Saturday, July 28, 2012

CN North America Paint Scheme

CN introduced its 'CN North America' paint scheme in mid-1992.  Intended to trumpet CN's continental reach, by way of its Alaska-Prince Rupert barge and BN-FNM partnership into Mexico, the signature element of the scheme was CN's wet-noodle logo superimposed on a stylized map of North America.  CP also designed an ill-fated logo of its own in 1993, the CP Rail System 'dual flags' scheme.  The CNNA scheme lasted longer on locomotives, with SD40u 6000 being the first to receive it.  One visual distraction of the scheme was the appearance of the map as a large patch of peeling paint.  In November-December 1992, 25 new Dash 8-40CM 2400's were delivered in the CNNA scheme.  Many SD40-2W's received the scheme:
CN 557115 is one of CN's combination-door boxcars, built by National Steel Car (NSC) in 1973.  Originally painted in an overall brown scheme, the plug door was brown and the sliding door was green.  A very attractive scheme, these cars carried lumber for years. With the CNNA scheme, CN made its cars the wallflowers of the freight yard, using drab, grey tones to make the cars seemingly disappear into the mists.  The reporting marks and dimensional data would disappear under the plug door if it was open, but the map (not the CN) would remain visible.  CN 557115 is eastbound, passing through Queens in September, 2002:
CNIS 413028, an International Service newsprint car with 10-foot plug doors, was the only other boxcar to receive the CNNA scheme.  Built by NSC in 1980, it's eastbound on CN train No 310 at 1955 on March 7, 2000 with its brown brethren.  Like CN 557115, graffiti has been covered by repainting the lower part of the carbody grey:
Trying to photograph CN's other CNNA scheme cars, covered hoppers, proved to be an elusive quarry for years.  In March, 2004 our upstairs window and binoculars provided a fine view of CN train No 321.  I blinked twice when a CNNA-painted covered hopper slid across my view.  We were heading to Napanee for a shopping trip anyway, so I was soon driving west, camera in hand.  Likely unable to beat the train, 321 slowed for a signal at Bath, allowing us to stop at the Napanee River bridge.  NSC-built in 1974, CN 371897 graffiti'd but not repainted, appeared in its overall light grey, with dark grey map and black CN logo and lettering, also without a numbering block around the reporting marks:
CN 371897 is still wearing the CN North America scheme, recently observed near Biggar, Saskatchewan. Jul 2016 UPDATE: CN 371897 at Edmonton. Nov 2016 UPDATE: CN 371897 in phosphate rock service between Agrium Redwater, AB and Neptune Terminals, BC. Thanks Ben and AJ!
A slightly different scheme appeared on a fourth car, 1979 NSC-built CN 383381, which came to CN from shortline service in the US in 1986.  An unusual 4650-cubic foot notched-end design with trough hatches, this car received overall light grey, dark gy map and white CN logo and lettering.  CNLX 9405 received a similar scheme, and until unearthed by Chris van der Heide recently, was like the little-known 'fifth Beatle'.  These two cars have eluded me.
The map logo was applied selectively to maintenance-of-way equipment not as widely travelled, including a CN caboose.   CN transfer van 76673, one of the last two of 210 such vans built received a repainted red side with TEST - ATCS/SAMT lettering, a light grey map and white CN as shown in this Peter Mumby photo (above).  Used for Advanced Train Control test trains in Southwestern Ontario in 1993 and equipped with a variety of test equipment, 76673 was normally 'wired' to CN 9565 or 9566.  The map logo was also applied to CNRU containers, and small logos were still visible in 1998 on CN 59345, Montreal auxiliary sleeper.  It would be interesting to know if  any of these cars still make their way around CN's system.

Running extra...

David Letterman celebrated his 30th anniversary on the air earlier this year, but I just saw the rerun last night.  Longtime staff members Barbara Gaines and Biff Henderson (whose Top 10 Thing I'd Like to say to Dave on his 30th Anniversary was "Finding a way to kill you [Dave] and make it look like an accident."  Strong irony has always been Dave's comedic style. Remember Dave's morning show on NBC from 1980?  Dave's bandleader at the time was Frank Owens, replaced on Dave's nighttime show in 1982 by Thunder Bay native Paul Shaffer. (Bermuda!)

Blogging away here on Saturday morning, I'm enjoying a cup of coffee in my midnight blue Late Show with David Letterman china mug, a souvenir of a visit to the Big Apple by my son.  That reminds me of a joke...Q:  What did the mother buffalo say to her child when he left home?  A: "Bye, son."

I walked on Paul Shaffer's 2006 Canada Walk of Fame star while in Toronto this week.  Paul was inducted alongside cool Canadians Alex Trebek (sharp as a tack) and Pamela Anderson (both of her).  GO Transit whisked us to-and-from Union Station.  The GO Don layover (formerly CN) yard was full of GO trainsets when we arrived, and I caught a nap on the 00:13 departure east, after thousands of Jays (lost to the A's 7-2) and Coldplay fans had funnelled out.  



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Then and Now: Domes on the Kingston Sub 1981-2012

VIA Budd stainless steel equipment returned to CN's Kingston Sub for one day, heading west from Montreal on July 16.  A five-car HEP consist pulled by F40PH-2 6405 was chartered for the cross-country Skrillex Full Flex tour.  For those unfamiliar with Skrillex, it is not a method of rodent pest control, nor a high-tech firm.  Skrillex is a person - an electronic music performance artist and producer, embarking on a six-city tour, with concerts in Toronto July 13, Ottawa July 14, Montreal July 15, Winnipeg July 18, Edmonton July 20 and Vancouver July 22.  

Though publicized several weeks ago online and in print media, I received a heads-up about the Montreal-Toronto leg on Sunday night.  Fortunately, the train was scheduled to leave Montreal early Monday morning, estimated arrival in Belleville at 0639 (very precise timekeeping!) so observing it on my way to work would be easy.  I was trackside by 0500. No CN freights were operating, though VIA No 651: 6407-3470-3338-3300-3341 snaked out of Queens and into the station to pick up its first passengers for Toronto at 0520:


Then, at 0650, a bright headlight leading a glistening consist came curving through Queens, to the east.  Dome car visible? Check.  This was the Skrillex special, operating as VIA train No 3:
Due in Winnipeg in 36 hours, No 3 was moving.  The consist: 6405-8616-Chateau Bienville-Chateau Brule-Frontenac-Assiniboine Park.  The notion of a pocket streamliner on the Kingston Sub in 2012, though hard to believe, had come to pass.  Be sure to read about the train's progress farther west in Adam Walker's excellent Walker Express post here.
But this was not a first.  Ex-CP stainless steel cars had been operated by VIA through Kingston in years past. VIA trains 1 and 2, the Canadian, ran here between November 1981 and March 1984. For just over two years, while the Budd cars were serviced at Glen Yard in Montreal, and the Montreal-Sudbury section of the Canadian had been cut, the whole consist ran on CN's Kingston Sub between Toronto and Montreal, with Corridor cars tacked on as Nos 2/44/54 at midday eastbound (below at Mi 182 Kingston Sub) and 1/55 in the evening westbound.
I was able to see one of the first such evening westbound consists on November16, 1981 and midday eastbound on November 17.  It was amazing to see domes, both Skyline and Parks, plus stainless steel baggage cars, coaches and sleepers, intended by Canadian Pacific to promote viewing of the splendours of the Rockies, rocketing through humble Ernestown and Amherstview, before stopping in Kingston.  In August 1982, 6784-6863-CN 3109 and 13 cars of No 2 meet VIA No 53 with 6771-6622 and 7 cars just before noon at Kingston:
Steam-emitting Park car and MLW FPA4 share the platform:
Escaping steam belied the pre-HEP nature of these Skyline, Chateau and Park cars, and was especially  useful during a cold winter in early 1982:

On a couple of occasions, the Canadian was delayed west of Toronto. The VIA No 44/54 cars would head east on their normal schedule, with the cars from No 2 heading east on the Kingston Sub later in the day, such as March 9, 1984 at 1920 hours, over seven hours late!
Heading east to Montreal, VIA No 2/44/54 rolls out of Kingston with the mix of ex-CP stainless steel and ex-CN blue & yellow cars apparent.  I was fortunate to collect over 200 dome-equipped Canadian consists on CN's Kingston Sub during this short time, all included in my book on VIA Rail.
November 27, 1982 sees 6780-6867-6612 with 11 cars and Waterton Park on the tail end, snapped having just crossed Counter Street and passing through the Queens West interlocking.  Notice the wooden mileage marker at rigiht, for the small culvert here:
In March 1984, the Glen era ended.  The remaining stainless steel cars were deadheaded to Toronto in several movements, to be maintained at Spadina coach yard.  This meant that through sleepers, coaches and meal cars still operated between Toronto and Montreal, but other sleepers and domes were removed in Toronto Union Station.  On May 7, 1984 VIA No 1 is domeless, departing Kingston behind 6775-6863 with 9 cars:
Interestingly, other ex-CN cars not usually seen in the Corridor substituted for stainless steel cars at times: E-series sleepers, Mount-series sleepers and 1300-series diners.  As the number of conventionally-equipped trains dropped throughout the next several years, Friday and Sunday evening VIA train Nos 168 and 169 were used to move stainless steel cars maintained at VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre since the closure of Spadina, from the Canadian between Toronto and Montreal.  On July 26, 1991 Strathcona Park brings up the markers (two sets, actually) of a four-car No 169 behind 6452:
Stainless steel sleepers would later operate on the overnight Cavaliers, and a decade later on the Enterprise.  The sun was truly setting on the Kingston Sub domes, except for the short-lived Skrillex solar flare.  I wonder if on the journey he stuck his head out a Dutch door as I had done, riding east out of Toronto in a Chateau vestibule in 1984 and enjoying the reflection on stainless steel?  If he had, there would not be a VIA FP9 coming the other way:
Running extra...

I found it unsettling to look  up, way up from the Kingston station platform and see passengers in the dome looking down at me from that lofty height - same for Park car lounge occupants with drinks in hand.  The Canadian cars still ply their trade westward.  Recent summer-length trains through Winnipeg include July 14 6401-6452-20 cars with Banff Park on the tail end, July 16 No 1 with 6411-6434-21 cars with Tremblant Park.  Always classy.

Just finished listening to BBC War Reports World War Two : On Air. Gripping early eyewitness radio transmissions including the withdrawal from Dunkirk, the desperate London Blitz and the hard-fought beaches of Normandy.  Only late in the war were bulky, portable transmitters feasible, a far cry from today's satellite phones.  A rare document in history, full of rawness and immediacy.

While on a visit to our local Canadian Tire store today, I was amazed in the lawn and garden section to find a box containing a Solar-Powered Rock, used as a garden ornament.  Just sounds strange to me, as did a package of three All-Purpose Cloths.  "Crappy Tire" really does sell everything under the sun, don't they?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Still Springtime in Shannonville

A late spring trip to Shannonville on June 16 took me trackside at the site of the CP crossing over the CN Kingston Sub, just west of Shannonville Road. Here, a third track is being installed north of the current north track.  South of the current south track, an earthen berm is provided for visiting rail photographers.  This is where I photographed CN No 369, approaching Belleville yard at 1055.  Locomotives 2655-8802 are just cresting the grade approaching Mi 214 Kingston Sub (above).
Lots of metals traffic on this train, such as CNIS 621259 and 622230 with coils of steel wire rod, held in by bunks built onto the side sills of CN bulkhead flat cars (above) and aluminum ingots on new HPJX 52213 (below).  These new Helm-Pacific Leasing cars are replacing older CN flat cars in this service.
More aluminum, this time carried by CN 188000-series covered gondolas.  These unique gondolas, developed by CN for Alcan traffic now have the Alcan logos painted out on the car lids, and the Arvida operation is run by Rio Tinto.  CN 188447 and 188422 are accompanied by GTW coil cars 188155 and 187791:
CN supplied hi-cube boxcars for the paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, NS.  The mill has closed and had trouble reopening since, and these cars, notable for their bold Canadian National lettering and reporting marks have been relettered with GTW reporting marks. In some cases, the CN logo and lettering has been painted out, and they are now in service originating in northern Quebec.  I refer to them as 'Ports' boxcars, and GTW 406474 and 406381 head west on today's 369.

Magor-built Aluminum Company of America AOCX 2218 reminds me of a model railroader's quick repainting and relettering job.  Chris van der Heide's Canadian Freight Car Gallery shows AOCX 2217 at Brockville in May 2012. Interestingly, the car ended up on a flat car in June!
I walked west along the wobbly third track alignment, eventually reaching the CP bridge. As in previous visits to the site, including just over a year ago in March 2011, CP is stingy with the trains this day.  The piers for the bridge allow for the additional track (and one to the south someday?) and a retaining wall and tons of gravel have been added.  Looking timetable west (above) and timetable east (below) the third track still needs surfacing and alignment.
An earlier visit to the site in September 2009 showed the bridge from a different angle. As I enjoyed a breeze from the shade of the bridge deck, VIA 6454 East was contacting Foreman Robitaille who was manning his Rule 42 between Mi 211 and Mi 221, from atop another berm just east of Belleville yard.  To the east, Foreman Ken McDonald was the next Rule 42 foreman on their list, with limits between Mi 199 and Mi 209.  Third track construction between Napanee West and Belleville will mean these limits will be in force for some time.
Renaissance scheme 6454 leads her four cars east, passing a new signal gantry not visible during earlier visits, then passing the Mi 214 milepost:
Taking a page from Adam Walker's use of wayside signs photographed to record his railfan visits, I searched in vain for a convenient signal bungalow at this location.  There was none. Instead, the sweat poured down my forehead as I scoured the ditches for some items with which to construct a suitable marker.  Bent and unbent spikes, a track bolt, and random pieces of wood would have to do:
Heading back to the car, No 149 blew a 14(l) for the Shannonville Road crossing, led by BCOL 4623-2516, doing a comfortable 62 mph past the berm at 1210.  No 149 later departed Belleville at 1240 after a crew change.
Construction of VIA's Brobdingnagian Belleville station continues apace.  Exterior materials are added to the pedestrian overpass, and the historic Grand Trunk station is fenced off.  The station garden grows on out-of-reach outside the enclosure, as poseys of poppies pose for passing passengers, hostas are held hostage and chives chime in to produce some colour, all bravely disregarding the DANGER sign above their heads.
Compared to the state of the station project in August 2011 the street side of the station actually looks pretty good.  Am I to believe that this monolith is increasing VIA's Belleville ridership, while at the same time providing a measly ten additional seats in the glassed-in foreground waiting room?
CN yard power soaks up the sun at the east end of the yard: 7039-4131.
A hi-rail boom truck shuffles tie cars nearby.  High-sided IC 102019 is a long way from Casey Jones-land.
Coming soon to Kimco is BNSF 545649 loaded with I-beams, part of an eastbound set-out which also included cars for Belleville industries, Kingston's Invista nylon plant and Bath's Lafarge cement plant.
Running extra...

Private car Pacific, the piece de resistance of the Mother Parker's Remembers campaign heads for Toronto on July 4, tailing VIA No 59 at Kingston's Counter Street crossing.
The train scoots west past the Kingston station parking lot.  Trackside Treasure chase vehicle at right, and is that a camper beyond?  Where are we, at a Wal-Mart?
Chris Diddy kindly sent some photos of Pacific set out at another monster of a station, Ottawa.  It was 0630, and Chris hot-footed over to the car to capture Pacific in all its high-gloss glory on his camera phone before departing Ottawa westward.  A view I was unable to get at Kingston.  Thanks, Chris!