Monday, June 29, 2020

Canada Day 2020

This will be a Canada Day unlike any other in living memory. There is a lot out there we do not want to celebrate. Like a global pandemic that will affect the usual Canada Day parades and pie-eating contests. But I'd rather focus on pandemic positivity. What is happening that has 'been a good thing'?

In the railfan world, we have five Canadian Pacific units commemorating each of our Armed Forces and the anniversary of D-Day. CP also has former Central Maine & Quebec (now their) units running across its system in silver and blue generating interest and innumerable digital photos. Hoist a moose head to them and their logo, railfans!

VIA hasn't been running very much, especially Western long-haul, so we were treated to Canadian equipment being deadheaded across the system, and especially here over CN's Kingston Sub!

A lot of model railroaders have been home working on their layouts, me included. Heck, even Jason Shron is working on his layout, just not on its blog.

When I piloted the Model & Railfan Local 2020 initiative early in this annus horribilis, I never dreamed there would be a lockdown that would facilitate same. It seemed like a nice, quaint idea worth promoting. But now?

Whether you're modelling your local area, railfanning same or doing neither, take this opportunity to find something positive in our national situation. We've been through lots worse in our history! These are some of the best things we can do to honour our country:
  • Resist outright stupidity. 
  • Rebel against peer pressure. 
  • Revel in independent thinking. 
  • Make safety a priority in your family and your community.
  • Defend, don't just defund.
(Top photo - Moraine Lake)
 Pop-up Canada Day contest time!
Identify three 'Canadian train terms' in this word cloud (above). Send your correct ID's by email to mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca and you'll win a nationally-coveted Trackside Treasure prize pack. (Remember, they're train terms - just because a train goes to Edmonton doesn't make Edmonton a train term!)
Thanks for all the entries. Contest is now closed.
Here is the word cloud before I added  the 'Canadian train terms'.

And after:
My apologies to diversity, mickey and 1867 for being replaced. 
Correctly guessing the answers I added were:
Brian Sulley, Mike Ferrell, Lee G., Eric May, Steve Hoshel, and Mark Wittrup

Honourable mentions to:
Steve Boyko and J.P. and Eric May for alternate answers.
Maple Leaf was already in the word cloud, and it is the name of the Amtrak train to New York City.
CAD is also in the word cloud, but I think they intended it to mean Canadian Dollars.

Happy Canada Day!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Springtime at the Station, June 2020

Springtime, barely. On June 18-19, 2020 I found myself trackside just ahead of the summer solstice. It was time to spring into action to embody my Railfan & Model Local 2020 initiative while summer simmered on the back sun burner. One limitation of railfanning locally is that there may be a temptation to shoot those same ol' shots - returning to that already-plowed photographic field of familiar angles and copied compositions. Trying to avoid that temptation, VIA trains are slowly filling up with social distancing. At 1050, VIA No 52/62 arrived and I focused not on the head-end, but on the tattered tail-end, where I found VIA 902. The entire consist: 6421-3456-3344(Renaissance)-3301R-3359Future-3316F-911Love the way-913L-3460-3303R-3356F-3363-3350F-902.
Sure, the mid-train 'breeding pair' of VIA 911-913 temporarily returned me from my Renaissance scheme reverie after seeing 902, one of only four still unwrapped, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but VIA No 63 emerging at 1157 from the just-completed spans of the John Counter Boulevard (JCB in Limestone City hip-speak) overpass with similarly-garbed VIA 901-3302R-3327R-3335-3320R-3348R-3452-914L and a surprise!
I had decided to safely cross the tracks - unusually energetic positioning for this long-time platform poseur - to take advantage of the pre-noon light. With VIA toting stainless steel equipment on the tail-end of Corridor trains, it is perhaps not surprising that some other creative consisting took place on this train. While dreaming of a mayo-laden club sandwich, I would use the phrase 'club car sandwich' to describe the positioning of 3475 on the tail-end, sandwiching 914L in the middle! "Let's get out of town before anyone notices!"
These foreground signs have warned Kingston riders to Eloignez-vous for generations, while the signpost signage is significantly less stentorian. There are a few grey areas, and before long, a bearded vagabond walked along to enjoy the shady station shrubberies in the heat of the day.
After a lunch break of taco dip with some family crafters, it was back for some dessert at 1352 in the form of 'la voie' wrapped VIA 6402 and the rest of VIA No 53: 6402L-3311R-3325-3368 (roller-painted blue)-3313-3461-912L at the west end of the north platform:
Returning to the scene of the shrine on June 19, I lolly-gagged during a lollingly long lull from 0745-0945. An eastbound hi-rail is a virtual four-wheeled rolling advertisement for Tim Hortons, a Timbit temptation in nearby Cataraqui village. Fast food and trains! Oh, and cereal pieces should never be added to the exterior of a Timbit. A nice view of the JCB overpass, upon which surfacing preparation is taking place. As part of the re-design process, JCB alignment changes, and two access roads to the VIA station are replaced by one 'ring road' roundabout access point with pending pedestrian access from transit stop to the station there.
An eastbound freight lights up the signals as I once again sample the south track scenery while waiting. The Canadian National Museum of Miscellaneous Missing Freight Car Parts has a travelling exhibit here:
Fibre-optic cable was laid here decades ago. Watch for an upcoming post. This sign is stuck to one of the platform hockey-stick lightpoles. Brought to you by the letters S&C, both of which work in both official languages:
Morning is usually a good time for freight action at Kingston - Usually. Witness foreground Viper's Bugloss flowering fortuitously in front of this fabulous freight, again favouring the morning light on the south side of the south track.
It's CN No 368 with 3175 leading and HTTX 93150 carrying a CAT 349F excavator adjacent to a lone, lumbering ABOX combination door boxcar:

Blue single-doored high-cube LRS boxcars like LRS 100065 are getting photographed all over North America. Ungraffiti'd and less than a month old, five more senior but equally pristine CN cylindricals led DPU 3211:
The problem with lulls - they often lead to ill-timed meets, such as this one when CN No 149 appeared behind 368 with CN 2819-2991-3049 at 0948. Intermodal, interrupted:
Today's VIA No 52/62 at 1111: 6421-3456-3344R-3301R-3359F-3316F-911L-912L-3461-3313-3368roller-3325-3311R-3334-6402L. Looks familiar from yesterday's No 53. Such consist-conjuring is the stuff of which books are written. During the pandemic, all consists have been standard-length and double-ended and since trains have more stops, they often run a little late:

Another intermodal westbound at 1125: CN 3240-3169. Then it was time for some pie to-go with Little Caesar. Perhaps that should be 'to-ga'! Et tu, Bacon?
At this location in future, a proposed VIA Rail service road will give access to the west end of the south platform from Princess Street, now that VIA may be losing access to the platform with the JCB realignent at the east end. Perhaps the JCB level crossing will be kept as a private road for access, although it will likely be unsignalled and there would be an issues like crossing safety. This access road would form part of the Rideau Trail route. From the City of Kingston's environmental assessment report:

Running extra...

Lights...Camera...Explanation? Fellow Kingston railfan Paul Hunter snapped VIA 6408 bringing up the paddle on VIA train 669 on June 22. Paul noted two alien red lights inside the cab - erstwhile markers? Aliens? Photo below. Paul also noted LED-appearing step lights up the cab of VIA 6421.
On a humid day in Brockville, Tim Hayman snapped this photo of newly-released VIA 'cabbage' (cab car + baggage) 6501:
Just to be clear, it's some of Tim's fine HO scale modelling. Tim explains,"Like its Amtrak cousins, this locomotive has been demotored, the interior turned into a baggage space and the fuel tank filled in as ballast, and the cab controls left functional to allow for the train to be controlled in reverse. When it came to decoration, I didn't want to use the standard Renaissance scheme (in part because it's a PITA to decal on an F40!!). Since it's fictional, why not have fun with it and create something new-but-believable? So this scheme is inspired by more recent VIA branding, using a version of the LRC club car scheme, but also taking inspiration from the more contemporary use of the VIA logo in various branding. Newer materials have seen a resurgence in the prominent use of the core VIA logo, including frequent use of it in a sideways orientation, so I thought it would be fun to bring that in. I quite like the end result, an enjoyable entry in my side collection of what-ifs."

Friday, June 19, 2020

CN 399000 Articulated Potash Car


CN's Transcona Shops in Winnipeg produced articulated covered hopper CN 399000 in March, 1993 for potash service. A unique articulated design, similar to but not identical to CN 398000 which was in grain service, CN 399000 was 55'10" in length and 15'6" in height, with a capacity of 4600 cubic feet. This additional capacity was 800 cu ft. larger than the standard 3800 cu ft cylindrical covered hopper car. CN 399000 spent most of its life being loaded at the potash mines in the Saskatoon area and unloading at various ports and large cities throughout the western U.S. and Canada. At the same time, CP was working with Canpotex and National Steel Car (NSC) to develop a three-unit potash prototype using slackless couplers, inter-unit drawbars and self-steering trucks. 

Canpotex (Canadian Potash Exporters) entered operation in 1972 as a potash marketing firm and exports one third of the world's potash annually, now representing Agrium, Mosaic and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. Canpotex and NSC have together provided 7,000 cars for potash shipments.


Beginning in March, 1998 Saskatchewan potash began traversing CN's Kingston Sub en route from Melville, SK to Clover Hill, NB. A heavy train, eastbound CN No 738 brought the potash for refining to Clover Hill, NB via CN's Denison Sub, since the there was flooded but could still process mined potash. More on these unique unit trains here. 

I'd spotted CN 399000 eastbound on No 738, and on September 10, 1999 a CN public trace showed it coming west on 90-car CN No 737, in the company of some of the 1600 cylindrical covered hoppers lettered for Canpotex. These classic cylindricals have been almost totally replaced by 4300 cu ft shorter cars with a variety of reporting marks. Passing Kingston's Coverdale Drive intersection, I hastily snapped this unique car from the No Frills parking lot here at 1500 hours:
Interestingly, one unit of the articulated car was equipped with troughs, the other had round hatches for loading. There have been printed reports of structural issues around the articulated connection in the centre of the car:
I'd contacted my Dad by phone as a backup plan - in case I wasn't able to quite make it trackside after work that day. He set up at Mi 182, about three miles to the west. He photographed the head end: CN 2418-4131. Being empties, the eastbound consist was kept together and was definitely not over-powered! A subsequent CN No 737 on October 2, observed at Belleville, was powered by single unit CN 2402 and sample cars PTEX 455420 and 455704. 
Nailed it!
Going-away shot into the afternoon sun:
I had only one more observation of this unique car - on December 6, 2007 on CN No 309 with high-visibility striping applied. Two years later, Peter Mumby photographed CN 399000 in 2009, also showing the high-visibility striping:

Lots o' links:
  • CN 399000 on CN's Edson Sub in 2017. The car has acquired a colourful bit of graffiti that nearly obscures the Canpotex lettering on one side. It's at the 4:10 mark of this video.
  • Canpotex unloading just like the real thing!
  • Canpotex in model form. One modeller bought 50 of these cars, paid to have them professionally weathered, resulting in a train that cost $10,000. That would buy 40 tonnes of potash!
  • Now, CN operates their heavy potash eastward moves as train B730, with up to four locomotives including rear Distributed Power to Saint John, NB.
  • Instead of falling into a mindless stupour watching all those 200 cars pass by, here's one to watch for: CEFX 302593, the 5,000th Canpotex car built by NSC.
  • Modelling potash cars on CP, 1995-style.
  • PWRS master class on potash cars.

Running extra...

John Fenner of Montreal will be receiving the Trackside Treasure prize pack for his entry in Trackside Treasure's Covert Covid Contest. Describing how he's modelling or railfanning local in 2020, part of this blog's self-declared campaign, John shared the following:

 "Re 2020 modelling/surviving COVID:   My theme:  “Run What You Brung” and use up stuff - have someone hold my ankles while I dive deep into my scrap box.  As our local hobby shop was closed for the duration, I was down to, for example,  stripping air horns off scrap trainset (Tyco™ !!) shells to use on a “vintage” FA-2 NYC detailing project that had been suspended since sometime in the late 1990’s  , and piecing together “GAIETE”  to name a CN lounge car (itself an Athearn Blue-box kitbash) ,  out of a decal set for “MAGNOLIA PETROLEUM COMPANY”. Good fun.  And doing my bit to save the world  (by staying home)

Dame Vera Lynn left behind sentimental classics like We'll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. She's been hailed by queens and captains alike, with pandemic fundraising phenom Captain Tom noting how much her songs meant to him while stationed in Burma during WW2. Dame Vera was 103 years young!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

VIA Ex-CP Cars East to Montreal - Part 2

Another pop-up post photographically portraying the movement en masse of VIA's ex-CP Budd fleet from Western Canada to Toronto and Montreal. Part 1 covered the first train which passed through Winnipeg on May 17, arriving at VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre (TMC) and moving in small cuts on VIA's nightly train No 66 down CN's Kingston Sub between Toronto and Montreal - right past your humble blogger and other railfans here in Kingston. 

Here's the 22-car consist of a second VIA No 12 (CN's symbol = P01251 12) which arrived at the TMC on May 23, ex Winnipeg on May 21. These cars were formerly at the Winnipeg Maintenance Centre. Each unit is followed by the bracketed date it headed east from Toronto as pictured below: VIA 6428-6421-6451-Chateau Lasalle-8510(24)-Chateau Closse(24)-Mackenzie Manor (24)-8600-8125-Chateau Latour-Kokanee Park-Chateau Radisson-Princess-8612-8103-8119-8504-Chateau Vercheres-8620-8120-8505-Chateau Argenson-8122-Evangeline Park-Waterton Park.

VIA No 66 on May 24 (below and top photo) carried the first three deadhead cars from this second VIA No 12 that had arrived in Toronto on May 23: 6410-5 LRC cars-903L-Mackenzie Manor (open vestibule door!)-Chateau Closse-8510 (open vestibule door too!). 
Here's a view at Prescott.
This train was about 40 minutes late, accounting for the slightly longer shadows along beautiful Collins Bay at Mi 180 Kingston Sub - water level along Lake Ontario! Of course, it's rare to see these Canadian cars coupled to VIA P42's, normally Corridor power not accustomed to these transcontinental cousins.
Also on May 24, VIA No 63 had seven HEPII 4100-series coaches on the tail-end.

May 25's No 66 included lots of power -  from the second No 12, remarshalled in reverse order as the three F40's from the first No 12 had been, and four more Canadian cars on the tail-end. VIA No 66 at 1739 at Collins Bay: 6451-6421-6428-900Love the way-3456-3304Ren-3310-3359Future-3316F-911L-Princess-Chateau Radisson-Chateau Latour-8125. Thanks to Mark Sampson, Matt Soknacki and Malcolm Peakman for the heads-up.

May 26 - boring ol' No 66 with no stainless steel. No photo here.
May 27 - almost no stainless steel - just VIA 4122 tacked on the tail-end (below). The TMC tap has been turned off, with no further movements east.
A second VIA train No 12 from Vancouver (CN's symbol is P01251 25) departed on the evening of May 25, arriving Jasper around midday on May 26. VIA 6438-6458-Hearne Manor-Jarvis Manor-8130-8133-Prestige Class Chateau Lauzon-Prestige Class Chateau Cadillac-Butler Manor-Craig Manor-Rogers Manor-Bell Manor-Wolfe Manor-Blair Manor- Cameron Manor-Stuart Manor- Thompson Manor-Lorne Manor. Baggage car 8615 was lifted at Winnipeg and put on the tail-end. Blog partner Steve Boyko photographed this train as it passed through Winnipeg.

June 6 -  VIA No 63 took the following cars back west from Montreal: Chateau Maisonneuve, Chateau Joliette, Acadian, 8104, 8105, Tweedsmuir Park!(Thanks to Paul Hunter and Andrew Ferguson)

June 10 - VIA No 66 brought four cars east (Thanks to Paul Hunter)

June 13 - VIA No 66 brought four cars east (Thanks to Paul Hunter)
* * *
Currently, waiting to see if further movements of stainless steel cars will pass by on their way to the MMC. If there are more movements, this post will be updated. I'm not ready to close the barn door just yet, as there may be some more VIA horses that are ready to run along the CN Kingston Sub! Rumour has it the MMC is too full and they want to send cars once more west. Stay tuned! One so far:

June 17 - VIA No 11 headed slightly east from the TMC, then north and left Toronto for Vancouver with five locomotives and 25 cars: 6442-6457-6441-6449-6455-8600-8122-8103-Assiniboine Park-Evangeline Park-8606-8509-8504-8120-Abbott Manor-8130-Fraser Manor-Hunter Manor-Monck Manor-Fairholme-8133-Alexandra-Cornwall Manor-Chateau Dollard-Imperial-Chateau Maisonneuve-Chateau Jolliet-Acadian-8105-Tweedsmuir Park. Cars have been inspected and will be staged for returns to service in Jasper and Vancouver.

NOTE: (Ex Toronto: Abbott Manor-8503 and 8129 were shown in a shared consist after 8130. Haven't seen any photos or other shared consists to substantiate this. Perhaps 8129 was removed at Winnipeg. At Winnipeg, 8130 was remarshalled farther back in the consist ahead of 8133 and there was a power change. Ex Winnipeg, 6442-6441-6454 (la voie qu'on aime wrap on Engineer's side)-6449-6455 with 6457 left in Winnipeg. 

At Jasper, the last two units, 6449-6455, and the first five cars: 8600-8122-8103-Assiniboine Park-Evangeline Park were set out and this consist continued into Vancouver, arriving June 21 with: 6442-6441-6454L-8606-8509-8504-8120-Abbott Manor-Fraser Manor-Hunter Manor-Monck Manor-Fairholme-8130-8133-Alexandra-Cornwall Manor-Chateau Dollard-Imperial-Chateau Maisonneuve-Chateau Jolliet-Acadian-8105-Tweedsmuir Park, 20 cars.

July 2: VIA No 63 had Brock Manor, Butler Manor**, Cameron Manor** and 8510* on the tail-end (Thanks to Andrew Ferguson) (*from first No 12,** from second No 12).

July 5: VIA No 63 with three more Manors heading west (Thanks to Paul Hunter).
* * *
Meanwhile, VIA has returned some services in the Corridor, though long-distance Ocean and Canadian service will not return until November or even January, 2021. A temporary pdf format timetable can be found here. Though the pdf cover is dated June 3, various schedule blocks show other dates like March 23, March 30, when service reductions were instituted.
* * *
Quarantinewhile*, at 'Pacific Central Station' (I still can't get used to that title - I remember when 'large CANADIAN NATIONAL' letters adorned the Vancouver station roofline). Faithful Trackside Treasure reader Terry Muirhead kindly shared these photos showing Canada geese filling the vacuum where the Canadian has flown east:
Tickets, please?
(*thank you, Stephen Colbert!)

SEPTEMBER 13, 2020 UPDATE: Westbound ex Toronto at 0715: 6429-6428-8104-8613-Waterton Park-8102 ("D&H" scheme)- 8109 ("D&H" scheme)-Draper Manor-Chateau Varennes (Prestige)-Tremblant Park-Kokanee Park-Prince Albert Park (Prestige). Cars for Jasper and Vancouver. (Thanks to Mark Sampson)

SEPTEMBER 17, 2020 UPDATE: Arriving Jasper, the consist was 6429-6428-8613-Waterton Park-8143-8621-then 8102 and the rest of the consist unchanged. Tim Stevens kindly shared consist information plus his photo taken at Henry House (below) VIA 8104 was left behind and 8143-8621 added at Winnipeg. 
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER UPDATE: Departing Vancouver November 30 to Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal VIA No 12, in preparation for Dec. 11 start-up of the Winnipeg-Vancouver Canadian service: 6441-6442-6449*-6455*-8143-8120-8126-8105-8130-8134-8501-Kootenay Park(Prestige Class)-8621-8509-Imperial-Hudson Manor-Dawson Manor-Amherst Manor-Allan Manor-Chateau Viger-Prince Albert Park(Prestige Class).
[*Added in Jasper]

[VIA 6441-6442-6449 were set out in Winnipeg]

Departing Winnipeg December 3: 6433*-6436L*-6457-6455-8106*-8127*-8126-8105-8130-8134-8501-Kootenay Park.[*added in Winnipeg for Toronto/Montreal.]
December 6 - Kootenay Park (backwards) and 8501 on tail-end of VIA No 64 heading for Montreal. 
December 7 -  8130-8134 were on the tail-end of No 64.
December 8 - the drip-drip-trip continues. 8106-8127 on the tail-end of No 64.
December 9 - 6457-6455 on the tail-end of No 64.

(No consist data - VIA seems to have run four "D&H-scheme" coaches (including 8100) west as a VIA No 11 to Winnipeg arriving around Nov. 26, and sending two locomotives and one Park car from Vancouver to Jasper after a tree fell on a locomotive on the run to Prince Rupert.)

DECEMBER 11 UPDATE - Closing the loop, VIA No 2 becomes the first Canadian to operate, albeit truncated Vancouver-Winnipeg: 6428-6454-8600-8102-8109-8517-Acadian-Laird Manor-Fraser Manor-Chateau Levis-Laurentide Park (Prestige Class).

Part 3 begins here, with 2021 movements taking place in anticipation of the resumption of the Canadian. 

Running extra...
Also on the pavement, another faithful Trackside Treasure reader, Randy O'Brien, kindly shared these homegrown graphics to promote ethical sharing online including watermarking of photos to stymie bad actors:

This week's June Associated Railroaders of Kingston meeting was held as a Zoom meeting. These lack the infield banter usually associated with our meetings - only one person can talk at a time. Inaudible heckling! Guest presenter Jason Shron gave a layout tour of his CN Kingston Sub, which features linear 40 feet of Brockville but 30 feet of Kingston, if I heard him correctly. Jason fired up his fine-tuned Turbo and ran it through the subdued scenery of Brockville:

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Vestibule View of Saskatchewan and Alberta, 1986 - Part 2

In Part 1, we went west from Piapot, SK to Bassano, AB. As our westward trip aboard VIA No 1 continues in May 1986, we're meeting an eastbound freight, displaying green signals with CP 5831-5731. We entered a siding west of Bassano at 1515. Both trains kept moving, and we reached the west switch as the freight had already cleared it with van CP 434626. Ten minutes later we met our eastbound counterpart, VIA No 2 with Eng 6304, two B-units and about 12 cars at speed:
Cluny, AB was named for a trading post owner in 1884. It is located at Mi 117.2  CP Brooks Sub:
 Check out those Service cars and the attendant gandy dancer vehicles parked nearby.
Gleichen has a train-order board and I was in contact with CP operator Tony Bonogofsky a year earlier. Tony kindly mailed me some train orders - watch for an upcoming post. Gleichen is named for a baron and CPR stockholder. Give us money and we'll name a town after you!
The rain was stopped and I was happy to be back in the vestibule. At 1545, Gleichen got the full Kodak treatment:

Approaching Carseland, there is still snow visible in ditches after a recent late spring snowstorm. This is where I dropped my lenscap down onto the right-of-way. Oh well, no sense pulling the air from the vestibule, I ended up purchasing a two-pack in Calgary!
Carseland, Mi 144.6:

Dalemead, Mi 152.5

Indus, with cars in the elevator track, Mi 158.5, is named for the river in India.
This photo left unlevelled, just to get third elevator in the frame:
Continue the vestibular vacation here as we enter Calgary!

Interestingly, in my Trains & Grains books, I did not include Alberta grain elevators. Watch for an upcoming post of CN's Wainwright Subdivision, including elevators on the northern CN route from the same year.

Running extra...

VIA has slowed down its sending of stainless steel cars down CN's Kingston Sub after Part 1 was published. Stay tuned, Budd! There will be more. But first, we're diverting to Alberta. Why? Because cold weather forced me in off the patio and it was time to heft the scanner up to the soft chairs to do some long-delayed scanning of some long-languishing prolific photo-prints.
This is not normally a political space. But it is a space to share optimism and to celebrate justice flowing like a river and righteousness as a mighty stream! Can't sit on my hands at this crossroads of history.
Blogger's new interface? I jumped before I was pushed. So far I haven't hit too many of the wrong buttons (hey, where did my draft post on the folly of using X2F couplers go to?) and perhaps it hints at the longevity of this social media platform. Blogger says it optimizes blogging on smartphones. What about on dumblaptops though - my preferred cyberspace Claymore, my nunchuk of nostalgia, my flyswatter of fotos.