Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summertime at Belleville, July 2014

On July 3, it was time to make a periodic visit to the Shannonville/Belleville area. The triple-tracking of the Salmon River bridges on Milltown Road revealed a new pictographic sign (above), south of the bridge, showing an image of the bridge with clearances. From the north side, the distant signal gantry to the east is just visible above the retaining wall blocks for the third track (below). The flowers bloom regardless, though no trains were passing by. Check out the bridge triple-tracking north side construction view in 2011 and the south side view with a Continuous Welded Rail train in 2008.
This former mill location is slated to become a hydroelectric project in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Departing Belleville's CN yard, an eastbound intermodal approaches Mitchell Road, south of parallel Airport Parkway (pole line) at 1120. Here's a street view when there were still only two tracks. CN 2242-2617 lead a long intermodal through the undulating topography. 
Nobody likes random intermodal shots less than I do. But what else is one to do when faced with the prospect of such a long double-stack? Provide Trackside Treasure readers with the full spectrum of lengthened 53-foot CN container paint schemes, of course. I bet the other side is in English - my rough translation: "Forwarding services that are transitory to the world potential" or "We aim to provide the services to any expedition travelling out of this world to other planets". One or the other.
We Deliver! Yes we do! Unlike Union Pacific which proclaimed We Will Deliver, just before their 1997 epic fail meltdown!
I bet the other side is in French, and says "Nous livrons" or "La livraison de votre bebe avec fierte". Something like that.
More lilies of the field and limestone, as the train travels east at about 30 mph:
Not good at deciphering graffiti, I think it says "JShron JShron". A nice, complete coverage!
No 149 arrives for crew change at Belleville's new VIA station at 1240. Recently purchased and painted (early 2013) ex-Oakway 5425 leads IC 1026 and CN 5633.
A local taxi has brought a new crew from the north side of the tracks. The on-duty engineer goes back to check fuel level in the second unit. See Centuries in the Snow at this same location back in the winter of 1988.
Spiffy. My previous efforts to photograph an Oakway leading were stymied. New camera - no problem.
Hand-brake for dummies. Or, leftie-loosie, rightie-tightie writ large.
A few minutes later, crew comfortably ensconced, No 149 leaves town...slowly.
Ron Visockis shared this photo - he had just caught the same train entering Belleville Yard, along Airport Parkway.
East of County Road 4 near Ernestown , Bombardier Innovia 300 in at the end of the test track:
Did you know my new Nikon has several unique settings that can be applied to a digital photo? Indulge me for a minute when I noodle, revelling in the novelty thereof:

Running extra...

Ben A. shared a cool photo of former CN insulated car CN 73677 at Burbank, AB - site of a covered hopper unloading facility. A sister to CN's 737xx-series that were featured in this 2011 post, the car may be rusted to the rails, having been here for a while:
Summertime greetings to all Trackside Treasure readers. Hoping your summer is a relaxing and pleasant one, and that you're staying tuned for this blog's 6th anniversary post and contest, coming soon! I'll leave you with a couple of scenic seasonal images:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

QOPX Woodchip Gondolas

It's common to see woodchip gondolas in parts of Canada where the forestry industry is active, but it's unusual to see them on CN's Kingston Sub between  Montreal and Toronto! 

National Steel Car built 105 61'6" IL woodchip cars in Hamilton ON in September-November 1987. The cars were 163 gross tons, with a 6,600 cubic foot-capacity, painted light green and numbered QOPX 100-204, with the reporting marks signifiying the Quebec & Ontario Paper Co. The cars were Leased from General Electric (GERSCO) by the Donohue Paper Company. Known for producing newsprint for major U.S. newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, Donohue's newsprint mill  in Thorold, ON received woodchips from Northern Quebec and Ontario. The mill's location was on CN's Thorold Sub, at Mi 3.65 of the Coniagas Spur. Interestingly, in 1987 Donohue was acquired by Quebecor, and in 2000 by forestry giant Abitibi-Consolidated. The mill now uses recycled newsprint as a feedstock. Chris Wright remembers CN, CV and DWC paper boxcars, and kindly shared his photo of Abitibi (ex-CN) switcher 1324 handling tarped QOPX cars in the early 2000's:

Scott Mathieson contributed the following fascinating comment:
I was the Woodlands Superintendent for Ontario Paper Company (AKA Quebec&Ontario Paper) in Hornepayne Ontario through the 1980's. I was involved with the leasing of that fleet from GE Capital. I was present for the "first load" at Levesque Lumber in Hearst Ontario in '87. We loaded in Hearst, Hornepayne, Ostrom and Cochrane, in Ontario. Senneterre Quebec later (Donohue). In the '90's and later, I was at the Thorold mill looking after the receiving of all raw materials. We could dump and process one car per 40 minutes. (37-38 ODT). Have seen the odd one later in my travels. We returned the fleet to GE in the early 2000's when the mill went 100% recycled. 

Jeremy Plant kindly shared this photo taken by his brother Jeffrey. It shows Algoma Central Geeps with a QOPX car in the consist at Jogues on the ACR, just south of Hearst in 1990:

In late 1999, the cars were being loaded at Donohue's mill in Senneterre QC, on CN's track AT46, routed to Thorold via Garneau-Montreal-Toronto, thence Thorold by trains 365-449 over CN, returning on CN Nos 338-366. Some cars were also loaded at Ostrom, ON at Mile 69 of CN's Ruel Sub, and routed Ostrom-Capreol-Toronto-Thorold via trains 336-450, returning on 451-337. The Ostrom mill was owned by Gogama Forest Products and had a contract to supply spruce chips to Thorold. The mill was later owned by EACOM.

While riding ONR's Northlander in March 1994, we met CN No 450 which included some QOPX cars. Some cars were also interchanged to Ontario Northland at North Bay, destined Cochrane, ON. Mike Lockwood kindly shared photos of QOPX cars on No 336 at Brechin East behind 9455-9421 (above) and another 336 at Udney behind 9416-4731 (below):
The thing about wood chips is that they 'cube out' before they 'tare out'. In other words, woodchip cars are built big because they can be overdfilled withoug reaching their rated capacity in thousands of pounds. In BC and the US, nets are used, placed on the loaded cars to facilitate such over-loading. Mike's pictures show the cars with blue tarps. Randy O'Brien of Niagara Falls sent three photos of the cars passing through there:

This photo that 'LJ' posted to Facebook shows an eastbound Niagara-bound freight entering St Catharines yard with two SD701's and a DW&P SD in the spring of 1998. Six QOPX cars are on the head-end:
Gary Kostiuk shared this series of three photos on Facebook, showing QOPX 179 being dumped at the plant, awash in chips, with others in the background:

When the cars operated over the Kingston Sub, untarped, it was common to walk the Kingston station platform and find many fragrant, stray woodchips every few feet! Like I said, over-loaded! At least once, we collected a paper Tim Horton's donut bag full of the piney pieces. The cars ran in groups of two to eight, likely based on the car capacity of the loadout track and the frequency with which CN switched the mill.
Here are some QOPX woodchip gondola observations at Kingston - cars shown in my photos are empties. Date, CN train on, remarks:

July/99 No 366 5+4 cars
Aug/99 No 366 148, 136, 154
Aug/99 No 365 199, 130, 192, 111
Aug/99 No 366 128, 168, 136, 142
Aug/99 No 366 105 (top photo), 156, 100
Sep/99 No 367 136
Nov/99 No 365 178, 107, 116
Nov/99 No 365 115
Dec/99 No 366 199, 132, 171, 125, 111, 118 123
Jan/00 No 366 147 (above), 192, 161, 141, 200 +3 cars 
Jan/00 No 366 104, 112,  165, 122, 172
Jan 16/00 No 365 121, 117, 180, 100 with blowing wood chips!
Jan 20/00 No 365 200, 146 on tailend
Jun 30/00 No 365 123, 129, 134, 183 
Aug/00 No 366 137, 135, 171, 183, 103, 130, 129
Aug/00 No 366 139, 182, 133, 124
Aug/00 No 366 (below) 154, 195, 123, 106, 112
Aug 24/00 No 365 192, 138, 188, 134, 201
Mar/01 No 366 103, 113, 147, 137, 156
Aug/01 Tarped QOPX cars with CN and CV paper boxcars south of Thorold, ON Abitibi-Consolidated paper mill.

Earlier, aboard VIA Rail, I had observed QOPX 168 at CN's Turcot yard in Montreal's west end on August 22, 1996.
These cars have been renumbered into Steelwheels LLC STWX 100-204 series in 2005, then 88 cars went the AEX 9703-9790 series, in service with The Andersons. In 2010, 15 more cars went to the Andersons as AEX 17665-17679. On June 6/09, I observed AEX 9770 and 12 other former QOPX gons at Kingston. Other than that, they seem to be operating elsewhere, mainly in the US Midwest and West, most often tarped when loaded. A 2004 STB recordation lists 88 cars. STWX reporting marks cars in Minnesota in 2010. Imagine my surprise when, doing a drive-by of the Norfolk Southern yard in Selma, NC in May 2013, one of these cars was in the yard, bearing reporting marks AEX 9708. That's a long way from Northern Canada to North Carolina!

Running extra...

Leaving no stone unturned....start at 1:18 mark...SEE the Herzog PLUS train dropping ballast...TASTE the ballast dust...HEAR the stream of rock stop just before a level crossing!

No more free Chill magazine! Previously available for free at The Beer Store, it's now available either by The Subscription or The Online Edition. I will miss the use of the the words "Chillosopher" and "Guy'd" in article titles like The Chill Guy'd to Grilling. Chill was a good read - free magazines are getting as rare as free beer!

Why are brewers and marketers messing with beer? Now there's maple beer, cranberry beer, strawberry lager, apricot ale, raspberry ale, and even Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale. I can't grin and beer it! I'm at lagerheads with the industry! Let beer be beer. Ich bin ein bier!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kingston-Toronto Return Trip, July 2014

I was ensconced early in a Business Class car 4001 on VIA no 651 on the way to Toronto for the day. Our consist: 909-4001-4105-4100-4113. The Service Manager was making his rounds, and kept saying the same phrase to passengers: "26 cars". That was because 80 minutes before we departed Kingston, CN No 310 splattered 26 cars over the plant at the west end of Brockville. We were on the 'lucky train' as 'lucky passengers'. The SM later made a PA announcement "To all the commuters onboard. This train and [its eastbound counterpart tonight] No 650 will be the only trains operating east of Toronto today." All other trains would be operated with buses. It would be this way for this day and the next, though CN freights started rolling about 18 hours later.
A lone passenger boards at Napanee (above). This train is indeed used by commuters travelling into Toronto. Belleville, Cobourg and Port Hope each contribute very healthy passenger loads. At Belleville, 7082, one of the Geeps from Belleville-Kingston turn CN No 518 was visible through the window across the aisle. Also at Belleville were two white-wrapped flat car loads - Bombardier monorails on lowboy trailers, soon on their way to Halifax then Innotrans in Berline and further storage in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
St. Michael's Catholic Church and Belleville's water tower are visible to the south. We're crossing the Moira River bridge. (Links to some classic Barriger Library views of CN's Kingston Sub).
Another body of water, in this case the overflow channel for Lock 1 of the Trent-Severn Waterway at Trenton. Watch for an upcoming post on the replacement of these impressive bridge spans.
I brought my camera along on this trip, hoping to be able to photograph several places that I hadn't preserved for posterity. The former CP freight house at Cobourg is now home to Legacy Vintage Building Materials. Looks like a neat place to poke around during a lull trainwatching both main lines!
Approaching Cobourg station, aka The Monster That Ate Cobourg, a CP eastbound pokes its nose through the foliage. CN's line was unfettered by any trains, except for VIA No 50/60 which became a bustitution, and CN No 709 with a CSX unit switching at Oshawa. Arrival in Toronto will be 15 minutes early!
Usually not seen on CN's Kingston Sub, some Auto-Max car carriers, in this case with AOK reporting marks were on the CP train along with DM&E, SOO, CP Rail and former government grain cars. The Cobourg station parking lot is well-used:
Approaching the tiny station at Port Hope, the Cameco plant and harbour bask in the early morning sunshine. CN delivers ACAX tank cars of Hydrogen Fluoride from Geismar, LA to the plant. 
 A plethora of pre-positioned Port Hope passengers pace paciently in place:

At the GO layover (former CN Don) yard, we passed this interesting Trackmobile-powered two car work train. Looks masonry-related.
GO consists beam as the alabaster city gleams, beckoning commuters from all over Southern Ontario:
The Great Hall of Toronto Union Station - still great. The VIA ticket counter is now to the right of the information kiosk and clock. Notice the VIA signboard full of bustitutions. A tiny, senior volunteer was on duty, though a "Volunteers Needed" sign was also taped to the glass.
Opposite the Business Class lounge, where I exchanged my ticket to avoid a bustitution, this large plaque commemmorates the heroic actions of the VIA crew at the April 23, 1999 Thamesville derailment. The heroic actions of engineers Kevin Lihou and Donald Blain saved countless lives.
TTC CLRV 4046 wears a Brooks Brothers pinstripe wrap as passengers position themselves. I'm sure the wrap will be transit-ory.
I went trainwatching while waiting for my train home. To the Prairies, where I saw a two-unit, yellow-nosed Canadian...
 ...then a gleaming stainless steel consist heading into the mountains...
...and a pocket-sized Bras d'Or in Cape Breton. All courtesy of the large photo-murals in the bowels of the Arrivals area display windows!
Busloads of passengers would arrive, looking around somewhat confused: "Delbert, ever seen anything this big that didn't have John Deere written on it?" Similary, lines of passengers for bustituted trains would be lead out of the Departures area to Bremner Street, south of Union Station to board their buses. I'd always wanted to photograph this sign that's been here since, oh maybe the 1950's. Somewhat lost but still proclaiming its message, for those lost in the bowels of the station, desperately looking for The City.
GO to Oshawa. GO 634 has just arrived:
An overengineered road and overbuilt guardrail linking the CN with the CP in the distance. Late afternoon clouds hover over the horizon.
 The Port Hope CP viaduct. We are on the CN/VIAduct:
The grain elevator spur north of the mainline at Trenton/Quinte West. No cars spotted. Highly-modelable Insulbrick section sheds at lower right.
Back in Kingston. Our consist: 910-4002-4119-4114-411x. No trouble making the station stop on the north track tonight, since no other trains were about. This will be a 'lucky train' again tomorrow, after the consist is turned on the wye at Queens for its early morning departure to the west.

Running extra:

Four things I like about Summertime:
1. It's finally here.
2. No snow.
3. Isn't it just the best season to enjoy a cold beer?
4. Fantasia Barrino's version of the song from American Idol.