Arrival of The Canadian

When you have waited so long for something and it is finally happening, it is difficult to believe that it is really happening. We started work on The Canadian in fall 2007. We announced it in 2008 and spent the better part of two years doing the R&D. We started cutting the steel in 2010 and got our first samples in May 2011. Getting the tooling done for The Canadian required Bill and me to spend a combined total of three months in China in 2011, and there were times when both of us thought, “there is no way we can pull this off.”

This weekend the first production sample of The Canadian arrived from China. The kids helped me unpack it.

Once they got the bubble wrap off, it was hard to keep their attention. They just wanted to pop bubbles.

Those of you with keen eyes will have noticed the 1970s VIA Rail Canada carpet in my spare room. My mother refers to it as my spare closet. It’s a very small room sandwiched between the layout room and the hallway. Brockville and East Staging operators will work from this room as there are big windows into the layout (above the kids’ heads). Because it’s still dusty down there from construction, we haven’t put in the furniture yet. I love 1970s VIA carpet. I can’t get enough of it. I had a dream once that I found three more rolls, but with the purple and red pattern instead of the brown and black. Some people dream about winning the lottery. I dream about finding surplus VIA carpet.

But back to The Canadian – here is that really big box:

We had planned to have every car packaged separately but we found that we couldn’t do that as the overall box would have been too big and it would have fallen apart when you lifted it, so sorry about that for those of you who wanted a separate small box for each car. It’s now packed in a big styrofoam cradle with openings for each car.

I haven’t made this public on our web site but each Canadian comes with some special goodies. Dalya, acting as Vanna White, was proud to show them off for the camera.

100 monogrammed CP cocktail napkins
(We are making Action Red and VIA ones too!) 

Reproduction CP swizzle sticks as used system wide
(We are also making those little yellow VIA ones from the 1970s!) 

A stemless wine or Scotch glass complete with CP Beaver logo
(and Action Red and VIA logos for those sets, of course!) 

Dan and I have spent the whole day going over the sample and finding every little bit wrong with it. I am sure that you will not notice the majority of the issues, but to us it is difficult to take a step back and say, “You know what? This is actually an amazing model!” The factory is starting the last-minute tweaks tonight and nothing is big enough that it can’t be fixed before delivery – stuff like the blister on the FP9 managing to knock off the marker light bracket on one side, or a battery box under the Skyline being so crooked it makes politicians look honest.

We have worked insanely hard with the factory to get The Canadian right. The Turbo was a great looking model but when it first came out its operation left a lot to be desired. We’ve since fixed the gearbox issue on the Turbo but if I could do it over there are about a dozen things I would do differently now that I have so much more experience as a modeller and as a manufacturer.

I have nightmares (quite literally) that The Canadian will not work properly or all the parts will fall off or something else will go wrong at the last minute. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this train, and when you put so much into a project you can’t help but be nervous that something will go wrong.

The first Canadian, #210001 (CP Block set #1), is leaving the factory in one week. Bill, Dan and I know that we have put 110% into The Canadian and that it is the best possible train that we can produce. I’m sure that in ten years, as the technology advances, we will look back on it and say “we could have done this better” or “we could have done that better.” But that is the nature of what we do at Rapido. The truth is it’s a gorgeous train, it runs like a dream and we are very proud of what we have accomplished.

Even so, I doubt I will be able to sleep in the next few weeks.

There is a lot of Dan, Bill and me in every model of The Canadian. We have worked harder on this project than we have ever worked before, and all I can say is that I hope it lives up to your expectations.

-Jason