More SDs coming from Bowser

New announcements from Bowser today with good news for ACR fans, including a second run of new road numbers on their popular SD40-2 from last year, and a new model of the GMD specific versions of the SD40, including Algoma Central in the list of paint schemes.

SD40-2 (second run – new road numbers)

Road numbers 185, 186, 188 (first run had 184, 187)

Product Listing

Pre-order deadline: April 13, 2018  Expected delivery: January 2019

SD40 (new model)

Road numbers 180, 181, 182

Product Listing

Pre-order deadline: April 27, 2018  Expected delivery: February 2019

New Book – “Algoma Central in Color”

Today I received my copy of one of the latest in Morning Sun Books’ “In Color” series: “Algoma Central In Color”. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this one since I saw it announced late last fall, and overall I have to say that I was happily not disappointed.

InDesign for cover creation.indd

The book follows the typical format of Morning Sun’s “In Color” series, organized into chapters on specific topics but largely made up of photo selections (in 100% colour images) with explanatory captions rather than large passages of text.

This book is broken into chapters focusing on various aspects, with sections specifically covering diesel locomotives, passenger equipment (with steam generator cars getting their own feature), freight and non-revenue equipment, and a section on all three of the road’s subdivisions (with reproductions of timetable pages to put into context). While all the sections had good material, the section on the Michipicoten branch had some nice shots at the sinter plant and the harbour, and I found the freight car section to have a good selection as well.

I did notice one or two minor errors in the caption information in places (and at least one memorable spell-check/autocorrect fail referring to the “Agway Canyon Tour Train” – the software certainly wasn’t on the editor’s side that day), but overall this was nicely laid out and organized, and there were some really good photos in there.

These hard-cover books aren’t inexpensive, especially with the current Canadian dollar exchange rate, but this book is well worth an addition to your library if you’re at all remotely interested in the Algoma Central.

Thumbs up.

New Book – “The Railfan Chronicles: Riding the Algoma Central Railway 1980 to 2014”

So early in the new year I heard of this new book on the ACR that has come out, self-published by one Byron Babbish, that I had not heard of before. This week, a copy that I ordered came in.


Having ordered sight unseen, and not familiar with the author’s other works, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Having had the chance to turn through the pages this week, the book is a nice paperback in an 8×10 page size with a little over 200 pages of mostly colour photos. As suggested by the title, rather than being written and organized as a history book, or a overview/reference book along the lines of many of the titles from Morning Sun Books for example, the book is filled with photos from 10 trips the author made on the railway over a nearly 35 year period, with chapters organized simply around each individual trip, allowing the narrative to simply capture the experience of the railway. (The second chapter contains a particularly amusing story about a high-speed journey to the Sault and barely catching the train as it was pulling out of the station after sleeping a little late in the morning.)

Many of the trips are journeys on the Agawa Canyon Tour train, with additional rides on the winter Snow Train and a few experiences on the local train, including one trip in the business car Agawa.

As all of the photos are from the perspective of a passenger, you won’t find much in the way of rosters or reference shots of specific equipment and structures (although there are some), but the book does do a nice job of showing the experience of riding the line, both to the popular Agawa Canyon park and the laid-back bush country service to camps and cottages of the local train, and the multiple visits over the years show quite nicely the gradual changes from the “classic” ACR of 1980 through the WC and CN takeovers in the 1990s and 2000s to the modern tour train of today.

You can find this book listed on Amazon or the author’s personal site.

Early Samples of Bowser’s HO Scale Canadian SD40-2 Displayed

This week Bowser posted photos on their website (and also emailed out to various contacts) of pre-production sample models of 11 different variations of their upcoming Canadian SD40-2 HO scale model.

All of the models are patterned after the versions built by General Motors Diesel Division in London, ON and represent the distinctly Canadian features that were unique to units built in Canada (vertical style ladder steps and modified handrails to match) and typical to Canadian railways (headlight in nose, cab front bell, class lights in single or 3-light groups above the number boards, single rear back-up headlight on most versions, railroad specific plow/pilot and ditch light configurations, snowshields (on certain versions) etc.).

Railways and versions represented by the 11 variants include Canadian Pacific (multiple variants), British Columbia Railway (at least 2 versions), Ontario Northland (non-dynamic brake), Quebec, North Shore & Labrador (with extra large fuel tank) and last but not least, Algoma Central. (I foresee an order for six units in my future…)


Pre-production sample, HO scale Algoma Central SD40-2. Bowser Manufacturing Company model and photo.

This appears to be the AC version, with a pair of CP versions in the background. (Specific features: single class lights on numberboards, snow plow, RR-specific M.U. electrical connection stands, pilot lift rings, pilot mounted ditch lights, snowshields, flat-top radiator and dynamic brake fans, electrical contact access doors on side of dynamic brake housing, straight turbo exhaust, wire radiator grilles, single rear backup headlight.)

Check out the photos of all 11 versions on Bowser’s web site here:

SD40-2 Page 1
SD40-2 Page 2

Atlas 2014 Catalog and Announcements – HO AC GP38-2

Earlier this week, Atlas Model Railroad Co. posted their 2014 All-Scales Catalog. Inside the HO Scale Announcements section is an interesting item for Algoma Central fans: Algoma Central is one of the roadnames in the next upcoming release of their TrainMan series GP38-2.


AC 201 at Sault Ste. Marie in September 1982. Francis J. Wiener photo, Chris van der Heide collection.

Several years ago, Canadian Hobbycraft had sponsored a custom run of GP38-2s in various Canadian paint schemes including less common shortlines like RaiLink and Algoma Central. These were produced using the Life-Like Proto2000 GP38-2. Of course this limited run has long been out of production, and while one or two might pop up on the secondhand market occasionally, new ones just aren’t available anymore.

The new Atlas model is in the TrainMan series, which is Atlas’s more “entry level” line; the model will have the same proven drive train as Atlas’s higher end “Master Series” but the body may have less of the fine detail, and it most likely won’t have the road-specific details like snowplow, nose headlight, cab front bell, single rear headlight, Canadian-style vertical steps etc. However this will still be a good enough stand in for most, and a good starting point for detailing for many others.

They currently list road numbers 200 and 202, although this could potentially still change before production. The prototype locomotives were built in 1981 by General Motors Diesel Division in London, ON as series AC 200-205. Most or all of them are still operating today (just not in ACR colours) as WC 2001-2006.

ACR From Blair 007

WC 2001 (ex-AC 200) at Steelton Yard before repainting into WC colours. Blair Smith photo.

Part of the ad copy in the catalog indicates matching cabooses will be available, and indeed, further down is a section with new paint schemes on the TrainMan series “steel cupola caboose”, including Algoma Central. Of course this model is based on a small north-eastern US prototype that isn’t remotely similar to any ACR cabooses. The catalog outline artwork shows a caboose numbered AC 9607; this number would correspond to one of the three ex-CP vans acquired in 1992-93. Rapido Trains produced a model of this caboose several years ago. Highball Graphics also has some ACR caboose decals that can be used to custom paint something a bit better than the TrainMan caboose into ACR colours.

One other announcement in the catalog which will be of significant interest to most Canadian modelers is not too much of a surprise: a new version of their 50′ NSC boxcar matching the features of cars owned by Canadian Pacific and Ontario Northland. (Previously they have run Canadian National and British Columbia Railway versions.)


CP (ex-CPI) 85718 newsprint service boxcar. Jurgen Kleylein photo.

The first run of this version contains three paint schemes: Ontario Northland (7700-7799 series), Canadian Pacific (CPI 85635-85734 series) and Quebec Central/CP* (QC 75100-75299 series). All of the paint schemes represent original factory paint jobs, and future releases of other CP repainted cars are likely in subsequent runs.

* Note: The outline graphics in the catalog show the QC cars as an apparent ex-CP patch job; I checked with Atlas and this is not how the actual cars will be decorated. They will properly represent the as-built appearance of the QC cars, which were built new with QC reporting marks and CP colours. (Quebec Central was a CP subsidiary absorbed in the 1930s. CP re-used the marks in the late 1970s as a method to have empty paper service boxcars routed back to eastern Canada by other roads.)

Build dates for the prototype cars represented by the model are as follows:

Series Build Date Qty. Note
CPI 85635-85734 * # 9-10/77 100 re# CP /78-/83
ONT 7600-7629 11/77 30
ONT 7700-7799 * 9/80 100
QC 75000-75099 11-12/79 100
QC 75100-75299 * 7-8/80 200
QGRY 75000-75299 $ 11-12/79, 7-8/80 81 ex-QC /98

* – Series represented by Atlas
# – Previous series CPI 85500-85634 (Built 3-5/75, 135 cars) are similar but have 10′ wide doors (vs. 9′ doors on all of the other above) and non-cushioned underframes
$ – QGRY series is non-inclusive.

Some woodpulp/paper traffic from mills on the CPR line on the north shore of Lake Superior routed over the ACR from the interchange at Franz (that’s a subject I may attempt to cover in more detail sometime in a dedicated post), and there’s evidence that some paper from the Ontario Northland (from mills at Iroquois Falls, and likely from Kapuskasing and Smooth Rock Falls following the takeover of the ex-CN Kapuskasing subdivision) so any of these cars would not be out of place on a period ACR layout. I’ll be getting a couple of these cars for sure to mix into my CP woodpulp/paper fleet.