Rapido Telegraph

Rapido News Volume 51 - ©2013 Rapido Trains Inc.

Dear Rapido Customer,

I hope the modelling season is treating you well! I've managed to spend about 12 hours in my basement since July, and I'm about to leave the country for most of a month, so I'm feeling like a model railroading orphan. It's ironic (in the Alanis Morissette use of the term) that I manufacture model trains specifically so I can have them on my layout yet I have no time to actually work on the layout. My wife is shaking her head, mumbling something about "first world problems."

In this issue of Rapido News:

FPA-4 Locomotive

Early Pre-Production Sample - CNR FPA-4 Locomotive

Rapido/MLW FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives in HO Scale

We're finally able to announce - officially - the most anticipated Canadian passenger locomotives ever. MLW and Rapido Trains Inc. are pleased to introduce the Canadian National FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives in HO scale. ALCO-holics, now is your time to shine!

The FPA-4 an FPB-4 are unique to CN, combining the rugged looks of the FPA-2 with the reliability of the newer Alco 251 prime mover. They were delivered from Montreal Locomotive Works over two orders in 1958 and 1959 and soldiered on in service on Canadian and American mainlines until 1989. Following retirement, the FPA-4 and FPB-4 locomotives were given new life on tourist railroads across the United States. They are still in service today.

Produced exclusively for MLW (but available through all regular Rapido outlets), the FPA-4 is guaranteed to have the first-ever 100% accurate Alco FA locomotive nose in any scale. We performed a 3D scan of the prototype, locomotive #6765, at Exporail, Canada's national train museum.

I am sure there will still be some diehards (blowhards?) out there who will look at your Rapido FPA-4 fleet basking on your layout and tell you the nose or the roof profile is wrong. It will give you great pleasure to be able to tell them, with complete confidence, that they can go jump in a lake.

FPA-4 Locomotive

The usual Rapido level of detail
Early pre-production sample shown.

Our FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives feature the usual extreme level of detail up and down, including separate pipes and conduits under the frame. Here's a complete list of features:
  • DC (DCC-Ready with 21-pin quick plug) or DCC/Sound installed
  • Sounds recorded from the real FPA-4 number 6764
  • Rapido's highly-respected 5-pole, skew-wound motor for excellent slow-speed performance
  • 100% accurate dimensions taken from a 3D scan of the prototype
  • Complete underbody including all pipes, frame members and even brake chains
  • Operating dual-beam headlight, ditch lights, class lights and rear lights
  • Full cab interior on the A unit
  • Two styles of truck journal covers as appropriate
  • Multiple road numbers plus unnumbered for each scheme
  • All locomotives come with decals for new numbers, logos and safety marks.
  • ESU Loksound decoders loaded with original Rapido sounds
  • Solid nickel-silver wheelsets
  • Metal Macdonald-Cartier couplers
The MSRP for the FPA-4 is $325 (DCC/sound) and $225 (DC). The MSRP for the FPB-4 is $300 (DCC/sound) and $200 (DC). You can order from your favourite dealer or directly from us by clicking here.

(In case you were wondering, MLW is a 21st-century model train investment company and not the late, lamented Montreal Locomotive Works.)

As for order deadlines, you've got plenty of time. These locomotives ran extensively in the Maritimes, and we want to ensure that modellers in the Maritimes get to see them. The Maritime Federation of Model Railroaders 2014 convention is in Moncton, New Brunswick from 6-8 June - and we will be there with decorated, sound-equipped samples. So the order deadline will be the following Friday, the 13th of June. Delivery will start before the end of 2014.

The FPA-4 was known for operating between Winnipeg and the east coast, but they occasionally operated as far west as Vancouver! Click here to see a picture of 6762 and a sister unit hauling an excursion in British Columbia in 1966. So everyone in BC, please order 10 of them.

FPB-4 Locomotive

Yes, this is a model.
Early pre-production sample of the FPB-4.

You might be wondering why we haven't announced any dummy B-units. I'll tell you why. A dummy costs us $6 less than a powered engine, because the only difference in cost is the motor. The materials cost is the same, as is the time to decorate and assemble the model. So if you want a dummy FPB-4, it would cost you $6 less than a powered one. You might as well have the extra pulling power.

In addition, I am a strong believer in having sound-equipped B units. Simply put, two or more units operating in multiple sound different than one powered unit and one dead one, and I believe that a model should copy the prototype in sounds as well as looks. Click here to watch a video of two GMD-1 locomotives working together. And here are two FPA-4 locomotives and an F9B working together. Foamers beware - this video is incredible.

(Nerd note: the latter video was shot after July 1980 rather than 1978 as the description states. The step on the side of the cab was added around July 1980. I should be taken away in a padded van.) After hearing such beautiful MLW and GMD music, how could you ever buy a silent B unit again?

Scroll down for the FPA-4 and FPB-4 paint scheme listings and click on any picture to see the product numbers and locomotive numbers. You can also click here for the FPA-4 video.


FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives - CN (1954)
Note that both large and small winterization hatches will be included.


FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives - CN (Noodle)


FPA-4 Locomotive - VIA-CN (CN Colours, Wiped Nose)


FPA-4 Locomotive - VIA-CN (VIA Colours, CN on Nose)


FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives - VIA Rail Canada
Some models have a VIA on the nose - check the listing for info.

MLW FPA-4 FPB-4 Grand Canyon

FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives - Grand Canyon

MLW FPA-4 Napa Valley

FPA-4 Locomotive - Napa Valley

MLW FPA-4 New York and Lake Erie

FPA-4 Locomotive - New York & Lake Erie


FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives - Undecorated

Wow. Those of you modelling the PRR must have really enjoyed looking at the same CN engines over and over.

But for those of you who are interested, you can read more about the FPA-4 and FPB-4 locomotives here.

Budd Park Car

Bill and I do seem to spend a lot of time on locomotive roofs.
Thanks to the Health and Safety "Jobsworths" for staying home.

New Rapido YouTube Video

It's been several months (four, actually) since our last YouTube video, in which we smushed some HO scale Bendy Track under a real locomotive. (If you didn't see it, please click here.) What with the cross-Canada tour, so many new projects to develop and launch, and not working on my layout, I haven't found the time to do any new videos.

Well all that has changed. If you've ever been interested in how to do a 3D scan or how to record locomotive sounds or how to get beamed to a runabout, this new video is for you. Click here or on the picture below to watch our new movie, aptly titled The MLW FPA-4.

In order to make 6764 work hard, we hauled a "silent" (DC only?) 6758 up and down a hill too many times to count. So while 6758 plays a large role in the movie, she's not actually doing any of the work!

FPA-4 Video

We actually had to do all of the FPA-4 recordings twice because, originally, the recorder was too close to the radiator fan. Thank God we found that. If we hadn't found it, the results would have been interesting... "Notch 1 - sounds like a big fan. Notch 2 - sounds like a big fan. Notch 3 - sounds like a big fan. Hey - the FPA-4 sounds like a big fan in every notch!"

If you would like to learn more about our FPA-4 scan and party, you can click here. You can also read more about the trip to Gowanda by clicking here.

VIA Rail Dining Car

VIA Rail Canada Dining Car

Exclusive New HO Scale Budd Cars for VIA Rail Canada

Well, we've gone and done it again. Canada's national passenger railway and Canada's largest model train manufacturer have teamed up to bring you exclusive Canadian model trains. I am absolutely delighted to announce our latest exclusive passenger car models for VIA Rail Canada - the HO scale Budd Diner and the HO scale Budd Chateau Sleeper.

Before I give you the spiel, I have to tell you - these were quietly launched on a newsgroup a couple of weeks ago and are already ALMOST 60% SOLD OUT!!! If you want to skip everything else I am saying and go order yours immediately, click here. You can come back and read the rest of the newsletter later.

VIA now accepts orders from around the world and is now shipping via Canada Post so you won't pay silly courier shipping charges.

VIA Rail Chateau Sleeper

VIA Rail Canada Chateau Sleeper

Here are the features of our VIA Diner and Chateau Sleepers:

  • Used on The Canadian since 1955, and also used on The Chaleur, The Ocean, The Atlantic, The Super Continental, The Hudson Bay, The Panorama, The Enterprise, The Cavalier and The Skeena. (I'm probably forgetting one or two...)
  • Realistic stainless steel finish
  • Full underbody detail including all piping and conduit
  • Accurate tinted windows with window blinds and interior handrails
  • Curtains in roomette doorways
  • Operating interior lights
  • Fully decorated interior including "etched glass" dividers
  • "Canada" and Canadian flag decals (printed by Microscale) included to represent models post-1998
  • Several names available for each car style

VIA Rail Dining Car Interior

Look at the "etched glass" panels inside the diner!
Yes, we made all four different birdies (and Bill is still recovering from doing the artwork!).

These cars will not last long... especially as they will be here in less than two weeks! As I am writing this, the models are on a train from Prince Rupert to Brampton. From there, they will be delivered to our Markham warehouse and Mike will single-handedly ship them to VIA (seeing as Dan and I will still be in the UK).

These cars will make excellent Christmas presents, especially as they will, in fact, be here before Christmas!

If you work for the railway or are in the shipping business, you can trace them yourself! They are in container #YMLU8246904 and are on a CN freight train right this moment. Isn't that neat?

VIA Rail Sleeping Cars

Five Chateau Sleepers prepare for departure on VIA #1, 22 October 2013.

The Chateau Sleepers have played a vital role on The Canadian, until recently filling an entire block between two of the diners. These days, there are usually only a couple of Chateau Sleepers on each train. However, as you can see in the photo above it is still possible to see a solid run of Chateaux on The Canadian. This Canadian was being made up last month at VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre with five Chateau sleepers in a row! They are among my favourite VIA cars.

VIA has been running at least two Dining Cars on The Canadian in the high season for years and years. And if you have any Blue and Yellow VIA cars, the Budd diners ran with Blue and Yellow cars as well, all the way back to 1979. So don't just buy one - buy them all!

Click here to order your Dining Cars and Chateau Sleepers. I suspect another 5% have been sold while you've been reading this.

Rapido British Outline

Old Blighty, here we come!

Rapido Coming to the UK

Dan and I are departing next Monday for the UK, and what a crazy trip we have planned! In the space of a week, we go from Heathrow to London to Durham to Crewe to Cardiff to Crewe (again) to Birmingham to Manchester to Crewe (again - hi Crewe!) to Birmingham (again) to York to Birmingham (AGAIN!) to London to Heathrow. All by train, of course! That is, unless they have the wrong kind of snow.

The next few paragraphs are heavily laden with obscure Doctor Who references. Be warned.

Bill was supposed to join me but he fell off the Pharos Project radio telescope while visiting 1981 and he regenerated into Dan. It was the end, but the moment had been prepared for...

For those of you living within a hundred remars of northwest England, I hope you'll join us for a Rapido meet & greet at the Crewe Heritage Centre. If you can't join us, you will be deleted.

We will have a veritable Panopticon of Rapido products, and we'll be sharing insights into the running of The Company. Long live The Company!

The details of Rapido's Greatest Show in the Galaxy are:
  • When: Wednesday 20 November 2013, 16:30 - 18:00
  • Where: Crewe Heritage Centre, Crewe, Cheshire
  • Where, more specifically: in the Crewe North Junction Signal Box
  • Planet: Sol III, Mutter's Spiral

Crewe Heritage Centre

What we really need is more Class 47s. Photo courtesy Crewe Heritage Centre.

About the Crewe Heritage Centre:

The Crewe Heritage Centre occupies the original site of Crewe Railway Locomotive Works of 1840. The works were built by the Grand Junction Railway, which later merged with other companies in 1846 to form the London & North Western Railway. Some of the original employees are still there, though their bodies have been occupied by the Gelth.

How to get there:
  • Take the train to Crewe. Walk a bit. (That's what Dan and I will be doing.)
  • Use TOMTIT (Transmission of Matter through Interstitial Time). Though you will need to have an outrageous Greek accent and a goatee to use it properly.
  • Drive. The address is Crewe Heritage Centre, off Vernon Way, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 2DB - the Centre is behind the Tesco supermarket and in front of the Untempered Schism. There are signs directing you to the entrance. If you get lost, follow road signs for "The Railway Age," which was the previous name for the Centre. If you get really lost and you have GPS, enter CW1 2DB and follow the nice lady's instructions. If you have ATMOS installed in your car, get out of your car immediately and call UNIT.
There are parking lots at both the entrance driveway to the Heritage Centre and inside the main gates. There will also be parking available on site alongside the APT and at the side of the Exhibition Hall. TARDIS and SIDRAT parking is available on the station platform, though I cannot guarantee that the local constabulary won't move your transport to the police station.

HST on the Royal Albert Bridge

What we really need is more HSTs.

In addition to our visit to Crewe, we have a power-boosted open-ended transmat beam directed at the Nationed Exhibition Centre so we will be materializing at the Warley Show on Sunday 24 November. If you will be there please keep an eye out for us. If you see us, come over and say "Qapla"!

Incidentally, while we are in the UK it will be Doctor Who's 50th anniversary. Did anyone catch all of the Doctor Who references in the above section?

If you can accurately name all of the Doctor Who references above and tell me what stories they are from, you will be entered into a draw to win a prize package of a) 1937 GARX Meat Reefer and an Osgood Bradley coach (for those of you modelling US roads), or b) a pair of Canadian Pacific Angus Vans in HO scale (for those of you modelling Canadian roads).

Please send me an email with your entry, and be sure to include your address and phone number so we can send you the free models if you win!

I did forget to mention why we are going to the UK. Dan and I are starting work on Rapido's first UK outline model... in OO gauge, no less! We're not ready to announce it yet, but do be splendid fellows (all of you) and keep reading our newsletters. I'll be dropping some hints in future editions of Rapido News. Top hole, pip pip and all that!

Erie 10-5 Sleeper

Post-War 10-5 Sleeper in N Scale

N Scale Order Deadline Extended

I'm a firm believer in honesty when it comes to communicating with my customers. It's been said that I reveal more to my customers, warts and all, than most CEOs tell their shareholders! In Rapido News 48, I announced the relaunch of our new N scale passenger cars, the Panorama Line 10-5 Sleeper and Cafe-Bar-Lounge. The order deadline was basically now, i.e. the 15th of November.

Right now our main factory is working on production of Osgood Bradley Smokers and Coaches and CN/VIA F9B locomotives, and then it's Chinese New Year and the factory will be closed for a couple of weeks. There isn't any point in pretending they will have the capacity to make the N scale 10-5 and Cafe-Bar-Lounge before then. So we're extending the N scale order deadline to Valentine's Day, 14 February 2014. Production on the N scale cars will begin in early March and delivery will start in the late spring.

Please remember the date: Valentine's Day for the Panorama Line 10-5 Sleeper and Cafe-Bar-Lounge.

Littl' Puddy

Littl' Puddy on John Armstrong's Canandaigua Southern

New Blog Entry

Our new guy, Mike McGrattan, has become an incredible asset to Rapido in the four short months he's been part of the team. In fact, we can't imagine how we ever got by without him, and we're thinking of promoting him to Chief Rooster. But even before he joined Rapido, he was already a very prominent and well-respected figure in the global N scale community.

A few years ago, Mike sent one of his N scale freight cars on a round-the-world trip. Literally. It went around the world, from riding the rails in the far east to sinking to the bottom of a pint of stout in Pommyland. You can read about this amazing adventure here. Even if you don't model in N scale, you will enjoy the read.

Meat Reefers

Meat Reefers ready for shipping!

Delivery Updates

The Rapido and MLW factories are very busy working on our new products. It's so refreshing to be able to deliver this stuff, and Janet (our bookkeeper) is delighted that we can actually pay our bills!

Shipping to stores now:
Shipping next week:
Shipping the week after:
Just left the factory:
Leaving the factory in early December:
A lot of people have been asking me: where is the LRC Locomotive? In fact, I'm pretty sure someone will get this newsletter, not read it, and ask why I didn't mention the LRC. That happens every issue: someone asks why I have no news on something I discuss in that specific issue.

The report from the factory is that two of the LRC moulds still need work, and they are working on them now.

Occasionally I get a really angry email about a late project that essentially accuses us: "How dare you bring out other stuff when you promised this project so long ago?" Those of you who understand business are smiling and shaking your heads right now.

When running a business, you have monthly costs - overheads - that you have to pay no matter what. So you need to bring in a certain amount of money every month to ensure you can pay those costs. What some people ask us to do is essentially say: "We are going to sit here with our arms folded and, based on principle, we will not release another model until that LRC Locomotive (or meat reefer, or caboose, or...) arrives!" If we did that, we would be out of business so fast we'd give the real Rapido a run for its money.

In some cases, we delay a project on purpose: we delayed the LRC for several years because the orders were too low. But since we relaunched the LRC in late 2012, the orders have been great and the project will be profitable. Now the delay is caused by the slow work of modifying very complex moulds originally made by a different workshop. So we have to wait until the moulds are ready, and then we can produce the LRC. It will be some time in 2014, but I'm not going to pretend to know when.

Kim Adams New Work

Caboose Canadian Pacific Railway 420989 by Kim Adams
Courtesy Diaz Contemporary

Art Imitating Life... Again!

Back in Rapido News 48, I mentioned Canadian artist Kim Adams and his work at the Art Gallery of Ontario which featured Rapido models. Kim recently finished a new body of work featuring Rapido cabooses! They were exhibited at Diaz Contemporary in Toronto, and you can view them online here.

Kim's work is whimsical. He gives new life to Rapido's models in innovative and often very entertaining ways. I am truly honoured that Kim has chosen to use Rapido models in his art. Some of the works in the show are still available for sale. Contact Diaz Contemporary if interested in acquiring one of Kim's pieces.

Dave Minshall GP9

Dave Minshall's Lightweight GP9 takes shape.
Chassis and trucks courtesy our junk box.

Innovative Uses for GMD-1 Bits

Dave Minshall often surprises me with his incredibly detailed knowledge of Canadian National locomotives. On our GMD-1, for instance, he noticed on one of our drawings that the radius of the edge of the walkway was too tight. Seriously! So thanks to Dave we caught that mistake before producing the models.

Dave asked if he could borrow some of our early samples of the GMD-1 chassis and trucks for a modelling project. I was happy to oblige, and then a week later he came into our office with two lightweight GP9 locomotives under construction. Our GMD-1 chassis was a perfect fit, providing the frame and the trucks (at the correct spacing) that he needed.

Dave Minshall Lightweight GP9

Dave's other Lightweight GP9 is at an earlier stage.
Chassis and trucks also courtesy our junk box.

I'm pleased to report that our GMD-1 chassis can be used under the Life-Like and Front Range GP9 shells. You may need to make some modifications to fit the small fuel tank, but that's not hard to do.

The GMD-1 Powered Chassis is available to order from your dealer (10000A/10500A is the 6-axle version in DC and DCC/sound respectively, and 10000B/10500B is the 4-axle version in DC and DCC/sound respectively). MLW has not finalized the GMD-1 numbers with the factory yet - we expect that to happen in about two weeks. So if you are quick you can get your order in before the order desk is formally closed.

More info about the GMD-1 can be found here.

Model Railroad News cover feature

Model Railroad News cover feature: The Rapido FP9A!

Model Railroad News and the Kingston Sub

It's nice to be able to say "we did good." The latest issue of Model Railroad News features an in-depth, six-page review of our FP9A locomotive, and it is overwhelmingly positive. The reviewer, Steve Lucas, states: "In my humble opinion, what results is a model that is second to no model of an F-unit ever produced in HO scale." This is pretty awesome kudos.

He also concludes, "this is a very impressive scale model locomotive. While it is not the cheapest ready-to-run model of an F-unit around, it is the most detailed that I have ever seen, and its running qualities are excellent. It may seem a cliché, but I feel that the Rapido True North FP9A sets a new standard for HO-scale diesel locomotives against which others will be judged."

We've had our share of mishaps, such as the wibbly floors on our first releases of passenger cars in 2006 and the running quality of our first powered model, the Turbo, in 2008. There are guys out there who swore in 2006 they would never buy another Rapido model and they still haven't to this day. I don't think even a glowing review could change their minds, so I'll accept that we've lost some people.

But I thank the rest of you who have stuck with us over the last few years and I hope we've rewarded your loyalty with some really nice models. The MRN reviewer notes that our models are "not the cheapest" around, and this is something I'm proud of. If our models were the cheapest out there, they wouldn't have the detail level that I want for my layout. And that, of course, is the primary reason I'm in this business! Speaking of which...

Jason Shron's Kingston Sub

The first train to run on my Kingston Sub layout!

As I mentioned earlier, I haven't had much time to work on my layout the last few months. But I have got to a point where I was able to lay my first 12 feet of track. Above is a photo of the first train I've ever run on the Kingston Sub. It's VIA-CN FP9A #6535, a VIA SGU (Steam Generator Unit) still in CN colours, a baggage car, a club car and a coach.

I thought that would be a fitting train to inaugurate the layout, which is set in 1980 and features a healthy mix of VIA and CN equipment. I would have chosen my Tremendous, Terrific Turbo, but with only 12 feet of track laid, a 7-foot-long train wouldn't be able to move very far. The 1990s-era autoracks in the background are test cars for clearances, not that their anachronistic tendencies would stop me from running them!

Jason Shron's Kingston Sub

The oh-so-unrealistic U-turn

The tracks that Dan and I laid are the only hidden tracks on the layout. As I don't have a 147-foot-long basement, my mainline has to do a U-ey. West of Union Station, the mainline does a 180-degree turn under the roundhouse and then climbs up to meet the coach yard further west. The black arrow above shows where, roughly, the third car of the first test train is sitting. It was necessary to lay these tracks first as they will soon be covered by Spadina roundhouse.

Jason Shron's Kingston Sub

A view looking west from the hidden track area

I am working on a major update on the Kingston Sub web pages, including new products to sell and new information about my benchwork techniques. If you want to stay informed, please sign up for the Kingston Sub email newsletter by clicking here. In the 11 months since I launched the Kingston Sub site, I've managed to send out ONE newsletter. Hopefully I will be able to keep you better updated in future!

You'll notice I didn't provide a link to the Kingston Sub web site. It's so out of date it's embarrassing. I promise to let you know when there is something there worth reading.

That's it for now. The next newsletter will probably be sent from China, where I am going shortly after returning from the UK. See why my layout never gets built? We have a big Christmas announcement coming for our N scale customers, and in a few months' time we'll be announcing an all-new HO scale locomotive project which has just started tooling this week. Exciting times are ahead!

All the best,


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

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