Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Afternoon on the Millhaven Spur, 1997

December 21, 1997 found me at the Celanese plant on CN's Millhaven Spur, climbing into the cab of former LV/CR SW-8m 78, an A.A. Merrilees industrial locomotive operated by Cando Contracting. I was invited and accompanied by Corey, a Celanese plant operator at the time. Once in the engine, we headed north from the plant with Cando crewmen Al and Nigel and several cars. The route, not to scale and omitting the full length of our route beyond the runaround track on the spur, is shown below with other all-time Millhaven Spur trackage:
Engine 78 paused in the curve (above) before starting to kick the cars it brought north into CN's lift/setout tracks KN03, KN04, KN05 (at right, below), and the storage-in-transit yard (at left, below). Both Al and Nigel wisely reminded us not to disembark on the north side of the covered hopper cars shown, as it was directly adjacent to CN's double-track Kingston Sub.

The covered hoppers were a mix of AMCX empties for lifting, and UNPX/CELX loads, either for lifting or storage until sold. The CHiP resin pellets in the loaded cars were processed by being melted, poured into molds, inflated with pressurized hot air to form 2-litre pop bottles, at plastics plants. In 1997, CHiP pop bottle resin was selling for 52 cents per pound, making a fully-loaded 199,000 pound capacity car's cargo worth $100,000!
Inbound ethylene glycol tank cars from Alberta were stored on the shortest north yard track:
As the sun dropped from the late-December sky, the crew continued past the tank cars to record the car numbers of all cars in the north yard. This task was usually done on Sundays. Corey is standing alongside the new yard, built only two years before:
The car numbers could either be gathered by the crew from inside the cab, or for the adventurous, by walking the roofwalks. CN's main line can be seen at left:

Then it was time for us guest engineers to take the throttle - fortunately for the safety of all concerned, this was limited to the long north-south tangent. From idle to notches 1, 2 and finally 8, I then stopped well short of the Taylor-Kidd Boulevard crossing using the engine brake. In the deepening darkness, we stopped at the resin tracks: loading at right, TA-unloading at left. A third track out of sight to left received "green-belt" AMCX covered hoppers. The Celanese Trackmobile, Corey's usual job, is just visible by its red lights:
Then it was down to the glycol tracks to place a couple of cars and record the numbers of those already placed for unloading. It's a safe bet that engine 78 was tucked in for the night at the shop soon after our tour ended. Disembarking marked the end of a great two-hour exposure to the nitty-gritty of car movements on the Millhaven Spur.
Running extra:

Just finished listening to Does this Clutter make my Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh. Interesting facts: Boeing has increased the assumed weight of each passenger by 20%, portion sizes have tripled in the last 25 years, and average waistline has increased by over 4 inches in less than 10 years. Want fries with that?

Celine Dion had twins. Do you call that a double-C.D. set? Her Titanic song left me with a sinking feeling. Did you hear about the ship load of yo-yo's that sank in Vancouver harbour? It sank fourteen times.

A derailment on CN near Cornwall this past week caused delays in CN and VIA traffic, and Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto VIA detours. On to Ottawa! Whether you want to go or not. An upcoming post will detail CP detours over CN's Kingston Sub, plus the derailment of empty flat cars for a military movement from Kingston to Wainwright in 1987.


Zartok-35 said...

That sounded like a fun experience. Have you had any other chances to run a locomotive?

Bryan said...

Hi Eric,

Another Kingston-area railfan post that doesn't disappoint! The hand-drawn map of the plant trackage is particularly interesting, because it changed some time after that map was drawn. If you check out the Millhaven spur on (much better resolution that Google Earth), both Yahoo and Microsoft Virtual Earth maps show KN12-15 connecting on the other side of the service road, and the turnouts to the loco shed facing the opposite direction. This confused me to no end when trying to model this plant in Microsoft Train Sim...depending on the date of the map, the trackage seems to have moved around a bit (in addition to the apperance of the asphalt track). I don't know if this was related to CANDO taking over, or when it occured. Anyway, just thought you might find that interesting, if you hadn't already seen the track yourself.


Bryan said...

Actually, I guess CANDO had the contract for quite a while before that...maybe the trackage change was related to investments after KoSa transfered to Invista.


Eric said...

Hi Elijah and Bryan,
Elijah, I've run lots of locomotives, though mostly in HO scale. I always had more of an interest in riding in the caboose than the head-end.

Bryan, you're right about the trackage details. Many changes were made when the CHiP operation was added. There were some additional buildings along Taylor-Kidd that held some very dangerous commodities years ago, which may have also been rail-served.

My track diagram is for information only; flashearth does indeed provide an excellent level of detail, and shows the plant while it was still in operation.

My post on the Bath Spur may be even sketchier - hard to get too deep in these industrial sites..except on a ride-along like I had on the Millhaven Spur, that is.

Anonymous said...

these days only one cando locomotive sits behind a gate in behind the coco paving operation engine 1004 it shunts the cats into coco pavings yard area and pulls them out to the mainline for cn 518 to pick up with the cars from Gibson had and Lafarge and the tank train cars from the Lennox and Addington power plant

Anonymous said...

Gibson gas still has a trackmobile for moving cats into their storage area

Eric said...

Thanks, A. Check out my posts on ]Springtime in Millhaven' and 'Propane Facility at Millhaven' for more.