Re: Prototype fidelity

Ian Cranstone

Before this thread is completely closed, I'll put on my hat as a director in the Canadian National Railway Historical Association (formerly the CN SIG) and offer a few thoughts about our experience.

One of the challenges that CNR modellers faced was that Canadian railways tended to buy equipment that was unique to Canada.  Even the standard 40' boxcar had unusual ladders, and one manufacturer (National Steel Car) that had its own unique ends. Until recent years, most model prototypes were of American origin, which were not generally found on Canadian roads.  The manufacturers have generally been quite happy to put Canadian schemes on their cars, whether appropriate or not.  As a result, we weren't even tempted.  This has changed in a big way, with the change in manufacturing favouring more and more specific prototypes.

Our general approach has been to provide information in an effort to encourage manufacturers to offer CN-related products.  In fact, if a manufacturer expresses interest in a product, the SIG prefers to get out of their way, so we can find something else that we think should be done (this has already happened a number of times with book projects).  Over the years we have been very successful in this regard — Rapido and True Line Trains have been the most prolific in terms of offering CN-related product -- thanks largely to the efforts of Stafford Swain, a number of resin models and parts were also offered -- from Sylvan and Westerfield amongst others.

We (OK, again Stafford) have generated paint chips of the standard CN colours, which have been provided to manufacturers. Fonts have been generated from CN drawings, and also offered to decal and model manufacturers for a token dollar (and we often didn't bother to collect the dollar).  In fact, some of these fonts have been available for years on the CNRHA website.

There were however, a number of cases where manufacturers were not interested for one reason or another.  The CN Scalecoat paint line was generated when paint manufacturers declined to offer colours based upon Stafford's colour study -- fortunately, since then, some of the non-solvent based suppliers have started to stock some of the major colours, with most subsequently made available by True Line Trains.  This is a good thing, as the SIG has been experiencing increasing problems with importing solvent-based paints -- our government has decided that we must conform with increasingly strict rules, that are very different than the U.S.  And don't ask us about the problems we're experiencing in shipping paint (both importing, and then to the customers).

Some years back Stafford explored the option of commissioning a resin model of the unique CN F9B -- I remember viewing a lovely test casting.  Ultimately this model never reached the market, due to the interest of Rapido, who has subsequently offered a stellar model of CN F9B's (not to mention FP9A's).  As far as I know, this was the only time we actually thought about offering an actual model commissioned by the SIG.

Al Lill, longtime editor of CN Lines, played point on a truly amazing CN passenger car decal set, which Microscale declined to add to their line, but happily contract-printed for the SIG.  There were a number of other decals generated for the SIG as well over the years, most of which have subsequently been transferred to Black Cat decals.

For us the answer has always to be as accurate, probably because most of the editorial/association board are modellers as much as historians.

Ian Cranstone

Osgoode, Ontario, Canada

Join to automatically receive all group messages.