Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trackside Modelling: Engro Fertilizer Dealer

Bulk fertilizer is an essential component of modern agriculture. In an earlier post on trackside details in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, one of the trackside industries I featured was the Esso/Engro fertilizer bulk distribution facility, very visibly situated between the CN and CP main lines. The facility was not staffed, but often saw the arrival and departure of all sizes of trucks and farm vehicles when fertilizer was being loaded.
Delivery of bulk fertilizer was by rail - a spur off CP's switching lead, parallel to their Carberry Sub, served the fertilizer shed at its rear, north side. The bulk fertilizer was received in covered hopper cars, with CP, CPLX and private owner reporting marks. In 1984-1986, I observed mostly cylindrical covered hoppers, delivered singly by CP's Portage switcher. The cars were unloaded by opening the hopper bottom and allowing the fertilizer to drop by gravity into the pan of a stationary auger, with the inevitable spillage. Carried upwards to the top of the shed, the fertilizer then dropped into divided storage bins inside the shed.
I photographed similar Esso/Engro oil/fertilizer distribution facilities in Macgregor:
and Don Strong's in Carberry, both served by CP's Carberry Sub, west of Portage.
I photographed this covered hopper in Kingston, Ontario, but it's similar to those used in fertilizer service:
The car-unloading auger at the Portage facility is visible above the shed (below). The agent would drive over from the nearby Esso dealership to oversee transfer of fertilizer to trucks by conveyor/auger or Bobcat loader kept inside the shed, or the loading and pickup of spreaders.
If the fertilizer requires blending before use, the ingredients can be loaded into a receiving hopper, then moved to a mixer (like that used on concrete mixer trucks) before being loaded via conveyor. Here's such a facility operated by Cargill in Sidney, Manitoba, also on CP's Carberry Sub:
These facilities are easily modelled, and guarantee a slow but steady trickle of loaded cars for delivery and unloading on your layout. Spilled whitish powder to represent fertilizer, safety equipment, a variety of vehicles and a few hard-working figures complete the modelled scene. Fertilizer dealers would be at home at any agricultural centre on the Prairies, often co-located with oil dealerships on the town business track. Ammonia tanks are a related industry, such as this one east of Bassano, Alberta, taken from aboard VIA train 1:
Outstanding in its field: a road-hogging Versatile 895 tractor hauls a one-pass cultivator and ammonia nurse tank, parallel to CN's Wainwright Sub:
I scratch-built an HO version of the shed, delivery trucks, and anhydrous ammonia tank. Logos were taken from agricultural magazines:
Running extra...

Saturday, September 24 is George's Trains' annual customer appreciation day and charity BBQ. I've been invited to sign copies of my new book. We'll be donating $5 from each copy sold to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. There will be a variety of vendors and manufacturers at the event in Markham, plus a huge operating layout, all adjacent to CN's main line. Lots to see and do - hope to see you there!

Tonight, I watched Michael Buble (that's pronounced BOOB-lay, not BUB-ul, and he is my daughter's favourite solo artist) live at the Concert Hall on Bravo. Classics like 'All of Me' and 'Til Somebody Loves You', plus Michael introduces each member of his horn section AND his hometown, all in an inimitable Burnaby-Bronx accent.

Also on TV tonight, American Pickers on History Channel. Frank and Mike are freestylin' in upstate New York - and one pick includes a funny Blair Witch Project segment to boot. Just when it looked like there was no railroad content - two BNSF units haul a freight over a crossing in front of the Antique Archaeology van. BNSF in New York? That is scary.


Adam Walker said...

Very cool stuff, Eric. I love seeing scratch built models like this, especially with the reference photos; reminds me that I have a bunch I need to work on of my own!

If only the George's BBQ was any other Saturday but the 24th, because I can't make it. I should be heading out Belleville and Kingston way in October though. Maybe I could get my copy signed while I'm doing some railfanning through there. ;)


Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Adam. Glad you liked some of my western Canada modelling efforts.

We could definitely arrange to meet if you're down this way - to discuss pressing matters of global importance...like trains and blogging.


Zartok-35 said...

My great uncle wroks at an Agpro facility simmilar to this in MooseJaw, and he gave us a tour once. His place doesn't have rail access, though.

The Anhydrous amonia tanks are something I'm quite used to seeing around. I don't know why, but they are ALWAYS right next to the railway tracks, and there is never a loadout siding nearby.

Eric said...

AgPro sounds like a going concern - perhaps ammonia tanks are always located near the tracks because they're near other related agricultural businesses, like elevators. Like many other industries these days, lots of stuff gets trucked in, not delivered by rail.

Thanks for your comments; you'll notice I slip in the occasional model railroading post...


Unknown said...

Carberry buildings are intact, but they are part of Redfern Farm services now, MacGregor is Munroe Farm supply now. It all comes in by truck now, nothing by rail. Both places only handle Esso Lubricants, bulk fuel being hijacked by Viterra and later CPS.

Eric said...

Thanks for the additional information, U.