Friday, May 27, 2022

Metrobec and Legault Metal Scrap Gondolas

As scrap metal prices increase and recycled metals are increasingly used in steel-making, the last few years have seen a plethora of former 'bathtub' gondolas being pressed into scrap service. Due to their large capacity and obsolescence for carrying coal, they seem to be naturals for scrap metal service, especially for smaller recyclers. This post includes two recyclers whose cars are often seen here on CN's Kingston Sub. 

Metrobec is a scrap-metal recycler with several locations in the Montreal area including headquarters at St-Hubert. Operating since 1967, their yard is off Rue-Ramsay and has a two-spur fenced yard holding about a dozen cars. Below - ArcelorMittal photo) :
Two Google views of the operation:
MTBX cars 001-005 were built in 1973, and MTBX 006-015 were built in 1984 by Ortner.  Ten cars from OFSX (Ogden Financial Services Corp.) series 84001-84110 were transferred by mid-2017 to Metrobec (these cars were relettered and renumbered at random, without being repainted): 84018, 84019, 84022, 84030, 84036, 84043, 84069, 84070, 84098 and 84101. Originally obtained in mid-2007 from the Tucson Electric Power Company without being relettered or renumbered. 

Interestingly, some cars are lettered with .NET others with .COM. Around 2014, some Metrobec cars were lettered while still painted pink with Everest Railcar Services reporting marks.


Legault Metal Inc., a metals recycling company with facilities in Trecesson, Val d’Or, Rouyn-Noranda and La Sarre, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue QC was acquired by ArcelorMittal in August, 2019. One of northern Quebec's largest scrap dealers. GLNX 1002, 1005 and 1015 were on CN No 369 on Decembr 11, 2016 (above). Legault car at the Trecesson yard (ArcelorMittal photo):

ArcelorMittal owns both operations, as well as a recycling and scrap processing center in Contrecoeur, QC. This facility processes approximately 800,000 tonnes of scrap per year used within ArcelorMittal steelworks to make new steel. The company operates five scrap recycling and processing sites, an iron ore reduction plant, two steel mills, three rolling mills and two wire drawing mills.


Metrobec cars are sometimes loaded with scrap at Kingston Iron & Metal (KIMCO) on John Counter Boulevard. MTBX 004 and 009 at KIMCO on March 27, 2019 behind the Kingston Utilities transformer yard, Lappan's Lane at John Counter Boulevard (above).

My observations 2014 to present showing date, car numbers, CN train seen on, remarks:
Sep 22/14 MTBX 001
Dec 11/16 GLNX 1002, 1005, 1015 on CN No 369
Aug 27/19 MTBX 006 on 376:
Aug 17/20 MTBX 008 on 368: 
May 28/20 MTBX 004  (top photo)
Dec 27/20 MTBX 002 with TFOX 101942:
Feb 4/21 MTBX 010 and 012 on CN No 376:
Feb 9/2021 GLNX 1020 with TFOX 100271:
A related post on AIMX, CMBX and Sullivan metal-recycler car fleets is here.

Additional information in this post from Carl Shaver.

Running extra...

Local News Item #1: I went out to find one CN 'heritage unit' and ended up finding two. This past Monday, the BC Rail-painted CN 3115 was powering CN No 271 on the Kingston Sub. It came by after my time trackside, though I did catch GT 6224 and CN North America-painted CN 9639 on Belleville-Kingston turn No 518!

Local News Item #2: CN bought GMTX Geeps previously on lease. Presented for reference, compiled by Railfan Luc, here are the new CN and former GMTX numbers:

and a slightly different list with lineages, compiled by Bruce Mercer and published by Don McQueen:
Local News Item #3: It has been said that all politics is local, but in this edition of Running Extra, it seems all news pertains to the 'local' trains. You know, wayfreights, turns, dinkies, scoots. Those loose-car railroading workaday trains that sustain those much bigger trains. Even if I can't make it down to Invista on Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, I can hear the whistle all the way from Front Road! An August, 1996 trestle view: 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Derailment at Gardiners Road, July 1999

On Friday, July 2, 1999 I witnessed my one-and-only, right-in-front-of-my-own-eyes, derailment-in-progress. While at Business Depot, I could hear an eastbound freight. It was Toronto-Senneterre, QC CN No 366 at 1605. I missed the engines, but drove behind the big-box stores and watched what I thought was the end of the train go by, right at Mi 178 Kingston Sub. Then, a rapid deceleration, made me realize 366 was going into emergency due to a break-apart! I could see a few cars, the tail-end of the train after the break-apart, also coming to a stop. Oddly, there was a huge grey dust cloud rising from the cars, with audible heavy digging sounds on the ballast. 

The last seven cars were covered hopper NAHX 52317, an ARSX covered hopper, PROX sulphuric acid loaded tank cars 13608, 13601, 13600 and 13610, then a Railbox carrying the ETU. I could see a shattered truck on the easternmost end of the NAHX car. Resting on the north track, one axle was straddling the south rail. The other axle of the truck was jammed into the bolster, though the car remained upright. Notice the chain over the in the top photo. The sulphuric acid loads were sitting on the Gardiners Road underpass. The head-end of the train was stopped 15 carlengths ahead of the tail-end. It appeared that the switch to the Industrial Spur, serving Northern Telecom, had been the site where problems started. Or more clearly, where a problem that had already started caused the train to go into emergency and come to a stop (see below!) The switch looked slightly damaged. The head-end was roughly one mile east. (Top photo shared by the late Ron Barrett - taken from the north side of the Industrial Spur looking south, with two main tracks - north in foreground.)

Like any responsible railfan, I headed home to get my camera. This also got me away from the site as I could hear sirens starting to wail. Upon my return at 1625, Kingston Police, 366's conductor, three Kingston Township firetrucks and volunteer firefighters' cars were onsite. The ETU was transferred to the new tail-end, and a CN signal maintainer was en route. I don't think I actually took any photos with all that activity, though I'm grateful that Ron did, the only tangible sign of what we witnessed.

I returned to the scene at 2150. A CN car and Blazer were parked at the Ontario Hydro transformer station. CN's hi-rail road-repair truck was on the Industrial Spur, with the NAHX car jacked and a new truck ready to be added. The car was taken to the Industrial Spur when it was moveable. Passing trains were limited to 20 mph past the site. CN No 519 from Belleville had been on hand to check clearances on the south track. 

My brother reconnoitred Queens to Ernestown, noting VIA Nos 49, 48/650 and 69 and CN No 148 had passed through. Two more eastbound freights were sitting on the north track at Ernestown: CN Nos 320 and 108. At 2155, 320 with 5687-5210 and 41 cars passed by, then 108 with 5744-5764 and 55 double-stack platforms went through at 2205. One westbound and four more eastbounds passed the site before midnight. 

The next day, all cars involved were gone by noon. According to a public CN trace of cars on the train, No 366 had arrived at Garneau, QC by 0630 that morning.

Fellow railfan and uberVIAphile Jakob Mueller shared this interesting insight upon reading this post. From the Small World Department!

My dad and I were driving (well he was driving, I was watching) west on Bath Road as the train was going by. Somewhere between Mile 179 and the No Frills, I heard a horrible screeching. It got louder and louder and as the NAHX hopper came into view, I saw the lead truck on a diagonal, just sliding along the rail. I called the CN [emergency reporting] number from the convenience store in Collins Bay. They took my info and said thanks. A few weeks later, the CN Police called me at home, and asked some questions about what I had seen, and then very specifically, if I noticed anyone hanging around under the Bayridge overpass. They were clearly concerned about vandals, and if I remember correctly there had been some other issues around the overpass before.  I did spend part of the evening at the derailment site watching the truck get reassembled, which was cool. We may well have crossed paths and not known it.

Running extra...
The Thousand Islands Playhouse is putting their money where their bus is, advertising two upcoming shows on Kingston Transit 2105. Unlike most earlier wraps, this is different on both sides! Strike Up The Band.....because this wrap will not last all Four Seasons.

It's been a Rapido kind of week, with the new People Moving People (are the luckiest people in the world?) book and the June Model Railroader cover article, both due to Rapido Trains Inc. and its improbably irrepressible and incessantly indefatigable leader, Jason Shron. You know, that Other Guy with Kingston in his basement!

Trackside Treasure readers: the election is coming up fast. Vote early and often!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Kingston-Portage Road Trip, 1979 - Part 2

In this second post in a two-post series, my brother and I head east from Portage la Prairie, MB back to Kingston. We left Portage at 0915 on August 30. Supper that night was at McDonald’s in Schreiber, then we were down at the station to see CP No 406’s crew change: 5797-5794-5900-5540 and van 434361 (top photo - Dave at left). On August 31 we were motel-bound except for lunch and supper at the Esso station’s “witch’s hat” Voyageur restaurant. It was too rainy for trainwatching except in the evening, when we caught CP No 404 with 5533 and 37 cars, and 5504-4213-8748 with van 434579.

Departing Schreiber on September 1, we passed Birchville school being moved (above - though I'm not sure whether this was August 30 or Sept. 1) and caught an eastbound CP freight at White River at 0830: 5704-4726-4730 with van 434508. 

Dave is on the platform (above) during the crew change. We reached Sudbury at 1700. We checked out the nickel mine attraction, riding a miniature train around the George VI Big Nickel. A nearby photo-friendly ex-CN caboose and ex-CP service car 411520 had been hauled to the rocky site. 

After a long day's drive, David is transcribing data from the cassette tape recorder, at the motel in the evening:

I also photographed the CP wooden water tower during a stop in Spanish:

We arrived home on September 2, having left Sudbury at 0600, and were home by 1300 after lunch at Pembroke McDonald’s. I had nearly five 110-format film cartridges to get developed. It was back to high school’s Grade 11 two days later!


August 20 - Thunder Bay to Winnipeg 

-CN 1907-1911, 1378, 1916, 1900, 1912, caboose 79236.

-CP 7051-7083, 6567, 7049, 8476, 7082, 6606, 8775, 6595, 6581, 6563, 7048, 8762, 5016, 5024, 5709, 4037, 4221, 4703, 5725, 4061, 4736-5500-4511-4563, 5792-5535, 5008; CP vans 434451, 434444, 434356 and plow 400795.

August 30 - Winnipeg to Schreiber

-CP 6555, 8128, 8817; end-cupola van 434416 and end-cupola vans 437041, 437310, 437147.

September 1 - Sudbury

-CP 6549, 8168, 8159, 8125, 8104

Running extra...

Friday the 13th is not all unlucky. In three separate orders from across Canada, three customers ordered one of each of my eight books. All within an hour! As always, I trust they will enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoyed creating them!

This past Monday, a heads-up from my mother-in-law tipped off a trespasser fatality (aka suicide, aka jumper) at the Bayridge Drive overpass west of Mi 179 Kingston Sub. Five police vehicles and forensic van were parked on shoulder of Bath Road. Fire and ambulance cleared. VIA No 60/50 was held three hours. VIA No 51 and CN No 123 were held east of the location. I did not feel the need to attend or document this sad event that disrupted the lives of so many VIA passengers, train crews, and others on that sunny Monday morning. 

Speaking of rare events, I tuned in to Rapido Trains Inc.'s most recent live session on May 12. I didn't find it very entertaining, and only selected questions were answered. One Rapido employee repeatedly asked "Who's running this Live, anyway?", and the best way for a Rapido employee to be mentioned was not to be present! My main interest was in their new Canadian prototype piggyback trailers (26-footer or 45-footer $39 ea.) and their Chevy Caprice ($29 ea.) Heaven help you if your layout has a trailer lot or parking lot to fill! But they are beautiful models.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Hanley Spur Diorama

Using some of the signature buildings from my HO-scale Hanley Spur layout (National Grocers, Bailey Broom factory, Rosen Fuels and Woolen Mill), I constructed a diorama for an upcoming exhibition. The signature scene is Kingston's Rideau and Cataraqui Streets, where three of the four buildings are extant. I took the diorama outside for some natural-light photography using my iPhone camera and my Canon point-and-shoot camera in March. In most cases, they are presented in parallel order when portraying a similar scene. The iPhone really allows for low-angle photography due to the corner-position of its camera lens. In each scene, I'll point out some features I included in the diorama design and construction. But first, the build.

I began in early January, spending about an hour each night on the diorama. Early stages in planning the non-powered trackage were including CN's Hanley Spur and CP's parallel Kingston Subdivision trackage, as well as the nexus of local industries. On the prototype, the two lines were poorly-drained and low, though I elevated mine to make them more prominent. Some structures were placed on an additional layer of plywood, with papier-mache filling the gaps over modelling clay. Then, I gave the various areas a brown, green or black base coat, painting the edges black, and added roads and some details. I took care not to 'over-detail', in order to not detract from the overall scene.
Rosen and Woolen Mill in background, Bailey and National Grocers in foreground. The entire diorama measures 39 x 48 inches.
The concept was to show the importance of rail (and road) transportation in developing industrial development along Kingston's downtown waterfront. I made a point of painting the railheads silver on the spur leads, with the spurs rusted. I added a small oil dealer at right, low river/swamp backdrop with vegetation, pole lines and wires, signs, figures, and vehicles.
The diorama is on the move, able to fit in the back of the van for its voyage. The renumbered CN 7123 now includes a full crew. All rolling stock, vehicles and structures were wired to the plywood to keep them stationary and make their eventual removal and return to my home layout easier. I'm pleased to say that this diorama is now on display as part of the 'On The Move - 400 Years of Transportation in Kingston' exhibition at the Pumphouse Museum. The exhibition opened April 22, and will be open until November.
I included hydro and telephone lines, these being the last details added - they're virtually invisible when looking and working down at the diorama and therefore prone to accidental removal! The sky backdrop is printed bristol-board clouds, gamely held in position on a windy day by my wife!

Looking north at the National Grocers spur, from the CP side. The low-level photography readily reveals modelling gaps that the naked eye is less likely to perceive.

Colour views. A peril of outdoor photography is inclusion of trees and the neighbours' houses in the background. Fellow blogger Chris Mears suggested photographing the railway models in front of the prototype structures. Definitely an intriguing idea!

CN 7123 (since renumbered from the incorrect 6012 factory number) on CN's Hanley Spur at left, with CP's differently-ballasted Kingston Subdivision at right, with its spur to Dyeco and tannery branching off at right. The Rosen building is realistically nondescript and grey one that I had already built - it fit the space I had available.

A boxcar spotted on the Woolen Mill CP spur. Slight diffferences in the angle and photo-editing result in remarkably different results!

Some various iPhone views of the CN switcher, formerly owned by my Dad, positioned with an ice-reefer and an loaded American coal car. The black & white format reveals the easily-backdated nature of this trackage, and I look forward to holding some steam/transition-era operating sessions on my home Hanley Spur layout.

The billboard along Rideau Street is transportation-themed, and one that fits with the steam era. The molding, painted black,that I nailed to the front edge of the diorama is just visible here:
Before renumbering and crewing, the CN switcher is crossing Cataraqui Street. The backrops are paper-printed on foam-core, with the top edge of the backing painted to match the photo, and the backing screwed to the base using brackets. The Cataraqui River and upper storeys of the Woolen Mill are intended to add perceived depth to the diorama as well as adding context.
Final iPhone photo, showing the Cataraqui Street crossing fom the CP side, with my imagined Abramsky's truck patiently waiting:                      

CN and CP were given different balasting to give viewers the idea that they are operated by different railways. The Dyeco spur 'disappears' into the backdrop, partly hidden by foliage, the Rosen building and 'ballast' painting on the backdrop.
Back where we started - a slightly suspended point-and-shoot view of Cataraqui Street.
I haven't made it to the exhibition at the Pumphouse Museum yet, but I am looking forward to going to see it in its entirety.

Running extra...
Atlas Model Railroad Co. is releasing a Ukraine Peace Car. Proceeds from sales are to go to Ukraine relief. Personally, I'm surprised it wasn't lettered with yarding instructions for HO-scale trainmen: 'Russian Warship - Go Hump Yourself'. Oh well, there is lots of room for custom decalling. Delivery expected in December, hopefully after this evil war ends.

Speaking of war and peace, let's talk marriage. And how to get one off on the right track. Not my photo (for which I'm thankful). I hope the happy couple enjoyed many years of welded bliss, holy matrainmony and are still a happy coupler. Though I'm still asking myself...What The F-Unit?
No-one is wedded to his hobby like Rapido Trains Inc.'s Jason Shron. He is the cover story of the June 2022 Model Railroader and MR is giving him the perfect platform. Rejected article titles: "Taking Kingston and Brockville All the Way to the Top (Level)", "Did I Mensch That I Like Model Trains?", "Spadina -The Interminable Terminal"  and "40 Days and 40 Nights - Building the KingstonSub!"