Friday, April 23, 2021

VIA Ex-CP Cars East to Montreal - Part 3

VIA's Canadian has been suspended in 2020 east of Winnipeg due to the pandemic. Boo. Operation of VIA Nos 1/2 Winnipeg to Vancouver resumed in December. Now, Toronto to Vancouver operation is planned for May 2021. Part 2 covered deadhead movements up to the end of 2020 but it got too big, and it was time to add this Part 3. No longer can deadheading cars be sent east or west - the train's not currently operating! And CN requires VIA to use its own power on these deadhead moves. The era of CN or CP co-operating and providing rescue power to VIA for their trains ended years ago!

MARCH 2021 UPDATE - There was an increased frequency of stainless steel car movements on the CN Kingston Sub. I observed 6446, Chateau Closse, Bell Manor, 81x4, 6443, 8110, 86xx heading to Toronto, with diner Emerald heading the other way. On March 21, VIA No 7 left Toronto with 6446, 6435, 6443, 6457 and 6440 are the power. There were no domes in the 11-car consist and it appeared coaches 8112 and 8113 are refurbished.

APRIL 2021 UPDATE: VIA No 2 ex Vancouver on April 2 was really two 11-car trains in one. The 'normal' pandemic consist plus 11 deadhead cars, deadheading to Jasper, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. The consist: 6427(L)-6442-6426-6428-86xx-8100/8109/8110 (all "D&H")-8509-Imperial-Lorne Manor-Carleton Manor-Laird Manor-Allan Manor-Glacier Park (Prestige). The following cars deadheading: Cornwall Manor-1721-8122-8613-Banff Park-8516-8133-Abbot Manor-Amherst Manor-Yoho Park-8103. VIA No 8 arrived in Toronto on April 13 with four 6400's and 12 cars.

On April 15, 8516-1721 tagged along on the tail-end of VIA No 68. (Image courtesy RailStream, LLC) at Belleville. A rare visitor to the CN Kingston Sub! 
On April 16, Skyline 8503 trailed No 64. Thanks to Matt Soknacki for the heads-up and noticing that Action Red paint seems to be showing through the blue letterboard stripe, above and to the left of the Canada flag. A nice vista at Vista Drive:
Also on April 16, 6442 and 6427L trailed No 66, having led out of Vancouver on April 2. 

On April 17, an 81xx was eastbound.

On April 18, on VIA No 66, 4114 (D&H) and Skyline 8507 tailed VIA 905L-4 LRC cars-901, seen here at Mi 180 Kingston Sub:
The top line of the Skyline nameplate appears to be black:
MAY 2021 UPDATE: The first Canadian in over a year arrived in Toronto on Friday, May 21, albeit four hours late due to a disabled CP freight train on directional running zone south of Capreol: 6428-6426-6437L-8612-8100-8109-8102 (all 3 "D&H")-8517-Imperial-Lorne Manor-Cabot Manor-Laird Manor-Allan Manor-Glacier Park (Prestige). 

The first VIA No 1 ex-Toronto departed on Sunday, May 23 behind 6453-6455-6438 and the same consist. This VIA No 1 was held around Mi. 30 of the CN Bala Sub for four southbound freight trains. Not exactly priority treatment!

The second VIA No 1 departed Toronto on Sunday, May 30: 6432-6448-8608-8108-8129-8110 (all three coaches "D&H"-8509-Alexandra-Draper Manor-Wolfe Manor-Sherwood Manor-Fraser Manor-Prince Albert Park (Prestige).

On May 29, VIA 6416L-6411-Emerald (Churchill wrap)-Empress-Frontenac headed east as VIA No 614 to Rail GD in New Richmond, QC. Annapolis, completed, went west the same day with the same power, Annapolis with new lettering and the "D&H" windowband. VIA awarded the contract for refurbishment of four diners in October, 2018.

On June 6, VIA No 1 departed Toronto 6454L-6428-8621-8112-8113-8102 ("D&H")-8517-Fairholme- Bell, Hunter, Dawson and Carleton Manors-Laurentide Park (Prestige).

June 13's VIA No 1 ex Toronto: 6458-6442-6455-6438-8612-8100-8109-8129 (all three "D&H")-8512-Impérial-Brant, Lorne, Cabot and Allan Manors, Glacier Park (Prestige).

In a somewhat-related story, VIA No 614 brought a combined Renaissance/stainless steel consist into Halifax station on July 13. With the resumption of the Ocean one month away, this consist is in Halifax for crew training, including new hires! 6427L-6411-7009-70230-7208-7516-7507-7506-79526-7314-7401-7303-7601-8124*-8118*-Chateau Radisson-8618 (*refurbished interiors).

On August 11, the above consist left Halifax as the first Ocean in 17 months, albeit with the back-to-back locomotives reversed and consist operating with 8618 leading,

Further updates will be posted here. Watch this space!

Running extra...

VIA has released yet another pdf timetable online as it continues to tweak its schedule and add trains back. They've conveniently printed these convenient combined tables for the reference of Kingston railfans:

The good old days. Dorval railfanning 1975-1991 from the video vault!

And today. Here's CN No 518 coming down to the bay from Ernestown on April 21, the Day of Snow, with cars for Kingston Invista. They were running short on time after doing some switching puzzles out at Ernestown, eight miles to the west. Switch brooms in place on GMTX bluebirds 2163-2323. I feel it's my obligation to take photos at this location, since CN was good enough to zap the south-side pole-line!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Train Orders by Mail

Or mail order by train? No, I travelled west from Toronto aboard VIA Rail in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s to visit relatives in Western Canada. I was lucky to see grain trains switching grain cars, ride in RDC’s flashing past grain elevators, and enjoy the view of prairies and mountains from VIA’s dome cars. All in an era when stations were still manned by operators, while first- and second-generation CN and CP diesel locomotives and cabooses ruled the rails. I was able to systematically collect sets of discarded train orders while aboard VIA Rail in 1985. (Also documented in a previously-published two-post series.)

Prior to that, in 1983-84 I decided to send out letters to CN and CP operators at some locations that interested me. Would they have some discarded train orders to augment my collection, all for the asking? Yes!

CP Rail operator Tony Bonogofsky at Gleichen, Alberta responded on May 7, 1984, sending me 60 train orders and 15 clearances, plus 11 stapled sets of C-19’s, putting $1.70 in postage on the envelope (top photo). His note, “As requested, enclosed please find a supply of train orders.” The orders he sent were for CP Rail freights like First 84, Second 84, First 96, Second 96, Nos. 403, 404, 405, 415, 445, 482, First 948, 904 and 940. These trains were led by CP’s ubiquitous, large fleet of SD40-2’s, though GP-9’s were also addressed. VIA Rail’s Canadian, train No 2 is also represented, and I would ride aboard its westward counterpart, VIA No 1 the following year, passing through Gleichen:

CP Rail operator Kathy Todd at Field, British Columbia also sent me orders, on August 20, 1983. In fact, her $1.27 postage on a CP company envelope contained an interesting collection of orders. (below). The clearances were addressed to trains powered by CP’s newest locomotives, like Extra 6003 West and Extra 6033 East. Extra 5835 West received a stack of 17 orders with its clearance. Another clearance was addressed to Pusher Service at Rogers, care of Engineman C.S. Smith. This was the last remote pusher station on CP’s transcontinental punishing mountainous mainline. She wrote an accompanying note, “I hope these orders and clearances are a sufficient addition to your collection. It was good to hear from you. Good luck in your endeavours.”

I enjoy going back to these responses, still in their original envelopes, kindly sent by these operators at their lonely outposts in the mountains and prairies of Canada. This was in an era before e-mail. It was an era in which a letter received was usually responded to as a courtesy. Watch for an upcoming post on letters requesting information sent to railways' headquarters!

Running. Extra.

You didn't read that incorrectly. I've recently become aware of three local advertising slogans using Two Part. Slogans. But they go together. Let me illustrate: Gordon's Downsizing Services - "We Help. You Move On." Bennett's Furniture - "Feel Right. At Home." and they sell mattresses - "Sleep. First Class."

Winnipeg Slide Night by Zoom was this past Tuesday. Presentations by Glenn, Mark the Hoople, Ross, and Brian. Some amazing photography and subject material on display: nocturnal, British, Winnipeg flood of 1950, and interesting freight Loads. And your humble blogger presenting the prototype and model Hanley Spur.

With additional pandemic public health restrictions, I'm proud to announce that sitting on my sofa blogging is, so far, A-OK with our provincial government. It's one thing I can do with people outside my immediate household. And around the world!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Private car GHM-1

Memories have a way of aggrandizing themselves in our minds. One example - I believed that I had recorded several observations of this venerable private car, though I could find only one. It was easing east across Kingston's Counter Street crossing during March break, 1979. The last car on the nocturnal Cavalier, in the days of VIA handling private business cars (PV's).

Differentiate This!

Eric Doubt was a vice-president of a B2B marketing agency specializing in health care in the 1970's. Establishing a Toronto office from Montreal in 1980 was a challenge for the agency as clients and prospects departed down Highway 401 to Toronto. Looking for something to deploy that was dramatic and noticeable, a partner read about the club of private railway car owners in the U.S. Did CN have any passenger cars for sale they could ride into town on? 

CN was selling for price of scrap, in good shape, the former library car on the 1939 Royal Train then Governor-General Georges Vanier's car Metis from CN. The price was not cheap, but was below what was expected. Refurbishing, paint job and basic repairs could be managed. The car boasted a lounge, dining room with glass dining table, fully-equipped stainless-steel kitchen, three private bedrooms and bathrooms and was used for meetings, socializing and travel. Metis was returned to service and put into action for launch in Toronto, while there was still no office nor staff in Toronto. GHM-1 was the only privately-owned car in Canada at the time.

Jacques Pelletier, the former Governor-General's valet and chef came to work on the car. He cooked five-course meals while rolling through towns and villages or on the car's spur beneath the CN Tower. The firm received notice of its Agency of Record status from its first Toronto client while aboard the car. GHM-1 give the firm a foothold and presence in Toronto. Press coverage of the private car unfurled, and the firm the soon transferred its operations to a brick-and-mortar office.

The decision to buy GHM-1 parallels the current situation to beamed-up advertising during the pandemic. One recruiting firm just bought a spacious RV in which to meet and stay safe on highways. Imaginative and attention-getting ways to get to one's destination allows firms to stand out from the competition while making a statement.

-From the podcast by Eric Doubt of CA14 Integrated Marketing & Communications in Georgetown. (Top photo from CA14 website.)

Owners subsequent to CN:

My observation of GHM-1:

Lots o' links:

Running extra...

"My strength and stay", said the Queen referring to her consort and spouse of 73 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Those words also were sung during the 2011 wedding of William and Kate. 

CNN announced changes to its weekday morning and daytime, now taking effect:

Laura Jarrett and Christine Romans will continue to anchor Early Start from 5-6 am.

John Berman and Brianna Keilar will anchor New Day from 6-9 am, weekdays.  Keilar most recently anchored CNN Right Now from 1-3pm weekdays.  Prior to that, she was CNN’s White House correspondent during the Obama Administration.  Berman has been co-anchor of New Day for the last two and a half years.

Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto will continue to anchor CNN Newsroom from 9-11 am.

Kate Bolduan will continue to anchor At this Hour from 11am-noon.

John King will continue to anchor Inside Politics with John King weekdays from noon-1pm.  The network’s Chief National Correspondent, he will also continue to have a key role in all political coverage.

Ana Cabrera, who has anchored CNN’s weekend newscasts for the last four years, will now anchor CNN Newsroom weekdays from 1-2 pm.

Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell will now anchor CNN’s afternoon Newsroom coverage from 2-4 pm.  Camerota has anchored CNN’s morning program, New Day, for the last six years, the longest tenure of any weekday morning show anchor in recent CNN history, and, along with Berman, has led CNN to its largest audiences ever in the morning. Blackwell has anchored CNN’s Weekend New Day for the last nine years. 

With the move of Cabrera and Blackwell to CNN’s weekday lineup, CNN also finalized its new weekend lineup:

Boris Sanchez will join Christi Paul as co-anchor of Weekend New Day on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sanchez previously served as a CNN White House correspondent.

Fredricka Whitfield will continue to anchor CNN Newsroom’s midday coverage on Saturdays and Sundays.

Jim Acosta will anchor CNN Newsroom on Saturdays and Sundays from 3-6pm.   As previously announced, Acosta has also been named the network’s chief domestic correspondent.  Prior to this new role, he covered the White House for CNN for the past seven years, having served as Chief White House Correspondent since 2018. That role is now filled by Kaitlan Collins.

As previously announced, Pamela Brown now anchors CNN Newsroom on Saturdays and Sundays from 6-9pm. She also serves as Senior Washington Correspondent for CNN.

[Was this announcement as long as the post it followed? Film at 11!]

Friday, April 2, 2021

Modelling Chalk Marks on Freight Cars

Chalk marks, usually at the end of car sides, was used as a communications device for car routing. Chalk marks indicated marshalling instructions, the car's general destination, setting out, lifting, outbound train number and other miscellaneous messages. This was in the era before paper "journals" or computer-generated train manifests. 

                             CHALK MARKS IN THE STEAM ERA                               

Chalk was bought in quantities by the railway. Canadia Pacific purchased boxes 1x4-inch sticks named Chalkall from Binney & Smith by the gross. Division points were common places for chalk marks to be applied, indicating switching or marshalling instructions for the next division yard, or a particular town on the route - "shorts". Even more specific marks were for individiual tracks on which the car was to be set-out, or the car's commodity.

These marks were not meant to be permanent. They could be 'rubbed out' as if on a blackboard, when no longer relevant or needed. Early graffiti, including hobo marks, was also made with chalk.


There may have been some old heads that still used chalk marks when they were no longer necessary, made obsolete by technology. The advent of ACI labels and the introduction of computers in car routing made these redundant.


Chalk marks are not graffiti. For graffiti, I've done the odd 'Bozo Texino' or 'Pepe', someone's name or a city name. Once rattle cans of spray paint came along, the game changed. Many modern freight cars are nearly covered with graffiti. Modelling 1970, nominally, I don't have to contend with this scourge, ethically, legally or in my modelling. Here's a sample online discussion showing how quickly such discussions devolve, between two guys named Bob and John, "There are no great tags, there's only vandalism/ In your fu opinion/Not an opinion, a fact/Foamer fact, railroader wannabe/You know, it is entirely possible to disagree without being a dick about it. Just sayin'.../For the most part I agree. I hate tagging, especially on an old or fallen flag car. But there ARE some true artists. Technically it’s vandalism but his work is a thing of beauty and shows incredible talent."


I use a white gel pen to make my HO scale chalk marks. The resulting lettering is really vivid and bright. It catches my eye when I bring a car onto the layout. In future, I may weather some of the chalk marks with some dilute craft paint overbrushed to dull them. I also add weathering and ACI labels, and I still have remnants of Consolidated stencils, re-weigh re-stencils and occasional U-1 wheel dots.

Due to frequent car handling on and off the layout, I will probably never be the cut lever and roofwalk replacement kind of modeller. I've found that adding this type of detail enhances the realism of my rolling stock fleet and it's something that I can't dislodge by accident!

Lots o' links:

Running extra...

Speaking of leaving his mark, this reminiscence by the inimitable Bob Fallowfield was so nicely written that I frankly stole it from his social media, because I would like to see it shared even more widely:

Those Sunday drives. 

My dad was king of the Sunday drive, especially come fall. The routine was predictable. Mom would take me to Sunday School while dad chose to worship in his shed. There’s peace to be found down each of those paths. After a quick lunch, we’d pile into our ‘78 Chev Blazer and head out for the open road. I rarely asked outright to drive by the tracks, yet there is a certain understanding between a father and a son that seldom requires words. More often than not, dad would take us on a circuitous rural route that would somehow manage to bisect every rail line in Oxford County. 

I’m not sure I ever expressed it, but looking back now, I sure appreciated his understanding of my love of trains. As we took in the sights of farms and fields, and bounced over gravel and planked crossings, the hope was always present to see a headlight. Some afternoons were quiet but every so often we’d hit paydirt. Dad would clear the crossing, pull to the shoulder and the back door would spring open. Leaning back against the dusty rear bumper of our blazer, I watched in wide eyed amazement as the show of steel broke the rural calm and thundered by. As the markers faded in the distance, I returned to the backseat, clicked the lap belt and reached for my magazine. “Thanks, dad.”

And here's the visual that accompanies Bob's reminiscence - his newly-backdropped HO scale Galt Sub: 
Sidebar stories. Fellow blogger Steve Boyko added this list to a recent post on his blog. I'm proud to say I share Steve's taste in blogs, though I have to point out one typo. Under Trackside Treasure, the listing should have read "with a vain attempt at humour". Bit of a typo there (!)