Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Company Photographer Returns Yet Again

It's been three years since the company photographer last visited Trackside Treasure, highlighting the lighter side of railroading. A recently-shared slice of American life, photographed for LIFE magazine by Eric Schaal ca.1942 on the St Johnsbury & Lamoille County was posted to WW2Radio from France. Here's the Link on Facebook. Since I'm now modelling Vermont in HO scale, these vintage photos were of interest. But their dated nature also inspired some Green Mountain giggles. Now let's highball the humour!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Autumn in Belleville and Pennsylvania, October 2017

Well, it actually started in September 30. Visiting Belleville yard, a tied-down westbound was stuffed and mounted at the VIA station with no re-crew in sight. What else to do but photograph CANADA 150 banners! Tank cars placarded UN 1863 were in the background (above). Let's steal away for a symmetrical, cross-border sojourn of enjoyable autumn (summer-like, actually!) weather and steel wheels on September steel rails....
The most unfulfilling type of trackside photography - NOTRoPhy. Light standard sitting and doing some sole-searching:
And then I did it again - these poles and crossarms behind the CN S&C building looked historic:
S&C van with the tied-down train's single lead unit, CN 2873:
VIA No 52/62 appeared. This non-stop was definitely not stopping: 6412-3454-3364C-3311R-3331R-6457-3475-3367-3334-3344R. Video capture:
Then CN No 368 Eng 2941 made an appearance, with word of a dimensional load. CN 668260 was carrying a Vestas turbine tower, led by an idler flat behind DPU 2977:
This train recrewed at Elmwood Road. Starting to pull:
This BKTY 155301 could tell some stories, right back to the era of the Incentive Per Diem boxcar boom:
AEQX 160 flat car bearing containers:
VIA No 63: 909-8622-4000-4009-4107-8117-4121-8127 blasts west at 1225:
The next day, a fall colours drive turned up the yellows and reds of VIA 916 leading VIA No 47 at Kingston station: 916-3345C-3340R-3331-3361C-34xx-920. One of VIA's bidirectional P42-led consists that put Business Class at the rear of the consist, at least westbound.
Then it was off to sleepy Strasburg, Pennsylvania, where one of three mid-day runs returns from Leaman Place led by ex-CN 89. Enjoy the sight and sound! Video capture:
Approaching the Red Caboose Motel:
Gates and grates, about to be lifted and shaken, respectively:
Nearby, prosperous Amish farms were having corn harvested:
Returning over the bridge over the St Lawrence River at Ivy Lea, CSL's Cedarglen was upbound. I encouraged my wife to snap several shots to help avoid lightposts, handrails and other impediments to fine bridge-ship photography:
As the sun sets on the summer of 2017, we return to Kingston station on October 16. First of six trains (five VIA, one CN) in 90 minutes was VIA No 66 with 6453-3456-3356C-3359C-3352C. That's right, CANADA 450, right there!
We leave off where we started this post - a banner year:

Running extra...

The national outpouring of emotion for The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie has been overwhelming. The group has been dubbed 'the soundtrack of my life' by many interviewees. For me, other iconic Canadian groups like Rush, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and the inimitable Guess Who were more a part of my generation. However, I do recall Gord Downie's grin, 70's hair and good nature when we shared some classes (and the same birth-year, unlike most of my classmates who were 1963'ers) while in senior years of Amherst View Public School, prior to the family's move into Kingston.
Some ardent Hip supporters have even suggested a government-sanctioned Gord Downie Day. More reflective folks have soberly suggested that a Remembrance Day holiday should come first. Then we would truly be Ahead by a Century. Speaking of treasured Canadian icons:

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Champion Boxcars

For a brief time in 2003-2005, these interesting grey Champion boxcars were operating on CN's Kingston Sub. Nothing to do with Champion spark plugs! Champion Paper Co was later sold to International Paper. These Coe Rail with CRLE reporting marks were lettered for Champion International Corporation. Operating in the company of CN paper cars, photographed in US states MD, IN and on CN's Kingston Sub from Arvida, QC, they had been stencilled 'Return empty to Sheldon TX' and carried newsprint. Apparently, I wasn't able to get any photographs myself.

The cars were built in 4-71 as Pacific Car & Foundry 50'6" boxcars class B-100-27 SP 674900-675099, used initially for tin plate loading by Southern Pacific, and rebuilt in 1990. At that time they began their Champion lease - for newsprint loading, stencilled 'return empty to Sheldon, TX'.

CRLE 10351 through Kingston in this undated Tim Reid photo:

CRLE 10385 (top photo by Peter Mumby)
MVRY 10325 (photo below by Doug Stark taken June 25, 2005 at Galesburg, IL)
Around 2005, the cars were restencilled for MVRY (Mahoning Valley Railway) with the same 103xx-series road numbers. In 2015, the cars appeared with their Champion lettering painted out, rather crudely patched with BAEX reporting marks at least up to BAEX 1039.

As of 2023, the cars are in salt service, and as such are rusting....badly!

Lots o' links:
My Champion boxcar observations: date, car number and CN train seen on:

Sep 20/03 CRLE xxxxx on tailend of No 368
Nov 20/03 CRLE 10326 on headend of  No 321

****May 2018 UPDATE****
Still in service! BAEX 10223 made a westbound trip through Kingston aboard CN No 377, on May 15, 2018. The Champion logo and lettering can be seen roughly painted out, and note rust:

December 2019 UPDATE****Kris Rumbut kindly shared this photo of BAEX 1027 (that's the TRAINS number!) about to be cut up at AGM Resources in Gary, IN:

Running extra...

These Champion boxcars are exactly the type of limited-time-only observation that should (have) been documented as it happened. Like a budgie flying with a flock of sparrows. When will we learn to document the seemingly mundane? Fortunately someone did, and I was glad to discover that Peter Mumby had done just that! Peter often contributes to the excellent White River Division blog in Trackside Treasure's sidebar. I'm paying a lot more attention to the WRD blog now that I'm modelling a New England prototype!

Did some seemingly mundane photographic preservation for posterity today from five stories up. BN 461535 and 447969, both still bearing the large logo!

On this week's episode of TLC Railfan Sisters, we see a Norfolk and Southern ex-CBQ, GN, BN, CNW car at Elizabeth City, North Carolina, part of a station restaurant:

Monday, October 9, 2017

And on the Fourth Day.....He Operated

A couple of posts ago, you may have read about my Vancouver to Vermont model railway layout transition. I said progress might be ponderously slow. It was not. It was astonishingly fast! While vacationing in Pennsylvania, thoughts turned to three types of road: the Interstate, the clip-clop of Amish buggies on bucolic country lanes, and Vermont railroads in HO scale. Mental notes began to fill a scribbler notebook on Friday. I present some redneck scans herewith, along with some parenthetical, over-caffeinated statements and stray thoughts! Concepts of the whole layout and various switchable areas (right page, below). The good news is that I used the same benchwork!
That's the real Rutland, VT on the left (left page, above); one of the signature scenes I wanted to include. Here are the stages of construction that I used as a checklist:
To use the same benchwork, I'd decided to include Rutland on the left side - the longest and first visible, even if not entering the layout room. St Johnsbury, VT yard would be across the room. To ensure I ended up with industries to switch, I made sure I left room for some, considering what they'd be and how much trackage would be required. I also removed the elevated Vancouver interchange - there was a lot of lumber under it! The Vermont layout would include 1.5 circuits of the layout, including some hidden staging and interchanges at both main towns.
St Johnsbury hosts the iconic (there I go again) ET & HK Ide feed mill. I'd seen this weird, huge lettering for over forty years in rail enthusiast publications. Ide is a surname. Another St J modeller measured the mill, and I was able to scale out a mock-up (left page, above) as well as planning out the trackage for Rutland (right page, above) also in the scribbler pages. Standing on the shoulders of giants (Isaac Newton reference) I was able to print composite pages of the Ide mill and its neighbour, the widely-windowed Caldbeck-Cosgrove Corporation. (If I keep typing that, I might get it right eventually!) Do you C the alliteration there?
I have absolutely no intention of Dremel'ing or using an X-acto knife on styrene long into the fall nights to install said windows. I mean, look at them all! Googling the three-C-lettered company reveals an online pdf scan of one of their building product catalogues:
Paging through reveals some four-light windows that are close enough for me. (The catalogue also includes neat moldings, doorways, mantles - truly everything in building materials -  woodwork from an era of craftsmanship we're unlikely to see again.) I reproduced these windows in a printable format. I will cut and paste, literally, onto the painted styrene surface! I'll spend my time on hand-lettering.
TRAINS and RAILFAN articles have been very helpful, especially since I've been saving views of these notable VT scenes for years. Look at those windows. Hopefully then won't be too much of a pane!
I made a point of making some videos and taking photos for posterity during the transition. There are six videos.  They're short - like my attention span! A few work blocks of one to three hours over the Thanksgiving weekend enabled good progress. A tableful of removed buildings. A pile of removed HO scale people (channelling Les Nessmann - "Oh, the Humanity!") and a carton of removed vehicles were set aside. The roll of flextrack was unravelled. Nippers nipped and joiners joined. Clearances were checked with a test train which included a gon full of Robertson screws. Buildings were replaced. New ones are planned and industry names imagined. Just tonight, operation began. No derailments and some fun new switching now exists. Working the interchanges, so much a part of the overbuilt Vermont rail scene, will be challenging but enjoyable. All in four days. Some photos:
A D&H RS-3 switches the Rutland interchange. That will be Howe Scale at right. I'm recycling two existing buildings. The treed bank at left is a lichen mat picked up in a Pennsylvania craft store. Super handy! I'm pleased with the long-looking Rutland tracks! Here's the overpass view:
 Thank goodness for Pikestuff! Those structural flats will be improved upon:
I'll be adding more backdrops. I picked up this one at the Strasburg Train Shop (below), along with a B&M hopper. Over on the other side of the layout, a CP freight enters the yard at St J, with station at left and enginehouse at rear. That lumber dealer is already relocated over to Rutland! The unloading shed for the Ide mill is already done. It will be just to the left:
More stray thoughts:
  • Now I need a name for the layout. I'm thinking 'The Green Mountain Boys'. As Morduant wrote, one crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name! 
  • Interestingly, I found that my Burlington Northern (Manitoba Ltd.) torpedo Geep is still useful. Green Mountain picked up ex-BN 1849 and it operated in BN colours before receiving GMR paint!
  • Though I am all about planning, dreaming and scheming trackplans, there is a time for action. Don't led planning the ideal layout get in the way of creating something that's useable, reasonably prototypical and operable in less than a decade! 

Running extra...

Hey, it's Trackside Treasure's 500th post!