Saturday, April 29, 2017

CN's Kingston Wayfreights, Part 1 - Introduction

Kingston has long been served by CN wayfreights, although having observed these trains for decades, it wasn't always easy to know their operating patterns. This three-part series will include Kingston Sub operations, local cars and consists, and Cataraqui Spur operations. CN 4401 totes seven cars and caboose 79905 westbound towards Belleville at Mi 189 Kingston Sub at 1629 on January 30, 1986 (top photo).

Here are some things I do know:
  • wayfreights were based in Belleville, Kingston and Brockville.
  • at least one locomotive was based in Kingston until the mid-1980's, when operations from CN's Outer Station ceased.
  • Queens has always been an operational point for Kingston, particularly for the handling of inbound and outbound local traffic.
  • power assigned to locals was RS-18's and GP-9's, singly or more recently in pairs.
  • remanufactured GP9RM's became assigned power in 1990.
  • other power occasionally observed included: SW1200RS, M420, GP38-2, SD40-2W, or GMD-1's, singly or in combinations or pairs.
  • Montreal-Toronto maid-of-all-work roadswitcher trains Nos 317 and its eastbound Toronto-Montreal counterpart No 318 (referred to in this post henceforth as "317/318") traversed the Kingston Sub for many years, lifting and setting out cuts of cars at all yards and operational points.

From pre-1976 until the late-1980's, 317/318 would depart their respective originating terminals, recrewing en route, with each train taking at least 24 hours to arrive at its respective destination terminal. Check out this locomotive consist - Departing Mac Yard with seven units in 1984. No 317 would reach Brockville at 1100, departing west at 1700, with No 318 arriving Brockville late afternoon, not departing until evening.
On a rainy evening -  September 20, 1987 at 1846 - 317 passes Kingston's VIA station (above and below) behind 9473-2037. The paltry consist of seven cars includes a carbon black car, covered hoppers, tank cars, Railbox and a deadheading snowplow.

While 317/318 were operating, they worked online yards like Kingston, lifting cars left by the local switcher and leaving behind other cars to be spotted at local industries. They acted as through trains in addition to their role as roadswitcher, carrying through cars for the destinations in the second half of their consists. Online yards were worked off the head-end, and in some case off the tail-end of 317/318. Non-priority maintenance-of-way or non-revenue cars handled at reduced speeds included boarding car outfits, rails, ties, ballast and track supplies, bad-order cars for repair, scale test cars, snow-fighting equipment and dimensional loads. 

A CN schedule for No 318 dated 1974:
Powered by a grab-bag of CN power, these trains were not necessarily long, but made up in local interest what they lacked in length! On April 5, 1981, 317 handled three covered, burnt-out Turbo cars. On May 2, 1982, 318 handled damaged Railiner 6107. My brother Dave made a regular study of No 317 which would roll through Kingston and Amherstview nightly after 2000 hrs. He recently posted some photos of No 317 lifting its train out of Queens 4 in 1983 and charging across Counter Street crossing and on to the VIA station.

Some operational intricacies included the Friday night switching of Kingston's DuPont plant on the Cataraqui Spur. The crew of No 317 would take the local power from Queens to DuPont, switch the plant then take unit and cars west to Belleville - such as CN 3714 and four cars that headed down the Cat Spur on May 18, 1984.

Interestingly, since the hey-day of 317/318, those same train numbers have been used by CN up to and including 1999-2000, and for extra trains handling dimensional loads. 
A mix of CN motive power, including eclectic consists of road power and road switchers, some of the latter likely set off at intermediate points. Note the initial caboose on the head-end of 317's consists - this was quite a common practice.
  • May 13/82 1957 WB No 317: 9540-9551-9568-9512-9598-4416, cabooses 79306-79386-79562-79620-79238-79716-79769, PGE 5163 boxcar, caboose 79508.
  • July 13/82 1945 WB No 317: 9516-9520, 79532, UTLX tank cars, GTW gondola, cabooses 76674-79222.
  • Aug 18/82 1514 EB No 318: 5517-3711, CN boxcars, gondolas, covered hoppers, Canada Starch tank car CSTX 58, caboose 79671. 47 cars.
  • Oct 15/82 1550 EB No 318: 2005-4533, NCTX and UTLX tank cars, CN boxcars and covered hoppers, caboose 79214.
  • Jun 22/83 1950 WB No 317: 4401-4226-3696, BCR boxcar, NCTX and UTLX tank cars, SCLAIR 44605 covered hopper, caboose 79237.
  • Aug17/84 2300 WB No 317: 2515-2037-3129-3697-4133, Southern covered hopper, RBOX boxcar, BCR bulkhead flat, scale test car CN 52277, caboose 79626.
Lifts and setouts made by 317/318 spawned wayfreights all along CN's Kingston Sub. In this area:
  • Belleville - wayfreights to Cobourg, Bowmanville, Napanee, Strathcona, Picton, Ernestown, Millhaven and Bath, such as CN No 526 to Kingston.
  • Brockville - wayfreights serving DuPont, Genstar and Liquid Carbonic (departing 0900, returning 1600) and Prescott, Johnston, Cardinal and Morrisburg (departing 1300, returning 1930) such as Nos 532, 590 to Brockville east, 591 to Cornwall, and 765.
An August 1983 CN Kingston Sub wayfreight schedule lists the following, (including assigned locomotive on August 1, 1984!), origin-destination, lv. and arr. times, and frequency:
  • CN No 526 Eng 3728 Belleville-Gananoque 0700-1500 Ex Sun
  • CN No 528 Eng 4224 Belleville-Oshawa 0745-1545 Ex Sat Sun
  • CN No 588 Eng 3738 Kingston-Gananoque 0800-1600 Ex Sun
  • CN No 590 Eng 1300 Brockville-Prescott 0900-1700 Ex Sat Sun
Note that these are daytime, weekday turns with two operating through Kingston each weekday.

Watch for an upcoming post profiling Belleville-based wayfreights into the present. In the meantime, here's a May, 2022 summary of CN No 518's work between Belleville and Kingston on a sample day:

A 1988 CN car control manual for the afternoon Brockville yard assignment included instructions for switching 317/318 usually yarded KF62-KF65, marshalling westbound cars for 317 in KF63, and eastbound cars for 318 makeup in KF62, switching local traffic for 590 to KF65, plus switching the yarded train No 590.

Paul Charland kindly shared two photos of Nos 317/318. Here is a five-unit locomotive consist: three Geeps, an S and an SW with No 317 at the Bartholomew Street crossing in March, 1981:
Paul's photo of CN No 318 is taken from the former Brockville & Westport as it enters Brockville yard with dimensional loads on the head-end, a normal part of the train on Sundays. In both photos, tankcars and covered hoppers are prevalent:

As I admitted at the outset of this post, it's difficult to conclusively say, in retrospect, how the operating patterns of 317/318 and the local wayfreights overlapped in a given year. It's fair to state that 317/318 worked Belleville, Kingston and Brockville, with wayfreights operating:
  • Belleville-Kingston-Belleville
  • Brockville-Kingston-Brockville and
  • Brockville-Kingston-Belleville
in various eras, as online industries opened or closed, their requirements for rail service expanding and/or contracting due to the economy, Free Trade and technological advances. In part two of this series we look at the cars handled for local industries and in part three Cataraqui Spur operations.

Running extra...
It's been a banner first week with 40 copies of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections leaving the Shipping Department, er, kitchen table, all going to good homes! It's great to see half of the new owners ordering with new and convenient Interac E-transfer option. The book 'launch' held last Monday night at Kingston's VIA station was fun! (above).

Now that the nice weather is here, my winter book project has become my summer walking program. Work breaks, formerly used for book creation, are now spent walking the tree-lined streets, pleasant avenues and winsome waterfront of Kingston's Sydenham district. The streets have been choked with U-Hauls as Queen's U-students change locations for the summer, sometimes executing U-turns!
Fun fact: the item discarded most often left behind on Kingston sidewalks is not the ubiquitous cigarette butt nor even the winter-elliptical Tim Hortons cup. No, it's the lowly hairpin. After passing them, I usually circle back to double-check, thereby executing a hairpin turn!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Book! Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections

I'm proud to announce the launch of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections, my fourth book on VIA Rail. The idea for this book was planted last fall, and it's sprouted this spring. Professionally printed by Allan Graphics here in Kingston, with graphic design by Bryan Babcock, I'm especially proud of this fourth volume. It's perhaps the most 'personal' of the four. If a picture tells a thousand words, two Youtube videos should be worth quite a few more: What's In This Book? and Behind the Scenes.
With 20 more pages than my second book published in 2012, including a 10-page colour section, there has been no price increase. And postage within Canada is still included in the price of $35! As with all my other books, I aim to keep the price reasonable, encouraging sharing of the information it contains. Getting it out there for posterity!
The best place to check out all the details? I encourage you to check out my New VIA Rail Book blog, which is at top right of Trackside Treasure's sidebar. There you'll find information on the book and its creation, but more importantly my email address for Interac e-transfer through a Canadian financial institution, alternaively a printable order form if you'd care to order with a cheque or money order by snail mail in the US or Canada.

I usually ship within two business days when an order is received. Each book is shipped in a padded mailer with cardboard stiffener, and can be signed if desired. I'll be here at Kingston station platform at 6 pm for a one-hour launch for local railfans:
So how is this book different and why? Why does it deserve a place on your bookshelf? I think you'll find within its covers a nice mix of text, data and photos. Maybe you can find some of this information elsewhere.  But it won't be all in one place for your perusal. And frankly, some of this information is not available elsewhere. Not only is there research, data and photos of mine, but also of my contributor team: Tim Hayman, Don McQueen, Mark Perry and Mark Sampson brought their expertise in modelling, locomotives and VIA operations in Northern Manitoba and VIA's Canadian, respectively.

Let's face it - there are very few books on VIA Rail out there. I've listed the only ones in existence in my first book, and I've added two published since then in this book. Now there is one more!
Trip accounts from throughout VIA's history, and consists from 1981 to 2016 comprise the 'personal' parts of the book. Not knowing my Dad had saved consists that I'd lost track of (no pun intended), I've included them, plus accounts of VIA trips made by my parents, as well as photos of VIA operations taken by my Dad and my brother in the 1980's. All in one convenient package! Bryan was kind enough to deliver the first print run to my house, which we eagerly opened and posed for our graphic designer/book creator photo! Now that's service!
Just the facts:
  • Trackside with VIA: Research & Recollections
  • $35 delivered anywhere in Canada
  • 126 pages
  • 106 B&W photos
  • 78 colour photos
  • colour covers
  • 10-page colour section
  • all the details here!
***As always, thank you for your interest in my books and I trust you'll enjoy them 
as much as I enjoyed creating them.*** 
- Eric

Running extra...

Interestingly, on this date in 1955, Canadian Pacific launched its Canadian and Canadian National launched the Super Continental. On the same date in 1977, VIA Rail issued its first joint timetable! And now, forty years later, this book launch!

Coming full circle - my Dad's influence, photography and trip accounts figure prominently in this book. He was trackside on April 24, 1955 with camera in hand as the first Canadian streaked west through Dorval at 1320 hours on a grubby, greasy weather day that disappointed press photographers but not an intrepid CPR man like my Dad! Thanks to book contributor Mark Sampson for reminding me of this launch date!
A rough calculation provides an answer for 'how long did this take you?' Working during coffee breaks at work through the fall, winter and spring I reckon about a full month of 8-hour days. But I wasn't really counting!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre, Part 2

In Part 1 of my visit to VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre (TMC), I had made it nearly to Kipling. Rounding the bend north toward Horner St, I came upon this little rail-served industry - National Silicates' Toronto plant. Several covered hoppers like GACX 3351-3280-3189, SHPX 432106-432494 and tank car TILX 170110 were here:
Great views available through fencing:
For your model structure-building pleasure:
Heading back along Judson, past the imposing building with few entrances but orange-jumpsuited occupants, euphemistically named the Toronto South Detention Centre and Intermittent Facility, I kept walking. Nearby were several rockpiles, but not for breaking. Ah, Kingston convictions were calling!
Back atop the Islington overpass, I observed a vintage Tamper and bilevels everywhere. A similar facility near Oshawa is a-building, and the long servicing buildings looked similar (above). This fine old station is now a community centre/presentation centre for On the Go (almost literally) condominiums. Or is that condominia? It's enough to give me insomnia! But no, I had a train to catch, otherwise I would be forever marooned in Mimico!
With so many tracks to choose from, I once again assumed my meerkat stance, peering at the screens. Found my track for the 16:21 from Mimico back to Toronto Union:
Deadheading 6456 backed toward Toronto out of the TMC, followed by VIA No 650's consist that I'd travelled on just that morning:
Classic ex-CP 8127 ping-pong paddling on the tail-end:
My ride, led by GO 660, came in before 650's equipment got a light to head east. 
Here was 6456 back at Toronto Union. A westbound from the Kingston Sub nosed onto it, and the doubleheader left westbound at 1803. The sight of such a doubleheader caused railfan pandemonium throughout southwestern Ontario.
One of the new Crash Energy Management (CEM) coaches, 4000, was on a westbound all Metrolinx-scheme train: 356-4000-2852-2847-2838-2848-2845-2859-2846-2856-2851-2843-663:
Ah, the siren song of the CANADA 150 cars lured my lens. There is still a 20:1 ratio of CANADA 150 locomotives:cars based on online photo posting. Doing my part to right the imbalance, here's 3353 on an eastbound at 1757:
The four Canadian divisions in action at Vimy Ridge in April 1917 are represented by this logo on Business Class cars, both HEP and LRC. Though the division colours are not in numerical order, they are in order for their relative positions in the line during that battle. The Vimy Foundation distributed pins on VIA trains, during the centenary of the actual battle dates.
The Vimy Foundation still makes these pins available for $5. They are substantial, both in composition and in historical significance. Thanks to Jonathan Barton for this one:
Return to Kingston was aboard VIA No 48 917-3461-3370-3361Canada 150-3302Ren-3371-905Canada 150. I was surprised that though I expected VIA to steal the show at Mimico, there was more than enough CN and GO nearby to keep the walk interesting! 

Running extra...
Expect an April 24 launch for my latest book on VIA Rail. Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections has been an over-the-winter project. Watch the New VIA Rail Book blog, uppermost in Trackside Treasure's right sidebar for updates. In the meantime, enjoy some of the VIA memorabilia in this promotional VIAdeo.

This VIAdeo has it all: CANADA 150 and Kingston Transit after an eastbound trip down the Corridor. It is provided as a public service to Trackside Treasure's Portuguese-speaking readers. Feliz Pascoa!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre, Part 1

An early morning arrival into Toronto aboard VIA No 651 was not quite early enough to make it to outdoors to catch Amtrak No 64's departure for New York City. But I was able to snap VIA 916 with the CANADA 150 wrap (top photo). There are ten more Youtube videos posted here from this day's visit. The trainshed continues to grow ever brighter, making rail enthusiast photography easier than ever. Check out the VIAish orange paint:
With time on my hands later in the day, I decided I had enough time to make it out to Toronto's Maintenance Centre. A trip over to the new GO Transit concourse brought me to a ticket agent who not only answered my questions about how the heck to get to Mimico (Willowbrook? she helpfully suggested) but then printed off a Googlemap with directions for me to take along. Just the kind of assistance I needed - thank you very much! I gratefully plunked down my $11.48 for the return fare, then I acted like a Metro meerkat peering up at the screens looking for my departure track for the 14:13 aboard cab car 253. Here's my route, starting from the Mimico GO station at top right.
The entrance sign has seen better days. Perhaps rampaging hordes of VIAphiles have dislodged the planks in its platform. Security waits at left to discourage nosy neophyte notetakers:
Suddenly sumac. VIA 909, an LRC car and coach 8113 awaited camouflaged behind the spider-like sumac sprigs:
I didn't really expect to have this visual VIA visiting opportunity. So Googlemap in hand, I trucked along to see what I could see from public access areas, with a definite dearth of pre-arrival research. Cityscape sign:
Realizing that the Toronto home of those Lantic sugar destination of those CGMX/LATX covered hoppers was nearby (watch for an upcoming post) I took a few photos there before ascending the Islington Avenue overpass. Canadian cars 8106-Amherst Manor-Lorne Manor-Skyline 8501-Drummond Manor-Dawson Manor-Elgin Manor-Jarvis Manor are coupled together and fouling that distant switch. This scene is the opposite of most model railway layouts - too much track and not enough rolling stock! 
Here's an online auction site photo, taken from the same viewpoint in October,1986. Things were different then. VIA was waiting on its flashy F40PH-2D fleet:
Drummond Manor is one of three cars with non-standard font:
My morning ride, No 651 is visible pointing eastward, between the GO motive power and a J-train consist which a crew can be seen boarding:
A GO cab car in the Metrolinx scheme and the short 'consist' behind VIA 909:
A view timetable west showing the GO Willowbrook facility north of the CN mainline. Check out the 4000-series roof numbers on GO's new bilevels in foreground. (As always, click for a larger image.)
The role of Bombardier in GO operations can be sign on signage, uniforms and vehicles:
Ex-BC Rail lounge car VIA 1750 Glenfraser wears a one-of-a-kind 'leaves' wrap to mark Canada's 150th:
Coming down off the west side of the Islington overpass and to the left of the CAD bay and run-through track are some of those off-spot LATX covered hoppers. I got some closer views of the Lantic Sugar operation.
Some say this is the future of VIA. I say two words - pipe dream. Whether these RDC's will ever contribute meaningfully in VIA intercity operations is dubious at best. Rapido Trains' 6133 reposes second from right with its awesome underbody detail with 6138, 6111, 6215 on its left:
Doors-open GO F59 558 ,and a bilevel being refurbished are visible on the south side of the VIA/CAD building:
This brick bystanding building, Dominion Colour Coating was one of several that looked to have lots of modelling potential:
Renaissance sleepers 7505, 7514, 75xx have felt the irridescently-multicoloured ire of the taggers' touch. A CN maintenance compound is in foreground:
In Part 2, we circumnavigate the remainder of this rambling facility.

Running extra...

One of the last unscenicked areas on my HO scale Vancouver Wharves received a coat of paint recently. Whether it will be building flats, an open fenced area or an area of vegetation is yet to be seen. By scenicking, we reduce the amount of real estate that's available to put, well, junk on. That's helpful. Plus it makes the layout look more finished, adds to realism and operational fidelity and satisfaction.
For fans of ballast and roadbed, look away. For fans of Flextrack, Lindberg Ford trucks and Robertson screws, feast your eyes! My great-nephew and I installed the nearest track with the ice reefer and it bears his name. It connected two spurs, serving Overseas Commodities and Dominion Bridge. Now used for off-spot cars or short-term storage. Pass the spaghetti bowl.
If you've read this far, you are a very thorough, fastidious Trackside Treasure reader. You probably want to find something fun and entertaining here, not another update on my VIA Rail book project! Enjoy a VIA CANADA 150 rolling stock update while you're here.
You are fastidious! The book project is in the hands of my graphic designer. Printing will begin soon after final draft and we are still on target for an April release. Somewhere, a stand of Canadian trees, an evergreen eldorado, a coniferous cornucopia, a fat fircone future is about to become cases of train books for venerable VIAphiles!