Friday, February 16, 2018

BN Cryogenic Cars

BN 751000-751076 were (converted CB&Q) cryogenic cars (cardon dioxide-cooled reefers), with a 67'8" external length, 15'6" external height and 10-foot doors with a capacity of 4548 cu ft and 80 tons. Built in 1966, as of the 1995 Official Railway Equipment Register, 48 cars remained.

These cars appeared perpetually dirty. It's hard to keep white paint clean. These cars were LONG and were in meat service. Originally BRMX 5200-5299, the cars later received WFCX and BN reporting marks. 

Lots o' links:
Seen here individually or in pairs on CN's Kingston Sub, tracing revealed that the cars were heading to track PG09 in Pointe St Charles or track MT10 in St Laurent, QC. When empty, the cars were billed to Nebraska.

My observations of BN 7510xx-series cars including date, car number and CN train on:
Mar 9/95 751056
Apr 5/96 751012-751035
May 5/96 751062
May 27/96 751068
Oct 26/97 751040-751030 on No 395
Aug 1/98 751061 on No 395
Apr 3/99 751040
May 1/99 751042 (top photo - at CN's Belleville yard)
Nov 13/99 751010
Jan 16/00 751019
Jul 3/00 751061 on No 366
Jul 19/00 751061 on No 365
Oct 1/00 751061-751051 on No 317
Oct 7/00 751001-751070

Though I didn't stray from Athearn's 57-foot mechanical reefer design, I did paint and decal BN 751044 to match this number series. Seen here at my former Vancouver Wharves HO scale layout, the CP switch crew is picking up the car at Pacific Produce:
Thanks to Tim O'Connor, Doug Stark and Lee A. Gautreaux for additional information.

Running extra...

Speaking of modelling, I decided to build some cardstock dumpsters for Sacco Steel on my (now) Green Mountain Lines layout. So I can honestly say....bin there, done that.

Speaking of reefer madness, it's unlikely that the federal government's pot legalization legislation has the legs to be enacted by the proposed July 1, 2018. Justin the nick of time? Hopes may be going up in a puff of smoke, but that doesn't stop our local newspaper from publishing a pot story each and every day! It's as regular and predictable as the crossword! And the word eJblum!

Atlasrescueforumproboards or whatever, checking out this horn-hook coupler nook this week. Some haters, but yes, the owner is happy, north of Lake Erie, thanks very much, y'all! Identities concealed:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Transcon Train Times at Portage la Prairie

Any time was train time while railfanning Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. But not anytime was passenger train time! During my preparation and photo selection for my upcoming Trains and Grains project, this was brought home to me. Certain years, there were next to no VIA train observations or photos. Why? Because the VIA trains sometimes were rather nocturnal! And my trackside train-watching hours were essentially bankers' hours. Straight days. Perusing VIA timetables produced the following table, in which I attempt to track train time at Portage from 1976 to 2013, along with the appropriate transcontinental train numbers:
Here are a few photos that I'll be including in the Trains book of the two-volume set due this spring. In July, 1976 we only caught the train from Churchill (top photo by L.C. Gagnon). In 1978, it was the Super (above) with VIA 6515-6607-6502. And 6515 is still in CN colours! Now we're talking! Not only was the Canadian stopping at the CN station in 1979, (heck, CP ripped out their wooden station platform soon after CN took over the Portage-Winnipeg portion of the run, with a connecting track constructed at Portage and CP's Winnipeg Higgins Street station no longer used) but it was also the zenith of VIA's krazy circus or rainbow (that's more properly an Amtrak-related term) era. CN, CP, blue, red, black, white, yellow, VIA all mixed in together:
One of my VIA highlights...a nearly-three-hour-late No 2 arrives at Portage on August 22, 1979 behind 1409-8558-CP 8519. A lime-stained Southern Railway boxcar and doughty Portage Pool 'B' oversee the scene. VIA's only roadswitcher was second up:
And I can't believe I still read conspiracy theories - more akin to far-out musings on Elvis and JFK - that wonder aloud - did VIA's ex-CP 8558 actually exist! My little somewhat-suboptimal-but-there-recording-the-scene Kodak Hawkeye viewfinder found it. Thank goodness for late-running trains! Running late in 1980, too - VIA 6507-6606-CN 4102 bring a late Super into Portage on June 17, 1980:
The Canadian is again photographable in daylight in 1981. Blue-masked VIA 1418 leads CP 8580 and VIA 1898, one-of-two CP E-8's, sitting on the CP-CN connecting track on August 24, waiting for CN. Less than three months later, the Super would be cancelled during the massive VIA cutbacks that year:
In the shadow of Manitoba Pool Elevators' Portage Pool 'B' elevator, VIA 6501-6620-6603 pause with the Canadian on June 14, 1982:
I didn't make it to Portage in 1983, though my parents did. Watch for more of my Dad's photos of that visit in an upcoming post. Here's one of his photos - baggage being handled on No 2. Quite a trek down the platform for the operator with the baggage cart on this day:
One of my all-time favourites. Another MPE elevator, another Canadian: VIA 6504-6603 lead 12 cars through somnolent MacGregor, MB on May 29, 1984:
One more shot of the connecting track, another CN freight to wait for. This Canadian was actually early. Running one to three hours late in the 80's was serious. But compared to today's 6, 8, 12, 24 or even 38 (this week!) hours late Canadians, three hours was nothing! VIA 6557-6617 wait for lumber empties (of all things!) on CN's Rivers Sub to clear on June 4, 1984:
Back to early morning hours, No 2 with 6512-6621 and a diminutive eight-car consist approach Kearns (Eighth Street) in Portage on June 5, 1986. The following year, the bedraggled, beleaguered and be-gone F-unit fleet would find relief from incoming F40's.
In the nineties, my Mom and Dad prepare to board No 2 Eng 6443 at Portage in 1994. The F40 era had arrived (Wilf Schellenberg photo):
Portage la Prairie was unique in so many ways. Where else would one find two transcontinental streamliners, eventually serving a single, not really urban, station four times a day? And even after one was cancelled, this plethoric prairie preserve hosted, and still hosts, the other.

Running extra...
This week it's the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics. And Valentine's Day. Both are very competitive and full of the thrill of victory, and potentially the agony of defeat. The Dufour-Lapointes show us that Moguls are not just 2-6-0's. Korea's monad is not just for the Northern Pacific. Now for some Valentine's Day jokes: 
  • What did the octopus say to his girlfriend? I want to hold your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand. And your hand.
  • What did the bird say to his girlfriend? Let's be tweethearts.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

McCallister Pea & Seed Cleaners, Portage la Prairie

Allen McCallister came to Manitoba in 1897 from Grey North County, Ontario. He began growing peas in 1924, purchasing the turn-of-the-century commercial property in Portage in 1944 and constructed storage elevators for the family's bean and pea company, later becoming councillor, reeve and leader of various agricultural organizations. Located near 4th St N.E., just north of CP's yard, CP's Portage switcher is seen switching the operation in these photos kindly shared by Fred Clark. Fred photographed CP 6569 switching CPAA 89966 and two other patched Spruce Falls Power & Paper boxcars on July 11, 1984. Notice the peaked brick building at left.
Faithful Trackside Treasure reader Randy O'Brien sent a link to a fine Lawrence Stuckey photo of the operation, captioned 1987. Notice the assortment of new and old walls, pipes and bins. This photo  from Brandon University archives.
August 22, 1978 finds me and CP 8702-4440-4030 in the yard. McCallister was in the background, as it was in so many photos, but rarely in the foreground.

Find McCallister in these Brian Schuff photos: CP 3028 with McCallister elevator in background (above) and CP 8734 working the Speno railgrinding train in the yard with the brick building visible (below):
The multimillion-dollar plant suffered a three-alarm fire on March 29, 1990. As firefighters arrived, an entire wall gave way. Two large silos were damaged but not burned. Also damaged were the processing area, one elevator and a storage quonset. At the time, the plant was named Canadian Pulse Processors Inc, the McCallister family having sold their last remaining shares in 1985. Damage was 1.7 million dollars. At the time, the Campbell's Soup plant and CFB Portage were slated to close, and this was another economic blow to Portage, and the six employes were also affected. The plant, owned by the Great Canadian Bean Company was a large buyer of local seeds, including peas, beans and lentils, buckwheat and grains, processing 10,000-15,000 tonnes per year, processed into export-oriented products like bird seed by Continental Grain.

A handy little booklet entitled Early Architecture of Portage la Prairie, produced by the Manitoba Department of Cultural Affairs and Historical Resources - Historic Resources Branch in 1983 included these two bits of information on McAllister. A description of the original brick building, the Waterloo Manufacturing Company:
and a north-facing photo of the original brick building with elevators behind. On a model layout, this operation would be 'highly modellable'!

Running extra...

Figuratively if not literally, I'm finding myself  'in' Portage la Prairie this week. I'm captioning up to 700 photos for my Trains & Grains two-volume book project. Views of CN, CP and VIA trains from almost every conceivable angle. Grain, hotshot, manifest, coal, roadswitcher and yardswitcher are all represented. You'll even find (OK, just one more) a view of McCallister in the distant background (why didn't I walk over that way at least once, camera in hand??) of this grain train meet on CP, photographed from the Skyline Bridge.
Speaking of the Skyline (easy to remember because it bears the same name as the mid-train Budd-built CPR dome) here's another model/proto photo that Randy shared, just to put to rest rumours that it's not actually officially called Skyline. Thanks, Randy!
My graphics 'expertise' involves pen and paper. It was 1980. My model railway needed a 'brand'. This was back when brands were still used only on cattle. I ended up with seventh row down, second from left, by the way!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

CN acquires ex-CP units in Ontario Hydro contract

CN took over a CP contract to haul coal from Bienfait, SK to Thunder Bay, ON for Ontario Hydro. Along with the contract came CP SD40-2's that CN renumbered into the high 5300-series. The units and 110 bathtub gondola went to CN in the contract in May 1996. CN-style cab numbers were applied, and some had a small wet-noodle logo on the cabside. CN 5389 was the fourth unit on CN No 361, stopped at Belleville, ON on April 26, 1998 (top photo); 12 years earlier it was CP 5780 (below). CP 5780 led 5917-6020-6013 and 109 bathtub gondolas across the diamonds at West Tower in Portage la Prairie on June 5, 1986:
Originally, sixteen Ontario Hydro-owned SD40-2's were operated by CP: 5779-5789 and 5860-5864. CP bought five of the units in April, 1986: 5787-5789 and 5863-5864. The remaining eleven were renumbered to CN 5388-5398, and operated widely on CN's system, including Southern Ontario. All were retired by CN in mid-2000 then eventually reacquired by CP (*below) in late-2000 except CN 5391:
  • CP 5779 to CN 5388*
  • CP 5780 to CN 5389*
  • CP 5781 to CN 5390*
  • CP 5782 to CN 5391 retired by CN in 2001
  • CP 5783 to CN 5392*
  • CP 5785 to CN 5393*
  • CP 5861 to CN 5394*
  • CP 5862 to CN 5395*
  • CP 5784 to CN 5396*
  • CP 5786 to CN 5397*
  • CP 5860 to CN 5398*
CN 5388 appears to be leading, but is actually trailing CN 5311, the leading unit on eastbound No 366 at Belleville. Note the nose stripes and CN logo still visible. The two units are completing a setout at the east end of Belleville yard on October 2, 1999:
Blog partner Steve Boyko kindly shared this photo of CP 5396 at the Central Manitoba Railway shops before its rebuilding to become one of their own units. Looking a little rough:

Running extra...

If you're anywhere west of Winnipeg, be sure to attend the British Columbia Railway Modellers Meet! Registration is now open for the event which is taking place May 4, 5 and 6. Some great clinics await - Marc Simpson on CN F's, Al Lill on Modelling CN Vancouver Island and blog partner Bernard Kempinski on Ps 107:23 Down to the Sea in Ships, er, Trains!

Graphics guru and Portage modeller Randy O'Brien shared this archival photo of the construction of the Skyline Bridge in Portage la Prairie. Portage Pool C, which burned after 1976 is visible in the middle of the photo:
Randy also encapsulated my 'career' in an all-inclusive graphic. My four books on VIA Rail, three layouts and the neatest detail - my Dad's pencil correcting the title of my spring 2018 two-volume book project from Trains and Grains to Trains Ingrained! So true! Plus my favourite Argyle vest! Thanks, Randy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Making HO Scale Trees from Sedum

Deep in the Canadian wilderness, where the crystal snow lay deep and crisp and even, where the haunting curlew's call was carried on the frigid wind, where the orcas and the narwhals and the blood-red char frolicked in the icy cold waters, and where the bleak mid-winter sky slew the white-blanketed moraines with slanting, sinewy sunshine, it was time to make trees. (There goes my Giller Prize for fiction!) I grabbed shears and trudged out to do battle with frost-killed shrubbery (top photo)
Okay, so I was only ten feet from my front door. The fruits of my labour were sedum flowers that first were green in spring, pink in summer and now brown in winter. I had been waiting for them to be dead so I could enrobe my Green Mountain Lines' HO-scale hills with green trees. Trimming the flowers (left, below) I was left with a framework (right, below) on which to build:
My quiver of scenic arrows contained Woodland Scenic Clump-Foliage, JTT Foliage Fiber Clusters, and foam chunks, white glue and ground foam from my scenery drawer:
Those posed model railway magazine photos of a modeller working on his layout never looked like this! Surrounded by McDonald's, Mascot and Maxwell House, a plate of mini-donuts and wearing an apron from the kitchen drawer to protect my Carducci shirt, it was time to go to work:
 Dilute white glue and a witch's-cauldron of green material:
 My daily portion of greens:
 And voila, the finished products set out to dry:
 I tried a few on the layout, between the team track and the produce wholesaler:

 And near the St Johnsbury yard:

Lots o' links:
But that's not all! Other 2018 modelling efforts include a former Rock Island Sharknose that got D&H'd (above) and a new diner made from a Roundhouse coach and Athearn roof:

and the ET & HK Ide mill in St Johnsbury:
For other modellers, here's the lettering I used. Originally I planned to trace and paint the lettering, but the full-width nature of the black band made it an easy glue-on!
I'm starting this campaign this year: 2018 - The Year of Revenue-Neutral Modelling. Too much money being spent, too much expensive rolling stock stored away on basement shelves, too few layouts being finished and too much time spent talking about modelling rather than doing it. And I don't want it to happen to me. So I'm getting the paint flowing and the Dremel spinning!
Running extra...

Speaking of getting out in the winter weather, Terry Muirhead kindly shared some interesting photos from VIA's Vancouver Maintenance Centre. VIA 6426 has recently been serving as shop switcher, shown on January 5: 
And the interior of Prince Albert Park, stranded in the VIA No 1 consist at Spy Hill, SK during cold weather has some plumbing work done, looking temporarily less Prestige-ous than normal!
January 12's VIA No 1 arrived with CN 8906 leading. The original VIA leader had shelled wheels and was replaced in Kamloops. The CN unit was shut down and spent at least two days at Pacific Central Station, shown in Terry's photo coupled to VIA's Glacier Park:
January 14's VIA No 1 arrived with four units - 6457-6404-6418-6458: