Sunday 21 April 2024

Intro to Ops on the KVMR for Novices

  An increase of novice train crew at operating sessions lately has prompted this post which is designed to aid first-time attendees in their task of running a train on the Kettle Valley Model Railway. Too often they seem intimidated by the complexity of this large layout and the 14 people gathered to play a pleasantly sophisticated and fully animated game. We hope this post alleviates their nervousness and helps them to relax a little and better enjoy the event. We will touch on basics of Timetable and Train Order Operation as modified for our particular sessions. The rules concerning our game emulate the prototype where the concern was to avoid collisions and get people and goods from A to B safely.

From our March, 2024 session, we see a Westbound  passenger train, No. 45, approaching Iago with Len at the throttle. As is common in mountain territory, we have a single track mainline with sidings every 5 miles or so to allow opposing trains to bypass each other. It is the dispatcher who often (but not always) "fixes the meet".

According to the Timetable, Len's time at Iago is 3.00 in the morning. He will stop to cool the wheels of his train and likely take water. While he can arrive early at the station, he cannot leave earlier than the specified time of 3.00 o'clock. Len carries a Train Card with him which is something of a crib sheet to describe features of his run with No. 45. Here is the second page of the train card which is relevant to where his train is in the photo. Train Cards are provided for all trains in a session.

His train is a first class schedule, superior to all but a first class Eastbound train.  Earlier, he had taken the siding at Romeo further up the grade for a meet with just such a first class Eastbound, No. 46. The Rules had required him to be safely in the siding 5 minutes before the scheduled time of No. 46.

The Timetable specified the meet for 2.35 as you can see in the Timetable below. This means he should have been secure, "in the hole" with switches lined for the other train by 2.30.

 Even if No. 46 did not appear for hours for whatever reason, No. 45 would still hold in the siding till No. 46 did appear. He simply could not venture out of the siding without authority from the dispatcher.

 In another scenario, if Len's train , No. 45 had been running late and he reckoned that he could not get his train into the Romeo siding before 2.30, he would have taken the siding at a station further up the line such as at Coquihalla and waited there for the Eastbound. The Eastbound Passenger train would count on him following the rules and would therefore carry on up the line to Coquihalla where the meet would be made.


Train Orders

Besides a Scheduled train such as the passenger trains in the forgoing example, on the KVMR layout - as on the prototype - trains are granted authority to run on the layout by means of Train Orders. Train Orders supersede Timetable schedules. The most common train order is a Run Order which grants authority to an engine and crew to "RUN EXTRA" from one station to another as in this example from the March session.

Almost half of the trains in a session are run as "EXTRAS" on the authority of the dispatcher by issuing a Train Order. In the case of Engine 5134, they are given authority to run from Odlum to Brookmere as Extra 5134 East. These Extras are inferior to all Scheduled Trains and must keep out of their way by taking the siding at least 5 minutes before the superior train is due at that station.



Odlum is the western most station on the Kettle Valley Division which is a junction with the Mainline of the CPR. Our Dispatcher controls movements between the staging tracks on the upper level which represents Odlum (and Ruby Creek) and the tracks on the lower staging yard at Penticton.

Here is a photo of the staging yard at Penticton seen through the small opera window. There are two passenger trains and 4 freight trains ready to go out on the mainline at the next session. The Penticton Operator's telephone can be seen in the distance. Most trains will run out of staging to the yard at Brookmere or run the other way from Brookmere to either staging yard.

The page of the Timetable for the Princeton Sub is presented below to help illustrate the following points. This portion of the layout is situated on the lower level.


For both Regular trains and Extra trains, the dispatcher can issue a "Meet Order". This is relatively simple to understand as it spells out where two trains are to meet and, in this case,  which one will take the siding.

Here is the Order for the Extra 592 West which was "hooped up" to him by the Station Operator "Smith" at Princeton. The time of the order is 8.59 so Engineman John would take care to slow for the meet at Tulameen. He has right to the main track and his opposite will take the siding.

Here is the other copy of the same Meet Order (No. 7) that was passed up to Engineman Mark before his departure from Brookmere. The Brookmere Operator would have filled this out along with a clearance and a copy of Train Order No. 8 granting him authority to run Extra Brookmere to Penticton. He would have taken the siding at Tulameen on arrival there.

He would also have to study the Timetable to see if there might be a scheduled train running against him. As it turned out, No. 91 was already in to Brookmere at 6.35 according to the Register and No. 93 is not due out of Penticton until 12.30 which should be well after his own arrival there. So all he has to  concern himself with is the meet at Tulameen. Otherwise he has a clear run to Penticton.


In the photo below, we see the meet taking place with Extra 592 West waiting patiently while "holding the main". Her head end brakeman would have thrown the switch for the siding for the opposing train. The reader might discern the white extra flags displayed on both engines which signals denote that they are running as Extras. The modeled station area at Tulameen is relatively undeveloped with minimal scenery and structures.



This should be sufficient to get a novice acquainted with the basics of how to proceed with a train over the line. For more information, one could peruse the post written up in February 2018 but some of the descriptions are out of date as there has been a major expansion of the layout since that post and our operations are somewhat modified as a result.:

One other note about operating on the KVMR: to handle the TO Forms, the Timetable, the train cards and the car cards, it is advisable to wear an apron or wear clothes with generous pockets so that one's hands are free to work the throttle. It has happened on occasion that a throttle has dropped to the floor while the engineman has tried to juggle the aforementioned items. Sometimes the floor has rendered the throttle inoperable and we would dearly like to avoid that outcome.

Coquihalla Man

Thursday 22 February 2024


By 1949, P-1d/e Mikados were taking more assignments on the KV Division in freight, pusher, work train and passenger service. Engines 5101, 5120 and 5121 had been working Passenger trains since the mid-1940's. After the boiler explosion in November, 1944 and subsequent rebuild, 5101 was relegated to freight service. At the time of the repairs, she received a new cab with a rounded front edge as can be seen in the photo.  Only two other P1 class engines received rounded cabs: 5120 and 5178, both of which worked the Kettle at various times.  Here is 5101 in a Norm Gidney photo from 1950 in Vancouver. The wiper on the cab roof is probably filling a sand box in the cab from which firemen would throw sand into the firebox on occasion to clean flues and boiler tubes. Author's collection.


In addition, P-1n class engines were showing up on the division having metamorphosed from 3600 and 3700 Consolidations. The Company chose at random 2-8-0 engines from the N-2 a and b classes to be stretched and re-boilered as 2-8-2 P-1n Mikados. They all received new vestibule cabs. Work on the first of the set transformed 3704 into 5200, out-shopping her in September of 1946.  The upgrade to the new class of engines ended when 3684 emerged as 5264 in December 1949. The CPR shops completely re-built 65 engines in 2 years and 3 months.

From the Vancouver City Archives, we have 5211 in March of 1948 just off the turntable in Vancouver sporting a plow and white wall drivers with a maroon panel and lining on the tender. There were three engines treated with this unique (for the southern mainline) paint job for the Chairman & President's special train to inspect the railway in August of 1947. According to the document, Mikado 5209 pulled the train from Midway to Penticton and 5211 took it the rest of the way to Odlum (and presumably through to Vancouver).  It is thought that this was also the occasion for D-10 No. 962 (see Rapido version) to be spruced up for inspection on the Okanagan Sub.

No. 5211 was probably assigned to Vancouver and worked to Penticton and return on Nos. 11 and 12 and Nos. 45 and 46. The Consolidation chosen to be re-built  as this Mikado was the 3717, having been out-shopped in her new guise in June of 1947.

The most visible difference of the 5200 from the 5100 engines was the absence of a feed-water bundle atop the boiler front of the newer version. All 5200's sported a 10,000 gallon tender and many were oil burners from the start.  The author kit-bashed a model of 5224 from an Athearn Geneisis USRA Mikado with moderate success. Alternatively, one could simply remove the feed-water bundle from the Van Hobbies brass Mikado to get started.  Either approach would require significant modification to both running boards.

In determining what other locomotives worked on the KV in 1949, we have two sources which are anecdotal and likely incomplete. Engineman Bob Osborne allowed us to copy engine numbers from his note book that he kept during his time with the division.  He worked mostly on the Coquihalla and Merritt Subdivisions with a stint in Penticton Yard Service.  We present what we gleaned from his record and combine it with information provided by Joe Smuin from his notes during a conversation some time ago in which we focused on the year 1949, this being the year of particular interest to the author.

The following table lists 50 engines for which photograph and documents record their appearance on the division whether or not they were actually assigned.

Through 1949 - sources are Engineman Bob Osborne, Joe Smuin, Photos.
Carmi Sub. 5243, 5202
Princeton Sub. 3629
Coquihalla Sub. 5101, 5120, 5131, 5134, 5202, 5230, 5231
Coquihalla Pusher 3721, 3731, 5101, 5134
Merritt Sub. 914, 925, 5120, 5169, 5234
Penticton Pusher 5770, 5786
Copper Mountain Sub. ?
Osoyoos Sub. 572, 3650, 5169 
Penticton Yard 3480, 3481
Passenger 5101, 5120, 5121, 5221, 5224

D-4-g Ten-Wheeler 443
D-9-c Ten Wheeler 569, 572, 592
D-10-g Ten Wheeler [907], 914, 925
M-4-a,g Consolidations 3480, 3481, 
N-2-a,b Consolidations 3613, 3627, 3628, 3629, 3635, 3636, 3648, 3652, 3655, 3677, 3678, 3681,

3686, 3687, 3721, 3731, 3734
P-1-d,e Mikado 5101, 5120, 5121, 5124, 5126, 5130, 5134, 5169, 5172, 5182, 
P-1-n Mikado 5202, 5204, 5205, 5207, 5210, 5211, 5212, 5218, 5219, 5224, 5230, 5243
R-3-c,d Decapod 5770, 5786

In March of that year, the roundhouse in Brookmere was destroyed by a boiler explosion of engine 907 which had been re-assigned from the E&N after early dieselization on Vancouver Island. It was also the year of conversion of coal-burning locomotives to Bunker "C" oil as their fuel which may account for the large numbers of locomotives here as the coal-burners were replaced and/or upgraded. Possibly looking at the 1950 record will give us a firmer idea of what engine numbers were more likely to have been assigned in 1949 where they carry over from one year to the next.

For 1950, we turn to the official document mentioned above and here is a legible version containing all the information of the original.

Period Ending March 14th, 1950.
Carmi - Princeton Frt. 3601, 3609, 3630, 3678, 3721, 3731, 

3747, 5101, 5202, 5219, 5230, 5264.

W.F. 914
[Coquihalla] Asstg. 3629, 5783.
[Penticton] Asstg. 5786
Osoyoos Frt. 925

Work 5231
Copper Mountain Ore 3657

Work 5231
Merritt Mixed 3602
Penticton Sw. 3460, 6940.
En Route to B.C. Div.
En Route Ogden
U[nder] R[epair] Penticton 3628
W. R. Ogden
3480, 5234, 5770
Engines: 28

914, 925, 3460, 3480, 3601, 3602, 3609, 3628, 3629, 3630, 3639, 3657, 3678, 
3721, 3731, 3734, 3747, 5101, 5202, 5219, 5230, 5231, 5234, 5264, 5770, 5783, 
5786, 6940

The appearance of four 3700's is notable in that these were all oil-burners. Interestingly a few years previously, three 3600's had been refitted with vestibule cabs and 8,000 gallon tenders making them identical to 3700's: 3601, 3609, and 3657. This was very much an upgrade from their lowly status as 3600 hand bombers with 5,000 gallon tenders.  More information on these engines and modeling suggestions are to found here: 

and here:

Here is a recent photo of engines of both classes double-headed on the Coquihalla Sub. during the transition from coal to oil fuel in 1949. They are holding the main for a meet at Romeo.  When underway, there would be thick black smoke pouring out of the smoke stacks. They worked hard on the 2.2% grades.

Coquihalla Man

Tuesday 6 February 2024


Locomotives assigned to the Kettle Valley Railway/Division varied over the years and progressed in power as improvements to the line were made.  We present a few tables and photos here for modelers to peruse while deciding on what engines to model for their chosen era.

The tables are compiled from official CPR documents and photographic evidence. Except for the initial construction era, all locomotives were supplied to the Kettle Valley Railway by the parent company, Canadian Pacific Railway.

Most of the photos are drawn from a collection that was published on a Kettle Valley Facebook page by Ralph Fenton who was deep in his praise of the men who worked these beasts. We echo those sentiments based on personal acquaintance with a few of them and the very interesting stories they told. 

Here is a shot of engine 588 of the D-9c class which appears in the first table. The crew are identified as Ray Letts and Cyril Hawkins. Date unknown. Some information on this class of locomotive can be found here:

Modeling note: This engine class would be found on Passenger trains of the wood coach era, models of which were produced in brass in 1965 by Pacific Fast Mail / Van Hobbies.

W. Gibson Kennedy originally published articles and drawings on the five coaches in Model Railroader in the 1950's.The only CPR Ten-wheeler models produced around this time, were the D-10's so that is what Gib used but the D-9 class were used on the prototype. Unfortunately, there is no commercial model of the D-9. But you could start with a Northern Pacific S-4 Ten-wheeler and bash one as noted in the link provided. Another possibility would be to power your KVR set with a N-2a model which might be more plausible than a D-10. Here is Engine No. 3613 on the Kettle Valley Express in August of 1936.  Note that No. 12 is a heavyweight train by this date. But to power the model train in brass one might be advised to use ball bearing wheel-sets under the coaches if there are serious grades to be encountered on the layout. Of course, pushers would also be appropriate. Author's collection.

This first table shows the engine assignments for 1937 based on information supplied to a fellow KVR fan in an interview with noted KVR historian, the late Joe Smuin. Various photos and anecdotes were the basis for his summaries and are partly confirmed from our own resources.  The list is probably incomplete but all engines mentioned here did appear in 1937 and in some cases their divisional assignment is known. Of note is the Pacific, engine 2519 which ran on the Merritt branch. Others of her class worked the Merritt branch according to several undated photos.

From J. Smuin Notes and Various Photo Sources showing engines in service on KVR
Osoyoos 444
Merritt 2519
Passenger 3613
Princeton Freight 3481
Copper Mountain 3506, 3512

D-4-g Ten-Wheeler 444
D-9-c Ten Wheeler 588
G-2-r Pacific 2519
M-4-a,g Consolidation 3401, 3481, 3487, 3506, 3512
N-2-a,b Consolidation 3613, 3635, 3640, 3643, 3648, 3659, 3663, 3677, 3688, 3698
P-1-e Mikado 5157
Total Engines 19

 Engine 3401 appears in both of the first two tables.  This is the engine that piloted the train that crashed at Jessica in 1926 in the worst wreck in KVR history. The fireman on that train was Ray Letts who was the only survivor and who coincidentally appears in the first photo.  By the time of this photograph in 1939, 3401 had long been restored to service.

The table for 1939 follows and again is derived from information supplied by Joe Smuin from his files in an interview some years ago. It is interesting to see the re-appearance of M-1 Consolidations which were very early and small engines.  One could speculate that the impending World War II may have been a factor. But more notable is the arrival in the spring of 1939 of class R-3 Decapods which operated out of Penticton. Nevertheless, the Consolidations continued to be the workhorses of the KVR stable.  The N-2's did power the passenger trains, but P-1d/e Mikados based out of Vancouver probably also powered Nos. 11 & 12.  These latter were certainly assigned by the mid-1940's.

J. Smuin Notes and Various Photo Sources showing engines in service on KVR
Osoyoos 3401, 3481
Carmi 3506, 3627
Passenger 3643, 3663
Princeton Freight 3635, 3636, 3640, 3656, 3687
Copper Mountain 3506, 3512
Penticton Yard 3406, 3458

M-1-c Consolidation 3216, 3226
M-4-a,b,c,g Consolidation 3401, 3406, 3458, 3481, 3491, 3506
N-2-a Consolidation 3627, 3628, 3635, 3636, 3640, 3643, 3648, 3455, 3652, 

3655, 3663, 3677, 3687
R-3-b,d Decapod
5760, 5761, 5783, 5788
Total Engines 24


Some years later we see Consolidation 3628, one of the class N-2a locomotives found in the tables above and below. She worked long and hard on the grades of the southern mainline, first appearing in 1939 and lasting to the end of KV steam in 1953. Note the smoke deflector and the tip of the coal load in the tender. This dates the photo to the fall of 1949 at the latest. The flat number board suggests a date post 1947. At some point she acquired a power reverse on the right side. She finished up her days of service in Vancouver. Authors collection.

The next table supplies more firm information as to assignments. The author of this blog acquired copies of official CPR documents from a friend of a friend who was most generous with his resources.  His name was Ted Hough - a most accomplished and published modeler in years gone by. What appears below in this third table are the engine assignments for 1947 for the Kettle Valley Division.  The format of the original is followed but in unstained, unwrinkled, non-faded legibility. A note on KV Passenger engines working out of the Vancouver Division is added.

Included in the document are assignments for the other divisions in the B. C. Region: Vancouver, Revelstoke, Kootenay and Esquimalt & Nanaimo . These could be published one day if they are of interest to readers.

Here we see that the 5100's are assigned to the passenger duties out of Penticton.  They are also taking over some freight and pusher assignments. Only one 5700 remains working out of Penticton but they will reappear in the years following.

Period Ending February 15th, 1947.
Carmi Sub. Freight 5126, 5172, 5182 
Princeton - Coquihalla Freight 3613, 3628, 3635, 3636, 3648, 3677, 3681, 3686

Assisting 5124, 5134
Copper Mountain Ore 3687
Osoyoos Sub. Freight 592
Merritt Sub. Mixed 569
Penticton Pusher 5757

Yard 3448

Engines: 20

569, 592, 3448, 3613, 3628, 3635, 3636, 3648, 3652, 3677, 3681, 3686, 
3687, 5124, 5126, 5134, 5169, 5172, 5182, 5757.        
[Vancouver based Passenger Engines: 3661, 5101, 5121.]   

In our next post we will provide the engine assignments for the KV in the 1950's.  As mentioned, depending on expressed interest, we could provide assignments for all of BC for the years 1947 and 1950 from the documents we have.

Finally, we have a shot of Consolidation 3687 on the point of a freight train near Romeo. This model was acquired by the aforementioned KVR friend. It was re-built for the late Lance Camp with further modifications by the author to upgrade the motor, mechanism, headlight and install a DCC decoder in which process the paint job was marred but it now runs very well and is pleasure to behold. Perhaps we can one day provide a shot of her on the point of his Kettle Valley Express.

Coquihalla Man



Wednesday 13 December 2023


  A friend asked us for information on locomotive assignments for the Revelstoke Subdivision in 1950 so that he could number his newly acquired D-10 model locomotive.  After digging around in our "Kettle Valley archives" and thinking about sharing what is there, we were moved to start posting again after a long hiatus.  We will begin with a short review of the model and then expand to look at engine assignments for the D-10's in the Pacific (B.C.) Region in the late 1940's and early 1950's.  Here is an image of the unlettered model from Rapido's Website.


The Rapido Ten-Wheelers are fresh out of the factory in China and are selling very well. Several reviews on-line are favorable and a short period of testing on the Kettle Valley Model Railway was positive overall.  Here is an extensive review of the model by a happy purchaser:

PERFORMANCE: The model crawled at a scale 0.7 mile per hour at speed step 1. At speed step 12 she moved well at 13 scale m.p.h. but at speed step 28, she flew by at 56 scale m.p.h.!  There was no stalling or cogging observable in the slow speeds which was impressive.  Unfortunately, there was not enough time for more testing after a train of 15 cars with free-rolling trucks made her slip and stall out on the 2.2% grade even with the traction tire fitted on the rear axle.  With the traction tire, the model should handle a reasonable freight train of at least 10 cars but someone else will have to test her with metal tires.  Rapido has a video on the engine's capabilities on a 1.7% grade here:

BUILD & DETAIL: The detailing of the model is of the highest quality.  The lighting functions were numerous and delightful: headlight, tender light, number board, class lights, ground lights and firebox flicker. Drivers and rods were well done.  The many extra parts with the undecorated model are easily installed on the model to match the particular prototype one may wish to replicate.

SOUND: The factory settings for the decoder sounds are much too loud for our tender ears but that is easily adjustable. To be frank, the overall sound quality is not as good as our Kettle Valley engine models with their shop-built lead speakers and TCS decoders. The brake squeal is excessive when braking at slow speeds but perhaps there is room for adjustment in the programming. The chuff was well synchronized with the driver rotation - perhaps there is a cam to enable this. 

CAUTION: The drawbar coupling is fragile and can be broken or worse if the plug is not connected with care.  It is somewhat surprising that the thing works at all - since the plug has to withstand the pull of a train - but it seems to work on the Royal Hudsons which have been around for some time now.

Here is a listing of D-10's that worked the BC rails in 1947 transcribed from a faint copy of an official CPR Document given to us by Ted Howe many years ago.  There were 20 active D-10's operating in BC at the time, most of them on Vancouver Island.

Period Ending February 15th, 1947.
Revelstoke Division:
Okanagan Sub. Way Freight 983

Mixed 962 (maroon panels)

Fruit 985
Shuswap Sub. Freight  Freight 926

Vancouver Division:

Ioco & Coquitlam Sw. & Transfer 724 (scrapped 1948)
Kootenay Division:

Boundary & Rossland Sub. Passenger 954
Kettle Valley Division:

D-9's only
[569, 592.]
Esquimalt & Nanaimo Division:

Victoria Sub. Passenger 922
All Subdivisions Freight 901, 906, 907, 908, 909, 910,

911, 914, 915, 918, 920, 923, 


 The 14 D-10's on the E&N were transferred in early 1949 to the mainland when they were displaced by the early Baldwin Road-switchers in the 8000 series. The chart following shows where they went including 3 for the Kettle Valley Division: Nos. 907, 914, & 925.  The ill-fated 907 suffered a boiler explosion that killed the engine watchman and destroyed the roundhouse in March of 1949. The Riegger Book has a photo of her on page 216.

Period Ending March 14th, 1950.
Revelstoke Division:
Arrow Lakes Mixed 923
Okanagan Sub. Way Freight 918

Mixed 962 (maroon panels)

Switching 983
Mountain Sub. Work 910, 985.

Vancouver Division:

Mission Sub. Mixed 922
Thompson Sub. Work & Sw. 909
Cascade Sub. Way Freight 906
Kootenay Division:

Cranbrook - Nelson Subs. Way Freight 1036
Lake Windermere Sub. Frt. & Mixed 901, 908, 911, 915.

Boundary & Rossland Sub. Passenger 954
Kettle Valley Division:

Carmi & Princeton Subs. Way Freight 914
Osoyoos Sub. Freight 925
Esquimalt & Nanaimo Division:

None - [Baldwins]

For further information on the Kettle Valley D-10's there is an earlier post here:


Coquihalla Man