Saturday, March 18, 2017

March Miscellany

Spring is just around the corner. I've been splitting my time between shovelling drifts, pushing drafts of my upcoming book on VIA Rail back and forth to my graphic designer, and creating some VIA-related memes. So I give you this pop-up post of spring miscellany. Tim Hayman snapped a photo of the first CANADA 150-wrapped VIA F40PH-2D 6454. I used the expansive nose to do a bit of publicity including Tim's role as a valued contributor (top photo). Have you ever wanted to be in the 1%? Here's an onion diagram that reveals how you can be:
VIA has wrapped Business Class car 3476 in the attractive 'leaves' variation of the CANADA 150 scheme similar to that applied to lounge car Glenfraser. Shaun Hennessy snagged the kaleidoscopically kolourful kar at Fallowfield station:
 My initial enthusiasm for the CANADA 150 scheme has not waned:
However it has come to my attention that trackside photographers are taking WAAAAY too many photos of the CANADA 150-wrapped locomotives and not nearly enough of the coaches:
We'll see how that works. Meanwhile, last Sunday's VIA Nos 648/650 featured 650's consist led by VIA 905 trailing the 50/50 consist tailed by VIA 916. Remember that 916 was initially released with white cab numbers which were soon replaced with the far more visible black numbers:
Logan Cadue kindly shared his notable nose-to-nose view at Kingston, and the same night Mary and Malcolm Peakman captured the nocturnal niceties at Napanee:
Some would say the wraps are being applied to cover up less-than-stellar paint jobs on non-refurbished non-Renaissance-scheme cars and there are more than enough photos of the gnarled noses of the P42's that warrant a little covering up:
Hyperbole at the White House:
Hyperbole at Halifax:
Meanwhile at Napanee, ON not much has changed over 150 years:
Last weekend's Kingston Rail-O-Rama netted some fine finds. Vice-Regal, preserved 6917, Brockville, Sudbury, Montreal and back-to-back 6400's added to my photo collection:
And afterwards, a trip to the Kingston station to see an unusual consist on VIA No 63 - LRC's replace the normal HEP consist:
'Orange you glad'? Citrushelf down and consider the navel-gazing I did at our very own city wrap that's appealing and not yet a-peeling:
And a Kingston Transit NOVA bus 1689 pausing proximal to the platform:
Getting a 'D' for E-series Edmunston or EdmunDston:
No longer available - we will no longer have a monopoly on what game pieces we use. The thimble, boot and wheelbarrow have been replaced by updated rubber ducky, penguin and dinosaur. Updated dinosaur??
And a view no longer available. Bright morning sun and dome haze cannot obscure the fact that this photo, taken from the eastbound Corridor Canadian Park car by my Dad in 1983 shows a shimmering stainless steel consist spread ahead as the train crosses County Road 6 near Amherst View, Ontario.
It's photos such as these that I was proud to include in my upcoming Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections. My Dad's trip accounts, early-80's Corridor Canadian consists and photos get a well-deserved airing. Sharing this material is a fine legacy for data that I hadn't even known existed. I'm really looking forward to making it available to a new generation of VIAphiles, and leading off my book with this fitting tribute:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mud Season at Morningstar/Trenton, February 2017

While part of the family was skiing at nearby Batawa ski hill, I picked a grey, foggy, slightly damp day to try out Trenton, ON. Specifically, the remnant of the former CN Marmora Subdivision which once ran north from Trenton Jct to Marmora, and south from Trenton Jct to Picton. Located near CN's Kingston Sub and CP's Belleville Sub, this is a neat little spot located just north of Telephone Road (top photo).
Parrish & Heimbecker (P&H) recently took over the former Trenton Grain Elevator, formerly Thrasher Feed Ltd. Located at Mi 32.20 of the former Trenton Spur, before that CN's Marmora Sub, track TB76 was a 1300' (now marked as 1140') spur that served the elevator then veered off to serve Tri-County Agro Mart. The Trenton Spur continued north to serve Trent Valley Paper Board, five miles north. The track to the mill was removed in 1988. The spur now ends before reaching Highway 401. There is still a run-around track just north of the ag facilities, just visible to left. It's designated CN track TB75, 1900 feet long:
P&H covered hopper PHLX 101 was spotted at the elevator. Having profiled these uniquely-painted P&H cars, I was happy to find one doing its job.
Looking south along Telephone Road, CN's section building (used to be Insulbrick) (2014 photo from aboard VIA Rail) and the track beneath the Kingston Sub at Mi. 232.9 are visible. Marmora ore trains used to run here, to be unloaded at Picton Harbour. (Lake Ontario Cement at Picton was the last customer before the trackage was removed in 1995-96.) Now, CN No 518 must traverse the 1455-foot downhill connecting track KP50 to serve the feed mill. The tail of this track is about 800 feet south of the Trenton Spur switch.
Across Telephone Road and up a short driveway if the Trenton Junction VIA stop. Connecting track KP50 is just visible, heading downhill at left. A westbound auto-rack train, likely CN No 371 scooted through, but CN freights made themselves scarce for the remainder of the day. CP's freight haul amounted hi-rail truck! I entitled this post 'mud season' because Mike Confalone, among others, choose to model this uniquely eastern North America season, when snow, mud, cloud and fog all intersect. Just like this day...
Like Kingston, Oshawa, Dorval et al, VIA has added a peaked roof and tower to the diminutive drop-off:
Out at Morningstar Road, it was an all-VIA show through the fog. Rather than posting individual Youtube video links to match these video captures (below), just click on my Youtube page to see four short but dramatic videos!
 At 1112, VIA No 51 Eng 6407:
 At 1245, VIA No 63 Eng 6401:
At 1315, an eastbound - VIA No 64 Eng 6451:
 At 1333, VIA No 45 Eng 6427:
 At 1402, sun and VIA No 42 double-ended consist with 910/911:
One parting P&H shot: in the sun, the view north from Telephone Road, with Highway 401 just visible in the distance:
CANADA 150! VIA's wrapped cars and units continue to proliferate. Read Steve Boyko's interesting review of reactions to this colourful scheme. I caught three units in one day, without even trying. VIA No 655 Eng 916 at 0645:
Grocery cart view! VIA No 47 Eng 905 at 1439:
Parking lot view! Video capture of VIA No 644 Eng 904 at 1530:
Speaking of being trackside with VIA, I'd like to share the draft cover for my upcoming book, Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections. This book includes a few fingerprints - a team of contributors including my brother, whose photos take the top two positions on the front cover! And there he is, standing beside your humble blogger as he begins a VIA journey aboard an RDC-1 (centre photo on back cover). Watch for an April release.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

CN's Blind Mice F-Units

Some of CN's 9100-series GFA-17's were rebuilt to GFB-17's numbered 9100-9108 between May 1983 and December 1984. These were formerly CN 9174, 9170, 9157, 9152, 9154, 9178, 9155, 9179, 9150 respectively. CN 9100-9104 were assigned to Symington, and 9105-9108 assigned to Calder. On June 4, 1984, an eastbound 112-car loaded grain train into Portage la Prairie was led by CN 9173-9103-9100. The connecting track between CN Rivers Sub and CP Carberry Sub is in foreground:
Two years later, I was over-nighting in Rosetown, SK when a westbound freight made it into Rosetown through showers in the early evening. Tying down the train, the crew 'went for beans'. One of the blind mice was the second unit behind CN 5575:
The rebuilt units' front windshield and side cab windows were covered with one-eighth-inch steel. Number boards, classification lighs and the inside of some radiator vents were also covered with sheet metal.The headlight was kept in operation, with two emergency brake valves, no horn, no hostler control, no brake control and the units could not operate independently, being totally dependent on other locomotives for movement. For ballast, retired axles were mounted inboard, with six in the rear and seven in a the front compartment. Sanding pipes were reduced. CN 9102-9103 and VIA SGU's were at CN Symington shop in Winnipeg in 1985 in this online photo auction site photo:
CN engineer Mark Perry noted that crews referred to these units as 'red beetles'. Jim Booth kindly shared photos of CN 9102 at Kelowna, BC in February, 1987:
The units were retired in December, 1989. By 1990, CN 9100 and some classmates were in the scrapline at Montreal's Taschereau Yard (Bill Thomson photo):
CN 9103 in Jasper, captioned 1986.
CN 9173 in 1986 in Nanticoke, ON. Cabride!
Thanks to Jim Booth and Bill Thomson for sharing their photos for this post.

Running extra...
Looking forward to the annual Kingston Rail-O-Rama train show, March 11 and 12 at Kingston's Ambassador Hotel. Show co-chair Paul Hunter has worked hard on the show's website, flyer and buttons (sure hope he has a couple set aside for me!) I'll be there at the open, with those big bags I usually take to the grocery store!