Tuesday, 15 December 2020


CPR Locomotive 592 of class D-9c was built in 1903 at Scenectedy Locomotive Works along with sisters 560 - 597.  No. 592 was most likely a mainline engine for her early years.  We do know that she was assigned to the Kettle Valley Division at least by 1947 where she served for a few years until moving on to spend her last days in the Western Region before being scrapped in January 1955.  Many D - 9's worked the Kettle Valley in earlier years especially on passenger trains Nos. 11 & 12.  A beautiful shot of 572 in the 1920's appears in Sanford's Steel Rails and Iron Men on page 82 and another of 579 on page 94 both of which are seen to be working passenger trains.  Engine 578 was the pusher on the infamous Jessica wreck of 1926.  The Smuin collection has a photo of an unidentified  D-9 as tail-end pusher on an eastbound freight cresting the Coquihalla summit.

A photo in our archives is inscribed "1950 Penticton R. M. Sutton Photography".   Another photo identifies her in Lethbridge in 1949 and another in Calgary in September 1952.  The Engineman's Time Book of R. E. Osborne, twice records her running as an extra on the Merritt Sub in May 1948.  Bob ran several of her sisters on the "Jitney" to Spences Bridge and back: 572, 573 & 586, all in 1948.  At one time or other, they all worked the Osoyoos branch as well as No. 569.   Engine 572 also worked the Penticton Yard again with him at the throttle in 1947.  By early 1950, they seem to have been displaced by the D-10's: 914 and 925.  See an earlier post on them here: http://kettlevalleymodelrailway.blogspot.com/2019/

Here is the Sutton photo in what certainly is the South Okanagan.  (You can click on any of the photos for a fuller screen picture.)


We have several other photos of her and many more of her sisters from on-line sites, notably Old Time Trains: http://www.trainweb.org/oldtimetrains/photos/cpr_steam/D9.htm

Here is another of 592 from the BC Provincial Archives dated 1922 with original tender.

The late, Lance Camp was particularly fond of the D - 9 locomotive and had a model built by craftsman, Herb Mason of Victoria BC some years ago.  Their starting point was a model of a Northern Pacific Railway Ten-wheeler, the prototypes being built by Schenectedy about the same time as the CPR class.  His admiration was contagious which made the author consider acquiring one for the Kettle Valley Model Railway.  Happily, a friend was moved to offer gratis the very model that was needed to effect the rebuild.  Thank you Arizona Jack for your generosity!

Here are photos of the NP Ten-Wheeler model.  The sloping cylinders were a vitally important feature of the "starting point".  Apparently, versions of the NP model have been produced by several manufacturers over the years.  Ours is from the PFM run of the 1970's.


The first step we undertook was to strip the boiler of all appliances and rails and piping.  The photo shows the stripped boiler and at this point new handrails and running boards are already in progress.

The cab came off in pieces simply by bending the components with a pliers to break the original solder joints.  A length of square brass stock was soldered to the inside of the front of the cab after which the roof/sides were then soldered back to the front and rear panels.  With superb Italian and Swiss files in hand, we worked the front corners to shape according to photos of the prototype.  These files and other fine tools were obtained from our Local Vancouver supplier Lacy West Supplies Limited: https://www.lacytools.ca/Articles.asp?ID=1

The cab work was not the most challenging step in the process.  Re-setting it back on the boiler was straight forward enough thanks to our electronic resistance soldering unit.  There are several makes and models offered; ours is this one by HOTIP which we acquired secondhand at a very reasonable price.  Normally they run upwards of $400.  This unit is not to be confused with a simple soldering station.  A very good tool for brass work. https://www.p-b-l.com/pbl2002/hotip.html

Here are before-and-after shots of the cab.  Note that the window opening has been moved forward by patching and filing.  The window sashes had been removed and later were re-installed.

The front doors and windows have been framed with a beading of .020" wire.  Unfortunately, the doors are a little lacking in height but we did not deem the shortcoming serious enough to warrant a complete re-working.

The window opening needed a sill.

The handrail stanchions were saved and moved to their new positions with .020" bronze wire as handrails for the engine crew. 



A gutter and roof hatches were added later.

One very challenging step was forming and soldering of the new fin for the back of the roof.  This step required cutting, heating and bending the brass strip in a compound curve.  Not the best execution by our shops but "good enough".


 For those of you, our fellow modelers, who are interested in the detailing of CPR steam locomotives, here are two diagrams showing the detail parts used to replicate this prototype.  The most challenging single item of the project was the fabrication of the front steps at the end of the running boards.  Even with the use of a jig, the steps would fall apart while soldering in another area.

These photos were taken after washing and then sandblasting the model which was painted soon after that to avoid the onset of tarnish which can affect the paint finish.  The sandblasting gives the paint more "tooth" to adhere to the brass.  This is important for the KVMR as the locos receive a lot of handling since it is a "working" model railway.

Paint used was Scalecoat Warm Black and decals by Black Cat.  Weathering chalks provided by Bragdon Enterprises.

The class lights had been drilled out for LED's prior to mounting.  A hole was drilled into the boiler at the level of the junction box mounted on the handrail and after painting, the LED's inserted through the hole from the inside of the boiler.  The wires were fed into the bottom of the class lamps and then affixed in place with canopy glue  This also helps in preventing short circuits with the wires to the boiler and fixtures.  The hole then filled with putty and painted to match the smokebox.

We fitted the rear axle with a cam by Grizzly Mountain Engineering and mounted a wiper on the bottom plate to accept the cam wire from the TCS WOW Sound Decoder.  The decoder and Keep Alive were mounted in the tender and TCS connectors fitted.  We have abandoned Soundtraxx Tsunami decoders mainly due to the lack of a cam wire option.

As received, the model was equipped with a Mashima motor, a torque arm, and a Boo Rim gearbox.  These performed well enough but a new motor was changed-in with a double shaft in order to add a flywheel to the mechanism.  The torque arm was an obvious after-market addition and was fitted nicely.  The arm was attached to the gearbox with two 2.0 mm machine screws.  The drive-line universal coupling was a short section of model airplane fuel line connecting the motor shaft to the gearbox shaft.  This is also standard treatment for most KVMR locomotives.  The motor was simply attached to the arm with very sticky double-sided tape.  This motor and torque arm unit was likewise attached with double sided tape to the chassis.  We replicated this practice with the new motor and torque arm and found it largely eliminated any transmission noise.  The locomotive runs well at low and high speeds. 

A final shot of the Kettle Valley Division's D - 9c Ten-Wheeler shows her somewhat neglected condition as she ekes out her last days of service.  Actually, the weathering seems more extreme in the photograph than under the lights of the layout room.  But the many details of the locomotive show very well here.  No doubt she will work the Coquihalla pusher job once operations resume on the Kettle Valley Model Railway but other assignments could be made.

In closing, we can offer a word about why we chose 592 in particular to model of the several that worked the Kettle in the last years: she is one of the few of her class to retain the high mounted headlight and remained fired with coal.  And note that the tender is not her original one.  We hope to build an interesting as-built tender one day for aesthetic reasons but for now she has a standard 5,000 gallon tender from class N-2a consolidation - just like the real one in her last days.  Several details and modifications have been added to this tender following prototype photos.

This project has occupied most of our modeling time under the months-long Virus restrictions and we are very pleased with the results but it will be more than a few months before another brass project is undertaken. 

Coquihalla Man

Tuesday, 25 August 2020


The practice on the Kettle Valley Railway regarding Station Mileboards will be treated here and a few suggestions as to their fabrication in miniature.   Our first photograph is of a typical Mileboard on the Kettle Valley; this one for Rhone on the Carmi subdivision.  Dave Love would have taken this in the 1970's before abandonment and track removal in 1979.  The track looks a bit shiny so this photo may even predate the last trains in 1973.

As might be expected, a Mileboard sign was erected about one mile distant from a station that was listed on the Employee Timetable whether that station had a physical building or not.  Theoretically the distance was one mile from the centreline of the station or from the centre of the passing siding.  The purpose of the Mileboard was to advise the engine crew of the distance to the station which seems to have been more than one actual mile of 5280 feet.

This is our conclusion after an analysis of Grade Profiles in our files of CPR documents.  In the following portion of the Grade Profile of the Coquihalla Subdivision, the reader can see that the west Mileboard sign was located at about Mileage 19.2 whereas, Coquihalla station was located at Mileage 18.0.  Hence, the distance from the Mileboard to the station is actually closer to 1.2 miles.  The vertical lines on the drawing are spaced 1000 feet apart in the original scale of 400 feet to the horizontal inch.  The original vertical scale is 20 feet to the inch so as to more explicitly illustrate the grade and sundry right-of-way details.  The circled number 127 which is crossed out represents the mileage from Penticton set up in 1916.  The new mileages starting at Brookmere were adopted in April of 1940.

There were two other reasons for the Mileboard.  A very important purpose was that the Mileboard served as the Yard Limit sign according to what was told to the author by two KV men at the annual Brookmere camp-out some years ago.  Even though the CPR had a standard yard limit sign, there is but one "living" example of it to be found in the Midway museum.  Other than that there is little photographic evidence to contradict their statements.  At this time we are not persuaded either way on the use or non-use of the Yard limit sign.  But we digress...

Where there were yard limits for a station on the CPR, third class, fourth class and extra freights would slow to restricted speed because there could be another train within the yard limits.  This was not the case for the KV station of  RHONE because the Timetable did not indicate that there were yard limits as seen in this excerpt from the Timetable of April, 1949.  Rhone simply had a passing track of 35 car capacity.  No other operational symbols to note.

Unlike RHONE, the next station to the west, WESTBRIDGE, did have yard limits, the letter "Z" appearing on either side of the station name.  No doubt, the yard limits were designed to allow for wayfreight switching of the local industries which were mostly shippers of forest products.  According to Smuin, WESTBRIDGE had a station building and an agent to handle the local business.  Even though an agent was assigned here, the station did not rate a call sign and thus no train order board.  The agent would still be in communication with the dispatcher by telephone and and be able to offer telegraphic service to the local community.  The Timetable also shows that a water tank (W) was situated there.

Further down the list, is the station at BEAVERDELL at mile 42.3.  This station had an Agent for the local customers who were mostly in the lumber business and the Highland Bell concentrator whose loading ramp is off to the right.  We dealt with Beaverdell in a previous post here: http://kettlevalleymodelrailway.blogspot.com/2014/05/beaverdell-and-highland-bell.html  

The tiny building also served as a Train Order station as indicated by the call sign "BD" in the Timetable as well as by the Train Order Board in front.  The photograph was taken by David Davies in 1966 whose vast collection was acquired by the University of Northern BC.  It is well worth a visit.  https://search.nbca.unbc.ca/index.php/david-davies-railway-collection

 Note on the left side of the Beaverdell entry on the Timetable, the letter "D".  This establishes that the Operator was on duty only during the "DAY", i e, normal business hours.  The fact that BEAVERDELL was a Train Order station has meaning and relevance to the Station Mileboard - even in model operations.   RULE 14 (m) specifies that a long blast of the whistle must be sounded "one mile from train order offices..."; consequently, an engineman would sound the signal at the station mileboard.  This signal would alert the agent to the approaching train (should he perchance be "resting his eyes") and he would turn out to "PK" the train as it passed his station.

Regarding the specifications of the Mileboards we reproduce here the reproduction by Just IMAGINE Printing of the CPR standard drawing for the Station Mile Board.  It is far more legible than the original in our files.  Thank you Just Imagine Printing.


Here are our field notes for the Jessica Mile Board which has been preserved at the Hope Museum.   The measurements mostly correspond with the official drawing.  Other field measurements confirm that the boards were about 64" long even if the name was a mere 4 letters.  It was mounted on a post 6" square or sometimes a 6" or 7" round post.  One more specification; the sign would be located 10 feet away from the nearest rail and on the engineman's side of the right-of-way.


 Here is screen shot of the JESSICA Mileboard in service in 1957.   The film by Dave Wilke of happy memory, was taken during the fan trip up the Coquihalla and was posted on YouTube by his son,  Mike Dunham-Wilkie.  It is available here: http://youtu.be/RiONq7ktj80  and here:


Thank you Mike for your generosity in publishing your late father's films.  More Coquihalla films and videos are linked in the YouTube site.

Notably, the lettering of the official drawing differs from the field sketch and the photos.  This discrepancy is due to the elimination of the wording "One Mile" from the sign as time went on.  Presumably these two words were considered redundant.  Photos of Mileboards from the teens and twenties show the lettering on the drawing but Mileboards in photos from later years usually contain only the station name such as this screenshot of the west Mileboard for COQUIHALLA from the same movie.  Originally, the board color was a light silver but later on this specification was eliminated and the boards were painted a basic white.  It almost seems that there are traces of the original silver showing through the white paint in this example.  Also note how the lettering is more compressed for the longer name.

We first fabricated some HO scale Mileboards in wood and card-stock which were quite presentable.  The board itself was printed on card-stock using the Arial Narrow font at 8 point. The arc describing the top of the Board was inserted using "shapes" and bending the arc until close enough to the eye.  The sign was cut out and glued to a scale 6" square wood post painted white. The creosote black bottom was simulated with Grimy Black paint.

These models lasted a few years but were often snagged and bent out of shape or broken.  We resolved to one day make new ones that were more robust.  That day arrived a few months ago and brass was the chosen material.  Here they are: Top row are brass; Bottom row are the wood and card-stock versions.

Unfortunately, the progress shots of these did not turn out well so here is a finished Mileboard contained in the jig to illustrate how the boards were secured for soldering.  In this case grooves were cut into a piece of plywood but a similar jig could be fabricated with wood strips instead of grooves.

Finally, here is a shot of an eastbound extra passing the west Mileboard for Coquihalla Station on a Kettle Valley Model Railway.  The engineman would at this time sound a long blast on his whistle to advise the Coquihalla Operator of his approach.

This is a most interesting detail to add to the right-of-way on our model railroads.  On our layout, we place it about a "smile" from the station. 

Whistleposts and Flanger signs are in progress.  So, more to come next month.

Coquihalla Man

Monday, 13 July 2020


Recently, Tony Thompson published two articles on modeling Crossbucks, one of them appearing on his excellent blog, modeling the SP (July 11, 2020): http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/ The other expanded article appears in the July 2020 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist, in the Running Extra segment of the magazine: https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/   Both provide interesting historical and technical information about this important detail for period modelers.  However, his article covers the crossbucks prevalent in the United States, specifically the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Canadian Crossbucks were a little different.
This KV post is a supplement to those articles by Mr. Thompson for Canadian modelers, providing the prototype specifications and a suggestion on modeling the Canadian version of Crossbucks which are formally denoted as "Track Signs".  Here is part of the specific page 32 from the CPR Standard Plans Book which has been in circulation for some time.  Someone edited all the pages of this book, producing a very fair copy, much improved over hard copies that are available for purchase at railroad shows throughout the country.  This fair copy can be accessed through the Canadian Pacific Historical Society at https://www.cptracks.ca/main.asp

  Photos of these crossbucks are hard to come by for some reason, your writer having pored over every book in his collection.  Photos of trains at road crossings do show crossbucks but usually edgewise and not frontal view.  Here is the one full frontal image from one of our books, showing a very old example with a modern additional speed limit plaque and a red-painted post.  The red paint is unusual and not to be emulated in period modeling. 

 A firm by the name of Just Imagine Printing redrew the crossbuck image to show clearly the dimensions given in the plan.  We take the liberty of reproducing the redrawn image and thank them on behalf of modelers.  Under magnification the original drawing can be deciphered but here is their much clearer version.

The dimensions are clear and note that the blades or arms are "let in" to the post by half their thickness.  The post and the blades were built of wood, the only metal being the bolts attaching the blades to the post.  The blades are 1 1/2" thick and 8" wide. 

The other specifications for the crossbucks are written in text on the Standard Plans page and we here present them so they are legible.  The first part states that the signs are authorized by the Board of Railway Commissioners whose order would apply to all railways of Canada.   Firstly, they shall be painted white with black letters.  The diagram shows the lettering to be vertical on a slanted blade, an italic and reverse italic so to speak.  This lettering style was eventually abandoned in favor of a standard upright lettering style square to the blades.  More on that later.  Of course, they read RAILWAY and not RAILROAD which was the preferred Canadian terminology.

As to height of the signs, the Board specified:

As to location, signs:

Here is a clean example of a CNR version of the traditional crossbuck sign.  Note that the lettering is only a partially "italic".  We suspect that the trend to square lettering occurred sometime in the 1950's as this example shows.  As was CNR's practice, the post is lettered with their "monogram".

Also note in this that the ends of the blades or arms are cut on the vertical (plumb cut) as in the plan.

Further development with time resulted in the blades being made of metal and the ends squared off at right angles instead of the plumb cut.  The post was still made of wood.  However, the blades were both mounted on the same side in contrast to the opposite faces of the post.

 Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article from 1986 showing even further design development

This sign was again superseded in modern times.

For modelers of the steam and early diesel eras, it is essential to acquire or build models in accordance with the early standard plans.  While a plastic version has been available from Tichy Train Group as part #8180, the blades are mounted on the same side of the post and the lettering is square to the blades.  They do have the correct plumb cut on the blades.  Our layout used these Tichy crossbucks for some time but eventually, we decided to build some in brass.  This was due to the crossbucks being close to the layout edge and susceptible to being broken by errant hand and arm movements - usually when cleaning track.

We decided that correct lettering was in order since we were going to the trouble of building in brass.  This would require custom decals.  While we were at it why not get decals made up for the other signs along the right of way?  So, many hours were spent going cross-eyed to compose a decal sheet in the correct sizes for crossbuck lettering, station signs, flanger signs, mileboard signs and many others.  Negotiating with Mr. Bill Brillinger was a pleasure and here is his address for those who are interested in his services.

William J .A. Brillinger
Precision Design Co.
email: billy@pdc.ca
web site: www.pdc.ca
Call/Text: (204) 324-4807

For the sign post we used solid square brass stock @ 0.076"  made by K&S Special Shapes.  We obtained this from our LHS, Central Hobbies inVancouver.  Central has no more stock but we had some from previous purchases intended for another project.   After emailing an enquiry to K&S their answer was that the square stock is no longer available.  Nor is the strip brass we used for the blades.  We offer here a photo of our brass pieces to enable the modeler to search out their LHS for such material which might be found in their K&S dislay stand.  The Special Shapes square stock seems to be numbered S-2X?  The Special Shapes strip for the blades is numbered  #815021 and identified as Flat Bars 1/64" x 3/31".

 An alternative to solid stock would be square tubing but the top would have to be filled with solder or putty or bondo.  Mr. Thompson used square tubing.  The blades could be cut from 0.015" sheet brass which is still made by K&S.  It is thin enough that the blades could be cut with shears or even a pair of sharp sciccors.  One more possibility is to use round stock for the post which was used by the prototype.  We did a couple of signs with round posts of 3/32" (0.094")  diameter brass rounds which show in the picture below on the left.  Also shown is the Tichy crossbuck on the lower right.

 In order to solder the blades to the post, a jig was made out of plywood and grooves cut into the board at the right angles and depths.  A similar jig coud be built up of pieces of wood of suitable thickness.  The angles were transferred directly from the drawings.  Here is the jig we made to assemble the brass pieces for the crossbucks.  Note that the blades were soldered together and then trimmed to length and angle afterward.   The flux pen used is shown at the top.

Of course these crossbucks could be made of styrene components and a jig would still be a help to fastening the blades in place properly and again trimmed to length after gluing.  the two vertical lines in  the jig to left and right of the post are the cut lines for the plumb cut of the blades.  A felt pen is used to transfer the line to the blades for the plumb cut.

This was a satisfying project to work with pleasing results.

Details on more signs to come.  It has been a while.
Coquihalla Man

Saturday, 23 March 2019


The recent announcement by Rapido Trains lists models of the CPR 's D-10 steam engine.  The drawings and numbers to be offered list a variety of headlight, numberboard, tender and running board configurations.  Readers and fans of the KVR may want to know which model might best represent those that were assigned to their favorite railway.  Rapido's page shows the variations: https://www.rapidotrains.com/ho-cpr-d10-canada/

According to our official and unofficial documents, there were two that saw service there in the late steam era: Nos. 914 and 925.  Both were of the D-10G class with V&H super-heaters, power reverses, and oil tenders.  They arrived from the Vancouver Island where they had been in service for the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, a CPR subsidiary.  While there, the shop crews kept them in fine array.   Turner's book Vancouver Island Railroads has a small photo of 925 all decked out in white tires and silver smoke box for passenger service (p. 67) but this trim did not last on the Kettle where she was assigned to freight and mixed trains. 

We also have a photo of 914 with a work train trailing while approaching Princeton station in 1950.  The photo was taken by Gib Kennedy and cannot be reproduced here for copyright reasons.  A good shot of 914 is/was available from GTC Collectibles showing the right side with the power reverse and the oil tender.  Photos of both sides of 914 were available from Railway Memories Collection but they may not be in business any more.

Here is the best we can do for 914. 

Another photo in our files shows 925 outside the roundhouse in Penticton in 1950 and this shot is/was available from GTC Collectibles as: CPR-925-1.  However, the website suggests that prints may not be available.  The photo shows the right side with the power reverse mounted above the running board as in the Rapido drawing above and the photo above.  So, the right side for both engines is the same as the photo and the Rapido drawing.

As to the left side the engines both carried a Cross Compound Westinghouse Air Pump.  Rapido does not show the left side of their D-10 model but since the prototype D-10G's were fairly standard, it will probably be correct for our subjects.  The only serious difference is in the step over the air pump on No. 925.  If a modeler were interested in executing this detail here is a photo showing the left side of 925 which we hasten to add seems to have been unique to this engine.
The 914 did not have the step.  One other detail common to both locos is the flat number board which was correct for the time that these ran on the Kettle from early 1949 to late 1950.  According to the rosters we have, 914 disappears from the 1951 assignment sheet but 925 continued in service there until 1952 at least.

There are also many other photos of the D-10 steam locomotives at the Old Time Trains site: http://www.trainweb.org/oldtimetrains/photos/cpr_steam/D10.htm

We have a model of a D-10 that Samhongsa and United built back in the 60's.  Much work was done over a period of years on this model to effect a miniature version of No. 925 by an unknown craftsman before our acquisition and  by our own shops afterward.
Major improvements to the model 925 were:
  • Rigid Drivers were sprung by previous owner!
  • Painted and Decaled by previous owner
  • New Drivers quartered and installed
  • Side Rods cut and lapped (a second set acquired for this)
  • Tender bolsters rebuilt
  • Can motor & Gearbox installed
  • Decoder & Speaker installed
  • Front coupler installed
  • LED headlight installed

Despite all this work, it is still a poor runner due to her the pilot wheels or tender trucks being disposed to derail at least once in an operating session.   But she looks good and is accurate in the detail. We unreservedly suggest that Rapido's version will undoubtedly be much, much better performing model than any brass version of the D-10.  And it can be had with class lights, headlights and decoder already installed.  One would have to change the number though and decals for that are available at Black Cat Decals.  Or one could order the unlettered version and do the tender decals as well.
Finally, here is the basic locomotive diagram for the D-10 in its E,F,G,H,J iterations.

In summary, it looks like the example shown at the top of the page is your best bet for a very close model of the Kettle Valley Division's D-10g locomotives No. 914 and No. 925. 

UPDATES November 27, 2020:  One other D-10 locomotive assigned to the Kettle was the infamous 907.   Unfortunately, the watchman on duty died and the locomotive and enginehouse were destroyed in a boiler explosion in March of 1949.  The locomotive was scrapped soon afterward.  Modelers of this locomotive are directed to a photo of her in the Riegger book on page 216 and to another of her on page 40 of Donald Lewis' book Steam in Canada.  Substantial cosmetic modifications to the Rapido model would be necessary to render this one.

Regarding the Vancouver Island D-10's, the Rapido version with the triangular number board would be the best starting point.  An oil fired tender would also be an important detail to consider.  That would lead to the choice of 922 or its unlettered variation.

Friday, 9 February 2018


The Kettle Valley Division of the Canadian Pacific Railway was an interesting and challenging mountain railroad that linked the small and scattered communities of southern British Columbia for most of the 20th century.  It was considered to be a second mainline with several connections to the parent company's Transcontinental line to the north.  Abandonment took place by subdivisions from 1957 to 1989 except for a 10 mile section in the sunny Okanagan which was ceded to a non-profit tourist line that operates a beautifully restored steam locomotive typical of those found on the KVR in the 1930's to 1953: https://www.kettlevalleyrail.org/

The HO version of the "Kettle Valley" is very faithful to the prototype in its topography, infrastructure, trains and operational features as they were when steam was king. The 385 foot mainline (6.3 scale miles) is stretched out over two decks with a helix in the middle and staging tracks at each end. Most of the scenery and trackage closely resemble specific locales of two subdivisions on the Westside of the Kettle Valley Division, a distance of 90 miles. The small Division point of Brookmere is the centre of layout activity at which all freight trains terminate and originate.  Four passenger trains and many through freights are featured.  Pusher service is run on the Coquihalla Sub.  Princeton town can keep a way-freight crew very busy.  At the western end, Hope has some interesting switching opportunities and interchanges with the Canadian National. There is substantial scenery completed and most structures are scratch built.   Rolling stock and motive power are detailed and accurate for the period.

Session Parameters: The regular daytime sessions run about 4 1/2 hours including a recess at the midway point.  Occasional evening sessions are shorter.  We run a full day starting at midnight on a specific day in September, 1949 using a 24 hour Clock.  The Ratio is set at 6:1.  Several remote clocks are mounted in the lighting valance around the layout. “Excess height” (6”- 2”) model railroaders are warned about low overhead clearance to the Valances.

Assignments are described at the end of the document.  We attempt to arrange at least initial assignments according to guest preferences (by email) and it seems to work out.  The midday break divides the session in two and allows crews to change to different jobs.

Room access & misc.: You can walk in and out of the layout room at the start; at the mid-session break; and at the end of the session.  But as the session starts, we close the gate after which, normal egress entails a duck-under action (hands and knees); however, for those with mobility concerns, the gate can be opened during the session when trains are clear.   Washroom is upstairs to the left.  There are stools in the layout room and seats in the Dispatcher's office/laundry room.  A bar fridge containing pop, juices, beer, and water is located in the train room.  Help yourself!  Drink Holders are distributed on the fascia of the layout.

Timetable is based on the actual CPR Employee Timetable No. 94 of September 1949.  Most model trains arrive or depart from Brookmere close to the prototype times.  Copies of the modeled Timetable are posted on the valances and personal copies are available.  As on the prototype, this railroad is a slow one and scheduled freights often run late.  On the lower level is the Princeton Sub complete with a straightaway including a "curved tangent" on which trains are known to make up some of their lost time just as the KVR crews did in days gone by.  In the 4 1/2 turn helix of the Coquihalla Sub, time can be made up as well where speeds of a breath-taking 32 m/p/h can be reached.  The westernmost station on the Timetable is Odlum which is the junction with the CPR mainline.  A few miles to the west on the prototype was the mainline yard at Ruby Creek where KV trains originate and terminate.  For our purposes, Odlum and Ruby Creek are used interchangeably to denote west staging.

Train Orders:  A pink Form 19 grants Authority to run from one station to another or to meet/pass another train en route.  Train orders supersede the directives of the Timetable.  Occasionally, a white Form 31 is issued to restrict a superior train.  Most Train Orders are the basic "runners", meet orders and "run-lates".

Clearance Card: All trains, whether Schedules or Extras, must have a completed green Clearance Form in order to leave their originating terminals.  When your run is completed, all these forms can be discarded into the Company waste basket.

OS /Train Report:  Please assist the overworked and underpaid Station Operators to note your arrival and/or departure times at open stations as they can be very busy with many things.  If necessary use an "OS ticket" or note with your train designation and times inscribed and leave it on the desk of the Operator whose attention may be directed elsewhere.  There are a number of "dark" stations where an OS is not applicable.  No board = No report.  Normally, train crews do not interact directly with the dispatcher.

Register: The junction at Brodie on the Coquihalla Sub requires all trains to register before proceeding.  The Train Register is a clipboard hanging on the fascia next to the entrance gate and below the model register shack.  Check the entries of previous trains to assure yourself that all superior trains which are due, have arrived and left.

Train Order Boards are Two-Aspect Upper Quadrant style.  Blade pointing upwards means clear/ proceed.  Blade down at the horizontal means stop for orders.  This happens a few times in a session.  Sometimes an experienced Opr will set the signal to stop for 20 minutes after the departure of a train in order to maintain the appropriate Interval between it and a following train. (Rule 91)

Interlocking Signals: Semaphore signals controlling the C N R Crossing are CLEAR so proceed without worry. The semaphores are set to “green over red” which denotes PROCEED.  The competition is shut down because of a labour dispute so there is no traffic on the Canadian National Railway.  Special Instructions stipulate a slow order of 15 mph over the crossing.  One day we will make them work with appropriate interlocking derails.

Train Card: Every train has this coaching aid inserted into the Engine Card.  This gives a brief station- by- station procedure to be followed and can be perused before setting out as well as while in transit.  At the bottom of the card is a PTO meaning Please Turn Over to read the second page of the Train Card.

Car Cards and Waybills: standard 4 cycle for car-forwarding.  The reporting marks, the car number and the body colour are printed in the colour of the actual model for ready identification.  The waybills have a colour stripe overlaid with destination/direction so you do not need to study a railway map of southern BC to work the freights.  At the main stations, there are trustworthy Operators to assist you in planning your moves if necessary. In Brookmere yard the dedicated switch crew can direct movements. The layout owner functions as the Station Agent for all stations and is ready to answer any of your questions.  The waybills are not turned during a session.

Staging:  West staging (Ruby Creek has 5 tracks) is located directly above East staging (Penticton has 6 tracks) Trains are visible in staging through two opera windows.   A Diode matrix controls all necessary turnouts so you simply press the appropriate single red button to select the entire route for your train for entering or leaving the staging yards.  After clearing the yard ladder, reset the switches to "Normal" by pressing the green button marked “normal”.  When terminating at staging, you engine will stop automatically at the end of the selected track on a dead section.  Again, reline the switches to "Normal".  This "Normal" setting cuts power to all staging tracks.  For starting out on your run, a handy device to ensure you have acquired your train is to sound the whistle. Then linger not near the windows as the adjacent aisle can become a bottleneck.

Uncoupling:  Magnets are placed strategically for uncoupling but picks are also necessary.  Please use the magnets when you can - especially in the yard.  There are Rapido electro-magnets in Brookmere yard which are marked with a coloured pin and blue lamp when activated.  Cut lever actuators for other manual magnetic uncouplers are found out on the road.  There are also permanent Kadee magnets in other places.  All Uncoupling Magnets are marked with a yellow pin in front of the track. 

"Isolator": This is a term we coined to describe the shutting off of power to a short section of track where a loco may park and not "idle", thereby soaking up juice, hissing away at us with pop valves at the most inappropriate times and wearing out those expensive electronic decoders $$$.  Two isolators are located on the shop track lead, on all the roundhouse tracks and one on the west leg of the Hope "Y".  If your engine does not respond to your throttle, it could be that it is parked on an isolator.  Look for a small toggle switch in the vicinity.  Up is on.

Throttles: Here follows a description of how to use the throttles which are CVP wireless controllers T9000 and T5000 connected to a Lenz Command Station.  They are very simple and reliable to use.  The KV was a slow mountain railroad where freights averaged about 15 mph (which corresponds to a speed step display of "15").  Passenger trains could reach upwards of 25 mph.  The rotary knob is the speed controller:  Turn it clockwise, to accelerate; counter-clockwise to decelerate.  Push down (audible click sound is heard) to reverse the locomotive.  The arrowhead pointing to the right indicates your loco will go forward.  Moderate Momentum is programmed into the locomotive decoders except for the yard switcher. 

To acquire engine 3628, press 6 keys: #-3-6-2-8-#.  Likewise to acquire engine 443, press #-4-4-3-#.  It is rarely necessary to "release" or “dispatch” a loco but if you wish, #-9-# will do it.  Sometimes while operating, you may press a button accidentally so that you lose control of your loco or the sound features.  Simply press * (star) to recover control of the loco or sound features.

Unique features: The coloured keys can help you maximize the sound options as you operate.  Hopefully they are intuitive.  Keys 5 & 9 are unassigned as yet (we'll think of something eventually).  A cheat sheet can be found on the back of the throttle.

  • 1 brass:  bell will sound until key is pressed a second time.
  • 2 beige with dash (--) :  long whistle which will sound as long as key is held down.
  • 3 beige with dot:(.) short whistle which will give one short toot for each press.
  • 4 beige with yellow dot: Dim the headlight.  For yard switching and meeting other trains.
  • 6 turquoise: Water stop sound for tender fill (Coquihalla mountain water colour).
  • 7 red is a brake function that will bring the engine to a moderately quick stop.  Brake squeal sounds accompany its application.  A good emergency stop function.  It is also useful for fine moves such as spotting the tender hatch under the water tower or spotting a car.  When pressed again the brake is released; the loco will accelerate to its previous speed step setting. 
  • 8 mute
  • 0 yellow will turn the headlight on/off.
  • * (star) is an escape key.

Whistle Function (f2, f3): Here are some basic whistle signals (not used in switching moves) according to Rule 14 of the UCOR (Uniform Code of Operating Rules):
o              1 short whistle: stop
---  ---       2 longs: release brakes, proceed
o o o        3 shorts: back up
    ---  ---  o  ---  at whistle posts for grade crossings and where view is limited
     -------------   extra long single whistle: approaching train order office stations, watering points and railway crossings at grade.

Headlight (f 0): In our steam era, headlights were only required at night or through dark tunnels and snow-sheds but you need not feel bound by this rule.

Bell (f 1): is rung while approaching and passing a station platform where there may be members of the public (Princeton, Hope and Brookmere).  This does not apply in most cases to yard switching nor to flag stops.  It should also be rung immediately prior to moving after a prolonged stop.  For example: Passenger train, No. 46, would ring its bell approaching the station platform at Brookmere until train comes to a stop.  After entraining passengers, bell would sound (and 2 long whistles) immediately prior to departure until train has cleared the platform.  Incidentally, Station Agents like the baggage car spotted on the platform for ease of access for the baggage carts.  Another use of the bell is when your train is passing another train on an adjacent track such as at meets or at stations.

Brake (f 7): As mentioned above, this feature is activated by the red button “7”.  It is convenient for spotting engines accurately and for switching without adjusting the throttle.  Occasionally and mysteriously, the button must be pressed twice for the engine to move after sitting idle for a while.


Derailments:  They can happen and you are permitted to re-rail the car or loco yourself.  Be aware that most rolling stock is highly detailed and care should be taken in handling or uncoupling.

1.    Enginemen’s Pool for Through Freights and Passenger Trains.  A member of the engineman’s pool usually operates 4 to 6 trains in the full session.
2.    Pusher service assignment is drawn from the Enginemen’s pool and keeps a person moderately busy for each shift of the session on the Coquihalla sub. For freight trains the pusher assists at the tail end of the train usually cutting off at the summit and returning light to Hope for the next westbound.  For passenger trains, pushers are placed at the head of the train and run through from Hope to Brookmere.  All Decoders are programmed so that the speed step displayed on the throttle shows the locomotive speed in scale mph which simplifies speed matching with the road engine.
3.    Mine Turn is the first train out of Brookmere yard, running to Princeton and return with a further trip up to Coquihalla summit where it sets out the loads for the next westward through freight.  Moderately challenging as there is a time element.
4.    Coquihalla Wayfreight serves the various industries of Hope, the CN Interchange and one or two other on-line spurs all the while keeping out of the way of superior trains on the subdivision. Straight-forward and interesting.
5.    Princeton Wayfreight entails a number of lifts and set-outs along the line and a good deal of switching in Princeton town.  A very challenging solo job or an interesting two-man assignment.
6.    Brookmere Yard Crew works the East end of the yard to make up and break down trains, switching and blocking cars according to the waybills.  They co-ordinate movements within the yard and perform local switching for the Brookmere service tracks and log spur. Outbound westward trains do their own switching at the west end of the yard to make up their trains.  Inbound road crews usually set out their own cabooses.  A line-up is posted nearby for each of the two shifts.
7.    Station Operators take orders over the phone on the authority of the Dispatcher and issue clearances which are delivered to train crews.  They also record times of trains arriving and departing at their station(s) and “O S” them to the Dispatcher. Some people prefer this job; others don’t.  Our usual practice is to serve one shift at the desk and another shift on the road with “seniority” given to them for their throttle job.  A complete guide to performing the role as we have adapted it from the traditional CPR practice will be provided.
8.    Dispatcher can make or break a session so for an experienced guest, this job is available with our regular dispatcher acting as coach as necessary.  For some people it would be preferable to serve as a Station Operator before assuming the Dispatcher’s position.  A note to our American friends; Canadian practice is to address “To: Engine 3627...” rather than the U S practice of “To: C & E of engine 3627...”  In other words, no “C & E” (Conductor and Engineer).