Rapido Telegraph

Rapido News Volume 41 - ©2012 Rapido Trains Inc.

Dear Rapido Customer,

Welcome to the modelling season! As it gets colder and stormier, the hobby of model railroading seems a good alternative to going out. For those of you whose layout rooms have been flooded by Sandy, everyone here at Rapido feels your pain and we hope that you will be able to rebuild swiftly.

In this issue of Rapido News:

Exclusive VIA Rail Dome Car

Another exclusive VIA model from Rapido!

New! Another exclusive model for VIA Rail Canada!

Once again it is my privilege and pleasure to let you know about a partnership between Canada's largest model train manufacturer, Rapido Trains Inc., and Canada's national passenger railway, VIA Rail Canada.

The Skyline Dome-Lounge-Coffee Shop has played a vital role in VIA's transcontinental services since the railway was formed in 1978. It is used regularly on The Canadian the Chaleur and now the Ocean, and has also been used on the Atlantic, the Saint-Laurent, the Bonaventure, the Super Continental, the Hudson Bay, and the Skeena. I'm probably forgetting some... Let's just say these cars got around!

Skyline Dome

Rotated seats and two games tables in the dome...

The Correct VIA Interior

In 1982 VIA rebuilt its Skyline cars, replacing the coach seating with a coffee shop and replacing the booth under the dome with a take-out area. VIA also turned the seats in the dome in order to run the cars lounge-forward and added two games tables in the now front of the dome. This is the configuration still in use today. I am proud to say that our model includes all of these features. We created a new mould for the new interior parts exclusively for this project. This is what happens when the owner of the company is a VIA modeller and fan...

Skyline Coffee Shop

Gotta love the retro colours in the coffee shop!

We are doing three different numbers. For those of you wishing to upgrade the cars to HEP detailing, we also include "Canada" logo and flag decals in the box.

The price per car is $105 CAD and you need to order directly from VIA Rail Canada. Please click here to visit VIA's souvenirs web site. If ordering from outside Canada, you need to email VIA at feedback@souvenirs.viarail.ca. Our web page about the new Skyline car can be found here. VIA's exclusive Park Car models sold out in just over two weeks, and the Skyline production run is just half the size. So be sure to preorder your Skylines ASAP! They should arrive in December.

CPR The Canadian

The Canadian - CPR Script

Now Shipping: The Canadian #210003

Dan and I have been snowed under for the last few days because The Canadian (CPR Script version) arrived last week. Almost all of the trains have been shipped to our dealers and distributors. Thankfully, our computer system hasn't crashed yet and there are no warped grills on the locomotives, so we are two up on our last shipment...

If you ordered The Canadian from the UK, our consolidated shipment of sets 210002 and 210003 to the UK is leaving by air on the week of 5 November. So you will have your trains within a couple of weeks.

VIA F9B Locomotives

Cowcatcher Magazine

We've been nominated - please vote!

The Cowcatcher, a wonderful little magazine from the American South, has nominated The Canadian for a 2012 Gold Rail Award. As The Cowcatcher's regular readers know "The Canadian" to be a type of bacon, I suspect that votes for the "Rapido HO Bacon Complete Trainset" will be few and far between.

So please click here to visit The Cowcatcher and fill out a ballot. So far the only thing we've ever won is $5 from Super Bingo last week. Fingers are crossed that we can add a Gold Rail Award to that huge list!

VIA F9B Locomotives

VIA F9B locomotive shells ready for assembly

In Production:
The Canadian #210006 and Osgood Bradleys

Production of the next model of The Canadian is well under way. This is set #210006 - VIA Rail Canada. I model VIA's Kingston Subdivision in HO scale, so I have been eagerly awaiting this set for several years. Unfortunately, the only piece of equipment from The Canadian which ran on the Kingston Sub in 1980 was the baggage car. That's one EXPENSIVE baggage car.

Rapido factory

Installing grab irons on the VIA Canadian

Each car for The Canadian has between 200 and 300 parts. Many of those parts are grab irons. They are installed much like we modellers do in our basement workshops - with pliers and superglue. I've mentioned before that we've had complaints from people unhappy that a human being actually touched their model. Well how else did they think the models were made? During production of the VIA Canadian alone, over 85,000 grab irons will be installed at the factory. That's a lot of grab irons.

Installing Grab Irons

One down, 85,000 to go...

Our second workshop is hard at work doing assembly of the Osgood Bradley passenger cars (for Long Island, Penn Central and Bangoor & Aroostook) mentioned in the last newsletter.

Installing Grab Irons

Installing the underbody piping on Osgood Bradley passenger cars

And below is a photo of the finished product. The factory sent Bill a completed sample, which has fallen through the space-time vortex and is visiting Bill's O&W layout an astounding four years before being sold to Long Island. That particular sample has a functioning chameleon circuit and is also bigger on the inside. Such features were left out of the production model due to intervention by the Shadow Proclamation. Sorry - I got ahead of myself.

LIRR Coach

Long Island Railroad Osgood Bradley Coach

The VIA Rail Canadian is due to leave the factory around 10 November, arriving here just before Christmas. We do plan to ship it out before Christmas, so some of you will be getting a nice present from St. Nick - it depends on how slow the mail and UPS are in the dark days of December.

The Osgood Bradleys should be leaving the factory about two weeks later, which means they will be ready to ship out the first week of January, all going well. These have been delayed so many times by the factory I will frankly be very surprised if they are on time! I'll give you a more firm report in the next newsletter, but I prefer not to count any chickens at this point....

LRC Locomotive

LRC Locomotive #6917 after our startup attempt in October 2012

LRC - Order Deadline and Prototype News

For those of you who have been waiting patiently for the LRC Locomotive model since I announced it in the early 1950s, I am pleased to let you know that the orders have come flooding in. It seems that, now that people have witnessed our FP9A locomotives in action, you have confidence that we know how to make a locomotive!

So thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered the LRC Locomotive and new LRC passenger cars from your dealer. If you are interested in the LRC, please reserve by the deadline of 16 November! That's just two weeks away.

You can also order the LRC directly from us. Click here to visit our LRC ordering pages.

LRC Club Car

LRC "VIA 1" first-class coach in VIA's "Canada" scheme

For those of you who recently subscribed to Rapido News, I'll fill you in. In Volume 40 of the newsletter (available here), we announced new paint schemes and numbers for the LRC Locomotives and passenger cars, including Amtrak, VIA, the Demonstrator Scheme, and undecorated.

LRC and F40

Two generations of VIA locomotives, side by side

Last month Dan and I spent a very long day (and night) trying to get the TRHA's LRC locomotive #6917 fired up. Our mechanic, Chris Fox, spent over a month preparing the engine, and our good friend Ted Wakeford (operator of the wonderful Credit Valley Explorer tour train) joined us as our photographer and technical adviser. On the big day, the local railyard kindly provided a locomotive to give us a boost, and the two locomotives looked mighty fine standing side by side.

LRC startup

Check out the smoke! 6917 puts on a show while trying to turn over.

The roof hatches were raised; Dan was spraying the ether; I had my hand on the emergency cutoff and Chris was at the crank. We got soooooo close (and very filthy). But then, before our final attempt of the evening, when we knew "this was it," we discovered that several of the fuel injector pumps were leaking. If we had got the engine running, it would have RUN AWAY. So it's back to the drawing board. Chris is having the pumps fixed and we will hopefully get another attempt before the snow comes.

LRC Locomotive

That's Dan and me, totally exhausted after a whole day trying to start up 6917.

In the spring, we will need volunteers to help us sand and fill the body of the locomotive in preparation for painting. If you want to get involved, please give Dan or me a shout. You need to have some experience using power sanders and you must have no fear of the smell of Bondo.

Chris Fox

Chris gets ready to start 6917

Chris is amazing. He has basically taken the LRC apart and put it back together again, and he understands how locomotives work better than anyone I know. When a locomotive is operated by a large railway like VIA, repairs are straightforward. If there is anything wrong the maintenance guys go to the stores department and get the necessary replacement parts. When you are dealing with an engine that has not run since 2001 and is only one of two left in the world, it's a different matter altogether. You have to improvise. And Chris is the best at finding creative solutions on a shoestring budget. Thanks for all your hard work, Chris!

LRC roof

Taking a breather while closing up the roof hatches

Helping to restore a locomotive does have its benefits, as you can see in the photo above. If you would like to contribute to the LRC restoration project, please click here for the TRHA's LRC web page. The TRHA is a federally-registered charity. For more information on Rapido's LRC models, please click here.

VIA Grey Ghost

The "Grey Ghost" FP9A at Spadina Yard in 1980. Photo courtesy Steve Lucas.

New! Exclusive model of the Grey Ghost FP9A!

In 1980, VIA was in the process of purchasing the first order of LRC coaches and locomotives. The original plan was for the LRCs to be painted all grey with a yellow vertical band on one end, as shown in the drawing below.

LRC Grey Ghost

VIA's original planned "Grey Ghost" paint scheme for the LRC

VIA decided to test the "Grey Ghost" scheme on one FP9A locomotive and two coaches to see how it would survive the elements and if it could be used on conventional equipment. When it was decided that a different paint scheme would be used on the LRC and that the conventional locomotives and cars would remain in blue and yellow, the Grey Ghosts became orphans. They were repainted back to blue and yellow the next year. The scheme was striking when newly applied and has become a bit of a legend to VIA fans.


"Grey Ghost" Painting Diagram

We are delighted to produce this experimental "Grey Ghost" scheme as an exclusive, sound-equipped model for Boreal Trains. Boreal Trains is a dealer of ours based in Rimouski, Quebec. The proprietor, Denis Côté, is a dedicated VIA fan and modeller. He approached me earlier in the year with the idea of doing a model of the Grey Ghost. I thought this would be great... I model 1980 and I need the Grey Ghost on my layout. See how business decisions are made at Rapido?

There are only 100 models being produced (plus one for me!), so reserve yours now. Click here to email Denis and place your order. You can visit Rapido's web page for the Grey Ghost by clicking here. Delivery is expected in mid-2013.

Jason Shron

Working on my passenger car fleet
The apron is vital for any workbench. I made mine from a standard cotton apron and some Velcro.

Photo graciously taken by Sidura.

Oh, to be a model railroader once again...

If you ever think that being a model train manufacturer is "playing with trains," it actually is anything but. A lot of my time is spent doing administrative jobs, putting out fires at the factory and in the office, dealing with suppliers and trying to raise the capital needed to ensure Rapido's long-term growth.

I have been a model railroader since I was four or five years old. My father set up a sheet of plywood and grass mat in the basement and we bought a secondhand HO scale Tyco Santa Fe Action Freight train set. We later built a larger layout with proper scenery, which lasted until the 2000s. Apart from ages 15-19 when I was chasing girls and suffering through the naval-gazing agonies of teenage angst, model railroading has always been a huge part of my life.

My wife, Sidura, said to me back in 2002 that my hobby should pay for itself. She meant that I should sell enough Doctor Who books on eBay to pay for new models, but I took her at her word. I was determined to make a career in model railroading, and I started Rapido the next year. I wanted to improve on what was out there and manufacture the models I've always wanted.

In fact, since I started Rapido I've done very little modelling of any kind. True, I've been doing quite a bit of 1:1 model railroading, but not the 1/87th variety, which is my true passion. Finally, over the last couple of months, I've started to build my fleet. In the next few paragraphs I will show you how I take a standard "ready to run" passenger car and tune it up and customize it for my layout. Hopefully there will be some tips in here that you can use, even if you model a different scale or you are a "freight only" kind of guy.

All manufacturers, like Rapido, aim to make our models truly "ready to run." And most of us fail. Something made in a factory simply cannot be made to the high standards of a really exacting modeller - and I am one of those. Rapido products, like almost everything else, need a tune up before entering service. Though I take this to the extreme...

Shron workbench

Look how clean the workbench is! I cleaned up for an hour before starting...

I started out with an unnumbered HO scale Super Continental Line VIA coach. The factory redesigned our coaches back in 2008 to eliminate the warping floor issue from our first releases, and they were kind enough to whip up a couple of dozen extra VIA coaches for me when we made the VIA-CN coaches in 2011. We'll be making more Super Continental Line coaches for the general public in 2014.

Screwdriver magnetizer

If you don't own one of these, go buy one NOW.

The first step is to disassemble the car. I remove the couplers and the tiny pin that holds the vestibule end of the underbody to the shell. It's important to use a tray to keep all these bits in so I don't lose them in the workbench. If you don't have a magnetizer for your screwdriver, go get one now. You will never lose a screw again and it makes installing screws SO EASY.

Screwdriver magnetizer

Super Continental Line cars come apart quite easily for maintenance.

To disassemble a Super Continental Line car, remove the roof (it just pops off) and spread the sides gently while pushing down on the vestibule end interior. The car comes apart quite easily.

Remove the ink

Use tape to pull off most of the ink.

The next step is to remove the window blind from the luggage rack area. Back when I did the painting diagrams for these cars, I didn't know that CN stuck a black piece of plywood behind this window (I now know because I own said black piece of plywood - if you ever need parts from real VIA trains, just let me know!). To remove the window blind, I first rip a piece of tape off of it to get rid of most of the ink. I use Testors ELO to remove the rest. While the ELO is doing its work, I get started on the other modifications.

Remove the Frigidaire AC

A chisel blade makes removing underbody components a breeze.

Here is where things get complicated. Most of my unnumbered cars are becoming 5600-series coaches. CN ordered their 218 Canadian Car & Foundry "EM" coaches in two batches, and there were subtle differences between them. The second batch, 5598 to 5654, had Trane rather than Frigidaire air conditioning equipment. I am obsessed with underbody equipment, and thankfully when we produced The Canadian we tooled up Trane AC components. (We'll make those available separately next year.) I use a chisel blade in my Excel knife to cut away the Frigidaire bits and make room for the Trane bits.

Trane AC

The template makes drilling mounting holes a breeze.

One night last month when I couldn't sleep I made a styrene drilling template for installing Trane AC equipment. This was basically a trial and error process. I included a line to match up with the outside edge of the floor and ensure the AC equipment is properly in line with the car side. I keep old pin vises on the workbench with the correct bits already installed as I do a lot of these.

CA glue

A great use for old business cards...

The air filter dryer fell off my AC condenser unit. It was a quick fix, but it allows me to illustrate one of the greatest resources for the model railroader: old business cards. I have hundreds of these with Rapido's old logo and addresses on them, and they make a great glue and paint pallet. The glossy ones are best. So next time your office moves or you change jobs, KEEP YOUR OLD BUSINESS CARDS.


Who works like this?

OK, and here is where I have to interrupt the lovely how-to article and just rant. Do you know how hard it is to look like you are really doing something while taking a photo? All those model train magazine articles that say "photos by the author" are LYING. The photos were taken by THE AUTHOR'S WIFE. And when the author's wife is busy dealing with three kids and being kind enough to let her husband play with his trains "for a newsletter, really" and tells him to go shove it when he asks her to come take photos, then it becomes EXTREMELY difficult to take realistic pictures because you need a third hand.

Nobody airbrushes like that. You hold the part in one hand and airbrush with the other, but then who holds the camera? Same goes for installing grab irons, drilling holes for Trane AC equipment, and just about everything else we normal humans do when it comes to our model trains. So please accept that all of these photos ARE A LIE and we can move on.

Where was I? Right - I pull out the interior by removing the four screws and putting them in a DIFFERENT bin from the coupler screws because they are slightly shorter. When CN and later VIA refurbished their coaches in the 1970s and early 1980s, the upholstery varied considerably. One of the best things about being an American or Canadian kid growing up in Amtrak and VIA's respective rainbow eras is that walking the train became an adventure. Every car was different!

For this car I chose blue and black seats, but you could go with just about anything. Yellow with purple headrests was a common one, as was any shade of brown or red.

ready for reassembly

Trane AC equipment and newly-painted seats: this interior is just about ready.

Before re-assembling the car I go back to the shell and paint the window behind the luggage rack black. Once the paint dries, reassembling the car is a cinch. And then it's time to do the final tune-ups. This means:
  • replacing the crummy couplers used on early Rapido cars with our more recent improved ones
  • putting the coupler spring above the coupler so the magnetic uncoupling actually works
  • bending up the coupler trip pins
  • fixing the wheelsets that are invariably too tight (who made this junk, anyway?)
  • adding the V-shaped steam connectors
  • gluing on any parts I broke off doing everything above
On this particular car I somehow managed to shear off the entire coupler cut bar assembly and supports from the A end. That was good fun to try and fix - it's like trying to glue a freight car stirrup to the bottom of a gondola wall without any pilot holes. Right - now you get it. That took an hour.

dry transfers

Ready to apply the dry transfers

When it comes to lettering equipment on a smooth surface, nothing beats dry transfers. I use a custom dry transfer service in British Columbia called All-Out Graphics. They do a great job and their prices are reasonable, especially if you can get a bunch of guys together and multiple copies of the same sheet. I designed a 9x12 sheet full of just about every VIA name and number I could ever want, and they printed it for me. All you need to do this is word processing or illustration software, and every person reading this newsletter has access to one or both of these.

Make sure you include horizontal lines between each row of numbers. This will help you install the number straight on the car body. Keep a piece of glass handy for cutting the dry transfer. Use a piece of "magic" Scotch tape to hold the dry transfer down, then use a burnishing tool to rub it onto the car. If you screwed up, pull it off with another piece of tape. If it is OK, rub it again through a piece of tracing paper.

Now here is the best trick. After you've applied the dry transfer, the transfer film will still be visible and the lettering will be easily damaged. Dab on some barbecue lighter fluid and wipe it away with a Kleenex - the transfer film will be completely gone but your lettering and your paint will be left pristine and sealed. Unlike decals, you don't have to apply a clear coat to hide the film - which is really handy when renumbering passenger cars as a clear coat will frost the windows. I don't bother adding end door numbers to unnumbered cars as you can't read the end door number when it is in the coach yard. I may be crazy, but I'm not nuts.


The completed car... on a messy workbench (as it should be!)

That's it, really. After about two hours of work, the car is finished and ready for weathering. Real trains are dirty, especially in December (the month in which my layout is set). As you can see, my workbench has also been weathered and is no longer remotely tidy. I feel normal again.

Makeup Brush

Removing workshop dust from my growing VIA fleet

For the three of you still reading, here is one more tip before I go. A makeup brush is ideal for dusting model trains. It doesn't damage anything and it makes short work of any layout room or workshop dust. One suggestion, though: for the benefit of your marriage, I suggest you go out and spend the $6.95 on a cheap makeup brush rather than raid your wife's vanity.

That's all for now. I hope you enjoyed this newsletter, which was a bit different than usual. And of course, for those of you modelling narrow gauge S scale in the 1930s, I am sure you found the 10,000-word essay on modifying a 1980s Canadian VIA coach tremendously useful.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to get in touch. If you have a complaint, ask for Dan. That's D‑A‑N. He will be pleased to help you! ;-)

I'll hopefully be in touch once more this year. Until then, enjoy the new modelling season!


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

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