Experiments in tie staining


These ties were dipped in Minwax brand “Provincial” stain.  They seem a bit dark to me, but colours always appear darker when wet. Tie on the left is a raw wood Kappler tie, on the right are Micro-Engineering ties that have been first dip-dyed using 1:30 black shoe polish and rubbing alcohol.

After trying out three different colours of Minwax stain, I hope to have finally hit upon the right shade.  Keep in mind that most ties in track will have some black tone still in them; this is my effort to get a bit closer to the brown/black colouration of creosoted ties.


On closer inspection, we may be headed the right way by using Minwax “Provincial” stain.  I can dilute the stain using mineral or white spirits such as Varsol as Minwax’s product is an oil-based stain.  The tie on the far right shows the darkening of a light grey tie stained using my alcohol/leather dye mix and then dipped in Minwax “Provincial” stain.


Looking east at Keene, Ontario. Located thirty-three miles east of Lindsay, I’ll be modelling this spot where steam locomotives on grain trains stopped to refill their tenders with water before assaulting the greater than 1% grade to Hope three miles east of here.  The yellow triangular sign stands where the steel water tank was.  Note the brown tone of the ties. 


I’ll need to build a few trestles and steel bridge supports for the Campbellford Sub.  My quest for a replicable method will allow me to model these more accurately as well.  

Tie colour

Lindsay yard and scale track 25-1-12 004

I like the look of wood ties and Code 55 rail, but the tie colour needs improvement. 

I’ve never been satisfied with the uniform look of prefabbed track, so I have handlaid rails on wood ties for almost all of my time in the model rail hobby.

But a problem that I encounter is trying to get the right colour for wood ties.  My go-to method is the famous “Jack Work method”–one part Fiebing’s leather dye to thirty parts alcohol.   Ties are dunked in this and allowed to dry off/evaporate on newspaper. I’ve used black and brown dyes, but the brown does not seem to show on the ties as the black does.

Time to change my methods.  A trip to a woodworking store in Thamesford while my car had its brakes worked on nearby resulted in a purchase of some Minwax brand “Weathered Oak” wood stain.


I’ve dunked part of a few ties, both stained and unstained,  into the stirred can of stain and laid them out on paper towels for inspection in a day or so.  Now to see how it turns out.  So far I’m not that impressed with the resulting colour, but give it time….


It’s personal

Rapido SW1200RS front view

Rapido’s SW1200RS on what will be the turnout at the Midland Railway’s Santiago yard to the Lindsay River Spur.  

Rapido Trains’ latest HO scale model is of CN’s SW1200RS road-switcher locomotive.  Built from 1956 to 1960, over two hundred of these served across CN’s system, with virtual duplicates running on CP.

Lindsay had more than a few of these, right from 1956 to its closure as a terminal for train crews in 1978.  Classed GR-12 (General Motors Road, 1200 horsepower), these  locos roamed every line out of Lindsay.  Even the 58-pound rail of the Irondale Subdivision saw a GR-12 pulling trains right up to abandonment in March 1960 at the subdivision speed limit of 20 mph.  They ran in MU pulling grain trains out of the Tiffin elevator in Midland–though after grain ceased to be hauled through Lindsay in 1959.   The Halburton Sub. felt the wheels of these course over its rails as they pulled trains out of Lindsay to the Highlands.

Rapido SW1200RS rear view

Yes–it needs a number.  Rapido supplies a complete set of number and number-board decals with the model, which I’ll apply when I find a number for a loco which was seen in Lindsay.   

I’ve a Point One resin kit body with etched bronze and stainless steel details to build for the earlier version of these.  I still have to build it, though it’s a very nice kit.

Rapido’s new model is of the 1959/60 build of these locomotives.  As I model 1956, I may have to play with history to run these–or move the layout date a few years.  But I am modelling the Midland Railway, after all, and I’ve some leeway with all this.

But I’ve another reason to like this model so much.

I have the good fortune to earn a living as a locomotive engineer at CN.  Hiring on in Hamilton as a brakeman in 1987, many SW1200RS locomotives were based in Hamilton.  I rode the footboards of them on many nights while switching cars in the yard.  They hung around long enough for me to train as a locomotive engineer on them.  I ran both the early version equipped with the Westinghouse 6SL airbrake system, and the 26L. They were retired around 2000 in favour of higher-horsepower rebuilt GP9 locomotives as trains got longer and yard switching got heavier.

But many were the nights where I rode a footboard on the pilot at the rear of the loco and tried to keep myself as warm as I could.  A transfer to Sarnia in 2013 set me up on the engineer’s spare-board, where I ran much larger engines and trains.  But the SW1200’s were all gone by then.  I miss them.  They were a lot closer to a steam loco than they are to the GEVO’s that I run nowadays in the Drag Pool.

The Rapido model has very few, if any, detail issues.  It’s an excellent, exceptionally detailed model that has the “ring of truth” in its replication as seen by a guy who spent a LOT of time around the real thing. I’ve not run it yet, but look forward to trying it out on DCC where I’m sure it’ll perform as well if not better than other Rapido loco’s that I have.

There’s a lot more to this missive than just writing about a new model loco.

It’s personal.

The Lindsay Train Show


The Lindsay Armouries, home of the Lindsay Train show since the 1970’s.

The Lindsay and District Model Railroaders have run an annual train show in Lindsay since 1974.  Usually on the first weekend in April, this two-day event is held at the Armouries in downtown Lindsay.


Inside are model rail layouts in different scales, dealers offering various model railway wares for sale, and even live steam models. I spent a few bucks, too!


Larry Murphy’s On30 sectional Maine layout.


Lindsay train show, 2018. Left to right, --- Wayne Lamb and Eric Potter.

Brian Douglas, Wayne Lamb, and Eric Potter enjoying a laugh near the end of the show on Sunday.

If you can make it to the show, I highly recommend it.  It was nice to talk with Wayne Lamb,  Larry Murphy, and Eric Potter again in person.  These gentlemen have given me much information that I hope to make good use of as I model the Campbellford Sub.  Thank you all!


A stroll along the right-of-way at the site of Santiago Yard followed the show.  Of course!