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.


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