Sunday, December 27, 2020

Modelling a Working Scrapyard

Well, not "working" as in piles of steel and aluminum being dumped, pulverised, moved around, loaded, unloaded and all that. Seems the only things motile on my layout are the trains. Everything else is at a standstill. Diggers aren't digging, they're leaning on their shovels. Cars on streets are seemingly at stop signs. One tiny nexus of animation can be my I. Cohen scrapyard.

My scrapyard, like the prototype early Cohen scrapyard in Kingston (above), was on a track shared with other industries. In the above Queen's University Archives photo, the Kingston fire department had extinguished a fire in early February, 1968, and the run-off can be seen across the CP track. The building at right housed batteries, and there's a CP boxcar spotted there. 

In my case, my Cohen scrap yard is a gateway on the spur to Anglin building supplies (British Columbia Railway boxcar - below), Shell Oil, and Canadian Dredge & Dock. Anything going down that spur has to get through Cohen's first. So it's regularly switched, and has only a one-car spot (Soo Line gondola - below):


I use my scrapyard as a junkpile for layout projects. Simply out of the Love of Laziness and the Danger of the Duck-under. Why traipse over the garbage can on my wife's craft-room side, or have one underfoot on my side? Styrene snippings, cardboard cut-offs and bent joiners all get tossed into this little eight inch-square Cornucopia of Crap. The two water bottles show the proximity to my pull-out workbench-on-a-shelf:


Also due to the Love of Laziness, sometimes it's just easier to find a little piece of this or scrap of that in my scrapyard. When needed for a project, I can fish around in there and usually find just what I need.


Need a stirring stick, or a glue applicator, or a hole-filler while at the workbench? Just fish around the junkpile and it can usually be found.


Some carloads remain in open-top cars, like coal (drop-in plastic loads or aquarium substrate). Steel and lumber come out. Scrap comes out (from a loaded car, needed for another load - above), and goes in. (loading a car at the scrapyard - below) Guess where it comes from? Yes, the junkpile. I can even handpick items like rails, large gears, heavier pieces, lighter pieces to do a custom fill. Each scrap load is different.


Every so often, I remove and discard some bits of paper, anything too white or too clean, that sticks out like a sore thumb. Some things just get turned over to their less-shiny side.


Well, not too organized, but off the rails (don't want a short-circuit). I put some heavier pieces around the fence to hem the smaller pieces in. Like prototype junkyards, the edges of the property are usually well-circumscribed to keep pickers out. That junk is valuable, you know! 

Out goes another load of scrap, about to cross the CN under the River Street bridge to a distant destination:

Here in Kingston, the early rag-men who picked up everyone's cast-offs built multi-million dollar businesses covering large tracts. For instance, KIMCO on CN's former Aluminum Spur. Check out their website's drone and video footage

From  KIMCO's history: 

As a sixteen-year-old immigrant, Hyman Rosen came to Kingston in 1911 to start a new life. Following in his father’s footsteps, he collected rags and bottles with a horse and buggy. Hyman opened his first shop on Charles Street in 1918 under the proud name of H. Rosen. He later moved to a larger lot on Rideau Street taking on the new name of Kingston Scrap Iron & Metal Co.

In 1950, Hyman was joined by his son Irving, who brought with him new and creative ideas, including the baling press which compressed wrecked automobiles into highly compacted bundles of steel. In the 1960’s, Kimco expanded into new steel sales. It also began its refuse operation serving industrial, commercial and construction customers.

October 1975 marked Kimco’s move to its present location on John Counter Blvd. Here, Kimco even further expanded its new steel service center, ferrous and non-ferrous metal division, recycling center and container services. All four divisions began servicing customers within an ever developing radius of Kingston.


I've seen some amazingly realistic, possibly working, junkyards online. The scrap has been shredded, prototypically piled at the correct angle of repose, the ground is suitably weathered, oily and well, junky. The spur trackage looks just right. I aspire to that, but I don't see myself shredding bits of tinfoil, painting and weathering it. I admire those that do. Here's what I'm talking about: 

Canadian - Adam Regush:
European - Sandro Squadroni:
American - Modelrailroadpro:
As you can see, with some minor differences, scrap is like music. It's international!

Running extra...

Hoping you had an enjoyable Christmas, and from all of me here at Trackside Treasure, best wishes for a hopeful and positive 2021. By that, I'm positive it will be better than 2020! I'd like to thank everyone who has ordered my latest book, with 100 copies going out the door in just over a month. Enjoy your reading with a festive beverage! Happy New Year!

Rapido Trains Inc. unwrapped a Christmas gift by announcing their intention to produce the E-8 (their artwork below) in various schemes including CPR, CP Rail and VIA. The good news is you'll only need one* - having been aboard a partially E-8-hauled VIA train, I can attest to that. Need prototype info before you order? You can party like it's 1899! (* unless you're modelling that 1973 Thanksgiving fan trip or CP's Alyth dead line in 1982)

I'm enjoying my Christmas present of a subscription to Railstream web cams. I can watch North American rail traffic from all over, or in my case, Belleville. Here is CN's mid-train military/camo unit passing through Belleville eastward -  CN 3233 on CN No 322 at 2322 just last night! You can railfan safely from your sofa this way - check out the VIA tracking sites in my right sidebar while you're at it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Merry Christmask 2020

That's no typo in the title!

I'll be home at Christmas; You can`t call on me.

Please don't ask, and wear a mask; It's just my trains and me.

Christmas Eve will find me, in basement quarantine.

I'll be home at Christmas, To wait for my vaccine.

My annual Christmas song and Napanee's streetscape (above). 
My wife's Christmas tile (below)

And Christmas Address

Well, besides staying home at my address, I figure if the Queen can broadcast a Christmas Address, so can I. The inspiration for it was an article entitled Ode to Finding Joy in Loss, about Beethoven. (Get it, Written by the Washington Post's Arthur C. Brooks here are some excerpts:

The world is now marking Beethoven's 250th birthday. By 1800, his hearing was in full decline. But what happened as a result changed the world of music. For a long time, Beethoven raged against his decline, insisting on performing, with worse and worse results. His friend and fellow composer Ludwig Spohr wrote, "I was deeply saddened at so hard a fate". In the last decade of Beethoven's life (he died at 56), his deafness was complete, so music could reside only in his imagination. 

During that period, Beethoven wrote the music that would define his unique style, change music permanently and give him a legacy as one of the greatest composers of all time.  Entirely deaf, Beethoven wrote his best string quartets. It seems a mystery that Beethoven became more original and brilliant as a composer in inverse proportion to his ability to hear his own - or others - music. He was less influenced by the prevailing compositional fashions and more by the musical structures forming inside his own head. 

Have you lost something that defined your identity? How might this loss set you free? You might finally define yourself in new ways, free from the boundaries you set for yourself based on the expectations of others. As you age, what if you lean in to the 'declines' - really, just natural changes - and use your wisdom more? What if you turn your energy from impressing strangers to being completely present with the people you love? You might not revolutionize music, but maybe you will discover joy in the freedom that can come from losing something, but allowing yourself to grow.

It was probably a bad idea on my part to try to summarize this article during my second coffee of the day, watching the Will Ferrell Christmas classic Elf, in the midst of a pandemic on my sofa. If you came for the train pictures, you'll probably want to show yourself out at this point - (but I don't think you did, or will!) Here's how I 'heard' the above article by Mr. Brooks:

Beethoven died (cue the de-composer joke here) at the same age I am now. Coming up on two years retired, I know a lot of folks don't want to retire because they don't really know what to do with their time. (I think of Richard Scarry's classic book of my childhood, What Do People Do All Day?) Neither do I. Just like the pandemic, a major life change offers us the gift of a reset. Working is pretty mindless. Get up, go to work, save the world, come home. (Or, if you're female, get up, go to work, come home, save the world). You mean I have to actually figure out what to do each day now?? C'mon, you can do it!!

As author Brooks suggests, I've never felt terribly bounded by boundaries I set for myself. A lot of people say 'I don't care what other people think of me', and to a large extent, I really don't. Be yourself - everyone else is already taken. I remember going to a buskers' festival and hearing one busker use the same 'bit' as another busker just down the street. That told me they've been watching each other's schtick. Any artist should not do that - Beethoven definitely didn't, moreso after he lost his hearing. If we do, we merely imitate others. We pick up their schtick. We model other model railroaders' layouts. We replicate other bloggers' blogs. We should be Beethoven-like, using the music that resides in our imagination, and by choice, not by necessity as he had to. When I nominated 2020 as the year to Model & Railfan Local, little did I know just how local Local would become in March!

I'm tired of hearing how awful 2020 has been. There have been good things that happened to me this year. I gained a miraculous new grandson and a new son-in-law. My wife hasn't killed me yet despite our extended time together. I have endured the death of my remaining parent. I have a sibling who can't escape the U.S.A., largely due to questionable political rhetoric there. My other sibling continues to document and disseminate history for the masses. Life goes on. 

We fight against the negativity of the pandemic. My wife and I stayed safe. Our kids work in healthcare. Remember, they are not in the front line of an attack.. They are actually in the last line of defence. We continue to define ourselves in new ways. We continue to define our elves in new ways this Christmas (Christmask!) The season of Advent, Latin for 'coming' or 'arrival' gives us an annual opportunity to prepare ourselves and order our thoughts. Perhaps the pandemic, the advent of vaccines and the advent of getting back to 'normal' gives us an opportunity to prepare for that.

Blogging continues - it's always been distanced. I created my seventh book. Brooks writes that after conducting his Ninth Symphony, the deaf Beethoven had to be physically turned around to see, if not hear, the thunderous ovation. It's like that with writing. It is said that writers have a desperate need to be 'heard'. Sometimes we have to hear others to truly hear ourselves and be heard. For that reason, I'm grateful for Dave, Steve, Chris, George/Peter/Don, Bernard and Matthieu, whose blogs I read in my right sidebar. Bloggers Edd, Michael and John took some time off, and that was as wise as it was necessary. Believe it or not, there is more to life than blogging. What, did I just type that??

Thank you for reading this, for indulging me with your patience, your comments, your suggestions and the many additions you've made to my life this past year. Your attendance here is not mandatory, though it is valued and welcomed. 

Christmas is most decidedly NOT CANCELLED, any more than we can cancel sunrise, the weather, aging, trips to the bathroom, wanting to eat fruitcake all day (well, maybe that last one). If you feel like someone is trying to cancel your Christmas, just watch this video of the Stanley Park train ride. Buddy the Elf would be proud. The child in me screams 'Wow!' while the teenager in me says 'Cool' as the adult in me evaluates 'Wow factor' and the retiree in me thinks 'That is a lot of lights there. That would take a long time to string them all up. Where do they store them? That is a lot of trips back and forth to the garden shed'. Anyway, truly a winter wonderland!

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, 

peaceful season's greetings, 

and a huge dose of hopefulness for 2021!


Running extra...

My uncle from Portage la Prairie shared these photos of a westward-facing rail train in the CN yard there:
The Prairies are not known for mountains, but that pile of used ties is approaching mountain proportions!

Here are some of the Christmas greetings I've received this year:

The indomitable Alex Pallo Jr. (above)
Gary Hadfield (above) - Matapedia, QC in 2009 
****The inimitable Bob Fallowfield (above - Bill Miller photo) **** Steve Hoshel:

Lance Gleich by mail:
Two from M A P:
GCPRS's Jason Paul Sailer:
Rapido Trains Inc.
Fellow blogger Steve Boyko:
Fellow blogger Chris Mears:
New Year's Greetings from Ray Farand:

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Postscript II: The Royal Train, September 1984

When the Royal Train of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh ended its run at Kingston on September 28, 1984, little did I know that other photographers would later share their photos with me. Toronto's Scott Haskill was attending Queen's University at the time, in his first month of classes, one of which he audited to take these photos! Scott took a city bus as far as he could, walking the rest of the way. Notice the blown-up bunting and the CN police blue station wagon just to the right of the station, as Scott took this photo from the Princess Street overpass. The crowd is starting to assemble and a CN hi-rail truck is just east of the Counter Street crossing, protecting the north track that the Royal Train is operating on:

Scott was in approximately the same position near the platform as I was at Kingston station that day. We were both just off the red carpet, with Scott perhaps to my left. Pilot train:

The Royal Train arrives, Royal Standard flapping:
The Royal Couple on the red carpet meeting dignitaries:
Scott's view of the porter on the open platform of the Governor-General's car:
Thanks to Scott Haskill for sharing these memories!

Running extra...

It has been announced that Her Majesty the Queen, 94, has cancelled her usual festive break at Sandringham, and instead will have a “quiet” time at Windsor Castle. A spokesperson said: "Having considered all the appropriate advice, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor." This will be the first time in 33 years that the Queen won’t be going to Sandringham, where she typically celebrates with her large extended family.

As someone whose very life is one of tradition and custom, if the Queen can make changes, so can we all. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

CN 3120 : An RS-18 in 18 Inches

How many ways can my one-and-only Rapido Trains Inc. locomotive be photographed in the same foot-and-a-half? Let's find out! Along my HO scale Montreal Street, just like the real one, there is a workaday assortment of houses, greasy spoon restaurants, and local businesses like garages and body shops. On my Hanley Spur layout, the CN runs along the edge of the aisle, so it's easy to stick my point-and-shoot camera in there and...
A caboose hop from the yard at CN's Outer Station is witnessed by two guys at a Texaco (top two photos). A laneway between two houses yields a different perspective - of Pontiacs and picket fences:
At a crawl, crossing Montreal and Railway Streets, with Canada's Gas Station, Petro-Canada. A local worker heads home after a day's work:
Crossing the intersection, with Railway Street at left:
That worker is still heading home, maybe casting an eye to the Turbo and Ford truck billboards on Montreal Street:
True-Line Trains' CN caboose is a perfect match for my modelled locale and era. Used in Kingston well into the 1970's:
Looking under the hood, it's about burgers and muscle cars:
An N-scale house forces some perspective as CN 3120 switches in the yard, between a backdrop and CN Express:
Through the loading dock, CN burbles and express never sleeps:
Express track needs a stopblock:
Heading to the interchange, CN 3120 meets CP 8554, in town for the day from Tichborne and Smiths Falls. CP is switching the Weldwood, MacCosham Van Lines and Weston's Bakeries warehouses that sprang up on this new street in the post-war building boom:
Bonus vista: along another aisle of the layout, it's Rideau Street. At Cataraqui Street sits the Bailey broom factory building:
Anglin hauls coal and Kingston Iron & Metal hauls junk along Rideau Street (above). Just at Cataraqui Street, we see more of the unique structure's limestone foundation. The entire structure sits on a scenicked plasticene berm which elevates it slightly.
We leave the spur with a final view across a 'grassy knoll' with the tank farms lining Rideau Street in the background. Imperial Oil, Shell Oil and Anglin's are all here:

Running extra...

Fellow blogger Steve Boyko has kindly posted a review of my latest book from wintry Winnipeg. An author, photographer, documenter and enthusiast like me, Steve's work can always be seen in my sidebar -->.

Top Ten Rejected Hallmark Christmas Movie Titles:
#10The Christmas House
#9 The Christmas Bow
#8 The Christmas Ring
#7 The Christmas Doctor
#6 Love, Lights, Hanukkah!
#5 A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado 
#4 On the Twelfth Date of Christmas
#3 Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater
#2 Jingle Bell Bride
And the #1 Rejected Hallmark Christmas Movie Title: Ho-H0 Scale-Ho! There isn't one! These are all actual Hallmark Christmas Movie Titles for the 2020 Season!

Grab a cup of cocoa (always unrealistically empty) and some shortbread from the town bakery. I'll meet you at the tree lot, then ride around town in a classic pickup. We'll visit the kindly, white-bearded man coincidentally named Nick, Saint Nick, or Kris. The town will rally round and save its Annual Christmas Festival. All these are hallmarks of the Hallmarks!