Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thunder Bay (and Cochrane) 1979, Part 2

During our 1979 Thunder Bay visit - Part 1 and itinerary here, we visited a terminal grain elevator at the harbour. The view toward the yard throat (above) is near the dumper shed looking west between Sask Pool elevators 7A and 7B. Inside, a grain inspector described the grading and inspection process for us:
Ever seen a grain boxcar unloaded on the unique, tilting car shaker? Here is an interior view of the grain leaving a CN boxcar. The C.N. initials are on the inside of the car door, while the wooden grain door and paper lining can be seen emerging from the far side of the car interior as the grain is unloaded.
For reference, here's another photo of a boxcar being emptied in Prince Rupert one year earlier. Covered hoppers relieved the industry of the upkeep of these expensive, dangerous unloading methods. In their own time, I suppose they were an improvement on shovelling the car out, but a rolling hopper bottom discharging into a grate is a lot more efficient and safer, too. Docked alongside the elevator in Thunder Bay was a bulk carrier lake boat, likely one of the Hall ships of the HALCO fleet. This is between Sask Pool 7A and the Thunder Bay McCabe elevator, later UGG 'M'. It's April, it's Thunder Bay, so there's still some ice in the harbour!
We toured the Mount McKay Scenic Lookout on the Fort William Indian Reserve. I took this photo due to the subtle railway content - a transfer movement with CN GMD-1's leads grain cars along the Mission Spur from the Cargill elevator, as well as ore cars, alongside City Road, approaching the James Street swing bridge.  CP's Westfort yard is at right centre. The white Paterson elevator's silos, along the Kaministiquia River, are almost demolished. Fantastically, our hosts told us one elevator was destroyed with dynamite due to a huge rat infestation. Chew on that!
On our way home, taken from the bus window in Longlac, CP woodchip gons (and one CN car at extreme right) were alongside.
What would you do during a main street supper stop in Cochrane, ON. Why not hotfoot it down to the CN-ONR station? We did, finding 1803 idling:
Then, 1401 emerged from the yard with an 'Ontario's Development Road' green boxcar and trainman riding the footboard.
This particular RS-10 was the last of ONR's still in service as late as 1985, having been one of four acquired in 1955-57. Still soldiering on, here negotiating yard tracks:
I snapped the slightly forlorn, Temiskaming & Northern Ontario museum train languishing behind snowbanks:
Thanks to Phil McGinn and Brian Martyniuk for assistance with this post. Watch for an upcoming post with some of Brian's early VIA era photos from the Lakehead.

Running extra...

This week I came across a nice selection of western Canadian photos, including Alberta grain elevators. Many of these photos were taken in the late 1980's before the classic wooden elevators started coming down in large numbers.

Having attended the Skate Canada national championships in Kingston this weekend, I'm reflecting on what a truly Canadian event it was (though you can be born in Japan, Alaska or Russia and still compete). The scrape of skate blades on clean, fresh ice is something that really resonates, be it figure skaters or hockey players displaying grace, sportsmanship and athleticism. Canadian Tire was a major sponsor, distributing Flawless Routine! cardboard signs. I think I can repurpose mine into a sign that reads Flawless Poutine!

Canadian Tire is innovating...a 60-foot intermodal container, already government-approved and then tested by CP at its Vaughan, ON terminal. Will this container push intermodal car builders into a new era with longer cars to accommodate these massive boxes that can be filled with boxes of hockey tape, extension cords, coffee makers and other must-have items?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The internet beckons brightly...

I don't usually publish a post every time someone that I know joins Twitter or Facebook. Happens all the time, right? How about a fellow railfan that accelerates through that tightly-curved on-ramp to the information super-highway for the first time? Now, that is something worthy of mention! None other than Brian Schuff of Winnipeg. You're saying Brian who? Well, feast your eyes on this photo:
Who else would position himself trackside on a freezing cold day atop a snowbank at Diamond (top) or at the Winnipeg Depot to snap VIA FPA4 6772 (above). Did FPA4's ever reach Winnipeg? Brian's camera bears testimony to this fact. I've been happy to get to know Brian, who kindly shared many of his photos with me for my books on VIA Rail. Now, I thought I was late getting aboard the internet express, joining around 2003. But this is 2015, people! It's like waiting to board the Canadian when it's 12 hours down! Late, but it'll be worth the wait. Regardless, I know Brian has much to share, continuing to add a wide variety of US and Canadian material, with a collector's eye to passenger, freight, locomotives, rolling stock, CN, CP and granger railroading. He'll be establishing a unique web presence. And he knows people. And he knows people who know people. And the Rock Island (a mighty fine line). He and I are both able to wallow in nostalgia about Portage la Prairie (which we apparently railfanned nearly simultaneously but independent of each other!) and the early VIA years. Did I mention the info super-highway? Time to move that sign out of the way.
Brian at Diamond, MB - unobstructed sight lines, snow-clearing by your friendly grader operator "Razor"! Thanks for sharing these photos, Brian and Deanne! Please join me in welcoming Brian into cyberspace.

Monday, January 19, 2015

VIA's Canadian at Portage, 1981

After publishing a post on the Super Continental at Portage la Prairie in 1981, it only seemed right to give equal coverage to the Canadian. After all, the two trains followed each other into and out of of Winnipeg close together, permitting exchanging of cars and passengers between both trains. VIA No 1 departed Montreal, 1,409 miles east a day and a half earlier, arriving Winnipeg at 0920 for a four hour, ten minute service stop. This included swapping of some sleepers and other cars between the Super Continental and the Canadian, the latter departing Winnipeg daily at 1330. On August 24, 1981 No 1  (above) arrives Portage at 1453, scheduled to depart at 1457 with 6550-1961-CP 8514-605-Riviere Rouge-123-121-3213-507-5740-5708-Aylmer Manor-Amherst Manor-Alexandra-Elliston-Ernestown-Eastport-Prince Albert Park. I'd arrived ensconced aboard Ernestown on the Super, and this locally-named E-series sleeper has now been transferred to the Canadian during the Winnipeg servicing stop. 
The same day, No 2 arrives in time for the 1640 scheduled station stop, with a neat locomotive consist (above and below) 1418-CP 8580-1898-9658-Margaree River-126-101-3208-514-5718-5744-Hunter Manor-Thompson Manor-Emerald-Wolfe Manor-Chateau Lauzon-Edmonton-Edson-Riding Mountain Park. The mighty Canadian was held at the Shepp CP-CN connecting track for a lowly grain pickup behind CN 1353-1354. No 2 has put Vancouver 1,474 miles behind her, scheduled to arrive Winnipeg at 1800, then departing two and a half hours later. Notice - 1418 was the only VIA cab unit to receive blue paint high on the carbody, and one of VIA's two E-8's is nosed up to the baggage car. The specially-constructed connecting track, built to transfer the Canadian from CP rails west of Portage to CN's Rivers Sub for the run into Winnipeg still has new-looking ballast:
Aug 26 No 1 at 1450: 1413-CP 8577-CP 8522-617-Petitcodiac River-127-100-3218-517-5704-5734-Sherwood Manor-Abbott Manor-Emerald-Edwardsville-Eureka-Entwistle-Waterton Park. Shortly after departing the station, this day's varnish was held at West Tower for a 136-car eastbound train led by CP 6018-5928 which passed at 1457, then a 132-car eastbound led by CP 5918-4712 at 1515! VIA 1413 made its last run in February 1983 still in CP Rail action red.
Aug 26 No 2 at 1637 below: 6566-1965-6550-602-Innes-109-113-3212-512-5711-5705-Butler Manor-Brock Manor-Kent-Craig Manor-Erwood-Elgin-Elderbank-Sibley Park. Many, but by no means all, of the cars in this consist will be heading east again on No 2 when I board the train in Calgary on September 4.
The late afternoon sun favoured this angle, looking east away from the station:
Aug 27 No 1 at 1453: 1418-CP 8580-1898-6553-9664-Riviere au Renard-116-103-3212-501-5722-104-Hearne Manor-Franklin Manor-Kent-Craig Manor-Elmsdale-Exeter-Elrose-Revelstoke Park as the daily BC lumber train lumbers eastward. A seldom-seen sweet view of 1418's unique blue paint lines:
Aug 28 No 1 at 1452: 1402-CP 8579-6653-608-Nashwaak River-117-124-3211-509-5709-5736-Dawson Manor-Draper Manor-Wascana-Elizabeth-Egerton-Essex-Evangeline Park. VIA 6653 was rebuilt by CN in three months prior; one of three F9B's rebuilt by CN, in this case formerly CP 1964. Nashwaak River is one of several River-series cars I saw on the Canadian providing crew accommodations, instead of the more usual I-series crew car on the Super:
On the evening of September 3, 1981 I boarded No 2 in Calgary for Toronto, arriving Winnipeg on September 4 (below) with 1407-CP 8516-1898-604-Innes-109-113-3218-512-5711-5746-Butler Manor-Osler Manor-Emerald-Wolfe Manor-Erwood-Elgin-Elderbank-Strathcona Park. These photos remind me that my all-time favourite Trackside Treasure post features the Canadian at Portage in 1984!
This was the third time I'd seen 1898 on this trip, most recently still together with 1418 in Calgary, though they've now been separated, with 1898 basking in the humid, evening haze against Winnipeg's skyline (below). VIA 1898 kept busy, making more than seven appearances in Winnipeg in October 1981, and a final trip on No 1 on November 11. With the impending cancellation of the Super Continental, the ex-CP equipment was removed from the Canadian, replaced with ex-CN locomotives: the first No 2 east from Winnipeg on November 17 was led by 6501-6602-6603.

Running extra...

This week I surfed into some photos of Seth Neumann's layout. I'm not sure which I like more...the giant NUMMI auto parts plant or the adjacent bulk transfer facility:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

VIA's Super Continental at Portage, 1981

VIA's Super Continental ran until the November 1981 Pepin cuts to VIA. Westbound VIA train No 3 was scheduled to stop in Portage la Prairie at 1330. This was following a 4-hour servicing stop in Winnipeg in the middle of the train's transcontinenal run, 1,217 miles from Toronto. Approaching Portage, westbound Canadians or Super Continentals, still mostly on time, would slowly round the curve at East Tower and ease up the station, where separate stops would be made for baggage, coach and/or sleeping car passengers.  Less than three months before the cuts took effect, I was trackside in Portage la Prairie, recording the daily passage of the Super Continental, as well as the Canadian.

Aug 24, 1981 VIA No 3 at 1333 (above): 6505-6610-CN 4105-9663-Iroquois-5441-5500-506-1343-5723-5725-Enterprise-Evangeline-Green Lane-1360-Chateau Rouville-Chateau Levis-Lorne Manor-Kootenay Park. Two ex-CN diners! Stainless steel sleepers from the Canadian, swapped for ex-CN sleepers at Winnipeg. Waited at West Tower for eastbound CP grain train to clear the diamonds!
Aug 25 (above) The late afternoon sun glints off 6510's nose, as a nearly three hour-late No 3 arrives at 1623: 6510-6607-CN 4102-9653-Indigo-5485-5626-502-1370-5719-5706-Excelsior-Ennishore-Greenway-1377-Chateau Iberville-Chateau Montcalm-Blair Manor-Columbia-Cabot Manor. I wonder if the substitution of Columbia for the usual Park car had taken place in Winnipeg, thus delaying this day's No 3?
Aug 25 No 3 at 1344: (above and below) 6504-6603-CN 4100-9600-9640-Ingonish-5616-5643-515-1342-5732-5735-Endeavour-Edmunston-Greenfield-1361-Chateau Jolliet-Chateau Lemoyne-Monck Manor-Algonquin Park. CP van 434619 is westbound, while S-3 6569 burbles at the |CP Rail station. On CN, a freight is threading its way through the yard lead, while a short grain train with two GMD-1's (1052-1065) has halted east of the station. This grain pickup would return east on August 28! Another westbound's headlight approaches, led by 5291-5574-5135-5102!. Five trains at once explains why I'm up on the overpass this day.
Aug 26 No 4 at 1658 (below) ahead of the scheduled 1705 at Portage, VIA train No 4 has come 1,560 miles from Vancouver, with 6513-6602-CN 4103-9662-Ingramport-5603-5497-505-1376-5729-5750-Eastview-Everett-Green Cabin-1369-Chateau Denonville-Chateau Argenson-Rogers Manor-Banff Park. No 4 will have a 2 hour, 20 minute servicing stop in Winnipeg before departing 10 minutes after the eastbound Canadian. A westbound CN freight behind 9486-5199-5363 is on the next track.
Aug 27 No 3 at 1333 (below): 6513-6604-6606-9602-Inkerman-5647-5443-505-1376-5743-5713-Edenwold-Elnora-Green Point-1369-Chateau Rigaud-Chateau Richelieu-Carleton Manor-Banff Park. FP9A 6513 was a regular, and that faded yellow nose paint is not an optical illusion - I made a note at the time that it was faded, here returning west after leading yesterday's No 4. CN 4259-4320-4323 are on the yard lead, having arrived in Portage at 1205, staying and working until 1527!
Aug 28 No 3 at 1340 (below): 6501-6602-6605-9648-Irma-5590-5533-513-1368-5745-5710-Escuminac-Euclid-Greenmount-1340-Chateau Closse-Emperor-Drummond Manor-Assiniboine Park. CN water tank car 80123 is on the team track, replacing two others: CN 51624 built in 1911 and CN 51691 built in 1916.
Watch for the next post to come down this track soon - the Canadian at Portage, 1981

Running extra...

This Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the massive cuts to VIA Rail that took effect on January 15, 1990. That night, I drove with my Dad to Kingston's VIA station - the only ones there to witness the two last Cavaliers: stainless steel steam-breathing nocturnal monsters hauled by LRC locomotives into historical oblivion. Well, not fully. Six years ago, I published a blog post on that night. I'm not going to get preachy, weepy, political, maudlin, morose, or needlessly, pathetically adjectival more than I already have. I am, however, going to wallow in nostalgia. I am going to blog what I remember of VIA Rail in its early years to mark the occasion. I am going to do my best to share what I have in the faint hope that others will appreciate what I was able to experience. Online and on paper. Think of it for a moment - at what other time but 1981 could one stand trackside and hear 15+ car-long passenger trains throb, coast, clank, ding and accelerate their way in an out of a manned station, making multiple stops, devouring and disgorging baggage, very small numbers of passengers hosted by uniformed, proud railroaders who cared about the passengers and about their profession. Actually, no, two 15+ car-long passenger trains just over an hour apart, down the same track, east and west across this great country while they still could.  -Eric

And if you want to hear the ground rumble, about every ten minutes, check out the Chesterton, IN webcam recommended to me by loyal Trackside Treasure Chris DeVries. Thanks, Chris!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CN's VI&E Covered Hoppers

In 1967, Vancouver Iron & Engineering* built one hundred steel covered hoppers for CN at its False Creek site. The covered hoppers, numbered 380000-380099, with a capacity of  4500 cu ft and somewhat cylindrical, but only 55 feet over strikers, making these cars with their notched ends unique to CN. Unlike most later cylindricals, this series was rated for only 70 tons, not 100 tons. CN 380001 is shown at the builders' yard in April, 1967 (Peter Cox photo, used with permission - above) and CN 380003 is at Toronto's MacMillan yard in 1983 (Jim Parker photo, used with permission - below). *Often referred to as VI&E or VIEW (Vancouver Iron and Engineering Works)
These cars were equipped with vacuum pneumatic unloading hoppers for low density products. Each of the four hoppers' discharge gates was equipped with a pneumatic outlet, to which a 5 1/4 hose could be attached to a vacuum loading system from either side of the car. Most of the car's load could be emptied through one outlet, as long as the other three outlets were connected, to remove the balance of the lading remaining in the bottom of the hoppers. The cars could also be unloaded through 13-inch gravity feed gates. Roof loading was via four 24-inch longitudinal fibreglass hatch covers.

Pierre Fournier kindly shared this photo of a VI&E covered hopper earning its keep on CN No 305 at Daveluyville, QC in October, 1990. Merci, Pierre!
Doug Stark kindly shared this photo of CN 380067 at Belleville, ON on January 25, 2004:
Originally equipped with friction bearings, these were later replaced with roller bearings. Interestingly, one car only, CN 380074 was renumbered to 380500 and had four 10-inch cylindrical loading hatches. Also, notice the unique 'rounded' Canadian National/Canadien National and reporting marks in the dimensional data block.
I often observed these cars on CN's Kingston Sub, though they went largely regrettably unphotographed by me. Here's a photo I took that unwittingly included at least seven Portland cars at a team-track just west of Montreal's Central Station in 1984 (above). I recorded these cars as "Portland" in my observations, because they were often destined Portland, to have cement unloaded in the East Deering section that Maine city. Some online photo links: CN 380020CN 380022CN 380026 and CN 380092.

Two online auction site photos:
 CN 380010 in 1969 (above) and CN 380011 in 1967:
Two Bill Grandin photos kindly shared by Jim Parker, interestingly matching the above photo. These are captioned 1970's at Concord, ON:

Some of my observations showing car number, date, CN train car on, and remarks:

CN 380073 Jul 18/99 on No 305
CN 380017 Aug 2/99
CN 380070 Aug 14/99 on No 308
CN 380046 Aug 26/99 on No 305 Dest. Transcona MB
CN 380063 Sep 20/99 on No 306
CN 380053-380048 Jul 30/00 on No 306
CN 380040 Jul 30/00 Dest. Rockingham NS
CN 380068 8/01 307
CN 380081 4/02 363
CN 380027 6/02 306
CN 380067 9/02 307
CN 380068 9/02 307
CN 380016 9/06 321

Requiem - these cars have succumbed to the AAR 40-year interchange rule for cars built before 1974.  Seen any lately? Thanks to Jim Parker for his kind assistance.

Running extra...

Special Christmas holidays episode of TLC's Railfan Sisters leads off with photos of eastbound VIA on Dec 10 at Kingston. My sister was seeing off a colleague aboard VIA - likely No 60.
I.Z. looking very much like a genial VIA car attendant welcoming us aboard. Note to actual VIA OBS: there are switchbrooms in each vestibule - great for sweeping snow out of steps arriving stations.
VIA No 68 on snowless Dec 28 on north track (Track 1 at Kingston)
Different mode of travel - flying aboard United 4866 from Washington Dulles into Dorval, Sis snapped a shot of Grandma's neighbourhood in Valois with a bonus CN westbound.
We'd frequented the area before - Spring 1974 at CP's suburban Valois station. CP in foreground, CN in background, and an early hirailer, in my pre-notepad years: