Saturday, March 26, 2011

CN Continuous Welded Rail Train

The lifting of Queens track one last weekend gave me the opportunity to photograph some of CN's Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) cars. I hadn't seen this particular set of cars before, even though I'd seen the CWR train hidden deep in Belleville yard the weekend before. Since they were handling jointed rail that was being lifted, CN was using a different set of cars than the more usual cars handling new CWR(above).
First car after locomotive 6020 was CN 663697. This appears to be a spacer and tool car, with a hoist and lots of supplies like splice bars, cans of track hardware and old pallets on board...a maintenance-of-way modeller's dream. Next is CN 44287 - notice the thin profile of this car, the first car to lift the rail off the ballast and onto the ensuing cars. It has fore and aft tilting holders through which the rail is threaded. The number on this side was obscured and someone had scrawled the number in chalk to help out. A hoist, welding gases and torches are also handy:
Next is CN 44285, another threader car with adjustable height mechanisms and non-adjustable posts. Like the last car, a small tool cabinet bench is provided for the engineering crew to sit on while stopping work for passing trains. Notice the interesting piping along the car side:
Unnumbered except for designation 684-12 on the operator's cab, this car appears to pull and push the rail down the train into the waiting cars by the use of motors on each of its ends. The motors are protected by wedge-shaped steel (to protect them from an errant rail?) Besides an air conditioner, the elevated cab also features small CNR maple-leaf heralds, an interesting nod to CN's history. These cars also have built-in lighting and hinged walkways to provide passage between cars. A model of this car would involve lots of weathering and grease/oil stains, and remnants of an old ACI label.
CN 44286 is another threader car which in this case is bringing the jointed rail back down onto the lower level of bunks in the rail cars.
CN 46570 is an end car, like CN 46573 on the opposite end of the train. Built in May 1987 with length of 41 feet, this car has large hinged doors with stencilled instructions: "Following to be checked prior to - movement - locking pins secured - hinges in working order - angle stop block in place" and a short elevated walkway matching the following cars.
CN 46552 is an example of the wide-silled rail car also with a length of 41 feet rebuilt in 1987, although I'm not sure what type of car it used to be. There's no place for a brakewheel, so a brake lever is located on the side sill. Notice the interesting bracing connecting the the rail bunks to the elevated walkway. If modelling these cars, be sure to sprinkle and glue some ballast on the deck.
CN 46580 represents the other type of rail car in the train, built on a flat car with an elevated deck, having been rebuilt in 1988. There are no walkways between these cars, so the foreman watching progress of the end of the rail has to take a good-sized step while on the elevated walkway.
Close-up of the flatcar reveals stencilling "Builder Contracteur CN Transcona Shops PU 8-88". The car is riding on Dofasco Barber S-2 roller-bearing trucks; no journal boxes here.
Side view of CN 46587:
Side view of wide-silled CN 46513. A sister car's truck was stencilled with its original car number, possibly 594147.
CN 46501 has lots of rust on the bunks and like all the other cars, yellow reflective striping, crudely-painted out brakeshoe information, and Rail Service Equipment (RSE) designation.
Close-up of these cars reveals stencilling "Builder Contracteur CN [logo] Pointe St Charles Shops HQ.5.87" beside the tackboard.
End car CN 46573, with bilingual stencilling on the closed hinged doors:
CN 44294 is a 52-foot flatcar with a rebuilt date of June 1984, with two positionable bunks for dropping rail.
CN 44295 is at the end of the train stencilled with both its built date of 1-41 and a rebuilt date of 6.84. The car has railings, welding gas tanks and adjustable-height threaders near the rider cab, which features lighting, placard holders and steel mesh over the end windows, plus the inevitable weathering.
Running Extra...

Took in Limitless starring Bradley Cooper last night - a thought-provoking movie about a guy who suddenly has the ability to play the piano, read a whole book in three days, drive recklessly but incredibly sharply, and think clearly and quickly. Big deal. I call that...Monday.

Some of the cinematography in Limitless was awesome, with pull-through shots in which it felt like one was travelling several blocks at a time, kind of like Google Earth without all the clicking. Just as good as 3-D without the silly glasses.

Cooper's character was Eddie Morra, whose name reminded me of that novelty song, The Train to Morrow made famous by the Kingston Trio. Tomorrow is the only thing that's always coming, but never arrives. Cue Annie and her dog Sandy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lifting Track One at Queens

CN's Kingston Subdivision mainline between Montreal and Toronto is double-tracked with right-hand running. At many locations, crossovers and sidings were installed as trains lengthened during the diesel era. Now that trains are much longer than these jointed-rail sidings, CN is removing them, their expensive switches and switch heaters. At the same time, sections of triple mainline are being installed elsewhere to speed VIA trains and add extra capacity for CN's over-length freights, many of which operate with Distributed Power units.
On March 19, at 1000 hours the crossing at Counter Street was blocked by Work 6020. Operating inside Foreman Sam Citrano's Rule 42 limits from Mileage 176 to 172, the work train was lifting the rail from the former Queens 1/north siding between Mileage 176 and 174. The train moves but the rail doesn't (top) as a foreman watches the progress of the lifted rail through the rail train while the train inches eastward. The work train had emerged from the former Queens 4/south service track (above), crossed from south to north track, and was waiting under the Queens West signal bridge when I got there. Someday soon, an overpass will lift Counter Street over the Kingston Sub, roughly where the pickup truck is located.
After attending Kingston's Rail-O-Rama train show at the nearby Ambassador Hotel, my next stop was the Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd overpass. The work train crew had progressed this far, and were no longer referring to themselves as the most-hated people in Kingston as Counter Street was no longer blocked. Their 35 rail cars, with pick-up cars at each end, were draped around the left-hand curve leading to Counter Street and the VIA station. The same location saw an eastbound six-car VIA train 62 behind 6418 at 1350 July 24, 1991:
Even in 1991, the north passing track was seldom used for its intended purpose, instead being used for long-term storage of 89-foot COFC flatcars, and at other times, trilevel auto racks and in June 2006, gondola cars in tie service. The south service track remains due to a setout track, wye and remnants of the Aluminum Spur still in use. Queens 1 at left, looking towards Queens East interlocking:
In June 2009, VIA train 44 behind P42 901 approaches Queens East. The switch to Queens 1 is gone. At right, Interchange tracks between CN and CP Rail were previously lifted in the late-1990's.
Now the stub-ended track is ripped apart, with its rails swung to the south, near the north rail of the north track, and 6020 waits to pull the work train eastward, devouring more of the jointed rail. Upgraded from CN 5114 in 1995, 6020 and her sisters rarely rate mainline trains these days.
Ten men work the train, many on the head end of the rail train, and others scattered midway and elsewhere aboard the rail train. Six lengths of rail were visible on the cars.
On the shaded north side of the train, the rail is guided towards the pick-up car and onto the rail cars. Interestingly, the jointed rail goes onto shorter, 40-foot cars I hadn't seen before. These cars will be featured in a future post. I took LOTS of photos.
As the train snakes under the overpass, all eyes are on the jointed rail. Cans of spikes, tools and other miscellaneous equipment are close at hand:
At a joint, a saw growls to life as bond wires and splice bars are cut:
Now just east of the overpass, the Hiab hoist on CN 663697 is visible, and hoists are available on other cars if needed to coax uncooperative strings of rail into place.
CN trucks are visible at right, beside track KL29, where the work train began its day. Like World Famous Horseshoe Curve, Queens will now be three tracks instead of four.
As a westbound train enters the Rule 42 limits, progress is halted, and a cutting torch is flicked to life as the rail is cut aboard CN 46570. Other workers take the opportunity to have a seat in the midday sun. Work will continue the following day.
Running Extra...

The train show yielded lots of reading material: books on CN, VIA and preserved equipment. Paul Bown and Les Goodwin staffed the Bytown Railway Society's well-stocked sales booth, and we discussed the contrasts between Canadian and English railway preservation efforts.

Also at the show was Chris Lyon, driving force behind the Lyon Valley Northern, one of Trackside Treasure's blog partners. Chris' wife busied herself knitting as Chris carefully painted some S-scale figures at the show. Blair and Rasa Smith were hosting the CN Lines booth. Thomas the Tank Engine, live steam, Meccano and some nice operating layouts rounded out the show.

I know it's Lent, but enough with the Filet-o-Fish ads already, McDonald's. That thing looks barely palatable. Created in 1962, it looks like some of the original sandwiches may still be for sale. Maybe I'll try one just for the halibut. Oh my cod, pull those ads, where's the beef?



Saturday, March 12, 2011

Almost Springtime in Shannonville

Shannonville, Ontario is a great railfanning location. CP's Belleville Sub and CN's Kingston Sub cross each other at grade. CN's Kingston Sub west of Marysville is currently one nearly-continuous construction zone as a third track is added (thanks Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the economic stimulus money) to speed VIA trains around the inevitably disabled or hog-lawed CN freight trains held outside Belleville yard limits. Unlike previous visits, the weather today involved leaden skies and a few flurries. I've blogged about this location twice, once in April 2009, and again in September 2009
The stimulus for this visit was actually thanks to my wife, who wished to visit her favourite craft store, not-too-coincidentally also located in Shannonville. I told her she could take as long as she wanted, while I walked in to this location. Soon after I arrived via the gravel access road that CN crews have built, CP ethanol empties train 643 headed west behind CP 8974-DME 6097-CEFX 3168-CITX 3071 (top). It appears CN is adding a third track right under the CP bridge. A CN DPU-equipped eastbound, likely CN train 310, blasted out through the bridge piers at 1200 hours, with 8904 leading and 8879 as the DPU, sandwiched between ATTX concentrate flatcars and CN sheet-steel bulkhead flats:
More retail therapy followed in Belleville, which necessitated a visit to CN's yard there. A plethora of CN trucks, heavy equipment, and orange-clad construction crews were everywhere. A minty new road repair truck was parked near the former roundhouse site, now a car shop occupied by old banger CN gons and Sperry Car 119:
The Sperry crew has likely been everywhere, but was probably happy to tie up somewhere not in the middle of nowhere, miles from anywhere, for a change. The turntable is visible in the foreground.
CN trains 371, 121 and VIA train 57 had all met CN train 350 which was stopped at Brighton for the meets, due to its handling D-6 dimensional traffic. CN train 149 was the next to happen along, behind 5686-8012-2509. Pulling in for a crew change at the west end of Belleville yard, it was double-stacks as far as the eye could see, looking east towards Wilson, then west towards Centre:
That's not a meandering industrial spur in the foreground, it's triple-tracking. Foreman Dunn was clearing all trains through his Rule 42 limits between Mi 211 and 221.
The dimensionals gave us a reason to delay our departure from Belleville, and necessitated visits to Wendy's and Tim Horton's (won a free donut on Roll-Up-The-Rim!) CN train 590 with engine 7071 and train 305 behind IC-lettered 2705 eased in from the east. Train 350's crew was running short on time, and would have to meet VIA train 45 and CN 305 before moving farther eastward. 2705 was bringing in ingot cars, paper cars, tank cars, empty carbon hoppers and auto racks, and was also changing crews at the west end:
Construction on the between-tracks structure for VIA trains on the north track of the Kingston Sub is underway, with piles visible in front of ATW gons 700233-700080. DPU on this train was 8016.
With the coffee gone and train 350 still not moving, it was time to head west on Moira Street to find the train around Mile 223 of the Kingston Sub. The crew said the train was to be recrewed there, and they were awaiting a taxi ride into Belleville and they would perform a pull-by inspection for the outgoing crew. Train 350 is a weekend overflow train that often handles dimensionals. Today, 2653 was leading, with 8961 as DPU.
And what were the dimensional loads necessitating all these coordinated train movements? The first was HTTX 92858 with a Cat 773F dumptruck:
Right behind it was HTTX 97441 with a Cat 345D excavator:
Also on the train were an assortment of cars, including ARMN 110162, complete with Carrier refrigeration unit. I shoehorned myself in between the narrow ballast shoulder and the signal mast for a photo, with 8961 a couple of cars to the rear:
Being a rolling stock fan, here are a few photos of some interesting cars on today's trains. Former CNWX grain car, with Government of Canada/Gouvernement du Canada painted out and new reporting marks NDYX 814494:
IC bulkhead flat 978865 with its well-secured load of aluminum ingots. Most of these cars have been repainted in IC's black dip, although a few orange IC ones are still rolling.
Four-axle Trailer Train depressed-centre flat QTTX 130530:
CN 44295 was reposing in Belleville yard at the end of a CN Continuous Welded Rail train. CN's CWR trains are always interesting to watch, but this one was barely visible between lines of plastic pellet covered hoppers and stored gons in the yard. Former BCR and CN bulkhead flat cars were also deep in the yard, being relieved of their loads of new ties for the triple-tracking.
With craft items in hand, digital photos in the camera, and Timmy's rims rolled up, it was time to roll on home. I'm sure there will be another visit to the 'Ville sisters, Mary, Shannon and Belle.

Running extra...

One bit of Kingston Sub construction was taking place near Belleville's airport, where the Thurlow Railway used to head south, cross the CP Belleville Sub at grade, and serve the now-abandoned cement plant at Point Anne.

Employee of the month honours go to the Japanese store staffer shown in that oft-broadcast earthquake footage, desperately trying to keep bottles of sake or Dr Pepper from being shaken off the store shelves. Lady, let 'em fall and save yourself.

Enjoyed my trip to Toronto aboard VIA train 651 and back on VIA train 48 this past week. Heading home, the VIA 1 service was attentive, the Sleeman was cold, the cod was warm, and my seatmate gave me her dessert. Definitely a more human way to travel.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Afternoon on the Cataraqui Spur, 1977

It's a cold afternoon at CN's Kingston station, during March break, 1977. The local wayfreight, bound for the Cataraqui Spur approaches. This is Trackside Treasure's most historic post to date, complete with 126-format Instamatic black & white images. Perched high on a parking lot snowbank, here's 3731's train approaching on the north track of the Kingston Sub with its nine-car train. Bearing in mind the Cataraqui Spur leaves the south track of the Kingston Sub, why is this train on the north track, and how will it reach the south track and 'Cat' Spur? Notice the first three cars (above): NAHX and ETCX covered hoppers of plastic pellets for Northern Telecom, and a double-door Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific boxcar, likely loaded with lumber for Weldwood Lumber. These two industries run off CN's Industrial Spur just west of the top end of the Cataraqui Spur.
After making those setouts, the wayfreight negotiates the crossover just west of the Industrial Spur switch and heads down the top end of the Cataraqui Spur. 3731 shunts empty adipic acid covered hoppers and DOCX and Procor hexamethylene diamine tank cars across a short trestle at the bottom end of the Cataraqui Spur. With Canada Steamship Lines' transfer elevator visible in the background, the train is pictured parallel to Front Road, as it is readied for its trip north up to the Kingston Sub mainline.Kingston-assigned wooden caboose CN 79140 tags along behind two DUPX covered hoppers, three tank cars and a CN covered hopper. These cars will head east on the Kingston Sub to the yard at Kingston's Outer Station on Montreal Street, routed "CNR via Collins Bay". I'm waiting beside the Cat Spur as the afternoon Railiner to Toronto heads west: 6351-6003-6101 (above).
The train appears. This connection to the mainline was moved east of Gardiners Road when the level crossing was replaced with an underpass. Having regained the mainline, more Alco smoke accompanies 3731's backup push as caboose 79140 reaches the level crossing. Today these cars are taken straight to Belleville yard behind 7000-series chop-nosed GP9's. Earlier in the afternoon at Kingston station, an eastbound VIA train behind 6527 in CN paint, and a westbound with 6765 leading in newly-painted in VIA colours but a CN logo on the nose cleared the way for the wayfreight:
A year before, RS-18's 3704-3742 are hauling a single tank car past the south track station building on February 21, 1976:
Running extra...

The 2012 Ford Focus boasts a new feature, Active Grille Shutters. The radiator grille shutters flap shut to improve mileage. Immediately reminded me of FPA/FPB4's and their extra vents below the radiator intake shutters that would periodically flaack! shut while idling.

Any idea how easy it is to type 678? Covered the last few trains of 1981 for my new VIA Rail book, and throughout the project, I enjoyed typing numbers like 6784, 6780 and others in that series. Of course, 6789 is the easiest of all.

Some have said that Denise Richards is trying to 'railroad' the spiralling Charlie Sheen. I haven't really been 'tracking' all the coverage of his 'railing', so I think I'm "winning!". If he makes it to Oprah, he won't just jump on the couch, he will demolish it "like an F-18 deploying its ordnance to the ground!".