Author Topic: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist  (Read 4705 times)

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craigolio1

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N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« on: July 08, 2023, 02:49:23 PM »
+10
Hey everybody.

Recently I’ve posted a couple of photos of a Rocky Mountaineer Ultradome that is close to completion. An interested modeller suggested that I create a build thread, but unfortunately I don’t have many photos of the train from early in the build. I will post photos of the later progress since I do have some good detailed shots of some of the more interesting construction, but To start I think I’ll approach this from another angle. I’ll begin with the journey of how this train came to fruition.





We all spend a lot of time on this forum looking at the details of peoples’ builds, but anybody who’s ever had to re-search, in depth, a major project knows there’s so much more that goes into it before the build even starts.

This project Was born in I think 1992. Growing up we lived in Port Coquitlam.  The CPRs transcontinental mainline went right by my house. We would get to see the via rail Canadian and super Continental fairly regularly as we drove around town. One day dad and I were out somewhere and I saw a new train that I had never seen before. It was on a section of the line that parallels the highway so I was able to get a good look at it. It was the original Rocky Mountaineer. Having seen nothing but VIA rail trains pretty much my whole life this one was fantastic in that it was so different. I was immediately intrigued but there was no Internet back then and so I wasn’t able to do any kind of research. I finally convinced my dad to take me down to the via rail station in Vancouver and I was able to ask the people who work there about it, that’s how I found out it was called the Rocky Mountaineer. Dad purchased this postcard for me and for probably a decade this is all I had to visualize the train.



Fast forward about 10 years… I’m now living in Ontario, and I’ve started subscribing to a Magazine called Canadian Railway Modeller. In the prototype photo section you’d get the odd picture of the Rocky Mountaineer, which was always exciting, but the holy grail came in 2004 when a fellow named Terry Wynne did an article on scratch building a Rocky Mountaineer Ultradome in HO scale, a photo of which graced the cover. With regards to modelling this train, this became the most valuable magazine I’ve ever seen.





By this time we were in the age of the Internet, and anyone who has come from the time where people had to write letters to historical societies, find photos at train shows, etc. can tell you what this meant to somebody who was trying to re-search a train that’s across the country. Through the Yahoo Canadian passenger train group I was able to find somebody who could put me in touch with Terry. He lived in the UK. Terry agreed to chat with me on the phone about the model. I called him and we talked for probably two hours. This is in the days before free long distance, ha ha. Terry had recently taken a trip on the train and by the end of the phone call he was mailing me a package that included some slides from his trip to BC, measurements that he had taken, some of his reference materials and sketches, and even a contact with his graphic designer and decal producer in the UK that did his decals! This package came in the mail and I was all set to finally get started on a model of this train!

Here are two photos I developed from his slides.





His field notes on the Ultradome




Some of his notes to his decal producer.









A photo he found on the web to make measurements from.



At this time there still wasn’t the infinite database of photos on the Internet that we seem to be able to find nowadays. It was still really hard to find pictures of this train, and still is to this day. Less so for the two newer variants of the train but the original consist is illusive. It’s possible that that’s because it was so short-lived as well. This version of the train with the B36-7 for power, and the original paint only lasted about five years and it was well before Cel phone cameras. But thanks to Terry I had consist notes, equipment origins, the sizes of the graphics, Pantone colour references,  and even a contact at Rocky Mountaineer Railtours, from whom I was able to get permission to make the graphics.





I did contact Terry’s decal producer but it was going to be prohibitively expensive, and I had yet to source the models for an N scale consist.

I began the train by procuring an Atlas B36-7. It’s one locomotive that we are blessed with in N scale that is not available in HO so I lucked out there.

For the consist I required ex-VIA Rail Daynighters. They were unavailable in plastic but Athabasca did kits with etched brass car sides and American Models Ltd core kits. By the time I was looking for them Athabasca was ramping down production and I was only able to find one at my LHS on clearance. They had other kits so I bought a bunch of them as they price was right, thinking maybe I could use the brass sides as templates to make my own. I tried but it was ultimately a failure.

I thought maybe the Ultradome would be more of a success as I had Terry’s article to follow. To begin I found a Concor Superdome.  It turned out the roof and interior glass were one piece that slipped into the body which would make following the construction method impossible.



Next came a Kato Superdome. To get it I had to buy a four pack of Superliners on eBay and sell the rest. This one was a better model to start but still proved very difficult due to the modifications required being scaled down to such a small size. I got farther but it was ultimately shelved.



In the mean time I had a friend do some graphics for me. I attempted to print them my self on an inkjet but was not satisfied.

Ultimately I had the decals printed. It was very exciting to have them but the quality was still less than I’d like. As it turns out it was because my friend took web images and scaled them down and I was told that to get the best quality they had to be re-drawn in a vector format… and so I was back to the beginning again.

A few years went on an Rapido announced the Daynighters in N scale!  Now we were getting somewhere. I ordered a handful of undecorated cars and for once I was actually headed in the direction of building this train. I still needed the baggage dorm and the Ultradomes though.

When I tried to cut my own windows for Daynighters years before, I also tried to do a baggage dorm. It was not a success. Haha. I emailed Jason Shron at Rapido and he had a drawing for a baggage dorm, but a different series than I was building. The one I was after was this one as seen in Rail Canada Vol 5. I decided to contact Union Station Products as they have done many Pullman Standard cars. Turns out they new the PS plan number AND had the drawing. So they cut the sides in styrene for me and they were on the way.

When it came to building it, I used a Rapido Coach as a core. It had a more detailed vestibule door so I cut the sides of the car off behind the vestibule door and did the same on the styrene sides. I then laminated the sides in and blended the joint.

For the Ultradome there was a eureka moment as well. By this time Shapeways was a thing.

https://www.shapeways.com/product/7M9S52YHA/n-scale-rocky-mountaineer-a-series-8-3-platform

At the time the designer made two versions of the Ultradome. One with the large back balcony and one with the small…. So naturally I ordered both. (At this time he offers 6 variations including the more recent additions) At the time they were only available in a material called White Strong Flexible. It is all of those things. The quality of the print was meh at best. The surface was very rough. Kind of like a 80 grit sand paper. And the material is almost impossible to sand. So I did multiple skim coats of Bondo glazing putty. If I recall I did four, sanding and priming between each one. Eventually, finishing with a wet sand of 2000 grit I had a shiny paintable surface on the sides but the roof top windows and ends still remain fairly rough as you can see in the photos. The cars are now available in a couple of materials, one of which is clear which will make the roof windows much easier (more on those later).

With the consist built and in primer it was finally time to paint. At this time I also revisited the decals for the third time.  The artwork was done by @philippe.whyte and I must say he did a fantastic job.  The very small and very detailed goat images are I think the best they could be at this scale.  certainly much better than the previous attempt.  Philippe drew them from scratch and had them printed by Precision Design Co.  https://www.pdc.ca/rr/custom_decals/ . I've used many decals printed by PDC and in the past they have been very high quality.  This sheet was no different, however I will note that the pigments in dark blue and magenta on the stripes seemed to be very fragile.  They likely had to be printed quite thick in order to not be translucent.  Simply cutting the stripes with a brand new knife had a tendency to produce a slightly distorted edge.  This is evident in a few spots.  Also, I think due to the thickness, they didn't bend around corners, or conform with Solvaset as nicely as they usually do and so I ad to cut them in door ways and such and then fill gaps with tiny slivers.  I did the best I could but unfortunately there are a few odd looking spots on the stripes.  I got to the point of diminishing returns where I was starting to make things worse than better so I decided to leave well enough alone.  In conclusion,  I'm extremely happy with the decals and especially with Philippes work.  He's ultimately single handedly responsible for this project launching forward as it has.  Thanks Pilippe!   



Over the years I have amassed a huge collection of blue paints, attempting to find a match for the loco. (This is only most of them. I found more after I took this photo, haha).






From RMR I have Pantone references for the consist. The thing with this train is that the loco is a different colour of blue from the consist, and I don’t have two photos that show it as the same colour of blue. I eventually settled on Tamiya Blue as to me it looks like the blue as it appeared when the train was newer and clean.

Here are a sampling of shots of the locomotive.















For the consist I had the light blue and magenta included as a decal stripe. The main car body’s are dark blue. In his article Terry used CSX Enchantment Blue. I wanted to be as accurate as possible so I went as far as to go to an auto body shop and have them mix me a pint of paint based on their computers impression of the  pantone reference. They warned me it could be…. It did t look anything like the pics of the passenger cars I had. Haha. So I just went with the CSX Enchantment Blue.

here are a few of the VERY rare consist shots













Here is the consist as it stands now. The loco is painted and decaled. It still needs handrails painted and applied.





Paint is complete on the trainset as well.



The handrails on the backs of the Ultradome are a key spotting feature and I wanted to do them justice.









I ultimately decided to make a jig so I could solder several sets of same style. I estimated the spacing and settled on a sheet of V grove styrene as a base that would space the handrails appropriately. The jig has identical pieces of V groove for tops and bottoms and are held together with screws.





For the most part it worked well but each time I soldered I melted them a tiny bit so later examples are not quite the same as earlier ones, but what I got out of it will do. The jigs are ruined and I don’t want to make new ones. Haha. The handrails are all a tight friction fit so I’ll have to use very little glue.



Once I cleaned the flux off I gave them a base coat of Testors gloss black enamel and then a coupe of coats or Alclad II chrome metalizer. They are super shiny and will really pop once installed. 

Here they are installed on the model. Now I should note that these models truly look awful on close up magnification. Alas the camera phone is a cruel critic. @CNR5529 have discussed these pictures and have jokingly decided that the models will best be viewed from 3ft, moving, partially obscured by trees and without my glasses. So please don’t spent too much time looking at the closeups. 











And that’s where I am in the train so far. The next step is to handle the dome windows with the dark window tint.

Craig













« Last Edit: July 08, 2023, 05:04:41 PM by craigolio1 »

SP-Wolf

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2023, 03:20:49 PM »
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Outstanding!!

Best regards,
Wolf

Angus Shops

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2023, 05:04:54 PM »
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Wow! That’s the definition of determination!

If I recall correctly the the Rocky Mountaineer started out as  a Via Rail project in the years just before the giant cutbacks of 199? and was a successful enough idea that Rocky Mountains Railtours took over the ‘franchise’ after Via Rail had to abandon it. I remember rolling into Vancouver on the Canadian and passing a ‘mystery train’ of Via coaches led by an FP that clearly wasn’t an eastbound Super or Canadian - it wasn’t until later that I figured out that what I’d seen was the Via RM. The “Mountaineer” name came from the former Canadian Pacific/Soo Line summer only Chicago/Twin Cites/Vancouver Mountaineer that was discontinued after the 1958 season. In the off season the cars were combined with The Dominion between Vancouver and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, with the train appearing in CP’s schedule as the Soo - Dominion. (All of the above is a simplistic abridged version, from memory)

craigolio1

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2023, 06:41:09 PM »
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Wow! That’s the definition of determination!

If I recall correctly the the Rocky Mountaineer started out as  a Via Rail project in the years just before the giant cutbacks of 199? and was a successful enough idea that Rocky Mountains Railtours took over the ‘franchise’ after Via Rail had to abandon it. I remember rolling into Vancouver on the Canadian and passing a ‘mystery train’ of Via coaches led by an FP that clearly wasn’t an eastbound Super or Canadian - it wasn’t until later that I figured out that what I’d seen was the Via RM. The “Mountaineer” name came from the former Canadian Pacific/Soo Line summer only Chicago/Twin Cites/Vancouver Mountaineer that was discontinued after the 1958 season. In the off season the cars were combined with The Dominion between Vancouver and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, with the train appearing in CP’s schedule as the Soo - Dominion. (All of the above is a simplistic abridged version, from memory)

You are correct sir. VIA Rail’s “Rockies by day” service, named The Rocky Mountaineer started in 1988 I believe and included a trainset made up of exCN Daynighters… same as there are on the train now. I’ve seen it pulled by F40ph’s in photos. Very cool that you saw an FP. In 1990 I believe the concept was sold to the Great Canadian Railtour Company who’s train ran with the same name. It was pulled by ex-Santa-Fe B36-7s and featured the same coaches.

 In the first season the locos and cars remained in their former owners paint with the Rocky Mountaineer logos slapped on.





I don’t know when the company changed names from GCRC to Rocky Mountaineer Vacations or whatever it’s called.

The B36-7 also didn’t last too long in the service. They were replaced by leased GP38s which pulled the train until 2001.



An interesting note is that the B36-7s ended up on BC Rail at one point. (The other railway I’m really into.). BC Rail took delivery of quite a few B36-7s. In the pics I posted up top you can see one coupled behind a BCR 8-40CW.



I’m not sure if they leased the locos in the off season? Or perhaps they took them when GCRC returned them to the lessor? Maybe one of the other BCR people here can advise. At any rate I maintain that I’m modelling BCR by modelling this train as well.

craigolio1

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2023, 06:43:19 PM »
+1
Outstanding!!

Best regards,
Wolf

Thank you.

Dwight in Toronto

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2023, 07:16:00 PM »
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Wow, what a story - and what a journey you’ve travelled with this build.  Talk about “stick-to-it-iveness”!   Really something to be proud of.  Super impressive.  Looking forward to further installments. 

screeh

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2023, 03:20:40 AM »
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This is fantastic, thanks for documenting the process you've taken to get here Craig!

A side note: Peter Cawthorne, who designed & makes the ultradome models available thru Shapeways, has been central to the Canadian Railway Modellers Down Under (CRMDU) for many years. You can see a few pics of his models of the original & current scheme at https://mycanadiantrains.webs.com/rmr-go-wce-plus.

I picked up a couple of these cars a long time back (directly from Peter, this was before he made them available on Shapeways' marketplace) and have yet to complete them.  I've experimented with a coat of Mr Surfacer 500 to fill in the rough surface, promising but not done yet. I've also slightly notched the body above the steps to accentuate the access gates (is that the right term?) and am wondering if I can work up the courage to cut away the printed-on diaphragms and replace them with heat shrink tubing.

You've mentioned windows as the nest step and I'll be very interested to see how you'll tackle that - it's been my biggest block for progressing with these models.

I picked up decals for the original scheme from a fellow member of the now-defunct Melbourne N Trak club a while back, just waiting for me to get these cars tackled.

I look forward to seeing more about your build, and I think your thread is going to give me the push I need!   

Cheers,

Stu

craigolio1

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2023, 05:35:55 AM »
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Wow, what a story - and what a journey you’ve travelled with this build.  Talk about “stick-to-it-iveness”!   Really something to be proud of.  Super impressive.  Looking forward to further installments.

Thanks Dwight.

craigolio1

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2023, 05:39:07 AM »
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This is fantastic, thanks for documenting the process you've taken to get here Craig!

A side note: Peter Cawthorne, who designed & makes the ultradome models available thru Shapeways, has been central to the Canadian Railway Modellers Down Under (CRMDU) for many years. You can see a few pics of his models of the original & current scheme at https://mycanadiantrains.webs.com/rmr-go-wce-plus.

I picked up a couple of these cars a long time back (directly from Peter, this was before he made them available on Shapeways' marketplace) and have yet to complete them.  I've experimented with a coat of Mr Surfacer 500 to fill in the rough surface, promising but not done yet. I've also slightly notched the body above the steps to accentuate the access gates (is that the right term?) and am wondering if I can work up the courage to cut away the printed-on diaphragms and replace them with heat shrink tubing.

You've mentioned windows as the nest step and I'll be very interested to see how you'll tackle that - it's been my biggest block for progressing with these models.

I picked up decals for the original scheme from a fellow member of the now-defunct Melbourne N Trak club a while back, just waiting for me to get these cars tackled.

I look forward to seeing more about your build, and I think your thread is going to give me the push I need!   

Cheers,

Stu

Thanks Stu.

For the windows I plan to laminate small precision cut pieces of theatre gels. Those are the coloured films that go over the front of theatre lights. They come in a range if colours including several tinted or smoky greys and blacks. They are extremely thin. I’m hoping to use canopy glue to hold them in place.

This is the plan anyway. I had 80 of them cut but I seem to have misplaced them. Will advise when I find them, haha.

Craig

craigolio1

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2023, 08:38:42 PM »
+1
I found the window bits!

screeh

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2023, 08:21:03 AM »
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I found the window bits!
That's a relief! Looking forward to seeing what they look like.

craigolio1

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2023, 08:37:45 AM »
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That's a relief! Looking forward to seeing what they look like.

Me too!  I hope the theatre gels work. Out of town for the week so it’ll have to wait.
But I’ll be at it as soon as I can upon my return.
Craig.

keeper

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2023, 07:59:58 AM »
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Wow, fantastic!

I think this must be listed in the Passenger Trains Index - @Sokramiketes
Thomas

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Sokramiketes

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2023, 01:06:55 PM »
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Wow, fantastic!

I think this must be listed in the Passenger Trains Index - @Sokramiketes

Agreed and done!

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=55122.msg756288#msg756288

craigolio1

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Re: N Scale Rocky Mountaineer - original consist
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2023, 07:16:02 PM »
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Agreed and done!

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=55122.msg756288#msg756288

Neat!! I did not know there was a passenger trains list!  What a great idea.

@CNR5529 ….. get to work! Haha.