Thursday, February 26, 2015

Early-era VIA in Thunder Bay

Brian Martyniuk of Thunder Bay is a stalwart Northern Ontario railfan. Over a year ago, Bryan and I started discussing early-era VIA operations in the Thunder Bay area. Brian kindly shared photos for my posts on the Diefenbaker Funeral Train and CPR 5468. And now, I'm pleased to be able to share some of Brian's fine 'T Bay' area photos showing VIA operations, along with  caption information for the photos in this post. Though I've been through beautiful Thunder Bay  riding aboard VIA, I'm not a Lakehead railfan. To the photos...the first photo Brian sent me (above) is momentous: VIA No 1 with 1409-8558 near Mi 27 CP Kaministiquia Sub in March, 1980. 
Seven miles west and two years earlier (above) the Canadian - led by CP 1407 is just west of Finmark, around Mi 34, climbing the grade out of the Kam River valley. At this time, left-hand running was the norm between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. This is almost a complete Canadian - one of everything except for the deadhead coach behind the roadswitcher. 
VIA No 2 with 1418-CP 8560 is at Mi 0.5, with the east end of CP's Westfort yard visible at the curve in the distance (above). Arriving at the CP station in Thunder Bay on a warm July, 1980 evening, the train has entered the yard limits on the east mainline and a yardman has lined the train across the west mainline and into depot one track. In the distance (below) a westbound freight waits for No 2 to clear; an eastbound occupies the adjacent track and a yard movement is on the lead on the next track over. All movements come to a standstill until the passenger comes to a complete stop. Boxcars for moving grain are parked on the track adjacent to Saskatchewan Pool #8 terminal elevator. Their days are limited as more and more hopper cars are being introduced to take grain products to port. This image was taken from the Vickers Street bridge which is connected to the upper level of CP's jackknife bridge across the Kaministiquia River. That vantage point is long gone now. 
It is an extremely cold morning in February, 1982. VIA No 2 with locomotives 6508-6602-6510 is running late. Somehwere along its journey, the usual Park car has been set out, likely on account of frozen water or steam lines. Up until November 1981, the Canadian would have been led by ex-CP units on CP lines, but once the Super Continental was cut, ex-CN locomotives immediately began pulling the Canadian. The red-and-white brick Prince Arthur Hotel, built by the Canadian Northern Railway, is seen directly above the last car. The Shoreline Hotel is the white, rectangular structure and the taller building behind is the former James Whalen building, now called the Public Utilities Commission building. While all these buildings remain intact, this view is now obstructed by a bridge over the tracks into the redeveloped marina.
A 1999 view of CP No 408 with engines 5788-6017-6063 shows the now-obstructed view, though as Bryan notes, it's a new looking-down photographic opportunity!
Whenever there was a derailment on the CP between Winnipeg and Thunder bay, VIA would reroute No 1 and No 2 by way of CN trackage from Winnipeg on the CN Redditt and Allanwater Subs to Superior Junction, then the entire CN Graham Sub to Conmee Junction and then the balance of the CN Kashabowie Sub through the Neebing yard and then over the CN Mission Spur to the transfer track with CP at the west end of Westfort yard and finally down to the CP station in Fort William. No 2 with 6542-6626 pulls by the station at Kakabeka Falls in double-track territory on a snowy day in October, 1982:
At Westfort, No 2 has traversed the transfer track from CN Mission Spur and is stopped on the running lead waiting for the conductor to line the switch for track A-1 at the west end of CP's Westfort Yard. CP's double track main line is adjacent and the signals protect the crossovers at Mi 2.3 (Westfort) on CP's Kaministiquia Sub.
No 2 has cleared Current Junction, which is just out of sight around the bend. The towering elevators along the waterfront present the first view passengers travelling westward would see as the train arrives at the outskirts of Thunder Bay. Note the CN boxcars used for grain shipments parked in CN's Current River yard. Current Junction is the end of CN's Kinghorn Sub. At this point, CN trains use CP rails to get to Port Arthur yard.
It is October, 1985. VIA No 1 led by 6313-6628-6625 has arrived at the east switch at Flett, on CN's Graham Subdivision. VIA rerouted their trains on CN tracks due to a derailment on the CP somewhere between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. The Graham Sub is train order territory, and No 1 is to hold the mainline at Flett until eastbound No 278 arrives and takes the siding:
Not only is this rare mileage - equally rare would be a meet between transcontinental No 1 and the twice-weekly train from Thunder Bay to Sioux Lookout and return. While I managed to capture an image of No 1 arriving at the east switch, I was expecting the train to stop, but it did not! No 1 only slowed to a crawl. Fortunately, No 278 appeared in just enough time for me to get an image of the tail end on the main, and No 278 on the siding before the Canadian disappeared westward.
Bryan sent some interesting photos of cylindrical grain cars at the Lakehead. In February 1981, he caught ALPX 628147 with the original two-colour Alberta Heritage Fund logo:
An absolutely unique cutaway view of ALPX 628503 in May, 2002. The car was involved in a rollover derailment while loaded, and the side removed to facilitate unloading and rerailing. The Alberta administration wished to have new plates welded along the car side. (Brian wrote an excellent illustrated article on ALPX covered hoppers, published in CPHA's CP Tracks magazine issue 8-4.)

Running extra...

It is no secret that the late 70s-early 80s are my favourite VIA era. At just the right moment, I'll publish a post on that Circus-train Era! Speaking of which...two photos of 'grey-ghost' VIA 6532 at Spadina Shops were just shared by Marty Cahill on Facebook. Since there are so few photos of this unique 1980 creation around, I'm posting them here for fellow grey-ghost fans. Minty new paint!

SNL 40 was amazing! Highlights: Jeopardy with Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett (great, great, great), Miley Cyrus singing 50 Ways, Steve Martin's intro, the inimitable Marty Short and Jerry Seinfeld audience call-outs. Lowlights: Eddie non-Murphy, Paul non-McCartney, stewardess ending to The Californians sketch. 

Oscars not amazing. Neil Patrick Harris is no David Letterman!

Friday, February 20, 2015

CP MoW Truck Lindberg Conversion

I recently acquired several HO scale Lindberg moving van trucks from Trackside Treasure reader Jason Sailer. Two of the trucks, perfect for CP Express, arrive on my Vancouver Wharves layout on a Union Pacific flat car (above). Check out the cool selection of vehicles included in this lot (below). My intention was to convert some of the Lindberg Ford trucks into CP Rail service trucks. NOT hi-rail - we're talking the 1980's here, when most trucks were still only road-based.
Here's the original box design for the easy-to-assemble moving van kit. Snap fit with groovy decals ...'The Moving Van'. That 70's Show ... in H-O!
Here is the assortment double-parked on my layout. Okay, quadruple-parked:
Disassembled. The two screws hold the cab and floor of the box on. I set the cargo box aside, using only the cab, floor, box base and grille.  Some lap-top construction photos follow:
There are four small weights in the cab! Removing these, I painted the cab interior and steering wheel black. Some prototype inspiration in the background (below): TH&B early hi-rail truck courtesy Randy O'Brien, and flatbed at Portage la Prairie courtesy of Brian Schuff:
I added some sides to the flatbed, including a bulkhead with a window carved in it. Yellow paint followed/flowed. The side mirrors really make it come to life! I painted the driver-side wheel covers yellow, leaving the passenger's side silver. I added a spare tire.
Fuel tank on, side mirrors and front grille and bumper painted white per the prototype. Added mudflaps made from coupler pocket covers! And added some detail bits in the back.
Before and after. A blue moving van and the completed CP Rail truck. Many of these did not have CP Rail lettering applied. If they did, it was often red lettering on a white background.
Ready to be parked at Vancouver's 'N' Yard office on my layout!

Running extra...

Just finished reading Front Row at the White House by veteran UPI reporter the late Helen Thomas. The nice thing about Helen's book is that is't not purely chronological. "And I'd like a follow-up question..." The reader is able to read through the book while sharing Helen's experiences with successive presidents, each in various chapters. "Thank you, Mr President!"

Never knew this - Athearn's three-dome tank car is grossly oversized, and has no known prototype. This according to the online February 2015 edition of Model Railroad Hobbyist. No wonder modellers thought the Tangent Scale Models correct model was 'cute'. Hate that word.

Time well wasted...Images of Prairie Towns website, showing some historic views of some of my favourites including Portage la Prairie, MB (already featured in many Trackside Treasure posts) and Stranraer, SK, the subject of an upcoming post on my visit to the Sask Pool elevator there. Thanks, Dave and Wilf for the link!

Screenshots from the latest episode of TLC's long-running series Railfan Sisters! Here are some gloaming photos of Aberdeen, Carolina & Western units taken by my sis in Southern North Carolina. Or was it northern South Carolina? Regardless, what do all the AC&W locos have in common? Hint: It's not wide noses alone, but it borders on that spotting feature....

The local Southern Pines Amtrak-served station is classic, and a nearby church even publicizes the series!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

GMD-1 at Kingston, February 2015

Though the General Motors GMD-1 was primarily a Western unit, some of the units did operate in eastern Canadian passenger service in the 1960s and more recently, remanufactured units operated as far east as Quebec City and Halifax. And these days in Oakville, Toronto and east on CN's Kingston Sub out of Belleville, ON. Though I knew one of these 1400-series occasionally made it to Kingston, I'd been at work or otherwise unable to check out CN no 518's Belleville to Kingston daytime turn. That changed on February 4!

While heading home via Kingston Transit's Kingston Express bus service, I glimpsed 1444 on my way by the Kingston Invista nylon plant along Front Road. The fact that it was snowing heavily, and that I didn't really have time to make a trip back to photograph this unit meant nothing to me. I made the time, figuring this might be my one-and-only chance!
Fortunately, the train was hog-lawed, awaiting a relief crew which would not board and take the train north up the Cataraqui Spur until after 1900 hours. Stuffed and mounted. Sitting duck. These photos are taken from my railfan ride since this is private plant property and one is not supposed to be out running around with camera in hand, otherwise known as trespassing.
I moved from the south side of the train on track KM35 to the north side:
That white stuff was perpetually pelting! Formerly 1046 before being converted to 1614, 1444 is the unit's third number.
Ron Visockis caught the two units being towed into Belleville on February 5 by the four units on CN No 373: 2504-2008-2622-5743 on February 5 at Airport Parkway:
Then, two days later on February 6, I happened by Invista, noting the two units were back on No 518. A quick trip back by car, with camera, and I realized the train was not hog-lawed, but instead working the plant. And it was sunny, with good southern exposure:
Ditch lights on, the train soon pulled east with two Norfolk Southern gondola empties lifted from the KIMCO spur on CN's Aluminum Spur remnant plus several tank cars for Invista.
Photographed from the plant road crossing of tank car track KM28:
The 1-4-4-4- numerals appear to have been stencilled on, not applied individually to the side of the cab.
A bit of blue diesel exhaust - movement was imminent.
The units started pulling east across the plant crossing, with Front Road crossing visible in the background. The crew was about to switch the tank car track, where at least two cuts of three cars waited. Having a driveway to shovel, I couldn't wait for this movement, as it wouldn't bring the units to the tank car track crossing, anyway.
But that didn't mean I couldn't shoot a quick video before I left!
And last but not least, Ron Visockis also shot CN 1444 leading CN No 518 back into Belleville from Cobourg on February 10 with empty centrebeams and covered hoppers. And more blue smoke!
Watch for an upcoming post on the plethoric panoply of units plying the spur over the years...from 3700's to 4100's through to unusual 3500's and 5300's.

Back at Invista - February 13 - INVX 38479 derailed. Rerailing activities at 1815 hours included several heavy-duty road cranes along Front Road. View from north side:
 View from south side:
Running extra...

Welcome to George Dutka's White River Division blog, now in Trackside Treasure's sidebar. A frequent collaborator with perennial train-show favourite Peter Mumby, George's blog is a constant supplier of visitors to this blog. George has just posted a seminal series of posts on woodchip boxcars!

This weekend - Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary extended by 30 minutes! Live from New York - it's Sunday night (well, the special broadcast, at least) including a red carpet pre-show. I 'm looking forward to it, I must say!

Ron Visockis photographed CN No 704 at Belleville, ON on February 12, led by brand-new CN 3034 and 2935 with the former soon to be renumbered 2934. Thanks, Ron!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

CN 52284 Scale Test Car Travels

On March 18, 1999 I observed CN 52284 spotted on CN's Millhaven Spur while I was aboard VIA No 64. Knowing that the unique scale test car, formerly a 34-foot cylindrical ore car, was in the area, my subsequent attempt at photographing the car from Taylor-Kidd Boulevard resulted in the unco-operative end to my Pentax Espio 115. That's why this post is sans prototype photographs, though I have included a photo (top) of my HO-scale kitbash of CN 52284. I checked CN's public (at the time) car trace system to follow it on its travels for almost two years, hoping to catch up with this unique car again. It appears CN 52284 was based in St Antoine QC, travelling widely to points on CN in eastern Canada as well as several shippers served by shortlines. 

Here's a non-exhaustive list of the CN family of scale test cars reveals the following:
CN 52104 2-axle
CN 52106 24' ore car
CN 52109 2-axle (now CANX 52109)
CN 52257 2-axle
CN 52258 2-axle
CN 52259 44' slab-side covered hopper
CN 52260 24' ore car
GTW 52264 2-axle
GTW 52265 2-axle
CN 52274 2-axle
CN 52277 2-axle
CN 52279 55' cylindrical covered hopper, black lettering (now CP 420943)
CN 52280 34' cylindrical ore car, black lettering
CN 52281 34' cylindrical ore car, black lettering
CN 52282 44' slab-side covered hopper
CN 52283 34' cylindrical ore car, white lettering
**CN 52284 34' cylindrical ore car, white lettering**
CN 52285 34' cylindrical ore car, white lettering
CN 52286 24' ore car

Here are the car trace results for CN 52284. I should add that public access to CN's car tracing system ended in October, 2001 in light of security concerns following the events of September 11, 2001. Before that, anyone with the toll-free phone number and access to a phone could punch in car numbers and find out the last/next location of almost any car on CN's system. Listings are shown as: location, province, CN track or railway name if other than CN, extended storage time:

Collins Bay ON DuPont KM29
Maitland ON KE25
Cardinal, ON KD71
Valleyfield, QC V077
St Antoine, B421
Becancour G120
Valleyfield AE93
St Antoine B458
Montreal Taschereau Yard MC84
Pointe ST Charles
Valleyfield V080
Riviere du Loup - to CBC
St Antoine B458
Tracy B640 - 1 month
Glen Robertson, ON - to OLOR
St Antoine B458 - 1 month
Toronto MacMillan Yard R023 - 10 days
North Bay - to ONR Noranda- 10 days
Quevillon, QC BQ55 via ONR/Senneterre
MonTas Yar 2 weeks
Leaside ON R396 - 2 weeks
Sarnia C017 Dec 27, 1999
Sarnia HA25 - 3 weeks
Weston - to CP/Bolton - 2 weeks
Tor Mac yard R023
Hamilton - to RLHH - 1 month
Hamilton A039
Port Robinson Yard JB40
Thorold, ON JT37
Welland (on NYLE)
Arvida, QC - to R-S - 1 week
Montreal Wharf
Mon Tas Yard MC73 - 2 weeks
Limoilou, QC CL05
Riviere du Loup - to CBC - 2 weeks
Mon Tas Yard MC84 - 2 weeks
St Antoine B458 - 1 week
Coteau Q064
Valleyfield V080
Tor Mac yard - 6 weeks
Clover Hill, NB - 3 months Sept 26-Dec 26/00
Moncton - on hold
Saint John, NB - to NBSR - 1 week
Trenton NS - to CBNS - 1 week, February/01

Here she is being switched at the Hiram Walker distillery (hic!) and in Northern Ontario with some little brothers.

Running extra...

It's locomotive week! First there's ContainerMan's  CN freight bucking drifts in Salisbury, NB which has become a YouTube sensation, jumping from 500,000 to 4,000,000 views in two days. Widely-shared video is about 49 seconds, though the full consist view is about 3 minutes.

The sad hospital train of 17 LRC units to Moncton IRSI in 2004. I'd start at the 4:50 mark!

Then there's my humble effort: finally catching CN GMD-1 1444 on CN No 518, switching CN's Cataraqui Spur, twice this week. Watch for an upcoming post! 
The snowstorm version, trailing 4125:
The sunny day version leading: