Friday, October 28, 2016

The 16th Annual Hamilton & District Layout Tour

      I know I haven't posted in a while, but I'm going on this tour next weekend and I'm going to take a shit-ton of photos and do a little photo essay on my travels.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rapido News #80

     I don't usually post stuff that I didn't write, but I wanted to share this with my handful of follwers. It's excerpts of Rapido Trains latest newsletter. Thanks to Mr Shron for the kind words; Mike would have appreciated it.

Rapido Mike McGrattan - RIP

If you follow us on Facebook you will have heard that our own Mike McGrattan lost his battle with cancer last month. The last few weeks have been very difficult for the Rapido team and of course for Mike's family. He leaves his wife, Margaret, and his son, Sam, age 12. At the bottom of this email you can read the eulogy I gave for Mike at his memorial service earlier this month.

Mike has been a vital member of our team since 2013. Rapido is not just a company; we're a family. And we've lost one of our family.

Mike was an accomplished N scale modeller and was very well loved and respected on The Railwire forum under the name of "Puddington." His Puddington Valley line has had many iterations over the years, most recently in the Kanto Sub layout that he and his son built. After receiving his cancer diagnosis, Mike and Sam worked intensively and finished a gorgeous layout in only six months.

A few years ago one of Mike's freight cars, Littl' Puddy, travelled around the world and operated on N scale layouts from here to Japan and everywhere in between. You could say that Mike's modelling got around... Click here to read Mike's 2013 blog entry about Littl' Puddy.

To commemorate Mike's contribution to our great hobby and to help his family out, we are now taking reservations for a Mike McGrattan Memorial N Scale Gondola. Jeff Arnold at Prairie Shadows has generously donated the use of his 52'6" Canadian gondola tooling.

100% of the money raised from sale of the gondola will be put into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for Mike's son, Sam. When he goes to college, those funds plus interest will be given to him to help fund his education.

The price of the N scale gondola is $35 plus shipping. If we can sell 500 gondolas that means Sam's RESP will have a starting value of $17,500. There are two numbers available.

Please click here to order yours if you live in Canada. Click here to order yours if you live in the United States or anywhere else. Your card will be charged now and the gons will be delivered around the end of the year. You can also order the gons through Prairie Shadows directly.

In case you want to share the link, the information page about the gon can be found here.

Remembering Mike
I had the honour of speaking at Mike's memorial service earlier this month. Below is the text of my speech. I don't usually get nervous speaking in front of crowds, but I was shaking when I gave it. It's not been an easy few weeks here at Rapido.

My name is Jason Shron, and I have had the pleasure of being Mike's boss at Rapido Trains Inc. for the last three years. In 2013 we advertised for the position of "Dan's clone." We wanted a clone of our operations manager, Dan. That sounds like we were a big company, but there were actually only three of us in the office.
Mike was the first to respond, and he came in for an interview. We knew within about three minutes that we had found our new team member. He was obviously "our kind of people." I don't think we stopped laughing for the entire hour.
Within days, Mike went from being some guy to an indispensible member of our team. Just a couple of months ago one of our employees cut himself badly and as I am incredibly squeamish I just looked at Mike and he said, "I'm on it." He left his cane by his desk and went and took care of our team member, calming him down and fixing him up like a pro.
Another time we got a surprise visit from the safety inspector. I shouted out to Mike, who came and talked the talk with this guy. He managed to get us out of a six-figure fine for having a botched-together mezzanine, and by the time the inspector left, Mike and the inspector were drawing track plans and Mike had sold him a bunch of freight cars.
Within a few months I realized that Mike was becoming one of my best friends. During Hockey Night in Canada, when the Habs would schmear the Leafs - sorry, I mean when the Habs would meet the Leafs in a well-balanced and hard-fought game - Mike and I would watch the game on the phone together. Our Montreal-Toronto rivalry extended to his hospital rooms, where I was happy to take advantage of his immobility to decorate his surroundings with Montreal Canadiens posters.
Similarly, we would often debate politics - loudly, in the middle of the office, in front of customers. Those of you who saw the Justin Trudeau posters in his hospital rooms - that was me too. My favourite was the Photoshopped picture of Mike and Justin with the caption: "We're brothers from different mothers."
I could do things like decorate Mike's room with stuff he hates because that was his sense of humour. He lived for our camaraderie and kibitzing, and so did I.
For the last three years, if I started to panic about work I would call Mike. He was always able to make me see the big picture and to calm me right down. I know Mike didn't want us to focus on our loss here today but the truth is I've lost my confidant. Like all of you, I have an empty space inside me right now. I keep reaching for the phone to call for Mike's advice. I keep thinking he's going to come into my office and sit down and tell me we're doing fine.
Mike touched the hearts of thousands of model railroaders. The emails and messages have been pouring in for the last two weeks. People all around the world miss Mike, even if they never met him in person.
There is a prayer said in synagogue every Saturday morning called Nishmat Kol Chai, the Soul of Every Living Being. I'd like to read you a part of it:
"Were our mouth as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of joyous music as its multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breadth of the heavens, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and the moon - we still could not thank You sufficiently, Lord our God and God of our ancestors, and to bless Your Name for even one of the thousands of thousands and myriad myriads of good things that you have done for our ancestors and for us."
Mike was one of those good things. And I cannot thank God enough for giving him to us.
Until next time,


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.


     Until next time.. Buy a gondola. Or two.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Some CBNS action in Port Hawkesbury

     First off, I'd like to apologize for not posting an entry in what must be a year. I try to write when I have time, but time is so short these day. 

     I had a week off for Christmas, so I thought I'd drive down to Cape Breton and visit my mother, who lives in Port Hastings.

     Yesterday we took moms' truck for a drive up to Creighnish, to see my uncles new summer home. On the way back, we swung through Hawkesbury on the way back to her place so she could check her mailbox. CBNS SD40-2 3365 and GP-15(-1? -D?)  1504 were just coasting to a stop in front of the CBNS office (formerly CN Port Hawkesbury station). They only stopped for a minute because by the time we got turned around at the bank, they were pulling out. I thought maybe they were running light to Havre Boucher and we headed back home.

     This time I took my truck, and my camera gear, back down to the former CN station. Figuring I was just going to look around and maybe snap a couple of the station - I arrived to find 3365 & 1504 tied down on the short siding opposite the station.

     Snapped a few from both ends of the power,  and the Ford F550 hi-rail truck.

     Just as I'm heading to what I assume is "out" at the south end of the yard, I realize I have to make a U turn. As I'm making my circle, headlights illuminate the tracks in front of the station. I drop my driver's window and shoot this; CBNS 3327 and HLCX 7232 hauling oil cans.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

An afternoon on the Halton Sub

     If you've been following along regularly, you'll know I don't just blog about model trains. I also blog about my odd railfan excursion, and things I'd like to photograph.

     Yesterday morning I had to crawl out of my comfortable bed at 04:00 and go to work for the sixth straight day - but being a saturday, we were shutting the doors at 14:30 - so I had the afternoon free. The wife was headed to a wine tour thing in Beamsville with a couple girlfriends so I took the opppertunity to go shoot some trains. Number 1 Sideroad just west of Tremaine Road on the Oakville/Milton border is at Mile 42.20 of the Halton Sub, and is one of the few places I've found locally that still has some nice scenery in which to shoot trains. The remainder of the Halton Sub is all overgrown with townhouse complexes and strip malls - or is inaccessible to the public.

     This is the one good video I managed to get because I'm still learning to shoot video with a DSLR. The two brief pauses at the beginning are the result of my capturing still images while shooting video. Enjoy.

     This afternoon I'm headed up to Campbellville to see what I can catch of CP's traffic there. Fingers crossed I get lucky.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Improving my flatcar fleet with wood 2.0

     If you remember my last post, I had ordered some laser cut replacement wood decking for my five MTL flatcars - and ordered the wrong ones. I ordered parts for Atlas decks by mistake.
I also said I had ordered the correct replacements from RSLaser Kits, and they arrived today 8 months ago. So I slapped one together real quick over dinner this evening - and it looks pretty damn good.

     The parts basically fell off the "sprue" and didn't require much manipulation whatsoever to install. There was only a single cut-out that needed adjusting to match the brake wheel mount on the flat car.
The directions were pretty straight forward; however, I would caution that you don't follow their recommendation to start at the B end of the car.

     While test fitting the parts, I found that in order to get everything looking symmetrical, starting with the center piece of decking  was the best choice. After that the other pieces pair up on either end and the whole install took me about half an hour to do my 4 cars.

     I have one more yet to do, but it's in BN "cascade green" - which Wikipedia says didn't exist until 1970. So I'll have to paint and decal this last car for CNR - whenever I stop working 6 & 7 days a week. Right now I just can't find the time.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Baggage car floors Part One

     So if you remember back a while ago, I had ordered some wood flatcar decks for my Microtrains 50' flat cars - that turned out to be Lifelike sized decks? Well I kept them around because I figured I would eventually find a use for them somewhere, and today I had a fantastic little idea. Baggage car flooring.

     In February or March of 2014 Wheels Of Time announced the release of  their 85' Heavyweight, arched roof, baggage car. In CNR. I ordered two, one of each road number.

     First I disassembled the car by removing the roof, doors, and body. I cut the first "floor" to length with a fresh new #11 blade in my exacto, making sure it fit between the raised tabs that hold the weights in place. The tricky part was cutting out the notches where the tracks for the baggage doors are located.

     For this step, I flipped the car over - and while firmly holding the wood flat against the car - scored lines with the tip of my knife, into the backing paper of the 3M adhesive strip. When I was satisfied I had them in the right spots, I cut them out with a ruler and used the "score and snap" method so popular with styrene. As you can see, one of the lines isn't quite as straight as I had hoped for - but is completely masked by the cars door and the fact that it's pretty dark inside anyway.

     After I had ensured the wood deck was secure to the cars' floor, I put the body of the car back on and slipped the doors in their respective slots. The slots for the doors are marked with orange.

     I think the finished project looks pretty good for something that took me maybe twenty minutes to complete. Now if I could just figure out what to do with the space between the floor and side sill..

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A New Video

     Seems like all I've done this summer is work 60 hours a week. At least some times I get to shoot trains.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Improving my flatcar fleet with wood Part 1

     Recently I was looking to spruce up the appearance of my five Microtrains 50' steel flat cars, by adding some laser cut wood decks. The cars themselves look quite good, as you'd expect from Microtrains - but there are these really fine mold circles on the deck, that I can only assume are from the injection process.

    I figured I could weather the existing plastic deck, but it would always bug me if those circles were visable. So I googled around a little and found some replacement decks by American Model Builders and ordered them. But because I'm an idiot, I ordered decks cut for Atlas 50' flats - which are shorter:

..and wider:

than Microtrains decks.  So I googled a little more and found some RS Laser wood decks and ordered them. I'll write an update for this project next week when the replacements arrive from the states.