Thursday, December 7, 2023

CN 598000-series boxcars

CN boxcars 598000-598299 were built 11-93 to 2-94 by Nova Scotia's Trenton Works, 6348 cu.ft., IL 60'9", IH 11', combination 6-foot plug door, 10-foot sliding door with total opening 16 feet for specialty forestry product service. These cars are l-o-o-o-n-g. Interestingly, lettered without the bilingual 'Canadien National' on either side! A second order in 1996 for 200 more, numbered CN 598300-598499 was apparently cancelled. CN 598180 is blissfully almost graffiti-free, stopped at Belleville on September 13, 1997 during the "Belleville Shuffle" - watch for an upcoming post on the block-swapping between CN train Nos 335 and 361 that took place here.

Rapido announced in September, 2023 that these cars would be produced in scale, posting a master class video of sorts, concerned that some modellers were getting confused by too many rather large CN boxcars. Rapido will also offer the 'website' scheme, as seen on CN 598140 at Belleville in November, 2022 (image courtesy Railstream, LLC):
Rapido's ad - priced at $64.95 each!
Meanwhile, my own kitbash at nearly zero cost, awaits decalling on my HO scale Hanley Spur layout:
It's worth noting that I didn't observe any cars from this series until I observed CN 598051 in July, 1997 (watch for an upcoming post) more than three years after the cars were built. I ended up tracking that car to see its traffic pattern, until February 2001. These cars could be found operating in a pool of other CN and CNA, as well as BCOL cars as they were made available. Later-built, large-capacity cars make the CN 598xxx-series  less desirable for forestry-product shippers today.

My observations of the CN 598xxx-series including date, car and CN train on, with any remarks. As was often the case, if more than one of the series was in one train, I'll only list the additional cars' last three numbers after 598xxx. This listing does not include every time I observed one of the series, just the times I noted the cars specifically:
  • Jul 10/97 CN 598051 CN train No 395 (Montreal - Chicago) "60' DD BO"
  • (Interestingly, I observed GTW 598051, a blue 50-foot car exactly one month later, on 335 loaded at Chambord, QC on Sep 4/97! Back to our subject...)
  • Aug 17/97 CN 598267 on 335 (Garneau - Buffalo) "lumber BO" at Trenton Jct:
  • Sep 13/97 CN 598180 on 335 (top photo)
  • Sep 27/97 598288, 030, 124, 268 on 369 (Garneau - Toronto)"60' lumber box"
  • Oct 4/97 598046, 021, 102 on 335
  • Oct 5/97 598299 on 335
  • Oct 26/97 598084 on 318 (Toronto - Montreal, empty)
  • Nov 28/97 598035 on 395
  • Nov 29/97 598284 on 335
  • Jan 13/98 598039 on 395
  • Jan 17/98 598284, 230, 278, 016, 201, 038, 241, 051 during the Ice Storm:
  • Feb 14/98 598298 on 335 "NAR BO"(?)
  • Feb 21/98 598255, 266 on 335
  • Feb 24/98 598198 on 395
  • Mar 8/98 598226 on 330
  • Mar 31/98 598230, 017 on 330 (Buffalo - Montreal, empty)
  • May 31/98 598185, 271 on 318
  • Jun 12/98 598171 on 330
  • Aug 16/98 598140, 077, 181, 284 
  • Aug 20/98 598071, 049 on 335
  • Sep 12/98 598020 on 364 (Toronto - Senneterre, empty) 
  • Sep 12/98 598241, 210 on 367 (Garneau - Toronto)
  • Sep 17/98 598103, 000, 011 
  • Sep 29/98 598187 on 321 (St Antoine, QC - Toronto)
  • Oct 16/98 598244
  • Nov 9/98 598205 (Dest Erwin, TN), 247, 179 on 365
  • Nov 30/98 598064 on 366 (Toronto - Senneterre, empty)
  • Dec 29/98 598208 on 366
  • Jan 2/99 598004, 098, 169 on 364
  • Jan 30/99 598139 on 364 and 598219, 091, 198, 282 on 369
  • Feb 12/99 598276 on 365
  • Feb 25/99 598067, 005, 121 on 367
  • Mar 2/99 598186 on 366
  • Mar 20/99 598016, 097 on 318
  • Mar 27/99 598069, 192, 047, 031 on 368 (Toronto - Garneau, empty)
  • Apr 3/99 598139, 218 on 366
  • Apr 5/99 598269 on 367
  • Apr 24/99 598058, 115, 034, 170 on 368
  • May 11/99 598038 on 321
  • May 20/99 598120, 289 on 366
  • Jun 12/99 598299 on 320 (Toronto - St Antoine, empty)
  • Aug 2/99 598285, 088, 081 on 366
  • Aug 27/99 598109 on 364
  • Sep 4/99 598045, 264, 284, 184 on 369
  • Sep 11/99 598206 on 366
  • Sep 30/99 598215, 037, 181, 230, 047 to Senneterre
  • Nov 12/99 598107, 031 on 368
  • Nov 26/99 598255, 289, 149 on 365
  • Jan 16/00 598171, 039, 078 on 365
  • Aug 26/00 598210 on 321 
  • Nov 1/00 598143 on 366
  • Mar 10/01 598211, 265 on 364 and 598041 on 301 (Joffre - Toronto) 
  • Mar 10/01 598000, 010, 022 on 321
  • Mar 17/01 598210 on 309 (Joffre - Toronto)
  • Aug 25/01 598055 on 363
  • Aug 30/01 598226 on 363
  • Apr 26/02 598054 on 366
  • Jun 9/02 598181 on 363
  • Sep 1/02 598120 on 363 and 598241 on 368
  • Oct 21/02 598161 on 309
  • Jan 16/03 598069
  • Jul 30/05 598006 on 376 (Toronto - Riviere des Prairies, QC, empty)
  • Jul 19/06 598298 on 376
  • Jun 16/07 598126, 233 on 369
  • Oct 4/08 598289 
  • Oct 7/08 598011, 210 on 376
  • Mar 12/10 598240 on 376
  • Jul 17/10 598228 on 305 (Saint John, NB - Toronto)
  • Nov 3/10 598265
  • Apr 6/13 598082, 209 on 305
  • Aug 24/13 598146 
  • Mar 24/15 598112, 031
  • Mar 6/16 598224 on 369
  • May 7 /16 598197 with open door on 369 at Belleville (below). The cars have become increasingly graffiti'd since the halcyon tagless days of the last millennium!
  • Aug 4/16 598285, 162 on 369 (below)
  • Oct 14/16 598259 on 376 (below)
  • Oct 15/16 598081 with dimensional data re-established on graffiti, 598237 belittled by its bigger-box brethren on 305 (below)
  • Nov 25/16 598060 on 376
  • Aug 11/17 598231, 055 on 369
  • Jul 14/18 598267 on 376
  • May 5/19 598009 on 369
  • Oct 27/20 598161 open door, 221 on 376:

  • Nov 3/21 598124, 125, 173 on 376 (below). Their lettering was fading fast, the graffiti was spreading, and not all that colourful, with 598124 proclaiming 'Anthony can't do it' while showing us a door is only not a door when it's a jar (your door is ajar!) and 598173 showing off some stencilled reporting marks. The rise of graffiti!
I suppose these cars will be reaching their AAR-mandated 40-year make that 50-year lifespan, or declared obsolete soon. Here's a recent sighting, CN 598038 on CN No 368 on October 7, 2023:
With so many observations, I expected I'd seen them all, but I really only caught 112 of the 300 cars, though I've seen 29 cars multiple times, some up to three times! I'll be keeping an expert eagle eye for existing examples enthusiastically! As rolling stock expert Ian Cranston has mentioned in the comments, only 129 of the 300 598xxx-series are still listed in the Official Railway Equipment Register.

Lots o' links:
  • the expansive rrpicturearchives website has nearly three full screens' worth of photos of just about every car in the series (including a surprisingly nearly graffiti-free CN 598041 in 2011!) The plethora of photos speaks to the cars' longevity.
Running extra...

Another titan of the Canadian rail enthusiast scene has left us on December 2 -  Bytown Railway Society Branchline and Canadian Trackside Guide editor Earl Roberts. I had the pleasure of meeting Earl twice at OVAR presentations I made in Ottawa, most recently in June. at which I was proud to present my two most recent books to Earl as the lucky door-prize winner that night! Earl was also responsible for making my aunt and uncle in Manitoba bona fide railfans by getting them on to Branchline.

Unlike most onboard videos I watch of the Canadian, this one is less 'travel host poseur' and more 'enjoy the scenery'. Less time spent saying things like, "Let me show you this bathroom" or "Here's where we take our showers" or watching the video creator slowly sipping a Diet Coke oblivious to the obvious smartphone photography. This trip was actually a very rare departure of the Canadian with no Skyline on this train. According to my October post on buffer cars, this would have departed Toronto on February 26. Departing Jasper, Banff Park and Kokanee Park were deadheading at head-end, having been on the Skeena since January 3. Two other deadheads on the head-end and 8612 on the tail-end in addition to the two buffer Manor cars - a very interesting consist and it was good to capture it in this video! The videographer only showed the tail-end buffer car when backing into Vancouver station.
A cleverly-applied graffiti full-side job  (which also includes its own graffiti in red!) on a CP covered hopper at Thunder Bay (Michael Hull photo posted to social media).

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Kingston Invista Adds Two New Tracks

It was back in late-2001 that a new spur for tank cars was built at the east end of the Kingston Invista plant. Previously, the cars were spotted by CN between the plant buildings. Then, in late-2015 a parallel spur was added for yet more tank cars. Now, in late-2023, two new tracks are being added. This aerial image was made and shared by someone familiar with plant operations:
The two new tracks are shown in red. The one labelled "New nylon and AA storage spur" will hold covered hoppers with inbound adipic acid and outbound product. The other track to the east, labelled "Twin existing HMD line" will be for inbound tank cars of hexamethylene diamine. I'll refer to them as Nylon and HMD tracks for the purpose of this post, and until they receive an official CN track designation! Note how both new tracks start off the switching lead at top of image. The 2015-added HMD track had a switch off the first HMD track. Both HMD tracks can now be switched for their full length off the switching lead

This project has been slow, and largely unphotographed. Rails were brought in on four CN flatcars and piled on the site. Large quantities of new ties had been on site since 2022. In late summer, piles of crushed rock arrived, and heavy equipment was slowly working on the new tracks. During the summer of 2023, bulldozers on site worked to remove top soil and add subroadbed stone.
An excavator working on the HMD track (above). Heavy equipment and rock piles, with roller working on HMD track (below - both photos taken September 8, 2023).
Here is a new, long turnout, with associated track hardware dropped off along King Street for the new Nylon track, September 24, 2023 photos:

October 1, 2023 views:
View of the switching lead, looking west from the east plant entrance road crossing. The switch for the HMD track awaits installation at right. Ballast for the HMD track can be seen at left.

The second HMD track ballast is in, with new fencing extending to the east plant entrance road.

The end of the new Nylon track closest to the plant. This still seemed like a lot of expense with switch and rail for only a few carlengths. However, that expense is probably offset by ease in switching and making the outbound Nylon loads easier to store until CN lifts them. But wait - it will come to be two-ended in the near future - read on!
The rails and tracks are in place, with more rail stacked nearby.
Heavy equipment parked in the Invista plant parking lot.
Heading back east, the view towards Front Road showing the new HMD track ballast.
Gotta move those crossing signals soon!
Groups of partially assembled ties inspected by avian track inspectors!
By October 15, the Nylon spur switch had been installed, though not the HMD switch. The Nylon track's rail and ties are in place, just not ballasted and tamped in fully. The HMD track looks largely the same as above. Then, by October 28 the second HMD track is bolted together and on the ballast, looking like Atlas HO-scale flextrack!
A tamper is sitting on another piece of bolted-together track inside the fenced HMD compound:
The new piece of track has been laid alongside the existing curve of the easternmost HMD track (below). Presumably, that switch will be removed and both tracks will be full-length all the way to the switching lead along Front Road.
The new Nylon track progress shows an excavator in the middle of a mountain of ballast:
A pair of ballast buggies and a tamper:
The new track and ballast added to its neighbour:
Formerly a spur, a switch has been installed closest to the plant so all tracks are two-ended. 
Big changes in two weeks - November 12, late afternoon. Both HMD tracks are complete and connected. Crossing paved though not a fancy crossing like the first track. The crossing work would have been a challenge since this it is on the only access road to the main plant parking lot.
The new track with outbound load INVX 38605 on the next track over, which also seems to have received some new ballast and surfacing. The ballast buggies are off-track and only spare rails are lying around. It will be interesting to see what ends up on the new track. Certainly, its switch off the lead, east of the existing switches, makes for a very long track.
Looking north on the HMD tracks. New ballast surfaced.

Looking west from the access road off Front Road. Lots of vehicle tire tracks on the grass at right, new drainage at left. Looking very model railroady with the new HMD switch diverging onto the lead, with straight-in access to the new HMD track. A close-up view with the new tracks labelled:
And just like that, one week later, both tracks had cars on them!

An earlier addition - a Whig clipping from July 29, 1977:

Running extra...

Be sure to check out the new Blog of the Month-ish. It's great to have Jim Lowe so high in the right sidebar-ish. Now shh, I'm reading the head-end of this section!
The VIA Historical Association is raising money for the restoration of VIA 6539. Though we know the public faces of the VHA and Rapido Trains Inc., there is also a long line of lesser-known shadow researchers and enthusiasts who never seek nor find the limelight. Your humble blogger may be one of them. Or he may not.
What, the F? Yes, that's right, 6539 became 6304. And this piggy-bank better be ready to hold 250K 'cause that's what it's going to cost. The restoration is intended to coincide with the VHA's 50th anniversary train in 2028! Which will be 30 years before the last spike is driven on Jason Shron's KingstonSub layout. He freely admits it's a long-term project. Hey, ya can't rush quality!

Since you're still following the tale (on the reading trail) of this post, I considered the tail-end of this section to piggyback on the trailer video for the 6539 project. It would be great to include it here after the piggy-bank. Hey, that would make it a piggyback piggy-bank trailer trail tail tale!

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Trackside Treasure's 'Just Four' Video

Two of the clearest-thinking fine model railroaders I know are Chris Mears and James Hilton. Their cross-ocean mind meld is figuratively as deep as the ocean, relatively rendering my thoughts on trains merely puddle-worthy. But that doesn't stop me! Undeterred and undaunted by convention, I wade into the water which I'm not afraid to muddy with a chorus of controversial cross-currents, smatterings of stone-skippingly superficial scattered thoughts, and alarmingly anachronistic admonitions about model railroading that not only don't stand the test of time, but are counter-cultural not to mention clock-stoppingly atonal to the alliterative alternatives in conventional thinking, and which may in fact result in me making an assonance of myself.

Notwithstanding the above, unfettered, let's push onwards to Chris' The Shove and James' Modelling Workbench. Both these gentlemen are fellow bloggers discussing specific items in their layout collections. If I understand their thoughts correctly, it was a 'what if?' scenario. What if....from my whole collection be it large or small, what would I keep if I could keep Just Four. 

Ones to watch! Here is the link to James' Just Four and Chris' The Beating Heart and Four Engines and his just-published 2r2. (The actual title of the latter is longer and I was dismal at math. Or as the kids say these days, "The math just ain't mathin' for me!") Chris deftly weaves the stories of his power into the power of his layout and how he chooses to structure his collection.

Never one to shy away from standing on the shoulders of giants like a grinning garden gnome gone Newtonesque with irridescent Isaac eyes, I decided to consider this theme and try to make something, anything, meaningful to it that I could. If I could. And I couldn't, so of course I deflected into my own deadhead headroom of deliberation, thinking how could I possibly make a celebratory contribution of my own. Having been to many marriage ceremonies, including my own as well as that of my wife, I decided to hackingly hijack a hackneyed term, "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue". Though I was not wedded nor even welded to this theme!

Rather than laboriously looking at my collection to find 'those four' I settled on 'this four' and applied the above mainly matrimonial maxim to wonder what they meant to my collection. Which era of my modelling career? Which iteration of my layout? Which fellow modeller did they represent? Why the heck did I still have them in the collection? We won't address the issue of why my collection is closer to 444 than 4!

So I made a video entitled Just Four. Here's the YouTube link. My grandson was visiting and except for one tiny cough, he kept silent as he played away at the HO-scale emergency scene he was crafting for those four minutes. And, I added another 'those four more' just for fun!
Then I watched the video back and I realized an omission or three in my narration. I needed to say more about the 'who' not just the 'what' of three of the items:

  • The mainly-black Maine Central 44-tonner
  • The Tangent Scale Models Manitoba covered hopper
  • The cardboard Baltimore & Ohio boxcar.
All three were given to me, two magnanimously by mail and one by inertial inheritance, and all have been blogged about. None other than Chris Mears sent me the 44-tonner and it found a prominent place in my first front porch layout. Bob Fallowfield found that the Manitoba car was not a keystone of his prototype. The B&O car is one my Dad built and represented a much earlier paradigm in the panoply of  model railroading and the pantheon of model railroaders. I came to have each of the items in my collection for a reason. In my Dad's case, he noticed my obvious interest in taking our home layout in an operational direction, vintage rolling stock and all. The other two were engendered by genuine generalized generosity!

I am proud to not only be a bottom-feeder in the model railway ecosystem, scouring the under-table 'underworld' of trainshows for deals and relics, but also loudly and ludditely planting my flag in the 1980's model railroading world, and proudly inflating then thereafter pricking the balloons that bring greater visibility or just hot air as they rise above the everyday horizon of our benchworks and backdrops - way, way, up in the consciousness and controversiality of those who inhabit the modelrailosphere.

So this is my Just Four. Hope you like it, and enjoy the four minutes watch time as much as I enjoyed the four minutes' execution time that I put into it!

Reading Extra...

That's right, you read it correctly. No sooner was I finishing writing about James and Chris than a couple (and some couplers from another fellow modeller!) of their collaborative compendia made it to my mail slot for extra reading. 
James' two books Small Layout Design Handbook and The Art of Railway Modelling made for an enjoyable afternoon read as I enjoyed a cold beverage and peanuts while pecking away at page after page of layout modelling ingredients and results. Chris' name is not merely there, it's because he's written and inspired many of the ideas and layouts on these pages. As I'd glimpsed online, James has an engaging way of adding insight, illustration and ingenuity into his layout planning and detail-driven modelling. Actual thought! Not just let's add another track here and here annnnnnd here!
I asked my good wife to snap a photo of the after-the-unboxing moment. Just One.
After thoroughly enjoying James' first book, I was still alarmingly awake and alert as I picked up a copy of Model Railroader. I was immediately hit between the eyes with a 16x22-foot HO layout that photographed well, but I was floored by the associated trackplan and the presence of a giant yard of perfectly parallel yard tracks and the presence of only three industrial spurs on the whole layout. After studying James' prudent use of space, this seemed like an HO scale version of uncontrolled urban sprawl and inefficient land use planning! Spaghetti bowl? This was more like All You Can Eat Pasta - and the second bowl is always smaller for a reason. Pasta is prologue, as they say.

Final words from James: "I do hope you enjoy them - my heart is in the first sections of both, the plans more a vehicle to encourage sales and hence put the ‘word’ in front of more eyes. My hope is it encourages a change in how we talk about this wonderful hobby of ours!"

Thanks to James and Chris for leaving a trail of breadcrumbs out of the coniferous cornucopia of confusion in today's model railway forest. We would all be wise to follow!