Saturday, May 26, 2012

Postscript: Manitoba Covered Hoppers

I posted photos of Manitoba's leased covered hoppers that I took during my trip to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1980.  Interestingly, some of the cars of the same number series soldier on, still in service today.  As time marched on, the weld marks where the Manitoba crest was attached are still visible, although the rust marks have diminished somewhat.  PTLX 34494 lettered for NFO Grain is shown in 2009.  Can you see the six characteristic rust marks to the left of the 'G' in Grain?
I searched some online photo sites to see if I could find any ex-Manitoba cars in the same number series as the ones I'd seen, to add to the list of cars that Manitoba had leased.  Especially cars that I'd recorded but hadn't photographed, probably assuming they'd always be there to photograph. Plain vanilla cars CRDX 7219 in 2004 (above) and CRDX 7364 in 2007 (below) also show weld marks. CRDX 7215 is shown in its builder photo:

NFO Grain and Pillsbury were the largest lettered fleets I observed.  PTLX 14296 Pillsbury is one of the cars I saw in 1980.  In 1986, original reporting marks are still visible, as are weld marks surrounding the 'u':
PTLX 14316 in 2008 shows how the Pillsbury lettering and logo have faded significantly in the intervening years, and reporting marks reapplied on a patch.  Rust marks around the 'u' as well:
By 2011, some of the PTLX cars had been given new reporting marks: AEQX 14305 of ATEL Corporation. Another rusty 'u':
INTX 7617, relettered for Interstate Commodities Inc., also has a rusty 'u' in Chicago in September, 2014.  Likely previously lettered for EEC. Shared to the Freight Car Photos group by Dennis DeBruler.
TLDX 5712 is a P-S 4427 that was still running around with weld marks on its side, photographed in London, ON in 1993 and kindly shared by Doug Stark. Thanks, Doug! I'd seen fleetmate TLDX 5711 back in 1980! Unlike the larger-capacity Pillsbury cars, this has a rusty 'b' not a rusty 'u'!
One of the smaller fleets was the lease fleet lettered for Tri-County Grain of Cynthiana, Indiana. Here's the builder's photo of PTLX 34168:
In service - a fresh image of PTLX 34168 taken by Gary Zuters (Andy Fayreweather collection - thanks, Andy!) in Toronto on May 1, 1980, shield and all!
Weld marks are centred around the 'N'.  These cars are wearing AEQX reporting marks in 2020 - actually in 2012 as well. Original lettering still visible in 2009:
PTLX 34477 in its builder's photograph from 1974 was six years prior to my sighting at Portage.
Brothers PTLX 34493 (top) and 3454x (below) show more weathering effects.  Ryan Laroche shared this photo taken in North Dakota in 2006.  Ryan tantalizingly reported a similar car still bearing its crest in potash service a couple of years earlier. I observed NFO Grain-scheme Interstate Commodities INTX 23325 on CN's Kingston Sub on January 16, 2016, with weld marks visible!
Aha! Brian Schuff kindly shared these photos of PTLX 34469 NFO Grain (looks more like FO AI) still bearing its battered shield in the mid-90's in CP's Winnipeg 'G' Yard:
A survivor!  This proves that some car(s), so far just NFO Grain, retained their shields much later than most.
Remarks-only PTLX 34480 has small weld marks still visible in 2008 above the graffiti:
New reporting marks PLCX 16339 cover original USLX 7500-series reporting marks on Wellens & Company/Gold Country in 2007.  Regardless, weld marks around the '&' indicate that this is one of the cars that Manitoba made use of during its short-term lease program in 1980, with the original Wellens lease beginning in 1974:
Looking considerably brighter and snazzier in its builder photo showing its original reporting marks, here's USLX 7570 which I later saw in 1980:
Who says you can't go home again? Jim Burnside shared this photo that he took of PLCX 16334 back where it began - CP's Winnipeg yard. This photo that Jim took in August, 2015 clearly shows the rusted weld marks, indicated by black arrows are still visible. This car is from the same series as PLCX 16339 (two photos above). July 2016 UPDATE: Shaun Judge photographed PLCX 16334 at Smiths Falls, ON on CP, and the car is still extant, photographed in Minnesota in July, 2018!

Although unable to find a modern-day photo of Acord Grain Co. Illinois, Kansas TLDX 9000-series    car that I saw two of, here's a vintage shot of TLDX 9064:
And although I couldn't find a modern-day  photo of Evergreen Hatchery USLX 5900-series cars that I saw two of, this Surface Transportation Board scan of the original 1973 lease agreement between USLX and the Hatchery including specific lettering to be applied, show that there were five cars leased, later leased by the province of Manitoba.

January 2013 - Chris van der Heide found two more cars online with the characteristic rust marks: TLDX 5703, PTLX 14297 and PLCX 18667.  These are cars from the same series as some I saw in 1980, but are additional car numbers.  Thanks, Chris!

May 2020 - Andy Fayerweather shared two photos online. PLCX 18665 and PLCX 16339

The majority of the above photos were saved from online photo sites with dates but without photographers' credit information.  If you're the photographer, please let me know and I'll add credit information.

Running extra...

The first post on these unique cars garnered a lot of interest, and may represent the first primary research on this subject undertaken anywhere in print or online.  This is certainly a first for Trackside Treasure, and possibly the post with the longest gestational age!

Kingston's own Knorr Brake Limited manufactures computer-controlled locomotive braking systems, and recently added an 8,000 sq ft expansion to its 22,000 sq ft facility on Development Drive, just north of CN's Kingston Sub and just west of Gardiners Road. CP Rail recently signed a contract with the plant, which originally opened in 1974, most recently renovated in 1998.  Many finished products are sent to Watertown NY-based New York Air Brake, and both plants are owned by Germany's Knorr-Bremse AG.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Manitoba Covered Hoppers

The Province of Manitoba leased covered hoppers for grain service in 1980.  In February 1979, Premier Sterling Lyon's provincial government did not join a federal-provincial grain car study.  Manitoba believed responsibility for providing grain cars lay with the federal government.  Instead, it budgeted $2 million for a 'one-year, one-shot' deal to lease 400 covered hoppers capable of moving 38 million bushels of grain.  In doing so, Manitoba believed box cars would be freed up for shipping grain via Churchill.
By leasing the cars, Manitoba succeeded in decreasing grain inventories.  Fifty percent of 1979's harvest was stored due to a shortage of cars.  By the end of 1980, inventories had been reduced to zero, turned to cash for Manitoba's farmers.
While the other prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were each buying 500 new cylindrical covered hoppers to contribute to the western grain car pool, Manitoba looked to car leasing companies such as North American Car, Pullman Leasing and United States Railcar Leasing to form a fleet for farmers' use.  Although the cars were a variety of manufacturers, capacities and reporting marks, they had one thing in common - the provincial armorial bearings (crest) surmounted by "Manitoba", on a steel plate with a green or red background, welded high in the centreline of the carbody.
Though I was in Manitoba again in 1981 and 1982, I didn't see any of the Manitoba covered hoppers while trackside.  With most of Manitoba's harvest sent to terminal elevators at the ports of Churchill and Thunder Bay, a co-operative arrangement between the Manitoba and federal governments resulted in Manitoba's better-known fleet of grain cars - the Buffalo boxcars beginning in late-1985.  Here's an example of these former CN boxcars with 8-foot doors, CN 429004 at Portage la Prairie in 1986:
Although very little has been written about Manitoba's temporary covered hopper fleet, that's not to say that I'm the only one who remembers them.  Bill Whitfield kindly supplied this photo of TLDX 7766 which he took in Pecos, Texas in March 1983:
Though the fleet didn't last long, some of the cars apparently did. Here's a photo of a considerably grubbier sister, TLDX 7888 from an online auction site, undated.  The crest has been removed, but its former location is clearly visible by the lighter yellow paint: These weld marks denote Manitoba cars years after the crests have been removed, and will be featured in the following post...survivors still in service.
I photographed two Manitoba covered hoppers at the Trans-Canada Highway crossing of CP's Carberry Sub in Portage in June 13, 1980.  On the head-end CP 5514-5522-5668, CN's former Pleasant Point Sub trackage is in foreground:
From left: TLDX 9066 Acord Grain Co., PTLX 14322 Pillsbury, and USLX 5900, one of only five Evergreen Hatchery cars leased by Manitoba, of which I was lucky to see two.  Note: Evergreen Hatchery car above on CN lines - green paint on the welded plate; Evergreen Hatchery car below on CP lines - red paint on the welded plate:
This 19-car eastbound CN freight is coming down the Gladstone Sub at West Tower behind CN 4303-4327 at 0847 on June 17, 1980.  Its first car is Manitoba covered hopper TRNX 500290, with reporting marks only, but likely leased to Pillsbury.  CP Carberry Sub in foreground:

USLX 5904 was spotted at Portage's United Grain Growers elevator in June 20, 1980 (top photo).  This car had been unloaded in Thunder Bay at Saskatchewan Pool's Elevator 7A six days earlier.

The following list includes the cars I saw in Manitoba from June 11-23, 1980 on both CN and CP lines.  I also saw many Manitoba covered hoppers in Thunder Bay while eastound and westbound aboard VIA Rail to Portage.  

Since the cars were seen on both CN and CP trains, it's unknown to me how they were assigned to each railway.  Either equally, based on total provincial rail mileage or on each railway's percentage of total grain shipped.  My current working theory: green shield background for CN-assigned cars, red crest background for CP-assigned cars.  The list includes specific cars of larger groups of leased cars, listed by reporting mark, builder, capacity, car number including paint scheme if known.  P-S 4427 cu ft cars were produced 1963-71, 4740 cu ft cars were produced 1966-72, and 4750 cu ft cars produced 1973 and after:

CRDX Pullman-Standard 4750 cu ft:
7203, 7209, 7303, 7316, 7322, 7330, 7334, 7350, 7356, 7358, 7369.

NAHX Hawker-Siddeley cylindrical 4550 cu ft:

NAHX other builders cylindrical:
465420, 465429, 465430, 465438, 465439.

PLCX P-S 4750 cu ft:

PTLX P-S 4750 cu ft:
Pillsbury 14269, 14274, 14289, 14292, 14296, 14307, 14314, 14322 
Tri-County Grain Cynthiana, Indiana 34164, 34166, 34168
NFO Grain 34477, 34491, 34503, 34513, 34528, 34535, 34535, 34537, 34546, 34552, 34554, 34556, 34557, 34558.

TLDX P-S 4427 cu ft:
2733, 2813, 5064, 6991, 7001, 7827, 7942, 7844
Transport Leasing 5398, 5640, 6966, 7716, 7758, 7788, 7875, 7878, (3)7885
Pillsbury 5680, 5686, 5702, 5711

TLDX P-S 4740 cu ft:
Acord Grain Co Illinois, Kansas 9065, 9066

TRNX Trinity 4750 cu ft, likely leased to Pillsbury:
500105, 500110, 500206, 500237, 500290, 500327, 500397, 500415, 500657.

Evergreen Hatchery Dysart, Iowa
5900, 5904


Wellens & Co. Gold Country
7570, 7571, 7575, 7585, 7586

Special thanks to Monica Ball at the Manitoba Legislative Library for her assistance.  Here's a follow-up  post that shows some of the above car series still in service today.

April 2018 update**** Marc Simpson reported a photo of Manitoba lease car TLDX 5670.

Running extra...

Just finished Between You and Me - A Memoir by CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace.  A fascinating career and unique style, including saying "Forgive me..." immediately before a difficult question, especially during his famed interview with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.  (This was not the "Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla" referred to by Stitch Jones in Clint Eastwood's movie Heartbreak Ridge.)

After reading the editorial in the October 2011 Railfan magazine that sparked a record number of letters to the editor, Trackside Treasure launched its own poll on freight car graffiti.  Though a minority of respondents thought it was artful self-expression, and some wished Kilroy Was Here and Bozo Texino would re-appear, the vast majority thought of this scourge as visually-destructive vandalism. Certainly makes me long for photos from the 1980's and before - not an empty spray can anywhere trackside.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Millhaven Spur Update

Millhaven's former Celanese plant, served by CN's Millhaven Spur, has weeds growing up between the rails as the demise of the factory seems certain and imminent.  There is some acitivity on the spur, however.  While driving along Taylor-Kidd Boulevard and the deserted factory, what to my wondering eyes should appear?  A shortline Geep seemingly about to cross the east-west arterial road!
Cando Contracting GP9 1000, formerly Barrie-Collingwood Railway 1000 'The Pride of Barrie and Collingwood', onetime star of a Tim Hortons commercial, now reposes just north of the road on March 18.  This unit once shared track with CP AC4400CW 9626 at Utopia, Ontario during BCRY's opening ceremony on October 23, 1998.
More recently, the Geep was lettered for the Orangeville Brampton Railway, operating between Orangeville and Streetsville Junction, Ontario. But now the Geep sits by its ZIM 20-foot container/engine shop/office/maintenance base. Note the hydro line strung from the roadside power line, garbage container and gated road access to keep the unit secure.
Just to the north, the CoCo Paving asphalt-unloading spur curves west, joining the spur as it leads north to the CN Kingston Sub interchange. Contributor Ron Barrett (see photos below) mentioned that the rails in the final curve to the interchange tracks were regularly replaced due to excessive wear to the inside of the outer rail, with the rail head eventually completely worn away.

View to the north (above) while to the south (below) tracks KN01 and KN02, also gated, are full of tank cars being unloaded.
Some of the cars being unloaded were PROX 74801, 74518, 76185, 76451, 74172, 76179, and GATX 89071.
A teasel-filled view of the cars from Jim Snow Drive:
Ron Barrett kindly sent these photos in March, showing Bombardier's new test track/unloading facility on County Road 4 in use.  A crew was unloading the first new Toronto subway car constructed in Thunder Bay.  The cars are tested here before being trucked on to Toronto.  
***2017 UPDATE***A turnout was installed from the Millhaven Spur to the Bombardier plant over the winter of 2016-2017, to allow flat cars handling articulated light rail vehicles to be unloaded and finished at the plant.
The Bombardier Trackmobile prepares to pull the car from the trailer to the test track.
Interestingly in the 1960's, CP used flat cars to transport TTC Can Car/Hawker-Siddeley H1 cars from Thunder Bay to Toronto (first photo, below).  Constructed from Glen-series sleepers, or possibly baggage-express cars, the 83' 10" flat cars were rebuilt by CP, initially numbered 313000-313007 and intended for long dimensional loads weighing less than 145,000 pounds.  Three cars with non-revenue numbers - CP 418103, 418124 and 418125 were used to transport 75-foot MLW M1 cars from Montreal (second photo, below):
CP 418125 is carrying MLW-built M1 class car 5300:
An empty CP 418125 at Toronto, September 1963. Peter Cox photo via MAP:
These passenger car-to-flat car conversions are not to be confused with the N- and S-series sleepers converted to 4000- then 520000-series container cars used on CP's Atlantic Limited between Montreal and Saint John, New Brunswick.  Interestingly, CP 313005 was involved in a collision during a drop switch on the Neebing Lead in the West Fort William joint area while being pulled from the Can Car plant in Thunder Bay, July 1977.  The flat car sideswiped a CN switching movement, and the TTC car being carried flew off the car into a ditch. A standard CP flat car carries a SIG-manufactured TTC Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) on December 29, 1977:
An aerial view of the C-I-L plant(below), as built mid 1950's.  Ammonia plant (top of photo) with 1,000-ton capacity sphere, of which only the maintenance shop (later CANDO enginehouse) and part of compressor building still remain.  The  main polyester plant was supplied with raw material in boxcars, as well as tank cars...glycol in, methanol out.
from Historical Glimpses of Lennox & Addington, 1964.

Running extra...

While checking my e-mail at Starbucks, VIA sent me an email about their latest 50% seat sale.  I looked up to see a display of VIA coffee products - the name of Starbucks' new ready-brew, including one flavour named Veranda Blend. Starbucks must be using 'VIA' for the same reasons CN adopted the three-letter brand in 1976: it's multilingual, mysterious and slightly pretentious.  Wonder if Starbucks is working on a VIA Vestibule Blend, or perhaps VIA Dutch-Door Donut Delight?

While travelling through VA and NC, I noted road signs for Halifax, Rockingham and Bridgewater.  I thought I was in NS! Tantalizing view from the Selma, NC I-95 overpass of a multi-unit NS military extra. (Hope all y'all are enjoyin' my blogging from the South).

Speaking of unique dialects, Anglo-Texan Hollie Cavanagh checked out of the American Idol mansion this week.  Hollie was outvoted, robbed by souled-out Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips (Idol's Sirhan Sirhan?) and in-it-to-win-it sinewy songstress Jessica 'BB Chez' Sanchez.  Dawg, am I channelling Randy Jackson or what?  That's what I'm talking about!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Railfan, Jim Boyd and Me

While reading through recent issues of Railfan & Railroad (I still refer to it by the magazine's original title Railfan), I read tributes from the late Jim Boyd's former editor peers Steve Barry and Bruce Kelly, in the March 2011 issue.  When  Railfan first arrived on the newsstand shelf in 1974, it was something new and exciting.  Suddenly, trains were somehow more interesting than those included in the pages of THE Magazine of Railroading - this was THE Magazine of Railfanning.

As letters to the editor put it in Railfan's second issue...Treat the reader as an equal, sharing your information with him...Trade magazines tell us what's wrong with railroads and government regulations, Railfan tells us the joys of being a fan and the pleasures derived through the viewfinder of a camera. One didn't have to be an expert to partake in the trackside pleasure of photography.  (I'm illustrating this post with some of my earliest railfan photography, captions at the bottom of the post)
This was an awakening.  It was OK to go out and be trackside, revelling in the joy of just being there.  No need to analyze ton-miles or ingest the history of railroads each with at least one ampersand in their name.  Railfan and Jim Boyd laid new rail to new destinations - Pomona, California and Pennsylvania's East Broad Top as well as the wilds of New Jersey.  The emergence of Railfan coincided with my own calling to head trackside.  Each issue was devoured with patriot zeal as a how-to guide to railfanning. Jim profiled a visit to CP's John Street roundhouse in Toronto during a TRAIN convention in November 1974, and even made it to VIA Corridor mecca Brockville, where he reportedly stepped off the train only long enough to snap a few photos then headed back to 'Joisey' to write the story.

No matter - he'd taken time to alight and anoint our home and native land with his presence, signifying to future generations of Carstens readers that it was right and proper to venture north to Canada.  Railfan and Railroad Model Craftsman have embraced Canadian subjects while their Kalmbach cousins only grudgingly accepted their worth and historical importance.  Railfan's writers like Steve Barry and George Pitarys carry on this tradition today. 

Jim Boyd also paved the way for drive-thrus and flame-seared the inseparable union of fast food and railfanning.  **Update - while vacationing in Myrtle Beach, what should I see appearing roadside but a Steak 'n' Shake, his beloved favourite restaurant.** He sounded like the stereotypical American - loud, boisterous and ready to serve up opinions with or without provocation or invitation.  Yet without his personality, Railfan would likely have remained quarterly, lasted four or five issues then died like the cold cinders of a dumped fire.  Instead, it remains, filling untold cardboard magazine-holders around the world.
My dad made a habit of buying each issue, and to this day I remain a charter subscriber. Well, more accurately a charter buyer, not subscribing because I figured if I didn't like an issue, I didn't have to buy it.  Never happened - I've bought every one.  Reading Adam Walker's The Walker Express blog, I experience the enthusiasm of reading Railfan all over again.  Having met Adam, I appreciate his use of a mobile device to track approaching VIA trains, and his photographing signal bungalow labels to give a sense of place to his posts as unique railfan techniques.  It's clear that he's revelling in the joy of just being trackside.  Jim Boyd would be pleased to see technological advances in railfanning.

Let us doff our engineer's caps and holster our telesmasher-lensed cameras, as we lift a hearty 'Highball!' to Jim Boyd, wherever he may be.  As I've read the tributes, and now added my own, all while riding aboard VIA's train No 48 streaking east along CN's Kingston Sub, I've discovered that the steel rail unites us all - Jim Boyd, this writer, and you.
Photos from top:
-CN 9565-2028 westbound on December 30, 1978. Mi 182 Kingston Sub
-CN 6060 fantrip stops at Kingston station September, 1978. Mi 176 Kingston Sub
-CN 1306-3225 on an eastbound freight October 22, 1978. Mi 182 Kingston Sub
-VIA 6764-6624 on eastbound Capital October 28, 1978. Mi 183 Kingston Sub