The Canadian Train Building Spree

By Zonker Harris: S.F. Bay Area LEGO Users Group

Updated January 23, 2001
BayLUG Graphic by Fred Yokel.

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The SuperTrain 2001 show in Calgary, Alberta, Canada was the showcase of a grand LEGO Train display, put on by the North Alberta LEGO Users Group. You can see picture galleries on Brickshelf and John Koob's ACME site. My kudos to the small group of folks that organized the display, and then hauled it all from Edmonton to Calgary! A few other folks sent parts or models (like me), but the Edmonton folks were the masterminds behind it all, as well as the backs and arms that made it all come together for the show, and then packed it all up after a full weekend of all-day shows. I've only helped with one NMRA show, and I'll vouch for them...shows are a LOT of work, especially when the group doing the work is a small group. Well Done, guys!

(If you look on the Brickshelf galleries, you can find four short MPEG movies from the show...My models are featured in two of the four...check out the Bridge and Grain Elevator galleries! My trains are also all over the yard gallery, and you can see a long blue and yellow VIA train passing around the mountain in that gallery!)

You can read the post-show discussion thread in the NALUG forum on LUGNET.

I sent up some freight cars, including my snake flatcar, a few other designs (including Thomas Cook's Twin-45 Piggyback Car), and some assorted freight containers;
with flag designs, with doors, and special loads.

I also sent along the Canadian Pacific engine, and the four blue and yellow VIA coaches shown below, as well as three grey and yellow coaches shown below. (While I'll be redesigning the yellow and grey line when the cars come home, I really liked the looks of the blue and yellow, especially when mine matched so well with James Powell's!

James Powell had also modeled some of the blue and yellow VIA Rail coaches. I love the engine he has modeled, and I'll probably be trying to copy it myself. Follow this link to see James Powell's VIA Trains

Below, you will find some of the train projects I've been working on. Many of the projects were for my own enjoyment, but I tried to complete the CP engine and the coaches in time to display at the SuperTrain 2001 show, since I had seen flyers about the show during our trip to Canada last fall (with the final stop in Calgary).

The Blue Car series.

These are modeled after some VIA Rail cars, which I believe run in the B.C. area, but I'm not sure. (If you have clues, please post a note to the LUGNET Trains Newsgroup.) This series was inspired by the VIA Rail trains using colors that are easily modeled in LEGO, and by LEGO making blue and grey train windows and doors available as parts kits!

VIA Empire coach (this is what they look like)
engine and coach in the snow
There are four cars so far...
Another view, at least the roofs are done...

The first car is a coach, with restrooms, the second is a baggage/mail car, with crew room.
The left side of the first two...
The right side of the first two...
Then I added two more coaches, slightly different...

The older CP Logo.

I thought about this a lot...the triangle-in-a-circle logo...and how I might be able to do it in LEGO bricks. This was after an evening of tinkering. The engine uses a bit of SNOT up front. I may even change the design a bit more. (But I'll probably put the logo on a snow plow caboose, too!)

Left-side view from above, showing logo detail
Similar view, slightly more forward...
Swinging over to the left side...
The frame has internal cross-bracing... help it survive travel to shows.
Shown next to the first blue car.
building the yellow stripe into the base.
(The 2x10 plates in the middle will anchor the belly tanks. :-)
more detail on the stripe...
View of the belly tank...

The building mess.

In November, I stopped building on my LEGO Round house, in order to work on rolling stock. I wanted to build cars for a Holiday Train, and I had wanted to show them at the December BayLUG meeting. Alas, I didn't get either of these accomplished in time. BUT, I did get some blue doors and windows for Christmas, and the the storms started lining up behind each other off the California coast. As a result, The roundhouse has had books, boxes, and bricks plied on tope of it for two months, and some of the support structures for the roll-up doors has collapsed. In the pictures below, try to remember that there is a roundhouse underneath it all.

Battling entropy...or just looking for more space?
My building workbench (which is why I pile stuff on the round house...)
Parts to the left of me, parts to the right of me...
Parts above the workbench as well. I cleaned up the round house, and then buried it again... :-(

I'm also considering modeling a few other styles...the pictures below are of real VIA trains (which I've borrowed from other pages, so I'll have them to model from later, in case their websites go away).

A coach and a loco
A coach, and passing locos...
streamlines loco, to go with the coaches
A stremlined loco and coaches
Another stremlined loco and coaches
Another, passing an Intermodal train

There are a couple of cab-less assist power units. Some booster units are simply a full loco (fuel, engines, generators, and traction motors) without a cab, which is controlled as a slave from the locomotive that it is connected to. Then there is the slug, which is simply a half-height unit, and it's just traction motors, drawing power from the host cab (parastically). The shorter height allows the engineer to see over the slugs. Slugs are built for power, not speed, to get heavy loads moving and are normally only found in yards.

A CN loco, and a slug
A pair of slugs between two locos

The UTV was built from an old MoW car, converted from a crane body, and is used for shuttling some first-nation peoples in northern Canada

A UTV pulling a small transport car
The unit pivots on a center-mounted hydraulic foot
A right-side view

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