Thursday, March 21, 2019

Postscript: Sudbury 1985

Bob Fallowfield was guest operator at the Waterloo Region Model Railway Club recently. Between switching moves, Bob snapped a photo of stored CP plows in the club's Sudbury yard. When I subsequently posted a photo of double-track (one-sided!) plow CP 400823 that I photographed after temporarily detraining from VIA No 2 in 1985, club member Ted Kocyla mentioned an interesting fact: that the club had used my original 1985 photo as a prototype reference for these models. And Ted said 'thanks' for taking the photo so many years ago.
One need not wonder why a layout in Maryhill portrays Sudbury any more than one wonders why a layout in 2019 models the 1970s. The fidelity of their modelling, especially rolling stock modelling, to that specific era is what most interests me. Photos of CP plows are a dime-a-dozen, but based on the photos I took, I was lucky to see a double-track plow stuffed and mounted like this! In plow times, CN also stationed double-track and single-track plows at Belleville, ON.  Look at the big, black, expansive between-tracks side:
Gak! If only I'd posted the other photos in that original post, for the club's benefit! The post that included the single CP 400823 photo was only the third post I'd published on Trackside Treasure back in August, 2008. At that time, I was focussing on Retro Railfan Reports, sharing consists and other fun facts noted trackside. I had not yet decided to showcase more photos and theme-type posts. At the time, I considered the other photos of this unique piece of snowfighting equipment to be poorly manually-exposed. Modern photo-editing software to the rescue! I'm pleased to share more photos in this post, taken during that same brief visit.
No shop personnel were visible, and I was free to walk purposefully, safely and carefully around the shop's outdoor ready tracks happily snapping photos of well-lit, separately-spotted plows. Though film was precious and expensive at that time, I was nearing the end of my trip West and seemed willing to expose several frames to these snow-hungry subjects. Maybe to finish the film off!
I apparently took no notes of the numbers, so they're what you can see in these photos. I don't know whether the plows were receiving a pre-winter once-over, or if they were always spotted on these tracks. I suspect the former. (That's former, not foamer!)
The business end! (above) and rear views (below). Notice differences in cab styles, details and appurtenances, and even block versus CP Rail lettering.
At the time, these plows were still vital to CP's track maintenance in Northern Ontario. Today, not so much, and the expertise to operate such equipment is likely vanishing quickly.
On the same track as CP 400823 were these roofless woodchip boxcars (amazing how many former International of Maine boxcars were in this service throughout Northern Ontario at the time - but that's another post for another day) and ore cars:
Script-lettered at the shop:
The original post included leased Conrail units and CP Rail switchers at the shop tracks, but these larger MLW cousins are posted here for the first time:
I wish many happy additional years of truly prototype-based modelling to modern-era CP Rail modellers like Bob Fallowfield and the members of the WRMRC!

Running extra...

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sundays at the Valois Station, 1971-72

Some people get dressed in their Sunday best to go....to church. These photos make it look like we got dressed in their Sunday best to go....trainwatching. Actually, in this post it was both denomination destination stations! My maternal grandmother lived just steps away from the CP Rail Valois station and her neighbour was the station agent! So it was trackside we went - in my case stylin' with blazer and flannels. These slides were taken by my Dad, L.C. Gagnon and recently painstakingly scanned by my brother, David J. Gagnon. Thanks to both these fine gentlemen, we can enjoy some true treasure trackside.
Since it was at least five years before I was writing down consists, and only three years after I learned to print, there is no data for each train pictured. We're under the shady station eaves -  top photo shows a westbound CP freight with CN mainline in the background - June, 1971. The above photo shows me not watching a westbound CN passenger train. And below, I'm not watching a short, weekend Dayliner making its station stop:
 Summer 1971 - best photo of the bunch. Pan shot of a speeder speeding:
Then it's another (non-multimarked!) hockey-masked Dayliner:
Seems somewhat unusual to find two units on a single-level Lakeshore commuter consist:
Evening commuter run with Vickers gallery cars:
Arriving (above) and departing (below) with classic 'bus stop' commuter shelters on the platform:
Evening action in 1972 - freshly-painted candy-striped SD's leading one other MLW unit:
Tail-end and tail number. Jet lifting off west from Dorval airport as this CP marker-lit run-through van tails open autoracks east. My Dad would always try to fit two subjects into one photo!
I'll sneak in a weekday photo, this one from the summer of 1973 with a bountiful brace of beautiful RDC's heading into the city:
 Later that year, a westbound MLW-led freight smokes it up:
 And a Dayliner consist is just west of the station:
In 1974, morning commuters are ready to board this inbound single-level consist:
Running extra...

Don't trip over these names I'm about to drop. Not a bad week at all. Kingston Rail-o-Rama supplied a small shopping bag of paper and books. As usual, the Bytown Railway Society booth staffed by Paul and Les was well-stocked. One tank car for my HO scale Hanley Spur layout thanks to Peter. Plethoric photos from Liz. Konversation with Kevin.

A few days later, it was great to meet Courtenay at the Associated Railroaders of Kingston March meeting. Her generosity led to a break-out post on the historic Bajus Brewery, removing it from solely existing in the ignominy of the Industrial History post. The Hanley Spur Industrial Approach presentation went well and no-one threw anything. Well except helpful comments and questions!

Silty synergy: I planted a swamp, along the Great Cataraqui River. Thank you, Michaels, for your 69-cent cattail inspiration and Allison for your recycled calendar photos!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Postscript: Flexliner in VIA Service

VIA's Flexliner was a very photogenic little train during its time in Canada in 1996-1997. I've taken this wintry opportunity to scan some slides of the Flexliner that have been languishing in my collection. These slides were taken in a variety of locations. January 26, 1997 at Hamilton (top photo).
 A snowy February 12, 1997 at London (above and below)

 February 17, 1997 coming and going at Poplar Road (above and below)
March 3, 1997 at Ottawa (below) with fuel truck nearby. Note the stored Park car - photos of these classy cars taken by the same photographer are in this post.

Running extra...

A busy few days ahead. I'm presenting a PowerPoint to the Associated Railroaders of Kingston (ARK) March meeting Tuesday night. Hello, Denny's club sandwich! Topic will be....Kingston's Hanley Spur - the prototype, my modelling, and our ARK Hanley Spur module group. 
This weekend is the 30th annual Kingston Rail-o-Rama both days at the Ambassador Resort Hotel...

...staffing the ARK table for couple hours on Saturday with Dave, Andy, Paul, Alex and Raul, then it was over to Liz Reid's table and finding some amazing photos from Tim Reid's collection, supporting Bereaved Families of Ontario; Paul with printed material at the Bytown table, Bob's switching layout, good ol' Peter Macdonald and a Rutland boxcar (a little too late?) at Michel Bellehumeur's table; irrigational lunch with Binghamton's own Kevin Ingraham where we discussed archives, books, Crosscuts and militaria. 
Speaking of home layouts, I'm operating a steam double-header on the Cataraqui Northern Lines in the winter of 1971-72. Though the steam and diesel locomotives aren't turning any wheels these days, that Athearn Texaco tankcar TCX 270 with sprung trucks is currently spotted at Imperial Oil downstairs! L.C. Gagnon photo scanned by David J. Gagnon.
Ten years later, Turbos were in their last summer season in 1982, meeting at Kingston (online auction site photo).

Friday, March 1, 2019

CP Switches Kingston's CN-CP Interchange, 1979

My Dad and I arrived at Queens CN-CP interchange on the morning of April 16, 1979 just in time to see CP's wayfreight from Smiths Falls arriving (PHOTO 1). He snapped several photos from the end of Rigney Street, off Counter Street, and would have had his negatives to get them in the correct order in the photo album in which they are preserved for posterity. I wanted to discern what the order of operations was, once the train arrived in Kingston, switched the remaining CP-served industries and the interchange with CN's Kingston Sub.

I've done my best to fill in the gaps and try to ascertain the switching moves made, as a means of better understanding the typical use of this CN-CP interchange which at this time often hosted colourful cars that we would photograph even if we didn't catch CP switching the interchange. Now back to the action...

CP 8030 brings its train to a halt on the lead or runaround track along Dalton Street then cuts off the switcher. A yellow insulated car, CP Rail 50-foot combination-door boxcar, another yellow insulated car and a block-lettered CP hopper comprise the train ahead of van CP 434064. The switcher heads into the CP Express spur (PHOTO 2). Two bulkhead flat cars, a covered CP gondola and two forty-foot CPR and CP Rail boxcars are on the spur. The bulkheads were brought to the interchange. It appears the gon and the boxes were left on the CP Express spur - the two boxes are seen in the distance on one of the tracks along Dalton Avenue (PHOTO 11).
The two bulkheads were taken into the Superior Propane spur and coupled to an empty white Procor  tank car. The tank car is placed on the north end of the van on the runaround track, for the trip back north to Smiths Falls (PHOTO 3). In this black & white photo the cars that CN left for CP are spotted: three boxcars, covered gon and a flat car loaded with JC Crane Rentals vehicles. They're visible as the train heads in from under the Division Street overpass to add them to the train as well (PHOTO 4 & 5) and the bulkheads will be left fot CN.
A close-up view of the cars going to CN on the near track, and coming from CN on far track (PHOTO 6). CN's Kingston Sub mainline is in foreground. A close-up of CP 8030 as connections are made (PHOTO 7). That yellow insulated boxcar, along with cars to its left: the other insulated car, CP combination-door boxcar, probably the CP hopper and definitely the two empty bulkheads were coupled to the forty-foot double-door CP Rail boxcar already there going to CN. The complete train is now pulled out of the interchange, back under Division Street with one crew member on the last car and another one ready to line a switch (PHOTO 8). Unphotographed was a westbound CN freight at 1035 behind CN 9414-5044, many fallen-flag US-road boxcars [SCL, B&M, C&O, D&H]; covered hoppers [D&H, SSW] and auto racks [N&W] and caboose 79215
North of Highway 401 At McIvor Road, we set up to catch the northbound train at speed (PHOTO 9& 10) as it heads towards Jackson Mills thence Harrowsmith, Verona an eventually Smiths Falls.
While we were watching CP switching, CN 4561-79595 with ditchlights blazing, emerged from CN's Aluminum Spur via the Queens south service track, aka Queens 4. This engine would have been stationed (no pun intended) at CN's Outer Station to perform local switching. Of course, neither of these operations remained the same. CP abandoned its track in 1986 and CN now sends a turn from Belleville thrice-weekly to switch the two remaining industries in Kingston. 

Running extra...

Thanks to my brother Dave, host of the Rolly Martin Country blog and slide-scanner extraordinaire, there are now more of my Dad's photos available to share. My Dad's slides were kept in meticulous, numbered, captioned order, which makes subsequent scanning, handling and sharing much easier. Not every date is recorded, but only those modelling a specific date on their layouts, for instance, would need to know....the specific date.
Speaking of the interchange, here is a 126-format print I scanned, taken by my Dad likely in April, 1979. A typical CP covered gondola, BN and CP boxcars await movement. Interestingly, I also photographed the BN boxcar that day, recording the date as Saturday, April 21, five days after the switching sequence shown in this post. The car number as BN 161060, the covered gon as CP 344327 and the combination-door boxcar as CP 202396. Out of the frame was CP insulated car CP 166062.
One more just for fun. Somewhere in the world, someone is asking, "Gee, I wonder if a Hellenic Air Ltd. Super Constellation was ever parked across from a waterbomber, near the Atlantic Aviation hangar at Montreal's Dorval Airport in the summer of 1971?". And now they now.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Harry Klassen starts out with the CPR

I've come to know Harry Klassen over the past year or two. It was one discussion some time ago that Harry mentioned working during his student years for the CPR in Winnipeg. My spidey-senses were tingling! This was something I knew I had to know more about! I recently had the opportunity to ask Harry about his time with the CPR. Harry's responses to my questions are in italics and lightly-edited for style. I'd like to thank Harry for his candour and his time to willingly share his experiences which may have been old to him, but were interestingly new to me!
Harry began his time with Canadian Pacific as a news agent, working out of the CP station at Higgins & Main in Winnipeg (top photo - Phil Mason 1970's). Selling chocolate bars and magazines - with no control over what was being sold - even dirty magazines! Riding trains between Winnipeg and Chapleau, Harry would detrain there, since it was the turn-around point for news agents, with Toronto-Chapleau being the other end of the run.
Canadian Pacific News Service matchbooks give an idea of the services provided. 
I like pie!

Arriving at Chapleau, Harry was shocked. "Chapleau was the middle of nowhere! I'd never even heard of it!" (There was no highway at the time.) "Getting off the train...a drunk baggage handler meets you, takes your gear off to reload it and go back the next day, no new supplies, or maybe some. The cheese sandwiches were getting a little strange by the time I went back! I heard I'd be staying overnight at the Y, so I'd packed a bathing suit. What a joke! The baggage handler said the way to go to find the YMCA, and it was one of those places that had absolutely nothing. The bed was like this, a light hanging down on a wire with an individual light bulb. Wow, this isn't exactly what I was expecting!"

"Working back through the coach and day sleepers, the north shore of Lake Superior was great - spectacular views. At least the north shore postcards brought in some money - if you could talk someone into buying them, that is. The Canadian in May - there was no-one on the train - how could I make money selling to three dozen people??"

"But after I'd paid for my first year of university with a newspaper route I'd made money on and saved in high school, news agent was a fine job to put your way through university. I don't remember what I was paid but it was a pittance compared to what I earned later working in the linen room. I enjoyed the times riding the rails, sitting up in the dome car, above the coffee shop. That was kind of fun, watching the crazy light pointing up to the sky."

Harry occasionally worked west, from Winnipeg to Calgary. 

"Calgary was the transition point for guys getting off and going to Vancouver. After awhile, I realized a news agent wasn't what I wanted to do, so I moved into the Linen Department and there were several issues there..."

"In Winnipeg, they off-loaded the linen for the dining car, the coffee car and the sleepers. We would make up the bags. Making up the bags took maybe an hour - if done very slowly! After the bags were made up, there was nothing more you could do. Nothing to do!"
Two Peter Cox photos from July 3, 1961 show two sections of the westbound Dominion, train No 7,  passing through CP's Winnipeg yards. The first with a Skyline and other stainless steel cars (above) and the second with head-end traffic (below)
"As soon as they [arrived] we had these little trolleys loaded up on the back, and my goodness sometimes they were pretty heavy. They would throw [off] the dirty stuff that we'd pick up and we'd replace it with the new. Because it was heavily unionized, the Dominion and the Canadian were the two trains being operated by the CPR by the time I got there. The Dominion only ran from the end of June to Labour Day - strictly a summer train. This meant only one train we had to deal with in May to the end of June. Even if you did bags as slowly as possible, you had one-and-a-half hours' work, but were paid for eight hours. Amazingly...our boss, working with us two university students, three of us in linen handling. He wanted us to make up the bags all by ourselves. We refused! We said we'd do our part and you do your part, thank you very much!"

"He didn't like that from these uppity students - but he wasn't about to pull a fast one on us. He wanted to sleep his way through. You began to realize why passenger service was going to be scuttled, badly! These guys, they couldn't have cared less about passengers or anything. We said 'isn't your job hanging in the balance?' What was going on - that was something I could never understand."

"They needed three people because the Canadian was a long train, only stopped in Winnipeg for 20 minutes. We were stationed one at the front, middle and end of the train.  The Dominion came in at 6 and the Canadian at 10 or 10:30, and our shift was 3-11. On the evening shift, the dirty linen didn't have to be separated - that was the morning shift's task. There were no trains to service, just going through the linen."

In the 1958 and 1964 CP system timetables, train No 2 arrived at 2245 and 2235 respectively, departing 2310 and 2300. The Dominion, No 8 arrived at 1835 and 1825 respectively, departing 1930 and 1920. It seems that those times were nearly cast in stone (perhaps the Tyndall limestone the station was built from!)

"Whipping tablecloths into big bins - sheets to one section, pillow cases to another, tablecloths and dish towels were also separated out. [No uniforms.]"

"Trains were pretty good - on time. If trains were late, you had to service them and got paid time-and-a-half. As university students, what did we care? No future job - no interest staying with CPR. All jobs were unionized - porters had their own union. Why would union guys want to work four hours a day - a 20 hour week? That wouldn't put food on the table!".

The firemen's strike, hearings and labour disruption in 1957-58 and the subsequent dissolution of steam firemen had implications that reached all the way to the linen room, as firemen were reassigned to other positions.

"My second year in the linen room - diesels got rid of firemen. A fireman with 20 years' experience came to work in the linen room with me - he had less seniority than me! I hated that - maybe I was making more money than he was!"

"The other thing we enjoyed, because Winnipeg was a hub, was [cars from the] Southern Pacific coming up to go to the mountains. They'd come up from Minneapolis. We'd walk through these trains and they'd have movie theatres, barer shops, hairdressing - where are we? We're in the Dark Ages in comparison! I knew a couple of big shots - D.V. Gonder CNR Prairie Region Vice-President, and John Kelso was a friend of my brother - lived in Montreal, moving there with CPR.

My thanks to Harry for so candidly sharing his memories of his early work years. It's this type of first-person history that is seldom preserved, but which we find so interesting just a few decades later!

Running extra...

Some of my fellow Kingston modellers were surprised at the rate of progress on my HO scale Hanley Spur layout. Update video here. My response to them? Quantity, not quality! But here are a few of my tips for making a rapid transformation in modelled locale. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary):
  • Think and plan before starting*. Not too long though, to prevent 'analysis paralysis'.
  • Retain current benchwork*. Let's not re-invent the wheel here.
  • Think out trackplan, then sketch it*. Use computer-based tools only if necessary
  • Change current trackplan to suit new industries and operations.
  • Don't be afraid to modify your new trackplan on the fly*. It's difficult to translate plans to plywood. Improvise, adapt!
  • Use Atlas flex-track and switches. Cut the ends, add joiners, screw down with Robertsons. I simply do not have the patience for hand-laid track or turnouts, nor intractable ballasting.
  • Use existing structures*. Modify or kitbash. New-build only when absolutely necessary.
  • Think creatively of using what you have, not buying what you think you need*.  This applies to locomotives, rolling stock, vehicles, scenery, and details. Heck, just about everything!
  • Produce more, advertise less. Be the George S. Patton of trackplan transformation! (*Above starred bullets are likely locations of paralysis analysis setting in. Be strong. Don't let it happen!)
  • Be cheap. Pinch those HO scale pennies. It's fun and challenging.
  • This is starting to sound like another free-standing post. Yikes!
Presland Iron and Metal (or Steel) is an example of a reworked structural flat (above). Formerly Vancouver Iron & Engineering Works on my Vancouver-based layout, this was some sort of Durango enginehouse train-show find. I opened it up and glued sides together to make a flat, inverted it to change window placement, added some scaffolding, gantry crane, transformers on poles, and other details to place the structure in the scene. Maybe I'll replace it in future. Or maybe not. It's already up and receiving metals traffic - doing its job!