A day out with Pierre – and Thomas

On Friday, I visited my friend Pierre Oliver in St. Thomas. His house quite close to the Port Stanley Terminal Rail tourist train – which was playing host to Thomas the Tank Engine.

Pierre and I set aside our “serious hobbyist” attitudes to just enjoy watching a goofy train roll by… every 15 minutes. I couldn’t resist grabbing a quick video:

(You can also watch this directly on YouTube, where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

Thomas wouldn’t look at us. Was it something we said?

While some of us joke about this guy – and I’m still not sure how successful he is at converting kids into railway modelling enthusiasts over time – Thomas is a huge draw for the PSTR and the Elgin County Railway Museum. The Thomas days provide a much-welcomed injection of funds to these organizations.

And when one looks past the little blue fella, one finds an interesting consist in that tourist train and on the property. In addition to the GE 44-Tonner in the video, the PSTR owns three other small locomotives from a variety of builders. Meanwhile, the passenger fleet consists primarily of re-worked cabooses, which would make for interesting kit-bashing challenges. And everything is painted in a very attractive scheme.

Have another look at that video and check out the consist. Not all that easy to model after all, is it? Perhaps Proto:Thomas is in our future?

 photo Proto-Thomas_zpsbuex7fr4.jpg

Hmm… perhaps not.

In addition to playing at rail fans, Pierre and I did a lot of hand-waving in his future layout room. I think we made some great progress on figuring out what will fit, and how. I look forward to helping Pierre build the new layout when the time comes…

Finally, I picked up a few freight cars that Pierre built for me. I have some finishing to do on them so no further details now.. But I’ll share them in the fullness of time…

Great to see you Pierre – and the new house looks wonderful. Exciting layout-building times ahead!

18 thoughts on “A day out with Pierre – and Thomas

  1. Trevor
    I was startled by the two “Thomas” faces on your locomotives. I wondered where you got the faces to fit but quickly realized it was a little electronic editing.
    Good fun


  2. While personally I have little use for Tommy, I know that he’s very popular and is a big draw wherever he goes, and that is a very good thing!

    Anything that draws people to tourist railways and hopefully introduces them to railway preservation (and hopefully plants an interest in the youngsters) is something I DO have a use for.

  3. Like the Thomas faces on your engines! Made me chuckle because my grand daughters would just love them.
    Cheers, Gord

  4. Trevor,

    Thomas is also at Roaring Camp in Felton CA. this weekend. It stays here during the week and then runs Friday through Sunday next weekend too. Like you said ,ii is Christmas in July for the tourist railroads, although Roaring Camp is very successful ,with tour groups throughout the year. From what I have seen and heard he kids really get excited to ride the train.

    Mike S

  5. Hi Trevor,
    Thanks for sharing your Thomas news….
    Glad to read that you enjoyed a nice day out and away from the renos…
    I also laughed when I saw two of my oldest and still favourite story book friends visiting your Port Rowan layout, I am sure the “Fat Director” a.k.a. Sit Topham Hat would approve..

    Set with a smile and all good wishes
    John Green
    Vancouver BC

  6. I have some fond memories of the early Thomas the Tank Engine TV show. I was in the VA hospital with Pancreatitis and it was the only day time TV show that interested me. Once you got beyond the goofy faces, the TV set was one of the best set of railroad dioramas that I ever saw. I have see the newer computerized version TV show and don’t it because of the lack of those dioramas.

  7. I took my 2 year old granddaughter to see Thomas & Percy at the Strasburg Railroad a few weeks ago. She love it, the noise, smoke and general chaos, until, Thomas’s face moved as he spoke, startled me but I think it scared the hell out of her!
    I can figure out how you can add their voices to the sound decoders in your locos but how do you plan on animating the faces?
    Cool pic!!
    Cheers, Joe Smith

  8. I grew up reading the the Rev W Awdrey’s books, and still have the entire set of the original ones today in my collection.

    I really like Gordon and Thomas’ face on your models Trevor. They bring an interesting new perspective to the branch line. Now if only you could find a J70 tram engine from the Great Eastern Railway (GER Class C53)… then we could have Toby running around too.

  9. Thomas and my Dad are big factors of how I ended up in the hobby. I maintain that compared to any big budget Hollywood period piece you can name, Thomas is still one of the most authentic and accurate portrayals of railways on the screen. Even after it has been watered down in recent years for a broader audience, the creators still put in a level of detail that a vast majority of their audience wouldn’t notice or care about.

  10. I have often thought that a tourist railroad would make an interesting model. What’s not to love? Small steam. Early diesels. Heavyweights. Streamliners. Domes. Homebuilt or shop-modified equipment. It’s like a free-lancers dream, except it’s actually prototypical!
    The one downside: operations. There’s just not much of it on tourist railroads, although some do have freight operations that might add some good variety. Living alongside the Texas State Railroad, I’ve seen a MRS-1 or a RS-3 dragging strings of modern tank cars and hopper cars down the “mainline.” Quite a sight!

  11. Catching up with this, I really must complain about the inaccuracies of your image editing.

    You have imposed the faces of Thomas, and 0-6-0 tank engine, and Gordon, a pacific engine, onto (respectively) a mogul and a 4-6-0 – which I am given to understand is referred to on colonial shores as a “ten-wheeler” (a description which covers a range of wheel arrangements, including the magnificent Bristol and Exeter Railway 4-2-4T engines designed by Pearson for use on Brunel’s broad gauge). For your particular engines, the most appropriate faces to transpose would be James and Henry.

    I trust you will attend to this matter.

    I have the honour to be, sir, your humble servant,

    Sir Toppham Hat,
    North Western Railway.

      • That’s a funny blog.

        I read the original stories as a kid. Once they got going (the first book is rather poor and very childish), and were based on real railway incidents, they were quite interesting, but it cannot be denied that the good Reverend Awdry couldn’t resist sermonising and I found the moralising more than a touch off-putting. My own kids reacted to that, and never took to the stories at all.

        In the UK, a guy called Johnny Morris did some narrations with lots of different voices thrown in, and somewhere I have an LP (yep, vinyl!) from when I was about 5. These are well read, and put some life into the stories.

        The TV programmes are dire. Ringo Starr was a disastrous narrator, and when they ran out of the original stories and started making them up, it got even worse.

        But back to that blog: the author reveals a degree of ignorance, to be kind to him, or racism to be less generous. The name “Rheneas” is derived from Manx goidelic*, and has a meaning which is mentioned in the books: “divided waterfall”. The reason for this is that the books are set on the fictional Isle of Sodor, created due to the fact that there is an Anglican see for Mann and Sodor, and some uncertainty about what the latter means exactly. This also served to locate the series, and provide some of the back story.

        * As opposed to the Brythonic of Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. I dislike using the word “celtic” as it is an English neologism, derived from the Greek “Keltoi”. (To the ancient Greeks, anyone not a Greek, was a “celt”.)

        • Interesting backstory, Simon. Regardless of where it’s set, it’s still too small to justify such an extensive rail network…

      • Not to mention what Thomas & Friends has done to how people outside the hobby view what we do. Between Thomas and Lego, I’ve basically given up on telling anybody who isn’t already in the hobby that I’m a “model railway enthusiast”.

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