Saturday, September 29, 2012

Black & White VIA Photography

While working on my second VIA Rail book, I was fortunate to have access to the photo collection of Brian Schuff.  Brian and I have quite a few things in common: we both railfanned in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.  We are both VIAphiles, with an interest in VIA's early years, and we're both of a similar vintage, though I am slightly older but likely no wiser.    Brian is in Winnipeg, I'm in Kingston, and though he's not 'online' yet, hopefully Santa will help him with that.  Once Brian knew I was working on a VIA Rail project, he graciously sent photos, in abundance.  While the book is in its final production stages, I'd like to share some photos from Brian's collection, most of which he took himself.  These are photos you may not have seen before, and won't see in my book, so I hope you find viewing them as enjoyable as I did.  One more thing...these are all black & white, and many show VIA blue & yellow. 
VIA F40PH-2 6401 was one of the first of the new units VIA purchased for transcontinental service to reach Winnipeg, shown here inside and out in February, 1987.  Notice the initial VIA pure paint scheme - thin blue stripe, small Canadian flag, and an absence of garish politically-inspired 'Canada' wordmarks and large, waving flags that were applied later.
In contrast, only four months sooner, Brian caught No 2 at Kenora, with some old-school VIA motive power: ditchlight-equipped and MU hatch-open ex-CN FP9 6530 in the lead, on October 4, 1986.  Usually at home in the Corridor, 6530 and other higher-numbered passenger units found their way west, as VIA's motive power squeeze reached its most precarious time, just before the delivery of the new units.  By 1995, 6530 was on its way to the Ohio Central Railroad.  Behind an E-series sleeper, one of CP's former Park cars brings up the rear:
CP sent its RDC fleet to VIA, and these were also rebuilt to match the ex-CN RDC's.  I really wanted to learn more about the fate of CP's passenger fleet, and I was able to amass lots of useful material on CP's RDC's, E-units, F-units and smooth-sided coaches and baggage cars that VIA inherited (but didn't always use), for my second VIA book.  VIA also rebuilt CN RDC's.  Brian photographed rebuilt ex-CN RDC3 6351 as RDC-2 6225 undergoing maintenance at Toronto's Spadina Shops.
This CN RDC did not fare as well.  CN RDC-4 6451 is shown at Winnipeg's Transcona yard on December 29, 1986.  After a collision in 1969, 6451 had been at CN's Fort Rouge terminal since 1972, and was in no condition to go to VIA.  Brian caught it in the company of ex-CN equipment and other ex-VIA equipment in 1986.  (Another RDC-4 that did go to VIA, 6453 was out of VIA service about the same time.)  Notice the shop freight trucks:
Grant Anderson photographed CN SD40-2 5724 assisting VIA's Canadian at Winnipeg in June, 1986.  CP could always be counted on to help VIA, and there are photos in Brian's collection showing a wide variety of CP motive power rescuing VIA: Centuries, road switchers (both RS' and Geeps), SD's, you name it!  I find these rescue movements fascinating, and I was able to uncover several pages' worth of them.  Of course CN had their share too.

This is my favourite shot from the entire collection, although you'll only see it here, not in my second VIA book.  On May 20, 1985 two ex-CP eastbound units meet a third ex-CP westbound unit in Winnipeg, heading for the wye at Portage Jct. on CN's freight line.  Having been on this platform, I can smell the diesel exhaust.  I can hear the characteristic GM idle.  I can feel the wooden platform under my feet, as well as the warmth of the setting prairie sun as it throws its long shadows.  Looking down the track, I see Winnipeg's Warehouse District skyline rising in the distance.  Hey, is that the throb of an approaching CN grain drag with three SD's I hear?

Running extra...

A round trip to Toronto this week on VIA Nos 651 and 48 found both trains well-patronized, likely the result of VIA's recent 50% sale.  Our morning arrival at Toronto Union included a plethora of GO trains and one of the last Northlander consists, facing east on the next track behind two ONR Geeps: 1809-1800-202-604-615-612-703.  The ONR train's last run was Friday.  I had an enjoyable trip in 1994 to Timmins, where I took in a work-related convention and a scintillating performance by what one participant called 'TheTimmins Ballet'.  Truly memorable, and the trip (not the dancing) will be the subject of an upcoming post.

Some dog in Saskatoon caused a house fire by turning on the stove when the owner was out.  Too bad the owner hadn't trained Rex to operate the fire extinguisher.  Meanwhile, Canadian pizza-makers are smuggling subsidized U.S. cheese over the border to increase their profit margin.  And some bad, cheesy cops are involved, to the tune of $200,000! I never really thought about it, but apparently 80% of the cost of a pizza is in the cheese.  Grate, just grate! 

Speaking of  stupid pet tricks and small-town news, David Letterman is finally getting the recognition he deserves, to go along with his multi-million-dollar annual salary.  It's about time.  The Kennedy Center Honors will include Dave on December 2, to be broadcast December 26.  I wonder who will be his 'sponsors'...Bill Murray? Newsmen Dan Rather and Brian Williams? Former staffers like Chris Eliot? Paul Shaffer - of course.  Bermuda!!  And don't forget Canada's Walk of Fame honorees, including the incomparable Randy Bachman, to be broadcast by Global TV October 14.  Set that P-VR now!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

TOFC on CN and CP

CN and CP operated sizeable fleets of piggyback trailers. Prior to containerization, piggyback or Trailer On Flat Car (TOFC) was an important transitional step between boxcars and intermodal technology developments, which in turn led to today's long trains of double-stacked containers.  Initially, piggyback loading/unloading ramps were built at or near major yards.  Tractors backed trailers on and drove them off strings of flat cars, a process called circus loading.  Drawbacks: truck drivers had to have steady hands and nerves, flatcars needed siderails to guide the drivers through several cars, and cars had to be correctly marshalled to match the ramp at which they were to be unloaded. GP38-2(W) 5574 leads an eastbound freight approaching a level crossing near Rosetown, Saskatchewan in 1986 with CN TOFC on the head end (above).
CN operated 200-series express trains carrying TOFC, insulated boxcars, mechanical reefers and sometimes import autos.  A three-unit express behind 9585-9625-9528 hoofs it east into Winnipeg in September 1985.  Forty-foot CN, Inter-City, Alltrans Express and 20-foot Imperial Roadways 'Puptainer Service' trailers ride CN 64-foot flat cars equipped with two collapsible ACF trailer hitches.
Under Motor Carrier Plan 1, CN carried Class A motor common carriers ramp-to-ramp on a per-trailer charge.  5265-5237 hustle an express eastward on the Rivers Sub into Portage la Prairie the same month:
CP also assigned SD40-2's to intermodal trains.  On June 5, 1986 at 1042 hours, three small-multimark units: 5989-5924-and just-outshopped ex-QNS&L 5407 zip past Manitoba Pool's Burnside elevator in 1986 with CP Rail, XTRA and Transamerica trailers and COFC ahead of van 434712:
Four units: 5608-5586-5646-4718 power TOFC and COFC through Thunder Bay, Ontario on June 12, 1980, seen from the vestibule of VIA 6-6-4 sleeper Green Lane.  The platform-type trailer with removable sides and canvas top is carrying a load of steel.
Trailer Train made inroads into the railroad-owned flatcar fleet, supplying their free-running cars to a pool, such as unique two-axle TTUX 130061 with a Transamerica trailer on a CP westbound in Portage in 1986:

Trailers used in rail service had more robust construction, built with stronger landing gear, nose and lift points.  But there was still the question of marshalling for unloading.  CN switcher 8170 pushes a few loaded 89-foot piggyback flats north at Bayview Junction in May 1981:
Reversing through the plant, the yard goat then pulls the car west, then will push them back into Hamilton's CN Stuart Street yard on the third leg of the wye, so the trailers will be facing the correct way for the ramp:
Ahead of a yellow, insulated CP boxcar, a single-axle mechanical refrigeration temperature-controlled Reimer Express Lines trailer rides an eastbound behind CP 5994-4706 at Regina, Saskatchewan's station at 2048 hours in June 1982:
Twenty years later, a 45-foot Reimer Express Lines rides a drawbar-equipped twin 89-foot CN flatcar at Belleville, Ontario.  Trailer lengths increased quickly and outgrew the cars they rode.  As CN and CP endeavoured to play catch-up, longer intermodal cars followed.
Let it roll.  Down the highway*.  The competition rolls into the sunset, on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Winnipeg:
Running extra...

*Bachman-Turner Overdrive's 68 year-old Randy Bachman is being inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto tonight.  Having just done a cameo appearance in the Will Ferrell Campaign movie with bandmate Fred Turner, Randy will be embarking on a cross-Canada live tour next March.  That means he'll be Takin' Care of Business.

BTO did Lookin' out for Number One: Every day is an endless train / You've got to ride it to the end of the line / Be a troubleshooter blow the bad luck away / And you will make it to your station on time. and The Guess Who did Bus Rider: Get up every morning / Get on the bus / Get up every morning with the rest of us / Places to go important people to meet / Better not get up or you might lose your seat.  Coincidentally, I was just viewing The Guess Who Running Back Thru Canada concert DVD this week, recorded at the (former CN East Yard location) Shaw Park.

East Yard in Winnipeg was a great spot to see stored VIA equipment as well as moribund CN and CP equipment and other oddball oddities.  Soon, you'll be able to read more about this in my upcoming second VIA book 'Ticket to Ride' and 'Switching En Route' sections.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Postscript: CR-GT-DWP-NS Locos on CN 1994-1998

Here's a listing of power consists including CR-GTW-DWP-NS power that I observed, in addition to those in the previous post. Westbound CN train No 391 is heading from Joffre to Chicago at Kingston station on October 18, 1997 behind 5632-Conrail 6752 (above).  All locomotives CN unless otherwise noted:
June 11/94 9641-GT 6211-9578
May 5/95 9538-GT 6211-9412-LMS 726
June 4/95 5322-GT 6213-CNNA 6416 intermodal
Aug 4/95 5327-CR Quality 6747
Sept 1/95 9533-GT 6213-9631 intermodal
May 4/96 9584-CR 6752-CR Quality 6248
July 14/96 53xx-GT 6400-CR 6747
July 21/96 5626-CR 6748
Nov 10/96 5601-CR 6753-9480
Nov 23/96 3553-2323-CR Quality 6665
Mar 11/97 5667-CR 6438
Mar 23/97 56xx-CR 6743
Mar 27/97 9584-NS 8006-GT 6402
Apr 5/97 9468-GT 6218-CNNA 9571
May 10/97 5629-CR 6430-NS 8012
May 23/97 9513-CR 6430
May 24/97 5609-NS 8073-5710
May 24/97 5727-CR 6657-CR 6015
June 14/97 4121-9xxx-GT 4912-CR 6749
June 14/97 9431-CR Quality 746
June 14/97 5613-CNNA 5928-CR 6658-9636
June 14/97 5645-9425-GT 6425
July 13/97 5206-CR 6751
Sept 1/97 9646-GT 5824-9672
Sept 6/97 9546-GT 5922-9471
Nov 29/97 9670-CR 6438-9649
Nov 30/97 5664-5734-GT 6420
Dec 6/97 9524-CR 6755-9443-7071 on No 335
Dec 15/97 5612-5064-CR 6459
Dec 15/97 9587-9547-DWP 5903 'Delivered With Pride'
Feb 5/98 5622-CR 6665-41xx-41xx-21xx
Feb 21/98 5512-CR6443-9547-9656 on No 335
Feb 24/98 2527-GT 5929-CNNA 6020 on No 395
Feb 27/98 5371-CR 6661
Feb 28/98 9520-GT 6424-CNNA 9551
Mar 19/98 5262-CR 6441
Apr 10/98 5246-CR 6499-5056
Apr 10/98 5695-CR Quality 6665 on No 335

Running extra...

CN power consists are a little more predictable than in the years above...and it's rare to see more than two units on a train...not counting mid-train DPU's.  Now CN is experimenting with former UP fuel tenders like CNW1 between a couple of 5200's for a new LNG project.

The Democratic National Convention included speeches by both Obamas.  Bill Clinton clocked in around 48 minutes!  That boy sure do like to talk.  There was lots of what you would expect from a convention: hoopla and hullaballoo.

One of the reporters covering the convention is CBS' Byron Pitts, whose autobiography Step out on Nothing - How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges I'm currently listening to.  Though found to be functionally-illiterate as a child, Byron worked hard, and to see him reporting from the floor was an interesting coincidence.