Thursday, October 25, 2018

Portage 1983, Part 1

My Mom and Dad travelled on VIA's Canadian between Kingston and Portage la Prairie, MB in July-August 1983. End-cupola van CP 437394 at Sudbury on July 21, during their stroll up to the headend during the servicing stop. The perennial view across from the station was the Sudbury arena. Known for combining more than one subject in a photo, my Dad has captured a multimarked, capped CP Rail truck, Sudbury bus and the area in one frame:
That Sudbury bus scheme was designed by Gottschalk & Ash in 1972! Chapleau was reached at 1300, with servicing until 1330. Time to check out CPR 5433 in the trackside park. The Chapleau auxiliary was outside the car shop - no number visible. Two 4700's and an MLW switcher reposed nearby.
'Vacation weather' (thanks, Dave!) set in on July 26 as VIA No 2 was arriving with 6507-6607-6602 at 1630. My Dad noted that several cars, including 'their' Amherst Manor from VIA No 1 were returning east on this train after reaching Vancouver.
VIA 3214-126-129-6616 (left to right) are opposite the Portage station as baggage and passengers occupy the platform along with the operator's car:
Steam siffles from the steamline on Waterton Park as the Canadian departs eastward:
An evening visit trackside on July 30 netted a quartet of variously-attired cylindricals ready for loading at the United Grain Growers elevator just west of the CN station:
Evening shadows lengthen as CP 5561 and a Geep lead grain boxcars westward, with CP's yard at left and CN welding gang cars at right:
Forget Counting Crows. Start Counting Combines! Here's Massey-Ferguson with high (candy-striped) and low multimarks, westward past CP's station on August 2:
At CN's station, it's Combines! Massey-Fergs on a CP bulkhead flat car on CN's team track. CN lumber car accompanying at right, with CN boxcars loaded at Portage Pool 'B' behind.
In the yard, you guessed it, more Combines! CN 4307 and an F-unit are leading this westbound in the CN yard on August 2:

On August 5, potash empties plodded westward past the CN station. My Dad's photo, taken under that high, hot afternoon sun, bring back memories of the clanking freight cars, the warm creosote, dry grass blowing and all the other sights and sounds of Portage trainwatching in one picture!

Part 2 of this series showcases more of my Dad's trackside photos in Portage, Winnipeg and the trip back home to Kingston aboard VIA No 2.

Running extra...

Prince Street blog partner Chris Mears and I have been talking about dusting off the Railfan Five Challenge - five years later. Originally conceived as sharing five formative fotos from our railfanning journey, now we're thinking of Railfan Five x2 (or Two, or 2.0?) which would be five railfan photos taken by others. Five we WISH we'd taken - had we been there and been able to, perhaps at an earlier time. This should be easy. Or will it be? Hmmmmm.

My uncle from Portage sent along this link. Canada's government grain car fleet sold off at less than scrap value? That's going against the grain! CN and CP have infused their fleet with newer, predecessor-road covered hoppers from IC and DM&E/SOO respectively.

Coming November 1 - can we ever have enough books on the Canadian? Ira Silverman's photographic take on the rides he took on this Budd masterpiece, coming from Garbely Publishing.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Kingston-Portage la Prairie Aboard VIA, 1983

My Dad and Mom made two trips from Kingston to
Portage la Prairie (locally known as Portage) aboard
VIA, to visit family there in 1983 and 1994. The first
trip was in July-August, 1983.

Neatly written in two
48-page coil notebooks are my Dad’s railfanning notes
from the trip, which I've transcribed below.
The notebooks cost a princely 49 cents
in 1983, and the price sticker (remember those?) is
from HILL’s EAST Drug Store in Portage! Interestingly,
1983 was the only year between 1978 and 1986 that I
did not make a summertime trip to Portage.

We are there to see Mom and Dad off to Portage la Prairie, MB aboard an
11-car No 1/55 led by VIA 6765-6618 on July 20, 1983 (top photo).

Departure on July 20 was from Kingston, aboard the
Corridor Canadian  with family there
to see them off and help with suitcases. My parents
were travelling in Bedroom F of Amherst Manor
designated as Car 122, but made it up to the dome of
Kokanee Park in the first two miles after departure!
The nightly RDC’s were eastbound at Port Hope, and
CN freights led by 2026 and 9654 were met west of
Oshawa. At Toronto Union Station, CN switcher 8515
coupled on to the rear of No 1. The trainman’s orange
CN lantern was visible. Also in the station were VIA
6767-6859-Chaleur Bay-5474, likely the eastbound
Cavalier. A GO train with five bilevels and six coaches
and passengers was eastbound around 2325.
Dad reported rough track leaving Toronto, before
encountering welded rail and heading ‘straight north
- moonlight’.

At 0400 on July 21, the Canadian was on an
embankment or viaduct at Parry Sound, switching to
CP tracks after a back-up move. Sudbury was reached
in overcast, though the ‘dumpy’ station failed to
impress, especially when the lunch counter had no
milk in cartons (cost would have been 65 cents).
My Mom stands patiently by at Sudbury after walking to the head-end to
see 6769-6619-6624 on July 21, 1983. (L.C. Gagnon photo):
Lunch in ex-CN diner 1363 was beef patty and chicken
salad. Chapleau around 1300 brought views of CP
switcher 7091 and Centuries 4714-4722 in the yard.
An eastbound CP freight of Japanese import cars on
auto racks was at Franz Junction at 1600, with another
CP eastbound in a meet at O’Brien 25 minutes later.
CP switcher 6549 worked the yard at White River at
1710. Dinner in the diner was beef and sole at 1815,
and both meals in the diner, for two, came to less
than $30. CP Century 4510 was at Schreiber, and a
meet with No 2 took place in the fading daylight at

The Ignace area featured a derailment around
0200 on July 22. Five or six freight cars on their
sides, one at right angles to the track! Big hook and
auxiliary on scene. No 1 passed slowly, though jolting
interrupted their sleep. Rennie and Whitemouth, MB
were reached at 0900, then the shuttered station at
My Mom is at right, beside Amherst Manor, at Chapleau. (L.C. Gagnon
photo - above) My Dad with Kokanee Park at Chapleau servicing stop 
on July 21, 1983. (M.P. Gagnon photo):
Arrival in Winnipeg was about an hour late,
with my aunt and uncle from Portage meeting the
train in Winnipeg, followed by dinner at the Countess
of Dufferin restaurant. A drive around CN’s East Yard
revealed the Prairie Dog Central having just returned
with its excursion train. A chat with the engineer
ensued. Engine 3 burned West Virginia coal which
cost $167/ton at the time. The engineer pulled out
his silver-cased Waltham [pocket] watch with Roman
numerals. VIA 6507-6623-6611 were backing up to
take VIA No 2 east, including visible cars Laurentide
Park-Dufferin-Manor-Dunsmuir Manor. Duplex
roomette VIA I-series cars Intervale and Iroquois were
in East Yard.

A visit to the very successful 1983 NMRA convention
held in Winnipeg took place on July 23, with another
dinner at the Countess of Dufferin, the central dining
are of which resembled a dining car. 
A three-unit No 2 stops at Portage la Prairie in August, 1983. 
(L.C. Gagnon photo):
On the 26th,
No 2 arrived at Portage at 1630. The consist: 6502-
6607-6602-616-129-126-3214-500-5717- 5746-Edwardsville-
Closse-Chateau Jolliet-Bliss Manor-Amherst Manor-
Waterton Park, all of which had been on their westbound
Canadian except for the power, 5746, Emerald,
Chateau Jolliet and Waterton Park. A couple from
Australia arrived on the Canadian and the ensuing reunion
was the first time two brothers originally from
Holland had seen each other in 35 years!

An evening country drive on July 29 including a
chance encounter with VIA No 110 at Newton, MB.
two coaches. Another drive on July 31 included a
westbound CN freight with locomotives 9420-9493-
9503 pulling an assortment of freight cars including
57-foot auto transporter CN 9502 in its ‘billboard
black & white auto’ scheme. No 2 on August 2 was
staffed by conductors and trainmen ‘wearing old style
caps with VIA badge’. 

An August 3 drive to Winnipeg
netted the eastbound Canadian near Elie at 1705, its
three units and 17 cars visible from the Trans-Canada
Highway. The westbound Canadian through Portage
on August 5 included tail-end cars Chateau Salaberry-
Chateau Viger-Cornwall Manor-Butler Manor-Banff
Park. Its eastbound counterpart was operating three
hours late, observed west of Portage at 1955, again
with three units and 17 cars. On August 6, Burton
Manor and Lorne Manor were visible at the station
in Winnipeg when my parents arrived to board the
eastbound Canadian back to Kingston.
My Dad has his newly-purchased VIA ‘trucker cap’ in hand just before
boarding the Canadian, at Winnipeg station with Mom on August 6, 1983. (above)
It’s still light at 2035 as No 2 departs 
Winnipeg on August 6, 1983. Dad photographs the photographer 
from the dome of Prince Albert Park (below). (Wilf Schellenberg photos)
At 1700, it was a hot, dry 90-degree Fahrenheit day in
Winnipeg. In Winnipeg Depot, my parents checked in
to the sleeping car steward, before ascending to track
level and finding their accommodation in Bedroom
B of Prince Albert Park, designated as Car 229. The
train for Sioux Lookout, Nakina and Capreol had just
departed. Their porter, Fernand, welcomed them
aboard and they went back to the car’s dome at 2015.
CN switcher 7180 was behind No 2 and departure
was at 2035. 

The Canadian moved out of Winnipeg,
photographed from the parking lot by my uncle, and
finally headed straight east. In the dome until 2245,
five westbound CP freights before passed before their
train reached Kenora at 2305. Each train’s headlights
and ditchlights approached in the darkness, were
dipped for the engine crew of No 2, but turned up
by the time the Park car was reached and passed..
trackside. Passengers came and went from the dome
in darkness, but it was seldom more than half-full.
The Park car bedroom was ‘a bit smaller than one in
a Manor car but had a bigger bathroom’. Original CP
beaver brown blankets were on both made-up beds.

The westbound Canadian was met in the Ignace area.
On August 7, a VIA woman representative gave my
Dad two lunch reservation slips. A small cairn north of
the track at Mi 102.7, commemmorated the last spike
driven on CP’s Montreal to Winnipeg segment on
May 16, 1885. Lunch in the diner was beef patty and
chicken salad, soup, dessert, coffee in the Jack Fish
curve area at an affordable $10.50. The Park car dome
filled up by 1100. A CP Dayliner was on an adjacent
track during a brief stop at White River. 

Though it looks like my Dad is missing his train, No 2 is actually stopped
for servicing at White River on August 7, 1983. Noted - rail is Algoma Steel
115-pound rolled in 1982. (L. C. Gagnon photo):
Spending the afternoon in their room, Fernand dropped by to
be helpful, and the VIA woman representative also
stopped by again and sold two suppers totalling $19.
The westbound Canadian with three units including
6539, and approximately 15 cars was met on the
south track at Franz.

Supper at Chapleau was chicken salad, with pie. At
Sultan, a multi-unit CP was westbound at 1855 with
5965-5542-5557-5781-5666-6007-5930-4712 and
van 434643. Doing 1 mile in 55 seconds at Mile 63,
Biscotasing was reached only five minutes late. In the
dome ‘a fellow in front had tin can repetitive music
coming from his headphones - 8:30 p.m.’ Sightings of
the train’s headlight were less frequent than during
the previous dome ride out of Winnipeg, leaving the
dome around 2200 after the train continued east
from the stop at Cartier, ON.

The last day on the train, August 8 began at Toronto
Union Station’s track 8. A tip for the ever-helpful
Fernand as he departed but my parents stayed on
the train for the trip down CN’s Kingston Sub to
Kingston. CN switcher 8513 removed the last four
CP cars, taking the next seven cars (Dayniter, two
Chateau cars, three E-series and diner 1365) over
to Spadina coach yard. A club car and three coaches
were added for passengers to Ottawa, Montreal and
points in-between. 

Dayliners, LRC 6901, several GO
trains, two Amtrak consists shared the trainshed
on this warm, sunny day. At 0825, the joint Ontario
Northland/VIA Northland was disembarking
passengers: ONR 1502-9654-755-ONR white/blue/
yellow 842-5594-Greening before being taken to
Spadina coach yard by CN 8515. My Dad walked to
the head-end before departure, photographing lead
unit VIA 6767 with Toronto trackside icons Royal York
hotel and CN Tower.
On departure, three Dayliners from Kingston were
inbound as the train reached 90 mph around Port
Hope. Arrival at Kingston was on-time. Cost for fare
and accommodation aboard VIA, booked through a
Kingston travel agent, was less than $1,500.

Watch for an upcoming post (or two) with other trackside photos that my Dad took during that 1983 trip to Portage!

Running extra...

The Associated Railroaders of Kingston are taking on two new projects - one is a November train show in Kingston (see link at top of sidebar) and modules depicting Kingston's Hanley Spur downtown/inner harbour trackage. Though the club emphatically does not want a club layout, this Hanley Spur module project will allow us to build and bring together parts of a larger layout of a very modellable prototype.

Who thought CN would ever run short of Geeps?  This week, I caught GMTX 2248-2273 on Belleville-Kingston turn CN No 518 (no camera at the time!) parallelling Bath Road, but fellow Kingston railfan Paul Hunter staked them out on CN's Cataraqui Spur. Blue and beautiful!
At the Invista plant (above) and Armstrong Subdivision trestle near Bath Road among the bullrushes (below). Thanks, Paul!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Realistic Model Railway Structure Signs

I spend a lot of time thinking like a model railroader. Flying in my HO scale imaginary helicopter (or drone!), I hover over my layout and consider what would look good, or how to complete my HO scale scenes. It would be better to think more like a sign installer. Snapping a few photos of my (now nearly two iterations ago!) Vancouver Wharves layout, I captured the industries and their signage. 
Coastal Steel Construction (close to the prototype Coast Steel) was a Pikestuff kit to which I added a front office. For greater visibility from the street, and to prevent my Pikestuff structure looking like an anonymous Pikestuff structure, I printed these online-sourced signs and stuck 'em to a piece of styrene then onto the structure (above photos). Then there was Fairbanks-Morse:
Not wanting to permanently keep the F-M signage attached to this structural flat, I just glued printed signage to the exterior (above and below). On the prototype, the black lettering band would have been extended along the length of the building. But note the font! Blackand-white old-timey version:
Fonts are kind of addictive. I see why some modellers wreck their ship on the rocks of fontdom. Stencil font seemed to 'fit' for another structural flat, the Fisherman's Co-Op Federation. Another prototype industry, I shoe-horned it into a corner, primarily as a spot to receive reefers for loading:
Then a flight of font-cy! Overseas Commodities was an aisle-facing industry that received a variety of shipments in various car types. I thought the sign was still reasonable, but perhaps it was really a bit too big:
Another Vancouver-area prototype industry was Interline Forwarders. I found a logo that seemed to fit, and like the first Pikestuff example, I printed and glued to the building corners. Interestingly, this structure is paper-on-styrene! Sure hope Mr Fieri gets the BBQ shut off. Those steaks 'smell' tantalizingly delicious!
Just when my signs seemed to getting large and unrealistic, here are a few examples of what really not to do. These modellers (sorry if it's someone you know) are not thinking like sign installers. The first one shows some neat modelling, scene construction and even lighting. But why trash all that with rather awful signage. First...wrong font. Second...wrong placement. Third...looks stuck on!
Era of the building should match era of the signage. As should the level of detail. Another really neat building scene ruined by a last-minute, stuck-on sign. Hours of agonizing detail and painstaking work destroyed by minutes of easy sign installation. Too easy:
This is what not to think when adding signage to structures. Whoever made that Helvetica font available to modellers should have been treated like the low-level drug dealer who gets shut down by the cops. The Signage Police should have booked him, locked him up and thrown away the key!
Real signage in action. Near the CN underpass in Belleville was Emsco Electro-mechanical Service on Cannifton Road. Take a look at the way their services are advertised on their storage building, visible to all those passing motorists:
Unique font, unique placement, readable and absolutely realistic. (Well, it it the prototype.)
Another thing I've learned about structures and signs....get those photos now. The entire Emsco enterprise has been repurposed:
One more example. This one from East Syracuse, N.Y., right across from Wal-Mart. Painted, not pasted, to the building. A variety of fonts, sizes, colours, but all it's all marketing, and how to contact the business to learn more! Lilano!

Running extra...

The Helvetica comment above migrated to Facebook, and it started a fontflict (that's a conflict about fonts (just made that word up!)(word up!))). All because CP Rail's wordmark had some Helvetical origins. It's all about Helvetica structures, not strictures on rolling stock lettering.
This would be a good time to post some posts you'll never see posted on Trackside Treasure. Not only are they too controversial, they're like, "Hey, how deep is this well?" - when you find out, you're already in too deep. Controversial post titles:
  • What year did ditchlights become mandatory in Canada?
  • What was the first year ditchlights were used in Canada?
  • What colour ballast should I use on my layout?
  • What is the best brand of model paint to use for CN orange?
  • What type of Kadee couplers should I use?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Discovery's Mighty Trains Season 2!

This week, I had the opportunity to interview Teddy Wilson, host of Discovery's Mighty Trains. With the Season 2 premiere airing October 14 at 7 p.m. (ET) I was able to ask Teddy about the challenges, rewards and highlights of being part of documenting railway operations around the world!
Trackside Treasure: What are some of the challenges of creating a series like Mighty Trains?
Teddy: Bringing viewers the 360-degree insider's view of the experience, from dispatching to onboard staff, bringing the viewers along on the journey. Being in the moment! Sometimes the filming catches everything in one trip along a route, but sometimes another filming run is required. It's challenging, especially with jet lag! There is one overall crew and two camera teams catching the trackside scenery and following the characters in each episode. And when a train ahead derails, the production schedule has adjusted!

Trackside Treasure: What is the most rewarding part of creating a series like Mighty Trains?
Teddy: I have one of the easiest jobs in the production crew! A dream job. When one is passionate about trains, it's easy to talk to passengers and crews. The production crew members are professionals. [Self-effacingly, Teddy says] the host can always be replaced! Mighty Trains features the engineering and mechanics of each train, the history of the line as well as the actual ride.

Trackside Treasure: How are train people different from, say, plane people?
Teddy: Train people are always knowledgeable and passionate. Each and every one is well-informed, and always talks to people willingly. It's interesting to find out why passengers want to ride the featured trains. People relate to trains. They take us to a different time. Trains capture our imagination more than other forms of travel. Trains are something special.

Trackside Treasure: Besides train and travel enthusiasts, is there a wider community that Mighty Trains is trying to reach? 
Teddy: The first season connected with people, from hardcore train fans to those who've caught the travel bug. The series is not travel only, neither is it engineering only.

In the first episode of Season 2, it's the Rocky Mountaineer between Vancouver-Banff and Jasper-Vancouver. 
Episode two is Ecuador's Tren Crucero, the 'Train to the Clouds' to Quito, which is the second-highest national capital on Earth. The ride reaches 3,000 metres from sea level, in the Andes Mountains, including the Devil's Nose perpendicular rockface. 
Trackside Treasure: Train riding is drama, movement, history and geography, all in one.
Teddy: Agreed, it's not the same as flying. Going home to visit family in Ottawa, I have the option of flying. I prefer to go by train! And I go through Kingston!

Trackside Treasure: During a recent trip aboard VIA Rail to Toronto, I spent some spare time watching Porter and Air Canada flights taking off from the Billy Bishop Toronto Island airport! Will Mighty Trains ever run out of operations to profile?
Teddy: I don't imagine so. I wondered that myself, early on. There is a plentiful reservoir out there. We could go ten seasons!

Trackside Treasure: This blog just celebrated ten years!
Teddy: Congrats on ten years, Trackside Treasure!

In the third episode of Season 2, it's India's Delhi-Mumbi Maharajas' Express, an eight-day trip crossing the Thar Desert. Classic dining cars transport passengers to another time. Subsequent episodes feature the Madrid-Barcelona line in Spain which covers 625 km in 2.5 hours, trains on the North and South Islands of New Zealand and freight operations and sustainable forestry in Sweden.

Trackside Treasure: Would Mighty Trains consider profiling GO Transit? It's an exacting network to operate, because commuters don't like to be late!
Teddy: That decision is above my pay grade, but we did feature Japan's Shinkansen in Season 1 - an intercity run with a reputation for being highly punctual.

Trackside Treasure: Time for the lightning round! Choose your preferred option or pass if you feel the need:
Freight or passenger? Freight
Economy or first class? Economy
Carry On or Checked Baggage? Carry On
Diesel or Steam? Steam, but diesel's OK, too.
1940's or 1990's? 1940's
Camera or pen and paper? Pen and paper
CN or CP? Pass!
Head east or head west? Interesting! Head west
Winter or summer? Summer, but fall's OK, too.
Dining car or dome car? Dome car!
Mighty or Trains, nevermind, trick question!

Trackside Treasure: How will you be celebrating the airing of the first episode of Season Two?
Teddy: We're doing something new - our first-ever Facebook Live after the show. Live from the basement of 'the guy with the train in his basement' - Jason Shron! Starts at 8 p.m. (ET) from Jason's place.
[Count me in!]

Trackside Treasure: Any final words, Teddy?
Teddy: This Season has such fascinating subject matter. I hope we do train lovers proud. We've kicked it up a notch this season. 

Trackside Treasure: Well, I'm off to our monthly Associated Railroaders of Kingston meeting now.
Teddy: Say 'Hi!' to the train gang tonight.
[I did!]

If you can't wait, here's a Preview of the first episode of Season two of Discovery's Mighty Trains. For those with short attention spans, check out the Youtube trailer.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Postscript: CN Installs CWR, 1980

When CN installed Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) on its Kingston Subdivision just west of Kingston, it was June, 1980. My Dad was able to be trackside to document the process on June 12, while I was trackside in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The crew bus was near Mi.179, just east of Collins Bay, as this eastbound VIA train passed our intrepid photographer (top photo).
I should note that photography involved a Kodak 126-format Instamatic. There was no zoom or wide-angle. There was no metering. These were square negatives and square prints. Later in the day, my Dad caught the Canron Rail Change Out (RCO) unit working on the south track near Mi. 182, just west of Coronation Boulevard at Amherstview (above) and again meeting a VIA train, this one heading west through the work limits. The bulbous Amherstview (Ernestown Township) water tower looms on the horizon. The Canron, Tamper and RCO logos were still proudly emblazoned on the unit's cab side:
Down in the weeds, in the lush, green, summer undergrowth, my Dad was met by some vines along the right-of-way fence and we can see the new CWR being threaded into the RCO (above). Since the RCO moved at a walking pace, it was not difficult for my Dad to pick his way through the underbrush and catch its passage again, this vantage point being closer to Coronation Boulevard. The ready-to-be-laid CWR is right at track level as workers throw miscellaneous track hardware onto the leading flatcar being pushed by the RCO:
A good view of the flatcar, RCO, supporting gondola cars for track hardware and CN-painted baggage car:
As the RCO train passed at a snail's pace, the operator positions (only a few were seated) governing this dynamic jointed-out, CWR-in process were visible:
 Conveyors carried needed track material to/from the trailing gons:
Having reached the Coronation Boulevard crossing, support trucks are parked at the crossing, including the ubiquitous Chevy crew cab with wooden cap, likely assigned to the local section gang:
Trailing track machines are at Mi 182 as my Dad returns to the water tower to get a documentary photo of the just-installed CWR. Note the shine of the just-replaced jointed rail and the rust of the just-installed CWR. Interestingly, a few of those discarded spike pails found their way home, used for harvest and other storage, still bearing their Stelco paint outside, but a new coat of protective primer inside!

Running extra...

It took seven years, but the 'congress', 'confluence' and 'conference' of fellow blogger Chris Mears of Prince Street Terminal and your humble blogger took place last evening. We closed down one coffee shop and were well on the way to closing down another when adjournment was moved. Topics discussed included: Trains.

More specifically - model and prototype trains. Even more specifically - Shira and Rapido; humancentric layout building (come on, Krista, please give us a couple of guest blogger posts!!) and the why's of layout building; GO and VIA; buses and ferries; consist-taking and analysis; The Binder and care thereof; connections both human and of the HO coupler variety; layout operations and modules; layouts we have known and those yet to be built; modellers and model structures we have known; Fallowfield and fertile imaginations; the wonders of blogging and the limitations of Facebook; father-and-son projects and inspirations; Autoport and Hanley Spur railfanning; awesome underbody detail and 3-D printing; and many, many, many (did I mention many?) more.

It was good of Chris to head down the highway to K-Town while in Ontario. No photos were taken of the event as darkness fell. There was no shortage of animated conversation and a wide range of topics discussed. Hot beverages and baked goods added to the flavour of the festivities.