The latest update from Rapido including a behind-the-scenes look at the Rapido factory.
Rapido News Volume 79
©2016 Rapido Trains Inc.

Downeaster Cabbage
YES! It's the Downeaster NPCU!
New! Downeaster NPCU in HO Scale!

This is the announcement that many northeast modellers have been hoping for. We have concluded our negotiations with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and Rapido now has permission to produce a model of the Downeaster NPCU, or "Cabbage" as they are often called.

Northeaster F40
Artwork mock-up for our Downeaster Cabbage
Our NPCU (Non-Powered Control Unit) is in tooling right now, and we hope to have samples before the July 1st order deadline. Our NPCU model required all-new tooling as numerous modifications were made to the F40PH body when it was converted into an NPCU.

We've gone all out on this, tooling details as obscure as oversized marker lights, HEP cables and new steps below the cab doors. We even rotated the sand filler covers 180 degrees just like Amtrak did. (Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the drawing above was done before the covers were rotated.) It helps having experts like Alex Stroshane and Matt Donnelly on board with the project. They know Amtrak F40s like I know TurboTrains. The F40 is their passion, and it shows in our model.

Downeaster Cabbage
It is amazing how many requests we have received for this model.
The Downeaster is an American passenger rail success story.
Unlike the prototype, the Rapido Cabbage model is actually powered. You need all the power you can get to haul your Amsleds.

We've had some requests for a DCC (silent) version, but after careful consideration we decided to leave it as either DC/Silent or DC/DCC/Sound. If you have DCC but you don't want sound in your Cabbage, we recommend you purchase the DC version. It has a 21-pin plug attached to the motherboard, and we will sell ESU LokPilot silent decoders which will control all of the lights perfectly. You will just need to plug in the decoder and you are all set. It literally takes five minutes to do. (You can already buy some of our decoders in our SWAG store.)

The NPCU Cabbage can be ordered from your dealer or direct. The MSRP is still $199.95 (DC/Silent) or $299.95 (DC/DCC/Sound). Click here for more info or to place your order.

The order deadline is July 1st. You can download a complete F40PH catalogue/brochure by clicking here.
Rapido FA-2 PRR
Comparing our FA-2 with the competition. There is no comparison!
Update: HO Scale FA-2 and FPA-2
Order deadline MAY 24th! 

We're working hard behind the scenes to prepare our new FA-2 and FPA-2 models for production. This includes:
  • Adding rivets and other small "textures" to the moulds
  • Recording new, accurate Alco 244 sounds
Our PRR model above is a hand-painted early test sample straight out of the moulds. We are now adding the rivets and the flares above the windshields. We have lots of experience making gorgeous models so you can rest assured that the end result will be beautiful.

However, the sounds presented our biggest challenge to date. How the heck could we get a great Alco 244 (12 cylinder) sound recording? Most of the surviving locomotives here in North America sound completely clapped out. Our answer came to us all the way from... AUSTRALIA!

Rapido Jay Thompson
Rapido's new partner in crime, Jay Thompson, atop Alco/MLW 4001 in Australia.
Jay Thompson is a highly regarded model railroader and custom builder in New South Wales, Australia, and he is in the process of starting up a new hobby retail service, Notch 8 Precision Models, catering to high-end models such as Rapido.

He got in touch and told us about 4001, a New South Wales 40-class built by MLW/Alco in the 1950s. It is located at Trainworks Railway Museum, a quite spectacular railway museum in New South Wales with an extensive collection of Australian trains.

Here's the kicker: 4001 has the exact same prime mover as the FA-2, and it is in phenomenal working condition. This was our chance.

MLW builder plate
Jay points out the MLW builder's plate on the side of 4001.
4001 may look a bit different on the outside, but on the inside it is 100% MLW/Alco!
Jay ordered the necessary recording equipment and the Trainworks team was very enthusiastic to help out. This week, they hauled a 270-ton load up a steep grade. The sounds are AMAZING. Seriously, they are possibly the best sounds we've ever recorded.

Finally, the North American model railroad community will have accurate sounds of an Alco 12-244 prime mover working its rear off. You can bet that Rapido will be selling the Alco 244 sound decoders separately... but only after the FA-2 and FPA-2 models have hit the store shelves!

Rapido FA-2 FPA-2
A selection of Rapido FA-2 and FPA-2 pre-production samples.
Please place your order now as the order deadline is less than three weeks away. Only orders placed by May 24th will be guaranteed.

Click here for product numbers/pricing or to order direct. Or click here to download an FA-2 catalogue/brochure.

Remember that deadline - May 24th! We don't make inventory, so you need to reserve by the deadline. Our reservations are ahead of our target, so it seems that a lot of people are hungry for a museum-quality FA-2. If you build a better mousetrap...
It's the GMD-1 that all the modern guys want!
Hand-painted pre-production sample shown.
Update: HO Scale CN GMD-1 With Stripes
Order deadline MAY 24th! 

The tooling for our new, modern GMD-1 is basically finished. We still have to fix some light leak around the working ditch lights and add the diamond tread to the anticlimber.

CN's rebuilt GMD-1s have been a mainstay of Canadian railroading since 1988. It's hard to believe that these workhorses have been in service for almost 30 years, and that when they entered service in their rebuilt form they were already almost 30 years old!

The amazing thing is... they are still at it! Here's a photo that ESU's Matt Herman took last month deep in the heart of British Columbia.
GMD-1 2016
GMD-1 1420 in Prince George, BC just two weeks ago.
What a nice collection of first and second generation GMDD power!
Photo courtesy Matt Herman.
Our new modern GMD-1 features:
  • New tooling for all three rebuilds: 1400s, 1600s, 1430-44
  • New sounds to be recorded this spring to get the accurate "thrash" put out by CN's rebuilt 12-645C prime mover
  • Operating ditch lights
  • Correct "light grey" stripes - they had shifted too dark in recent releases
If you have not seen our GMD-1 in action before, you can watch a review of it from here or watch it switching industries on a layout here.

For some GMD-1 prototype action, click here to watch an awesome video of 1444 leading an SD75I on train 438! Here is some great 12-645C thrash in Calgary's Sarcy yard just a year ago. And finally, here is 1408 in action in Winnipeg just a couple of weeks ago!
If you've been in a Canadian hobby shop lately, you've probably seen this poster:
GMD-1 Poster
Our snazzy GMD-1 poster!
We have about 20 of these posters left, and you can have one (or more) for $8.95 each including shipping in Canada. Each poster is beautifully printed on glossy, heavyweight paper and is a sizeable 16x20 inches. Click here to buy one if you are in Canada. Click here to buy one if you are anywhere else.

The HO scale GMD-1 order deadline is May 24th. Remember: we don't make inventory. These are built to order.

Please click here to order your GMD-1 direct or for product/number pricing information. You can also click here to download a GMD-1 brochure/catalogue.
Don't miss your model of this CN icon! Please get your orders in on time!
Rapido N Scale
New Haven FL9 shells in the print shop.
This photo was just taken yesterday!
Delivery Schedule and N Scale News

The factory is hard at work making New Haven, New Haven and more New Haven. The N scale FL9 locomotives are nearing completion. We're working on the New Haven shells now. All of the other shells have been completed.

The N scale New Haven/B&M/LIRR/BAR Osgood Bradley lightweight coaches are also in production. The interiors and underframes have been assembled and we're now waiting for the shells to be finished.
N scale New Haven
New Haven Osgood Bradley coaches waiting for printing.
Gotta love the Hunter Green!
Both the N scale FL9 and the N scale Osgood Bradleys should arrive here at Rapido Galactic HQ by the end of this month.

Production has begun on the HO scale New Haven 8600-series coaches. These will be leaving the factory in June and arriving here in late July. We've also started production on the HO scale RDC. This is such a huge production run that the models will arrive in three shipments starting in August/September. We've sold more RDCs than any other locomotive in Rapido's history, so thank you to everyone who has placed an order. We're now seriously looking at doing "The Four."
Janet Golfman
Rapido's own Janet Golfman.
Yes, our "Nerd" shirts come in women's sizes. Click here to order one.
Janet's Ride In Honour of Mike McGrattan

As you know, Mike's cancer has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. To help give him some encouragement, Rapido's own Janet Golfman - our one employee who isn't a foamer - has decided to participate in the Enbridge 2016 Ride to Conquer Cancer this June. She will be riding her bike from Toronto to Niagara Falls, which is impressive as I can't ride my bike around the block without stopping for a drink at Starbucks.

Please consider donating to Janet's endeavour. Please click here to visit the Ride to Conquer Cancer web site and sponsor her ride. She has told me that all donations are welcome and greatly appreciated, no matter how big or small. All donations are fully tax receiptable.

I've asked Janet to stop at Bayview Junction and take some photos on the way but she didn't seem keen on the idea, for some reason. She needs to get her priorities straight.
Rapido Sleeper
Our sleeping car is starting to look the part. It still needs a lot of work!
Update on Our Sleeping Car and RDC

Rapido's massive fleet of TWO trains is now being prepared to enter service. Here's a quick update.


Our Pullman-Standard 4 Section - 8 Duplex Roomette - 4 Double Bedroom sleeper, Edmundston, has had an interior clean up. We're currently looking for someone local in Orangeville who can help with the interior work: rebuilding the bathrooms, replacing damaged light fixtures, repainting damaged areas, etc.

Ted Wakeford from the Credit Valley Explorer has started working on the Head End Power upgrade. We hope to have the car partially in service by September. Bob Merriam will start work on the left side exterior next month. The paint has come off in sheets and the car needs major refurbishment. We're confident Bob can pull it off.

Below is the Genemotor donated by sister car Edmonton at Exporail. Dan Darnell's brother, Phil, cleaned it up and removed the guts. We plan to install a large variation of the "Oh So Steamy!" generator in there so we can have a "steamy" effect when operating in cold weather. It will work like Rapido's HO scale steam generator car, but in 1:1 scale. I'm not kidding...
Rapido Genemotor
Our refurbished Genemotor is filling up a big chunk of our warehouse floor.
Even with the brushes removed it still weighs over 1000 Lbs.
I love Genemotors.
You can read up on our restoration of Edmundston by clicking here.

Meanwhile, our locomotive mechanic, Chris Fox, has been busy prepping our RDC for a major overhaul.
RDC 6133
Our RDC, 6133, at Toronto Maintenance Centre this week.
Photo courtesy John Carey.
Chris has put together an initial list of what needs to be done to get 6133 operational, and it's a very long one!

Here's an abbreviated list of some of the main points:
  • Trucks: Replace springs; replace wheels
  • Engines: Have new radiator cores built; balance and fit Cardan shafts
  • Electrical: Buy new batteries; build a new main battery breaker panel; upgrade AC system if needed
  • Body: Fix B end leaks; replace washroom walls; replace carpet; replace windows; remove graffiti; replace wall coverings; add paint and lettering

That is going to keep Chris busy for, um, the rest of his life. Click here for a more detailed update.

RDC 6133
The bushings on two of the torsion bars need replacing. Look at the cracks!
When you add all of these minor wear-and-tear items you have a list a mile long.
Photo courtesy John Carey.
If you would like to help us with the restoration of either 6133 or Edmundston, either with supplies or with elbow grease, please let us know. For instance, if you happen to be sitting on four rolls of surplus VIA sleeper carpet from the 1980s or a pile of baseboard heating elements, we'd really like to hear from you. And we'll gladly trade you lots and lots of model trains for them!
If you can't come out to help in person but you would like to make a donation, we would of course appreciate it! To contribute to our restoration efforts of Edmundston, please click here. To contribute to our restoration efforts of 6133, please click here

If you have a passenger car or locomotive and you need work on it, Chris and his fellow mechanics have started a railroad maintenance company. They can come and do pretty much any sort of running repair including air brake maintenance and certification, power assembly changeouts, traction motor changeouts and maintenance, wheelset changeouts, etc.

Chris's company is called Northwind Rail Services. You can visit his web site here. Ask for Chris and tell him I sent you.
Dan Garcia Rapido
Dan is also modelling our new Nerd shirt.
Clean your desk, Dan. It's covered in bus.
Rapido SWAG Store

"Swag" is another word for "neat gift-related stuff." Our SWAG Store has T-shirts, mugs, and other miscellaneous railroad-related items. We've sold a lot of our "Chuggamugs," which are mugs decorated like passenger cars, and a truckload of Rapido/ESU decoders.

One product that each of us at Rapido is proud to wear is our "100% Grade A Certified NERD" T-shirts. I designed the shirt when I was feeling particularly Nerdy and it quickly became a favourite of everyone here. Even Janet wears her Nerd shirt! But since putting them in the SWAG store, we've sold only two. It is officially our worst-selling product. (Hurray!)

And I know why. Most model railroaders are of an age when being called a Nerd or a Fink was a major insult. That was then; this is now. The Nerds took over the world in the 1990s and now we Nerds define what is cool and what is trendy...

All model railroaders have a bit of Nerd Gene inside us. If you are extremely offended at that sentence then you need to come out of the Geek Closet. We at Rapido encourage you to let out your inner Nerd and be proud of being different.

Click here to order your Nerd shirt in Canada. Click here to order it everywhere else. It has a Rapido logo on the back. All our T-shirts come with free shipping.
Rapido Jordan Smith
Rapido's new employee, Jordan Smith.
Ning Nong is wearing an "I'd rather be on Amtrak" shirt in our VIA-themed office.
He's fired.
Introducing Jordan Smith

I'm delighted to introduce you to Jordan Smith. Jordan started in January and he has been slowly taking over the vast majority of customer communication. He's been a model railroader all his life and actually worked in a train store from when he was a teenager to just last year. He's in his 30s now!

I first offered Jordan a job over a year ago and he turned me down, the yutz. Then I offered him a job again and he accepted. Good thing he came to his senses. Now every time the crossing bells start behind our building I briefly glimpse a human-shaped blur as Jordan flies past my office and opens the back door to watch the train go by.

So here's an official welcome to Jordan, a true foamer if there ever was one...
Jason at the Rapido Factory
I spent 15 days at our factory in China last month.
At times I took over one of the design computers.
In this photo I am cataloguing the RDC variations. There are a Very Lot of them.
Factory Report and Thoughts on Rapido's Identity

Last month I spent a marathon 15 days with our team in China. I hadn't been there in a year and because there are so many projects in development I felt that I needed to spend a serious amount of time there. Stuff gets solved so much more quickly when one of us is at the factory.

When one of our tooling workshops was preparing the N scale Osgood Bradley shells for injection, they accidentally went a bit too far in polishing out some hairline scratches. The rivets were barely visible on three panels on the car side. I didn't think it was a problem on the Friday but then I could not sleep all weekend worrying about it. So when I got back to the factory the following Monday I said, "We need to fix this and remake the shells. It isn't good enough."
Jason Shron Chinese
I wanted to make sure the bad shells did not get used.
I just learned how to write 不用 a couple of months ago, and I already found I needed it.
The money saved in catching this problem has more than made up
for the costs of my Chinese lessons this year.
We spent an hour on the phone with the tooling master, and then Huang's brother drove over there and sat in the workshop while they recut every single missing rivet. By the end of the day, we had a new injection sample. The rivets were all back and I had the painting master spray it to see how it looked - it was perfect. I then went into the assembly workshop and boxed up all of the old shells, and used my new Chinese handwriting skills to write "DON'T USE - NOT GOOD" on all of the boxes. The last thing we want is for someone to use the old shells by mistake. (I'm finally learning to read and write Chinese. It is improving my speaking skills enormously.)

If I hadn't been there, we would never have found this issue, and the Osgood Bradleys would have been delayed several months and cost a fortune to fix.
Rapido Passenger Car Design
Huang's brother got the majority of the designs finished on our new passenger car.
New product design also moves super quickly when Bill or I am in China, as we are able to sit with the engineers and correct and clarify design issues as we go. Apart from the known models in development like the Royal Hudson and the Stirling Single, we finished up the design of a freight car and got a lot of work done on a new passenger car and a new (seriously top secret) GMDD design. We also tested the first samples of a new British DMU model.
Rapido Mould Factory
Huang, Wu and I are discussing the changes needed to the RDC roof moulds.
Wu is the Tooling Master in one of our mould workshops.
Wu is always wearing plaid. I'm not kidding. All his shirts are plaid.
I have learned never to go anywhere in China without my Optivisor!
Every couple of days we were in one of our two tooling workshops, where we had to fix numerous issues that had come up with our moulds. The RDC roof ribs were not consistent enough in their depth and you could tell when the shells were coated in our stainless steel finish. As we're starting production we needed them improved.

During the course of my visit, Wu and his team cut out the entire ribbed section of the roof, sourced a new supplier of copper electrodes to redo the ribs to a higher standard, and then recut the moulds. Every time Wu needed some guidance, I was 10 minutes away in our assembly workshop. Colin, Huang and I would hop in the car and head over for a meeting. These improvements would have taken two months had I not been there. Instead they were finished in two weeks.
Rapido and
Hanging with Shane, Mike and Paul from
Near the end of my visit I had a special treat when I ran into the guys from in the hotel lobby! That was pretty awesome. Our factories are both located in Chang'An town about 15 minutes away from each other. If I had known they were there I would have invited them to my favourite vegetarian restaurant on Xi'An Road. Shane hasn't yet recovered from the last time I took him out for vegetarian food.

When I returned from China I had to deal with the killer jet lag as usual - I actually fell asleep in the middle of our Passover dinner. But then I heard something that I want to address. One of our dealers reported to us that a customer was telling a bunch of guys in the store that Rapido had "lost touch." This customer had tried to get a hold of me and was not happy that he was stuck talking to "one of Jason's employees."
Rapido Office
Big Dan, Dan and me. We're going over Bill's RDC artworks.
To tell "My Two Dans" apart we often refer to Big Dan as McFly and Dan Dan as
Juan Gomez Chico Santana.
Because of this I'd like to talk a bit about Rapido as a company, our identity and our future. Many of you have been with me since the beginning, or very near it. I started Rapido in 2003 when I was procrastinating from doing a doctoral degree that didn't interest me nearly as much as model trains. I incorporated the company in 2004 and I started working at Rapido full time in 2005.
Rapido Passenger Car Poster
Remember our revolutionary ads like this one?
We had the luxury of advertising like this in the early days
because we barely had anything to advertise!
For many years, Rapido was just Dan and me. Then Bill Schneider and Janet Golfman joined in 2009 and we didn't add anyone new until Mike McGrattan joined the team four years later. Since then we've hired Dan Darnell, Mike Mitchell (briefly - he got a new job mowing the grass at Skydome), Thomas Blampied and Jordan Smith. We've also got some excellent consultants working for us from the UK. The additional people and resources are necessary because Rapido is more than twice the size that it was just two years ago.
Bill Schneider Thomas Blampied
Thomas Blampied and Bill Schneider are preparing for the Great British Train Show,
on this weekend in Brampton, Ontario.
It's clear from the story of the guy in the hobby shop (and other stories we have heard) that our success has actually upset a few of our dedicated fans. I used to go on tours of hobby shops, toting our latest products like a travelling salesman. I used to respond to most of our emails. Because we've grown, I simply don't have the time to do a lot of that work.

I'm very busy running Rapido, but that's just it - I'm running Rapido. When we only had a handful of deliveries each year and we weren't making any money, I had time to do all the other stuff as well. I don't have that kind of time any more. That does not by any stretch mean we have "lost touch" or we have "grown too big for our own good."
Rapido Jason
Presenting The Canadian and the FP9A locomotive to a large crowd
at Central Hobbies in Vancouver. This was in 2011. I was completely exhausted.
I'd seen my family for about five days in two months.
Here at Rapido we are a team. What do Dan, Bill, Mike, Big Dan, Thomas and Jordan all have in common? They are all experienced model railroaders and railfans who have a passion for trains and for this company. They all share the same vision of producing amazing models with an insane amount of detail. Our product range has now expanded to include American and British models, and this has only added to our enthusiasm rather than watered it down in any way.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to shout out to my amazing team. I didn't draw all the thousands of rivets on the APT-E - Bill did. I didn't rewire the RDC motherboard so it would actually work - Dan did. I didn't collate all of the information for the Royal Hudson - Mike and Big Dan did. I don't repair customer models - Thomas does. And I certainly don't do any of the bookkeeping - Janet takes care of all that. The list goes on.

When you talk to any member of this great team you will receive the same kind of attention and the same amount of passion and enthusiasm that you got talking to me when I was on one of my tours all those years ago. If you send me an email and one of the team writes back to you, please don't feel slighted.

We've come a long way from the early days, and that is a good thing not a bad thing. I can actually pay my mortgage now, which is something Sidura and I had a lot of trouble doing in the old days.

Speaking of Sidura...
Sidura Ludwig
My beautiful wife, Sidura, when we were dating in the 1990s.
(She's going to kill me for including this photo.)

Sidura Ludwig
And here she is, just a couple of months ago.
She's even more beautiful than she was when we met.
If there is any member of our team who deserves the biggest shout out, it is my gorgeous wife, Sidura. She stuck with me during those days when we couldn't pay our bills, and anyone who has seen the video of the train in our basement knows that she is a saint. So thank you, Sidura, for not running for the hills when by all reasonable standards you should have done so a long time ago. This summer we will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. This is pretty amazing, considering I look 60 and she hasn't aged a day since we met.

At the risk of tempting fate, the future looks bright here at Rapido. We have a lot of new projects planned that should turn some heads or at the very least make you stop and say, "What on Earth have these guys been smoking?"

All the best,


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.
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