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Rapido N scale The Canadian 10-car set

By Eric White, Senior Editor | June 24, 2021

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Line of passenger cars

Line of passenger cars

The flash of light on fluted stainless steel made its way through our Canadian Canyons layout recently thanks to Rapido’s new N scale Canadian 10-car set, and these models are available at your favorite dealer now.

The Canadian debuted in 1955 with all new cars from Budd of Philadelphia. Canadian Pacific ordered a total of 173 cars for The Canadian in 1953, at $40 million, the largest order Budd would ever receive. Construction began in 1954, with delivery through spring 1955.

The Canadian started as a daily train with two sections, one from Montreal and the other from Toronto in the east running to Vancouver in the west. Canadian Pacific soon decided passenger traffic was a losing proposition and cut The Canadian back to three times a week. Fares were raised as bookings decreased.

In 1978, the Canadian government formed VIA Rail Canada, which took over passenger operations from CP and Canadian National. The Canadian lived on. VIA Rail renovated the passenger cars in 1992, including updating the systems on board to head-end power instead of steam. The cars were renovated again in 2010, with most of the fleet still in service today.

Our samples from Rapido included a 10-car set in the VIA Rail Canada “Silver and Blue” scheme. I compared the cars with drawings in The Passenger Car Library, Vol. 3: Western Railroads by W. David Randall (2000, RPC Publications, Alton, Ill.) At first I thought the Skyline lounge car in our VIA Rail 10-car set had a mismatched interior, but then I checked the CP Rail Action Red sample we received and realized the interiors reflected changes made when the cars were renovated.

Ten N-scale passenger car
The VIA Rail Canada 10-car set includes, clockwise from bottom left, lounge/observation Strathcona Park, 4-8-3-1 sleeper Chateau Vercheres, 4-8-3-1 sleeper Chateau Montcalm, 4-4-5-1 sleeper Butler Manor, 4-4-5-1 sleeper Carlton Manor, baggage/dormitory 8609, coach 8103, coach 8117, Skyline 8501, and diner Kent.

In addition to the partitions and window arrangements matching the drawings, measurements were within scale inches as well. Opening the cars was easy; I pried the sides apart with my thumbnails as I lifted on the sides of the screw-mounted trucks to free the floor and interior from the molded plastic body shell.

All of the cars are lighted and use the Rapido Lighter to illuminate or extinguish the lights. A magnet on the Lighter triggers a magnetic reed switch mounted on the circuit board carrying the interior lights. On our VIA Rail cars, red marker lights are installed on the ends of the cars. These are also triggered with the Rapido Lighter. All versions of the Park-series observation cars have working marker lights on the tail end.

Photo-etched-metal grab irons, handrails, and stirrup steps add to the detail on the cars, along with etched-metal gates in the end doors of each car. Underneath the cars, a combination of molded and separately applied details give the cars a properly busy look. These details also match drawings in the passenger car book and photos in Canadian Pacific Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment by John Riddell (1998, Morning Sun Books).

The metallic paint gives a realistic rendition of the stainless steel finish of the full-sized cars, and the fluting pattern matched photos of the cars. All of the lettering was sharp and opaque.

I took the 10-car train to our N scale Canadian Canyons project layout. In addition to looking fantastic in the Canadian Rockies, the cars performed well as they wended their way through the 13″ minimum radius curves and Peco medium-radius turnouts.

Modelers of Canadian passenger equipment will be pleased with these cars. The train is accurately detailed and operates well, and the switchable lights are a fun upgrade to this included feature.

Facts & features

Price: $699.95, 10-car set; $219.95, 3-car sets; $74.95, individual Skyline cars
Rapido Trains Inc.
500 Alden Road, Unit 21
Markham, Ontario, L3R 5H5 Canada
Era: 1955-present, depending on scheme
Road names: VIA Rail Canada, Canadian Pacific in maroon or Action Red, and painted but unlettered
– Body-mounted knuckle couplers
– Etched-metal stirrup steps and grab irons
– Lighted interior and end marker lights
– Weight: 1.5 ounces, except sleepers, 1.6 ounces, matching NMRA RP-20.1

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