The annual Copetown Train Show is a special date on the calendar, that I try very hard not to miss. It’s a small show, not a lot of vendors, but a lot of small manufacturers, historical associations, and some very high qualify modelling on display. This year, things were a bit different for me. I’ll preface this by saying I don’t work for Rapido Trains, though a lot of this post may sound like a promotion for them (I am a happy customer with the locomotives and coaches I’ve bought from them though). Several of the employees are Rapido are friends of mine, and I’ve gotten to know Jason Shron, the founder/president a bit over the years as we are both involved in the Toronto Railway Museum, and it’s not like our hobby is so big you don’t get to know people. About a week ago, I got an email from Jason, looking to see if anyone was interested in joining him on the GMC New Look Bus that Rapido Trains bought last year for the trip to Copetown.
If you like model trains, and this bus appears, being driven by a grinning Jason Shron, odds are you’re in for an entertaining road trip.
Suffice to say, having rail tripped with Jason before on the “Ride the Rapido” VIA Rail dome charter from Toronto to Montreal in 2015, the opportunity to go for a day out with like minded modellers/railfans/bus fans was too good to pass up, and, since I was going anyways, it seemed perfectly reasonable to get up and drive half an hour the wrong way to take the bus an hour and a half back to the show.
Scenes from a bus ride. Our 50 year old public transit chariot did itself proud on the highway. A steady 92kmph, stretching to 95 downhill with a tailwind!!
The bus is in very good shape for a 50 year old public transit vehicle. The Odometer only has 5 digits, so there is no way of knowing exactly how far it’s gone in its life (its at 7,000ish km on the current run). Watching Jason control it gives me a whole new level of respect for transit operators. I know modern buses have conveniences like Power Steering, unlike this one, but it’s still a big vehicle, and when an operator is at work, they’re dealing with City Streets, not highway driving. It was also a revealing insight into the world. The reaction of normal people to finding an old bus that looks like an old TTC bus in a school parking lot, at a gas station, at Tim Hortons, cruising down the highway was fascinating to observe. I certainly have a better understanding now of people who drive classic cars and the looks they get going down the road.
Just some of the amazing modelling on display at the Copetown Show.
At the show, this year, on Saturday, there was a Railway Prototype Modellers (RPM) Meet. These are events organized and held across North America where modellers who are interested in prototypically accurate modelling get together to display models, discuss techniques and hear clinics from modellers. I wasn’t able to attend, though it sounds like the Saturday was well attended, and the clinics well presented. Hopefully I’ll be able to update with a link if anyone I know posts a blog about it.
On Sunday, traditionally the Train Show is held. This show features smaller Canadian Manufacturers, and normally one highly detailed club/groups layout. This year, the “Ontario & Quebec Railway” was the featured display. This is an absolutely gorgeous layout. There was at least five photo vendors this year (which is an increase), several Railway Historical Associations along with manufacturers of decals, coach models, resin vehicles, and DCC decoders. I hate to say it, but I think a change in date over the past couple of years to move the show from February to March has hurt it. There were competing one day shows in Coburg on Saturday and St. Catharines on Sunday this weekend that stretched some of the small vendors and manufacturers thin, or made people chose to go to one show or another, possibly over Copetown. Hopefully it’s just a cyclical blip and the show will be back to feeling busier next year, as the organizing group is trying very hard to keep a traditionally very strong but niche show going. People who I spoke to who were at Saturday spoke highly of it, and maybe the show will evolve to focus more on the RPM side of the event.
We even managed some railfanning from the Bus on the way back from Copetown. CN Traffic crossing the Humber River.
All in all, while the show was much smaller than previous years, I had a very good time, caught up with people I don’t see often, and am reminded of one of the better parts of our hobby, the camaraderie of the people in it.
Taking care of the important things on the way home, fuel for the bus, or at least the bus driver!
For those interested, I have posted more pictures of the bus ride and the show to my Flickr.