“Modern” CN power – in HO

Most of my hobby tools and supplies remain stored while the house renovation continues, but one thing I do have easy access to is my spray booth and painting supplies. So – feeling the itch this week to do something hobby-related – I hauled some HO scale CNR diesel locomotives out of storage and put them through the weathering shop:

 photo CNR2113CNR9674CNR9661_zpsibvscklx.jpg

 photo CNR2113CNR9674_zpsm4ojiiom.jpg

Those who know me well know I have many interests in the hobby. I refuse to be pigeon-holed by scale, era, prototype or theme: They’re all good. But the CNR in the 1980s and early 1990s holds a special place for me, since that’s the railway and era that formed a big impression on me as a teenager growing up in southern Ontario. So I have a few models that remind me of that important time and place. (And yes, that’s 30 years ago so it hardly qualifies as “modern”, which is why I put the word in quotes in the title of this post. But, given that my modelling activities tend to focus on prototypes from the 1950s and earlier, I consider the 1980s to be my “modern” period.)

(Fortunately for my S scale Port Rowan project, my railway memories from growing up involve busy freight mainlines, commuter trains and large industry-switching operations – themes that are too big to fit into my medium-sized and definitely skinny layout space. I know, because I tried. My train room is definitely “branch line territory”, and I enjoy S scale’s combination of “big enough to see / small enough to fit” too much.)

The six-axle cowl unit – CNR 2113 – is an Overland import of a favourite Canadian prototype for many: the Bombardier-built HR-616. These were rare units – only 20 were made – and they were only moderately successful: The HR-616 experience convinced Bombardier that it should get the heck out of the locomotive business. Under the hood, they were fitted with an ALCo/MLW 251E 16-cylinder diesel that generated 3,000 HP – so I’ve installed an appropriate Tsunami decoder and 1.1″ high-bass speaker in that cavernous shell. I also upgraded the model with pico LED headlights and back-up lights, and added a crew to the cab.

The best part is, every time I work on the Bombardier unit I get a cash investment from the federal government. (Insert rimshot here. “Thank you ladies and germs. Have the fish: I’m here all week!”)

The other two units – CNR 9661 and CNR 9674 – are GP40-2 models from Atlas, factory-equipped with DCC and sound. I got these when Atlas released them, several years ago. By happy coincidence, while researching the HR-616 I found many photos of them paired with a GP40-2, since the latter were designed as 3,000 HP units to complement CNR’s SD40-2 fleet. (The HR-616’s also played well with MLW M630s, so I’ll have to acquire one when Bowser releases their models in late 2016.)

While weathering the models, the airbrush actually blew a few detail parts off the Atlas units. It seems not everything got glued in place in the factory. As well, I noticed that the distinctive snow shields over the air intakes behind the cab were factory-installed backwards: the left-hand one was on the right side, and vice versa. (There’s a lip with rivet impressions on one end of each hood: This lip goes on the cab roof.) I broke the snow shields free from the shell and re-glued them on the correct sides.

As with all models, weathering really brings these three units to life. I use a three-colour weathering palette for all my models, to give them a consistent look. This includes a light grey, an earth brown, and a weathered black. For these three, I used acrylics from Vallejo, thinned to create weathering washes and airbrushed on. I really like how a light spray of thinned light grey brings out the details on a black locomotive – especially below the frame.

These units will spend a fair bit of time as shelf queens, joining the two CNR SW1200RS units, a CNR “Sweep” and a CNR GP-9 that Pierre and I used on our “Peterborough Project” Free-mo module a few years back. That said, I do plan to take them to friends’ layouts as visiting power so they won’t remain idle all the time. In the meantime, it was nice to work on a simple project while I wait for the house renovations to be completed.

2 thoughts on ““Modern” CN power – in HO

  1. Hey Trevor, love the HR-616. It is also a favorite of mine as I fondly remember them running in Nova Scotia when I was in my teens! Excellent weathering! Kinda wants me to drag mine out and get a sound decoder in it and get it into service!

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