Friday 12 February 2016


A few months ago a friend of ours made a film of some action on the Kettle Valley Model Railway.  It deals with the movement of trains over the layout in a simulation of what actually happened on the prototype in the steam era.  It is presented here for your enjoyment or amusement.

PUSHERS: As far as we can tell, "pusher" was the official and professional term used to denote assisting engines on CPR trains whether they were pushing or pulling or simply along for the ride on a re-positioning move.  In their stories and conversation, we have heard KV men sometimes using the term "helpers" but they generally seemed to prefer "pushers" and spoke of "giving a train a push" or their being assigned to the "Hope pusher", or "running pushers out of Revelstoke", etc.  CPR Train Sheets for Revelstoke denote the assisting engines as "pushers".  This does create the oxymoron of the leading engine on a train being called a pusher when strictly speaking it might be called a "puller".  However it is certainly not the only instance of imprecise usage of words in the English language.

Synopsis: In the video, a pusher, engine 3678, starts out in the roundhouse at Brookmere as she is readied to assist No. 11, The Kootenay Express passenger train over the summit of the Coquihalla pass in the Cascade Mountains of Southern British Columbia. There is film of the trains from track-side and also from the pilot of the pusher herself.  The scene shifts to No. 11 crossing the Tulameen River Bridge just west of Princeton, traversing the beautiful Otter Creek Valley, eventually arriving at Brookmere where the crews would change.   After the pusher couples on, we see the train stopping to register at Brodie junction, and then resuming its journey into Coquihalla siding for a meet with an Eastbound passenger train which is running quite late.  We "tip over" and start down the hill to Romeo where we have been ordered to again wait "in the hole" for a drag freight.  This arrangement by kindly dispatchers would enable heavy tonnage trains to keep moving on the maximum grades.  We then back up in time a little to see that very drag freight starting out at Hope. This is Extra 5101 East with a tail-end pusher working up the hill to the meet at Romeo.  Once clear, No. 11 proceeds down the canyon to Hope where we will leave her to continue to her final destination at the coast.  We then rejoin the drag in the upper canyon on her way to Coquihalla summit where their pusher cuts off "on the fly" in order to run light back to Hope. The video provides a fair look at the completed areas of the layout with captions for some of the action.

The movement of the model trains is a fairly accurate portrayal of what took place with only some compromises, the most obvious of which are train lengths and siding lengths.  The engines on freights were often three in number, two being on the point and one in the rear and most pushers ran all the way between Brookmere and Ruby Creek or Hope.  In our sessions we cut off the pusher at the Coquihalla summit as happened occasionally but we make it a daily feature for one of them.  Rear-end pushers were usually cut in ahead of the caboose as depicted in the video but occasionally behind the caboose.  During operating sessions we often make this arrangement to expedite the train movements.   Another arrangement was to sometimes cut in the pusher several cars from the rear of the train.  We understand that normally, the engineman of the road engine had the right to lead the consist but often they opted to allow the pusher to lead as we have depicted here.  (We suppose there may have been some thought for self-preservation at work in this decision, as rock-slides were a common occurrence in the mountains and the lead engine would be the first to encounter them.)

The passenger trains are closely modeled.    The scenes are recognizable miniatures of the historic reality and the structures, rolling stock and motive power are accurate for the period.  Finally, some of the whistle signals are appropriate.  We enjoyed building the models and making the movie.  Hope you enjoy viewing them.

Coquihalla Man

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