Thursday, January 17, 2019

VIA's Head End Power Program

As early as 1981, VIA had considered following Amtrak’s example of switching from steam heat for its passenger cars to electric heat.  At that time, the cost per car was estimated at $200,000, plus the cost of electric generating cars or locomotives equipped with Head End Power (HEP). To-be-converted ex-CP coaches 102 and 112 are behind the power - 6439-6303 on VIA No 62 on April 27, 1991 (top photo) with my mini-me railfan!


In 1987, VIA announced plans for a massive HEP rebuilding of its steam-heated stainless steel fleet. The $90 million contract was awarded in September 1988. All design and engineering work was to be done in-house by VIA, with some cars requiring over one thousand engineering drawings!  New air conditioning, electrical appliances, water systems including showers in sleepers, fire protection, wiring, interior coverings and rebuilt trucks were some of the upgrades these 35 year-old cars received.  Montreal’s AMF Technotransport, a CN subsidiary located in the Pointe St Charles shops, rebuilt the cars, which were also renumbered: 600-series baggage cars became 8600’s, 100-series coaches became 8100’s, 500-series Skylines became 8500’s, 16500-series diners became 8400’s, 14300-series Manor sleepers became 8300’s, 14200-series Chateau sleepers became 8200’s, and 15500-series Park cars became 8700’s. Renumbered 8101 as part of the HEP rebuilding program, ex-CP coach (101) is on VIA No 60 at Kingston on September 2, 2011:


The first planned consist: 8601-8104-8118-8518-Burton Manor-Carleton Manor-Dunsmuir Manor-Empress-Chateau Bienville-Chateau Radisson-Assiniboine Park. A guard consist of spare cars would be rebuilt next: 8604-8117-8515-Elgin Manor-Fairholme-Chateau Levis-Tremblant Park.

As consists were completed, they were placed in service.  Early plans to rebuild 45 ex-CN CC&F blue & yellow cars were shelved, in light of the devastating 1990 cuts.  While it was seen as a knock against the cars’ steel construction and subsequent corrosion of the car bodies, these cars went on to extended careers with other railways and private operators. Eventually, other stainless steel cars were bought and converted to HEP to 'replace' these ex-CN cars in the VIA fleet. VIA acquired, but did not convert to HEP, four baggage cars (planned as VIA 618-621), 1 dome-obs (15519) and seven dome coaches (518-524).

An HEP display train for viewing debuted on May 18, 1990:  8120-8515-Elgin Manor-Fairholme-Chateau Levis-Tremblant Park, with coach 8117 released for cold-weather testing in August, 1989 by Ottawa's National Research Council. Over 1,000 miles of road-testing was required prior to acceptance of the cars by VIA. VIA 8117's road testing lasted from December 989 to May 1990, then the car was returned for improvements before final aceptance in August 1990. Here's 8117 on No 63 at Belleville on April 30, 1990:
Arriving in Toronto from Montreal on October 6, 1990, the HEP display train consist: 6443-6436-8604-Jarvis Manor-Chateau Levis-8104-8515-Empress-Elgin Manor-Tremblant Park.  Departing Toronto, spare cars 8118 and Chateau Bienville were added behind the power and later set out in Winnipeg.  Jarvis Manor and Chateau Levis were used as crew sleepers, cut in behind 8604.  The train travelled to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Jasper, reaching Vancouver on October 20, 1990.


It was expected that one 11-car HEP consist would be in service in May 1991, three consists by June 1991, with program completion in May 1992.  In fact, three consists and spares, 47 cars in total, were completed by July 1991.  Five HEP consists were in service on the Canadian by January 1992.

Departures of VIA Nos 1 and 2 with HEP consists grew from two to four monthly through the months of November 1990-March 1991, five and six from April 1991 to June 1991, eight and nine from July 1991 to November 1991, and all HEP consists as of November 28, 1991.  Ever seen this many passengers trying to board a Park car? It's Brian Schuff's photo of  HEP refurbished Banff Park on the CBC anniversary train at Winnipeg in September, 2002!
The first HEP consist on the Gaspe run departed Montreal on April 6, 1992: 6439-8608-8115-8102-Annapolis-Chateau Lasalle-Chateau Lemoyne.  A second consist departed Montreal on September 24, 1992.  One HEP consist was in operation by January 1992 on the Skeena.  By April, all Skeena consists were HEP-equipped.  Steam-heated equipment previously used on the Skeena was moved from Vancouver east on CN train No 218 on May 14, 1992: 15441, 15475, 15486 and 9483 to Winnipeg; 5595, 5596-5621-5627 to Toronto; 9475, 9479, 9481 and 9482 to storage in Toronto; and 501, 503 and 504 for HEP conversion, the last three Skylines to be converted.   The last HEP car was accepted by VIA on June 21, 1994.


The HEP (eventually referred to as HEP1) program involved the rebuilding of 24 stainless steel cars not part of CP’s Canadian.  Baggage cars 8618-8623 and coaches 8130-8147 were built for U.S. railroads such as NYC, RF&P and UP and purchased by VIA.  Ex-UP baggage car 8618 is on VIA No 55 at Kingston on September 2, 2011 (above). Rebuilding of these cars began at Septa Rail in 1992, with coaches completed by AMF Technotransport after Septa’s bankruptcy.  The baggage cars were accepted by VIA between October 23, 1992 and May 31, 1993.  All HEP1 cars were given a solid blue letterboard above the windows, with the coaches at least intended for long-distance service. 

Interestingly, when the last conventional Corridor trains were converted to LRC consists in mid-1991, ex-CP baggages 612, 613 and 615 were modified with pass-through HEP cables for heat and light, intended for baggage service on train Nos 62/63 and 70/79/172.  This allowed the baggage cars to operate next to the locomotive.  HEP baggage car 8605 also operated on Corridor trains.  Pass-through cable-equipped 615 operated until its AMF rebuild scheduled for 1993. 


Announced in June 1992, this program involved the rebuilding of 33 cars with unique blue & yellow letterboard above the windows, at a cost of $57.8 million.  The contract was awarded in December 1992 and would result in 74-seat coaches and 56-seat first class cars with interiors similar to those of the LRC.  The cars, originally from SP and other U.S. railroads, were renumbered 4100-4125 and 4000-4006 respectively would replace ex-CN blue & yellow cars still in Corridor service.  Coaches 4123-4125 were converted to club cars in 2000, renumbered 4007-4009. The cars were stripped to their shells, many in Halifax, then moved to CN’s subsidiary AMF in Montreal. Interestingly, downsizing at VIA meant hat in-house engineering was no longer feasible for the HEP2 program.  Modern interiors were created by AMF and Stone Safety Corp., Coach & Car Inc. and Polatec Inc. Thirty-three pairs of trucks came from ex-CN blue & yellow cars. HEP2 coach  4109 is on VIA No 60 in September, 2011 (above).

HEP2 cars entered service beginning on April 28, 1995, with an HEP2 display train touring Toronto, London and Windsor in late-February 1996: 6405-4002-4104-4124(still waiting for its seats) and the last HEP2 car was delivered on March 25, 1996. 

Eventually a fleet of 78 cars was amassed between 1987 and 1993 with 57 cars actually rebuilt (24 HEP1 and 33 HEP2), 18 later sold and three still stored in Montreal.  VIA gave each car purchased from U.S. railroads a temporary three-digit number.  For a summary of the lineage of these cars, see the Canadian Trackside Guide.  I’ve seen photos of Southern Railway, Amtrak, and Chesapeake & Ohio cars taken in Halifax in the early 1990’s with crudely lettered “VIA” and three-digit numbers on their number plates.  What a sight!

The HEP rebuilding program took VIA's stainless steel fleet from sizzling steam-leakers to sleek silver serpentine streamliners.

Further reading:
  • VIA "HEPPED" FOR SUCCESS by Douglas N.W. Smith, Canadian Rail Passenger Review No.1, 1997.
  • REBUILDING THE DREAM by Douglas N.W. Smith, Canadian Rail Passenger Yearbook, 1995 Edition.
Running extra...this week in italics!

Watch for an upcoming post on Kingston's new Railfan Walking Trail!

Looking for some fun? Every time someone asks, 'How are you?' just say the following...."So Good!" and pause. I have found that 90% of people will then repeat exactly that, and say 'So Good!", either in a surprised or pensive tone. Fun!

The three most-overused phrases of the week:

  • 1. Let's walk that statement back.
  • 2. They just moved the goalposts.
  • 3. So good!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

VIA cars stored at Ottawa

In October, 1993, several pieces of then-surplus VIA equipment were moved from Montreal to Ottawa: VIA 757, 1347, 5594, 5736, 5754, 9654, Evanston and sleeper-dome-observations Algonquin Park, Riding Mountain Park and Sibley Park.  On June 11, 1996 Sibley Park is shown stored at Ottawa Union station (top photo) and then on March 3, 1997 with a weathered, wintered look:
The cars would be returned by VIA 6402 to VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre in December, 1998 along with six RDC's that had been brought to Ottawa for storage. Algonquin Park appears in this post on VIA's scrapped stainless steel cars. The three Park cars were retired by VIA in the fall of 2001, with Algonquin Park going to Luxury Rail Car/Bill Harman; Riding Mountain Park sold to Harry Purnell/Adrian & Blissfield RR and Sibley Park acquired by the Canadian Railway Museum/Exporail, all dispositions in 2004. Riding Mountain Park is also shown on June 11, 1996:
Acquired by VIA for possible Head-End Power conversion was ex-Rock Island "VIA 618" shown on June 11, 1996:
Arriving in Ottawa on VIA No 40 on February 7, 1994 but camera-less, I could only note the numbers and names of 15 of these stored cars! With numerous tracks not in use, Ottawa was a natural spot for VIA to stash cars awaiting disposition.
 Ex-CN baggage car 9667 was coupled to the ex-RI car:
Santa's slide scanner has been put to good use scanning these slides recently added to my collection. Watch for more nineties VIA in upcoming posts! 

Running extra...

Thanks to Lance Gleich and Bill Staiger for sending these festive Christmas cards my way:
Consistency. You can see it here or in the sidebar. The number of posts since Trackside Treasure was launched in September, 2008 (hence the reduced 18 posts for that year of inception!) Don't expect any giant leaps, nor gaps, in this very relaxed weekly posting schedule. This bunny just keeps going, and going...
WTF? Fun with F(oto)-E(diting):

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Kingston's Outer Station in HO Scale

My modelling is coming home to Kingston. Now that I need some (very recognizable) structures for my HO scale layout representing CN's Hanley Spur, I decided to build the first one visible when one 'enters' the layout - Kingston's Grand Trunk/CN Outer Station on Montreal Street. This is where the Hanley Spur begins, diverging just east of the prototype station and heading south while skirting Kingston's Inner Harbour and waterfront. The nearly-finished structure on the layout (top photo). But  wait,how did we get here to the solid limestone structure located at Mi 173 of CN's Kingston Subdivision? I made a point of snapping in-build photos, captioned below...
I don't know which manufacturer makes the sturdy brick station structure that I used. It was a train show find for a few dollars. I had visions of making it into VIA's Brockville station, never dreaming my modelled locale would end up coming home to Kingston. It's shown above with a prototype photo (above).

January 10 UPDATE*** Thanks to Andrew Jeanes for finding a current source for this Heljan Greenfield Village depot kit - Montreal's Udisco Hobbies - in stock for any readers that now want one! It's based on a Grand Trunk Western station, currently preserved at Greenfield Village,  part of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn:
Now, back to the build.....interestingly, the prototype had some changes over the years, and it has six windows, not five on the lower level. I largely went with the initial structure, rather than cutting in new windows or doors. Scaling out prototype photos, I found that my 7x4x3-inch dimenions almost exactly matched this existing station I'd picked up. Onwards!
Trimming overhangs at sides and front. It's Dremel time!

Adding the false roof. Deciding to clad the brick structure, multiple rooflines would not be an issue.

The roof is complete. Mansard? Gambrel? I'm not an architect! Could've been a little 'taller' though..

Photo-edited/copied/pasted 'limestone' paper printed off. Not exactly prototype limestone pattern, but I liked the depth of the design.

Original brick paper - from

Applying the paper. I spent more time on the other two sides, since these two would be less visible on the layout.

All four sides clad. Lots of cutting and piecing around those roof supports!

Adding roof fascia, making use of the previous structure's eaves overhang.

Adding fascia, with a second thinner layer added later.

Painting around the windows and adding second-storey dormer(?) windows.

Baggage door and signage plus quoins added to corners. Window sills and more fascia to come later.

Twelve-hour build finished. Funny, that 12 hours went faster than 8 hours at work do!

Running extra...

Dwayne Gretzky is a cover band. Appearing on Global News' Morning Show on Corus Quay (near Redpath Sugar on Toronto's waterfront), the group performed Neil Young's Old Man and Fleetwood Mac's The Chain. The haunting harmonies of both are well suited to the group! An all-encompassing set-list from their Horseshoe Tavern residency.

Usually, I don't link to the blogs in my sidebar, since they're available there. My brother Dave has launched a new blog called Lachine Peas - an engaging mix of Montreal, Quebec, Lachine, people and culture, most family-related. Some favourite posts I've discovered:
When it comes to New Year's resolutions, Annie Murphy of CBC's S*****'s Creek (it's a family blog) said it well, "In past years I've made the terrible mistake of making such resolutions as 'excel at sports', 'study anthropology', 'learn Italian and Spanish', 'become a dancer', 'learn classical piano without ever being bad at it' and 'become really crafty and good at decorating houses.' Needless to say, I end up feeling like a real garbage human after not making good on even one-eighth of one resolution. So I'm just going to make a vague and untreaceable resolution this year, and that's 'be generally better'".

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Dimensional Movements with KWUX 10

Dimensional load movements are usually interesting, whether it's a simple D-4 on a regular freight train consist, or a D-10 on a special movement. When CN's car-tracing information was public, prior to September 2001, it was easier to predict passage of special dimensional trains. Scanners helped.
On January 5, 2001 this Siemens/Westinghouse generator was heading to Albany, NY aboard KWUX 10. Due to its size, it rated a single engine, several idler cars and was to meet opposing trains on a straight stretch of track while stopped. CN No 321 passed by on the north track at 1015 (two top photos) just west of Mi 179 Kingston Sub.
No 316's consist: CN 5432 (CNNA scheme)- CN 603225-603255-four other empty bulkhead flats-KWUX 10-caboose KRL 074. Closeups of the welded bracing and trucks:
Interestingly, Siemens acquired Westinghouse's power generation business unit around 1998. This car is now placarded for Siemens and has been painted turquoise while retaining its reporting marks.
Slowly starting east again, with further meets to come...
Passing under the Bayridge Drive overpass through a snow flurry:
Over the next couple of months, there were more dimensional movements. Weekends were preferred, due to fewer trains operating therefore fewer meets for the Rail Traffic Controller to orchestrate:

  • January 14/01 (Sunday) CN No 364 Engs 5542-5500-5357 had dimensional loads on the head-end: HTTX 94138 with Caterpillar dump truck and CN flat with big red 'parts' of something.
  • January 16/01: CN No 423 Eng 9445-five empty CN gondolas-Schnabel car HEPX 200 carrying a transformer for the Lennox Generating Station-caboose HEPX 79640. This train departed Montreal Wharf on January 13 at 0800 handling a D-9R, limited to daily movements only, spending the night at Montreal Taschereau Yard, then departing Sunday morning at 1050 reaching Garry, ON at 1316 thence Kingston on January 15 at 1810. I photographed the train the next morning, one of the few trains operating due to the derailment of CN No 310 at Mallorytown. Departing on January 16 at 0730, it reached Lennox G.S. at 1330.
  • March 4/01 (Sunday) CN No 309 Engs 5340 CNNA with map-6014 CNNA with map-9671 CNNA-2453 CNNA with map-5655 had a CN flat with large cylindrial tank, QTTX 130602 with a transformer-CN 667912 with an Indeck boiler on the head-end.
  • March 5/01 (Sunday) CN No 316 Eng 9677 with WECX 102 meeting VIA No 67 at Ernestown and spending the night in Kingston, departing Monday March 5 once CN No 369 passed, with an upcoming meet with CN No 309 at Regis, ON.   
  • March 18/01 (Sunday) CN No 316 passed under the Highway 133/County Road 4 overpass at Ernestown, Mi 188 Kingston Sub. KWUX 10 was again handling a D-9 dimensional load behind CN 9542 and an assortment of idlers. Meeting a westbound waiting at Ernestown:
These tarped orange ballast cars are often used as idlers. CN No 316's consist: 9592-boxcar CNA 412591-orange ballast cars CN 30204-302295-KWUX 10-KRL 074:
Just passed under the overpass:
Heading east along the straight stretch towards Millhaven for a meet with CN No 369 Engs 5657-5510-50 cars, thence on to Kingston and points east.

Running extra...

Here's hoping you had an enjoyable Christmas and may be enjoying a few days with family and/or friends. Or just make friends with your family! Anyway, I have been putting some new technology to use, bringing to life a wintry scene of VIA's Flexliner experiment:
Digging deeper, peeling back layers of the history and operations of Kingston's Hanley Spur, for my basement HO scale layout and working towards our Associated Railroaders of Kingston module project.
Best wishes for 2019 - I resolve to bring you as much interesting, head-scratching and astonishing information and news-you-can-use here on Trackside Treasure! - Eric

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas 2018

Ever since our National Broadcaster put a 'ban' on the 1944 chestnut "Baby, It's Cold Outside" the rebel in me, and in a lot of people, has finally found a cause. Written by Frank Loesser, I'd say compared to a lot of the openly bigoted/misogynistic/inappropriate/questionable/parent advisory songs out there, this one's as tame as unspiked eggnog. But every fruitcake has a few nuts, and they've risen to the surface this Christmas!
As a way to say Merry Christmas to Trackside Treasure's readers, get the banned song bouncing around in your brain then try these lyrics!

I really must say (Baby it's cold Trackside)
It's almost Christmas day (Baby let's blog Trackside)
I really must stay (well it's been ten years)
Some topics have strayed (could be the beers)

Hey what's in this drink (Did someone say beer?)
Sure makes me think (Well that's nice to hear!)
It's time to pass on... (wait what did he say??)
...Christmas greetings, hold on! (apprehension at bay!)

'Tis the end of '18 (We've got a great team)
What a good year it's been (Bring on 2019!)

But I really must say,
Baby it's cold Trackside!

Chris will be planning again (John L. and his fine M&M)
Boyko will be out in the cold (Bern's Civil War never gets old)
Hammond will be nailing it down (and Dutka will be gluing it down)
Brother Dave will be running a scan (Lachance's modelling? I'm a fan)
Fuller will be Trackside as well (Simpson's mining a deep well)

But now I must go (Here's your toque, what's your hurry?)
It's starting to snow (Posts come weekly, not in a flurry)
But I really must say 
Baby it's cold Trackside
and Merry Christmas!!

Normally, it's the Running Extra section here...but at the end of the ellipsis is the excellent E-card exchange. I'm pleased to share festive greetings from  fellow bloggers, merry modellers and evergreen enthusiasts! 
Steve Hoshel
World's next author Mark Perry from snowy Manitoba!
Also from Manitoba, Jim Burnside
Modeller of Portage Randy O'Brien
Gary Hadfield
Paul Hunter
From Mi 182 Kingston Sub, Andre Gerow
Blog partner Steve Boyko
Rob Leachman, New Brunswick