Friday, October 26, 2012


Both my new books are now ready for you to order.

On this big day, I would like to publicly thank my principal contributors from all across Canada: Tom Box, Bruce Chapman, Gary Hadfield, Robin Lowrie, Jakob Mueller and Brian Schuff.  Each of these fine gentlemen were good enough to make major contributions to these books: consists, reviewing text, critical data, photographs, and plain old good advice.  

These books were a team effort.  Without these contributors, I would not have been able to collect and include the important and useful content these books contain. Though my contributors are also listed under Acknowledgements in my second book, I think it's important to thank them here for their contributions along the way.  I've been waiting a long time to say this, and rather than overdoing it with 60 pt font, marquee lights or other overdone web effects like flaming penguins, I'm just going to type it here, now. Are you ready? It's...finally...time...for...the...


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flyer: Consist Companion

This flyer gives you the contents, contact information and pricing for my new (third) consist book plus my first book.  Click to see a larger version, to save, to print or to share.

Flyer: Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium

This flyer gives you the contents, contact information and pricing for my new book.  Click to see a larger version, to save, to print or to share.

Three-Book Order Form

This order form can be saved and printed from your computer.  Its use is optional - if you'd prefer not to print the form, simply include the appropriate information from the form with your payment.  When ordering one, two or three copies of any book, each copy will be shipped separately.  (Four or more copies of any book will be shipped together.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Super Saturday!

The release of my second and third VIA Rail books will take place this Saturday.  If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you're as ready for this moment as I am!  If you're just tuning in, you're here at a good time - more than a year in the making, this project is about to get the highball!

Can't wait!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Now - 3 books!

I had to make a tough decision.  And I believe I made the right decision.  All along, my second VIA book was going to be big - maybe too big.  I was right.  Weighing in at over 520 grams, this book would cost over $10 to ship.  No way.  I wouldn't pay that, and neither should potential customers.  So something had to go.

Now, I'm happy to announce that I'll be completing a VIA trilogy:

V1 - Trackside with VIA: The First 35 Years
My observations, interspersed with VIA history, photos and data. Published in 2011.

V2 - Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium
VIA's equipment and operations, text, photos and data.  Complete - to be published October 2012.

V3 - Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium Consist Companion
VIA's trains in consist format, from all across Canada, especially VIA's early years.  Also to be published October 2012.

I've split the consist section into a separate 52-page book.  Always curious to see if consists have caught on as a valuable source of information not available anywhere else, this book will be the test.  Did I mention VIA's early years, including eastern Canada, western Canada as well as the Corridor?  They are heavilly-represented here, and as time marches on, fewer of these consists seem to be available to us.  This book changes that.

Originally, I wanted all this VIA material between the same covers.  But the book grew to a size where that was not possible in the current format.  Don't worry, both books will be affordable, and both will give excellent value.  If you've read this far, you're interested enough in VIA to consider whether this information is valuable to you, whether you're a train enthusiast, interested specifically in passenger trains, or if you're a modeller.

Watch for more updates very soon.  V2 will be ready first, with V3 very close behind.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Preview Here for Free!

Here's a preview to show you what's in my second book Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium.  The book contains a nice mix of text, photos and data.  (All the photos in this post are clickable - feel free to click on each one to inspect the contents in detail!) Compared to my last book, this is a huge change in content.  I've written the text by weaving numerous sources together on each topic.  Photos and some data has been contributed by my six contributors, as well as some other very helpful individuals.  I must say thank you to them all, for this book would be much diminished without their illustrious contributions.  The cover (above) features VIA rolling stock from various eras.  I never tire of seeing those blue & yellow cars!   There are over 50 colour photos in this book as well as over 220 black & white photos:

The colour page (above) features trains of Western Canada - transcontinentals and trains to Northern Manitoba to Prince Rupert.  I'm very pleased with the colour reproduction.  Bryan Babcock and Allan Graphics has nailed it.  There are a total of 8 colour pages, including cover covers front and rear.  The colour pages include ex-CP E & F-units, F40PH-2's and trains from all parts of VIA's network.  Here are some sample pages of the book's interior - the HEP program and its equipment:
Here's the last page of the section on VIA's motive power, its newest F40/P42 fleet, as well as the beginning of the VIA Motive Power Summary section, which includes snapshots of select VIA motive power in various eras, over several days in each era.  Throughout the books, small blocks of text that I've entitled triVIA highlight VIA factoids that didn't fit in anywhere else, but that I found interesting and I trust you will too:

VIA rostered many unique cars, and I've included information on them and photos where available.  It really gives us pause to reflect on the variety and diversity of VIA's fleet:

I kept tripping over information on the disposition of VIA's equipment.  Though I realize the equipment on CN's passenger fleet was included in other publications, I've never seen a listing with all types of VIA equipment...locomotives, RDC's , coaches and sleeping cars, and more.  This section ended up filling nine pages!

The back cover showcases more photos that I wanted to share...and serves as a bit of a teaser.  Notice the Amroad-painted CP F-units!  Just a snapshot of the equipment operating on and around the VIA Rail network, again, covering all eras.  I'm really pleased with the graphic design that Bryan has used, and the covers certainly maintain a 'family resemblance' to my first book.  Bravo Bryan!

So there you have our sneak peek.  Rest assured there are many more pages like this in the book.  I'm pleased with the photo reproduction inside, and the black & white photos look great on the heavyweight paper stock.  In this book, you'll find information and photos of VIA's trains that you absolutely have not seen anywhere else.  It's organized into sections, but if you're like me, you will find yourself flipping pages to see what's on the next page, and what's in the next section.  I trust this book will provide value for the price, as well as serving as a valuable and useful reference for the modeller, novice VIA enthusiast or the most seasoned VIAphile among us!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Proof, Part 2, Dash 3

Four days ago I blogged here about the proof copy of my second book.  Having worked through it, and having sent some revisions to Bryan, I'm expecting a second proof tomorrow.  This time it will be the complete book - including all text, consists and colour sections.  

There may be another round of revisions to be made, because I want to make sure everything is as accurate and correct as I can get it, the first time around.

Which brings me to the Dash 3 in this post title.  Although I refer to VIA's 6400-class F40PH-2 locomotives throughout the book, some diesel experts refer to the refurbished Renaissance-painted units as F40PH-3s.  Though there's some debate as to which is the correct designation, I would note that all the refurbished units are in VIA's class GPA-30H, like 6437 at Kingston (above).  When it comes to diesels, details count.

Now, one more sleep 'til the proof.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

But look, we have proof!

Not long ago, I gave my printer a USB stick full of material for this second VIA book.  Then I waited, not so patiently.  There was pacing.  There was nail-biting.  There was more pacing, followed by finger-drumming.  Then, on Sunday, I received a fantastic proof from Bryan.  He has done a great job combining tables, text and photos*.  It's lookin' good, real good.

I had no idea how many pages the proof would total.  I thought 50 or 60.  How about 92?  That's 92 pages of solely VIA material! Is this a problem or an opportunity?  All along, I've wanted to include all types of material, including relevant consists from across Canada, especially from the early years of VIA.  Aside from colour photos, some consists are the only thing to be added, and now they've gone to the printer too.  How big is this thing going to end up being??

Bryan and I are working through some revisions, as I try to squeeze a few more VIA data-points into the proof, and we're also working on some formatting.  I'm eager to see the colour pages, and I've selected photos that will look best in colour, highlighting all the colours of VIA, from B&W to B&Y via Action Red and grey&blue, Renaissance greenish-bluish and even Amroad red.  Amroad red??

*Funny formatting story....Bryan was concerned that I'd included four of the same photos of a baggage car.  Was there some mistake?  Had I lost my mind, uploaded the wrong photo, gone VIA stir-crazy?  So he started counting the rivets.  He looked at the stripe pattern and the details of the cars in the photo.  He realized they were indeed different.  A railfan was born?  Well, not quite, but these photos showed four ex-CP baggage cars that languished at CP's Glen Yard in Montreal well into the VIA era.  And I wanted to include each and every one of them for just that reason.  Good eye, Bryan!

A word about price.  All along, I've also wanted to keep this book affordable.  I would much rather see my books in more readers' hands at a reasonable price, than inflate the price to increase the profits, making the book more exclusive to a smaller potential readership.  I often buy railway books based on price, and I know for many of you, this is also an important consideration.  Now that I'm working on pricing, I am indeed endeavouring to keep the price reasonable.  I want the information I've gathered to get out there, among those who are interested in VIA as I am.

Longest. Blog post. Ever.  Well, not quite, but can you sense my enthusiasm in my typing?  Seeing the proof after over a year of work is rewarding.  Knowing this project is almost complete is like waiting to board your favourite VIA train after waiting so long for the departure date to arrive.  You know what comes next,


Photo of No 1 Eng 6441 at Winnipeg, Manitoba by Manny Jacob, September 22, 2012.