Saturday, April 10, 2021

Private car GHM-1

Memories have a way of aggrandizing themselves in our minds. One example - I believed that I had recorded several observations of this venerable private car, though I could find only one. It was easing east across Kingston's Counter Street crossing during March break, 1979. The last car on the nocturnal Cavalier, in the days of VIA handling private business cars (PV's).

Differentiate This!

Eric Doubt was a vice-president of a B2B marketing agency specializing in health care in the 1970's. Establishing a Toronto office from Montreal in 1980 was a challenge for the agency as clients and prospects departed down Highway 401 to Toronto. Looking for something to deploy that was dramatic and noticeable, a partner read about the club of private railway car owners in the U.S. Did CN have any passenger cars for sale they could ride into town on? 

CN was selling for price of scrap, in good shape, the former library car on the 1939 Royal Train then Governor-General Georges Vanier's car Metis from CN. The price was not cheap, but was below what was expected. Refurbishing, paint job and basic repairs could be managed. The car boasted a lounge, dining room with glass dining table, fully-equipped stainless-steel kitchen, three private bedrooms and bathrooms and was used for meetings, socializing and travel. Metis was returned to service and put into action for launch in Toronto, while there was still no office nor staff in Toronto. GHM-1 was the only privately-owned car in Canada at the time.

Jacques Pelletier, the former Governor-General's valet and chef came to work on the car. He cooked five-course meals while rolling through towns and villages or on the car's spur beneath the CN Tower. The firm received notice of its Agency of Record status from its first Toronto client while aboard the car. GHM-1 give the firm a foothold and presence in Toronto. Press coverage of the private car unfurled, and the firm the soon transferred its operations to a brick-and-mortar office.

The decision to buy GHM-1 parallels the current situation to beamed-up advertising during the pandemic. One recruiting firm just bought a spacious RV in which to meet and stay safe on highways. Imaginative and attention-getting ways to get to one's destination allows firms to stand out from the competition while making a statement.

-From the podcast by Eric Doubt of CA14 Integrated Marketing & Communications in Georgetown. (Top photo from CA14 website.)

Owners subsequent to CN:

My observation of GHM-1:

Lots o' links:

Running extra...

"My strength and stay", said the Queen referring to her consort and spouse of 73 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Those words also were sung during the 2011 wedding of William and Kate. 

CNN announced changes to its weekday morning and daytime, now taking effect:

Laura Jarrett and Christine Romans will continue to anchor Early Start from 5-6 am.

John Berman and Brianna Keilar will anchor New Day from 6-9 am, weekdays.  Keilar most recently anchored CNN Right Now from 1-3pm weekdays.  Prior to that, she was CNN’s White House correspondent during the Obama Administration.  Berman has been co-anchor of New Day for the last two and a half years.

Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto will continue to anchor CNN Newsroom from 9-11 am.

Kate Bolduan will continue to anchor At this Hour from 11am-noon.

John King will continue to anchor Inside Politics with John King weekdays from noon-1pm.  The network’s Chief National Correspondent, he will also continue to have a key role in all political coverage.

Ana Cabrera, who has anchored CNN’s weekend newscasts for the last four years, will now anchor CNN Newsroom weekdays from 1-2 pm.

Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell will now anchor CNN’s afternoon Newsroom coverage from 2-4 pm.  Camerota has anchored CNN’s morning program, New Day, for the last six years, the longest tenure of any weekday morning show anchor in recent CNN history, and, along with Berman, has led CNN to its largest audiences ever in the morning. Blackwell has anchored CNN’s Weekend New Day for the last nine years. 

With the move of Cabrera and Blackwell to CNN’s weekday lineup, CNN also finalized its new weekend lineup:

Boris Sanchez will join Christi Paul as co-anchor of Weekend New Day on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sanchez previously served as a CNN White House correspondent.

Fredricka Whitfield will continue to anchor CNN Newsroom’s midday coverage on Saturdays and Sundays.

Jim Acosta will anchor CNN Newsroom on Saturdays and Sundays from 3-6pm.   As previously announced, Acosta has also been named the network’s chief domestic correspondent.  Prior to this new role, he covered the White House for CNN for the past seven years, having served as Chief White House Correspondent since 2018. That role is now filled by Kaitlan Collins.

As previously announced, Pamela Brown now anchors CNN Newsroom on Saturdays and Sundays from 6-9pm. She also serves as Senior Washington Correspondent for CNN.

[Was this announcement as long as the post it followed? Film at 11!]

Friday, April 2, 2021

Modelling Chalk Marks on Freight Cars

Chalk marks, usually at the end of car sides, was used as a communications device for car routing. Chalk marks indicated marshalling instructions, the car's general destination, setting out, lifting, outbound train number and other miscellaneous messages. This was in the era before paper "journals" or computer-generated train manifests. 

                             CHALK MARKS IN THE STEAM ERA                               

Chalk was bought in quantities by the railway. Canadia Pacific purchased boxes 1x4-inch sticks named Chalkall from Binney & Smith by the gross. Division points were common places for chalk marks to be applied, indicating switching or marshalling instructions for the next division yard, or a particular town on the route - "shorts". Even more specific marks were for individiual tracks on which the car was to be set-out, or the car's commodity.

These marks were not meant to be permanent. They could be 'rubbed out' as if on a blackboard, when no longer relevant or needed. Early graffiti, including hobo marks, was also made with chalk.


There may have been some old heads that still used chalk marks when they were no longer necessary, made obsolete by technology. The advent of ACI labels and the introduction of computers in car routing made these redundant.


Chalk marks are not graffiti. For graffiti, I've done the odd 'Bozo Texino' or 'Pepe', someone's name or a city name. Once rattle cans of spray paint came along, the game changed. Many modern freight cars are nearly covered with graffiti. Modelling 1970, nominally, I don't have to contend with this scourge, ethically, legally or in my modelling.


I use a white gel pen to make my HO scale chalk marks. The resulting lettering is really vivid and bright. It catches my eye when I bring a car onto the layout. In future, I may weather some of the chalk marks with some dilute craft paint overbrushed to dull them. I also add weathering and ACI labels, and I still have remnants of Consolidated stencils, re-weigh re-stencils and occasional U-1 wheel dots.

Due to frequent car handling on and off the layout, I will probably never be the cut lever and roofwalk replacement kind of modeller. I've found that adding this type of detail enhances the realism of my rolling stock fleet and it's something that I can't dislodge by accident!

Lots o' links:

Running extra...

Speaking of leaving his mark, this reminiscence by the inimitable Bob Fallowfield was so nicely written that I frankly stole it from his social media, because I would like to see it shared even ore widely:

Those Sunday drives. 

My dad was king of the Sunday drive, especially come fall. The routine was predictable. Mom would take me to Sunday School while dad chose to worship in his shed. There’s peace to be found down each of those paths. After a quick lunch, we’d pile into our ‘78 Chev Blazer and head out for the open road. I rarely asked outright to drive by the tracks, yet there is a certain understanding between a father and a son that seldom requires words. More often than not, dad would take us on a circuitous rural route that would somehow manage to bisect every rail line in Oxford County. 

I’m not sure I ever expressed it, but looking back now, I sure appreciated his understanding of my love of trains. As we took in the sights of farms and fields, and bounced over gravel and planked crossings, the hope was always present to see a headlight. Some afternoons were quiet but every so often we’d hit paydirt. Dad would clear the crossing, pull to the shoulder and the back door would spring open. Leaning back against the dusty rear bumper of our blazer, I watched in wide eyed amazement as the show of steel broke the rural calm and thundered by. As the markers faded in the distance, I returned to the backseat, clicked the lap belt and reached for my magazine. “Thanks, dad.”

And here's the visual that accompanies Bob's reminiscence - his newly-backdropped HO scale Galt Sub: 
Sidebar stories. Fellow blogger Steve Boyko added this list to a recent post on his blog. I'm proud to say I share Steve's taste in blogs, though I have to point out one typo. Under Trackside Treasure, the listing should have read "with a vain attempt at humour". Bit of a typo there (!)

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

CNR 6060 Stops in Sydenham, 1977


On Monday, October 17, 1977 we were at Sydenham, ON to await CNR 6060 as it led the St. Lawrence Valley Steam Association's fall foliage excursion. The excursion was operating from Montreal to Toronto via Ottawa, here on CN's Smiths Falls Subdivision, part of an ambitious 14-hour trip itinerary. There were 325 passengers aboard six cars, and tickets were $75 each. Photos in this post by my Dad, L.C. Gagnon. He took a distant photo of an earlier excursion through Sydenham on October 26, 1973 just over one month after 6060's debut.

Refuelling stops (and/or watering stops) were scheduled at Alexandria, Ottawa, Smiths Falls, Sydenham, Belleville and Port Hope. Things were so much easier when the railways maintained water and coaling towers! At least 6060 was an oil-burner. Now it fell to volunteer fire departments with hydrants, or in the case of Sydenham, a nearby lake that gave up 11,000 gallons! Hoses ran about 100 yards along George Street, to the CN level crossing (above) from Sydenham Lake (below): 
There were three steam-qualified engineers working the trip. This was less than two decades since steam ruled the rails, remember! Excitement, boredom, distraction or a low-flying seagull above your humble blogger:
Many villagers turned out for this one-time event. Not only the passage of a steam-powered train, but the train stopping right in town. It didn't hurt that this major road crossing north out of Sydenham was blocked, although workarounds/drive-arounds were available.
As the train was preparing to leave Sydenham, we drove along the road linking the Church Street and Boundary Road crossings, stopping at this spot between crossings with the tracks in a left-hand curve. Here we awaited the excursion as it made its way west to Napanee thence Toronto, photographing and recording it on cassette tape as it thundered up the grade towards Harrowsmith. 
Sunset was at 6:30 p.m. on this autumn evening. The excursion was operating two hours late, scheduled to arrive at Sydenham at 3:45 p.m. Remember that expression - late trains get later? Watch for an upcoming post on CNR 6060's busy few years after its 1973 restoration and debut fantrip.

Running extra...

A running gag became the '0909 Button'. This was a pin-back button  on sale during or after fantrips celebrating the newly-restored Mountain-type. If the pin, shaped like a number-plate, was unknowingly pinned upside down by an unsuspecting fan on their regalia, it looked as if they were celebrating renowned excursion locomotive 0909!

The popularity of vaccine-shopping in Canada right now is amazing. During this pandemic, folks have not only become informed, they've become experts! First, everyone was a Respiratory Therapist, knowing which ventilation would help COVID patients in ICU. Then, everyone was an Epidemiologist, knowing best how to prevent transmission. Now, everyone is a Vaccinologist, knowing which vaccine works best. What's next? Drug store flyers with weekly vaccine specials and coupons to clip?

Speaking of line-ups, I have named this structure backdrop phenomenon 'The Walthers Row' and it is often seen on model railway layouts. This arrangement is a creative one, yet so many layouts tick all the boxes on the 'buy one of each' list of Walthers structures!

For sale: the late home of noted Canadian rail enthusiast James A. Brown

Sunday, March 28, 2021

CN's GMD-1 Heritage Fleet!

          CN has leaked news that they hurriedly retired ALL remaining CN 1400-series GMD-1's in March. The reason? Two words...paint shop! CN is building on the success of their recent IPO25 Heritage Fleet of assimilated American and predecessor units like IC, WC, EJ&E, and even GTW and BC Rail because railfans absolutely LOVED them. Ardent rail enthusiasts started Facebook groups, circulated fantasy schemes for the entire 25-unit fleet (there were actually only a handful painted) and CN absolutely REVELLED in the attention that the rail enthusiasts were giving to the struggling transcontinental, tri-national shortline otherwise known as CN.

It's not fair to say CN exists to please railfans, but the management team clearly believes that railfans are right up there along with shareholders and shippers when it comes to groups to which CN panders. Leaked CN photos (above and below) are giving us a glimpse into the GMD-1 geneaology we expect to see once the units are restored to optimal operating condition, then receive their all-important heritage paint schemes. Nothing pleases operating crews, shareholders and inhabitants of the corporate suite more than railfan-friendly paint schemes! CN has been able to glean additional photos from social media and photo-sharing sites on which railfans are sharing "My Favourite GMD-1 Photo Ever!" like there is no tomorrow. Because for these units, there truly is no tomorrow! 

Some railfans are lobbying CN, sending tens of emails encouraging CN to do the Northern Alberta Railways scheme, but when the CN corporate types open their emails, they think NAR stands for Never Around Railways and think, hey, what do they know? This grainy image appears to show a GMD-1 in primer with 'NAR' spray-painted on the nose. Could be. 
Several RDC's have just been moved out of VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre. Various theories abound, but it's likely that some of the retired GMD-1's will be brought to the TMC for painting, and storage space was needed. Another theory is that they're going to be moved to China to be pad-printed at one of Rapido Trains' factories there! The image below shows the narrowly-circulated approval process document CN used, largely based on Rapido Trains-produced paint schemes. For obvious reasons, CN WILL be doing the top four schemes, but WILL NOT be doing the  blue Cuba unit, although CN has been strongly hinting that they intend to extend their former Illinois Central mainline beyond Gulf of Mexico ports all the way to Cuba. This just in...there's a really good chance that CN WILL be doing the Cuba unit. Since CP has just announced it will be buying Kansas City Southern to gain access to Mexico, it just makes sense for CN to show that they also have a Latin American connection. 
It seems that CN is poised to make a common error, resulting in yet another fatally flawed heritage project, at least in railfan eyes. They will fail to reach out to railfans to see what THEY want to see, relying instead on corporate types to decide what the GMD-1 Heritage Fleet will look like. Nevertheless, the railfan press is already starting to feel the excitement building, though, as Railfan & Railroad has produced this cover mock-up for its upcoming next issue:

This just in! Grainy cellphone image of one of the early GMD-1 Heritage Fleet repaints surreptitiously taken inside the paint shop. We cannot independently confirm the source of this photo. It seems the lighting in the shop was poor, and when reading the work order, the painter did not have his reading glasses on. He thought it said 'CP'. Then this happened. I pity the fool!
This just in just after that! Fellow railfan and blogger Chris Mears reports that he has seen something on CN in Nova Scotia. We think it might be a TerraTransport or Halifax South Western Railway regional heritage scheme applied to what looks like a tarped GMD-1 down at the harbour. The last GMD-1 operating is as of March 31 is CN 1439.

Running extra...

Thanks for reading to the end of this post. You've just read post #40,000 since this blog began back in the late-forties. At that time, it was just a typewriter, a stack of foolscap, and an empty soup can full of sharpened pencils.
As Trackside Treasure continues to grow in popularity, we expect to be broadcasting to another country next year - the United States of America. They're doing great things now that President Nixon is in the White House!

If you'd like to receive future newsletters, please sign up on the list out in the hall. We will be sending out further messages four times a year once our mimeograph machine comes back from the town tinker!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Loose-Car Railroading on the Hanley Spur

The concept of  'loose-car railroading' is just about gone. Going miles to lift of set out one car to a shipper or consignee? Can we make money doing that? Well, on my HO scale Hanley Spur layout, it's still happening, albeit in a modelled era being nominally 1970. (Don't bother telling me it's a '73 Ford or a '76 Trans Am. It's nominally 1970, though I include industries and operations just before and just after that date.) This post covers 10 feet, took about 20 minutes, and resulted in 150 digital images. (Are you ready to see all 150? Don't worry, you won't have to. A good photographer doesn't show his bad pictures, and there were...many.). At Wellington Street crossing (top photo), the freight shed lead leaves the Hanley Spur and heads downtown and to Canadian Locomotive Co. We're waiting for our train. The conductor is ready to flag the crossing.
Still waiting, we walk north to River Street, where the CP Kingston Subdivision crosses CN's Hanley Spur under the bridge there. It's a tell-tale location!
The wooden end-cupola CN van pauses between Millard & Lumb and the coal piles at Anglin's (above). Lots of material at M&L to be welded and pounded into shape. The conductor must know the M&L guy! This train was in no rush and I was able to walk along neighbouring streets and the right-of-way. I'm on the limestone ridge at the Imperial Oil warehouse at North Street where CN Geep 4530 lifted Penn Central boxcar 77040:
Just before that, I was at water level where the lift was being made. The trainman ambled back and forth from caboose CN 78257 as they seemed to be deciding how loose this loose-car lift was going to be time-wise. I had time to switch to my other black & white camera:
I clambered up on the car just before it was lifted! The tank car unloading track is at left:
The trainman is on the front of the unit as the unit chants and creaks out of the spur.
I cross over to the CP and got a soaker walking across the poorly-drained low ground! Their spur at right leads to a spur serving four customers.
It was reedy. It was swampy. That's why they call this part of Kingston the Swamp Ward, I guess.
I clambered up on the River Street bridge and two locals were up there to see the goings-on. It looks like CP is down from Smiths Falls, just up ahead by the Woolen Mill on Cataraqui Street. My lucky day!
The train sat there and sat there. I walked over to Rideau Street and got this photo between a couple of garages:
Black and white view while walking down the River Street bridge.
At Cataraqui Street, I was on the east side of the CN, with CP on my left. The local section crew was out shimming some ties:
The caboose toddles by:
Another pause. As CN sits on the Cataraqui Street crossing, I walk up to Rideau Street again, beside the Bailey broom factory. The Woolen Mill is in the distance, with the National Grocers building at right:
View from the back of the broom factory. The trainman appears to be flagging the crossing, letting a VW Bug resembling our '61 cross:
Nope. He was just sitting there. 
The conductor comes down from the cupola to appraise the situation:
The train eventually started to move, beating CP at a walk. And I mean walking speed!
Switching over to black & white for the approaching caboose:
The back of the Whig-Standard warehouse was my perch for the final view of two of the slowest trains on two of Canada's largest railways taking their own sweet time! On to Ontario Street!
Oh, I could roam 'round and round on this layout snapping photos. It's not difficult to add tens of photos to the SD card in no time! One benefit - reviewing the photos away from the layout show some things that can be improved. I'm a little hesitant to post too much of this 'snap'photography, because there are only so many locations where I can get the point-and-shoot camera low enough, and I don't want these to become too 'recognizable'. The wonders of digital photography!

Running extra...

Check out the latest editions of the Platforum podcast on Youtube just released: Episode 14 and Episode 15 "RTC, Over..." with Metrolinx' Joe Zika and RTCDave Parker. Dave has a fulsom Flickr feed! Their discussions reminded me of the wise witticisms of CN RTC T J Ball.

Hard on the heels of the previous post on Sydenham, Rian Manson sent along this long-lost photo of CN 3715 at Sydenham, likely taken near the Old Dairy. 
I wrote in my diary about this week's pandemic dairy modelling - a Wilmots milk truck. I skimmed a tanker cab, military truck box, and wheels from a Tyco trailer to make the whole thing. Just contributing my two percents. Those motorcyclists look like they're rushin'.
Did you know there's a variety of watermelon called 'Cream of Saskatchewan'? I didn't. It's yellow in colour! It was apparently brought to North America by immigrants from Russia.