Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CN's Millhaven Spur

Ten miles west of Kingston, CN's 1.5-mile long Millhaven Spur branches off the south track at Mi 186.6 Kingston Sub. Loyalist Township has posted a 2013 map of the industrial park and a 1960s aerial photo:
For years, the spur only served the terylene and ammonia plants built by England's Imperial Chemical industries, opened by Canadian Industries Limited in 1954, and later known as Millhaven Fibres Limited. Once Canada's third-largest producer of polyester, and the Kingston area's sixth-largest employer in 1970, by 1992 it was the only Canadian producer of polyester fibre for clothing, carpets and tires. The plant location was chosen for its excellent road, rail and lake transportation links and access to large quantities of cooling water from Lake Ontario.
The continuous polymerization staple line was added in 1967, and the Heavy Decitex plant in 1968. Sold to Celanese, then KoSa, ultimately re-sold to Invista, the plant closed in 2009, after latterly producing PET plastic for pop bottles, and is being demolished in mid-2013. A dock, built by Liquifuels for ship-to-shore transfer of bunker C oil for the C-I-L power house and ammonia plant, is still available for liquid asphalt transfer to the Ashwarren then Lafarge, now CoCo Paving operation. The Enerchem Refiner is docked here on October 12/97:
As the plant grew, CN handed plant switching over to Cando Contracting of Brandon, Manitoba. Various switchers were stationed at the plant engine house, and their single-chime, US-style airhorns could be heard hooting miles to the east as they switched across Taylor-Kidd Boulevard. Cando's ex-PRR SW1200 1003 is switching on July 31/97 (top) and had been joined by 1002 nose-to-nose in July/02 (below). Cando 1002 was the last switcher to leave the property in January 2010, billed by Total Track to the National Research Council in Ottawa.
Jim Snow Drive makes viewing of plant switching easier. Named for Ontario's transportation minister (1975-84), it links Highway 33/Bath Road with Taylor-Kidd Boulevard and the UTDC-Bombardier mass transit plant. The Bombardier plant was once served by the Millhaven Spur. And it is again. The plant was taken over by international transportation giant Alstom. Originally, polyester plant trackage comprised a tank farm on the east side of the plant, staple unloading at the west side, as well as boxcar unloading. CN crane 50472 and two flatcars were adding trackage on July 8/96. With plant expansion, a Trackmobile operated by KoSa employees was added to move cars at the PET resin plant expansion.
The Trackmobile supplemented twice-daily Cando switcher runs to the multi-track North storage-in-transit yard, parallel to CN's Kingston Sub. In 1982, a spike's-eye view looking west shows CN ballast cars stored on the lift/setout tracks at the North yard, with the County Road 4 overpass and Ernestown interlocking in the distance:
The asphalt operation added rail service in 2006. A two-track unloading area, including heating pipes to facilitate high-temperature product transfer, brought an end to trucking the product from the top of the Cataraqui Spur, an eight mile drive to the east. Branching off the spur north of Taylor-Kidd Blvd., then crossing it, the asphalt lead hosts tank cars for unloading during winter-spring months. Awaiting cars, freshly graded and ballasted looking south:
Looking north at the new spur:
With grass now growing in the Invista staff parking lot, and plans for a Millhaven ethanol plant still fermenting, CoCo is the sole customer on the Millhaven Spur. As of 2013, the Invista plant has been demolished, while wind and solar hydro projects have sprouted north of the CoCo property, across Taylor-Kidd Blvd. and slightly east. Interestingly, Bombardier recently built a 1 mile-long linear test track visible from County Road 4:
On June 27/94, 4119-4121-79549 hustle seven cars west through Napanee: the first two from Norcom and the last five from Celanese. Ault Foods' milk processing plant in the background later closed due to a strike.
Lone engine 4116 muscles 25 cars east out of Belleville yard as CN train 519 to Celanese on a snowy but sunny morning, March 1/01:
At the top of the Bath Spur on June 26/02, train 519 has only run as far east as KoSa, and is now entering the east leg of the wye to turn its train before returning to Belleville. KoSa cars are in evidence in the consist, as is a single ATSF boxcar for the Napanee Goodyear plant, now without rail service.
4122 and 4124 have just cleared the Kingston Sub:
With work in Kingston, train 519 has run around its train at Queens on August 30/02. After hooking on the TIBS, it's got the light at the home signal and is now hauling 18 cars uphill out of Queens on the south track behind 4132-4121. Next stop: Belleville.
Running Extra...

Tonight's train 519 leaving the Cataraqui Spur is still Geep-powered. Train can make track speed to Belleville, even though the warranty on lead engine 4131 ran out in 1961.

Historically, Millhaven (on Lake Ontario) and Ernestown (a small hamlet on the CN line) were economically eclipsed by their neighbour Bath, which became the regional commercial and shipbuilding centre. The Bath Spur is actually west of Bath, and doesn't serve Bath at all. Not even the confusingly-named Bath Water Filtration Plant. Think about that.

Just listened to The Worry Cure by Robert Leahy. He suggests distinguishing productive worry from unproductive worry. So don't worry, it's OK to worry. No worries.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Miscellany 101

On a recent afternoon, while driving to McDonald's for some "health food", I was greeted by the above sign. Naturally, I did a double take. I was puzzled by a) how hot tubs could be shipped by train, and b) why a retailer would use a railway theme to advertise them. The two 'R's were flashing on each yellow sign, although only one is showing on each in this picture. The trainload hot tub advertisement in the newspaper featured bikini-clad models and a Southern Pacific 40-foot boxcar photo that was obviously an HO model. Not a bad combination.
Smacked in the RS...I thought my 101st post would be a good opportunity to post some mismatched, miscellaneous photos I'd taken. In June 1979, (above) two motorists near Hawkesbury, Ontario were so startled to see this 15-car CN train behind 3739-3736 suddenly start up at the crossing, that they collided with each other.
Commuter Computer...CP moves day-trippers on the West Island of Montreal in July, 1979. Switcher 8131 is hauling Vickers bilevel commuter cars on a weekend run. CP is famous for maximizing their assets and keeping an eye on the ledger/spreadsheet.

Gopher it...at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1984, I was photographing some tie cars in the drizzle. A little Richardson's ground squirrel popped up, then quickly disappeared below ground when he heard the camera shutter:
Bullet-nose Barrier...Taken from the rear door of UCRS private car Cape Race during a 1979 fantrip behind CN steam locomotive 6060, we visited the car while the consist was behind hauled backwards on a sidetrip. The sign is self-explanatory:
The One-o-Wonder...CF-101 Voodoo 101014 of the 425 Squadron 'Alouettes' from CFB Bagotville taxis with a wingmate at the 1983 CFB Trenton airshow:
Running extra...

Maclean's magazine profiled bird researcher Arlo Raim, who was struck and killed by a CN train August 20. Ironically, he was performing a study on cardinals and how the birds might be affected by CN's purchase of the EJ&E. The 'J's trackage runs through a forest preserve west of Chicago. Watching the cardinals...but he should have been watching for the 'J'.

The Cardinal is an Amtrak train that operates between Chicago and New York City, including CN's Elsdon Subdivision in Chicago. Renowned St. Louis Cardinals' players over the years included Dizzy Dean, Dazzy Vance and Whitey Herzog. Read about the Herzog train here.

Picked up some goodies at the well-attended Picton train show this past Saturday, including Quinte Boiler Service calendars full of classic B&W CN and CP steam photos. Email me if you'd like one.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Modelling the RCO and its Support Trains

After seeing the RCO in action, I was inspired to build my own HO scale version. This is similar to being inspired to build the entire Confederation train, or the CN and CP bridges at Cisco, B.C. These have both been accomplished by other Canadian modellers, so why not the RCO? Like the prototype, the centre section of my model RCO is suspended from both ends. Boxcar underframes form the wheeled sections. I built a box channel of styrene and built then suspended each work station from it. The RCO had to pivot through some pretty tight curves, so I had to make sure the tie-plate transport conveyors would clear each other in transit. I replicated the logos that the RCO bore when I first saw it in 1980, not the more spartan, stencilled lettering it had received by 1985.
I got the model out of storage and posed it on my Vancouver Wharves layout for these photos. If an army travels on its stomach, the RCO travels with its support train. Providing food and lodging, fuel, water, electricity, supplies, workshop, track machine transport, and a crane outfit, the support train was positioned near the worksite on trackage that could it accommodate its plethora of cars. Here are three support train consists from various years. In June, 1984 the RCO was working east of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba on CN's Rivers Sub, while the P-811 worked westward on CN's Gladstone Sub. The RCO seems particularly puny out on the Manitoba prairie:
On June 6, 1984 the 89-car support train left Portage westbound. All cars are "white fleet" ATCO units on black flatcars, unless otherwise noted: 5149-5157-boom car 54162-43281-wooden bunk car 67166-crane idler 58269-boom car 54123-crane 50414-flammables boxcar 73112-gons 149331-xx3801-fuel tank car 990915-gon 142635-boxcars 72699-72328-476760-482465-72310-433130-535141-43366-41914-43699-water tank car 51531-41714-41881-41882-41924-41883-41878-41871-boxcar 478863-41705-41862-41925-42128-41718-41724-water tank car 80303-43698-41923-41812-43214-41885-43468-42826-42816-41631-41696-42811-42814-42817-41805-42808-water tank car 80307-43701-41754-41900-42158-41875-41873-41109-water tank car 80304-41876-41887-43481-41884-41775-41816-41890-43673-43700-gons 149862-146192-146992-191149-149925-149857-147246-baggage car 70798-flat car 662619-fuel tank car 990982-gons 160716-160432-160730-195553-170724-161024-163431-41559-43136-79278.

The RCO rides the west leg of the wye at East Tower:
Here's a 46-car consist from April 1990, when the RCO was working on CN's Chatham Sub, via Don McQueen from the 9/90 UCRS Newsletter, including white fleet unit types: gons 160768-146879-boxcars 73419-556574-72280-564192-flammables boxcar 72030-boxcar 576340-gons 143290-143050-flatcars 662046-54324-flammables boxcar 73131-flatcars 661422-662059-boxcar 576939-flatcar 663065-water tank car 80318-boxcar 71429-foreman car 42635-41485-41484-41022-43376-wash car 43384-foreman car 41012-diner 42224-kitchen car 41438-diner 43394-cooler car 43466-foreman car 41272-water tank car 80378-generator/clothes dryer boxcar 43629-wash car 41511-41106-cooler car 43804-bunk cars 49626-42051-42104-42197-49733-42054-41848-41815-41819-41464.

Taken from the cab of CN engine 9566 at East Tower, the P-811 train reverses westward into Portage yard, complete with black&white baggage car and flatcars stacked with concrete ties for installation. Power for this movement was 4239-4332. As a brotherly greeting, the engine crew threw oranges at the cab of 9566 as they passed:
A list of car types in an 83-car RCO support train from April 1983 while working on CN's Strathroy Sub, via Don McQueen from the 6/83 UCRS Newsletter:
-8 gondolas 160000/195000-series
-1 baggage car 70783
-3 transfer cabooses 76600-series
-9 steel boxcars
-2 orange fuel tank cars 990984, 990985
-1 creosote tank car CGTX 81164
-1 Ohio crane 50471
-1 crane idler car 58273
-2 crane boom cars 58256, 54888
-47 white fleet cars 41000, 42000, 43000, 49000-series: 25 bunk, 7 foreman, 2 signals, 3 wash, 8 diners, 2 kitchen
-4 generator/clothes dryer boxcars 41942, 43655, 43656, 73928
-4 silver water tank cars 80210, 80213, 80232, 80330

In a future post I'll feature some photos of the cars from the 1984 train, both prototype and model.

Running extra...

Last week's Trackside Treasure poll reveals strong support for more prairie posts (42%), more Ontario and Quebec (28%), more Left Coast (19%) and more Down East (9%). Thanks to all those who voted, and I'll do my best to keep it transcontinental.

February's Railfan & Railroad magazine profiled the refurbished Henry Clay Inn in Ashland, Virginia. Located behind the former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac station on N. Railroad Avenue, "One can sit on the two-storey porch across the front of the building, while watching the busy CSX mainline." Refreshing, Fantastic & Peaceful.

The same issue featured a quote from railroad history author Michael Bartels, also applicable to Trackside Treasure, "I try to keep up on current affairs but of course the pull of the 'good old days' gets stronger as the years pass by". Illustrated by Wallow N. Nostalgia? I thought of a couple of fictitious names for industries on my layout. The Hugh Jass Chair Co. and the Didga-Gettenionia Sauce Co.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Then and Now: Kingston Sub 1976-2010

CN's Kingston Sub east of Napanee, Ontario runs through pastoral scenery: dairy farms, hay and grain fields, wetlands and woodlots. In 1976, not old enough to drive or operate a black&white Kodak Instamatic camera reliably, my brother and I drove the country roads twice in July to catch some CN passenger and freight action. In 2010, for this my 100th post, it seemed timely to revisit and recreate these scenes with today's VIA trains. Instead of a Volkswagen Beetle and 126-format camera, on August 25 of this year I was now driving a Grand Caravan, accompanied by my wife and pointing a 12 MP Fuji digital camera trackside at these same locations.

McIntyre Road parallels then crosses the Kingston Sub at Mi 191.51.

Then: CN train 43 Ottawa-Toronto at 1156 July 31 behind 6520-6868-6770, consist included 9647, Union Club, 5219 (above)

Now: VIA train 57 Montreal-Toronto running late at 1330. 902-86xx-4000-4007-4121-4114-4109-4103; fibre optic cable warning marker in foreground:
A large spruce tree at the bend in the road means this shot can't be reproduced exactly. Checked baggage is now handled on only one train per day Montreal-Toronto, and club cars are now VIA First Class/VIA 1.

Then: CN train 62 at 1312 with 6788-6861-3117 and 15 cars including 9636-Rideau Club.

Now: VIA train 60 at 1403. 64xx-86xx-40xx-41xx-4118-4119-4115-4105.

A CN signal bungalow controls signals at the west end of the Bath Spur. Passenger consists are shorter, and there is more emphasis on filling every seat to maximize the bottom line. VIA 6628 is the third VIA-painted unit I'd seen, and more would follow as CN and CP shifted responsibility for passenger service to VIA.

Then: CN train 44 at 1208 behind 6759-VIA 6628-6779-9657-Carleton Club including 2501, 5652.

Now: VIA train 44 at 1413 with Spiderman 64xx and five LRC cars.

Interesting clouds and having to shoot south into the sun at the classic steel and limestone bridge over Big Creek. VIA train 61 has an unruly passenger on board this August day, to be removed by police upon arrival at Belleville.

Then: July 24/76 at 1258: CN train 62 behind 6760-6863-3118 including 9630, Boulevard Club, 5620, 5283, 5208.

Now: VIA train 61 at 1457 behind 908 with four cars.

Passenger train speeds past this farm haven't decreased in the intervening years. VIA train 45 will hit the next talking detector doing 86 mph. The blur is real.

Then: CN train 45 at 1208 headed by 6765-6864 pulling 9657, Carleton Club, 5602, 2501 and others.

Now: VIA train 45 running late at 1525 with 909 pulling 4 cars.

Record-keeping in my first year of railfanning was hand-drawn tables by locomotive type in a scribbler . Record-keeping in 2010 was hand-recorded train listings in a scribbler. Spreadsheet anyone?

Townline Road crossing at Mileage 193.28 has changed, as has the railfan expectantly waiting for the next train. Two-lane, paved, with warning signs discouraging low-boy construction trailers from using and possibly hanging-up on the crossing. South of here, it's deer country. Watch out for spring washouts while driving a Volkswagen beetle. Airborne!