Rapido News

Rapido News Volume 57 - ©2014 Rapido Trains Inc.

Dear Rapido Customer,

We have a bunch of project updates, videos and new products this issue, so let's get right to it!

VIA Exclusive Budd Coach

VIA Rail Canada Exclusive Budd Coach

New! HO Scale VIA Rail Canada Budd Coach

Well, we've done it again! I am delighted to announce exclusive VIA Rail Canada Budd Coaches in HO scale, arriving NEXT MONTH!

Coaches are the backbone of VIA's transcontinental fleet, offering both short- and long-haul passengers an economical way to see the country. VIA's ex-CP Budd coaches have been an integral part of The Canadian since VIA took over the service in late 1978. In addition, they are used all over VIA's system.

Since the 1980s these coaches have regularly been used in the Corridor and on just about all of the transcontinental services, from the Skeena to the Super Continental to the Hudson Bay to the Ocean.

VIA Exclusive Budd Coach

Three ex-CP Budd coaches on a Toronto-Niagara Falls train in 1992.
Photo courtesy Kaluza-Mueller Collection.

The Canadian regularly has two or three of these coaches per train and The Ocean - when using Budd equipment - could have as many as six or seven at busy times.

VIA's Budd Coaches feature:
  • realistic stainless steel finish
  • accurate tinted windows with window blinds
  • fully decorated interior with individually moulded seats and antimacassars
  • simulated etched glass panels inside the car
  • operating track-powered interior lighting
  • "Canada" and Canadian flag decals included
  • 10 different road numbers!
  • $108 each

VIA Exclusive Budd Coach

Insane Underbody Detail

The coaches are arriving in July, as in NEXT MONTH! They are already en route. VIA has only ordered a few dozen of each road number so make sure you get your order in early. VIA's production runs of the Park Car, Skyline, Chateau Sleeper and Dining Car have all sold out so make sure you stock up on coaches.

You can never have too many coaches!

Click here to visit our web page for product and car numbers, or click here to go directly to VIA's site to reserve your fleet!

GMD-1 Prairies

A trio of GMD-1A locomotives brightens up the Prairies.
Photo courtesy Mark Perry.

New! GMD-1 Sound Decoders

We're delighted to announce Rapido sound decoders and speakers for the GMD-1! If you have a resin model, a brass model, or a scratchbuilt fleet, then this is the product for you. Click here to skip the gab and go order one.

In the bag you get an ESU LokSound Select decoder loaded with Rapido's own GMD-1 sound recordings, as well as a special 8-ohm, "MP3 player" speaker that fits snugly into the GMD-1 locomotive's narrow long hood. The sound quality from this speaker is spectacular, as those of you who have seen the GMD-1 model in person will attest.

Graham Wood's GMD-1

Somehow I think that our decoders won't have enough power for
Graham Wood's incredible scratchbuilt 1/8 scale GMD-1. Pity!
Photo courtesy Graham Wood.

The MSRP is $109.95 for the decoder and speaker. If you want the decoder on its own... throw away the speaker. You can order these from your dealer or direct from us. More info can be found here.

Rapido GMD-1

The first shipment of GMD-1 locomotives is arriving!

First GMD-1 Arrival

Just over a year after our official announcement, the arrival of our first shipment of HO scale GMD-1 locomotives is imminent!

In this shipment are all of the CN noodle locomotives with the black cab (1961 scheme). These babies look absolutely gorgeous! We will hopefully start shipping them to dealers by the end of next week.

Rapido GMD-1

Check out the class lights!

The user-controlled class lights and number boards (in DCC) have a nice, warm glow about them, don't they? The GMD-1 is sold out at Rapido but some dealers may have inventory for those of you who were introduced to Rapido after the order deadline passed. (Note if you reserved your GMD-1 locomotives from Hobby Depot in Sudbury please contact us about two weeks ago.)

Full information about Rapido's HO scale GMD-1 locomotive can be found here. Our Master Class, featuring a potted history and spotting differences, can be found here.

Silly YouTube Videos

Don't ask. Just watch the video.

New Videos: One Neat and One ABSURD

We've uploaded two new videos for your enjoyment. The first is a proper shakedown run of our new sound-equipped HO scale FPA-4 and FPB-4 locomotives. Listen to these beautiful babies growl. All they are missing is the thick, black smoke! Click here or on the image below to watch the video, and click here to order your fleet of FPA-4 and FPB-4 locomotives in CN, VIA, Napa Valley, Grand Canyon, and NY&LE.

FPA-4 Video

The next video is completely absurd and is probably a complete waste of time (Brit. "pants").

Introducing Rapido Trains Inc. is ostensibly a Rapido primer for the British model railway market, but it was really just an excuse for us to goof off (Brit. "lark about"). You don't need to be British to enjoy five minutes of complete silliness! Click here to watch the video (Brit. "watch the video") or click on the image below. Warning: this video will offend just about everyone.

Yes, in the image below I am attacking a train with a hockey stick (Brit. "ice hockey stick"). Don't ask. Just watch the video.

Introducing Rapido Trains Inc.

Rapido UK Model Launch

Don't ask. Just watch the video.

Rapido's British Model Launch

We're just a couple of weeks away from our big UK model launch, better known as the "3D Scan Railway Party" at Locomotion The National Railway Museum at Shildon on 24 June. Click here for directions.

We're expecting at least three people to show up for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You'll get to:

  • see the 3D scan of the secret new model in progress
  • receive guided tours of vehicles in the Locomotion collection not normally open to the public
  • enjoy a delicious lunch
  • meet Bill and me in person (wow.) as well as the Locomotion team
  • learn about how the newest model trains are designed and built
  • see displays of Rapido and Locomotion models
  • receive a goody bag including exclusive badges and other fun stuff
  • see some fabulous model layouts
  • enjoy a great day out at a fabulous railway museum!
The cost for entry to this exclusive event is only £10 per person. Children 13 and under are free, so take your grandkids out of school and bring them along!

We love travelling by train in the UK and I am sure that you do as well. I hope you will take a day off work and train down (or up, if you are way north) to Shildon and spend an enjoyable time with us. It will be an intimate party atmosphere, and a lot of the British model railway press personalities will be in attendance so you can meet and talk to them too!

NRM Shildon

Just a smattering of Locomotion's extensive collection...
National Railway Museum Photo

Full information on the launch can be found at our UK launch page: RapidoUK.com. Please bookmark that link as we will regularly redirect it to the UK version of our web site, the exact URL of which might change.

Bill and I will be regularly updating our Facebook page while in the UK, so please tune in for the latest news. You don't need to be a member of Facebook to view our updates. We will also be writing a blog entry about the UK trip. In the meantime, you can visit our blog now to read about Mike and Dan's road trip to Quebec and Moncton smack in the middle of the latter city's recent events. Click here to go there.

Our visit starts with our "Support the Cornish Economy" trip to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway on 20 June. On 22 June we spend just about the whole day on board a CrossCountry HST (I love the HST). We're in the Darlington and Shildon areas until the 26th, when we head to Dalwhinnie to get pissed taste some fine whiskies. Single malt, anyone?

We're booked on the ScotRail sleeper back to London and we fly out on the 27th. So that's at least two hours in London on our last day! (I think I'm taking this "I'm from the North" thing a little too far.)

Monon Coach

Super Continental Line Lightweight Coach - Monon

Delivery Updates

We've been very busy with HO scale deliveries of late. At your local hobby shop now (or just recently arrived) are:
Leaving our warehouse in the next two weeks are: Arriving mid-July:

CPR Park Car

Budd Park Car

Arriving end of July: Arriving end of August: So things are, as usual, really busy during the summer when you are all out playing golf and not thinking about model trains at all. Sorry!

Seriously, though. Because Chinese New Year shuts down the factories for most of February, they don't really get back into the groove until March or April. That means a lot of summer deliveries.

My suggestion? Save your model railroad spending budget for the summer and spend your winters building the layout!

The Super Continental Line GTW (Noodle) Coaches are actually here, but they have the wrong trucks. We're waiting for the factory to make new trucks and then we're going to do the swaperoo here at our warehouse. So you can expect them to be ready around the end of July. They had better be - I leave for China at the beginning of August!

GARX Meat Reefer

Rapido's GARX Meat Reefer - Spotting Features

Order Deadlines Extended to June 30th

Our HO scale GARX Meat Reefer was just reviewed in the July Model Railroader, which will introduce a lot of people to the model. MR subscribers can read the review here. It would be silly to say "you can't order it!" so we have extended the order deadline until the end of this month.

Our GARX Meat Reefer is unique for being the longest-lasting wood-sided reefers to remain in service. These cars serviced meat packing houses throughout North America and lasted into the 1970s. They would feel at home on any North American layout set from the 1930s to the 1970s. If your HO scale citizens eat meat, you need these cars.

If you compare them to other manufacturers' meat reefers you may already have on your layout, you'll see that there are some key differences between our cars and the others you have. The steel hatches with the diamond-tread surface and the six General American triangular hinges are unique to our car and have never been made before in plastic.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you only have general service reefers (such as Pacific Fruit Express/PFE or Fruit Growers Express/FGE) on your layout, our Meat Reefers are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. You need a complete train of our Meat Reefers. Go order 48 of them. Please! Click here for more info.

Note that the MSRP is currently $44.95, and many dealers are selling for less. Next time we bring out these cars, I can tell you now that they will be north of $50 each... so order them now! More on those rising prices in a future newsletter.

When little GMD-1 locomotives have too much sugar.

Boy am I going to get complaints from that picture. I'll forward your angry emails to Mike. He's our big N scaler.

The N scale GMD-1 order deadline has also been extended to the end of June. We're still revising the walkway tread pattern so the moulds need a bit more work. Click here to read about our N scale GMD-1 or to place an order.

FPA-4 and LRC

FPA-4 6789 and a Friend on the Vermont & Essex Layout
Photo courtesy Luc Comtois.

Because we've just launched this (humbly) amazing video showcasing the FPA-4 and FPB-4 sounds (click here to watch it!), we're giving you and extra couple of weeks to order yours before we start production. So please order your FPA-4 and FPB-4 by the end of June. Click here for info.

Now looking at the neat photo above I'm probably going to get asked when the final (for real this time!) LRC order deadline is. At some point in the next few weeks I will ring the "last call" gong and give you two weeks to firm up your numbers. Yes, we are really starting LRC production this summer. As soon as the final tooling revisions are done I will send out a special short newsletter with that two-week warning.

Click here to order your LRC locomotives and coaches.

Luminato The Lost Train

The original advertising brochure for The Lost Train

Luminato's The Lost Train

For the last few months I have been very busy preparing for something I couldn't tell you about. As it's just ended, I'm really glad that I can finally spill the beans.

Luminato Festival is an international fine arts festival that takes place in Toronto every June. Events include live music, readings, dance, performances, art installations, film, etc. The vast majority of Luminato events happen in and around the downtown area. This year something special happened up in the suburb of Thornhill.

Kid Koala, Joe Beef

Brainstorming meeting, March 2014.
From left: Kid Koala, Fred Morin (Joe Beef), Jason Shron
Photo courtesy Caroline Hollway.

The Lost Train took place in a secret location. It was a food, music and railway experience hosted by world-famous chef Fred Morin from Joe Beef restaurant, world-famous scratch DJ Kid Koala, and some guy who has a train in his basement. For me, working with these two guys who are so well known for their art - worldwide - was humbling indeed.

Passengers were picked up at the famous Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto and taken by limousine to a secret train-related location. They were led, blindfolded, from the limousine to a VIA train car... which happened to be VIA coach 5647 that I built in my basement! Because the blindfolds were put on well before they arrived at my house, few people had any clue where they actually were.

Rapido Limousine

I wonder what the neighbours thought!

In the coach, passengers were treated to a sumptuous meal designed specifically for the event by Fred. The meals comprised small portions to fit the confined space of the coach and the courses evoked the spirit of on-board meals of the past. Located in Montreal, Fred's Joe Beef is one of the hottest restaurants in Canada, and he has recently expanded with a new restaurant on the same street, Le Vin Papillon. Fred is known for his unusual food combinations and their resulting out-of-this-world tastes. He's also an author and TV star, sharing the spotlight with his partner, Dave McMillan, on Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown. Most importantly, Fred loves VIA and CN trains just as much as I do.

Luminato The Lost Train

Passengers enjoy a five-star meal in Coach #5647

While passengers were eating their meals and getting to know each other in the rather cozy (knees-knocking) atmosphere of the coach, Kid Koala jockeyed train-themed music from a pair of turntables set up in the luggage rack. In the background you could still hear the sounds of the train that I always pump through hidden speakers. Servers in 1980s VIA-inspired uniforms kept the passengers well fed and well imbibed.

Serving Food in 5647

Server Tia Teeft brings part of the first course into coach 5647.
The eagle-eyed will recognize that she is using a 1980s-vintage VIA tray.

Amazingly, all of the food was prepared in our suburban, 1987-era kosher kitchen. Fred and his team of experienced chefs (led by caterer Raegan Steinberg) transformed our kitchen and family room into a professional gourmet food factory.

Fred Morin in the Kitchen

Chef Fred Morin prepares the Shron kitchen for its temporary transformation.

As the passengers were eating dessert, the chef joined them in the coach to tell them about their meal and explain some of the thought that went into The Lost Train experience and his co-operation with Kid Koala to create a food-music-train event. My involvement at this stage was still a secret. People still had no clue where they were, except that it was part of a train car.

Fred Morin in the Train

The chef explains his art.
Boy did we go through a lot of VIA glasses in there.

After their meal, the passengers were led down the hall to the other part of my basement - namely the HO scale Kingston Subdivision. Here I revealed that they were, in fact, inside my house in suburbia. The reactions were amazing! Most people had thought we were in a museum or a rented theatre space. Several people assumed we were in a VIA or CN office building! Here I took them through the process of resurrecting coach 5647 by showing them slides in their very own souvenir Viewmasters!

Viewmaster of the VIA Train

The Lost Train passengers learn how you, too, can build a train in your basement!

I demonstrated the model railroad by running my Turbo on some temporary track between Oshawa and Guildwood. I loved watching their reactions to the unfinished model railroad - some people saw the room as a work of art in and of itself, and others were brought back to the memories of their childhood train sets or taking their kids to train shows and clubs. It was fairly unanimous - everyone agreed that I am nuts and Sidura is a saint. I passed the floor over to Kid Koala, who performed a train-themed piece on his turntables that he specially composed for this event.

Kid Koala The Lost Train

Kid Koala scratches the blues while first-class Turbo passengers watch from the dome.

Kid Koala is a scratch DJ (or "turntablist" in hoity-toity circles). He's performed at venues all over the world including Madison Square Garden and the Glastonbury Festival, where he's headed in a few days. I was floored by the captivating music he can create simply by modifying sounds on turntables.

He not only demonstrated his art; he also explained how it's done and let the passengers have a try. Most of the passengers, which included television personalities, writers and one governor general, had never even seen a scratch DJ in action before and now they got to try it for themselves. Watching a former representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II scratching disks on my model railroad is something I will never forget. Not ever.

Kid Koala spinning discs

Spinning discs for The Lost Train

The schedule was gruelling - much more so for Fred and Kid Koala and the administrative team than for me. I had done several weeks of long hours and hard work to get the basement ready before the event, but during the event I was just needed for the last half hour of each performance. I had time to put together the FPA-4 video and this newsletter in between my appearances. Everyone else was on their feet the whole time. We brought 12 groups of eight passengers each through The Lost Train experience. That was four groups per day for three days.

Kid Koala and Joe Beef

Two exhausted guys take a break from One Crazy Train...

Behind the scenes, Caroline Hollway was our boss. She organized everything and kept everything - and everyone - in line. There were as many as 20 or 25 people in my house at one time! And between shows there was a lot to set up and plenty of fires to put out (thankfully none in the kitchen). With no prior planning, the Heywood-Wakefield train seats in our living room became the mobile office. (The site office was the guest room in the basement - often with three people at a time, squished on the hide-a-bed, using their mobiles and laptops simultaneously!)

Jorn Weisbrodt, Artistic Director

Jorn Weisbrodt, Luminato's Artistic Director, uses the living room train seats as his mobile office...

Caroline Hollway

...until he's evicted by Caroline Hollway, who was running our show.

One of the most rewarding things for me, as a life-long VIA fan and lover of old VIA stuff, was seeing things like old VIA trays and cutlery being used again, in service, on a train. It really felt like we were bringing 5647 to life. Although it didn't move, it was boarded by passengers who experienced in it, eight at a time, for over an hour. In essence, this crazy full-size train in the basement has come full circle. It started life as an artifact taking passengers on journeys across the country, and now in resurrected form it has taken passengers on a journey again. This journey may not have resulted in an arrival at a new physical destination, but it was a culinary, auditory and experiential journey nevertheless. It was one that few of the passengers will ever forget.

VIA trays

Old VIA and CN trays do what they were designed to do for the first time in over 20 years!

I have to thank Dan and Mike for holding the fort for me while I was preparing for The Lost Train. I was away for days at a time, and for much of May I was hardly at the office. Nothing makes you work on your layout more than knowing you have 100 guests coming through on a fixed date and it has to look presentable by then.

My friends, John Chipperfield and Tom Fetherston, came to my house often and we worked hard erecting the helix (we needed Dan for that!) and building the second deck. Jeff Loach came by to help lay track and Gaston Moreau provided me with loads upon loads of trees. He makes amazing trees.

The great thing is that this push now means that we will probably be able to start operating the upper two decks of the Kingston Sub next year. In July I will take out the temporary track I laid on the second deck and start constructing the third. I'm working on a detailed update to the Kingston Sub web site to show how we built the helix and the middle deck. It should be ready in the next few weeks.

VIA Turbo

The Turbo passes through a hastily-scenicked section of the middle deck.

This truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one that I will never forget. My background is in the visual arts, and to be a part of a major art event in my city is a great honour. As a bonus, I made some very good friends in the process. After seeing my Turbo run, fellow train nut Chef Fred has now decided to take the plunge into model railroading. That's another one converted!

I owe Fred Morin, Kid Koala, Caroline Hollway, Jorn Weisbrodt, and everyone at Luminato a huge debt of gratitude. Together, we brought VIA coach 5647 to life and brought an abundance of joy and culinary delights that it never even saw during its 40 years in service.

Most importantly, I owe Sidura. She was supportive of this from day one and she allowed her entire house to be turned upside down for a week. She also kept the kids out of trouble during that time and she taught them to understand that this was a special event and that they should be proud of it and not worry too much that their routine was being upset. She even got Boaz and Dalya a limo ride! My wife is a saint.

Boaz and Dalya in the Limo

It must be Grade School Prom!

The most important thing is that everyone had fun, from the three creative forces behind the project to the staff and most especially to the passengers. For the passengers, each journey was a time of relaxation, surprise and delight, and I hope that the 100-odd people who rode The Lost Train will keep the memories close, especially when planning their next journey... Maybe they'll choose the train!

Jason Shron, Kid Koala, Fred Morin

Phew! We got through it!
Jason Shron, Kid Koala, and Fred Morin in The Lost Train.

The Lost Train team

About two thirds of The Lost Train team celebrate its successful completion.

On that happy note, I'll be off.

The next newsletter will be about our surprise UK product announcement later this month. Until then...

All the best,


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

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