Sunday, November 27, 2011

Railfanning from the CN Tower

When the CN Tower was built on railway lands in downtown Toronto, it was surrounded by major facilities used by the railways: Union Station, CP's John Street roundhouse, and CN's Spadina roundhouse and coach yard.
While most visitors to the world's tallest tower (1,815 feet in height) enjoyed views to the horizon from the observation deck (1,136 feet - Hey look! I can see Hamilton!), I preferred the view below, where I could see train movements taking place. The trains could also be viewed from ground level, but it was more interesting to watch and photograph trains wending their way through the terminal trackage, often featured on tourist postcards often featured the tower from various angles and altitudes (above & below):
From the outdoor observation deck (1,122 feet) the tower's shadow falls between the safety bars onto the white skirting that covers satellite dishes. Upper Canada Railway Society's private car Cape Race is next to the steam plant. Stored CP intermodal flats, 40-foot yellow insulated boxcars and Service boarding boxcars line the coach yard tracks nearby in May 1980:
Looking east along Toronto Terminal Railways trackage, the Union Station train shed is visible between the bars. An inbound GO Transit train races past a CP wayfreight beside the Gardiner Expressway, which runs beside the postal terminal near Union Station:
Pointing my Kodak Hawkeye straight down, a VIA F-unit and a yard switcher with coach in tow both head west. Rapido Trains' president Jason Shron will be depicting such scenes on his HO-scale Spadina-CN Kingston Sub layout. That's our school field trip's school bus beside the F-unit:
Looking west from the outdoor deck, a bidirectional GO Transit train slides past Spadina coach yard, while at least two CN switchers drill passenger cars. Compare the view to the third photo in this Canadian Railway Observations article by Walter Pfefferle. Today's view is markedly less-railroady and more Albert Speer-esque, as wide avenues guide condo owners home to their high-priced birdhouses along the lake. In both views, historic Fort York is visible at mid-top of photo:
What a difference a telephoto lens makes. While a scruffy ex-CP VIA F-unit peeks out from the trainshed, an eastbound CP transfer powered by two switchers hauls 13 gons, four covered hoppers, two boxcars and five tank cars in September 1986:
The stainless steel roofs of three RDC's glint in the late afternoon sun:
Farther west, two short F-led VIA passenger consists and a brace of RDC's pass Fort York at Bathurst Street:
Forty-foot CP Rail boxcars, ex-baggage Service car, and two tank-bearing flat cars are stored:
An end-cupola van, piggyback flats and 'roundhouse queens' TH&B 72, 74, 401, 402, 76 and 77 await conversion to CP's 1680-series with chop noses, reposing on CP's trackage:
Rail & transit: A Toronto Transit Commission Peter Witt car is on an afternoon excursion:
You'd never see this while railfanning in the vicinity of the CN Tower: an artist's fanciful conception a four-track (in reality, only two-track) flyunder to be constructed west of Spadina Avenue. A CP F-unit hauling a boxcar meets the LRC prototype, two GO single-level and two double-level consists, a CN RS18 hauling Tempo coaches(?) and the Turbo near Spadina's coaling tower, all in one view from UCRS's November/December 1976 newsletter. Now that's railfanning CN Tower style!
Running extra...

Most modellers just buy models and kitbash, paint and decal them to match a specific prototype. Jason Shron started Rapido Trains to produce the cars he wanted, and oh, to sell a few to fellow modellers in the process. Rapido's recent announcements include MLW's FPA4. Schenectady serendipity and MLW melodrama in all-encompassing ALCo-mania.

How many Torontonians does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one, then five more to hold a panel discussion about what a world-class event it was. Why doesn't Hamilton have an NHL team? Because then Toronto would want one too.

Toronto takes a few jabs, but it still features some world-class railfanning opportunities. Be sure to check out the blog partners featured in my sidebar: Chris Mears' Prince Street Terminal features GO Transit among myriad other subjects, and Adam Walker's Walker Express featuresa recent visit to GO's Willowbrook yard.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

But it's a TRAIN

The 30th anniversary of the 1981 VIA Rail cuts got me thinking...there's still lots to see trackside. Instead of wallowing in nostalgia about the F-unit era, it's important to appreciate what's still rolling by. To express this, it seemed appropriate to publish a post on this very topic. The Turbo, Rapido, Atlantic Limited are all gone, but VIA rolls on and although the rolling stock has changed, it's DIFFERENT, but it's a TRAIN.

This is Trackside Treasure's first multi-media post. Instead of simply including photos, I did what anyone who appreciates what VIA has offered us over the past 35 years would do...I produced a rap video.

Enlisting the services of Spadina-based rapper E-series and his crew, here is the global premiere of "But it's a TRAIN". Enjoy. Youtube link here!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Modelling a CN auxiliary crane

My previous post on the 1993 derailment at Mi 180 Kingston Sub reminded me of the modelling I'd done after viewing the derailment clean-up. Over the next year, I kitbashed/painted/decalled a new 7-car auxiliary train. First of all, I'd decided it was time to modernize my HO scale CN auxiliary, bringing it up to date from CN's basic black scheme of earlier years.
To do so, I brush-painted my Athearn 200-ton auxiliary crane in CN's striking, high-visibility scheme with orange sides, silver roof, yellow deck and broad black & white stripes on both ends. I also added some details to the roof: air horn, spotlight and a muffler. Opposite side:
I also thought CN 60329, the idler car was neat and modelled it as well. Of course, 50016's boom needed a prototypical resting place, as well as providing a place for the crew to get out of the weather if needed.Details I added to 60329 (not sure why I decalled it 60239) included rerail frogs, yellow-painted ladders, smokejacks, lighting along the deck, deck-mounted fuel tank and various supplies such as blocking timbers and chains carefully stowed and ready for use. My car is unweathered, and does not include those interesting cutout sections on the side of the flatcar deck, no doubt for additional storage. CN engine 5595 is seen switching the auxiliary train, a common occurrence that would take place in the siding nearest the derailment, to place the train's cars in the order needed for the job at hand. Clothes dryer/generator car CN 43699 provides power and creature comforts to the train and its crew:
A tool/cable car was also included in the 1993 consist. I used VIA 9070, a Con-Cor baggage car I'd picked up for this project. I cut out one door, adding a crew member who is retrieving some important piece of equipment from the car, which would also carry cables and slings for special lifts. Underbody details include timbers for blocking the auxiliary outriggers and more rerail frogs. Rerail frogs are heavy. You can never have enough of them, and they need to be readily available and stored as close to track level as possible.
Another crew member keeps an eye on the passing scenery on the idler car. I lettered both these cars for the 'Winnipeg Auxiliary' with CDS VIA car lettering. This was before my reading-glasses era.
Of course the full auxiliary train needs to be filled out with more cars: accommodation, dining, lighting, track panels, trucks and axles and more. Click on the Derailments tag in my right sidebar to find more derailment posts including auxiliary train consists I've observed in action.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Derailment at Kingston, May 1993

A 93-car westbound CN freight derailed at 2200 hours, Thursday, May 13, 1993 just west of Kingston, Ontario. The derailment was in an interesting location, at Mi 180 Kingston Sub: at the Collins Bay Road level crossing, bordering the playground of Collins Bay Public School. Four loaded auto racks derailed from the north track, across the south track and into the trackside pole line and schoolyard fence. CAUTION tape was deployed, and wrapped around two track wrenches that had been driven into the schoolyard. This kept the young students away from the site at recess, but we could still hear them yelling "Mister, get away from the train! It's going to crash! It's going to explode!" No doubt merely an expression of youthful, enthusiastic hyperbole. Arriving at the derailment site, three auto racks had already been rerailed, with CN 711931 remaining. The Toronto Auxiliary was at the scene:
Consist of the Toronto Auxiliary:
CN 5358 (NA map scheme) -5355 - 250-ton auxiliary crane 50008 - idler car 60329 - tool (ex-baggage) car 60337 - hazmat boxcar 57948 - generator boxcar 43621 - crew sleeper 72909 - ?coach - ?coach - 3 flatcars with panel track - gondola 59110 with spare trucks - 60305 - flatcar 57935 - flatcar 57551 with portable lights - caboose 79902. The auxiliary worked the west end of the lift, while Kershaw road-rail crane CN078836 worked the east end. A 20 mph slow order was in effect between Mileages 179-182, with trains passing the derailment site at no more than 10 m.p.h. The auxiliary's outriggers have been blocked with timbers sledge-hammered into place, and a freight car truck rolled into place for the lift of the errant auto rack:

The auxiliary train's consist had been re-marshalled placing 50008 was at the east end, with the idler car, tool car and boxcar ahead of the power. As the Kershaw crane held the east end of the car steady, the west end was lifted up and over the south track, shown in this series of photos:

Once rerailed, the timber blocking was lifted by the crane onto the adjacent idler car:

A CN hi-rail truck brought some additional rails to the site, and VIA train 60 passed at 1100, 6902-3461-3346-3368:
The auxiliary's boom was lowered, and the auto rack chained to its east end coupler for the trip to Ernestown, to be set out there (below and top photo). There, the train was likely re-marshalled before returning to Toronto via Belleville. CN 50008 was the Belleville auxiliary in 1961, rerailing 23 cars that derailed into the Trent Canal near Trenton Junction.
More trains continued by after the auxiliary left. As often happens once the track is fully open, the floodgates open and trains start to flow through as fast as the dispatcher can get them going, with passenger trains and high-priority freights having precedence:
1402 EB VIA: 6428-3468-3362-3360
First freight past the site: WB CN Laser 9570-9526-9441-77 platforms
1420 EB VIA train 42: 6429-3475-3371-3329
1440: EB CN freight 9425-2317-2333 - 71 cars
1505 WB VIA train 65: 6407 - 4 LRC cars
1508 EB VIA train 64: 6414-3339-3366-3350-3331-3471-8622
1517 WB CN train 391: 6001 - exCNW NRE 882 - 5031
1533 EB CN freight: 9443-2324-3548

A newspaper photo from the Kingston Whig-Standard (above) shows an early morning view of the accident scene, while Kingston This Week (below) shows the Kershaw crane at work, later in the day. 50008's boom is visible in the background, while the road-rail crane is blocked and in position.
One day before the accident, a crossing accident fatality occurred one mile east, at Mile 179. This was the ninth crossing accident in the Kingston area in seven years. The private crossing was in use by a mechanic who was going to work on a car located at the house on the north side of the double-track mainline, when his Olds Cutlass was demolished by VIA train 68. This crossing, two other private crossings between Mi 179-180, and Hillview Road crossing were subsequently removed.

Running extra...

Lots of speculative discussion online this week after VIA's train 692 took some last-minute measures to clear the track for CN train 853 on CN's Togo Sub in Manitoba. Only those involved know for sure what happened, but it reminded me of the events leading to the CN-VIA Hinton, Alberta collision/derailment twenty-five years ago. Fortunately, no such calamitous event ensued.

I still can't believe a Canadian senator suggested replacing the beaver with the polar bear as Canada's national animal emblem. Is this some kind of an ONR (polar bear) vs. CPR (beaver) competition? While the polar bear is a majestic ursine animal citizen of Canada, there's no animal as clever, resourceful, family-minded and handy as the Canadian beaver. (No wonder it's the emblem of the Canadian Forces engineering branch.) A dam dumb idea if you ask me.

Remember Canada's fallen this coming week - John 15:13. The average age of surviving World War Two veterans is 85 years of age, with the average Korean War veteran being 76 years of age. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them. Nous nous souviendrons d'eux.