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Canadian Prairies Module

Canadian Prairies Module

by Philippe Coquet

Edited by Craig S. O'Connell

Click on the thumbnail above to see the full image.


This is the story of a new S scale module I started working on in the Summer 2008 and which I hope to have finalized sometime in 2010, depending on the time I’ll have available for the hobby.

Actually, after having experienced rugged Rocky Mountains scenery with my first S scale module (Big Horn Sheep Canyon) and urban scenery twice (1300 RR Drive and Odessa, TX latest modules) I have been dreaming of a module featuring a row of those so impressive prairie skyscrapers which used to be so typical of the Midwest and Canadian prairies horizon lines. On top of creating quite massive wood towers, which I had not experienced before, this new module would also be great for experiencing prairie style vegetation which is also something never tried before.

As for my previous modules, the size of the diorama was unfortunately set by space contingencies and the maximum affordable size was bound to be approx. 4 3⁄4 ft long, 1 1⁄4 ft deep and 2 1⁄2 ft height.

In the Spring 2009 issue of 1:64 Modeling Guide (volume 10, Number 2) I shared the way I designed the module, as well as the way I built the main structures. Next article - scheduled for the Fall issue of the 1:64 Modeling Guide - will cover the painting and weathering of the structures, as well as the crafting of the terrain, vegetation and track.

A 3rd article will cover the final touches at the module, such as piping, final weathering and micro detailing.

The story of the prototype started with a chance encounter with a very impressive Calgary based railroad modeler named Jon Greggs whom I found out about when reading older Model Railroader articles about (exquisitely) scratch-building HO Canadian grain elevators (I very much recommend his article about the Marsden Saskatchewan twin concrete elevator published in the Model Railroader Jan. 2000 issue, which is probably one of the very best modeling projects I’ve ever come across).

Jon, whom I got in touch with by email, shared with me a lot of outstanding materials about Canadian grain elevators. He advised that I obtain a couple of books for improving my culture about Grain elevators, among them “Wheat King – varnishing landmarks of the Canadian Prairies” by Greg McDonnell (Boston Mills Press) which gave me a lot of prototype information for my new project. He also sent me a big bunch of his own prints featuring some of his favorite sites.

One of Jon’s prints, Drumheller - Alberta, featured on the herby picture, absolutely took hold of me. It was so massive, such nice wooden architecture… this would be the main showcase of my Prairies module! I learnt that this twin elevator was closed and torn down in 2001; which was another good reason for choosing to make live again … in S scale.

For the 1st anniversary of the project, taking benefit of summer blue skies, I shot some nice pictures which I thought were good enough for publishing on Craig’s site. Here they are, and just imagine that shingle roofs, doors and windows are all set!


Click on the thumbnails above to see the full images.


Kudos to Jon Greggs for having so kindly shared with me great images of Canadian Prairies railroading and architecture.

Kudos again to Bill Banta who did a great custom laser job.

Both of them have been instrumental to this project.

Thank you also to the many others North American S scalers with whom I am often in touch by email with, and who have helped me over the years in my French American S scale adventures August 2009, including CC Crow owner of Builder in Scale, who helped me select the proper wood shingles.

August 2009

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