Friday, July 31, 2020

Summertime at the Station, July 2020

Railfanning checklist for the latest Saturday at the Station on July 25. Ice water with lemon? Check. Sandwich? Check. Blanket to throw over the raised van liftgate to keep out the sun? Check. Lawnchair to sit in the shade? Check. Book manuscript to work on? Check. After getting on-station (pun intended) the first non-intermodal train was at 0913 westbound with 3810 hauling all empty autoracks perhaps CN No 271:
One can still find a fallen flag or two among the graffiti. SP speed lettering (top photo) and the Can Opener Courtesy of Conrail (below):
The first of two westbound intermodals at 0852 had big power: 3158-5726-5709 and with a mix of domestic and export containers, it was probably CN No 105. These are not only Trailer-Train well-cars. Look closely to find CN, FEC, CP, AOK, and UCRY among the yellow. And not all T-T cars are yellow. DTTX 888730 was a blue 3-pak. Who says taggers aren't sympathetic to railway practices? Hand-painted car number, no less:
Trying some modified photographic techniques. Black & white (above) and Head Sizzled Washed Out (below) heading up the hill to Mi 177 Kingston Sub. That's how the heat makes one feel! The second westbound intermodal looks very much like the first, except it was all export containers: Cosco, MSC, OOCL and Maersk and included a red T-T 3-pak DTTX 885058. There were BNSF, and GTW well-cars, at 1003 with 2895-3044, perhaps CN No 149:
The more colourfully-adjusted rest of the train continues to do its best to head west through the station.  These two photos are shared simply to show that the entire nearly two miles that are visible here are full of just one train. And then some!
Giving us a look into the jungle book, it's 3205 in the lead and DPU 3132 on this eastbound at 1037. CN pays little attention to right-of-way weed-whacking, or perhaps more accurately now, wood-cutting.
CN's Heritage Fleet scrap tie cars usually give a good account of predecessor roads to CN. Today was no different, with BN cars lettered for WC, BLE hoppers and this earlier acquisition from the Lake Erie, Franklin and Claron/CNA 330312:
It's nice to see these old warhorse covered hoppers still traversing the former Grand Trunk. In this case it's GTW 138266 after the DPU. Still in pretty good shape, with minimal graffiti despite those conspicuity stripes!
Eastbound at 1100, it's VIA No 62/52 6419-3461-3313-3368 roller-painted blue-3306 Renaissance-3312R-6417-909Love the Way-3456-3357Future-3301R-3339R-3316F-6401. A platform-filler, reminiscent of the early years of VIA at Kingston!
Days of yore-gonna-miss-it-someday westbound late 1970's at Kingston - L.C. Gagnon photo:
VIA No 53 was next, keeping right on-track (pun intended) for the two trains per hour rule this day. The light for almost all this day's photos was coming from the south side, giving us this tableau of tower and towering clouds:
The big picture: VIA No 53: 6415-3336-3355F-3317R-3338F-3478-901 pulled in from the east at 1151:
The blue construction fencing is for the road work taking place at the west end of the station parking lot, soon to be linked to John Counter Boulevard's new station entrance. Heading west to do more work down the road, VIA 901 smokes a bit - one of only four VIA P42's not wearing the 'love the way' wrap.
An eastbound freight at 1235 with 3243-DPU 2990 possibly 322 or 310 or 306. That DWC car on the tail end was a last-minute photo decision!
It was both a fruitful and freightful morning as the sun rose higher in the sky and it was time to gas up and head home. 

Running extra...

Check out fellow blogger Steve Boyko's latest about trainwatching in Winnipeg. In March. The first photo is a snowy field which proves Steve is not only out standing in his field, but he's as intrepid as he is prolific!

That manuscript I was working on, beginning July 1, is now complete. It fills a one-inch binder, handwritten. Some would say...write what you know. I'd counter (not Counter Street) that with...write what you want to know more about. I'd rather be learning on the journey of writing, rather than waiting until I've completed the journey of learning then starting to write.

What better way to railfan local than to write about Kingston's railway history? Not being a division point or even a subdivision point, Kingston still had a lot of interesting goings-on going on. Belleville to the west and Brockville to the east were much bigger railway towns. But the railway knowledge of Kingston seems to be limited to Canadian Locomotive Co., the dilapidated CN Outer Station and maybe 'that old steamer stuffed and mounted down by City Hall.' Is that all there is? I think not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

2020 Front Porch Layout - The Fossil Fuels & Peninsula Railway

What could possibly be more local, in this year of Model & Railfan Local 2020 than my front porch? After two years off after five years of front porch layouts, COVID-19 is bringing modelling back to the stoop! What really drove the revolution was the revelation of the Linden Ford Inglenook trackplan that I came across online. The modelling done in such a small space impressed me as much as the track plan, but I was off and running. Running about eight feet to the front door, that is!
A sweeping curve and four spurs in 20x52 inches in this British prototype. Mine would be...Canadian prototype. First was the search for a board. I don't mean a board of directors! I still had a former porch layout partially dissambled in the layout room, so out it came. It was a little misproportioned for the original, but did I let that stop me? No, I started torsion for misproportion distortion.
I used some wye switches to spread the tracks farther in a smaller space. I would have no room for that sweeping curve. More freelancing ahead! I really dislike switching on curves anyway, especially with the good ol' X2F couplers that I'm so enamoured of. So, in the interests of operating reliability and space, I decided to flatten the curve! Flattened to become a peninsula, with track designations shown:
That's a proboscis-like peninsula. I need to be able to fold this thing away...more freelancing!
I added a door hinge from some old folding closet doors, making that peninsula into a gone-insula. And, rather than having to set up a separate table, I Robertson-screwed the board to a spare tan-coloured plastic patio table. To fold the straightaway, just slip off the track joiners, loosen a bolt, and fold!
I added the MRC power pack and two DC wires. Everything needs to be attached so the layout can be easily stored vertically if company, or the mailman, or driving rain arrives!
Folded and ready to put away:
Now, what is the prototype for this layout? We're not in England anymore, and I want something local. How about a power plant for a local industry? Yes, that's it! The Fossil Fuels & Peninsula Railway is born! Oil get right on that! Coal me, we'll do lunch! The story is - a local industry, maybe a paper mill, needs fuel. But the manager can't decide whether coal or oil would be better. So they get both! (The FFP Railway - that reminds me of French Fried Potatoes, Farm Fresh Pork or maybe even Fresh Frozen Plasma!)
Adding structures and minimal scenery. The train arrives on the main. With three coal hoppers, three tank cars, or an occasional visit from a box car, a gon, or even the company business car. They've developed a very quick method of unloading the fossil fuels. Like, one minute per car. So the cars are rotated, empty outwards, next load in, and they're kept coupled together. Also, during switching movements, the train must make it all the way out to the peninsula before reversing. Nothing to do with the unloading, it just extends the switching time somewhat! 
I'm still working on the modelling, scenery and backdrops. I don't see these outdoor layouts as scenic wonders. That's not the point for me. It's getting trains running outside, in a plausible, interesting and eventually scenic way! Here's one of my Dad's paper backdrops and a fossil fuel car I lettered for his fictional pike.
I also brought out a few generic crew members. I'm considering positioning them in prototypical locations to throw switches and couple and uncouple cars. Also to extend the switching and model prototype operations. I'm also trying a written list of which car gets spotted next for each fossil fuel. Especially for hoppers, since I don't remove the loads from them!
Loading dock view, with oil and coal on in the picture!
Watch for further future updates as I hone the HO hopper and tank rotation operation in the great outdoors.

Running extra...

Check out this CN-to-VIA rebranding video at Pointe St Charles in 1978. Citypulse reporter Glen Cole reminds me of a Dan Aykroyd character! I think Mr Cole was a train fan; this was probably a dream assignment for him! 

It was great to hear from Trackside Treasure's Pop-up Canada Day and Covert Covid contest winners upon receiving their prize packs. John Fenner wrote back on this nice Union Pacific maxi-postcard. Thanks, John!
Speaking of unique passenger cars, aficianado and Trackside Treasure reader Bill Staiger kindly sent me a copy of an article from the Baltimore & Ohio Magazine publicizing the 16-duplex roomette, 4 double-bedroom 1954-built Pullman sleepers that are reminiscent of Canadian Pacific Chateau cars. There were 11 in the series, used on the Capitol Limited, National Limited and Diplomat: Bobolink, Cardinal (below), Gull, Kingfisher, Mockingbird, Oriole*, Quail, Robin, Swan, Thrush, Wren. *Oriole preserved at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum. Some went on to Amtrak and RBB&B circus train use. Good-looking cars - like a Chateau car saying, "Here's lookin' at you, kid".

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Dome View of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 1985

Arriving into Edmonton on September 26, 1985 one hour late from Prince Rupert, I left on VIA No 4 at 1423. The coach was packed - perhaps two were needed. My seatmate was a Dutch traveller who rarely took her gaze from the window as she surveyed our wide-open country and followed along carefully on her map. Holden (top photo), Mi 205.9 CN Wainwright Sub was named for a member of the Alberta Legislature, and we passed through Bruce, named for a manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP) Telegraph Co. at 1529 at Mi. 196.7:
Viking, at Mi 184.5 at 1535, named for the area's Scandinavian settlers, had a significant elevator row, though each had only a three- or four-car spot. Inadequate by today's loop track High-Through-Put (HTP) elevator standards! 
A second track has been added for the large concrete elevator, pioneered by Cargill at the genesis of the HTP era. 
Irma was named in honour of a daughter of W. Wainwright, GTP manager.
CN boarding cars are in the west end of the elevator track. We're at Mi 157.7:
The scenic highlight of this part of the country was the Fabyan bridge. Interestingly, Fabyan is named after a place in New Hampshire! Crops are being harvested as we look down at Mi 149.4 at 1608:
An especially clean shot of the Fabyan Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP) elevator at Mi. 146.6.
Meeting a westbound three unit freight at Wainwright, a vice-president of the GTP. It's 1620 and we're at Mi 140.1. Wainwright has an AWP and two United Grain Growers (UGG) elevators:
The cloudiness continues, as we pass through Edgerton at 1655, Mi 121.2 where there are two AWP elevators, one UGG and one Pioneer. It's 1655 - suppertime? My Dutch seatmate secured a berth for the night. If sleeper space was available, the sleeping car conductor would make his way through the coach, charging the additional fare to coach passengers so they could stretch out for the night. In my case, this resulted in two coach seats for me to stretch out on for the night!
I had to clear some standing covered hoppers on the adjoining track to get a shot of elevator row from the east end.
Ribstone at 1703. Look at that classic old Federal elevator, operated at this time by AWP:
Chauvin at Mi 106.9 is named for GTP director George von Chauvin, just two minutes east of Ribstone.
Nearing the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, AWP's Butze elevator is barely holding on:
While on the other side of the border, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (SWP) elevator at Artland, Mi 96.5, is no longer operating. Reflections on tray-tables!
Unity's SWP and Cargill elevators each had 11-car spots. Interestingly, Unity was the name of the Wisconsin home of some of the first settlers. It's 1755. This Federal-lettered elevator is operated by Cargill:
SWP's two elevators at Mi 57.9 bracket the SWP's seed plant.
Check out those 20-foot ISO containers in use by section forces (above) and Cargill's newly-enlarged, open-top elevators with a classic annex:
Lots to photograph here, including a westbound freight:
Raining at Scott, Mi 42.7 at 1810. Frank Scott was a GTP treasurer back east in Montreal. Remember next time you're baking a cake to Use Pool Co-Op Flour!
Six short minutes later, we're passing Reford's recently-enlarged SWP elevator, with its 10-hopper car spot. This photo proves that Alberta cars did NOT have to be loaded in Alberta!
SWP's Landis 'A' elevator had a fifteen-hopper car spot. Remember that flour!
The other end of Landis at Mi 22.6, showing UGG's impressive plant and SWP's two:
From here it was on into Winnipeg for a 13-hour layover, then west to the Regina area for more grain elevator photography. An uneventful overnight coach ride to Regina, except for a guy telling a young woman all his hard-luck romance stories, and keeping the seat light on!

Running extra...
Watch for an upcoming post on the 2020 Front Porch Layout! S is for...Switching, S-3 and Squirrels. While working on the layout, I have continued to try to match wits with squirrels and their feeling of entitlement to our birdfeeder's bird seed. You know, seed for birds? Anyway, I don't mind adding to the  squirrels' caloric intake, but if I wanted to feed squirrels, I would just throw seed on the ground for them! So if you're reading this, squirrels, I will win. You see'd it here first.

I'm no neurologist. I'm no numerologist. But I dabble in both, and at the 1:14 minute mark of this video, you'll see uberVIAphile and soon-to-be-dad Mark Sampson say the car number "114". (If there's one thing I've learned, it's that there are three kinds of people in this world...those who can count and those who, um, can't.)

Our region of Ontario moved to Phase III of the COVID precautions. 
This is excellent news for our daughter and son-in-law's upcoming wedding. 
I hope things are as good or better where you are. 
By all pulling in the same direction, it's possible to hold this virus at bay.