The Face of the Future….for a few minutes at least

My long term goal is to have space to build a layout, specifically, modelling a Canadian National Railways secondary line between Georgetown and Allandale (now part of Barrie) Ontario.  In the future, I’ll have plenty to say about the history of this line, the places and structures along it as I research, as I’m many years, probably at least a smaller layout or two, and a house away from actually designing and building this “dream” layout.  That said, one can never be faulted for working on things that will someday hopefully populate this dream layout!  One of the more unique features of the line, was an early experiment in streamlined diesel railcars that CN carried out in the early 1950’s. Self propelled motor car D-1, and coaches C-1 and C-2 were one of CN’s early efforts to reduce costs and maintain rural services.

cn009297CNR D-1 on a test run in Montreal in 1951.  From the CN Images of Canada Collection of the Canadian Science & Technology Museum (Image CN009297)

On the Milton Subdivision, as the line from Burlington to Allandale was called by Canadian National, there was a pair of daily local passenger trains, one southbound and one northbound.  In an effort to save costs, CN took a gas-electric car that was nearly life expired, and rebuilt it in their Montreal shops, along with two 50′ coaches, one of which was converted into a combintion mail/coach.  The gas-electric car was re-powered, given a new streamlined body, and converted to be all-baggage/less than carload freight for the lightly used route. Their daily routine consisted of a round trip from Burlington to Allandale (Barrie now) as train 661, turning into Train 61 from Allandale to Meaford, then returning back as trains 62 and 662.  According to reports of those around in the 1952-1958 era where D-1 was running this service, it wasn’t always reliable and was often dragged by a steam locomotive, or outright replaced by one.  To learn more about CN’s operations in this era, I can’t recommend Ian Wilson’s books enough.  The two which cover the line I want to model, Steam at Allandale and Steam Scenes at Allandale are invaluable resources to me.  CN’s efforts at providing a cost effective railcar service was saved by the development of the Rail Disel Car (RDC) by Budd, which CN bought many of, rather than converting older gas-electrics.

A one-off, oddball, Canadian locomotive is not the sweet spot for any manufacturer to produce commercially, at least not if they like staying in business long term!!  As such, I have had to think outside the box to make this a reality.  With the growth of the 3D printing industry, and my abilities to design in 3D, I have been able to work from the limited available drawings and produce a 3D model of D-1 and its coaches.  In HO Scale, finding a power train was actually reasonably easy.  Bachmann produce a “Doodlebug” gas electric car, that is very similar to the car D-1 was constructed out of.  It’s not quite 100% accurate, but applying one of my favourite rules, the “3′ Rule” of where it looks right from a normal viewing distance, then I’ve been successful, so it works.

ho_doodlebugBachmann Doodlebug, image from

I have been working on a model of D-1 and its pair of coaches C-1 and C-2 for some time, and my HO Scale version is nearing completion.  But simultaneous to me working on the HO Scale version, my friend Trevor Marshall has pestered me (which was really tough, he asked once and i said yes!) into submission into re-scaling the HO Scale 3D printed bodyshells into S Scale so that he can also model the train for use on the S Scale Workshop modular layout.  He is aiming to have the model running at a show at Exporail outside Montreal later this summer, which will keep me motivated to have the HO Scale version fully done as well.  My task list is down to a manageable roar (correct the under-body details on locomotive; and, complete interiors on coaches).

CNR-D1-Resize_zpsorelcdl5HO Scale model of D-1, C-1 & C-2.  Picture taken by Trevor Marshall at the 2016 Toronto RPM Meet.

I had set both this post and the model aside for some time, as I just had too many other things on the go, but I’ve worked myself into a “lets finish some projects” mood rather than putting along with current and starting more new projects, so hopefully that will bring a completed model post soon!  As well, once Trevor and I are done our respective models, we’ll have to have a get together to pose the big and small D-1’s beside each other for photos!

17 thoughts on “The Face of the Future….for a few minutes at least

  1. Glad I could pester you into this!
    I have to admit, though, that my S scale version will not be ready for the event at Exporail this year. Boo!
    There have been just to many other projects and demands on my time – including getting my new home workshop set up. I want to have a proper space to work on this – it’s a project that will require more than just the kitchen table. Meantime, I have been gathering additional detail parts and other necessities so that when I do tackle the project, it should go rather quickly…
    – Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)

  2. This is such a neat project and will result in an equally cool model.

    With both an HO and S scale version underway I’d sure like to see an article that discusses them both in contrast. I often read comments where someone asserts that one piece of magic in 3D printing is the ease of changing the scale of a model and I know it just isn’t as easy as that – there are so many tolerances that require adjustment and the very way we design for one scale isn’t always the same as for another. An article not only to showcase what will result in a set of fantastic models but also more on how to turn a 3D printed part into a complete piece, and also to touch on how the design and engineering of the parts is handled.

    But I’m rambling again. Must be the heat.


  3. That’s too bad Trevor, but its best not to rush things to deadlines, and your new/improved workshop will make it so much easier for you to work on many projects!!

    Chris, Trevor has touched on that a bit in his blog, but yes, its not nearly as simple as just hitting scale. Going from HO to S required a fair bit of work in thinning walls, designing a new means of body mounting, splitting the body in two as it was too big for Shapeways to print, all kinds of things. But I’ll file that thought away for a post in the future as people have asked on more than one occasion about taking things I’ve done in HO and scale converting them. Those are definitely issues of interest to modellers that i have some experience with and can hopefully discuss semi-intelligently!


  4. Hi Chris:
    It’s actually a really good idea. Thanks for this! I can easily see an article about this appealing to Railroad Model Craftsman, which would result in some hobby dollars for us. Stephen – let’s talk about this next time we meet up.

  5. […] CNR D-1 – I’ve got my HO Scale one to finish the interiors for the two trailer cars C-1 and C-2 for, and maybe add some better looking underbody details to D-1.  Things that haven’t gotten done mostly because I have had other things going, and lacked motivation to disassemble a setup that looks so good on a display shelf!!  But, on top of this, i have work to do in both N-Scale and S-Scale on D-1 models.  For N-Scale, after many requests, i’ve reworked D-1 to be available, and have moved on to the coaches, which should be ready early in 2017.  In S-Scale, everything is done and ordered by my friend Trevor Marshall, but I’m on call for any help he may need in dealing with the 3D printed material, and I can learn a lot about the material by seeing how much larger prints than I’m used to behave as he works on them. […]

  6. Hi Stephen

    Fabulous work on the D1. I modelling Thornbury to Meaford and as you are no doubt aware the D1 handled trains 60/61 on a regular basis (according to Ian Wilson the CNR even built the wye at Meaford just to accommodate the D1 and its coach’s) after it came into service. Naturally I have always wanted a model of this unique creature but have always considered it beyond my modelling abilities.

    Any chance I could commission you to convert my HO Bachman Doodle to the D1?


  7. Hi Scott, Thank you for the compliments on the model. There isn’t actually any major surgery needed to the Bachmann Doodlebug, the D-1 body fits right onto the frame, all you have to do is remove the rear steps on the bachmann, and install a new headlight as the bachman light doesn’t reach the headlight on D-1.

    I don’t normally take comissions, i’d have to think long and hard about what it would actually cost for me to do so. If you live in the general region you model, I should be at the Barrie-Allandale Show in February at the Toronto Railway Museum booth. I can make a point of bringing D-1 with me if you’d like to take a look at it and will be there.


  8. Thanks Chris and Trevor for beating me to the answer!! Yes, the D-1 body is available on Shapeways. The C-1 and C-2 bodies will be at some unknown future point. They print fine, but i used modified Athearn underframes for them, which was an expensive prospect. At some point i will have time and motivation to design an underbody for them and have it print with the body shells.


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