The PNR is a free lanced HO scale model railroad set in the transition era. It uses an imagined CPR/CNR merger of operations in the mountainous terrain of their western lines as an excuse for its mixed lineage. The PNR had its beginnings 62 years ago with the acquisition of Tenshodo F-7 A/B units and some Athearn metal kits, all purchased with four months of paper route earnings. The present layout has been built intermittently over the past forty years, starting with a compact 5x9 track plan incorporating two separate mains with interconnections. The dual arrangement was intended to accommodate my young son’s participation, and provide separate development of the CP and CN partners. The original track work and associated controls remain as a branch line peninsula in the expanded around- the-walls layout.
Over time CPR influence dominated, partly because their short trains and small locomotives suited modelling constraints. However, CN enthusiasm is renewed with each delivery of the fine CN Lines publication.
Construction techniques have varied over time as skills, knowledge, and available resource materials improved. Engineering standards have been quite consistent, reflecting satisfaction with the reliability delivered from the start. The original “spaghetti bowl” is code 100 Peco track with 9 Shinhara and 11 hand laid turnouts. Subsequent more prototypical expansions employed code 83 Micro Engineering and hand laid track, and an additional 24 hand laid and 6 ME turnouts. Eased, super-elevated track has contributed to reliable operation. The original plan made provision for connections to the expansions that followed.
The four control panels employ a simple and robust electrical architecture that has reliably stood the test of time. It is however archaic, and is not particularly well suited to intuitive operation on the increased extent and complexity of track work. It works reliably, but takes a while to learn!
The rugged terrain has yielded opportunities to scratch build interesting civil works, including numerous trestles and bridges, and a snow shed. Most line side buildings and the Fife tipple are scratch built, whereas the engine service facilities are mostly kit-bashed.
Motive power is either brass or lesser works, kit bashed as required to portray the prototypes, or simply for the devil of it. Of interest to CP modellers might be Consolidations N2a 3651 and N2b 3716, both built from Bachman generic locomotives. CP Trainmaster 8911 has scratch built brass tanks and other details to better match the last remaining example in Delson, PQ. CP service crane 414330, idler 402107, plow 401033, and van 437265 I hope are of interest, if only because they took so long to build! Passenger equipment includes a brass five car KVR consist, kit bashed Walthers combine and business cars, and a trio of RDC’s. The 62 year old original locomotives and rolling stock are still operational and in remarkably good condition, demonstrating the care one takes with things paid for the hard way.
CN fans will have to be content with a variety of rolling stock under the control of GP9’s, a J4e, or even a brass U1e built up from Hallmark running gear.
Future plans are uncertain. I enjoy designing and laying track, but have run out of space. The new yard needs lots of structures, and the backdrops are unfinished. There always remains lots of scope for improvements to old construction, and the dreaded DCC installations.
The focus of the PNR has always been one of learning and building, as opposed to simply buying the admittedly fine offerings available. This results in slow but satisfying progress with sustained interest.