Thursday, January 28, 2021

Model Railroading During a Pandemic II

It's coming up on a year since my first Model Railroading During a Pandemic post back at the start of the lockdown in March. And I will be glad when this pandemic is someday gon. Athearn's  gon is one of my most reliable, favourite cars to operate on my Kingston's Hanley Spur HO layout. Fortunately, I have at least four industries that receive them, and a couple that ship commodities these cars can handle. So I keep accumulating them! My 1970 modelled era saw the advent of several bright railroads' paint scheme, while the steam-era holdover boxcar red schemes predominated.  I have a hard time deciding whether I prefer them weathered or unweathered, though I'm trending toward the latter. Since most of my layout is visible from the 'inside', I have kept one side pristine (below) and the other weathered (above) on many cars. 
These cars are in steel and scrap service so they're not kept pristine. It seems realistic to me to keep some of the cars' lettering almost illegible to match the prototype! I've made a point of painting the interiors. They don't stay bright red and bright green in service! You'll notice I added some bits and pieces to a couple of the cars' interiors. I wanted to do more...
Watching a real train from above, many details become visible that we don't traditionally see trackside. Spilled grain on covered hopper roofs, boxcar roof weathering, and gondola interiors. For some reason, I'd kept a whole plastic parts drawer full of wood bits (below). They were about to come in handy. Also, when I 'Dremel' a structure kitbash, I've filled a scrap metal truck with the little melted plastic bits that adhere to the cooled styrene and have to be broken off. Also in this photo, to paraphrase Monty Python, "Sir Not Appearing In This Film", that is a Frisco MDC (non-Athearn) gon that has also received the weathering and interior treatments:
Here are my pre-positioned raw materials for the cars I was doing: Dremeled styrene bits, scrap wood, and black magnet trimmings to represent metal banding. 
After gluing and painting (below). If they're hard to discern, that's OK. I want the effect to be subtle. No man should be left behind, and no gon should be left completely emptied!
One important reminder: I have some sheet steel loads made of styrene, as well as several RBT's, and if the debris is too 'tall' then your loads will not sit level. That's why I kept these low-profile!

More pandemic modelling I've been doing over the last month or so, that you may not have seen:
That illustrated list makes it seem that I have been busy. Or that I have a panoply of pandemic modelling projects to do! Watch for an upcoming post on operating the layout - CN 4530 and an end-cupola van switch a lone PC boxcar (back when it stood for Penn Central, not Politically Correct!).

Graphics guru and fellow modeller Randy O'Brien vastly bettered my meme of 'Eric/Bernie' riding the 4530...
...and enjoying the nice weather on the Bajus Brewery loading dock! Thanks, Randy!

Running extra...

I'm looking forward to presenting a program to the Toronto Railway Supper Club this coming week. It's entitled Kingston's Hanley Spur - An Industrial Approach. A topic near and dear to my heart and more fully profiled in my new, seventh book. The combination of an interesting talk and Supper just can't be beat!

Let's keep on fighting that war,
You know the WAR that I mean,
I read it on a tank car, 
Its ON 'BUG COVID-19'!
If you woke up this morning and jumped out of your rack saying, "I don't think I'll see a A.V. Roe metal plate today diagramatically depicting the oil system of the Avro Anson", well, you were wrong:

Friday, January 22, 2021

Summertime in Belleville - August, 1977


A visit to family in Belleville, ON on August 22, 1977 included the requisite trip to the CN yard in the Friendly City. Upon arrival, a long cut of cars visible from the nearby city street included some wrecked cars on flat cars and gondolas. In this era in these cars might be salvaged, or scrapped perhaps at CN's London Reclamation Yard. Southern Railway 50-foot boxcar 528348 (top photo), CN 40-foot boxcar, a CN gondola, and even a CP Rail slabside covered hopper were recognizable. 

My Dad duly recorded this visit as he did each one when time permitted, using both colour slide (scanned by my brother) and black & white print film. An eastbound freight passes through the yard, passing the wrecked cars, preparing to stop at Belleville East for a crew change, behind CN 9422-9648-9568 at approximately 1100:

In this era, three GP40-2L(W)'s were standard priority train power. Inbound head-end crew 'changing off':
A Pacific Fruit Express car hints at the reefer block on the head-end, indicating that cars on this train came through from the western U.S. via southwest Ontario:
Tail-end crew changing off, with yard switcher CN 1310 in background. The caboose is likely CN 79530, possibly 79711. These numbers may pertain to the wrecked cars on flat cars or work cars: 81568, 81232, 80952, 80470, cabooses 79704, 79619. Being 13 years old, my note-taking was 'spur-of-the-moment' and not geared to ready interpretation over four decades later!
Rolling stock observed this day: CN, GT, CV, DW&P, CP, PC, SP, BN, GN, Southern, VTR, BCR D&H, BAR, MEC, Milwaukee, SOO, IC, C&NW, B&M, LNAL, SCL, T&P boxcars; DuPont, Chemplex, IT, UP, GT, CN covered hoppers; PFE, FGE reefers; ATSF, C&O, B&O hoppers; DT&I auto rack; DW&P bulkhead flats; and SOO, CN, Trailer-Train flatcars. Am I lensing a train down the track arriving, or a train departing?
CN 4530 and end-cupola 79630(?) departing to the east. Some other observations noted: BCR boxcar, an eastbound at 1131 with CN 9578-9421-9499 with caboose 79470.
In black & white, your humble blogger poses before the roadswitcher departed to the east with its tank car and two paper cars. I wonder if it headed to Kingston?

Running extra...

Images of how the Biden-Harris inauguration transpired might make you think it was the nation's biggest game of 'capture the flag'. OK, not that challenging with this many flags. The National Mall was awash in colour, not spectators. Presidency panoply in a pandemic!

Twenty-two year-old national youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman's ode for a people perplexed by a pandemic left news anchors transfixed. Garth Brooks' two verses and a join-in of Amazing Grace was simply, sincerely effective. The changing of the guard included promotion of CNN White House correspondent to Chief White House correspondent. Hail to the Chief!

E Pluribus Unum: Latin for, 'Out of many inauguration photos, one.' America's motto of 'In God We Trust', meet Germany's 'Gott Mit Uns'. A komic kernel of a sartorial Sanders about to crash the internet, here is a local seasonal image:

Friday, January 15, 2021

CN Lasers, Five-Paks and Double-Stacks

CN expanded its burgeoning intermodal service, from piggyback and containers to five-paks and double-stacks, in the 1980's and 1990's. Double-stacking technology sought to keep operating costs low, in line with inter-city trucking, with an eye to eventual expansion of double-stack service coast to coast. Early dedicated Laser containers rode on Trailer Train flat cars on CN No 232, in an October 1990 photo by Pierre Fournier (top photo).

CN opened its Brampton Intermodal Terminal in 1982. A new overnight Montreal-Toronto piggyback Laser service comprised one train each way, CN train  Nos 235/236. A CN press release, reported in January, 1983: 
In 1983, CN advertised its new Laser service in newspaper ads and its own MOVIN magazine (as always, click for larger image):


In late 1984, CN re-geared 30 CN 9400's to 80 mph gearing for extension of the Montreal-Toronto Laser service to Chicago: 9401, 9402, 9404-05, 9407-13, 9415-16, 9420, 9422, 9430-34, 9437-39, 9441-43, 9445-48.

In September 1985 CN received 52 articulated five-paks from National Steel Car. Intended for Toronto-Chicago Laser trains through the St. Clair Tunnel, cars were on break-in runs between Montreal and Toronto for assessment. Car series CN 683200-683589 could handle ISO containers as well as an ACF trailer hitch, based on a Thrall Lo-Pac design. The cars had a tare weight of 175,000 pounds and an overall length of 240 feet. Interestingly, the cars were received with each well having a sequential car number. This was changed to match the industry standard of one car number and five lettered sub-units in 1995-96. My brother caught an eastbound with these cars at Kingston station in September, 1985:
Notice the variation in articulated trucks within, and drawbars connecting five-paks. 
(Three David J. Gagnon photos)
Some Laser observations at Kingston -  westbounds through around 1500, eastbounds around 1630, and another pair of trains crossing at Kingston around midnight:
  • September 10/85 1707 EB: 9402-9538 led about 10 five-paks such as CN 683281, 683303 and 683304, tailed by caboose 79644. 
  • September 24/85 1455 EB: 9593-9626 with 12 five-paks, mostly empties, sample cars CN 683280 and 683254, caboose 79346. (by L.C. Gagnon)
  • October 29/85 1612 WB: 9622-9518 was mostly empties, scooped by a westbound LRC climbing through 'drawbar hollow' at Mi 183 Kingston Sub (four photos below)
  • November 25/85 1523 WB: 9591-9436 hauling only five loads with caboose 79440 at Mi 182 Kingston Sub:
  • December 19/85 1437 WB: 9496-9516 only about 13 trailers, sample cars CN 683271, 683399, 683496, 683499 and caboose 79545 (by L.C. Gagnon).
Meanwhile, over at CP, double-stack container cars measuring 169 feet in length, carrying six 40-foot COFC leased from SP by Alberta government for a twelve-week evaluation. The government was studying the feasibility of an inland port/COFC system, according to CP Rail News, in September 1984.

In 1985-86, Montreal-Toronto service expanded to two trains each day each way, five days per week, adding a Chicago-Montreal 23-hour service once per day, CN train Nos 238/239. Originally, CN Laser train 239 departed Montreal at noon Monday-Friday, arriving Toronto 1930. Departing Toronto at 0030, Port Huron at 0515 arriving Chicago 1230.  Eastbound No 238 departed Chicago Monday-Saturday at 2100, Port Huron 0620, arriving Toronto 1125, departing Toronto Monday-Friday at 1330, arriving Montreal at 2100. Power was CN GP40-2L(W)'s between Montreal and Toronto, with GTW (ex-DT&I) GP40's also in use between Toronto and Chicago.  On-time performance would reach over 90% in 1986!

CN 9560 (on Moira River bridge, above) and 9566 (through the yard, below) leading Lasers westbound through Belleville in August, 1991. Three photos from online auction site.
At Cobourg, undated:


On September 28, 1986 CN No 207 had two five-paks on the head end, likely as a test. Rob Leachman photographed the train on the Salmon River bridge and reports that this was the only time he'd seen double-stacks on the National Transcontinental line from 1984-1990!

On November 28, 1987 CN tested a five-pak double-stack platform on CN train No 220 through western Canada, with a CN instrument car monitoring the movement pulled by two CN SD40's. At the time - CN had no plans to begin double-stack service!)

In February 1989, the first double-stack trains were loaded at Vancouver wharf for Toronto with service on a weekly basis: 5-Paks of Neptune Orient Lines and OOCL import-export containers on CN. CP still opposed the use of COFC cars but arranged to lease 100 'spine cars' from CGTX and Alberta Intermodal Services. CP's reticence would last as long as 1991. Many tunnels in the mountains would need to be enlarged to handle full-height double-stacks. Container lines were dictating service levels - endeavouring to send entire shiploads of containers in a cross-continent land-bridge. New equipment in the early-90's were paving the way for domestic double-stack service.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Conrail was planning two double-stack trains per week from New Jersey to Montreal, bypassing Halifax. The Port of Halifax was encouraging CN to start double-stack service to Halifax. This Guy Wicksall photo, posted to Facebook by Jered Slusser, shows Maersk five-pak MAEX 100053 on Conrail's Chicago mainline at Lyons, NY in April, 1990:
In spring, 1990 CN started two introductory double-stack services: Sea-Land train Tacoma to Brampton Intermodal Terminal via Buffalo/Fort Erie Conrail in 103 hours: Nos 252/253 and 254/255, possibly extending to Montreal.

CN ran a clearance test of the first double stack load (likely 9'6" vs. 8'6" CN Laser containers) out of Moncton over the Napadogan-Monk-Montmagny-Drummondville and St. Hyacinthe. The train hit one low hanging hydro line, knocking off one of the styrofoam test pieces positioned atop the containers. There was no spectacular light show, and the line didn't break. Kevin Day kindly shared the above account and photo of the test train across New Brunswick, on December 18, 1990:


In 1991, CN launched its first double-stack service for domestic freight. Montreal-Toronto double-stack service began on June 7. CN began double-stacking of import-export containers between Halifax and Toronto. CN was converting its domestic intermodal fleet from trailers to containers, even combining domestic and import-export containers in the same train. To this point, CN had invested $45 million in the double-stack container program, including providing necessary clearances in the Moncton-Montreal-Toronto corridor. CN at the time had 500 domestic containers in double-stack service and would convert the remainder of its intermodal fleet to containers by 1995. 

CN was building CN 677-series red-painted five-pack well cars at its Transcona shops in Winnipeg in 1990-91. Able to haul trainers or double-stacked containers, each unit can carry 500 tons of goods, compared to 350 tons on equivalent piggyback cars. Each unit cost $375,000. The first 40 cars built in 1990 were for use in Western Canada, and double-stacks were operating there in 1991. Fifty more were produced by June, 1991 at a project cost of $18.8 million dollars. CN added another 130 five-paks, with 50 built at Transcona Shops for trailers or double-stacked containers, and 80 built at Trenton Works in Trenton, NS to carry double-stacked containers of import-export traffic moving through the port of Halifax, with these cars entering service in mid-1992. The latter were in the series CN 640400-640479, in service until 2008, renumbered in 1995 from their original numbers CN 640000-640379.

Early double-stack observations at Kingston:
  • September 4/92: 2218 EB 9597-9541-9510 half of the train was double-stacked, sample cars CN 640157, 640256 and sequentially-numbered 640120-640124.
  • March 15/93: Montreal Turcot yard - lots of double-stacks i.e. MAERSK
  • April 8/93: 2222 EB CN 5317-2003-2029 half of the train double-stacked.
CN 640472 is on a stopped CN No 104 at Kingston in January, 2000:
CP began enlarging tunnels in the Rockies in June, 1991. There were 47 tunnels that needed heightening or lowering by up to 20 inches, as well as two snowsheds. In May, 1991 CP initiated up to 20 double-stack cars on its Montreal-Toronto intermodal trains, after two years of testing. With increased use of double-stack trains in 1992, in the next five years COFC traffic grew to 80% of intermodal with TOFC dropping to a 20% stake.

Also in 1992, CN introduced American President Lines and GN/FNM trinational container service between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, as well as its first refrigerated container service between Vancouver and Eastern Canada. Container power units connected to the refrigerated boxes could operate for seven days without refuelling. In March, 1992 CN initiated once-per-week double-stack trains Nos 264/265 between Vancouver and Montreal on Mondays. In 1993, Kleysen and Maritime-Ontario entered joint intermodal service with CN between Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax and into the U.S.

CN Laser double-stacked containers ride Trailer-Train well cars like DTTX 25315 at Kingston's VIA station on April 24, 1993 (below). Led by 9673-9631-9546:

In 1994, the Sarnia-Port Huron tunnel was enlarged to accommodate double-stack trains. CN placed a $34 million order with National Steel Car for 52 articulated low-deck flatcars for use with TOFC and 40-foot containers on their new Toronto-Chicago Laser trains. The low decks allow cars to travel through the Sarnia-Port Huron tunnel. Delivery of the cars was expected in spring-summer 1995. Notice the variation in graphics on the containers - some LASER lettering was all upper-case!
Lasers at Dawn - CN train No 101 heads west at Mi 184 Kingston Sub behind 5665-5058 at 0708 on July 31, 1997 (above) with CN North America map logos. 

Thanks to Kevin Day and Rob Leachman for assistance with this post.

Lots of links:
  • Scott Haskill Railpictures photo of westbound Laser at Montreal Street overpass approaching Kingston in September, 1985
  • John Reay video of SD70M demonstrator units on CN in the summer of 1993. A whole train of blue well cars at the 6:05 mark, many empty, perhaps CN express train No 204.
  • HO Scale Laser decals 1991+
  • HO Scale Laser decals 1993+
Running extra...

Watch for upcoming Trackside Treasure posts on CBC's The National Dream, the Confederation Train, the Discovery Train, pandemic model railroading, CN's new trains 516/517, and if I'm so moved, tracking information on CN 640471 from the pre-9/11 public tracing era.

Speaking of 9/11, not only is a World Trade Center-size mass casualty event taking place every day in the U.S. due to the pandemic, but now the impending Inauguration is resulting in a Green Zone being constructed in Washington, D.C.! In God We Trust, Everyone Else We Monitor. 

Pithy-Sayings-R-Us. Here's the prominent, probably pathological pithy epithet portrayed to all passing pedestrians and perambulating passengers on their peregrinations on Princess Street during our graduation from community college: 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Postscript: Kingston's Canadian Locomotive Co.

In the previous post, we examined the history of Kingston's own Canadian Locomotive Company. There's just too much good material from the latter years of CLC to squeeze in, hence this postscript. Scans of various print advertisements, brochures and magazine articles comprise the collective in this CLC cornucopia. One-of-a-kind Trainmaster H24-66 CN 3000 in CLC's storage yard in July, 1955 (top - CNR photo) presented to CN in August. CP also accepted a Trainmaster, CP 8900, built in Beloit, WI presented to the railway in a Kingston ceremony in July.
July-August, 1955 Canadian Pacific Spanner employee magazine article

Two pages of another Spanner article, this one from 1945 profiling the long history of locomotive production in Kingston for Canadian Pacific:

Four builder's photos showing CP 8901:
Likely spotted on CN at the Outer Station (above).
Looking up and down Earl Street at Ontario Street:

A hint of CLC's reluctance to change - producing export steam locomotives well into the mid-fifties diesel age, as shown in this September, 1955 issue of TRAINS magazine

CLC 1953 C-Line troubleshooting manual:
Responses to my Dad's letters to CLC, during an era in which companies would respond to requests for information on their products.

This August, 1955 photograph from a Whig-Standard CLC retrospective article shows steam lifting CN 3000 and two other diesel successors at the CLC plant:
CLC advertisement, 1952:
CLC Opposed Piston production from November, 1964 TRAINS magazine (above and below from Rolly Martin Country)

Running extra...

Thoughts on topics discussed at this week's Associated Railroaders of Kingston Zoom meeting:
I'm looking forward to another Zoom meeting with the Toronto Railway Supper Club in February. Go to The Big Smoke without even leaving your basement! It sounds as if meal/meeting clubs have really caught on: Kingston, Toronto, Ottawa. I'm actually glad TRSC's is a Zoom meeting because in-person meetings normally held in Toronto look a lot different:

I just read that every twelve years, a blog should change its title. Here is my short list for consideration:
  • Wait Watchers
  • Slack Action
  • Gesticulating Wildly
  • Crunchy Cheesies
  • More Pulp
  • Globe Mail
  • All Abored
  • Licorice Allsorts
  • Where the Wheeled Things Are