Saturday, November 14, 2015

VIA Paper by the Pound!

Throughout its history, VIA Rail Canada has published a plethora of paper items in a variety of formats: from pocket-sized regional timetables to glossy travel brochures. I can remember station racks of tri-folded 8x11 size brochures advertising charter trips, destinations, services, special fares and onboard services. Colourful, attractive and informative.

Some of these formats were holdovers from the days of CN and CP passenger services; as VIA grew, new formats appeared. Some useful, some not. Then there were other paper items - ticket folders, schedule cards, hat-checks and many more.

Having acquired my own plethora of VIA paper items, it's time to downsize and avoid duplication. I'm calling it VIA Paper by the Pound. Don't worry, I'm keeping one of everything! Email me at address at top of right sidebar if you're interested in a pound.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Shronians at Kingston Station

Shronians! What are they? They may be VIAphiles, or they may not. But they all appreciate the chutzpah of Jason Shron and his company, Rapido Trains Inc. This weekend, Rapido organized a VIA Rail charter from Toronto-Montreal return aboard VIA Rail. Lucky passengers - Shronians!! - attended the Rapido product announcement at Exporail - the Icons of Canadian Steam launch. Observing and videotaping Skyline 8501's deadhead move to Toronto, and lucky to have my wife and daughter record its eastbound passing on VIA No 52 on Sunday, I was able to catch the westbound charter cars on No 69 at Kingston tonight, tailed by Business Class car 3477 and Skyline 8501.
For a couple of reasons, unable to ride the charter, I decided I'd be one Earth-bound VIAphile that, in the event of a Shronian repossession to the Spadina Mothership, would remain to tell the story of VIA throughout its various eras. I photographed Jason Shron speaking to the Shronians during the Kingston platform stop (above and below) and enthusiastically exhorting them to wave just before departure (top photo).
This was not the first opportunity I'd had to meet Jason at Kingston. Back in June 2011, Jason was on a cross-Canada hobby shop tour when he briefly alighted at Kingston. Jason wrote the foreword for my first book on VIA Rail, and has been very supportive of my efforts, and I remain so of his. Jason's quality models of Canadian passenger trains, and my writing about them, go A and B units.
Too soon, VIA No 69 headed west, with Jason giving a friendly wave!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Leading off the September October edition of Branchline!

At the OVAR meeting in June, I gave a presentation on Kingston Platform Scenes. After the meeting, I was asked by a member of the new editorial team for Bytown Railway Society's Branchline to submit some articles. Canada's Rail News Magazine is switching to a bimonthly publication schedule, as well as an exciting new format inside. 

Off I went to electronically scribble an article about being trackside with VIA Rail along CN's Kingston Subdivision. Stitching together consist information, early-80s photos and operational details from 1976 to the new millennium was enjoyable and challenging.

Fortunately for me, Malcolm, Earl and the other members of the editorial team were very helpful and gave great feedback. Little did I know the article would lead off the first new-format Branchline, the September-October 2015 issue!

It's been a pleasure sharing some trackside treasure from throughout VIA's various eras. Watch for more articles. I think I'm on a roll.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Advice for Creating Your Book

I just read an excellent precis by Bernard Kempinski in which he discusses the general topic of getting published. It's entitled Thoughts about Writing for Model Railroad Press.

This passage caught my eye:
The other drawback to self-published books, at least the ones I have seen so far, is that they have lower production values. That means the photos are dull looking, the page layouts are crude, and graphics are rudimentary. Very few of us are all world class modelers, expert photographers, talented writers, capable editors, professional graphic artists, and whizzes at page layout. 

But self-published books can be very useful for niche topics. For example, a book just about modeling the railroads of the civil war will probably never be published by a major house. I know because I floated that idea and it was rejected by the publishers. But I may still do it as a self-published book. 

Another good topic for a self-published book would be your model railroad. The late Dan Zugeleter did just that. He wrote a book about his own HO scale C&O layout. He tried to tie in as much prototype information as possible, but in the end it as a paean to his layout. He hired several photographers, including Paul Dolkos and I, out of his own pocket to take the photos. Through pure dint of will he got a publisher to print and sell it, an amazing achievement. Afterwards, the publisher told me he would not do another book like that because it did not sell well. 

However, a book like that is ideal for self-publishing. Some less generous people call it vanity press. In any case there are no unhappy publishers to deal with. It would be a great record of your work and who knows, it could take off. Just don’t bother with vanity publishers that require large upfront fees. 

The entire article is included on Bernard's blog here. He discusses the use of established publishers, self-publishing, writing for magazines, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Originally prepared as a presentation for a meeting, his thoughts are from someone who knows about what he writes!

I have maintained, throughout the process of creating my three books on VIA Rail, that if I can do it, anyone can. That means you, gentle reader!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Join the Club(s)

Today's VIA No 40 included five, that's right, five Business Class cars on the tail end. I call that a mass class migration! Consist was July 5, 2015: 6402-6410-3459-3338-3314-3473-3466-3474-3452-3477. At Kingston, ON on time, with thanks to Dave for the heads-up.

Better yet, enjoy it on Youtube.

Highball, Business Class!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

OVAR Best by Far!

The room was full. The conversation was percolating. The talk was of all things railway - both prototype and model. The bar was open. The stage was set at this welcoming venue in Little Italy. The Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders had invited me to speak to their June meeting and I gladly accepted. After a delicious buffet dinner and a short business meeting, my 45-minute PowerPoint entitled Kingston Platform Scenes followed.
Who wouldn't like the chance to talk trains? I could have gone all night, but then again, no. While my talk focused on Kingston, it also covered travels across Canada on VIA Rail and would not have been possible without the surprising success of my three books on VIA Rail.
My genial host Peter Jackson kept me on track (pun intended) and I had the chance to meet Ottawa railfans like the well-versed Earl Roberts of BRS Canadian Trackside Guide fame:
A visit to Parliament Hill capped off a very enjoyable visit to our nation's capital!
Thanks again to Peter and OVAR for extending such a kind invitation and being gracious hosts of a very enjoyable evening!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

On to Ottawa!

I'm looking forward to visiting the nation's capital on Tuesday, June 9. I've been asked to speak to the Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders' June meeting. The topic I've chosen to present is Kingston Platform Scenes. Not only will I cover railfanning Kingston's stations, I'll also link it to how these experiences and the observations I made led to the creation of my books on VIA Rail! Not to mention departing the platform on trips across Canada and doing my darnedest to inspire those in attendance to create their own projects, be they in scale, in print or online.

I'm looking forward to meeting the group at the St Anthony's Soccer Club Hall, for dinner and train talk. I'll try to stay on track and on schedule. I like the sound of the collaborative nature of the OVAR - tying together myriad interests across the railroading spectrum - model and prototype. They have a great online newsletter, I might add!

Of course I'll be bringing copies of my books on VIA Rail along for the ride. My sincere thanks to the group for this opportunity. According to the OVAR's Peter Jackson, as a speaker I join a most august group who have made presentations and I'm honoured to be able to make this trip.


(Photo - VIA No 655 Eng 910 approaches Napanee West at 0708 on May 23, 2015 having just made its Napanee stop)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NOT Out of Print

Saved from the ignominy of being Out of Print. I'm pleased to say that my printer has just delivered more copies of my second book on VIA Rail. I'm planning for an upcoming speaking engagement and realized that there was absolutely no point showing up without some copies on hand!  Not to mention ongoing mail orders.

VIA's Enterprise (pictured above at Kingston) ended but this book lives on!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Out of Print?

By the time you read this, the last copy in print of my Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium may have been sold. This pleasantly successful book published in October 2012, was fun to create and has proved to be an interesting discussion-starter and argument-settler on many occasions for many readers.

But we're now in a much different book-selling environment than when I published Trackside with VIA: The First 35 Years back in June, 2011. The number of book shops and hobby shops has drastically declined. The appetite for paper books in the midst of e-books has had an impact. Printing and postage costs have increased. We are spending less time with books and more time online.

So, the last few copies I had on hand may have been the last. The prospect of unsold copies has always been an unsavoury one to me. If you've been considering ordering, please do so. It may be that this will soon be listed as Out of Print Volume!