner model features:

  • Accurately designed using original blueprints and field measurements
  • Tinted windows, full interior details and flicker-free interior lighting
  • Separate factory-installed grab irons
  • Highly-detailed trucks including third-rail pickup shoes
  • Each Power Car comes with a smooth, reliable drive system for optimal performance.
  • The Power Cars also have full interior detail!
  • Working headlights, marker lights and cab-mounted strobe lights
  • DCC models feature accurate sounds sourced and remastered from original videos
  • DCC models also feature two sound decoders - one in each power car. We haven't yet decided whose sound decoders we are using.
The four paint schemes being offered in our production run.
The Turboliner will be available in 5-car sets. Additional individual coaches can also be ordered to create longer sets. A special set decorated in Phase V is also available, along with a set of power cars decorated for the X2000 demonstration. As usual, each scheme is dependent on there being enough demand.
Turboliner on the Hudson!
Photo courtesy Mike Danneman.
Here's an extended set with a mix of two paint schemes!
There is a prototype for everything.
Photo courtesy John Eull.
As I mentioned at the top, the Rapido Rohr Turboliner announcement is entirely conditional based upon orders received by March 17th, 2020. Orders received before that date will qualify for the early bird discount, and that applies to orders with your hobby shop as well as directly with us.

The 3D design of the train is about halfway done, as you can see from the render below. Provided we have enough orders by March 17th we will start the tooling then and we should have samples by mid-June. The final order deadline will be announced then.
Preliminary render of the RTL Turboliner Power Car
I have to give credit to our own Jordan Smith, who has been pushing every day for us to make the Turboliner since he started working at Rapido four years ago. Don't let Jordan down - please encourage everyone and his cousin to order a Turboliner!

Full information, including product numbers and pricing, can be found here.

Please spread the word!
A GO F59PH pushes its train past Pottery Road on the Richmond Hill line.
Photo courtesy Stephen Gardiner.
Commuter Action! HO Scale GMD F59PH!

We are delighted to announce the much-requested F59PH locomotive in HO scale! This dependable workhorse has been the face of commuter passenger trains in Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere for many years. And now it's finally getting the full Rapido treatment!

The F59PH was designed by General Motors Diesel Division for GO Transit in the 1980s, as the Toronto commuter railway was looking for a new passenger locomotive to upgrade its fleet. It had to be able to quickly accelerate between stations and needed a separate HEP (head end power) generator. In the end, a total of 73 locomotives were built for GO Transit and Metrolink. Secondhand owners include AMT/EXO (Montreal), Metra (Chicago), TRE (Dallas) and NCDOT (Raleigh).

We have just received our first injection samples. Don't they look swell?
First injection samples of our new F59PH
These are the Phase 1 (left) and Phase 2 GO Transit versions
Metrolink and Metra versions of the F59PH
First test samples shown.
The biggest differences between the Phase 1 (front) and Phase 2 (rear) models are the rear grille arrangement and the fuel tank size.
First test samples shown.
Of course, being a Rapido model the F59PH will look snazzy when it derails and falls down the embankment. Check out that underframe detail!
The Rapido F59PH features:

  • Scaled from field measurements and blueprints
  • End metal handrails with plastic stanchions
  • Prototype-specific details
  • Incredible underframe detail including traction motor cables and other piping, and a ridiculous number of separately-applied parts
  • Etched-metal grilles and separate, stamped-metal grab irons
  • Full cab interior
  • Heavy, die-cast chassis with Rapido’s NEW coreless motor with dual flywheels and silky-smooth drive
  • Operating headlights, rear light, and ditch lights
  • Operating ground lights and step lights
  • Can we just say that again? WORKING STEP LIGHTS!
  • Tri-colour class lights (white, green, red) or red markers, as appropriate
  • DCC/Sound units come equipped with an ESU LokSound decoder

Before you ask... Yes, we are tooling the current E-Bell and horn combination that are used on GO's units today.

And don't think these are only useful for urban layouts. Check out GO 552 on the Coast Starlight! We're making the Amtrak F40s for this photo too!
The GO F59PH can be justified on any layout... including one set in California!
Photo courtesy Joe Blackwell.
Rear details include different backup lights and marker lights or marker light covers.
First test samples shown.
Here's one last view of a GO unit, this time the left side.
What a beauty, eh?
First test sample shown.
The first run of F59PH locomotives includes:

  • GO Transit
  • Metra
  • Metrolink
  • AMT
  • TRE
  • Ex-GO Lease Scheme

Full information can be found here. All paint schemes are subject to final license agreements. Please note that some prices may increase without notice, so it's best to order early. If you want an undecorated or an unnumbered unit they can be made by special order in batches of six.

The order deadline is April 20, with delivery in the fall.

A big shout out to Dan Darnell. Making the F59PH was his idea and he's been working on this project for more than two years.
Almost-new 2566 and 2567 pose in Montreal Yard in early 1977.
Note the Tempo RS-18 keeping it company!
Photo courtesy Ken Goslett.
Freight Action! HO Scale MLW M420!

We can honestly say this is the most-requested locomotive at Rapido. But the funny thing is, it's mostly requested by one guy. We call him Postcard Guy, but his real name is Jimmy. We get a postcard almost every week asking us to make an M420.

We're proud to tell Postcard Guy - and everyone else - that it's finally happening! Woo-hoo! And on top of that... we're giving Postcard Guy one free model. Thanks for your persistence, Jimmy.

We are delighted to announce the first ever plastic model of the Montreal Locomotive Works swansong, the iconic M420 in HO scale. I definitely need a fleet of these for my Kingston Sub layout to keep my RS-18s company.
A selection of M420 request postcards from Postcard Guy.
A trio of M420s on a manifest freight in New Hampshire, 1979.
Photo courtesy Kaluza-Mueller Collection.
The early 1970s were a time of massive change in Canadian locomotive design. CN’s mechanical boss, Bill Draper, worked with MLW designers, locomotive crews and the unions to devise a new cab design for freight road locomotives. This would become known as a (Canadian) Comfort/Safety Cab. The first locomotive to be equipped with this cab was the M420 and it hit the rails in 1973, just a few weeks before the similarly-equipped GP38-2(W).
3D render of our M420. We particularly like the optional open front door.
The MLW M420 was equipped with the ALCO 12V-251c3 prime mover producing 2000 H.P. Most M420 units rode on MLW ZWT (Zero Weight-Transfer) trucks. Our model represents CN's MR-20b class 2530-2559 (delivered 1974), and MR-20c class 2560-2579 (delivered 1976).

BC Rail and P&W require extensive (and expensive) new tooling. We will look at doing one or both roadnames in the second run. If you can't wait, we do offer undecorated models. We expect to have our first samples of the M420 model in the next few weeks. So far, four moulds are ready. Thankfully two of them were the body and the cab! Check out what arrived in our office yesterday:
First injection test sample of the M420 cab and body.
Phwoar! What a beauty!
The staircase inside the nose will be visible when the door is open!
Our HO Scale MLW M420 locomotive features:

  • 3D scanned from an actual M420. This is as close to real as it gets!
  • MR-20b and MR-20c classes available in the first run
  • Rapido’s innovative dead straight metal side handrails with plastic stanchions
  • Incredible underframe detail including traction motor cables and other piping, rerailer and a silly number of separately-applied parts
  • Two or three panel radiators, louvered or large opening electrical cabinet door, open or closed truck bearings
  • Operating headlights, rear lights, tri-colour class lights, and illuminated cab control stand
  • Separate grab irons and handrails installed at the factory
  • Highly detailed cab interior with optional open front door (yes you read that correctly)
  • Heavy, die-cast chassis with Rapido’s new coreless motor with dual flywheels and silky-smooth drive
  • DC/Silent (21-pin DCC Ready) or DC/DCC/Sound (Rapido Sound by TCS)
  • Accurate sounds recorded from a real M420
The 100th anniversary coin along with the starring locomotive!
Photo courtesy Don Jaworski.
A picture of M420 #2557 was recently used on the Royal Canadian Mint's CN 100th anniversary coin. As this is one of the numbers we are producing, we have purchased these special coins and they will randomly be inserted into ten models of 2557. The boxes will be sealed so you can't check before you buy!

Click here for more information on the model or to order direct.

The M420 order deadline is March 31st. The tooling is already 95% finished. We'll have these models in your hands in the fall.
Mark Kaluza is in the middle of hand painting two of our F40 samples for a new video we're shooting in January. We grabbed this photo to show you how they are coming along. Beauty, eh?
Rapido N Scale Update

In Rapido News 113 we launched a trainload of new N scale products aimed at the Canadian market. And then we heard from our hobby shops, who told us their customers were concerned about how to pay for all of these if they arrive together.

It is a valid concern, so we are now spreading out our new Canadian N scale products over a longer period of time. We will not deliver any more than one project at a time, and we will space them out as much as we can. We are going to leave the order desk open for each of the N scale products until we actually start making them.

In the meantime, we're finishing up the tooling. Originally we did not plan to tool the correct accessible lifts on the Prestige Park Cars, but the factory convinced us it was easy to do. Have a look:
Accurate accessible lift on our Prestige Park Cars
So, looking ahead, here are our tentative order deadlines and delivery dates. Click on any product name to go to the product web page.

You can click here to watch our initial product video for the LRC and F40 locomotives or click on the image below:
The LRC coach tooling is finished; the F40PH-2D tooling will be finished in March; The Canadian tooling will be finished in April; and the FP9A tooling will be finished in May. We will share more YouTube videos of these products before the order deadlines.

Please help spread the word - they won't all arrive at one time and N scalers can order with confidence.
A scene from our new RS-18 motor/decoder fix video
RS-18 DCC Motor Issue - Update

As mentioned in our last newsletter, we have been having an unusually high number of failures in our DCC-equipped RS-18 locomotives due to the decoder settings and the motors. We have worked with ESU to develop new CV settings that will reduce the strain on the motors and reduce the likelihood of a motor failure by more than 90%.

Using your DCC system, please change the following CVs on your RS-18:

CV51 = 20
CV52 = 5
CV54 = 25

Note that all RS-18 locomotives leaving our warehouse now will have received this modification before being shipped.

Click here or on the image below to watch our video, in which we show you how to change the CV settings using NCE and Digitrax DCC systems, and we outline how we're preventing this from happening in the future.
We show you how to set the CVs on NCE and Digitrax.
If your RS-18 motor has already failed, adjusting the CV settings will not solve it. You need to send it back to us for repair. Please use the form on our web site to arrange a return.

If you have an Alco RS-11 on order, you should be fine. We have reprogrammed all of the RS-11 locomotives with these new settings as default. If your RS-11 has any running problems, it is more likely dirty wheels or lack of break-in time than a fried motor.

Because it takes over four hours to do a motor swap on an RS-18, our warranty department is swamped and the turnaround time is a totally unacceptable 10-12 weeks. We have three full-time people working in warranty and we're now on the lookout for more warranty technicians. Read on...
Rapido Prairie Dog
Prairie Dogs are welcome to apply because they are so cute.
We're hiring... again!

Rapido is on the lookout for a few new people to work in our Markham head office. You need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to apply.

Full-time or part-time warranty technician
If you are a talented model railroader and you can take models apart and put them back together without breaking stuff, please get in touch. You need to have experience with DCC as well as soldering. But be warned... you have to pass the Test of Dave in order to come on board. The Test of Dave is fraught with peril. Only the bravest will survive.

Full-time warehouse manager
We need someone with extensive logistics/warehousing experience to come and get our warehouse in shape. This means implementing new processes and helping to integrate our shipping department with our accounting and customer service team to ensure things move efficiently and smoothly. This will let Jordan go back to marketing and customer service, the role he was actually hired to do four years go. If you are also a model railroader and can help with warranty repairs when the warehouse isn't busy, you will have a definite advantage over other applicants.

Please click here to visit our Rapido Careers page and submit your resume and cover letter.
Janet made a couple of cameos in our first RS-18 video.
Jordan was not amused.
Congratulations Janet on Ten Years at Rapido!

Janet Golfman started at Rapido as a part-time bookkeeper in late 2009. Today she is Chief Financial Officer of the Rapido Galactic Empire. And she's a Jedi.

Every time we put out a video without Janet in it, everyone asks for more Janet. Click on the image above to watch Janet cameo in our RS-18 video, or click on the image below to watch Janet co-host our visit to Dave Abeles's Conrail layout.
Janet starred in our tour of Dave Abeles's layout and surprised everyone with her extensive knowledge of Conrail operations in New York State.
Congratulations Janet on your ten-year anniversary! And thanks for putting up with all us train nerds for so long!
6520 is unveiled to over 100 admirers in Squamish, BC.
Rapido/WCRA FP9A Restoration - New Video!

Back in April 2000 I had an article published in Branchline, the magazine of the Bytown Railway Society. I was lamenting the fact that our museums and tourist railroads seemed intent on pretending the 1960s and 1970s just happened to other people. Just about every piece of preserved CN passenger equipment was painted in the 1954 colour scheme.

Nineteen years later I was finally given the opportunity to do something about it. Al Lill of the CNRHA reached out to me and informed me that ex-CN FP9A 6520 was in need of a new coat of paint, and would Rapido consider sponsoring the paint job if we painted it in the 1961 colours?

I had to think about it for at least 0.3 seconds. Fast forward to last month and Jordan flew out to British Columbia to witness the unveiling of 6520. The cost of the beautiful 1960s paint job was shared equally by the CNRHA, Rapido Trains Inc. and my friend Jeff Birmingham. Thanks to the West Coast Railway Association to being open to the idea of preserving this iconic paint scheme, and to the CNRHA for getting the ball rolling in the first place. Click here or on the image below to watch the video.
Isn't she gorgeous?
2019 might as well be called the year of the FP9A. Rapido was also heavily involved in the cosmetic restoration of VIA 6309, sister unit to 6520 (which also used to be a VIA 6300-series locomotive).

6309 is now safe and sound - and looking smoking hot - inside the Angus Pavilion at Exporail, the Canadian railway museum near Montreal. Doesn't she look gorgeous?
6309 looks resplendent in her new home inside the Angus Pavilion.
Photo courtesy Steve Cheasley.
Preserving VIA's history is something near and dear to my heart. I thank everyone who has contributed to our restoration efforts, with a special shout out to John Van Weeren who has contributed very generously to our Edmundston restoration. His latest contribution allowed us to buy a new heater for the car which will let us keep working on it all winter. Hopefully we will have a big, positive announcement about VIA preservation in 2020. Stay tuned...
Jordan was VERY excited to receive the B36-7s in the warehouse.
So much so that he jumped on top of it. Literally.
Delivery Schedule

We've had a mad month here at Rapido. It was in everyone's best interests to get the RS-11 and New Haven Dining Cars across the border before December 15th, so we had all hands on deck in the warehouse working on shipments for two weeks, and that came right after we finished the massive B36-7 shipment. Jordan is really ready for that new warehouse manager to be hired...

Here's the schedule. As always, the further down the list, the less accurate the date! 😁

Remember when all we had in stock was trackside sign decals?
Looking Back on 15 Years of Rapido

Last month marked 15 years since Rapido Trains Inc. was incorporated. In that time we've grown from a one-man-show with one resin kit and some decals to one of the larger model train manufacturers in North America.

In 2000 I was about to get married and someone asked me what I was going to do with my life. I remember my answer clearly: "I'm going to go to England, get a degree, and teach art history. But what I really want to do is make model trains all day."

Sidura and I left for Birmingham, England, the next year. I was very unhappy with my career choice. What gave me joy were the stolen moments when I could escape to the sun room to work on my model trains. At one point I told Sidura that model railroading could be a very expensive hobby. She replied, "As long as it pays for itself, it's fine." She meant that I should sell my old stuff on eBay. Instead, I decided to start Rapido.
My model railroad in England was on a 7.5" wide shelf in our living room. The two locomotives are old Atlas/Roco FP7s heavily modified into VIA FP9As.
In 2004 I was 29 years old. We were back in Canada and I had no degree, no job and no money. Sidura and I realized that we had nothing to lose, so we tried to make the model train business work as a proper company. I spent the winter measuring and drawing an ex-VIA coach and sleeping car. In the snow. In -12C weather.

After two trips to China on borrowed money, I had found a factory to work with. It took until late 2006 - and a lot more debt - for our first models to finally arrive. I packaged up a CN "E" series sleeper and mailed it to my PhD supervisor in England. "Here's my thesis," the accompanying letter said. "I'm officially withdrawing from the program."
One of the first advertisements for our Super Continental Line passenger cars.
A lot of model railroaders really connected with the message...
If you look closely you can see the NP paint job was done in Photoshop.
All we had was one undecorated sample.
A number of key milestones allowed Rapido to grow to the successful company it is today. The first was hiring Dan Garcia. With Dan on board I could focus on marketing and product design, because he was handling all of the customer service.

In 2009, Bill Schneider and Janet Golfman joined the team. Janet has since grown in her position to be a first class CFO - a long way from her original role as a part-time bookkeeper. With Bill I had found a guy who really understood how the model train business worked. Bill also introduced Rapido to the American market. I remember one fateful conversation with him, before he even joined the team: "You know, the New Haven has a lot of really devoted fans. I think you might want to think about making some New Haven models."
Our New Haven FL9 locomotives strut their stuff on Rick Abramson's incredible layout in our sci-fi video, "Encounter at Bridgeport." Click on the image to watch it.
For several years, Rapido was just Dan, Bill, Janet and me. The company struggled to grow. We had great ideas but we were always short of cash and our factory was very busy with a growing client list so they could not deliver all the models we needed.

In 2013, Bill and I flew to China and convinced our engineer, Huang, to start a new Rapido factory that would just make our stuff. In 2016 our partner, Colin, threw his hat in the ring and started the LRC factory. This solved our supply issues.

Back at home, we surrounded ourselves with some really talented people who have helped Rapido grow into the success it is today. A lot of people still think Rapido is just me in a garage somewhere designing and shipping out model trains. Far from it. Rapido is a team of amazing people, almost all model railroaders. They are lucky enough to have found careers in their hobby, and they love coming to work every day.
The Rapido Markham team (less Mohan and Roslyn) at our Christmas lunch last week.
Strangely, ours was the only Christmas lunch booked at the kosher restaurant.
Bill, John and Craig missed a really, really yummy lunch. Tough tarts, guys.
Rapido has had its fair share of headaches. The first shipment of passenger cars had wobbly floors. We fixed it pretty quickly, but I bet there are still a few guys out there who swore in 2006 that they would never buy another Rapido passenger car and have remained true to their word. Since then every year has brought new challenges.

The HO scale TurboTrain looked amazing, but ran like a pregnant hippo on crutches. Our Algoma Central coaches somehow migrated from silver to beige. The first run of N scale 1600-series GMD-1s ran THE WRONG WAY on DC track. The first run of mill gondolas had amazing Z channel ribs... which could be found floating around the bottom of the packaging. The list goes on.

Today we've got a warranty department staring down an entire bookcase of RS-18 locomotives awaiting motor replacements.
Dave is overwhelmed by the number of RS-18s awaiting new motors.
Thankfully he is excellent at what he does and his team will soon get these models back in our customers' hands.
But still, we soldier on. With each new challenge we get stronger. Mohan is in China right now, working with the factories to implement better quality control practices and improve communication with the assembly team there so they don't make production changes - like changing the colours of rooftop beacons - without checking with us first.

I will ask anyone who says our hobby is dying to take a look at Rapido as proof that it isn't. Our sales in 2019 were FOUR TIMES our sales in 2013. This shows that there are a lot of railroad modellers (and bus modellers) out there who are eager to upgrade their fleets. Talking with people at shows, it's clear Rapido has also brought some new people into our hobby - especially Canadian modellers who were never inspired to join the hobby because the selection of Canadian prototypes was too narrow before Rapido arrived on the scene. It's nice to see so many new customers at every show.
Rapido's growth chart. You know, we really need to make another run of the Turbo...
Without baby hippos or crutches...
Everything I have talked about so far is really just the background to the most important aspect of our 15th anniversary. Rapido's success comes down to one thing: YOU. You, our customers, have shown faith in us and continue to support us. We love that you love our trains, and without you all of this would have just been a pipe dream.

So thank you to everyone who has bought a Rapido model, given us advice and suggestions, contributed research material, kitbashed our models, photographed and videoed our models, hung out with us at shows, and supported our restoration efforts.

You guys - our model railroad community - are what it's all about. Thank you so much. We look forward to a great 2020 and another great 15 years!

All best wishes,


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

P.S. I'll leave you with a lovely, seasonal photo of a Rapido New Look bus taken by Barry Silverthorn at Roomettes Lighting. Check out his stunning building interiors at roometteslighting.com
USA: PO Box 796, Higganum, CT 06441
Canada: 500 Alden Road, Unit 21, Markham, ON L3R 5H5