Welcome to a new occasional thought feature, “Throwback Thursdays”. This won’t be every week, or even every month, as I don’t have the time, or necessarily the pictures. Recently, while my friend Trevor Marshall and I were trying to enable Chris Mears to buy a Wisbech and Upwell tram pack from Rapido Trains UK, I sent a picture of my three streetcar models, and Mears being an observant sort, instead of doing as he’s being told and buying trams, started asking questions about one of the models on my shelf, an HO Scale CLRV Streetcar. From that, the genesis of an idea, I have, built plenty of models over the years before I had the Liberty Village Layout, and before I started the blog. Some I still have, some have gone to new homes, but sometimes, to understand where you are going, it helps to look back a little bit on where you have been. So with that, I hope you enjoy this look back at a project from 2012.
You send a guy one picture of a trio of streetcars and where does it lead you…
So, to the past project at hand. I have been an active volunteer in some form at the Toronto Railway Museum since 2009. Sometime in 2011/early 2012, a fellow volunteer one day gave me a bag of bits and pieces, saying he would never build them, but he knew I would (Thanks Jim G!). Inside the bag, were a Miniatures By Eric/Customtraxx resin kit for a Toronto Transit Commission CLRV Streetcar. The bag had just the resin castings and clear vacuformed front and rear windows. No frame or wheelsets. Customtraxx sells a cast metal floor and Bowser trucks and wheelsets, as well as Decal Sets for the CLRV Cars.
Before I get into the model build, what is a CLRV? For anyone who doesn’t know, they are a Canadian designed and built streetcar, the Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV). They entered service in 1979, pushing the older Presidents Conference Cars (PCC) to the scrap lines, and were the face of the TTC Streetcar system along with their larger articulated cousin the Advanced Light Rail Vehicle (ALRV) until 2019, when age, mechanical failings and the need for accessible low-floor vehicles which were finally being delivered replaced them. A number have been preserved in Canada and the USA, and the TTC has kept a couple for their historic fleet. Pictures of my last day chasing them can be seen in Tuesday Train #177.
CLRV 4193 working on December 28, 2019. One of five that would end their days in service the following day, December 29th.
So, back to the model. I had heard tell of this model, and while having a model of a modern TTC Streetcar like I rode almost every day when my office was downtown was a strong desire, I wasn’t in the market to go buy the kit. Having half a project gifted to me was a good way to get me to go out and buy the bits and pieces I needed for the rest of it! It could be built and powered, but being a nut, I decided that I would rather do a fully prototypical interior, as I had no need for it to be powered, I didn’t at the time own any other streetcars, and had no plans to ever build a streetcar layout. With that decision made, once I had the frame, and got the trucks mounted, I built a fake sub-floor, and using plastic chairs, started to construct an interior.
Gallery of the kit being built.
The kit, which no longer seems to be available anymore is a bit of a beast. The castings are heavy yellow resin, which don’t sand well, and the body has a slight bow, along with some not 100% correct shapes, but it is close enough with some care in construction to create a more than passable CLRV. I understand that powered versions of these are running at Little Canada, the HO Scale layout attraction at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto that I still need to visit someday. To paint the cars, I painted a white base, then the black window strip and the grey lower quarter. The decal sets included the red body and window top strips. If memory serves, the TTC logos where integral to the strips, and would have been a real pain to paint the red and make the decals work.
Painting and decalling. The red were all provided as decals, I think If I was building it again, I would paint the stripes. First shot shows the full interior of the car.
I chose a car number pretty much at random (OK, so I chose one of the two 93’s as a mini tribute to one of my favourite Maple Leafs players and a Blue Jays World Series win…). At the time, my office was at King and Blue Jays Way, so I would often take the subway to Dundas West Station, then take the 510 King Streetcar to my office, so I put the car on the 510, and added the dreaded short turn board, a flip up metal plate that operators were supposed to flip up when Transit Control told them they were terminating their route short of the actual destination to go out of service or turn back the other way.
The finished model of 4093 on the 510 King Streetcar with the short turn board (a bane of TTC riders) flipped up.
So, with that, the end of my first look down memory lane at a past project from before the blog. Strangely, as I am often distracted by shiny things, I have actually considered building an IKEA Bookcase shelf layout with a little bit of a Toronto Streetscape for displaying the streetcars in a more natural way. Maybe I’ll be back here again someday in the future.