Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Ghostest with the Mostest

In the mid-summer of 1980, VIA experimented with a silver (grey, aluminum, platinum mist - take your pick. I'm no Martha Stewart) and yellow paint scheme. F-unit 6532 had a yellow nose, large yellow VIA logo on its flanks and yellow band at the B-end. The yellow quickly faded in the summer sun. Coaches 5558 and 5590 received this scheme, with a yellow band at each end, one incorpoating the vestibule with a small adjacent VIA logo. Numbers were painted in white and underframe black. There are various conspiracy theories out there that other equipment also received the scheme, though these are the only three pieces of equipment on VIA's roster that come with photographic proof  (top photo via Marty Cahill). The knowns:
  • the silver & yellow scheme reflected the planned LRC scheme
  • the scheme existed only for a short time, so though there is limited photographic proof
  • mostly photos of VIA 6532, as this unit often passed through Bayview Junction
  • was there a matching B-unit - sadly, no
  • the coaches in this scheme were less-photographed, though I observed 5590 on August 29, 30 and 31 in this scheme, with a quick photo on the 30th
  • it's is colloquially referred to as the Grey Ghost scheme
It could be that VIA had this scheme in mind when it recently launched the 'love the way/la voie qu'on aime' wrap scheme and advertising campaign. Deep, very deep in the VIArtual archive, these long-ago planned F-unit wraps have just emerged. View these with caution, because they're pretty stunning visually!
Apparently the graphic designers let things go a little haywire with these sample schemes! Too much caffeine - or perhaps something stronger!
You'd wonder how the designers knew that General Motors F-40's were six years away:
Much, like a VIA P42 locomotive, these cab units gave a large, slab surface on which to apply the lettering. Like a rolling billboard! Like a daffodil springing up on an early April morning! The LRC locomotives and cars would debut in a few short months, and one has to wonder whether more of these slogans would have appeared on their low-slung slides:
(Perhaps a tip of the hat to Rapido Trains Inc/PWRS artwork?) At this time, Rapido trains were just that - Rapido trains. The slogan of things to come:
So, we are left to wonder why these designs never saw the light of day...until now. What's forty years between friends?

Interesting posts sprouting in spring - past years:
April 2018: VIA's Canadian is returning to Montreal!
April 2017: Everything Ground to a Halt!
April 2016: Major Program Announcement for North American Railways!
April 2015: Trackside Treasure Being Translated!

We've got trains covered. So....effective 2359 hours, Trackside Treasure will be changing over to a political blog. There simply is not enough political chatter online. I want to add more. I have some traditional values but some progressive ideas. Therefore, I've decided to make my editorial slant smorgasbordic small-c conservative, small-l liberal and the new title will be Legislature Leisure. I hope you've enjoyed trains, because now we're going to railroad readers into the world of political controversy!

Running extra...

Thanks to the ever-creative Randy O'Brien for sharing this colourful view of switching operations on my HO scale Hanley Spur layout. Of particular note is the very visible framing of my photo with Robertson screws (and how can ya miss those X2F couplers about to make the joint?) These screws are surely the most convenient and repositionable of track-attachment fasteners out there. Especially if one wants to screw around with one's track arrangement. Thanks, Randy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Cataraqui Spur Derailment - March 25, 2020

Again today, CN No 518 derailed on CN's Cataraqui Spur heading to the lakefront Invista nylon plant here in Kingston. Every three weeks, CN will be scheduling a local derailment at this location. Now more than ever, local media needs a novel story (besides the absolutely awful COVID-19 outbreak which has pushed all other stories off the front page, back page, sports page, and every other page in between) to grab and hold readers' attention. We need more social media commenters advancing more conspiracy theories as to why it happened, like... I've heard it may be "the aliens speaking through my tinfoil hat and dental fillings" kind of thing. These are not social media influencers.

Since this derailment is now a regular thing, you can read about the peculiarities of this particular soggy, tectonic-shifting location in this previous derailment post hastily published on March 4. The train crew confers (top photo) and the local signal maintainer pulled up to assist. CN Police were en route as I headed home after the weekly grocery run. The leader, CN 4784 sits waiting in the weeds:
Same soggy spot, just south of Bath Road. This time, the easternmost rail has rolled, and the only reason the cars didn't derail at an angle is because their wheels are resting on the web of the rail. As close as I could get, from the Armstrong Road strip mall. Kingston Police sealed off Bath Road from Queen Mary Road in the east to Centennial Boulevard in the west.
The consist:
-CN 4784
-CN 4130
loaded scrap gondolas from KIMCO including (first three cars on the four-lane crossings)
-CMBX197929 (ex-CN) bathtub gondola (Combined Metal Industries Ltd.)
-GACX 53829 black gondola
-CMBX 2263 black (ex-Sultran) bathtub gondola
-CMBX 197843 (ex-CN) bathtub gondola
-CMBX 100099 black (ex-David J Joseph) bathtub gondola
-CMBX 100199 black bathtub gondola
-MGRX 50041 and the usual covered hoppers and tank cars covering nylon feedstock safely negotiated the spot and do not appear derailed. The scrap gons bore the brunt of the mishap this time. Scrap, not sulphur:
The rerailed cars were stashed at CN's team track near Gardiners Road. This time, rerailing and dumping in some ballast aren't going to cut it. CN needs new ties, more spikes and perhaps more rail anchors here. The view from Centennial Drive:
Interestingly, the lead-in to this post makes it sound like some kind of an April Fool's Day post, which it is not. But it sure keeps the railfanning local!
The Kingstonist has some photos from the east side showing the rolled rail:
Another Kingstonist/submitted photo from March 25 showing track reconstruction. Note the 'second set' of rails and Perkan (Montreal) side-boom bulldozer.
March 27 Update: Cars for Invista still on-track south of the crossing, gons removed.

March 31 Update: Cars from the early-March derailment (getting tricky to keep track of all these derailments!) and trailerload of axles still on team trackage at top of Cataraqui Spur. The tamper has likely run around the covered hoppers after working at the derailment site, and was about to be picked up by a CN flatbed transport truck:

Thanks to Andrew, Paul and Michael for heads-ups. Or head-ups. Or heads-ups. Whatever!
And Malcolm and Paul for additional information.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Model Railroading during a Pandemic

A week ago, I was seasonally sequestered at a cabin reading about railroading. Wednesday into Thursday, the COVID-19 pandemic got real and everything started changing and closing up. My prescient post in 2018 about revenue-neutral modelling came to mind, as did this year's Model and Railfan Local. I won't reiterate the past week, but just as we can reset certain fiscal and social norms during the pandemic, we should definitely re-examine our modelling, railfanning and expenditures made on both. It's not always black and white (top photo).

So I've continued not only my trend of working on the layout for 45 minutes a day, when possible (between the CBS Evening News headlines and Jeopardy!) but also finishing up projects already on my under-layout shelves and post-its. By that, I mean post-it notes I stick on my layout fascia when I become aware of something that needs doing. Kind of like a job jar.
The first one was a conundrum about what to do with these two cars. CN refrigerator car and CV paper car, both of which are Tyco cars that I renumbered and painted/decalled, respectively. They ran like crap. The Talgo X2F couplers pushed these underweight cars off the track at turnouts and during reverse movements, but I liked the look of them and didn't want to self-isolate them right off the layout! I had a couple of surplus Athearn cars - 50-foot CP script refrigerator car and newsprint car. So, I took out the complete underframe from each, which included roller-bearing trucks and couplers that I wanted. Out came the Dremel, shaving a bit off the ends and sides of the floor, and voila, it dropped right into the Tyco cars. Secured with glue, we were ready to go. Saved!

In the other half of my layout room, my wife is working on her greeting cards. She uses tape-runners which give out  a steady stream of adhesive. And a steady pile of empty runners. I took a look at them and found they included some geared wheel thingies that I thought would make interesting gondola loads. I'm finding ways to use these on the layout (as I am black Sharpies. Watch for an upcoming post!) Here's a geared wheel thingie in foreground, with glued-together and painted thingies in the car:
The load is secured with styrene sprues in the bottom of the car and can be lifted out easily:
Surplus ink stampers are another reusable - I glued them end to end, and glued small wheel thingies from the tape runners, painted rust for another type of load:
Two empty tape runners (plus one in the foreground) glued together and painted. This will be a gondola or depressed-centre flat car load originating at Canadian Locomotive Co.
After building my Bailey Broom factory, I decided to back-date it so that it's still the Queen City Oil Co. dealership. That meant horizontal oil tanks. I used the ends of the rubber stampers, gluing them onto three (also glued-together) empty plastic label rolls to form the tanks, perching them on some supports from the scrap box. I'll be further detailing the unloading equipment. As you can see, I've only got room for a couple, not the five tanks on the prototype. A view from the North Street bridge towards Cataraqui Street crossing:
 A Rideau Street view:
I finally covered this limestone rock cut (facing a papier-mache 2x4) with something better than ground foam. To cover this subtle scenery block between CN (foreground) and CP trackage (background), I used grass mats from Michael's craft store, cheaper and easier than static grass - just lightly white-glued in a few spots because I'm likely to change my mind!
Looking from the other end - I worked in a perpendicular rock cut where one 2x4 ended. It's printer-paper picture of limestone copied, cut and pasted. Literally.
Every work session ends with an operating session. This keeps the junk off the tracks and keeps the layout functioning regularly. This is what all the work is for. That's the difference between model-building and model railroading. Last night,  CP was in town, while CN headed toward the mainline in this Cataraqui Street crossing view:
A view across the interchange tracks and CN's line to CP, where the Weldwood warehouse is being switched:
A black & white view of CN switching the Place d'Armes freight shed:
Almost a year later and again locked down, I was still at it. Let's call this post Part 2.
Running extra...

After blog partner Steve Boyko showed his bookshelf in a recent post, I noticed all four Trackside with VIA books, in some very good company. It turns out this is a case of bidirectional bibliophily...
...with Steve's book dead-centre among mine. I don't think that happens on too many bookshelves!

Ten things we can appreciate about the pandemic:

1. Partisan politicians need to work together more.
2. Cruises, pro sports and excessive air travel are frills.
3. Education begins at home.
4. Real information matters. Fake news is itself fake.
5. Certain jobs can't be done from home.
6. Social distancing reduces mass shootings.
7. Every day is like Sunday used to be - special.
8. Enjoy what you have - stop looking for more, more, more!
9. Healthcare workers always face real challenges.
10.Each morning gives us a chance to re-evaluate everything we will do.
CNN's own Sanjay and CBS's Steven Colbert have provided valuable information! Meanwhile...

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Reflections on Railway Reading during a Pandemic

This particular post comes at an interesting juncture, junction and juxtaposition of several things:

  • Spare time - six Saturdays and a Sunday every week as I learn to live without work
  • Cabin in the woods - YES. Not the same Cabin for Two that VIA gave us last year.
  • Covid in the woods - NOT. World events and newscasts, but this was not self-isolation.
  • Books - Steve Boyko's By the Book Railfan Edition post certainly brought into focus my bibliophilic byline.
I was not able to emulate Steve's post for various reasons, not the least of which the fact that I don't read a lot of books. This was a problem in school - my attention span meant that I read lots of magazines, history, newspapers and looked at a lot of the pictures. When we had a read-a-thon, it was not my cup of tea. Scholastic book sales helped a little. (Say, I did finish two books last week...I got 'em both coloured!) Our daughter and fiance (or is that fiancee, who can remember, and I'm not even attempting to find the accent key on this keyboard?) kindly sent us packing. To the cabin that they had previously enjoyed earlier in the winter. Everyone needs a break sometime!

I quickly gravitated to a comfortable, pillow-laden recliner mere inches away from the woodstove, with sidetable, lamp, and coaster, with a lapful of Nepal-made Yeti sweaters for extra padding. My wife was mere metres away. Spending a few days at the cabin, I grossly underestimated how much I could read. I have a plethora of books on the reading pile at home, plus train show-find magazines. That's why I'm blogging this right now! I didn't bring nearly enough of them. There were no interruptions, phone calls of the telemarketing or family variety, TV, errands or shopping. And with time to relax, plus occasional walks outside the cabin to watch the transition from winter to spring, my wristwatch was useless. View from the west, and from another century:

Ah, but the time to relax with a beverage and read. In this case, John R. Hardy's excellent trip accounts in Canadian Rail Travel - a Photographic record of passenger train journeys 1964-1991. A grossly under-represented and seldom referred-to book that is very much in the vein of my trip accounts in my Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections. It was quite purposely the first book thrown into the go-bag. Coffee-coddling the Corridor as the cup got drained:
All the while, my wife was whiling away the day jigsaw-puzzling or card-making, as VIAsions of Hardy's trip photography danced in my head. Snow-bound Sudbury scintillated:
With Hardy's book fully digested, all those trips from various far-flung facets of Canadian railroading made and enjoyed, it was Kalmbach's turn. I think Classic Trains may be my National Geographic of railway magazines. Too good to throw out, but sometimes too engrossing to read. Shaughnessy's snapshots siren-called me back to an earlier century. Taken on a different day, a beverage still beckoned, the flames still flitted and the overcast still overcompensated:
Sunset, as the settlers might have seen it:
Switching to stronger stuff, both publisher and pub-wise. Now it was the turn of White River and Steam Whistle, respectively. While Railfan & Railroad keeps the quality high, I miss the revolutionary approach that the magazine initially took to The Magazine of Railroading. This was by fans, for fans. I guess I'm still a fan.
Moving to the breakfast nook and its view of the shed, I shed decades reading about Burlington Northern's neat renumbering of its inherited Alcos. One of my favourite roads, and outside the window, one of the least busy roads. Where garbage day is still an event!
Now, some placidly pastoral non-VIA vistas:

Running extra COVID-19 Edition...

I never dreamed that my initiative to Model & Railfan Local in 2020 would come up against a worldwide pandemic. My choice was prescient and pre-science. Our worlds of business, travel, collaboration and globalism have led us to a place where getting away nominally means getting more. Local is not less, nonetheless. Initiatives in food, shopping and tourism have enticed us to stay where we are, and to appreciate what is nearby. 

I never could have predicted that one tasty meal of bat or pangolin, consumed halfway across the globe would result in my local train show being cancelled today. How did one person's gastronomic choices (talk about eating local!) result in thousand of deaths and cruise ships bobbing like corks in the surging sea of uncertainty.  Did my choice of dark meat quarter-chicken dinner over white meat, at Swiss Chalet, ever endanger thousands in Thailand, hordes of hungry Hungarians or immunocomromised Indonesians? Surely not. 
I would not have believed that toilet paper would rise in value while oil fell. Stock indexes slipped as canned goods were piled in pantries. Aren't Canadians industrious and pragmatic, like our national symbol, the beaver? Yet we don't have two sheets of Cottonelle to rub together, nor two cans of baked beans in our larder? Costco was the cure we sought? Surely there is hope in our future, but for now, let's close with a haiku...

Toilet tissue
Shelves wiped clean
While ventilators keep vigil, breathing labours
Doctors and nurses
Toil tonight

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Cataraqui Spur Derailment - March 4, 2020

CN's Belleville-Kingston turn No 518 derailed several cars, partly or fully, upright, on a tilt or fully horizontal on and just south of Kingston's east-west Bath Road shortly after 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 4. This train serves Kingston's Invista plant on the Cataraqui Spur every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at midday before heading west from Belleville. The train brings raw materials hexamethyldiamine in tank cars and adipic acid in covered hopper cars to supply feedstock to the plant's nylon production. The train reverses direction at Queens at Mi 175 Kingston Sub, then heads west on the south track, backs down the Cataraqui Spur crossing Tanner Drive, Centennial Drive, Armstrong Road, Bath Road, Front Road and the plant access road to reach the plant.

I wasn't the first to photograph the derailment's aftermath, but I was the last to photograph the train's head-end a minute or two before the derailment. In the top photo, CN 9427-9461 are crossing Centennial Drive, shown from Tanner Drive. After the derailment, the head-end was stopped just east of Armstrong Road. Take a look at that trackwork, or lack of it!
I'm attempting to social-blog this incident in less than nine hours after its genesis. That means, crank out a blog post using a social media 'happening-now' timeline but with slightly more information than the usual scant amount shared by social media. Back in newspaper days, the city beat reporters and photographers visited the scene,  interviewed and photographed, then headed back to the paper to type out just the facts, submitted it for editing, waited for the photogs to soup their photos, then published a fact-checked, backgrounded, edited story in the next day's edition. Nowadays, social media locals post a couple of photos, and CBC, Global and others contact them in real time to ask whether they can use the photos. Submitted photos and Googled information hurriedly gathered together, and the media outlets post their reports on a scene they've never visited.
Closeup of the Geeps, with Bayswater Drive apartments in the background. The train is backing through a curve on a trestle here, before crossing Bath Road. A 1995 derailment on the trestle resulted in more piles being added to the trestle. Backing south, a trainman rides the last (now first) car to call out crossing status to the head-end. I recently profiled the south end of this operation. In this case, news reports show a female trainman conversing with police and fire at Bath Road.
A local plaza backs onto the conservation lands and trestle here, and provided an OK location for locomotive photography. Interestingly, both locomotives feature the CN North America paint scheme and have been holding down this run since late January. 
 The full consist:
-CN 9427
-CN 9461
-JTIX 103 and five more black GACX gondolas from Kingston's Kimco Steel
-Seven tank cars with hexamethyldiamine
-Nine covered hoppers with adipic acid including:
-INVX 38761 ended up on the crossing
-MGTX 50164 derailed
-one more derailed covered hopper
-MGRX 50226 derailed
-MGRX 50100 derailed
-MGTX 50077
-KLRX 525094

UPDATE March 14: the following cars from the train are at the team track at the top of the Cataraqui Spur, with blue flag protection:
-INVX 38761 - east drawbar looks bent
-MGRX 50164 - east truck with mud on it. roofwalks damaged likely during rerailing
-MGRX 50226 - west truck with mud on it, one hatch damaged, wrapped with plastic, roofwalks damaged
-MGRX 50100 - hatch damage, side damage

Nearby was trailer CNRZ 300106 carrying container CNSU 300631 with 12 axles on it
 A view of the stopped gons and tank cars:
A view from Armstrong Road at Bath Road, the latter blocked off east of Armstrong Road and west of Queen Mary Road. This was taken about 35 minutes after the derailment.
A view across the Cataraqui Creek conservation lands with the Bayswater Apartments in background. Apartment-dwellers interviewed by local media presented contrasting police orders to evacuate or not evacuate during the unfolding aftermath. National media describe the minimally-leaked adipic acid as 'food grade' but I wouldn't sprinkle it on my Corn Flakes or add it to a Southwest Salad. It is used in cherry Jell-O, and some medicines, however 60% of adipic acid production goes to nylon-producing facilities. The stuff is a mild skin irritant and mildly toxic, and is often described by those in the field as 'pretty nasty stuff'. Rectangular UN 3077 orange labels applied to cars that carry adipic acid denotes their special lining and use to carry environmentally hazardous substance, solid, not otherwise specified, not including waste. UN 3077 placarding is also used for these nickel shipments on the CN Kingston Sub.
The angled cars and the horizontal one. It would appear problems started with the southward movement as it crossed Bath Road. After the CN eastern Canada shutdown that ended service to the plant from February 5 until February 28, the plant has only been switched February 28 and March 2. Today would have been the third post-shutdown train. Now add a few more days until shipments can reach the plant after the impending contractor cleanup.

As close as I could get. Other interested citizens began to take in the aftermath as well:
Most of the running gear from the derailed cars was in rough shape, with loose axles and truck sideframes visible in media reports. Not the first time this has happened here! 
Back to the present:
Leaving the area on Bath Road from Centennial, traffic was being rerouted up Centennial Drive. Check out that new, unreadable blue Ontario licence plate on the red crossover! The controversy over these plates originated with Kingston Police Sergeant Steve Koopman. My arrow shows the location of the southward train in this eastward-looking view of the scene.
UPDATE March 4 2300 CN Road-rail crane on the crossing working, front-end loader dumping stone for equipment access on east side of spur.
UPDATE March 5 1800 Eastbound lanes of Bath Road open. Westbound lanes were open earlier in the day.
UPDATE March 31 1200 Four cars still on team trackage at top of Cataraqui Spur. Trailer-load of axles nearby. Most of the minimal damage is on the far side (left of photo):

Conspiracy theories abounded, in typical social media fashion.:
  • green eco-terrorism
  • sabotage
  • materials placed on track to cause derailment
  • freeze-thaw cycle in swampy terrain
  • somebody wanted to see the [curling] Brier
  • CN blocked again - now my trip on VIA is off. This is NOT the mainline
  • debris in flangeways (FTW)
Lots o' links:
A 1950's aerial view of the area, showing the current location of the VIA station, the Cataraqui Spur trestle curving down towards Bath Road and the derailment site as a red 'X'. The spur was built during wartime and in the pre-strip mall era when agriculture still ruled:

Running extra...

Thanks to Andrew, Dave, Karen and Paul for the heads-up about this derailment!

Hopper cars were dropping like U.S. Democratic presidential candidates, today. If Super Tuesday was their downfall, where a good ground-game was important, this was On the Ground or Waterloo Wednesday for this tiny train. Nobody can summarize the daily ups and downs of the seemingly never-ending campaign like non-Canadian Stephen Colbert. I am tempted to do an entire post on his word-salad lead-ins to his 'MEANWHILE' segments!