Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cars on CN's Millhaven Spur

CN's Millhaven Spur has long been an industry receiving covered hoppers and tank cars from the Kingston Sub. This post contains car sightings from 1997 to 2006. I have few car sightings at the spur before 1997, though I did record a few boxcars in earlier years:
  • Oct 4/80 SAL 28059 (at Belleville)
  • Mar 4/82 SAL 28625
  • Sep/82 Seaboard Coast Line and Southern Railway boxcars such as SCL 828080, 828066 and SR 16164, 16085 
  • Jun/83 SCL (Seaboard Air Line) 828132 and SR 16164, 16398 
Ron Barrett notes that these boxcars brought in 4x4 x8-foot(height) aluminum containers of DMT (dimethyl terephthalate) from Hercules in Delaware - one of the two ingredients of polyester, the other being ethylene glycol. The containers were unloaded by forklift. This delivery method began with the start of plant production in 1954-55. Covered hoppers were in use later, when polyester staple and tire yard production were ramped up. Polyester production resulted in methanol, which was shipped out in tank cars.
CCBX tank cars 4365 and 4380 were also at the plant in September 1982.

Here are some cars spotted at the plant in 1997-1998, including my afternoon on the Millhaven Spur in December 1997:


Grey: CGBX 4371, 4372, 4373, 4381, 4387, 4392, 4393.

Black: CGBX 4320, 4374, 4377, 4378, 4379, 4382, 4383, 4386, 4389, 4390, 4391, 5015, 5108, 5024; UTLX 25700, 40489, 43489, 70441

Blue: EOGX 4052, 4054, 4073, 4074, 4082, 4084, 4090, 4093, 4109, 4111, 4115, 4118, 4120, 4135, 4148, 4164, 4168, 4169, 4173; CELX 4253, 14220, 14233, 14241, 14250, 16230, 16240, 22110, 22148; ACFX 73390; UTLX 640898, 640912, 640913.


AMCX 5548, 5579, 6299, 206407, 206415, 206525, 206581; CELX 51064, 57286, 57307, 59808, 59822, 59828, 59841, 59891, 59898.
In 1999-2000:


Grey: CELX 14229, 15224, 15240, 15249, 15251.

Blue: EOGX 4041, 4042, 4055, 4059, 4063, 4085, 4094, 4096, 4108, 4115, 4116, 4128, 4132, 4143, 4158, 4160, 4171; UTLX 640414(lettered EQ) and 640427 (above), 640326, 640429, 640431, 640901, 640905, 640911, 640914, 641678, 642447, 642448, 642451, 642453, 642459, 642472; RAIX 6488; CELX 4203, 4205, 4223, 14217, 14250, 14255, 15248; CCBX 400142, 400144, 400148, 400149, 400155, 400157, 400158, 400159, 400161, 400163, 400166, 400172, 400174, 400175, 400183, 400185, 400195, 400197, 400207, 400209.


AMCX 5222, 5224, 5479, 5555, 5575, 6255, "green belt" 5370, 206336, 206496; ACFX 67445; CELX 51284, 57224, 57275, NRLX 58066.

New blue CCBX tank cars were in use from 1999-2001, such as CCBX 400141 at Belleville:
In 2001:


EOGX 4059, 4084, 4106, 4110, 4116, 4127, 4136, 4170; CCBX 400140, 400141, 400147, 400162, 400165, 400168, 400171, 400201, 400212.


AMCX 5468, 5554, 5688, 6337, 106101, 106233, 206280, 206283, 206290, 206318, 206522; CELX 51011, 51160, 51287, 51331, 51393, 51427, 57228, 57246, 57304, 59789, 59844, 59888; FURX 870006, 870044, 870090, 870098; GPLX 1283, 1306, 1318; NAHX 570402; NRLX 58046, 58119, 58121.

With the takeover of Celanese by KoSa in 2002, new green tank cars started arriving with ethylene glycol, such as PROX 75333 and TILX 262169 at Belleville in 2006:

In 2002:


Green: PROX 75175, 75245, 75254, 75317, 75328, 75334, 75410, 75419.

In 2006:


Green: PROX 75333; TILX 261246, 246159, 262169.

GPLX 1349 is an example of the plethora of leased plastic covered hoppers loaded at the plant. It's shown at Belleville yard, where cars for Millhaven are set out for, and lifted from Train 519:
Cando 1002-1003 happily drill covered hoppers in 2002 along Jim Snow Drive. The CHiP resin loading shed is shown at extreme right. Unfortunately, the plant would close in 2009.
Meanwhile, across Jim Snow Drive, Lafarge's asphalt operation had funnel-flow OptiMiser tank cars arriving on its two unloading tracks. UTLX 664857 is shown on the Cataraqui Spur in March 2004, before the new Millhaven facility opened. Its product is being steam-heated prior to unloading.
Realizing this is a post is the work of a rolling stock fanatic, if you made it this far you are likely a rolling stock fanatic yourself. Although the plant received a limited number of car types, the variety of reporting marks, paint schemes, and car specifications make the plant an interesting study for rolling stock fans. In fact, the cars often seemed so ubiquitous to me that I didn't always note car information, assuming the cars would always "be there". Not any more. Lesson learned.

Running extra...

Tonight on TLC's Hoarders: Buried Alive, a cautionary tale of a "railroadist" whose house became full of collected train memorabilia and other less important junk. During filming, a package arrives with what looked like a semaphore motor. Clearly, someone was sending him a signal.

A CN non-DPU eastbound freight this afternoon included a healthy cut of coil steel cars, likely heading for the Port of Montreal.

Having survived Black Friday in Syracuse, I celebrated life by visiting Barnes & Noble and Borders, with the latter having a much better selection of railway books. Mall benches provided excellent opportunities to catch up on a small stack of Railfan and Trains magazines.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Postscript: CN GMD-1's

CN GMD-1's covered much of CN's western branchline network, so there were bound to be a few mishaps along the way. On December 4, 1979 an eastbound with 1067-1069 sideswiped a westbound just east of Gladstone, Manitoba. A news photo in the Portage Daily Graphic showed 1067 mired in mud (above). On November 4, 1980, 1065 derailed in Portage, with a Graphic news photo showing a CN auxiliary doing the rerailing honours nocturnally:
In February 1974, here are the home terminal assignments for CN's GMD-1 fleet:
Calder: 1000-1005, 1018, 1024, 1058-1059.
Saskatoon: 1006-1011, 1013-1017, 1019-1023, 1027, 1032-1033, 1040-1041, 1043-1045, 1048-1051, 1053-1055, 1057.
Symington: 1012, 1025-1026, 1028-1031, 1042, 1046-1047, 1052, 1056, 1069-1071, 1073-1076, 1900-1903.
The Pas: 1034, 1036-1039, 1060-1068.
Neebing: 1904-1917.

Here are the consists of the two trains from August 1981 shown in the previous post:
Aug 26/81 WB 1353: 1052-1065-CNWX 108242-ALNX 396054-CNWX 396183-CNWX 100865-CNWX 107116-CNWX 395742-CNWX 107091-79853.

Aug 28/81 0855 EB: 1052-1065-CN boxcars 519991-535201-538674-539800-535456-531818-535902-481631-428515-426129-432838-426409-425488-420067-428899-426672-428867-521485-531762-427285-426451-480793-OTTX flat car 93535-429556-483528-534586-79545.

In April 1985 TRAINS magazine, Greg McDonnell wrote of his pursuit of 1027 across Manitoba, in an effort to photograph the numberboards and extra flags to head the magazine's Running Extra excursion listings. First a fleeting glimpse of a wintry run of the Steep Rock wayfreight in 1981, then finally tracking down the elusive unit (which shared the magazine's street number on North 7th St in Milwaukee) in 1984 in Margaret, the name of then-editor David P Morgan's wife.

Here's a GMDL print ad, published in the February 1959 CN Keeping Track magazine, shared by D.J. Gagnon:

Running Extra...

Not that you'd notice, but I made sure the posting time of these two posts on Ten-Hundreds was adjusted to read 10:00. Bloggero minutiae obsessivo, hogwarts!

Dave commented on CN's setting up the ten-hundreds to run long hood forward, thus ensuring crew safety at level crossings but poor air quality in cab.

Sperry Car SRS 119 OS yesterday eastbound at 1630. Checked the ol' photo file, and it turns out I saw her at the same mileage in 1983, albeit in the classic Sperry paint scheme. And that's not all...also photographed her in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba the same year. Those detector cars put on more mileage than a Budget Rent-a-car.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ten-Hundreds: CN's GMD-1's

My first encounter with the decidedly Canadian GMD-1 was in the summer of 1976. All night long, the big-trucked brutes dragged transfers of grain boxcars behind the Thunder Bay Holiday Inn in which we were staying, blowing exhaust through their spark arrestors into the night sky. It's oh-dark-thirty and they're barely visible through the 12-inch square bathroom window, but they're RIGHT THERE: 1904, 1913, 1907, 1908, and 1914.
In successive trips to Manitoba and Saskatchewan, I saw braces of GMD-1's in action, still moving grain, but in daylight and at speed. Forget the 1900's, those steam generator-equipped, four-wheeled Flexicoil-trucked passenger units. Nevermind the Northern Alberta's five, which due to CP's influence operated short-hood forward, and were obtained by CN in the 1981 acquisition of NAR. Not yet time for the rebuilt 1100's, 1400's and 1600's - those latter-day, new and improved GMD-1's. On May 16, 1980 at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, 1076 basks in the morning sunshine (top). Back in 1976, 1074-1068 face the setting sun at Portage (above).
These were the original, as-built ten-hundreds - turned out by GMDL in 1958-60, ninety-six in number - purely Canadian. Described variously as ugly, ungainly, light-footed and lightweight, or a cross between an NW5 and an SW1200RS. 1070-1076-1071 plod past Portage station on August 17, 1978 (above), and 1017-1005 are at speed at West Tower in August, 1981:
Shrouding a 1200-horsepower, V-12 567C with a nominal axle loading of 40,000 pounds per axle, these unique units tiptoed, toiled and travelled CN's lightweight Western branchlines. The ones with equipment restrictions definitively described in CN employee timetables as "Only units in series 1000-1076 permitted": the majority of subdivisions in CN's 1979 Saskatchewan Division, and five subdivisions in southern Manitoba in 1984, then only Saskatchewan's Lewvan Sub in 1998.
Debuting in CN's olive-green scheme, the units spent much of their life in the 'black widow' all-black. With a couple of exceptions - 1063 was still green in 1980. Olive 1052 and 1025 switch Portage in August, 1978.
Known for their out-and-back branchline turns, here 1052-1065 have a few new cylindrical grain cars ahead of 79853 to spot in Portage on August 26, 1981 before heading west:
Returning two days later with a 26-car train of loaded grain boxcars and 79545, resplendent in the red cab paint the GMD-1's later received:
The following summer, 1052 was still hard at it, with the last of 18 axles clumping of the West Tower diamond behing 1026 and 1057, with 97 grain empties and caboose 79617 on June 18, 1982.
Another similar grain turn behind 1067-1012 arrives in CN's Portage yard with 15 grain cars on September 18, 1985:
Heading west light power, they return a couple of days later with 1012 in the lead at Eighth Street hauling boxcars:
Tying onto the cars they dropped earlier in the yard, the duo prepares to head east to Winnipeg.
Saskatoon's diesel shop on an overcast June day in 1986 finds GMD-1's slumbering by the shop. 1080 is ex-NAR.
CN engineer Mark Perry from Winnipeg remembers,
"The GMD-1's were a favourite of mine to photograph. But to work on them was another story entirely. They bounced a lot at any speed and rode like a rough old mule. If it was raining, or there was grain dust or fresh green weeds on the tracks, they could hardly pull themselves, let alone their train. I spent a lot of time riding on the front footboards, pouring sand from a bag onto the rails ahead of the unit. They smoked quite a bit, and the smoke seemed to end up in the cab, choking the crew. But they did the job they were built to do."

Monday, November 1, 2010

VIA's LRC in Service

VIA's LRC trains debuted in the summer of 1981 with fanfare. The Canadian-developed train was intended to speed travellers along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor at speeds exceeding 100 mph. The trains entered service more slowly than expected, in part due to a strike at Bombardier. LRC's are still a novelty as 6910 pulls my first photographed LRC train into Kingston station in December 1981 with a long Christmas consist:
Conductor and trainman, with enough gold bars on their sleeves to recall the steam era, operate controls in the vestibule. Power-opening traps and steps would later be replaced by less troublesome, but clunkier manual operation.
More trainsets were eventually available, and 6913-6 cars-6914 arrive at Kingston eastbound in early 1985. That white thing is a wooden whistle post for the Counter Street crossing. Welded rail lies trackside:
To quote Rapido Trains' Jason Shron, "They've had maintenance headaches in the last few years. In their prime, they were saviours of the Corridor". VIA's Diane Graham confided to Jason in the mid-90's, "Thank goodness we have the LRC. I don't know where we would be without it. " 6904 with 6913 on the rear on March 16, 1985 speeds along near Mi 183 Kingston Sub:
Once released from the factory, train riders often occupied a seat on each LRC train, ready to respond to calls for assistance with a minor (or major) problem. Even VIA's 1982 annual report mentioned: "During this introductory phase, a number of technological problems related to the train systems were encountered which were addressed jointly by VIA and the manufacturer, and refinements effected gradually." In December, 1983 VIA removed its 50 LRC cars from service, for inspection by Bombardier and replacement of wheel bearings. 6915 brings up the rear of a 6-car train headed by 6916 on January 1, 1985 past cedar scrub near Mi 185 Kingston Sub:
In April 1986, 50% of the LRC coach fleet was shopped. Then, electrical problems in April 1988 meant that LRC locomotives couldn't run solo, instead requiring a 'B' unit or steam generator unit. From March-May 1992, axle problems at tolerances greater than 2/1000 of an inch brought back blue & yellow conventional consists and SGU's. 6930 and 4 cars head east at Napanee on April 30, 1985:
LRC consists usually ran with an LRC locomotive and 4-6 cars. Trains of 6-10 cars required locomotives on both the head-end and tail-end. Rarely did the locomotives operate elephant-style. 6912 smokes it up out of Kingston in mid-1985:
Most of the LRC locomotive fleet was stored by 1991, except for 6902, 6903, 6905, 6916, 6919, 6920 and 6921. Some units may have been temporarily brought out of retirement though, as I saw 6907 and 6914 in 1993, and 6909 and 6917 in 1995. The last few units were retired by 2001. Until retirement, complete LRC consists with a locomotive at each end were in use on morning and evening Montreal-Toronto non-stop service. It was awesome to see them rip through Kingston station, on the only VIA trains that didn't stop here. 6912 burbles away alongside other LRC equipment at Toronto Union Station, seen from the dome of Stratchcona Park in May, 1985:
Even though LRC cars had racked up their first million miles each by 1991, they are soldiering on, currently undergoing major refurbishing at IRSI in Moncton. 6930 leads an evening westbound over the just-refurbished Collins Creek bridge near Mi 180 Kingston Sub on November 15, 1987:
The LRC locomotives have since met their stopblocks, with only 6921 preserved at Delson and 6917 in Toronto. 6916 leads 8 cars and 6926 through Napanee, Ontario on March 31, 1986. More on the LRC's early years in this post.
The LRC car fleet rolls on into the foreseeable future, now pulled by 6400's and 900's. Witness these cars rolling into Kingston on VIA train 46 on May 4, 2009, complete with Canada logos and large Canadian flags on their flanks:
Running extra...

Check out the right sidebar for updates on my upcoming VIA book, or go direct to the blog here. Lots of chat recently on Yahoogroups about the 101 uses for an LRC locomotive, before the F40's arrived, hauling Tempo, conventional, even ONR cars, the Canadian in the Corridor, yard switching, teamed with F's and SGU's and who-knows-what-else. I remember many of these trains and they'll definitely be included in my book.

Preserved LRC's. Who ever thought those words would form a phrase? Read about the Toronto Railway Historical Association's efforts with 6917 here , plus a photo of 6921 at Delson here . Can't preserve a coach because they're still running. Thanks to Jakob Mueller for the idea of rotation of retired units post-1991. It seems the official retired unit list of the time did not take into account some units returning to service subsequently.

Those little bags of potato chips intended for crunch..crunch Hallowe'en sure are tasty. Only about 7 chips per bag though...chomp chomp. Sure cuts down on dip intake scoop..scoop.