Rapido News

Rapido News Volume 55 - ©2014 Rapido Trains Inc.

Dear Rapido Customer,

This coming Monday (28 April) is the order deadline for the F40, so we thought it best to send out a newsletter containing subtle reminders to order yours by the deadline.


But there's a lot more! In this issue of Rapido News:

VIA Rail Canada F40

Early Sample of the VIA F40PH-2D

F40 Order Deadline, Master Class and Video

This coming Monday - 28 April - is the final order deadline for the VIA Rail Canada F40PH-2D locomotive. These models are being produced exclusively for VIA Rail Canada, and you need to reserve your models directly with them. Click here to place your reservation.

The F40PH-2D is unique to VIA, and differs significantly in its detailing from the more common F40PH locomotive that has operated around the United States since 1975. It's not an easy kitbash, either, as the side door is moved to different panel on the VIA unit and that's REALLY HARD to kitbash on a model. Ask me how I know...

VIA Rail Canada F40 by Rapido

Amazing underbody detail, and it isn't even finished yet!

The Rapido F40PH-2D model features:
  • First ready-to-run F40PH-2D ever produced in HO scale
  • 100% accurate Canadian details - this is not a stand-in!
  • Its nose is the correct length!
  • Full underframe detail including piping and conduit
  • Numerous etched-metal parts including radiator grills
  • Accurate Canadian roof fans with correct number of blades
  • Full interior detail including desktop control stand
  • Available as a sound-equipped model with an ESU Loksound sound decoder or as a DC silent model
  • Will operate smoothly on DC and DCC layouts
  • Rapido's proven 5-pole, skew-wound motor and silky-smooth drive system
  • Macdonald-Cartier metal knuckle couplers mounted at the correct height
  • Numerous optional details such as an air conditioning unit, bug deflector, and etched-metal, later style air filter screens
  • Available in VIA's original scheme (1986-2000) and revised "Canada" scheme (1998-2012)
  • Ten numbers plus unnumbered available per paint scheme
The price is $249.95 (DC/Silent) and $349.95 (DCC/DC/Sound). Delivery is late 2014.

Rapido F40PH-2D Master Class

F40PH-2D Master Class

We're here to share our extensive nerd knowledge with you so that you, too, can become an F40PH-2D expert and let us know how many rivets we left off our model...

To that end, one of our awesome F40PH-2D experts, Manny Jacob, has worked with our own Mike McGrattan and Dan Garcia to create the ultimate F40PH-2D Master Class.

This contains F40PH-2D info so arcane I suspect there are few people still at VIA who know it all. It also includes spotting features and an ever-growing image gallery. Click here to visit the Master Class.

If you are an F40 fan, you have to take some time to browse through Manny's own F40 site, railbus.ca. He's got loads of prototype photos of every single F40PH-2D in VIA's fleet as well as all sorts of awesome trivia. It is obviously a labour of love for Manny, and the site is well worth a browse.

VIA Rail Canada F40 Video

The F40PH-2D in action!

Just to make you drool a bit, I shot some footage of our early pre-production sample in action on Walter Pankratz's gorgeous layout in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The early sample does not have headlights yet. It also doesn't have our final sounds, so I used music in the video. Based on the feedback I've received so far, hearing music in an F40 video was quite a shock for some people. So brace yourselves.

Click on the image below or click here to watch it, music and all:

F40 Video

Here's your subtle reminder again. ORDER YOURS BY THE DEADLINE! Click here for our F40 info page, or click here to skip straight to VIA's order page.

Rapido FPA-4 Locomotives

Early Pre-Production Samples of the FPA-4
Note the pilot paint should come up higher - we noticed it too late!

FPA-4 First Sound Samples

We received our first HO scale FPA-4 and FPB-4 samples with sound, and we were completely blown away by the sounds. The low Alco 251 rumble is just wonderful and special kudos are deserved by Matt Herman and the entire ESU team for turning the raw sounds we recorded from FPA-4 #6764 into model-sized music. I recorded a video of my first impression when I took these out of the box, and I lost it. They are that good.

Consider this an FPA-4 and FPB-4 teaser video. Click here or on the image below to watch it.

FPA-4 Video

We had a real adventure recording the sounds from the real FPA-4 on the New York & Lake Erie Railroad. You can read about the recording session in one of our past blog entries by clicking here, or you can see it happen in our YouTube video.

I filmed more footage of the FPA-4 and the FPB-4 rolling along Walter Pankratz's layout (without me shouting in the background!) and I'll upload that video in the next few weeks. To ensure you don't miss it, please click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

If you're new to Rapido, you may not have heard that we did a 3D scan of the real FPA-4 locomotive. Click here to read about it.

We did this for two reasons: we wanted to ensure that the curves of our model matched the real thing perfectly and we wanted to save money! We had to redo the FP9A nose several times at great expense before we got it right. This way we could ensure we got it right the first time.

Alco FA Comparison

Comparison of our scanned nose with an old model

The FPA-4 shares the same nose as the FA-2 and the FPA-2 (and we're pretty sure it shares the nose with the FA-1 as well - anyone care to confirm?). If you look at the photo above you can see the immediate difference between our FPA-4 nose and other noses out there. The model in the foreground is an FPA-4 that I kitbashed from an FA-2 model about 16 years ago. Notice how the nose is quite bulgy and rounded.

Now look at Rapido's FPA-4 nose. There is a very noticeable "corner" in the nose - it's not a constant radius - and it has a more tapered feel to it. You know what? Our nose is correct. Any other FA noses that don't look like ours are wrong. Few manufacturers could make a statement like that. We can. To quote Monty Python, "We're not only proud of that fact; we're smug about it."

The model is far from ready - we still need to fix the grills, which we're not happy with. But it's getting close enough to look awesome. More info about the Rapido-MLW FPA-4 and FPB-4 locomotives can be found here. The order deadline is Friday the 13th of June. Delivery is early 2015.


HO Scale GMD-1 - NOT Pre-Production Samples!

HO Scale GMD-1 Production Samples are Here!

On Wednesday we received our production samples of the HO scale GMD-1 locomotive. They are absolutely stunning. See for yourself.

(If you follow us on Facebook you have seen these already! Click here to visit us on Facebook and "like" us so you see stuff sooner.)

Rapido GMD-1

HO Scale GMD-1 - Working Number Boards and Class Lights!

This is the first locomotive out of the MLW factory, and it is of the same high calibre you've come to expect from Rapido. The entire shipment of this paint scheme - CN noodle (black) - is leaving the factory in less than two weeks and will be here in June. That means we've gone from official product announcement to delivery in less than 13 months. Woo-hoo!

Rapido GMD-1

HO Scale GMD-1 - The Time for Drooling is Now!

Our models include some neat features:

  • "Switching Mode" lighting. Press F12 and both headlights go on but dimmed. I had to ask two GMD-1 engineers if that was the right way to do it, and they confirmed that it was. In fact, the real GMD-1 does not have an option for both headlights to be on bright. If you have them both on (which you do when switching), they have to be dimmed.
  • User-controlled class lights for when your GMD-1 is running an extra.
  • An awesome new doppler horn that isn't going at 89 MPH like the one in our FP9A.
  • A tonne of extra bits. The GMD-1 had so many variations during the life of each paint scheme that there was no way we could do them all - one detail group may only have been correct for a two-year period! So we include tonnes of extra stuff in the box for you to customize your engine to match photos.
  • Serious wheel slip when you go straight to 8! Like our FP9A and our F9B, F3 controls the "Straight to 8" feature. You press that and you hear the engine gunning it into notch 8, as GMD-1 engineers frequently had to do when the load was just too heavy for these light engines. We did this while recording the real GMD-1 #1118 and there was a tonne of wheel slip. Guess what? We kept it in the recording! It sounds amazing!
You get neat stuff like these when all four guys running a company are modellers. We're very proud of the GMD-1 locomotives and we hope you will be happy with them.

We expect to receive delivery of a new paint scheme every six weeks or so. So start saving now! Click here for more info on the GMD-1. We're sold out so if you are just deciding now that you want one, you'd better call around.

N Scale GMD-1

N Scale GMD-1 - Pre-Production Sample

N Scale GMD-1 Update

Just so you N scalers know we haven't forgotten about you, above is a photo of our upcoming N scale GMD-1 in the stunning sergeant stripes. Remember when railroads believed in spending money on paint jobs? I used to think the GMD-1 was ugly. But when I see the 1600-series, 6-axle GMD-1A in sergeant stripes, I realize that it is a Thing of Beauty. Have you ordered your FLEET yet?

We just finished adding the walkway tread and the factory forgot the tread on top of the anticlimbers, so they are working on that now. We'll be ready in time for production - the N scale GMD-1 will start production in just a few months' time.

You need to reserve your N scale GMD-1 and GMD-1A by Friday the 13th of June. Click here for more info and/or to place your order.

Rapido Gondola

Rapido Ultimate Canadian Gondola - PGE

Deliveries: Gons and Coaches

As I mentioned last time, we are continuing to explore this new and exciting concept of "delivering products in my lifetime."

The last batch of MLW Ultimate Canadian Gondola models is arriving next week: CN (delivery), CN (12" lettering), CN (noodle) and Pacific Great Eastern. We are sold out so please call around if you haven't pre-ordered.

Rapido Factory

Final quality control checks on CNR coaches

In the photo above, one of the mums in our village workshop does the final QC inspection on Canadian National Super Continental Line coaches. In southern China, most of the factories are filled with workers who have come in from other parts of the country. Most of them are young - in their 20s - and at Chinese New Year time they all go home and many of them don't come back! When they are home they learn about some other factory to work at in a different province, and they go there instead.

The main workshop that builds Rapido models in China is in a small village, and employs mostly local mums. Because they live "near the office," the don't disappear at Chinese New Year and they are much more reliable in general. We've seen a marked improvement in our quality control since the factory started hiring more mums and fewer 20-somethings. Hurray for mums!

The Super Continental Line coaches have all left the factory and will arrive in two batches: mid-May and the end of May. So you'll have them in your hands in June.

VIA Grey FP9

The Grey Ghost has arrived!

Grey Ghost FP9A Arrival

This one only took us three years.... Boreal Trains in Rimouski, Quebec commissioned an exclusive run of 100 of these VIA Rail Canada oddball locomotives, and they have finally arrived.

The "Grey Ghost" is a railfan term applied to VIA FP9A number 6532. In 1980 it received this experimental paint scheme of grey and yellow. This was a variation of the original intended paint scheme for the LRC, as shown in this 1970s artist's concept:

LRC Train Artist Concept

LRC conceptual drawing from the 1970s

Eventually VIA decided against the grey scheme for its conventional equipmment (and for the LRC!), and 6532 and two coaches were eventually repainted into their traditional blue colours. The paint used for the test was not the usual grade and it started to fade within a couple of months, likely due to the chemicals used in the wash rack. 6532 was painted back into blue before being rebuilt into GPA-418 #6310 three years later and painted into blue... again.

Denis Coté, the owner of Boreal Trains, is a friend of ours and a fellow VIA nut. You can order the Grey Ghost directly from Denis. His email address is didomcote@hotmail.com and his Facebook page is at facebook.com/boreal.trains. You can read more about the Grey Ghost here.

Meat Reefer Cow

There's the beef!

Meat Reefers - Order Yours Now!

The order deadline for the second run of HO scale Meat Reefers is SWIFTly approaching. (Ouch!) The first run sold out and we got dozens of late requests for more that we couldn't fill. So please contact your dealer to order now. We take direct orders, but only in four-packs.

Swift Reefer

Order your Meat Reefers. Swiftly.

This run of Meat Reefers includes:

  • Abraham Bros. Packing
  • Armour
  • Cudahy - 1950s
  • Deckers
  • Dubuque - Burst "...Tall Corn Country"
  • Dugdale - Large
  • Kingan - Small
  • Oscar Mayer - Small
  • Swift - Red Block
  • Swift - Yellow
  • Wilson - Small
  • Wimp
  • Painted, Unlettered
  • Kit, Undecorated
I love those names. I'd like a fleet of Wimps for my layout. The MSRP is $44.95 per car and the order deadline is Monday May 26th. For more info or to order direct, please click here.

Rapido LRC

The LRC poses on Walter Pankratz's layout.

LRC Update

It's alive! A couple of weeks ago we received our first new LRC Locomotive sample from the factory in more than three years. It's nice to see that this project is still alive and kicking! Unfortunately the locomotive came with a laundry list of tooling adjustments they still need to make. I've been told that we can finally start production in the summer.

I think you'll be very pleased with the looks and performance of this locomotive when it's finally ready. Have a look at the photo below.

VIA LRC Locomotive

The LRC pre-production sample... including step lights!

Our model will feature working ditch lights and red markers (at both ends), and it will even feature working step lights. You can see them in the photo above. It's even better in person.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that while our latest sample has step lights, it doesn't actually have steps. They didn't inject properly - and that's in the laundry list of adjustments needed. Also note our sample is hand painted, so the weird jog in the yellow on the nose won't be on the production model. But we do plan to use the richer yellow shown in the photo. I felt the stripes were too pale on the first run of coaches, which was not intentional.

We've temporarily reopened the order desk for the LRC locomotive and coaches (they are being produced together). If you haven't ordered yours yet, please contact your dealer or click here to order direct.

Those of you frustrated with the seemingly endless delays to this project, please keep in mind that this is my favourite locomotive - I spearheaded the preservation of 6917 and Sidura and I actually owned 6919 for a while. I've been just as frustrated as you. We'll get it out this year.

Mike McGrattan

Mike and his uncomfortably anthropomorphized boxcar on board The Canadian.

Mike's Transcendental Journey

Transcontinental. I meant Transcontinental. Sort of.

Mike and Dan rode The Canadian to Supertrain this month and our latest blog entry is a travelogue (with a "ue") of their journey, as well as Mike's personal journey as he turned 50 while en route.

You can read our blog by clicking here. Please use the blog comments section to share your experiences of The Canadian and of becoming a Really Old Guy like Mike. We would love to hear your stories!

Jason Shron and Dan Garcia

Dan and me enjoying a First TransPennine Express Class 185

So... Why the UK?

I get asked that a lot - why are you getting into the British market? If it's a Canadian asking me, chances are they have never thought much about the UK since they last visited for the Jubilee in 1977 and they think that all British policemen wear bearskins, red Routemasters are used everywhere, and that ambulances still go "wee-WAW, wee-WAW." I wish ambulances still went "wee-WAW, wee-WAW." I love that sound.

If it's a Brit asking me, the tone is usually one of disbelief: "Why would you EVER want to make a model for the UK? Our economy's gone to pot!" That is generally followed by a rant against Tony Blair, council flats, the Euro, Margaret Thatcher, DCC, People Born Inside the M25, People Born Outside the M25, the Rail Delivery Group, political correctness, Argos, the term UK plc, Mark IV coaches, and human beings in general. (I really hate the term UK plc.)

Jason Shron Class 50 050

Taking 50 050 for a spin at Tyseley back when I still had black hair...
(It's spelled Tyseley, but pronounced Toisleh. Love that Brummy accent!)

When Sidura and I were first married we lived in Edgbaston (Birmingham) for a few years. We remember those early days before we had kids very fondly. We travelled all over the UK from Cornwall to Inverness and everywhere in between, usually by train. While I'd always loved British culture - music, tea, humour, Doctor Who - we fell in love with the land and its trains. Well, I fell in love with the trains. Sidura fell in love with the Lake District. Can you blame her?

Bill Schneider (Rapido Bill) lived in the UK shortly after the reign of Have a Canute Or Two or whatever his name was. Bill also loves British trains and he currently models a Great Western branch line in the 1930s. I've encouraged him to add overhead line equipment for my Pendolino fleet. And I've encouraged him to change his layout to Birmingham in 2003. He's not listening.

By the time we got to 2013 I realized that I had only been back to the UK once since 2004, and I wanted it to be a part of my life again. I also realized that Doctor Who was turning 50, and during the 40th anniversary celebrations I vowed to be back for the 50th.

Now let's see - Bill and I want to spend more time in the UK, Bill and I love British trains, and Bill and I are part of a model train manufacturing company. Now that was a tough one to figure out.

When Dan and I visited the UK for Doctor Who's birthday - I mean, for our UK product research trip - we met up with Brian Greenwood, George Muirhead and Anthony Coulls at Locomotion in Shildon. Brian runs Locomotionmodels.com, the model railway arm of the National Railway Museum. George is the museum manager at Locomotion in Shildon, and Anthony is the senior curator of the National Railway Museum. They are great guys.

It's nice to meet people half a world away who speak exactly the same languange you do. I don't mean English - I mean the language of trains and a passion for them.

Jason Shron Locomotion Shildon

How do you photograph the roof of a train?
You climb onto the roof of the train beside it!

During our visit, Dan and I outlined the plan for Rapido's first Birtish model. Brian and George immediately said, "We're on board - let's do it together." And so we are! Rapido's first model for the UK market will be a Locomotionmodels.com exclusive edition and will form a part of the "National Collection in Miniature" series.

I'd like to properly invite you to join John, Paul, George and me George, Brian, Bill and me at our "3D Scan Railway Party" at Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon on 24 June. It's a drop-in between 10:00 and 17:00. We'll have displays set up, goodies to give out, food to eat, and tours of equipment normally closed to the public. And of course you'll be a part of British model railway history and see the scan in progress! Full information can be found by clicking here. It will take you to the official press release on Locomotion's web site. Please RSVP by 17 June.

I'll be sharing more info about our new UK model in the coming months. Once we announce it on the 24th, we will be sharing our 3D drawings on RMWeb for comment and feedback. We want to ensure everyone loves our first model. We'll have samples at various shows in the UK in late 2014 and early 2015 so you can experience the model "in the flesh" before placing your reservation.

Thanks to the four of you still reading this! And please pass word of Rapido to your friends who model British railways so they can sign up to read our newsletters that are 90% about VIA and CN. Hmmm. We seem to have a bit of a disconnect here... I'll get working on it.

All the best,


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

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