There are two approaches we usually take in modeling specific freight trains. For general freights, the emphasis is placed on modeling the engines and caboose, while the cars in between are virtually ignored because of their constantly changing nature. Unit trains, on the other hand, are modeled with all parts of the train faithfully reproduced.
Canadian National train No. 460/461 combines both of the above. Technically a unit limestone train operating between Toronto and Uhthoff, Ontario, it also functions as an intra-regional freight, peddling cars for the locals along the way.
Northbound train 461 runs Monday through Saturday (except during the winter), originating at CN's Macmillan Yard, just north of Toronto. The train, usually called to leave the yard at 3 p.m. weekdays (10 a.m. on Sundays), picks up its cut of empty Uhthoff-bound hoppers on the connecting track between the York and Newmarket subdivisions and proceeds north on the Newmarket Subdivision.
At Barrie, cars are set out for the local industries and for train 540, the Monday-through-Friday way freight on the Beeton and Meaford subdivisions. Since the train handles all its switching duties on the northbound run, any cars for Toronto are added to the consist at this time.
Farther north, at Orillia, cars are set out for the local industries and for Longford, served by the Orillia switcher.
461 then proceeds west on the Midland Subdivision to Uhthoff. Depending upon the amount of work required at Barrie, 461 usually arrives at Uhthoff between 5 and 6 p.m. Here its empty hoppers are exchanged for loads at Limestone Quarries, a division of King Paving and Materials, Ltd. Cars are also set out at the Uhthoff siding for the Orillia switcher, which operates weekdays to Midland as train 544.
Train 461 returns to Toronto sometime after 9 p.m. as 460, usually with about 50 to 55 stone-filled hoppers, the cars it picked up at Barrie and cars from Midland left for it at the Uhthoff siding.
Train 718, operating five days a week, shuttles the hoppers to Milliken where they're unloaded to feed the building material demands of metropolitan Toronto.
During the coldest winter months, when the demand for aggregates is at its lowest, 460/461 is annulled for several months, replaced by a long-distance way freight turn, train 503, operating from Macmillan Yard to Orillia. No stone cars are handled on 503.
The Newmarket and Midland subdivisions are timetable and train order dispatched with open stations at Barrie and Orillia. Although 460/461 is technically an extra and can run at any time, its usual schedule is fairly well adhered to, as the running times fit well into the traffic patterns on these subdivisions.
Although it's possible to see almost any type of CN motive power on 460/461, the usual consist is from three to five GP40-2L(W) units. It's not uncommon, however, to see a six-motor SD40 or MLW unit replacing one or more of the Geeps. Solid sets of MLW power are also seen occasionally. The train also swaps out the local switchers, usually GP9's, assigned to Barrie and Orillia, so the motive power is further diversified with first generation power.
The hoppers that form the unit stone train part of 460/461 are 40-foot, 82-to 9O-ton hoppers filled to capacity. Most of the Midland cars are either 40-foot boxcars of flour from Olgivie Mills or 50-foot covered hoppers carrying silica sand from Indusmin Industries. The flour-loading boxcars have, for the most part, had their roofwalks removed, but retain the high location for the brakewheels. The covered hoppers are the common 100-ton capacity cylindrical type, of which CN has a large fleet. Train 461 is blocked with the Barrie cars at the head end, followed by the Orillia and Longford setouts, the Midland cars for Uhthoff and, finally, the stone hoppers. Bringing up the rear is a standard CN steel van.
Train 460/461 is a kit basher's delight. Most of the components are available, at least in HO scale, in several kit and ready-to-run forms requiring various degrees of kitbashing, the most difficult being the CN van. CN GP40-2L(W)'s can be kitbashed using an Atlas GP40 with a Canadian Prototype Replicas wide-cab conversion kit. PFM's new sideframes can be utilized to produce a more exact model of a GP40-2L(W). The SD40's that sometimes supplement the locomotive consist can be modeled using the AHM or Model Power SD40. A smooth-running Athearn or GSB SD40-2 could also be backdated to an SD40 model. A Model Power Alco C628 could provide the starting point for an M630, although a can motor replacement would make it a better running unit. The GP9 can be modeled using Athearn's GP7.
CN freight 460/461
Models given are HO scale.
Locomotives: Atlas GP40 modified with Canadian Prototype Replicas No. 5000 wide-cab conversion kit; Model Power No. 6680 Alco C628; AHM No. 16305 (includes International caboose) SD40; Athearn No. 3151 (powered) or No. 3051 (dummy) GP9.
Open hoppers: MDC No. 1617 (lettered CN) or No. 1610 (undecorated) 3-bay offset-side hopper; Ulrich No. 190 (undecorated) 40-foot triple hopper; McKean No. 100 (undecorated) 15-panel outside braced hopper, kitbashed per text or painted and decaled.
Covered hoppers: Model Power 9500 series (available decorated only-strip with alcohol solvent) 51-foot cylindrical hopper.
Boxcars: Athearn No. 1200 (undecorated) 40-foot boxcar, modified with CM Shops roofwalk plugs.
Caboose: Athearn No. 5360 (undecorated) wide-vision caboose-two required for extensive kitbashing job.
Paint: Accupaint No. 18 CN Red-Orange, No. 2 Stencil Black and No. 19 CN Yellow for locomotives; No. 12 Oxide Brown for hoppers and boxcars; No. 43 CP Gray for covered hoppers; No. 18 CN Red-Orange for caboose.
Dry transfers: CDS Lettering, Inc., No. 212 for diesels in current paint scheme, No. 163 for diesels in wet noodle paint scheme, No. 72 for caboose, No. 25 for boxcars in wet noodle paint scheme, No. 30 for boxcars in maple leaf paint scheme, No. 4 for open hoppers in pre-wet noodle paint scheme, No. 41 for cylindrical hoppers.
Decals: Herald King No. L-160 for diesels in wet noodle paint scheme, No. B-160 for boxcars in wet noodle paint scheme, No. H-160 f r cylindrical hoppers; Champ No. HC-658 for open hoppers.
All of the stone cars on 460/461 are triple hoppers. Model Die Casting kit No. 480-1617 is alread y lettered for CN, representative of the 320000-325600 series, although the color is too brownish - CN cars have a much redder cast. The outside-braced 326000-326499 series hoppers could be kitbashed from a McKean 15-panel hopper, shortened to 40 feet by removing a panel between each of the bays. The boxcars are stock Athearn No. 140-1200, modified by removing the roofwalk and plugging the holes with CM Shops roof plugs. Model Power makes a reasonably accurate model of CN's 370000 series hoppers. By replacing the cast-on ladders with brass ones, a much more accurate model can be achieved.
The most difficult kitbashing job on 460/461 is the CN van. A reasonable model could be built by combining two Athearn No. 5360 extended-vision caboose kits. This requires extensive modification to the windows and a lengthened body to achieve the characteristic CN look. See the equipment list for the necessary paints and decals or dry transfers to give the equipment the prototype look.
Many of the older CN diesels, such as the SD40's, M630's and GP9's are still painted in the original black-and-red scheme without the white side panels, as seen on the GP40-2L(W)'s. Similarly, the boxcars and hoppers carry both the wet noodle and the old pre-wet noodle paint schemes. The covered hoppers are all painted in the new scheme.
I wish to thank J. E. Muirhead, Brian Moreau and Jim Stratton of CN Rail for their assistance in supplying information for this article.