Thursday, February 22, 2018

Locomotive Nicknames

Early in our railfanning careers, we approach our new-found fascination of trainspotting with fervor and unabashed enthusiasm! If we stick with it, for decades even, we run the risk of becoming unenthusiastic, jaded and may adopt a been-there-see-that, world-weary attitude. But let's keep it positive. This time of year reminds me of my 41 years of data-recording which began in the wintry cold of February, 1976 (L.C. Gagnon photo):
I had a vague idea what an A-unit, B-unit, F-unit or GP-9 was, from model railroading. But when it came time to organize and record my early cold-hands observations in a practical way, I had to label each page on which I listed the number, date, direction etc. Each page held numbers of a type of locomotive - I didn't record the train's entire locomotive consist together. So I came up with wacky terms like Fatties, Fakies and Roadies. Hey, I was 12. A legend for my own reference on the back of my first scribbler notebook for observations:
Here are some original green-ink and pencil listings. Sorry about the exposure - the problem with pencil lead is that it 'lightens' with time and page-flipping. Initial pages of Fakies and Roadies:
The first Fatties page. I originally started with symbols to connect locomotives from each train, but soon adopted an alphanumeric system!
Do these look like Fatties to you? Check out those safety cabs. Revolutionary at the time, state-of-the-art today:
Ooh, VIA! Seems like I started grouping RDC's in with B's! Alphabet soup!
Loyal Trackside Reader Elijah Hall from Saskatchewan emailed me about Black Widows and Thundercows. Whaaaat? I found out that Elijah had also come up with nicknames for some of his favourite locomotive types. Of course the Black Widow was a characteristic CN scheme introduced in 1961. Overall black with a large CN logo, this scheme was superseded by CN's striped freight scheme applied to safety cab units. Black Widow alert! Portage la Prairie in 1978 (below). By 1986, nary a Black Widow. All Stripeys!
I am definitely not a 'locomotive person'. Too many designations, numbers and letters, dashes or no dashes. There we go again, letting the devil get in the details and losing track (pun intended) of the big picture. Of course we should find observing and talking about trains fun! I can read it in the Beachburg Sub blog of Michael Hammond, as we learn more and share more of the trains they have known.

So in that spirit, Elijah and I have compiled our nomenclaturic naming conventions for select locomotive types. Elijah makes it even more specific, with certain sub-types. Fun!
Thanks to Elijah Warner Hall for his contributions, his enthusiasm and his patience while this post languished in the Trackside Treasure queue. So much stuff to blog, so little time and such a relaxed once-weekly publication schedule in this, Trackside Treasure's tenth year!

Running extra...

Fakie is also a snowboarding term!

Been watching the Winter Olympics. Here are my Top Ten Snowboarding Terms or Things You Would Not Admit to in Open Court:
10.Switch Nine Hundred
9. Pickpocket
8. Rusty Trombone
7. Stiffy
6. Tail Grab
5. Crippler
4. Backside Misty
3. Frontside Grab
2. Cross Bone
And the Number One Snowboarding Terms or Things You Would Not Admit to in Court:
1. Chicken Salad!
(Which in itself sounds innocuous, but check out the definition thereof: The rear hand reaches between the legs and grabs the heel edge between the bindings while the front leg is boned. The wrist is rotated inward to complete the grab.) Ouch.
But all the Olympics-watching doesn't mean there's nothing happening on my HO scale Green Mountain Lines. Here's a video of Rushing Through Rutland!

Friday, February 16, 2018

BN Cryogenic Cars

BN 751000-751076 were (converted CB&Q) cryogenic cars (cardon dioxide-cooled reefers), with a 67'8" external length, 15'6" external height and 10-foot doors with a capacity of 4548 cu ft and 80 tons. Built in 1966, as of the 1995 Official Railway Equipment Register, 48 cars remained.

These cars appeared perpetually dirty. It's hard to keep white paint clean. These cars were LONG and were in meat service. Originally BRMX 5200-5299, the cars later received WFCX and BN reporting marks. 

Lots o' links:
Seen here individually or in pairs on CN's Kingston Sub, tracing revealed that the cars were heading to track PG09 in Pointe St Charles or track MT10 in St Laurent, QC. When empty, the cars were billed to Nebraska.

My observations of BN 7510xx-series cars including date, car number and CN train on:
Mar 9/95 751056
Apr 5/96 751012-751035
May 5/96 751062
May 27/96 751068
Oct 26/97 751040-751030 on No 395
Aug 1/98 751061 on No 395
Apr 3/99 751040
May 1/99 751042 (top photo - at CN's Belleville yard)
Nov 13/99 751010
Jan 16/00 751019
Jul 3/00 751061 on No 366
Jul 19/00 751061 on No 365
Oct 1/00 751061-751051 on No 317
Oct 7/00 751001-751070

Though I didn't stray from Athearn's 57-foot mechanical reefer design, I did paint and decal BN 751044 to match this number series. Seen here at my former Vancouver Wharves HO scale layout, the CP switch crew is picking up the car at Pacific Produce:
Thanks to Tim O'Connor, Doug Stark and Lee A. Gautreaux for additional information.

Running extra...

Speaking of modelling, I decided to build some cardstock dumpsters for Sacco Steel on my (now) Green Mountain Lines layout. So I can honestly say....bin there, done that.

Speaking of reefer madness, it's unlikely that the federal government's pot legalization legislation has the legs to be enacted by the proposed July 1, 2018. Justin the nick of time? Hopes may be going up in a puff of smoke, but that doesn't stop our local newspaper from publishing a pot story each and every day! It's as regular and predictable as the crossword! And the word eJblum!

Atlasrescueforumproboards or whatever, checking out this horn-hook coupler nook this week. Some haters, but yes, the owner is happy, north of Lake Erie, thanks very much, y'all! Identities concealed:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Transcon Train Times at Portage la Prairie

Any time was train time while railfanning Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. But not anytime was passenger train time! During my preparation and photo selection for my upcoming Trains and Grains project, this was brought home to me. Certain years, there were next to no VIA train observations or photos. Why? Because the VIA trains sometimes were rather nocturnal! And my trackside train-watching hours were essentially bankers' hours. Straight days. Perusing VIA timetables produced the following table, in which I attempt to track train time at Portage from 1976 to 2013, along with the appropriate transcontinental train numbers:
Here are a few photos that I'll be including in the Trains book of the two-volume set due this spring. In July, 1976 we only caught the train from Churchill (top photo by L.C. Gagnon). In 1978, it was the Super (above) with VIA 6515-6607-6502. And 6515 is still in CN colours! Now we're talking! Not only was the Canadian stopping at the CN station in 1979, (heck, CP ripped out their wooden station platform soon after CN took over the Portage-Winnipeg portion of the run, with a connecting track constructed at Portage and CP's Winnipeg Higgins Street station no longer used) but it was also the zenith of VIA's krazy circus or rainbow (that's more properly an Amtrak-related term) era. CN, CP, blue, red, black, white, yellow, VIA all mixed in together:
One of my VIA highlights...a nearly-three-hour-late No 2 arrives at Portage on August 22, 1979 behind 1409-8558-CP 8519. A lime-stained Southern Railway boxcar and doughty Portage Pool 'B' oversee the scene. VIA's only roadswitcher was second up:
And I can't believe I still read conspiracy theories - more akin to far-out musings on Elvis and JFK - that wonder aloud - did VIA's ex-CP 8558 actually exist! My little somewhat-suboptimal-but-there-recording-the-scene Kodak Hawkeye viewfinder found it. Thank goodness for late-running trains! Running late in 1980, too - VIA 6507-6606-CN 4102 bring a late Super into Portage on June 17, 1980:
The Canadian is again photographable in daylight in 1981. Blue-masked VIA 1418 leads CP 8580 and VIA 1898, one-of-two CP E-8's, sitting on the CP-CN connecting track on August 24, waiting for CN. Less than three months later, the Super would be cancelled during the massive VIA cutbacks that year:
In the shadow of Manitoba Pool Elevators' Portage Pool 'B' elevator, VIA 6501-6620-6603 pause with the Canadian on June 14, 1982:
I didn't make it to Portage in 1983, though my parents did. Watch for more of my Dad's photos of that visit in an upcoming post. Here's one of his photos - baggage being handled on No 2. Quite a trek down the platform for the operator with the baggage cart on this day:
One of my all-time favourites. Another MPE elevator, another Canadian: VIA 6504-6603 lead 12 cars through somnolent MacGregor, MB on May 29, 1984:
One more shot of the connecting track, another CN freight to wait for. This Canadian was actually early. Running one to three hours late in the 80's was serious. But compared to today's 6, 8, 12, 24 or even 38 (this week!) hours late Canadians, three hours was nothing! VIA 6557-6617 wait for lumber empties (of all things!) on CN's Rivers Sub to clear on June 4, 1984:
Back to early morning hours, No 2 with 6512-6621 and a diminutive eight-car consist approach Kearns (Eighth Street) in Portage on June 5, 1986. The following year, the bedraggled, beleaguered and be-gone F-unit fleet would find relief from incoming F40's.
In the nineties, my Mom and Dad prepare to board No 2 Eng 6443 at Portage in 1994. The F40 era had arrived (Wilf Schellenberg photo):
Portage la Prairie was unique in so many ways. Where else would one find two transcontinental streamliners, eventually serving a single, not really urban, station four times a day? And even after one was cancelled, this plethoric prairie preserve hosted, and still hosts, the other.

Running extra...
This week it's the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics. And Valentine's Day. Both are very competitive and full of the thrill of victory, and potentially the agony of defeat. The Dufour-Lapointes show us that Moguls are not just 2-6-0's. Korea's monad is not just for the Northern Pacific. Now for some Valentine's Day jokes: 
  • What did the octopus say to his girlfriend? I want to hold your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand.
  • What did the bird say to his girlfriend? Let's be tweethearts.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

McCallister Pea & Seed Cleaners, Portage la Prairie

Allen McCallister came to Manitoba in 1897 from Grey North County, Ontario. He began growing peas in 1924, purchasing the turn-of-the-century commercial property in Portage in 1944 and constructed storage elevators for the family's bean and pea company, later becoming councillor, reeve and leader of various agricultural organizations. Located near 4th St N.E., just north of CP's yard, CP's Portage switcher is seen switching the operation in these photos kindly shared by Fred Clark. Fred photographed CP 6569 switching CPAA 89966 and two other patched Spruce Falls Power & Paper boxcars on July 11, 1984. Notice the peaked brick building at left.
Faithful Trackside Treasure reader Randy O'Brien sent a link to a fine Lawrence Stuckey photo of the operation, captioned 1987. Notice the assortment of new and old walls, pipes and bins. This photo  from Brandon University archives.
Note the ramp to the drive shed. Apparently, it ran over the CP spur serving the plant. Notice in the photo below that a CP Rail boxcar has been spotted past the ramp! The late Bill Grandin was in Portage on November 26, 1980 and these two photos, kindly shared by Jim Parker show some the building and neighbouring Transx terminal to advantage:

August 22, 1978 finds me and CP 8702-4440-4030 in the yard. McCallister was in the background, as it was in so many photos, but rarely in the foreground.

Find McCallister in these Brian Schuff photos: CP 3028 with McCallister elevator in background (above) and CP 8734 working the Speno railgrinding train in the yard with the brick building visible (below):
The multimillion-dollar plant suffered a three-alarm fire on March 29, 1990. As firefighters arrived, an entire wall gave way. Two large silos were damaged but not burned. Also damaged were the processing area, one elevator and a storage quonset. At the time, the plant was named Canadian Pulse Processors Inc, the McCallister family having sold their last remaining shares in 1985. Damage was 1.7 million dollars. At the time, the Campbell's Soup plant and CFB Portage were slated to close, and this was another economic blow to Portage, and the six employes were also affected. The plant, owned by the Great Canadian Bean Company was a large buyer of local seeds, including peas, beans and lentils, buckwheat and grains, processing 10,000-15,000 tonnes per year, processed into export-oriented products like bird seed by Continental Grain.

A handy little booklet entitled Early Architecture of Portage la Prairie, produced by the Manitoba Department of Cultural Affairs and Historical Resources - Historic Resources Branch in 1983 included these two bits of information on McAllister. A description of the original brick building, the Waterloo Manufacturing Company:
and a north-facing photo of the original brick building with elevators behind. On a model layout, this operation would be 'highly modellable'!
An undated archival booklet  gives this description of the original industry:

A CP track schematic of the wye tail track (at right) and McCallister spur (centre):
An early 20th-century Sanborn-type map showing the McCallister facilities:

Running extra...

Figuratively if not literally, I'm finding myself  'in' Portage la Prairie this week. I'm captioning up to 700 photos for my Trains & Grains two-volume book project. Views of CN, CP and VIA trains from almost every conceivable angle. Grain, hotshot, manifest, coal, roadswitcher and yardswitcher are all represented. You'll even find (OK, just one more) a view of McCallister in the distant background (why didn't I walk over that way at least once, camera in hand??) of this grain train meet on CP, photographed from the Skyline Bridge.
Speaking of the Skyline (easy to remember because it bears the same name as the mid-train Budd-built CPR dome) here's another model/proto photo that Randy shared, just to put to rest rumours that it's not actually officially called Skyline. Thanks, Randy!
My graphics 'expertise' involves pen and paper. It was 1980. My model railway needed a 'brand'. This was back when brands were still used only on cattle. I ended up with seventh row down, second from left, by the way!