Monday, August 31, 2015

Montreal-North Bay, September 1985

On September 16, 1985 I was up early to board the eastbound Cavalier at Kingston at 0300. I was heading for Prince Rupert, BC. But first, I would leave Montreal aboard a diminutive VIA No 1, meeeting the Toronto section at Sudbury. We departed Montreal at 0930, two hours after I arrived on VIA No 58. Our consist was VIA 6789-9301-3246-500-Eldorado. I was taking up a seat in 3246, travelling on a $230 VIA Canrailpass, on which I'd rack up over 9,000 miles this trip, for a paltry 2.5 cents per mile!
We have just crossed the CP at De Beaujeu (top photo), which is Mi 35 of the CP Winchester Sub, and north of Glen Robertson on CN's Alexandria Sub at 1026. The CP track was important to capture, but moreso those classic Service cars! Passing through Maxville at Mi 34 of CN's Alexandria Sub, the station and feed mill loom over the rear of the Skyline, where I'm perched. Arrival at Ottawa at 1150 and a quick departure westward at 1200! An Ottawa-Montreal train and business cars are in the station:
CN SD's 5180-5078 lead an eastbound freight at Bells Corners, Mi 11 of CN's Beachburg Sub. We will traverse CP's Carleton Place Sub for 30 minutes before reaching Carleton Place, which is Mi 17 of CP's Chalk River Sub. I'm still in the dome:
Pastoral scene at Arnprior. Taken at 1334, we are now at Mi 40 of CP's Chalk River Sub. We're crossing a river that flows from Calabogie Lake into the Ottawa River (distant background).
Not a Sentimental Journey, edited by Jo Davis, includes this excerpt by Silver Donald Cameron, originally published in May of 1976 as "The Iron Road to Yesterday and Tomorrow". Up the Ottawa Valley. Old brick towns, progressively less spacious and charming as the train pushes north and west. Arnprior: water and dun brick and the warm tones of a falling sun. Renfrew, Pembroke, Chalk River at dusk. Reading and then dining as Moor Lake and Bass Lake and Deux Rivieres flip past, route of the voyageurs, and Mattawa. North Bay in the early evening."
A vehicle park at CFB Petawawa is visible to the north at 1448:
At 1515, we pull into the siding for a meet with No 2 just east of Chalk River. Normally, this would take place between Pembroke and Petawawa, but we are running about 30 minutes late. Strangely, I was not able to record No 2's consist! The crew is on the ground to inspect and line switches, and the shadow of No 2's consist is just visible on the main track ahead. Vestibule view:
That meet complete, we're backing out of the siding:
Five minutes later, a meet with an eastbound freight just departing Chalk River behind CP 5540-5916-5500 with a priority train of TOFC, COFC and auto racks.
Angus van CP 434539 tails the train, and interestingly, would be the number of the Rapido Trains Angus van that would operate on my HO scale layout thirty years later!
In the yard at Chalk River, some interesting Service cars are visually blocked by equally-interesting Century 4714. Now at Mi 115 of the Chalk River Sub, we'll soon be on CP's North Bay Sub.
Five miles west of Chalk River, we are rounding a curve with a clear signal up ahead:
Later in the afternoon at 1700, CP boarding cars are in the siding at Mattawa, Mi 72 of the North Bay Sub. We are 35 minutes late.
Entering North Bay, Ontario Northland's shops are to the north, and their tracks hold more interesting M-o-W cars!
CP-leased Chessie System units 3739-3714 keep ONR and CN barrel ore cars company:
At Sudbury, our consist(*) will lose 6789 and 9301 which will remain in Sudbury, as will 3030 from the Toronto section, VIA No 9. Toronto power 6557-6631 will take over, leading 616-126-3246*-500*-5752-Cameron Manor-Hunter Manor-Bayfield Manor-Chateau Rouville-Louise-Eldorado*-Algonquin Park west. During our station stop at North Bay, a freight crew awaits their train:
I arrived at Portage la Prairie at 2112 the next night, for a short stopover before heading west. You can find the next leg of my trip in this Vestibule View post between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, plus an overview of the trip with train orders, westward and eastward.

Running extra...

Years after this route was cut from the VIA network in 1990, there is still abiding interest in its history and operations involving CP and VIA Rail on CP's Carleton Place Sub. Of course, at the time of my trip I thought nothing of it. I certainly couldn't predict the future and was just having a whale of a time riding through the Canadian Shield!

A feeling of being present while history was being made. This may seem triVIAl to you, however...while tabulating some CN-to-VIA F-unit transition data on my front step this week, it occurred to me that I observed VIA FPA4 6790 in CN paint on April 6, 1979. It was repainted into VIA colours on May 25, and I observed it in its new guise on June 19! If only I'd taken photos of these minty new repaints at the time - it would have made a nice album!

Acting on a heads-up from Malcolm, I was able to catch brand-new CN ET44AC 3009 leading CN train No 306 at Kingston. I also photographed anniversary flamey unit 2115 at a weedy Collins Bay on August 15:
Election fever in both our great North American nations is leading to outrageous statements, impossible promises and photo ops galore. Attack ads may 'work' but they are distinctly un-Canadian in my opinion. Politicians - why don't you stress the positive aspects of your platform instead of trying to weaken your competitor's platform by puerile removal of planks from underneath them?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ten Model Railroad Myths

How's this? In the seminal movie classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", the knights' quest takes them to a towering castle facade. Each knight exclaims in turn...Camelot! Camelot! Camelot! A realist, the coconut-clopping patsy named Patsy, played by Terry Gilliam, derisively speaks his only line in the entire movie, "It's only a model." Finally, a realist. 

And this? Our local newspaper includes the jottings of a religion columnist - a retired minister - who doesn't write about religion so much as he writes about his doubts about religion. In the spirit of both these viewpoints, I present my derisively-doubting realist approach to ten model railroad myths that are held up to us as the holy grail - but are really only facades.

I humbly present each myth, followed by a likely comeback from a hypothetical proponent, and my comeback to that comeback. 

Myth 1: First, prepare the room! Paint. Install lighting. Hang valances. Build benchwork you can have a barn dance on. Lay roadbed, thereby forever condemning yourself to not easily changing your trackplan. Build fascia that dominates the scene and may diminish viewing of the trains. By the time all this is done, your enthusiasm is gone as is the chance of ever changing your trackplan. Build fascia that dominates the scene and may diminish viewing of the trains. By the time all this is done, your enthusiasm is gone and the chance of ever finishing this model empire is Slim to Nil. And Slim just left town. 
Comeback - a beautifully-appointed layout room begets a great layout. 
My comeback - a beautifully-appointed room can still house an incomplete, unsatisfying layout.
Myth 2: Big staging is critical to good operation. Noooo! 
Comeback - we need staging to organize our trains before we 'bring them onstage.'
My comeback - unless yours is a really large layout, no ya don't. Build a yard, call it a yard, use it as a yard.
Myth 3: Acquire your entire rolling stock fleet first. Don't do it. It's like diving in feet-first. You'll have shelves of locomotives and cars that you will never use and will have to offer them at remaindered prices on Ebay. 
Comeback - these are limited-run items and I don't want to miss out.
My comeback - buy one locomotive and five cars. Have fun with them first.
Myth 4: Multi-level layouts provide more realistic-length train runs and operation. No, they may make you into a contortionist who has to bend down to knee height or stand on a step-stool to reach your train. Every layout does not need a helix! 
Comeback - I need multiple levels to have more operation. 
My comeback - Have you ever seen a multi-level prototype? OK, here's one, a copper mine:
Myth 5: Kadee couplers and uncoupling tools are the most realistic means of coupling and uncoupling. Have  you ever seen a giant uncoupling tool come down out of the sky on the prototype?
Comeback - You use X2F couplers and I've never seen a giant 0-5-0 hand come down out of the sky and lift a car up to uncouple it!
My comeback - well, that's true. But I don't have to  look for an uncoupling tool every time I am switching.
Myth 6: Pie-in-the-sky, super-sized prototype local incorporation. usually comes across like this: "I am looking for prototype photos and detailed information about operations for my proposed layout. I will be modelling CN's mainline from Toronto to Vancouver in N scale." This can never happen!  Bet it will look like track glued to a board, like many other layouts. Keep it small, do-able and local. 
Comeback - why limit myself? I want big scope and the ability to model areas that are widely-separated geographically but still interest me.
My comeback - nobody will believe it, unless you are building a Disney-sized attraction in a building the size of Costco.
Myth 7: Great layouts need to be replicated on my layout. Be careful of this one. Are you creating your own layout? Or are you reproducing someone else's locale, concept, trackplan and/or the 'look' of their layout?
Comeback - the experts have some great ideas that I want to incorporate.
My comeback - do so! Just don't let your layout use someone else's layout as a prototype.

Myth 8: I am still refining my layout's trackplan using software brand X, specifically created for this purpose. Don't spend too long - you'll get bogged down as you drag curvaceous curly-cues all over your computer screen, and you won't even make it to the step in Myth 1 above. Either draw it on a cocktail napkin or just start building it. 
Comeback - I need this computer-generated design so that I can guild my ridiculously-cetailed cardboard mockup of my layout room - the next step in the design process.
My comeback - that will keep you farther away than ever from reaching the step in Myth 1.

Myth 9 - I need car reversible car-cards with those little mini-cards showing lading, one for every car, so that each car has a believable origin and destination. Why limit yourself? Come up with your own operation system that is flexible and fun, easy, and likely much cheaper. Are you a gamer, or are you a model railroader, after all?
Comeback - I need my car cards, the fascia pockets to put them in, I need to hold them, my uncoupling tool and my throttle in my hands at all times. 
My comeback - you are not a squirrel gathering nuts here. The train will run whether you have all the car cards in hand or not.
Myth 10: It's only craftsman structure kits for my layout. Expensive ones with excruciatingly exact detail. Are you building a diorama or a model railroad here? Decide!
Comeback - I enjoy building scintillating scale structures and they're necessary for prototype fidelity. 
My comeback - build structures that represent your interest and add inexpensively to the feel of your layout. And for goodness' sake, if you do build nice kits, especially back-dated period structures, don't use Helvetica rub-on lettering to add the company name. This goes for cutesy names like I.M. Offal Meat Packing Company!
So that's it. Consider false-front buildings. Lots of western towns had them. They made buildings look imposing from the dusty street, but in reality they were just regular buildings with imposing fronts. Look past model railroad myths, just as you would a false front building. Get behind the facade and think. Consider whether it's a myth or reality, then really enjoy your model railway!

I can operate the Super Continental on the floor with my cat watching, capture it on video and post it on Youtube. This is actually true. A loyal Trackside Treasure reader has done just that, and it allows him and his viewers alike to relish the memories of the early VIA Rail era while getting scale wheels rolling. Well done!

Full disclosure: I've been a model railroader for decades. I've read and re-read stacks of model railway magazines. I've clipped articles about modelling ideas that interest me. Lots of stuff that doesn't goes right in the blue recycling box. I've built a few HO-scale layouts. They're not the world's best, but I have run thousands of trains, around and around or back-and-forth. And I've loved doing it. You don't have to be exactly like me, or share all my opinions, but consider some of the above. Keep moving along the mainline to modelling enjoyment!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Super Continental Consists, August 1978

A good story always starts in the middle. Loyal Trackside Treasure reader Elijah Hall, a Super Continental fan, recently posted some consist information online which got me researching my 1978 VIA Super trip consists. CP`s Canadian and CN`s Super Continental, having been assimilated by VIA Rail, went through considerable operational change in a short period before the Super Continental was cancelled in 1981. But it's a long trip back to wallow in what little nostalgia we can find about this most interesting early VIA era.

CN GP-9 4569 is combining the Montreal and Toronto sections of the Super Continental in Capreol, ON in August, 1978 in 40 minutes (above). VIA No 3 departed Toronto at 2330, while the Montreal section, VIA No 1 departed Montreal at 2120. Both arrived at Capreol shortly after 0800 the next morning and departed westward, combined, at 0930. Eastward, VIA No 4 departed Portage la Prairie at 1650, departed Winnipeg at 1915, arrived the next night at Capreol at 2250, and was again switched: No 4 departed Capreol at 2359 for Toronto, arriving 0730. No 2 departed Capreol at 2355, arriving Montreal at 1025.

Note that in August of 1978 CN and CP had not yet merged their passenger car fleets - that would be another two months away. So, CN and CP lines each hosted trains numbered 1 and 2, both under the aegis of VIA and shown on adjacent pages in the system timetable.

(A bonus consist that I noted at Union Station prior to our departure west on August 14: baggage-coach-5603-5718-Entre-Nous-1350-Endeavour-Edwardsville-Everett-Riviere Cloche-Inwood. I'm not sure whether this represents another Super consist, but my guess is that it does.)

Our train ex Toronto (V = VIA colours):
6506V-6602V-6619V-9673-5531-5569-760-5703-Endako-Elizabeth-Greenshields-Cape Brule. At the Hornepayne station stop at 1830, I scampered up the embankment near the station to snap a photo of the scene: our dinette in CN colours in the foreground, with a CN GP-9, snowplow and auxiliary crane, coaling tower and shop are visible:
Another note, likely west of Capreol while walking the train:
EndakoV- EdwardsvilleV-ElizabethV-1350-5703V-5718V-InwoodV

A couple of days after arriving at Portage, here`s a subsequent No 3 at Portage la Prairie, MB Aug 17
6515-6607V-6502V-9643-5618-5467V-5653-762V-5700V-5710-EngleeV-Entwistle-Greenwood-HarmonieV-1367V-EricksonV-Ellerslie-Enfield-Clearwater River-InvermayV
No 4 at Portage la Prairie, MB Aug 21 (above) is very similar to the westbound August 17 consist.
6515-6607V-6502V-9643-5474-5618-5467V-5653-762V-5700V-5710-EngleeV-Entwistle-Greenwood-BonsoirV-1367V-EricksonV-Ellerslie-Enfield-InvermayV-CN business car Bonaventure (below)
No 4 power at Portage la Prairie, MB Aug 25 as we departed east.
No 4 at Winnipeg, power change: MLW at Winnipeg!

No 4 consist note, not necessarily in order:
5707-5729-Emerson-Elmira-Green Lane-Harmonie-1376 and 9631, Clearwater River.

Well, as I've mentioned in all posts in this series, my note-taking was in its early phase. My technique became better and more useful as the years progressed. Lots of jotting at this point. In green marker, no less! This was my first VIA Rail journey outside the Corridor, but it would definitely not be my last, nor my last on the Super Continental. It was overwhelming to see and ride on such a passenger panorama of plethoric proportions, approaching the rainbow or circus-train era of VIA, when ex-CN and ex-CP cars would mix together in VIA, CN and CP colours. For now, CN and VIA was colourful enough. Oh, and a stainless steel-clad business car to boot. Whoa!

For train-bound kids or nostalgia-bound rail enthusiasts, these cardboard cutouts were like gold. Given out on-board, they included a description of each part of the train - locomotives, coach and Sceneramic dome. The CN set includes FP9 6516 and an F9B 6616 as power:
Interestingly, the VIA/CN set also includes the same power, and all the equipment is now wearing the VIA/CN scheme, a transition scheme between CN and VIA ownership, with the small CN later removed from the prototype.
It would have been ideal if these sets could have been augmented with expander sets including E-series sleepers, diners, Dayniters etc, to allow budding VIAphiles to simulate an entire train. But I digress.

Running extra...

Part of a promised continuing series of meme-per-post:
OK just one more based on Straight Outta Compton. Hey look! An FPB4 behind that dude:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Portage-Toronto on the Super Continental, August 1978

My sister and I are waiting to depart Portage a Prairie on Friday, August 25, 1978. We had spent a few days visiting relatives after arriving on the westbound Super Continental. After boarding our Dayniter, we were seated in the car's smoking area until Winnipeg. By the way, Burlington Northern sold me that GN Rocky travel bag for $5.00! 
Observed into Winnipeg:
9471, 9586, 9489, 9597, 9591, 79451, 79479
Winnipeg: CN 4239, 1069, and lots of switchers:1368, 1366, 1357, 7180, 7224, 7159, 1362, 7176.
Cabooses 79741, 79239, 79703, 78362 end-cupola, 79550
2023 WB 9662-5059
Overnight, 20-30 young female Junior Rangers boarded at Sioux Lookout around 0400. They were distraught about leaving their male Junior Rangers behind - lots of tears for miles, keeping us awake!
More notes, again showing the domination of GP40-2L(W)'s on CN's northern Ontario freights, as well as the number of wooden, end-cupola cabooses still in service:
Saturday, August 26, 1978
WB 9655-9481
WB 9547-9640-79605
0915WB 9626-9629-9424-79589
WB 9484-9517-79270
9610, 9632 (photo above), 9571, 9508, 9466, 4517
Cabooses 79712, 79699, 79599, 79239, 79703, 78905 end-cupola, 79603, 79706
WB 5535-9552-79325
WB 9540-9524-9559-79200
At 1600 9604-9599-79863
WB 1618 9557-9560-79690
9652, 9538, 5581
At 1636 Oba: ACR 159-168, caboose AC 9605
Hornepayne 4517
Super supper! Hot beef sandwich.

Sunday, August 27, 1978
9663, 9666
Cabooses 79573, 78362 end-cupola, 79550, 79540, 79861
Capreol 9410
Sudbury 1264, CP 7011
Orillia 79389, 78437 end-cupola.
4508 separating Toronto and Montreal sections at Capreol
We were the first to board the train in Toronto. Train was fast to Kingston. Arrived 10 minutes late. Arriving back in Kingston (below - L.C. Gagnon photographs). His photo caption (second photo below) noted that Dr and Mrs Eugene Forsey were boarding the train. Dr Forsey was a Canadian constitutional expert and former Senator.

After crossing under the tracks to the parking lot, check the classic late-70s vehicles in this photo of the three-unit train departing eastward.

Running extra...

Meme-a-post, this time with a certain front-man. Guess who!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Toronto-Portage on the Super Continental, August 1978

On August 14, 1978 my sister and I departed Toronto aboard VIA train No 3, the westbound Super Continental. Posh and palatial (well, a cut above a coach) we travelled aboard one of VIA's ex-CN Dayniters. At the time, offered as a spacious, comfortable cocoon for those willing to pay a little more, these cars had reclining seats with footrests, crazy colours and other perks. VIA pitched them as 'attractive deluxe coach type accommodation for daytime and overnight comfort...offering the comfort of individual adjustable reclining deep-cushioned seats with padded leg rests, fully carpeted floor, and a quiet trip all around with special acoustic sound-proofing. The fold-away table also serves as a handy work-space.' All for a small additional charge of $8.00 one way! Sample seat scene:
A 2330 departure from Toronto's Union Station, which we had reached aboard VIA's Turbo from Kingston the previous evening, meant that if it was morning, this must be Capreol! Here, the Montreal section, VIA No 1 would also arrive shortly after 0800. Both sections would be combined and No 1 would depart westward at 0930. In the other direction, No 4 reached Capreol late evening, to be split into No 2 to Montreal and No 4 to Toronto. 
Snowplow-service shrouded 4530, Geeps at the Capreol roundhouse (above) and the view of the other side of the tracks, Marshy Lake during our 40-minute station stop (below - camera verification photo). This parental-provided camera would soon malfunction, and be swapped from a Kodak 126 to a Kodak 110-format.
Monday, August 14, 1978
Fourteen year-old passenger notes: The ride in these things [Dayniters] is fantastic! Ate dinner in the diner, also played bingo in the diner in the evening.
Some CN observations along the way into Northern Ontario, roughly in order though my notes (a sample - above) are a little scattered! Notice the near-total domination of CN road freights powered by GP40-2L(W)'s:
5095-5515, 9655
9485, 9646, 9506, 9475, 9443, 9544, 9648
VIA 6772-6624V (Power at Capreol from Montreal?)
EB freight 9512-9589
9572, 9623, 5572, 9417, 9625, 9519, 9563, 9630, 9522, 9503, 9469, 9556
Cabooses 79861, 79338, 79533, 79386, 79643, 79427, 79384, 79865, 79467, 79358, 79397, 79429, 79863.
View from the Dayniter window near Gogama, led by two CN-painted units and a VIA-painted F9B:
CN 5095-9655 are at Hornepayne at 1830, perhaps ready to follow us westward:
Tuesday, August 15, 1978:
0843 EB 9453-5536-9441-79216
5020, 5179, 9667, 9504, 4498, 4407, 4408, 4409, 9546, 9642, 9481
Cabooses 79846, 79369, 78919 end-cupola, 79299.
Oba - ACR Geeps 159-166
EB 9650-9445-9459-79419
Winnipeg - switchers 7206-caboose 79506, 7209, 7224, 7162, 9407-9529 EB, 9585, 9515, 9531 and
VIA Elderbank, Chaleur Bay, Mount Resplendent, Petitcodiac River at Winnipeg.

We arrived on time. Trainwatching trackside in Portage la Prairie ensued. Each night, sunburnt and sleepy, it was time to document the trains seen that day. I could have been sleeping, but I'm glad I documented these details, now that it's 37 years later! Next post - returning to Toronto from Portage.
Running extra...

Just added to Trackside Treasure's sidebar - Bernard Kempinski's intriguing US Military Railroads Virginia 1863 blog, starting with eclectic Civil War model railroading in O scale, but also covering other tangentially-tantalizing topics.

OK, one more meme. This one for Steve Boyko, and it's a pet peeve of mine, from Grumpy Cat:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kingston-Toronto on the Turbo, August 1978

On August 13, 1978 my sister and I boarded Turbo 126-151 at Kingston commencing our VIA land-cruise to Manitoba aboard the Super Continental. Some notes from the trip up the Kingston Sub (see bottom photo for the actual notes) follow. General notes on the Turbo experience by this 14 year-old: Very good seats. Dirty windows. Balky motion. Tables useful. Easier to look out window acrosss aisle. Seats in front were back too far. Great speed. Push cart selling gold-topped cans of Quebec beer - Ex, 50, Carlsberg and O'Keefe.
The nattily-dressed crewman wears a CN noodle logo pin on his jacket (above). I am toting my just-arrived-from-Burlington Northern's-souvenir collection GN Rocky logo travel bag.

1758 - Eastbound Turbo at Kingston VIA 125-153
1810 - Departed
1821 - Coronation Boulevard
1823 - Ernestown Township Water Tank
1826 - Ernestown Station
1833 - Napanee: work train cars, Southern Railway box car, UP flat car
1839 - Gondolas on siding
1846 - Small airport

1848 - Belleville -  Yard switchers 1325, 1296, 1297, 1298, 1314, B-unit 9190 and cabooses 79576, 79518, 79701, 79454. Rule Instruction Car 15025

1850 - Met eastbound VIA (the Exec?) at Belleville
1900 - Trent Canal
1910 - Large quarry
1912 - Met eastbound Rapido
1920 - Cobourg
1925 - Port Hope, work train.
1933 - CP freight with two Centuries, one F-unit passing train, then passed another CP freight
1943 - Met CN freight with two cabooses
1944 - Came alongside Highway 401
1945 - Passed auto racks
1947 - St Mary's Cement
1950 - Oshawa Yards
1955 - Met EB Ontarian RDCs
1957 - New GO bilevels with GO locomotives 701 and 906 westbound
2025 - Passed GO train
2026 - Passed TTC subway yard
2030 - Arrived Toronto

Three hours later we would board a chartreuse-carpeted comfortable Dayniter to continue our trip.

Running extra...

This begins what has began a four-part series on this trip west. Inspired by an excellent Facebook post by loyal Trackside Treasure reader and Super Continental devotee Elijah Warner Hall. Having arrived in 1978 Toronto, we board the Super to head North and West (you know, like Kim and Kanye's baby), return east aboard the Super, and examine Super Continental consists.

Did you know...that Isambard Kingdom Brunel (none of those names appears in birth announcements these days) designed the Box tunnel so that the sun would shine directly through from east to west on his birthday, April 9? So for one day each year, there is indeed...light at the end of the tunnel.

We'll conclude this, the first post of Trackside Treasure's eighth year with a meme! Actually, each post! We'll alternate between Anchorman, Burton Cummings, one of the federal party leaders, and the Trivago Guy. Who else should be in the rotation?