Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gooch's open house - November 30 and December 1, 2013

   If there's any such thing as a Winnipeg tradition, then Gooch's Bicycle and Hobby Shop certainly fits the bill! They've been in business since 1927 and has had four generations of the Gooch family running the store.

   Veteran model railroaders have seen their shop move from Portage Avenue to Sherbrook Street and back to Portage Avenue again. Their present location is at 1046 Portage Avenue, by Garfield Street.

   They're now located in what used to be a video store - now there's a business trend that's come and gone! But the demand for bicycles and hobbies supplies goes on and on!

    This weekend they're holding their 13th annual open house. There will be plenty to see, including a few stalwarts from the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club holding demonstrations. Our friends from WinNtrak will also be there, as well as representatives from the Manitoba Rocketry Group, the International Plastic Modeller's Society. There will also be a Meccano display, a model shipbuilders display, an ho sectional layout, and an HO Thomas the Tank Engine layout for the kiddies.

    Whew! That's quite a show! And it's free!

    Hours are from 10:00 to 5:00 on Saturday, and from 12:00 to 4:00 on Sunday. Call 204-956-6571 for more details or email


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winnipeg's Via Rail station in 1982: A blast from the past!

This image of the back of Winnipeg's Via Rail station, taken in 1982, was sent to me by Robert Keller of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base at the time and came up to Canada from time to time to do some rail fanning. What a difference 31 years makes! Vintage first generation diesels, enormous cars, brand new grain cars without any graffiti and nothing at The Forks besides the CN Rail yards!

Too bad Bob didn't know that the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club was still holding it's monthly meetings in the basement of the Via Rail station every second Friday evening of the month! 
He could've come down for a visit!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stafford Swain's layout: another view

A CN freight lumbers through a typical prairie town in Stafford Swain's exquisite Whiteshell subdivision layout. Stafford's 12' x 30' layout might be considered small by today's standards, but it was packed with amazing detail. It was a perimeter layout, which meant that the larger scenes were in the corners. That's where this painstakingly accurate model of a typical prairie town was found. The building of Stafford's fictional town of Forsyth, Manitoba was featured in a cover story of Railroad Model Craftsman in the early 1980's.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Comics (and trains) America!

    Our good friend Joe Krolik of Comics America had been a staunch supporter of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club for several years, including the 2013 Manitoba Mega Train Show. Whenever we've had a show he's always put a poster up in his shop and stuffed flyers we've given him in the bags of his regular customers.  He's always made every effort to attend our shows whenever possible.

    Joe has caught the train bug. But he's not building a layout.

    He's selling trains.

    Yes, that's right! In his store, among all of those wonderful comics, are three Lionel Train sets! Right from the 2013 Lionel Christmas catalog are the Polar Express and the Peanuts Christmas set. He's also carrying the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express set. All sets have locomotives with smoke and whistle, transformers and an oval of track.

    Considering that Winnipeg has just lost Elmwood Hobbies, and hobby shops are vanishing throughout the land, it's mighty encouraging to find someone new whose willing to sell train sets! Let's hear it for Joe!

    Comics America is located at 552 Academy Road in Winnipeg. Call 204-489-0580, email, or like Comics America on Facebook!

Joe Krolik proudly displays three Lionel Train sets at Comics America.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The ultimate John Allen Timesaver contest!

It was a battle royal, a fight to the finish, a no holds barred, winner-take-all royal rumble in the basement of Whyte Ridge Baptist Church! Not since the WWE came to town has there been such a cataclysmic clash! There hasn't been such a brutal dogfight since Richthofen and Brown!

On November 2, 2013, the city's top John Allen Timesaver competitors squared off at the No. 1 Northern Division's third annual train meet. Their goal was to win the coveted gift certificate from a local hobby shop and a semi-valuable trophy. Each contestant had to shunt freight cars from one section of track to another through a maze of switches. The one who could do it in the shortest time won the prize!

First up was mighty Morgan Turney, Publisher of Canadian Railway Modeller and Acting Program Director for the WMRC. He threw in the towel after seven minutes and 50 seconds. Next up was Michael Leader, who finished in just under four minutes! Ian Plett was next, tying Michael's time.
WMRC Blog Editor Paul Ullrich was next, coming from way behind with a score for 12 minutes (and he was the one who designed the configuration for the competition).

Ian and Michael faced off in the finals. Michael picked up speed in the second round, edging out Ian with a new record time of just over three minutes! The semi-coveted trophy and the gift certificate was awarded to Michael by No. 1 Northern Superintendent Dennis Rietze.

 Morgan Turney tests his skill at the John Allen Timesaver module.

 Ian Plett was up next, while Michael Leader timed him using his smart phone.

 Michael Leader is shown here in the final competition as Dennis Rietze and Ian Plett look on.

 No. 1 Northern Superintendent Dennis Rietze presents Michael Leader with the trophy and the gift certificate with Roger Kiendl and Ian Plett. Congratulations, Michael!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stafford Swain: A true Master Model Railroader

Some of you might've noticed that we now have an image from a model railroad on our site's masthead.  We surely needed a visual presence there. After all, this is a blog about the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club!

When it came to selecting an image, the choice was obvious - it had to be from Stafford Swain's layout!
Stafford was a true model railroading pioneer. His layout of the CNR Whiteshell Division was a museum quality creation of the real thing. He started building his layout in 1975, when prototype modelling was a rarity, and scenery techniques were pretty basic.

He's had over 80 articles published in magazines such as Model Railroader, Mainline Modeller and Railroad Model Craftsman. He's MMR #98. He helped found the CN Lines SIG (now the Canadian National Railway Historical Association), was president of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club and the TLR, and was the Convention Director for the 1983 NMRA national convention held in Winnipeg.

Sadly, his layout is no more. The layout was dismantled shortly after it's last public showing in 2010 for the TLR's Steam on the Prairies convention in Winnipeg. A glowing tribute to Stafford and his many accomplishments has been published in Canadian railway Modeller, Train 17, Track 3. Besides this site, you can also read about Stafford at WMRC member John Longhurst's Manitoba and Minnesota Subdivision blog at 

This site will continue to post further images of Stafford's layout in the future.

Left to right: Former NMRA Canada President Frank Gerry, 2010 TLR Convention Director and WMRC blog editor Paul Ullrich, and Stafford Swain, MMR at the last public showing of his CNR Whiteshell Subdivision layout at the Steam on the Prairies convention in 2010.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The NMRA's No. 1 Northern Division's ballast crew hard at work

The most popular workshop at the No. 1 Northern Division's third annual train meet was the ballast workshop. Just about everyone tried their hand at ballasting a section of track mounted on a board. Michael Leader, the youngest member of the No. 1 Northern Division, got some expert advice on how to do it right. It was Michael's first effort at ballasting, and he did a great job!

 Ian Plett, Roger Kiendl, Morgan Turney and Suzanne Lemon begin to work on their track section.

 Morgan Turney shows Michael Leader how to properly adhere ballast to the track as No. 1 Northern Superintendent Dennis Rietze look on. Behind Michael is Ian Plett hard at work ballasting his track. 

Michael seems to be getting the hang of it! 

 Ian Plett tamps ballast with his finger while Michael Leader watches Morgan Turney work on his track section.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More fun at the No. 1 Northern Division's third annual train meet

Morgan Turney, Publisher of Canadian Railway Modeller and Winnipeg Model Railroad Club acting program director put on a great clinic on how to make realistic rock cuts using ceiling tiles at the No. 1 Northern's third annual train meet. Below are some images of Morgan showing how it's done.

For more information about the NMRA's No. 1 Northern Division go to:

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Morse code at the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club

Suzanne Lemon watches Dan Kollesavich demonstrating how to telegraph a message. 

   CP veteran Dan Kollesavich gave an excellent presentation on the history and usage of the telegraph at the Winnipeg Model Railroad club's meeting on November 8. Dan started working for the railroad in the 50's, when the telegraph was still in use. Both CN and CP Rail finally stopped using the telegraph in 1970. By then, it was only used for communication with rural stations. Dan also gave a demonstration on how it worked by clicking out "Winnipeg Model Railroad Club" in lightning speed!

   Before Dan's presentation, Suzanne Lemon demonstrated how to dry brush a laser cut wooden kit.

    There were also some very fine models shown for our monthly display run by the NMRA's No. 1 Northern Division. WMRC members Ron Einarson, Ron Lundy, Morgan Turney, Larry Leavens and Suzanne Lemon all exhibited their latest creations.

Suzanne Lemon dry brushes a laser cut wooden kit.

Larry Leaven's model of a tank car.

 Morgan Turney's working model of an oil rig.

 Ron Einarson's structure entry.

 Ron Einarson also entered some trucks that he was modelling.

 Ron Lundy's unique engine model was displayed.

Suzanne Lemon displayed a finished laser cut wood kit. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The NMRA's No. 1 Northern Division's third annual train meet

   The NMRA's No. 1 Northern Division held their third annual train meet on Saturday, November 2 at Whyte Ridge Baptist Church in Winnipeg. This year, the group focused on "hands-on" clinics and demonstrations. Winnipeg Model Railroad Club President Larry Leavens showed how to make static grass by using an improvised hand held bug zapper that you could buy at any home improvement store for under ten dollars (genuine static grass makers usually sell for well over ten times that much).

   WMRC acting program director and Canadian Railway Modeller publisher Morgan Turney demonstrated how to make realistic rock faces with ceiling tile. No. 1 Northern superintendent Dennis Rietze conducted a clinic on DCC. A workshop on how to ballast a track was conducted, with a prize of a gift certificate from a local hobby shop for who did the best job.

   Members could also compete for a hobby shop gift certificate using a John Allen Style "time-saver" module to see who could shunt freight cars to their assigned destination the fastest. The winner was the No.1 Northern's youngest member, 10 year old Michael leader, who beat most of our veteran members by a very wide margin!

    Below is the first in a series of photos taken at this event. Others will be published in future posts.
 Larry Leavens shows Ian Plett how to transform an inexpensive bug zapper into a static grass maker.

Larry Leavens shows Morgan Turney how to rewire the bug zapper.

Michael Leader tries his hand with Larry's DIY static grass maker.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

More Manitoba Mega Train memories

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club photo contest chair Suzanne Lemon took this overhead view of the entire event. The mesh is there because we're in an indoor soccer pitch!

Stalwart WMRC volunteers Rober Weaver and Fred Eldridge man the admissions desk in a rare moment when they weren't busy admitting some of our 1,700 guests.

WMRC webmaster Paul Ullrich watches his O gauge Lionel train layout in a rare moment when he wasn't surrounded by dozens of kids watching the giraffe cars or operating the dump cars. 

Suzanne Lemon's Z gauge layout was the smallest model railroad display in the entire show.

Our good friends at WinNtrak had their magnificent N gauge layout displayed at the show.