Presenting at Copetown RPM Meet – February 22, 2020

Coming up in less than two weeks is the annual Railway Prototype Modelers Meet at Copetown, ON on Saturday February 22, 2020.

This year I’ll be presenting one of the clinics on how I design and build my model lumber loads. (I haven’t done a clinic before, so this should be interesting if not slightly terrifying!)

Other clinic presentations during the day will include:

  • Model and layout photography (Hunter Hughson)
  • Modeling TH&B GRS signals (Ron Tuff)
  • Tuning brass steam engines (Steve Bratina)

And another huge component of this type of event is the model display room, where there will be tables of models on display, brought in by the attendees. These can be finished or in-progress models, and usually display a wide range of subjects. Being able to see the models and discuss them with the modeler is great for inspiration and ideas, and you can learn a lot on different subjects and techniques.

For a taste of what this kind of show is like, see my posting from a few years ago from the first Copetown RPM meet:

First Annual Copetown RPM

Event Details:

February 22, 2020 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Copetown and District Community Centre

1950 Governor’s Road, Copetown ON (just east of Highway 52)

More information and contact can also be found on their facebook page.


If you have a chance to take in the meet, say hello! And don’t forget to bring along models for display – it doesn’t have to be finished either. The model displays and conversation are a big part of this type of meet.

Looking forward to the talent that will surely be on display on this day.

[First Annual] Copetown RPM

Today I took the opportunity to attend the new Copetown Railway Prototype Modeler’s (RPM) Meet held at the local community centre in (obviously) Copetown, ON.


A portion of the Ontario & Quebec modular display layout, set up for operation & display for both the Saturday and Sunday shows.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the long-established Copetown Train Show, which has always been regarded as somewhat more of the prototype modeler’s show; with some of the historical groups and Canadian manufacturers and kit makers (big and small) displaying their stuff. But other than some of the photo print vendors, not too much other selling – i.e. no flea market tables that you find at most shows. I’ve always liked this show; it’s quite a bit smaller than the other shows, and you won’t go treasure hunting through piles of secondhand wares, but it’s a nice place to interact with some of the makers and I usually end up spending more time at this show than the larger ones because I end up running into many people that I know. I won’t be there this year though, as I didn’t stay over and returned to Sarnia in the evening, and making the drive twice is a little much.


Steve Lucas‘s scratchbuilt model of a 1950s British American Oil gas station & garage.

This year, the organizers of this show also staged an RPM meet on the Saturday. (The RPM meet was also tied in to the Sunday show in that if you paid admission to the meet on Saturday, your ticket was also good for free admission to the show on Sunday as well.) If you’re not familiar with the RPM format, it basically consists of a display room where attendees can set out some models for display, and several clinic presentations are schedules throughout the event. It’s basically a great opportunity to mingle and meet with other modelers, share information and discuss techniques and tips. There’s a huge social aspect to this type of event, and as it attracts a more serious type of modeler, there’s usually some really nice modeling on display, but learners are also more than extremely welcome to participate; indeed, it’s a wonderful opportunity for getting ideas, inspiration and information from the other modelers you meet. They may be serious about their craft, but in my experience the type of modeler that identifies with the RPM crowd tends to pretty generous with sharing techniques and information.


Bob Fallowfield’s weathered Conrail (ex-Lehigh Valley patch) X58 boxcar.

Compared to the established Toronto RPM, the turnout of people and models was a little smaller (and the huge size of the hall compared to the classrooms at the Toronto meet’s Humber College venue) probably made it feel smaller than it actually was), but for being the first time it was held, it was a pretty good turnout and Steve Tuff the Copetown RPM & Show organizer was more than pleased with the success of the Saturday event.


Ryan Mendell‘s Grand Trunk woodchip hopper with scratchbuilt side extensions.

Apart from the model display and mingling with the other modelers; the other big component of the RPM meet are the clinics. These are prepared presentations on some aspect of model or real railroads. There were four clinics presented. Matt Herman of ESU/LokSound gave a presentation on the features of their new sound decoders, my friend Bob Fallowfield gave a short presentation on his layout, based on his boyhood hometown of Woodstock, ON, Steve Lucas did a photographic presentation on the CNR lines in and around the Metropolitan Toronto area and their history, and John Spring gave a similar tour of the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway main line from Buffalo to Hamilton.


Kitbashed CV flatcar and CN gondola by George Dutka.

All in all, an RPM meet is a great way to see some neat modelling and rub shoulders with some like-minded individuals, and I had a pretty good time overall. After the show was over, I hooked up with Matt Herman, Bob Fallowfield and Scot Atkinson and we ran into Dundas for some Tim Horton’s and back up to the old Copetown mill to hang out for a bit and watch a couple of trains go by (catching one VIA passenger and one CN freight) before splitting up to head home. A fun way to close out the day.

2014 Toronto Railway Prototype Modelers Meet

This Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the Toronto Railway Prototype Modelers (RPM) Meet. This is the first time I’ve made it out to this event, and it was an interesting time with a group of like-minded model railroaders.

The event is held at Humber College and consists of several clinic presentations in the morning, with a second room devoted to showing off models that the attendees are encouraged to bring along.


The model display room at the Toronto RPM meet.

I arrived on campus shortly after 8:30 am, and eventually managed to find the rooms where the event was being held. I signed in and slipped into the first clinic session, and would finish setting up the models I brought during the breaks between the sessions.

The morning consisted of 3 clinic presentations, each about 45 minutes in length or so, like small lectures on railroad topics, with 10-15 minute breaks in between each clinic. Sitting in a college classroom again to take in the presentation added to the feel of an academic presentation, but the clinics were interesting material. 😉

The first clinic was presented by Pierre Oliver focusing on the railroads and facilities in St. Thomas, Ontario, and the equipment and operations of the Wabash Railroad, which ran through on operating rights on the Canadian National’s track, and shared facilities in St. Thomas with other railways. He finished with a look at his model version of a portion of the Wabash in southern Ontario.

The second clinic, presented by John Spring, was a detailed look at the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo’s branch line to Port Maitland and showed various locations along the branch down to Port Maitland, and the changes and development at the port over the years. Both of these presentations used various railway maps and aerial and period photos from various sources to orient the viewer.

The third and last clinic, presented by Andy Mallette, was on modular railroading, with specific examples from experiences with the S Scale Workshop club, of which he is an active member. He talked about ways a modular club can be organized, why a modular club should have explicitly defined standards, different styles of construction, ideas of how groups should present themselves when on display and various mistakes and lessons learned.

After the clinics, we broke for a lunch break, and most of us found our way over to the campus Tim Horton’s for something to eat where I had lunch with Pierre and our mutual friend Hunter Hughson, who’s a member at the WRMRC with me. The meet is held on Humber’s campus every year, so fortunately a number of people knew exactly where to go.


A few of my models on display at the RPM meet.

After lunch was the other main part of the RPM event: the model displays and the “bring and brag” portion. After everyone had a chance to have lunch, and browse the display models for a little while, the modellers were encouraged to go around the room and say a few words about the models and the techniques used to build them. These ranged from a few examples that were basically just factory models with minimal details to an exquisitely scratchbuilt CN C40-8CM locomotive, to a 4 foot long resin and styrene self-unloading lake freighter.

And can you imagine the odds that a second person there that day would also have a model of the same extended height CP Rail boxcar that I’ve been working on? There were actually *two* instances of two different people bringing models of the same rare prototype: two of us were working on models of that CP rebuilt boxcar, and two other modelers brought models of a unique “door and a half” Central of Georgia steel boxcar. Crazy coincidences.


Roger Moses’s CP extended height boxcar.


Scratchbuilt CP coil steel gondola. I’d like to do one or two of these myself.


Several detailed locomotives. The full cowl body C40-8CM is scratchbuilt.


Sean Steele’s CN cabooses. A mix of Van Hobbies, Sylvan, Athabasca and Prototype Model Industries models are represented here.


Self unloaded lake freighter, roughly based on a compressed version of the MV Stadacona. The hull is kitbashed from a Sylvan freighter kit with several extensions, and the self unloading equipment is entirely scratchbuilt.

A couple of scores today at the Ancaster Train Show

So circumstances this weekend allowed me to take the opportunity to hit a train show/sale today in Ancaster, Ontario. (On Saturday I travelled to a friend’s place in Kitchener for a murder mystery dinner party; it was a lot of fun and the murder was succesfuly caught! I stayed over and then left for Ancaster in the morning to catch a bit of the show and also visit some family in the area.

I’d never been to this particular show before. It was primarily a flea market/sale show; with lots of secondhand tables plus several established hobby shops and dealers. It’s not the largest show in the area, but it did completely fill the exhibition hall at the Ancaster fairgrounds. There was only one operating layout that I saw; a small modular N scale layout which was unfortunately placed at the end of the outer hallway instead of the main hall. I believe this particular event has always been billed as more of a flea market type show than others (although all train shows always have the various vendors, both dealers and the private individuals sellings surplus items) so I guess I wasn’t too surprised or disappointed by the lack of layouts, but the layouts are always a fun thing to look at at most shows, and really the best way to attract new people.

I did personally manage to get a couple of good bargains at the show this afternoon. The first was pretty much immediately after I passed the admission table. This pair of CP newsprint boxcars was $20 for the pair. They weren’t boxed, but the bodies were undamaged and in good shape and the little plastic baggies with the extra parts for the ladders and door bars for both cars were in there. Since you can easily pay more than that for just one (indeed I saw similar cars at other booths in the main hall for >$20 a piece), I couldn’t resist, even though I probably already have more of these newsprint boxcars than I need so far. (These cars could have been seen over the ACR in paper/woodpulp service from the CP interchange at Franz down to Sault Ste Marie.) I can always bring some extras down to the club for service (we have a huge paper service fleet there) and I have some nefarious ideas kicking around in the back of my mind for some severe rebuild projects that would use these as donors…


I got this Walthers diesel crane from another secondhand table. With a few modifications, this is a good candidate to be turned into AC 10216. Actually it might end up taking some major modifications to the body, but this particular prototype crane and the model are both built by American Crane and there are some common parts and features. The AC crane appears to be a heavier model with a larger body, but the operator’s cab, and the lower frame and a few other pieces are the same, so this will be a good starting point for an interesting project. Stay tuned for more on that sometime in the future, I think I can promise that!


The rest of these cars I got at more or less regular price from a couple of the regular dealers.

This SOO Line car is a model made by Fox Valley Models of a car with some features that were unique to SOO Line; these cars were built by SOO in their own shops at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. This model has taken a little bit of flak in some prototype modeling circles for the side ribs being too shallow, but overall I like the look of it, and it captures a signature car of the SOO Line railroad. I recently acquired a collection of old slides taken on the ACR (basically all unlabeled and undated, but certain indicators suggest the date to be around 1978-79); while varying in image quality, they include a sequence of images from a cab ride on a freight from the Sault to Hawk, and a caboose ride from Hawk to Michipicoten. In one slide you can just make out a pair of SOO boxcars farther back near the rear of the train. While I have no evidence as to what they would be carrying, a reasonable supposition is that they represent some minor bridge traffic to either the CP or CN interchange at Franz or Oba. Whatever the case, I do have photographic proof that this is an appropriate car to be seen operating over the ACR in my time frame.


The CN reefer below I picked up primarily for occasional express or less-than-carload (LCL) at the ramp at Hearst. However, I’ve also seen a slide in Helmut Ostermann’s collection taken at Hawk Junction that clearly shows one of these cars coupled behind the engines switching at Hawk. Unfortunately I have no other information on what the CN reefer would be doing travelling over the ACR. Bridge traffic to northern Michigan? Possibly actually local express traffic for Hawk Junction or Wawa freight sheds, which still existed in those days, although I don’t really know when they were last active.

The ACFX tank car is a car in Liquefied Petroleum Gas service – generally this translates to propane. There was a propane dealer in Hearst (served by CN) and one in Wawa (served of course by the ACR) that I can use this car for. The model has a 1985 service date stencilled on it, so it represents a fresh repaint in my targeted era. ACFX is an American lease mark, and pre-NAFTA it would probably be more appropriate to see more Procor and CGTX (Canadian General Transit) cars, but ACFX cars definitely did operate north of the border then as well, and this car is most definitely era appropriate, so I can make an excuse for including it.