Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ron Einarson's other old time coal conveyor models

   For reasons that can't be explained, the WMRC blog post about Ron Einarson's old time coal conveyor has consistently been one of the top posts of this site. Hoping that lighting will strike twice, this post features his latest effort in modeling a few more old time coal conveyors, submitted at the model display at November's meeting.

    Ron found three more Walthers kits hanging around in his place (also for reasons that can't be explained). He painted them right on the sprues so he could easily clamp in an upright position to dry. Then he trimmed the sprues and touched up any areas that were missing paint.

    He used "Krazy" Glue (Cyanoacrylate), as it dries much faster than styrene glue. After letting everything dry fro a day or two, he gave the models a dusting of black chalk dust to give them a used appearance. They're a perfect compliment to the coal trestle display he exhibited at last year's model contest at the WMRC open house last March!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Photos of the original Gateway Western in the 70's and 80's

    Mark Perry, who is one of the WMRC's Facebook friends, has shared these wonderful photos of the original Gateway Western Railway on the club's FB page.

   The first Gateway Western was in its own room on the main floor of Winnipeg's Union Station, long before Via Rail took the building over. It was a landmark for decades until the club was forced to demolish it to make way for a new bathroom.

   Since then, it has been revived first as a modular group, then as a permanent display at Gooch's Hobbies, and no finally back to its original place (albeit one floor above) back at the station in the Winnipeg Railway Museum!

    The image above was taken in the 70's.  Bob Whitehouse is seen on the left, bending over the layout as Lindsey Fuller looks on.

    The image below was taken in the 80's. Jim Jenkins is seen in the back, while Dave Kyliuk switches out one of the industry tracks on the layout.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Watch Steve Boyko's video of the CN Christmas train

That's right. There is a CN Christmas train. 

Our good friend Steve Boyko, author of the popular blog, "Confessions of a Train Geek" took this great video. Steve also gave the WMRC one of the finest shows we've ever had at our November meeting when he made his presentation about Manitoba's vanishing grain elevators.

Capturing the CN Christmas train is a rare find indeed. It's not publicized at all, and it doesn't do the cross country charity route that rival CP does with their annual holiday train. But it does exist! However, it's only for CN employees and their families. WMRC member (and CN employee) Dwight Kjartanson even took a ride on it!

Steve caught the train at night at the Waverley crossing (which is a great place for rail fans, but absolute hell for commuters in the south end of town). Fans of vintage first generation diesel power F-units (and who isn't) will love the sight of the perfectly restored CN 103 leading the way, literally lit up just like a Christmas tree!

Our thanks to Ian Lisakowski for sending this video our way. Watch it by clicking here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

There will be no Christmas lights at the Assiniboine Valley Railway this year

   This image, taken by our good friend and WMRC member John Longhurst, now only serves as a sad reminder of what was a wonderful part of Winnipeg's Christmas season that is no more.

     For the second year in a row, the AVR will not be having their Christmas light display. This is because of a lack of resources, manpower, and most significantly, the absence of AVR founder Bill Taylor.

     Bill was the Christmas light master of the AVR. There were 100,000 lights on display, which was TEN TIMES the amount Chevy Chase had on his house in the classic movie, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation". As the AVR was on his property, he had more time than others to string these lights. He was also the only one who knew the proper electrical schematics for wiring them all together (It's safe to assume that you don't just plug in 100,000 light into an ordinary 110 volt socket, even when they're LEDs).

    It's been a tough year for the AVR, but they managed to hold their usual monthly open houses in 2014. But they weren't able to hold their annual "Dinner Train". Hopefully, the lights will be up again for Christmas in 2015.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The CP Rail Holiday Train is coming your way!

   It's that time of the year again! The CP Rail Holiday Train is coming to Manitoba, and it will be making five stops in our province. The CP Rail Holiday Train is North America's longest rolling food bank fundraiser and since they started in 1999, the program has raised close to $9.5 million and 3.3 million pounds of food.  Over the three weeks of the program, musicians will play more than 150 concerts from a boxcar we've turned into a traveling stage.

   The concerts are free, but you are encouraged to bring a donation for your local food bank -- either a non-perishable food item or a cash donation. All contributions will stay in your community.

   Their first stop in Manitoba will be on December 3 at Whitemouth on Railway Avenue, across from the Whitemouth Hotel, at 6:45 PM. They arrive that same night in Winnipeg at 9:00 PM at Molson Street, between Panet Road and Munroe Avenue.

   On December 4, they arrive at Portage La Prairie, opposite the Centennial Arena at 390 1st. Street NW at 4:45 PM. They roll in to Brandon that same night at 7:45 PM by Assiniboine Avenue, west of the 8th. Street overpass.

   Before heading to Saskatchewan, their last stop in Manitoba will be at Virden on December 5 at 9:15 AM, on the north side of the tracks on 5th. Avenue South between Lyons Street and Ashburton Street.
   Entertainment for the Manitoba leg of the trip will be provided by Roxanne Potvin and Odds.

  The full CP Holiday Train schedule is now available on

   Supporters can also join the Holiday Train on Facebook and follow the two trains on Twitter, and Instagram @CPHolidaytrain #CPHolidayTrain. For additional information, photos, a route map, and downloadable pictures of the two trains, visit:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

CN Rail helps celebrate Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's 60th Anniversary

   WMRC President Larry Leavens sent in this photo of a CN rail grain hopper with the WMRC's 60th anniversary logo on it while he was out rail fanning last Saturday. Suspicions have been raised as to whether this is actually a prototype image, or one taken of a model on someone's layout. But Larry swears that it is prototype, and as we all know, chief executives never lie (except when they're not telling the truth). However, if you choose to believe him, we'd like to sell you the Chief Peguis Trail bridge. No reasonable offers will be accepted.

     All kidding aside, the WMRC is having their 60th anniversary in 2015, and one of the ways we're celebrating is with our annual model contest. This year's special event is to use our 60th anniversary decal (specially designed by blog editor Paul Ullrich) on any railroad related model. It could be an engine, a piece of rolling stock, a building, or anything else you can imagine!

   You can purchase these decals from WMRC Program Director Morgan Turney at our next meeting, which will be held on December 12 at 7:30 at the Charleswood Legion at 6003 Roblin Boulevard. A limited number of these decals have been made, so don't put it off much longer than that!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club mourns death of long time member Wayne Spector

   We were saddened to hear that long time WMRC member Wayne Spector passed away recently. Wayne had been a member of the group since 2007, when he joined with his life long friend Oscar Lakatos, whom he knew since they were in high school.

   Wayne was also a member for the Prairie Dog Central Railway, the Winnipeg Railway Museum and the NMRA. He attended conventions held by the NMRA's Thousand Lakes Region in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Wayne rarely missed a WMRC meeting, and he always enjoyed going for Pizza with some of the members at Santa Lucia's on St. Mary's Road.

   "I will always be grateful for the advice he gave me when I was the Convention Director for the 2010 Steam on the Prairies convention." Said WMRC Blog Editor Paul Ullrich. "I had absolutely no idea where to hold the banquet, and Wayne came up to me and suggested that the Prairie Dog Central could ride us to a place where we could hold our banquet called  the Hitch'N'Post. It was a great idea to combine the train ride with the banquet, which is what we did, and everyone loved it."

   Wayne was very devoted to his mother. After she died in April of 2013, Wayne's health began to rapidly deteriorate. He survived her by just over a year and a half. Wayne is survived by his sister Terri-Mae and her family.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Donald Gordon's model of the Portage gate Lift Bridge in northern Michigan

The WMRC's monthly model display has always had a fascinating showcase of unique and superbly crafted models, and many of them will be posted on this site. But this model of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge modeled by Donald Gordon, submitted for our October meeting,  deserves some special consideration.

   The Portage Lake Lift Bridge, (officially the Houghton—Hancock Bridge), connects the cities of Hancock and Houghton, across the waterway which cuts across the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

   The original 1959 design by Hazelet and Erdal of Chicago of the bridge’s liftspan had roadways constructed on both upper and lower levels with rails embedded in the road surface on the lower deck. With the closing of the copper mines and the end of rail service in 1982, the railway portion is no longer used.

   This model has only one level and is constructed as a railway bridge. It is HO scale, based on estimated dimensions taken from the photographs. It is constructed from mahogany strips with a steel structural frame.

   And get this - it's motorized! Donald used an auto-mobile window motor which he purchased from the model railroader's unofficial hobby shop,  Princess Auto. Members had a lot of fun operating the brig at the meeting!

   LED lights illuminate the bridge deck, machine rooms and aircraft warning lights.  On Donald's home layout, the bridge crosses over a ship canal leading to a container loading facilities. Power is provided to the track, deck lights and deck signal lights by 3 wire flexible cables that were salvaged from earphones. These  fine wires were difficult to solder but appear to have sufficient current carrying capacity to power the locomotive.

        And here's the real thing! Donald put in a lot of effort to make his model close to prototype.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Steve Boyko to give presentation about grain elevators at Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's November meeting

   The dapper and erudite Steve Boyko, creator of the popular rail fanning blog, "Confessions of a Train Geek" (which has had over 725,000 views), will be giving a special presentation about grain elevators at the WMRC's November meeting, which will be held on Friday, November 14.

   If you're a rail fan living in Western Canada, you know all too well about the importance of these "prairie giants" that dotted the landscape from the Whiteshell to the Rockies. Grain was king in the prairies, and the railroads served every community that had a grain elevator. Sadly, these landmarks have been disappearing at an alarming rate, as grain is now stored in massive concrete silos.

   Besides our usual business meeting ,we'll also have our monthly model display, the ever popular 50-50 draw, and the canteen will be open! After the meeting, there's always pizza at Santa Lucia's on St. Mary's Road!

   The meeting starts at 7:30 PM at the Charleswood Legion, 6003 Roblin Boulevard. You can't miss the place - it's the one with the tank in front of it! Please enter on the west side of the building.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Selkirk Model Railroad Association holds open house on November 15 and 16

    Our good friends at the Selkirk Model Railroad Association are holding their fall open house this weekend. They will have no less than four operating layouts on display, ranging from N gauge to O gauge! Their open house is a must-see for any model railroad enthusiast, and if you haven't been there before, this is your golden opportunity! The group holds two open houses every year, so if you miss this one, you'll have to wait until spring!

   Hours are from 10 to 4 on Saturday, and from noon to 4 on Sunday. They're easy to find! They're located at 217 Clandeboye Avenue in Selkirk - that's right off main street, one block north of the bridge. Admission is $4.00 or free with a "tin for the bin".

Sunday, November 09, 2014

View Ken Epp's Cougar River Subdivision on-line

In the November issue of The Lantern, the official publication of the WMRC, member John Longhurst authored a moving article about his late brother-in-law Ken Epp's layout, the Cougar River Subdivision. Unfortunately, this publication is only available to members of the WMRC. But you can still view Ken's layout on-line on two links!

The first link is from the Sweden Freezer website. This site was the on-line home of the WMRC until Bill Taylor's passing last year. Bill created and maintained this website for the club, starting at the time when not many of us even had computers, not to mention internet access. The site for his business still exists, but links have been created to re-direct viewers to the new websites for the WMRC and the AVR. However, the link to view Ken's layout still exists! It was last updated in 2003, with several images taken by our own Ron Einarson. View it by clicking here. 

The other site to view Ken's layout is at John Longhurst's own website, the Manitoba and Minnesota subdivision. You can view his tribute to Ken and see several images of his layout by clicking here. 

Friday, November 07, 2014

Watch Backtracks: A video about Winnipeg's streetcar history

   Here's something our good friend Zenon Lisakowski sent us. it's a locally produced retrospective film on Winnipeg's  streetcar system. It's well stacked with archival photos and old film footage. This 30 minute film, produced by Jeff McKay and Beth Azore, was originally commissioned for television broadcast by MTS Cable and  has also been screened at Winnipeg's Cinematheque. Click here to enjoy the film!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Selkirk Model Railroad Association holds 20th anniversary supper

 Tom Reeve, as we remember him, sitting by the door during one of the Selkirk Model Railroad Association's open houses, registering guests and handing out draw tickets.

Our good friends at the Selkirk Model Railroad Association are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a special supper in honour of the late Tom Reeve, who was President of the group up until his death in July of this year. The supper marks the official inauguration of the club's Thomas Wesley Reeve Fund.

The supper will be held on Sunday, December 7, 2014 at the Selkirk Golf and Country Club, 100 Sutherland Avenue in Selkirk. Cocktails start at 5:30, and supper will be served at 6:00. There will be a door prize and several other draws. Tickets are $35 per person, and there are only 100 tickets available.

For more information contact Peter Hall at 204-482-7412 or Joe at 204-795-1952.

Monday, November 03, 2014

NMRA Canada's first Winnipeg public train show was a resounding success

    A crowd of enthusiastic youngsters take turns trying their hand at operating an N scale layout at NMRA Canada's train show last Saturday.

Over 250 very happy people attended NMRA Canada's very first public train show last Saturday. Although the show was scheduled the day after Halloween and at the same time as one of the biggest comic book conventions in Western Canada, the event still managed to draw a surprisingly large crowd of train lovers, and raised a respectable amount of money to be donated to St. Amant.

The No. 1 Northern Division's Free-Mo group, which had the largest display at last month's Manitoba Mega Train Show, had the largest display this time as well. The group (dubbed the "blue shirt guys" by the show's visitors) received many compliments not only for their layout, but their willingness to share all aspects of their hobby and answer any question the viewers had about their group, and of model railroading in general.

Veteran model railroaders Ron Einarson and Rob Gairns held popular clinics. WMRC blog editor Paul Ullrich (using his alter ego as "The Giraffe Car Man") wowed the kiddies once again with his hands-on Lionel layout. There was also a hands-on N Scale layout, and a G scale display run by Manitoba Mega Train organizer Maurice Dorge. 13 year old Michael Leader, the group's youngest member,  was also on hand to run the John Allen Timesaver Module.

No. 1 Northern Superintendent Dennis Rietze ran a demonstration on how to run a model railroad with a cell phone. He was also interviewed by CTV News Winnipeg, which ran the segment on their Saturday evening news program. Several NMRA members were also on hand to promote the organization and its many benefits to model railroaders.

It was also great to see a lot of old, new and familiar faces at the show, such as former Elmwood Hobby Works proprietor Vern Gibson. There were lots of families and plenty of kids , who stayed for many hours enjoying the World's Greatest Hobby!

    Ron Einarson held clinics all day, displaying many of his award winning models.

    Lookee here! Could that be our old friend Kent, the former WMRC Lantern Editor with his son, enjoying WMRC blog editor Paul Ullrich's portable Lionel display? It sure is!

       Two of the "Blue Shirt Guys" (not to be confused with the Blue Man Group), Alan Graham (Centre) and No. 1 Northern Treasurer Sid Greenstone (L) promoting the many benefits of NMRA membership at  the show.