Whitby Wonders

On Sunday, Chris Abbott and I headed east to an annual train show in Whitby. Rather than provide a straight-up report on the layouts and vendors, I thought I’d showcase some of the memorable things I saw there.

First, there was a vendor with a great collection of books, time tables and other railroadania – including a selection of switch keys:

 photo Whitby-2014-Keys-01_zpsdfde69b3.jpg

Next up, something for which I’d seen advertisements many years ago in British hobby magazines – but that I’d never seen in person:

 photo Whitby-2014-Zero1-01_zps27343d74.jpg

If I recall correctly, this was an analogue command control system. It sure looks like it came from the 1970s, doesn’t it? Like something one would see on the bridge of Star Trek’s Enterprise or an Eagle from Space:1999. The vendor actually had three units for sale as a set – another master control unit like this one, plus an add-on throttle.

Finally, we’ll end with an oddity, spotted by Chris. These two pictures show the two sides of a cast iron pull toy. Note the road name under the windows: What the heck happened here?

 photo Whitby-2014-Coach-01_zps8c35efda.jpg

 photo Whitby-2014-Coach-02_zpsfa0d8d06.jpg

Chris and I pondered this puzzler – and much more, besides – for the rest of the afternoon.

Our route home included a stop at Hornet Hobbies and Wheels and Wings. Both are shops that cater to the armour modeller – but with many useful tools and materials to inspire railway modelling enthusiasts.

We finished the day with a late lunch at the Louis Cifer Brew Works – a great pub recently opened… and owned by Chris’ cousin. Ontario’s craft brewing scene just gets better and better!

13 thoughts on “Whitby Wonders

  1. Hi Trevor,

    Zero 1 was an early digital command control system. In fact, just a shade too early in many respects. For example, the speed went up in 0.7v steps (anyone thinking of the similarity with diodes, here – an electronics magazine had a do it yourself version based on diodes!) to provide 14 step control – slightly too coarse. There was little configurability in the system, and it was limited to 16 locos. The loco modules were a bit on the large side, too. All these, as well as cost and a launch in the late 70s/early 80s (economies in recession, etc) conspired against it.

    It was a great idea, but I have heard it said that if only the idea had been held back by a year or so, then the semi-conductor industry would have been delivering chips etc that would have had a lot more refinement to it.

    A lot of R&D was spent on it: I am note sure they ever recovered that cost.

    Hope that helps,


  2. That Zero 1 system sure looks cool. I remember pouring over it in the page of Hornby catalogues along with all the other tempting models. Alongside CTC16 it was a view of an exciting future. I never imagined it would advance to the state we’re in now. While I remember a fellow modeller here on the Island actually building his own CTC16, I’ve still to see a Zero 1 system “in the plastic”.

    If I remember those Hornby catalogues correctly they had created quite a neat modular approach. The master unit you have pictured here was the true brains of the system. To each master you could plug in a similarly shaped slave controller so you could control more than one loco from the same physical station. To suit the needs of the mobile operator, they had a handheld unit too. I know they also indicated you could attach something to the top of the controllers but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Guess I’ll have to dig out some old Hornby catalogues – not really a bad way to spend an evening.

    Thanks Simon for the additional background.

    Sounds like a great day out.


  3. Jim [senior moment], an editor at Model Railroader, was an early adopter and IIRC cut one apart to make a walk around control of sorts for one of his Tehachapi n-scale layouts.

    • Hi Phil:
      It wouldn’t be a report on this blog without it, right? 😉
      Seriously though – the social aspects of the hobby are among my favourite. Many of my friends share my appreciation for good food and drink, and I always like to mention this on this blog.

    • It appears there is a (possibly smaller) set on EBay for $149 buy it now, and one at a Good Will in Denver for $46.
      Neither description mentioned a manufacturer.

      I suspect these are not antiques but newer display pieces, maybe made in China or elsewhere (which may explain the odd lettering).

  4. Must have missed meeting you at the Whitby show! Great show for sure. Wonderful layouts and a great choice of dealers. Found a used Atlas/Kato C425 complete with decoder for only $35! As well, a chap from one of the clubs took the time to show me how their manual turntable was constructed.

    First time there. Will probably return in the future.

    Michael from Kingston

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