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.

Another ex-ONT 40′ Boxcar for Work Service: AC 10352

Here’s another jade green Ontario Northland boxcar that I have in my shop as a companion to the handful of 2900 series boxcars rostered by the ACR for LCL or company service duties. This one will be modeled as work storage car AC 10352. The 10xxx series range on the Algoma Central was reserved for cars specifically assigned to work and maintenance service. This car was likely in service as a tool or materials storage car for work train service.

On this car the original markings were covered over with a large grey-green paint patch. Apart from the more extensive paint patching, this car also features new placard holders on the doors and ends and ventilators on the centreline of the roof.


The car body all masked off for painting the paint patches.


To paint the patches, I rather unscientifically mixed “Grimy Black” into some “NYC Jade Green” until I had a grey-green colour I liked, and then sprayed it on using my airbrush.


After the paint had dried, I peeled off the tape and remounted the car’s floor/underframe in the body. I think the colour of the patches came out quite nicely.

I also touched up the roofwalk supports and the spots on the ends where the tops of the ladders and the original brake hardware locations on this car and the AC 2906 from the other day with a little bit of NYC Jade Green straight out of the bottle, which is a perfect match to the jade green on the TrueLine Trains model for touching up.

Now it’s just a matter of re-working the ladders and brake hardware into their lowered position for these two cars, plus a few more ONT brown cars that will receive similar treatments into either 2900 or 10000 series cars.

I’ll also need to find some detail parts for the ventilators on the roof of this car.

AC 2902-2915 series ex-ONT boxcars from TrueLine Trains’ 40′ NSC boxcar – Part 1

In the late 1970s to early 1980s the Algoma Central acquired some secondhand equipment from northern Ontario’s other regional railroad, the Ontario Northland Railway. This consisted of about 30 open hoppers acquired in 1978 for general service (basically meaning sinter from Wawa) and a number of old 40′ boxcars. Quite a number of former Ontario Northland boxcars ended up with 10000 series work service numbers as tool and storage cars, and a small handful received standard fleet numbered in the 2902-2914 series. These cars were used for the railways own local on-line freight service, hauling company supplies and materials, express and less than carload traffic to various remote places along the line, for which the railroad was the only way to bring in any sort of supplies or building materials. The railway used to run a weekly wayfreight for this service. I consider it highly unlikely that these cars ever left AC rails.

These boxcars were originally built in 1947-48 for the Ontario Northland by National Steel Car in Hamilton, ON. A few years ago, True Line Trains made modeling these cars easier by producing a ready-to-run model of this car, which was exclusively rostered (as original purchasers) by Canadian National and Ontario Northland.

These cars did receive a few modifications though, so a little bit of work to the model is required.


Here’s AC 2915 at the Steelton shops in 2004. The car’s running boards have been removed (a common modification as roof running boards on boxcars were banned from interchange service on all railways in the 1970s) and interestingly, the brake wheel on the end of the car has also been relocated to a lower mounting.


The first step obviously is to remove the running board (roof walk) from the car. It’s best to shear the mounting pins as you do this, or once removed, cut off the mounting pins and glue them back into the body mounting holes to plug them up. On the left side of the picture above, you can see how the mounting pins are located in the middle of several of the running board supports molded into the roof. While good for hiding the mounting pins when the running boards are installed, it’s a little visible when the running boards are removed. So I used a needle file to file the rounded housing around the mounting pin off into a flat running board support like all the others on the car.


The next step is to similarly (and *carefully*) remove the ladders and end hardware details from the car, since the ladders will need to be cut down in height, and the brake wheel mounting reinstalled at the lower height. I cut the ladders off after the 5th rung from the bottom, following reference photographs.


While I had everything removed, I didn’t like how far away from the side of the car the tack boards were mounted, so I trimmed the back off the tack board so that when I glue it back on using CA glue, the tack board is much more snug to the end of the car.


While most of the cars in this series were in the Ontario Northland’s early brown paint scheme (like the 2915 at the top of this post), this particular car will be given the road number AC 2906, which was in the Ontario Northland’s jade green colours. I have several more of the True Line Trains cars in both jade and brown, so more of the brown cars will join this one.

The patching out of the former Ontario Northland name and logo was clearly done with a paint roller on the prototype cars, so I took out some mineral brown paint and hand painted the patchwork with a small brush.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far; the next step will be to remount the ladders and brake hardware, renumber the car with stencil decals and weather it. All in all, a pretty straightforward job however, made easy by TrueLine’s ready-to-run Ontario Northland models.