Friday, 24 June 2016

A Visit to Rapido Trains, Inc.

The front entrance to Rapido Trains, Inc. shows an obvious VIA influence.

by Peter Mumby, with photos by George Dutka and Peter Mumby.

About seven or eight weeks ago I received a notice that Rapido was going to hold its first ever dealer open house at its "Galactic Headquarters" in Markham, Ontario.  There would be tours of the facility, announcements of two new product releases, and food and drink at a late afternoon barbecue.  Sign me up!  George agreed to keep me company, and the road trip was pencilled in on the calendar.  June 23, 2016 was the date.

With a full day of activities planned, we left London at 09:30.  Railfan visits were made to Ontario Southland at Salford and to CP at Guelph Junction.  Hobby shop stops included Credit Valley and our first ever visit to George's Trains since the move to Markham.  As it turned out, Rapido's location was just across a side street from the parking lot at George's, so our final move was the 100 foot journey from one parking lot to the other.  We joined the crowd at Rapido at about 3:45.

We were greeted by Jason, the two Dans, and the whole Rapido crew.  We were given a tour of the facility, including the VIA-themed lounge area at the front door and Dan Darnell's CNR orange office.  In addition to pre-production RDC and FA models, there were displays of detail parts, Noise Killer roadbed, and Railcrew uncouplers and switch motors.  A representative from ESU Loksound was test driving the new Loksound/Rapido GMD-1 sound module.  Sweet!

Here we see the early test shots of the cylindrical hopper and the stack car.  Oh, and did I mention their new vehicle line?  It will kick off with a model of the GM fish bowl bus.

The new product announcements both referred to new freight car models.  In the Prime Movers line, a 53' Husky-Stack car and containers will be produced.  A car with two containers will have a list price of $59.95 Cdn.  As well, a 3800 cubic foot Canadian Cylindrical Hopper will be joining the regular Rapido line.  Finally, modellers will be able to stop relying on the bigger cylindrical hoppers to masquerade as THB 1500-series cars!  Single cars will list for $59.95.

By 5:15 or so we had had a pretty good look around and were pleased to note that Jason was breaking out a new set of bbq tools.  By then a pretty good crowd had assembled (including our friend Jeff Grove from Railway City Hobbies in St. Thomas), and we were all treated to a great meal.  It only got better when a large railway-themed cake was rolled out.  Good food, good trains, and good fellowship.  Thanks, Rapido!

Dan in his office with a bright CN orange wall full of memorabilia.
Jason had no difficulty finding volunteers to assist with the bbq chores.  The cooks were entertained by three CN freights which passed by on the York Subdivision which skirts the Rapido parking lot.

After dinner in the board room Jason served a really nice tasting cake.
Comfortable ex-VIA/CN coach seats appear in various locations throughout the Rapido location.

The N-scale display featured the New Haven FL-9 locomotives. This is their photo studio when needed.

June 23 postscript:
On an entirely different topic, I was saddened to learn that noted Kitchener/Waterloo area modeller and CN authority Dan Kirlin had passed away.  Dan was well known as a DCC/sound expert, sometime importer of brass models, and enthusiast of first generation CNR diesels.  CNR railfans/modellers have lost a well-versed fount of knowledge and a good friend.

These two CN SW1200 RS units from my collection were built by Dan Kirlin over 30 years ago from Athearn blue box switchers.  Cosmetically, they still compare quite favourably with some of today's offerings.

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