Thursday, February 27, 2020

VIA Turbo Replacements, June-July 1979

CN's Turbos have achieved a near-mythical status among Canadian rail enthusiasts. The Turbos' service life was not uneventful - far from it. On June 27, 1978 I observed CN 3742 was pulling Turbo VIA 154-129 at 1231 westbound through Kingston. Despite an overall 97% availability rate in CN and VIA service, the Turbos were withdrawn from service on a few occasions:
  • January 7, 1969 - May 25, 1970
  • February 1, 1971 reconfigured into 9-car sets back in service June 22, 1973 (some sources state December)
  • June 1973 - December 1973
  • May 29, 1979 fire at Morrisburg, back in service by August
Turbos caught fire in 1973 near Montreal and September, 1975 near Riviere Beaudette, QC. 

The May 1979 incident occurred at 1715 hrs - fire in power car 153 (other end power car 125) operating as VIA train No 66. The train was evacuated, passengers placed on other trains, and the next morning CN GP9 4479 hauled the damaged consist west back to Brockville to clear the main line. VIA took all Turbos out of service, suggesting that they might never be returned to service, and that their operation was incurring high costs. Conventional equipment covered morning and evening scheduled runs.

Upon returning to service later that summer, one pair of Turbo runs began covering the evening schedules, though morning trains continued as Rapido conventional consists. (This was reportedly to allow time for thorough mechanical inspections of the operating Turbos between evening runs.) I have called these conventional stand-in trains 'Turbo Replacements". VIA-painted 60-degree yellow-nosed 6516 leads the first such replacement I observed past Mi 182 Kingston Sub, on June 15 (top  photo). Online photo auction site (captioned September 1979) VIA 6525 at Kingston:
I was able to document some Turbo replacement consists in my first book, throughout June and July 1979. Each consist comprised one 6500 for power, a club, a cafe-bar-lounge and three coaches. Notable and photographable because none had a baggage car, unusual for the time. The timetable indicated that Turbos had no checked baggage service, so neither did their replacements. And the consists were shorter than the usual 8-11 cars of other VIA trains. 
The above observations show that the Turbo replacements were largely unable to keep to the Turbo scheduled arrival times at Kingston, their only stop other than Dorval and Guildwood:  
  • Westbound morning No 61 due at 0950
  • Eastbound morning No 60 due 0935
  • Westbound evening No 67 at 1805
  • Eastbound evening No 66 at 1750
My first observation of a Turbo replacement on June 9. 'Dude, where's my baggage car?' is an initial visual tip-off. VIA 6537 has CN 3112 in tow with its unusually-shortened five-car consist.
As with many things VIA in its early era, we didn't really 'know' what we were looking at. We didn't know how unusual and unique VIA's genesis was. Sometimes it takes years of reflection to look back and highlight how unique and short-lived some of VIA's operations were.

Here's a sensational Montreal Gazette press photo of the 1979 fire:
The Turbos made their final runs on October 31, 1982. 

Running extra:

Some posts are magazines, some are Harry Potter novels. You know, posts that you need to prepare a fine beverage to sit down and enjoy in a leisurely manner. Tim Hayman's recent trip to Montreal and Ottawa is one. Tim's newsy text and sensibly-sprinkled photos are as close to being aboard as one can get! Highly recommended.

Three weeks of hundreds of VIA Corridor trains cancelled, hundreds of thousands of passenger trips not made, and no freight traffic on the CN Kingston Sub until very recently. Though I would like to highlight the challenges and interesting operations that are occurring, I've decided to wallow in nostalgia instead. And do some bus-watching...

Kingston is hosting the 2020 curling Brier. For months now, Kingston Transit electronic roll-signs have encouraged residents to buy tickets. Now KT is encouraging visitors to get on the bus and welcoming them with coffee-shop branding:

Thursday, February 20, 2020

TOFC - Things On Flat Cars in HO Scale

Modellers love flat car loads. Often, the creative process follows a defined, if somewhat illogical, process: 
  • Hey, this looks neat! 
  • Let's plunk it on a flat car! 
  • Let's hook a bunch of loaded flat cars together and run them in a train! 
Well, I'll go along as far as the first step. Especially if the modeller has spent time detailing the load, of course it rates showing off on the layout. Bearing in mind prototypical appearance and correct blocking and strapping. Speaking of prototype, coupling a bunch of disparate loads together is seldom seen. Such loads are usually singles and don't travel in packs!
Some modellers actually attach the load to the flat car. Others model two cars of the same number - one loaded and one empty, then switch a load for an empty at an industry or yard as appropriate. I'm too cheap for that, and would end up with double the number of cars. As a result, my flat car loads are removable. Up-close photos reveal my lack of realistic blocking and strapping. But read on...
The two top photos show flat car loads I recently assembled from bits n' pieces. Two industries on my Hanley Spur layout generate such loads - the Canadian Locomotive Company (CLC) and the Kingston Shipyards, both of which were located on Kingston's waterfront. The loads bear signs regarding humping, who produced the load and ride on my Union Pacific depressed-centre flat car.  I worked a little harder at these two, adding some Testor's black striping tape and non-scale lumber blocking. But the loads are still removable. My CN depressed-centre (above) carries a transformer made from styrene.
Three cardboard rings from a window-shade set were too good to recycle. So I reused them. Painted as rusted steel and glued to a piece of styrene to fit in my Athearn blue box gondola (above). Another gondola load - pieces of a steam locomotive, possibly for export?
A turbine, perhaps, again made from bits n' pieces and blocked for shipment:
CLC produced lots of tank locomotives - this one is just placed on a depressed-centre flat car. These cars have a short move on my layout - to interchange. The locomotive is second-hand and inoperable. The smokebox was partly missing therefore rebuilt with part of a tank car:
Another 'CLC product' actually a Tyco switcher painted grey with signage, blocked and strapped. My CN flat car needs a brake wheel! Oh, the benefits of up-close model photography!
These loads were made years ago to simulate aluminum ingots shipped on DWC/CN bulkhead flat cars. They also fit in some gondola cars if needed:
Another CLC product:
These two will definitely get the most 'reaction'. A CF-101 Voodoo fuselage:
And a NASA rocket!? I haven't actually operated these and I'm posting them just to see if Trackside Treasure readers are awake!
Strips of wood with thread - instant Roundhouse CP bulkhead flat car load:
Pieces of a train-show-bargain-bridge-deck end up in my Algoma Central gondola:
As does the gon's intended lading - pulpwood. Twigs glued to a balsa-wood base. Multiple loaded pulpwood cars and would actually be seen together on the ACR, lifted from load-out sidings.
Cash-register paper spools with test-tube caps added and blocked, riding on this another train show purchase - a nicely-detailed CP Rail flatcar complete with hand grabs:
Another oldie-but-goodie. New Holland balers (made with the flexible part of a flexible drinking straw!) on a styrene base:
As seen on the layout, this flat car crane was made from Majorette loader tracks and crane bits n' pieces:
Underframes from unsuccessful past projects end up in a weathered Athearn blue box UP gondola:
And more computer-label spools, glued together and painted make a final gon load, seen here at Kingston's Presland Iron and Metal which is now gon!

Running extra...

A two-week blockage (not a blockade!) on CN's Kingston Sub, originating 35 miles west of here, has not only stopped CN and VIA Rail traffic, it has started a new round of nonsensical troll comments. We need not brow-beat teenagers about internet-based shaming, bullying and harassing when adults are doing it much more frequently and just as jarringly. Suggestions of violence run counter to contemporary Canadian values shared by indigenous and all others alike. A VIA/Amtrak status map shows the total dearth of VIA trains in this area.

As a rail enthusiast, I've found the blockage other-worldly. Normally, with a few minutes to spare while out and about, there are a number of convenient vantage points to await the next train. What's the point now? Instead, I found myself spending a spare half-hour at a local marketplace. Now that's dangerous, as I might be tempted to pick up a few things I really don't need. But I did make use of my purchases!
The station will be a window-donor. The brewery will be handy for kitbashing. The two kits have already donated parts to my National Grocers building (below) and all the hoppers - except for the Virginian silver one for which I couldn't find a prototype and has been painted-over -  and the vintage Varney gon with sprung trucks have been weathered and are in service. Minimal coupler changeovers! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Portage la Prairie, November 1980

Recently, my email inbox was graced by the arrival of a fine series of photos by the late Bill Grandin, kindly shared by James Parker and included in this post with his permission. Bill took these photos on Nov 26, 1980, according to their captions. I believe Bill was a Winnipeg resident, but this was the first time I recall him photographing Portage, roughly 55 miles to the west. I'd been there twice that year - in June  and in October. While I don't often share other photographers' photos on Trackside Treasure these are too good not to post, knowing that there are many others who railfan or model Portage that will enjoy them as much as I did!
One operation that I wish I'd checked out more was McCallister Pea & Seed Cleaners. McCallister was just north of the CP yard but far enough from the mainlines that I never wanted to miss the action there. Not so for Bill. His morning photos from the west (top photo) and east (above) show the various buildings that made up this agribusiness agglomeration. Note that the transport truck on the drive shed ramp, blocks the spur while a CP Rail multimark boxcar (being loaded?) is just past it. So it must have been retractable.

Moving farther west, Bill photographed the northeast (above) and southeast (below) sides of the United Grain Growers elevator, as it overshadows the off-hand Sherritt Fertilizers elevator. In the second photo, a CP grain train is passing by and CN in foreground.
Moving east along Fisher Avenue, Bill photographed the Elephant Fertilizers and Portage Pool A elevators:
Portage Pool A and its annex, served by CP, with CN mainlines in the foreground:
Approaching the Skyline bridge, we see the Portage Pool B and UGG (formerly Victoria) elevators and CN (VIA) station at right:
Portage Pool B was served by CP on the north side and CN spur on the south side. Wooden grain doors can be seen stacked at the east end of the drive shed.Nice leafless view of the Pool B annexes:
What was likely VIA No 90 arrives behind VIA 6502, wearing its 60-degree slanted yellow nose paint scheme applied in April, 1978, pulls in to Portage at Eighth Street:
Apparently this is a last run for one of the head-end crew, based on the banner tied to 6502's nose:
Stopped at the CN station, with CP station at right:
A westbound CN freight is switching and/or departing the yard westbound. Note the CN boxcars on CP rails on the Northan American Can of Canada Ltd. spur.

Then, in Winnipeg it's VIA Sceneramic Fraser still in CN paint in CN's East Yard, ignominiously coupled to a CN boxcar:

Running extra...

Fellow ARK member Paul Hunter presented on CN's peripatetic, provincial Turbo at our February club meeting. I tagged on some rare-mileage coverage of that famous 25 mph collision with the meat truck at Kingston. Don't you hate it when you show up somewhere and someone is wearing the same thing as you - an original red-and-white 'Turbo' button. Paul and I experienced that!

Blockades have sprung up like mushrooms in manure and CN has staged freights across the system, many east and west of here on the now-rusty rails of its Kingston Sub. Rail-based commerce has ground to a halt, and VIA passengers are caught up in the logistics logjam.

When trains were running...check out combination-door CN 598140 in a rare, small-CN 'website' scheme - a video capture from the Platforum Episode 5 with the irrascibly inimitable Jason Shron. Watch it here, if you dare!