Great Moments in Modelling History: The Tumbler Ridge Prototypes GF6C

Here’s a look back into the model railroading history books at a limited run kit that is not that well known.

In 1994/1995 Dave Woodall produced an HO scale kit of the unique to BC Rail GMD built GF6C electric locomotive. Designed to fit on a modified Athearn SD40-2 drive, the one piece Alumilite body shell and assorted detail parts made it possible for BC Rail modellers to finally have a model of the modern coal hauling electrics. Mr. Woodall marketed the kit under the Tumbler Ridge Prototypes banner. I’m not sure how many kits were produced, however they are hard to find, and to date I have only seen one fully built up model.  The only part not included with the kit was the pantographs, which were left up to the modeller to scratchbuild since at the time a matching part was not available commercially.

Let’s take a closer look at the kit, starting with the box which is made from heavy cardstock and is quite durable:

BOX OVERVIEW

The kit I have was purchased from an estate, and has a few extra documents inside:

KIT CONTENTS

Along with the one piece body shell in a vacuum sealed package, there are instructions, and a package with scale sized wire, presumably for the handrails. My kit came with a prototype pamphlet, copies of scale drawings from Model Railroader magazine, Microscale decals, and letters from the Quintette Operating Corperation, the District of Tumbler Ridge, and from Dave Woodall. The model in the rear is an Overland brass import, which was produced many years after the Tumbler Ridge Prototypes kit.

The Quintette Letter:

QUINTETTE LETTER

Tumbler Ridge:

TUMBLER LETTER

And correspondence between Dave Woodall and David Archer, the modeller who initially purchased the kit:

LETTERS

There is also a bill of materials included with the kit:

BILL OF MATERIALS

The shell casting appears to be of good quality, with little to no flash or bubbles that I can see.

Front:

SHELL FRONT

Rear:

SHELL REAR

It’s hard to see in the photo, but there are parts like the underbody detail included with the kit, neatly packaged with the body shell

IMG_1139

The kit I have is untouched since the day it was produced, and will likely stay that way, since for now I have no desire to build it, but it is a neat conversation piece to have in the basement. I think my favorite part of the kit is the letters between Mr. Woodall and Mr. Archer, since they discuss how to build the kit and some of the challenges and limitations with the kit itself. The instructions are brief, but appear to be fairly well written, but they do mention to consult scale drawings when building the kit. I have no idea how successful the production of these kits was for Mr. Woodall, but the fact that there are not many of them out in the market today leads me to believe the venture was not very lucrative!

 

 

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How I got into BC Rail

In 2004 CN took over the operation of BC Rail. I had planned a railfanning trip to shoot what remained of the equipment and operations that summer before CN could “mess everything up”. 2 days before I was to leave for Pemberton BC (to shoot the helper operation) a friend suggested I go north and that he tag along. What was to be a week long trip turned into a 3 day trip (due to the friend’s work schedule) and I had done no research on the lines north of Prince George. Although the weather was wet, when we rolled into the Dawson Creek yard the first thing I thought was “This is begging to be modeled”. A few more trips the following year and  I was hooked, I wanted to model BC Rail’s Dawson Creek Sub!

Although not on the Dawson Creek line, here’s a shot I took on that fateful trip of a southbound freight near Taylor BC. Can’t beat 2 SD40-2’s and an RS-18CAT!

BC RAIL 759 AUG 22 2004 TAYLOR BC CRW_3751 SMALL

A shot of the Dawson Creek yard and the way freight:

BCR 3903 JUN 2 05 DAWSON CK BCrpc

So when I returned home did I start building the Dawson Creek Sub in HO scale? Well, no. At the time I was into On30 narrow gauge, and was busy modeling the Rio Grande in 1948. Time passed and I was not happy with the narrow gauge idea, and I found myself flipping through the pages of JF Garden’s British Columbia Railway more and more.

Finally, I decided to scrap the On30, and model the BC Rail line from Chetwynd to Dawson Creek on the benchwork of the old layout. Another inspiration for the switch was the excellent research and modelling done by Tim Horton:

http://www.bcrdawsonsub.ca/

I ended up using Tim’s track plan for Dawson Creek (thanks Tim!) modifying it slightly for the space I had. The layout was roughly 17 feet by 20 feet (I think) and ran around the walls of our finished basement. I finished the track work and started running operating sessions with a group of local modellers in or around 2011.

Dawson Creek Yard:

DAWSON CREEK OVERVIEW TREVOR SOKOLAN

Chetwynd:

FREIGHT ARRIVING CHETWYND TREVOR SOKOLAN

Overview of Layout:

LAYOUT OVERVIEW 2 TREVOR SOKOLAN

And the only sceniced portion of the layout, the siding at Sundance

SUNDANCE SIDING