Operating the QGRY… and a revised track plan!


First, the revised track plan. Many thanks to Sheldon Frankel, the owner of the Q&NE, and a professional civil engineer who happens to have worked for the railways. No better person to take my previous mess and clean it up with some good, practical, prototypical track design.

You can view the revised track plan as a more detailed PDF here.


Now for some thoughts on Operations…

Thanks to the wonder of Facebook I was able to connect with some kind (and very knowledgable) folks on the Genesee & Wyoming RR Fan Page who shared the current QGRY schedule with me. This has led me to the beginning thoughts for a proto-freelance operations plan:

Eastbound mains
Train 1. Train 726: Ste-Therese (Montreal staging) to Trois-Rivieres Yard
Train 2. Train 728: Trois-Rivières Yard to Triage Henri IV (Quebec staging)

Westbound mains
Train 3. Train 729: Triage Henri IV (Quebec staging) to Trois-Rivières Yard
Train 4. Train 727: Trois-Rivieres Yard to Ste-Therese (Montreal staging)

Locals (turns)
Train 5. Train 28: Trois-Rivières – Joliette and back to switch Bell-Gaz
Train 6. Train 33: Trois-Rivières – Shawinigan and back (to Quebec staging to simulate CN interchange)
Train 7. NOT a prototypical train BUT I will create a local that runs Trois-Rivières – Paper Mill and back to switch the Paper Mill and other industries
Train 8. NOT a prototypical train BUT I will create a local that runs Trois-Rivières – Ciment Quebec and back to switch Ciment Quebec and Marmen

While this train list makes sense to me, I have NO IDEA what order to run the trains. For example, should the local trains run before or after the east/westbound mains? Not even sure how to determine this… any thoughts are very welcome!

Still pondering JMRI computer ops vs. car cards and waybills, but think that I will try JMRI first and then move to CC & WBs if I don’t like the computer-generated switchlists.

One of the things that I’m targeting is more frequent but less time consuming operating sessions. I want to be able to pop down to the basement and run a couple of trains either by myself or with a couple of people. Partly this is because I have two young boys who want to ‘play’ and partly because I just enjoy frequent sessions that last no longer than two – three hours.

That’s my current thinking for now and no doubt that it will change/evolve as I learn more about the real QGRY, meet new people, ask more questions and continue this fun and fascinating journey!



September 10th, 1976


Yesterday I had the pleasure to be a guest operator on the Waterloo Region Model Railroad Club. I was invited by Chris van der Heide because he kindly replied to my last post regarding my interest in learning more about OCS operations. The club uses this method in its operations and he thought that it would be of interest to me to learn how they approach this. Thanks Chris!

The Waterloo Region Model Railway Club (WRMRC) is a 2000 square foot, HO-scale (1:87) recreation of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Sudbury Division, as it appeared and operated during the 1970s. The layout features include:

  • a multi-level (mushroom) design over 2 floors with tracks interconnected by helices
  • track arrangements of the modelled towns are duplicated closely to the prototype locations
  • locomotives and rolling stock match real equipment that operated in northern Ontario during the ’70s
  • long freight trains rolling smoothly over handlaid trackage powered by NCE Digital Command Control

The session started at Noon and first task was to sign in and get on a crew. I joined Crew 4 and my partner was a 20-year club veteran Peter Korschefsky. Trains are operated with 2-man crews and we communicated with the isolated dispatchers via Motorola radios. Real freight and passenger schedules were followed, along with proper blocking of freight traffic between trains. Freight delivery was governed by a car-card and waybill system mimicing the prototypical generation of traffic by railway customers. In short, we were operating the Sudbury Division prototypically – as a miniature transportation system.

Peter at home in his dispatcher’s chair.

Peter is usually a dispatcher on the WRMRC, however yesterday he and I were Conductor and Engineer on three Manifest trains. Peter and I quickly started scheming about how to model CN 1501 using Rapido’s upcoming RDC-1 Phase 2 and I fear that I might have pulled him over to the dark side. Sorry about that Peter.

Over the course of a 6 hour session, a group of around 14 guys ran 21 trains – all simulating the traffic found around Sudbury on September 10th, 1976. And man was it FUN!

Peter and Phil are trying to figure out where we are – or more specifically -where we are supposed to be.

This was my fifth time operating (each time a different layout) and I have to say that I am hooked. Every session has been very unique; whether its been N-scale or  HO-scale, big club layout or small basement layout; fully sceniced or ‘plywood pacific’; mainline freight operations or switching layouts – it doesn’t matter. Each experience is fun and teaches me a little bit more. The more I operate on other layouts the closer I feel to knowing what I want for my QGRY in HO scale.

Hunter Hughson‘ working the Sudbury Yard Switcher.
Bob Fallowfield looks to be up to no good in the Sudbury Yard.

I really enjoyed my time on the WRMRC and hope to be back for another visit. Special thanks to Chis for inviting me, Peter and Ted who showed me the ropes, and everyone else that made me feel welcome.

If you are interested in a club with great prototype operations check out the WRMRC at their upcoming  2016 Annual Fall Open House on October 15th.

Rules, rules, rules!

2016 CTGSo I finally went out and bought myself a copy of the 2016 Canadian Trackside Guide. The book by the Bytown Railway Society is “the comprehensive listing of Canadian railways including their US-based operations. The 2016 edition features the latest updates (to end of February) to all the sections including motive power, industrial locomotives, preserved equipment, passenger equipment, work train equipment, subdivision details, radio frequencies and more.”

The reason I wanted The Guide was to gain insight on how trains operate on my prototype (the QGRY). I had hoped to find a timetable of trains and gain insights into operations, and while I was unsuccessful in this regard, I did learn something new.

Beside the listing of subs and milemakers I found the initials OCS which I learned stood for OCCUPANCY CONTROL SYSTEM. The QGRY operates in what is known as “dark territory” and no signals are used to govern train movements. All movements must be authorized by the dispatcher, who verbally instructs the train to proceed, usually by radio. The dispatcher selects the stations or mileposts between which the train may move – a segment of track known as the authority limit. In the US this is called Track Warrant Control.

Googling ‘Occupancy Control System (OCS)’ lead me to Transport Canada’s Canadian Rail Operating Rules – an amazing resource that I will attempt to digest and understand. You can download the entire PDF doc here:


Not sure yet how this will inform my plan for operations, but at least I have learned that I don’t have to worry about installing signals on the QGRY.




Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 7.22.12 PM

Spent yesterday in Cobourg, and caught a very interesting show at the Art Gallery of Northumberland on the 3rd Floor of Victoria Hall. MICRO MACRO features the amazing photographs of Toni Hafkenscheild.

Thought this would be of interest to all of the prototype modelers out there. We spend so much of our time trying to make 1/87 scale look as real as possible; and here is a photographer whose works go the other way and capture reality in a way that makes it look toy-like.

Toni Hafkenscheid is a Toronto-based photographer originally from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 1989, he graduated from the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and shortly thereafter moved to Toronto. He has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout Canada, the US and Europe, and he has taught photography at York University, OCADU, Ryerson University and Sheridan College.


Using traditional Tilt Shift analog photographic techniques, Hafkenscheid manipulates his camera to narrow the depth of field in his images, resulting in a visual sleight-of-hand that suggests model train sets, toy buildings and miniatures of all kinds.

This idea occurred to him on a summer trip to British Columbia a few years ago. How bizarre and almost fake the landscape looked. Train tracks were set in an artificial plain of faux cotton trees, plastic buildings, and cardboard mountains, with suggested men and women walking, shopping, etc.

Check out this GlobeandMail article for more on this amazing photographer.



Major New Rail Infrastructure Project Completed


So I realize that its been quite a while (embarrassingly too many months) since I posted on the progress of my layout. The last post was The Staging Level is complete! back in January. This hiatus has been due to a number of factors; a recent trip to Europe, work, enjoying the nicerailfanning  weather, etc. etc. While all this is true, the lack of layout progress has been chiefly due to the fact that I decided to add on to the staging tracks, and a lot of the work has been relatively unglamorous.

Today I hit a milestone. The Government of Me and my basement HO Scale Layout is pleased to announce the realization of a major new rail infrastructure project. Construction spanned many months and cost millions (well hundreds) of dollars, and while this project came in over budget and behind schedule, the QGRY hidden staging reversing loop has been completed.


Full automated with a DCC Specialties PSX-AR, the reverse loop allows Westbound trains from Montreal (staging) enroute Quebec City to then seamlessly make the return trip from Quebec City back to Montreal (staging). My thinking was that this would allow for passenger service or a RDC tourist train. The long return loop will also allow for turning trains in my hidden staging tracks between operating sessions. One other plus is that the track leading up to the return loop can be used for staging longer trains than will fit on my 10 hidden staging tracks.


The DCC Specialties PSX-AR is pretty cool piece of tech! I have a Digitrax AR1 Automatic Reverse Controller, that I have used in the past, but I never really liked it. (Anyone wanna buy it from me?)

The PSX-AR is a different beast. What attracted me to it is that (1) it is solid state; (2) it has a circuit breaker built in; and most importantly (3) it automates reverse loop turnouts and integrates the control of the Tortoise stall motor so that the turnout is automatically thrown and the points lines up as the train enters and exits the loop!!! WOW!!!

Not a cheap solution, mind you; however, worth it to have completely automated, hands off running – as you can see by the results of the video below.

Railfanning Cobourg ON


Spent this past weekend in Cobourg, Ontario; an hour-and-a-half east of Toronto. We went out to celebrate Father’s Day with my wife’s parents who have a condo on the Beach. While the kids went swimming and out for a puddle on their uncle’s sailboat, I ‘excused’ myself to do some railfanning.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 8.47.13 PM

I had never been to the Cobourg train station before. It is located just off Division Street about 5 minutes north of the downtown strip. A couple of things make this an excellent railfanning spot. First off, the CN Kingston Subdivision, the major railway line connecting Toronto with Montreal that carries the majority of CN traffic between these points runs just north of the Station. VIA passenger trains also travel this route.

Just to the south of the station, and not more 4o meters on the other side of the parking lot is the CP Belleville Subdivision, Canadian Pacific Railway’s similar mainline route. The CP line is a bit overgrown, but there is a crossing where you can get some good pics. It is possible to stand in one place and literally be surrounded by CN and CP traffic – which is pretty thrilling!


Two other features make this an ideal spot. VIA has built the oddest passageway up and over the tracks. One only knows what the architect was thinking because the structure is so mammoth and over-engineered (see image above) for a simple pedestrian bridge. No matter, for the Railfan it is a godsend providing an incredible vantage point to overlook the mainline action. This is especially interesting as I have found it difficult to get good top down image of freight trains (typically the way that modellers view our HO scale trains). The last feature at this location is a nicely placed signal bridge that conveniently would ‘announce’ upcoming trains.


I didn’t get to spend more than a couple of hours here on Saturday, but in the short time managed to capture a couple of VIA trains, a pretty cool CP work train and a CN intermodal heading westbound. Enjoy the clips below for a sense of the action in this location.

Managed to get back for an hour on Sunday with #1 son who wanted to join me for some Father’s Day trainspotting and he was my videographer for the VIA clip below. I definitely plan to return to Cobourg soon and hope to spend a day by the tracks. Hope to see some nice CP action and some mixed freight.

Operating on the Q&NE


Last week I was invited to operate on Sheldon Frankel’s fantastic Quebec & New England layout. The Q&NE layout is 19′ x 29′ HO layout based on the southern end of a regional railroad that runs between Montreal and Boston circa 1990. The focus of the layout is the interchange with Conrail and the many industries served by the QNE.

I had originally discovered the Q&NE on its youtube channel and have been enjoying the 50+ videos over the years. Recently I met Sheldon at a train show and was thrilled when he emailed with the news that he was celebrating one of his regular operator’s retirement and relocation. Bill’s punishment for abandoning his post was that he had to train a replacement operator. Did I want to apply for the job? I warned the gang that my operations experienced was limited, but was welcomed to ‘apprentice’ with Bill.


Operating sessions began in 2012 with a crew of four. Car and train movements are governed by a home-made XL program that assigns and tracks all car locations and train consists. A daily QNE train arrives from staging with local traffic as well as cars for interchange with eastbound and westbound Conrail trains. The QNE crew and power lay over and return northbound during the following operating session. There are two separate staging loops so that westbound departures are automatically turned to become eastbound arrivals (and vice versa) in a later operating session. The same trains do not show up on the layout more often than every third operating session.

The OPS session lasted around four hours and was HARD WORK. We were moving freight! This was a very realistic working session and I felt an appreciation for the very hard work done every day by real railroaders.

I was honoured to be a part of the gang, and as you can see by the photo at the top of the post, I passed the initiation. Not sure it was my skill or my thick skin but I got to take the T-Shirt home. Looking forward to the next session, and a big thank you to Sheldon and his crew for showing me the rails to and for making the evening so much fun!


CN logo evolution

Found this amazing post on UK graphic designer David Airey’s Logo Design Love website devoted to the design of logos and brand identities. Being a ‘recovering’ graphic designer myself, I had to share this amazing visual history of CN’s logo evolution.

More than half a century after it was designed, Allan Fleming’s CN monogram still looks like it could’ve been created today. Designers around the world often choose it amongst their favourite marks. Here are the lesser known logos that preceded it.

Much of the following information is courtesy of CN.

1852: Grand Trunk Railway

CN’s logo dates back to the birth of Canada’s first major railroad, the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), a line that eventually joined others to form CN.

Grand Trunk Railway logo 1852

Built originally to link Montreal and Toronto in the 1850s, GTR saw its future as an international railroad serving markets on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border — a feat that it accomplished within a decade.

Grand Trunk Railway map
Grand Trunk Railway map, via Victorian Wars Forum

1883: Intercolonial Railway

Built during the 1870s, the Intercolonial Railway (ICR) was another railroad that eventually joined others as part of CN. It linked Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with Quebec.

Intercolonial Railway logo 1883

Its logo proudly dubbed the line the “People’s Railway” and adopted the moose as its trademark due to its superiority in the animal kingdom and, in turn, its ability to hold its own against all rivals in its domain.

Intercolonial Railway map
Intercolonial Railway map, via Library and Archives Canada

1896: Grand Trunk Railway System

Under new general manager Charles Melville Hays (a victim of the Titanic), the Grand Trunk Railway adopted a more aggressive management style — and a new logo to express the change.

Grand Trunk Railway System logo 1896

Hays set about modernising and expanding the British-owned railroad, renaming it “Grand Trunk Railway System” to reflect its far-flung interests.

A version of the logo was the so-called “tilted wafer” — the company name on a square tilted nine degrees downward to the left, presumably an eye-catching device to convey motion. However, the logo’s simple lines didn’t please everyone. One observer thought it was “the most prosaic” of the major Canadian railroad logos.

Grand Trunk Railway System timetables
Grand Trunk Railway System timetables 1898, via railroads.uni.edu

1899: Canadian Northern Railway

The Canadian Northern Railway resulted from the ambitions of two energetic, small-town-Ontario rail promoters, William Mackenzie and Donald Mann.

Canadian Northern railway logo 1899

After acquiring a couple of small Manitoba lines in the mid-1890s, Mackenzie and Mann incorporated the Canadian Northern in 1899 and began expanding rapidly both east and west.

Canadian Northern reduced rates
Canadian Northern reduced rates 1904, via Library and Archives Canada

By October 1918, Canadian Northern had fallen victim to its own ambitions and economic forces beyond its control. Beset by declining revenue, rising costs, and lack of capital during World War I, it teetered for a time on the brink of bankruptcy. The railway was taken over by the Canadian Government in August 1917 — only to become one of CN’s constituent lines in 1919.

The logo of Canadian Northern Railway would serve as a prototype for CN’s logo during the first few years of its existence. Essentially, CN took the easy way out and simply replaced the “Northern” in the Canadian Northern logo with the word “National.”

1905: Grand Trunk Pacific

At the turn of the century, Canada was riding high on an economic boom. Confined to eastern Canada, the Grand Trunk Railway under expansion-minded Charles Hays felt boxed in and longed for a piece of the action.

Meanwhile, the Government was convinced that Canada needed and could easily support at least one more transcontinental rail line. A second coast-to-coast railroad would also break Canadian Pacific’s monopoly in the west.

Grand Trunk Pacific logo 1905

So Grand Trunk and the Government got together to construct a third east-west line. GTR incorporated a subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTP), in 1903, which would run between Winnipeg and Prince Rupert. The Government, meanwhile, would build the eastern portion, known as the National Transcontinental Railway (NTR), from Winnipeg to Moncton.

Grand Trunk Pacific’s logo was derived from its parent’s logo, featuring the “tilted wafer.” It bore the words “The Only All-Canadian Transcontinental Route” — perhaps an act of one-upmanship over rival Canadian Pacific, which reached its eastern terminus via the state of Maine.

Grand Trunk Pacific ad
Grand Trunk Pacific farmland ad 1913, via Ben Bradley

A similar tilted wafer with the slogan “The Transcontinental Line” was also used to identify the GTP/NTR system. But like Canadian Northern, GTP came to grief during the economic turmoil of World War I. The Canadian Government nationalised the property in 1919.

1915: Canadian Government Railways

The term Canadian Government Railways (CGR) was a catch-all phrase used to describe a group of railroads owned by the government of Canada in the early part of the 20th century.

Each of the railroads making up CGR was managed independently. In 1915 the group included:

  • The Intercolonial Railway (Government-owned since its inception in 1867)
  • The National Transcontinental Railway (also Government-owned from its start in the early 1900s)
  • The Prince Edward Island Railway (taken over soon after Prince Edward Island joined Confederation in 1873)
  • The yet-to-be-completed Hudson Bay Railway (a Government-propelled project all along)
  • To these ranks the Canadian Northern Railway was added in September 1917, shortly after a Government takeover

Canadian Government Railways logo 1915

Canadian Government Railways had a simple logo, but apart from that unifying device, the line had a shadowy existence with very little real substance or organisation.

1919: Canadian National Railways

The name “Canadian National Railways” first appeared officially on December 20, 1918, when the Government authorised that term as a descriptive name for the various properties that made up Canadian Government Railways — principally, Canadian Northern, National Transcontinental and Intercolonial.

Six months later, on June 6, 1919, Parliament passed legislation to incorporate the Canadian National Railway Company Limited — and CN was born. The following year, the Grand Trunk Pacific was added to the line-up, giving the new railroad two transcontinental networks.

Canadian National logo 1919

With so many component parts, each with its own strong identity, CN struggled to craft a single, recognisable face to show the world. During the first few years, it took the easy way out and used two different logos, each one mimicking the trademark of a predecessor railroad. Equipment and sign painters simply replaced the “Northern” in the Canadian Northern logo and the “Government” in the Canadian Government Railways logo with the word “National.” A practical and economical solution, perhaps, but it did little to foster a clear conception of the new railroad in the public’s mind.

The two logos CN used during this period were usually printed in black or white according to the desired contrast with the background.

1923: Canadian National Railways

The finishing touch to the creation of Canadian National Railways came early in 1923 when the Grand Trunk Railway joined the system after a Government takeover some three years earlier. That event quickly led to a unified corporate image for the new railroad, one it would display with few major alterations for 38 years.

Canadian National logo 1923

CN abandoned the stop-gap solutions of its first few years and introduced a single design to represent the entire company. But like the two earlier versions, the new logo reflected CN’s parentage — this time, the Grand Trunk and its familiar “tilted wafer.”

At first, CN used a square-shaped wafer, just as GTR did. Then, in 1927, the square became a rectangle, presumably to accommodate longer yet fewer words.

The red used in the logo was CN No. 10, which is close to Pantone 200c. The lettering was gold on equipment, for which there is no good Pantone equivalent. In print, however, the yellow employed to represent gold was close to Pantone 115c.

1943: Canadian National Railways

During much of the first decade, President Sir Henry Thornton had led the company with great panache, expanding into fields as diverse as radio broadcasting, resort hotels and ocean liners. Then came the Crash of 1929. While business plummeted and hostile politicians clamoured for an end to the publicly owned system and its “extravagance,” CN stumbled through much of the Dirty Thirties.

But when World War II broke out in 1939, CN seized the opportunity to demonstrate its value to the nation. It performed prodigiously in the war effort, turning handsome profits as well.

Canadian National Railways logo 1943

The first significant change to CN’s logo came in 1943, 20 years after it had been adopted. In a sense, the modified logo symbolised the railroad truly coming into its own and hitting stride after two decades of struggling to define its role.

Buoyed by patriotism and a new sense of mission, CN superimposed the tilted wafer on a maple leaf, creating a new logo with built-in flexibility. First applied to a new batch of boxcars in 1943, the logo featured “CNR” above the wafer, while the slogan “Serves All Canada” replaced “Canadian National” on the wafer.

Variations on the theme would appear in later years — different colour schemes and alternate slogans, such as “Canada’s Largest Railway.” CN continued to use an unadorned wafer for some applications, but for the most part, the instantly recognisable maple leaf and the nearly ubiquitous slogan “Serves All Canada” became synonymous with Canadian National.

CNR emblem
CNR emblem, via Gary DB

The maple leaf was Green No. 12, for which Pantone 363c is a good match. The rest of the logo usually appeared in white against whatever the background colour was: brown on boxcars (Pantone 174c) or orange on cabooses (Pantone 166c).

1954: Canadian National Railways

Emerging exhausted from the extreme demands of World War II, CN badly needed modernising and energising if it was to hold its own against growing car and truck competition. Donald Gordon, who became President in 1950, was just the man for the job.

Gordon transformed the railroad from the ground up, replacing steam with diesel power, introducing computer technology, restoring the worn-out freight car fleet, and recruiting and training a highly skilled management team.

Canadian National Railways logo 1954

CN was changing rapidly — but the changes were happening largely beneath the surface, virtually invisible to the public eye. Yet CN initiated just one relatively minor modification to its corporate symbol during the 1950s, barely reflecting the immense progress underway.

In 1954, to mark the arrival of new passenger cars equipped with unprecedented amenities, CN eliminated the wafer’s tilt and redrew it as a straight square on the maple leaf. As changes go, it was hardly dramatic — but it did have the virtue of being easier to apply to CN’s mammoth locomotives and railcars.

Canadian National Railways engine
Canadian National Railways locomotive, via Mike Robbins

The maple leaf was CN Red No. 10 (Pantone 200c), the wafer was black, and the lettering simulated gold (Pantone 115c).

1960: CN

The story begins in 1959 when a revitalised and confident CN surveyed Canadians’ attitudes to see how it measured up in the public mind. The findings came as a great shock: when people thought of CN, they pictured an “old-fashioned,” “backward” organisation, hostile to innovation — the very opposite of what the company was trying to achieve.

Dick Wright, head of public relations at the time, firmly believed that “seeing is believing.” If CN had a fresh new trademark, he reasoned, people would be more likely to think of it as the customer-friendly, technologically advanced railroad it was rapidly becoming. Wright commissioned New York designer James Valkus to study the problem. Valkus became convinced that what CN needed was not just a new trademark but a complete overhaul of its visual image — from locomotive paint schemes and building exteriors right down to the sugar packets used on passenger trains.

A new logo would be the heart of the redesign program. It had to be perfect from both an aesthetic and a practical point of view. It had to communicate the essence of the new CN: powerful, progressive, dynamic. Valkus assigned the challenge to Allan Fleming a young and highly regarded Canadian graphic designer. After experimenting with countless possibilities, Fleming hit on a particularly inspired design while sitting on a New York-bound airplane. He quickly sketched the idea on a cocktail napkin — and CN’s logo was conceived.

CN logo sketch
CN logo sketches via designKULTUR

CN logo sketch

CN logo sketch

CN logo sketch

CN logo sketch
Handwritten note from James Valkus

It was a dramatic contrast to the existing image. Out went the maple leaf, out went the time-worn wafer. Indeed, out went the “CNR.” Fleming had come up with a way of combining the “C” and the “N” in a harmonious, evocative manner. Abolishing the “R” made the logo bilingual (“Canadien national” as well as “Canadian National”). Without the “R” for “Railways”, the logo could be used as a unifying mark that would also serve the many non-rail businesses CN ran at the time — hotels, telecommunications and ferry services, to name a few.

CN logo 1960

Fleming avoided literal symbols — no animals or vegetables allowed — because they tend to show their age very quickly. As Fleming put it: “A literal drawing in 1944 of an object — even a plant leaf — looks in 1954 as if it was drawn in 1944. After five, 10 or 15 years, that symbol would have to be revised. In fact, CN itself has had that history up to now — of constantly revising its trademark bit by bit — and every time it has been revised the one before it is out of date, and it costs a lot of money and a lot of hard work to keep ahead of the game.”

Canadian National continent logo
Photo via everkamp

While conceptualising the future, Fleming drew on the past for the kind of image that would convey timelessness. Studying the Christian cross and the Egyptian symbol for life, he borrowed the idea of using a line of single thickness. “The single thickness stroke is what makes the symbol live,” Fleming later said. “Anything else would lack the immediacy and vigor.”

Allan Fleming
Allan Robb Fleming, via

The continuous flowing line symbolised “the movement of people, materials, and messages from one point to another,” Fleming said. As the eye moves from “C” to “N,” the image suggests fluidity and motion. “It’s a route line that incidentally spells CN,” Fleming explained.

CN train
Photo by Tim Stevens

More about Fleming’s mark in the CN visual identity guidelines (PDF).

This post in its entirety was reproduced from http://www.logodesignlove.com

Euro railfanning


Just back from a very enjoyable two-week family vacation to England and France. One of the many highlights on the trip was taking the Eurostar from London to Paris. Besides the fact that I hadn’t taken a passenger train in ages, the experience of high speed train travel was exhilarating.

Barry, our train’s engineer, was kind enough to take the photo of me (above) and we started taking about railfanning. He had never heard of Rapido, so I introduced him to their UK website and he seemed genuinely impressed that a Canadian company was producing British train models.


We left London St Pancras International train station (built in 1868) and 2 hours and 16 minutes later arrived in Paris at  the Gare du Nord.  Free wifi, great food and fantastic scenery (Chunnel included) and some very different railfanning…. what could be better?


All of this made me wonder if the Europeans have got it right. When was the last time that any of us really considered passenger rail travel as a viable transportation option? It might be time to hop on VIA to see if the Canadian experience measures up to what I experienced in Europe. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.




Done in a Day

51QJUpVK7hLLike many modelers, I admire the work of Pelle K Søeborg, both because it is amazing in its detail and execution, but also because Pelle publishes his techniques and teaches me ways to be better.

One of the books that I own and take inspiration from is his Done in a Day book (pictured). More than a dozen easy weathering and detailing projects show you how to add realism to rolling stock and locomotives. 

In the book, on pg 36, is a project titled:  A rusted roof is the key to a realistically weathered old auto carrier. Well I am happy to say that I now own the Union Pacific bi-level auto carrier pictured in the article.

How do I come to own a piece weathered by Pelle himself? Long story, but remember Nad who I met on the weekend at the Woodstock train Show? Turns out that he knows Pelle and has quite a few of his weathered models. Nad generously gave this beautiful auto rack and I am proud and happy to include this unique piece in my collection. TTX 254202 will soon be in service on the QGRY.