Saturday, October 21, 2017

Autumn in Belleville and Pennsylvania, October 2017

Well, it actually started in September 30. Visiting Belleville yard, a tied-down westbound was stuffed and mounted at the VIA station with no re-crew in sight. What else to do but photograph CANADA 150 banners! Tank cars placarded UN 1863 were in the background (above). Let's steal away for a symmetrical, cross-border sojourn of enjoyable autumn (summer-like, actually!) weather and steel wheels on September steel rails....
The most unfulfilling type of trackside photography - NOTRoPhy. Light standard sitting and doing some sole-searching:
And then I did it again - these poles and crossarms behind the CN S&C building looked historic:
S&C van with the tied-down train's single lead unit, CN 2873:
VIA No 52/62 appeared. This non-stop was definitely not stopping: 6412-3454-3364C-3311R-3331R-6457-3475-3367-3334-3344R. Video capture:
Then CN No 368 Eng 2941 made an appearance, with word of a dimensional load. CN 668260 was carrying a Vestas turbine tower, led by an idler flat behind DPU 2977:
This train recrewed at Elmwood Road. Starting to pull:
This BKTY 155301 could tell some stories, right back to the era of the Incentive Per Diem boxcar boom:
AEQX 160 flat car bearing containers:
VIA No 63: 909-8622-4000-4009-4107-8117-4121-8127 blasts west at 1225:
The next day, a fall colours drive turned up the yellows and reds of VIA 916 leading VIA No 47 at Kingston station: 916-3345C-3340R-3331-3361C-34xx-920. One of VIA's bidirectional P42-led consists that put Business Class at the rear of the consist, at least westbound.
Then it was off to sleepy Strasburg, Pennsylvania, where one of three mid-day runs returns from Leaman Place led by ex-CN 89. Enjoy the sight and sound! Video capture:
Approaching the Red Caboose Motel:
Gates and grates, about to be lifted and shaken, respectively:
Nearby, prosperous Amish farms were having corn harvested:
Returning over the bridge over the St Lawrence River at Ivy Lea, CSL's Cedarglen was upbound. I encouraged my wife to snap several shots to help avoid lightposts, handrails and other impediments to fine bridge-ship photography:
As the sun sets on the summer of 2017, we return to Kingston station on October 16. First of six trains (five VIA, one CN) in 90 minutes was VIA No 66 with 6453-3456-3356C-3359C-3352C. That's right, CANADA 450, right there!
We leave off where we started this post - a banner year:

Running extra...

The national outpouring of emotion for The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie has been overwhelming. The group has been dubbed 'the soundtrack of my life' by many interviewees. For me, other iconic Canadian groups like Rush, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and the inimitable Guess Who were more a part of my generation. However, I do recall Gord Downie's grin, 70's hair and good nature when we shared some classes (and the same birth-year, unlike most of my classmates who were 1963'ers) while in senior years of Amherst View Public School, prior to the family's move into Kingston.
Some ardent Hip supporters have even suggested a government-sanctioned Gord Downie Day. More reflective folks have soberly suggested that a Remembrance Day holiday should come first. Then we would truly be Ahead by a Century. Speaking of treasured Canadian icons:

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Champion Boxcars

For a brief time in 2003-2005, these interesting grey Champion boxcars were operating on CN's Kingston Sub. Nothing to do with Champion spark plugs! Champion Paper Co was later sold to International Paper. These Coe Rail Inc.cars with CRLE reporting marks were lettered for Champion International Corporation. Operating in the company of CN paper cars, photographed in US states MD, IN and on CN's Kingston Sub from Arvida, QC, they had been stencilled 'Return empty to Sheldon TX' and carried newsprint. Apparently, I wasn't able to get any photographs myself.

The cars were built in 4-71 as SP Pacific Car & Foundry 50'6" boxcars class B-100-27 SP 674900-675099 and rebuilt in 1990. CRLE 10385 (top photo by Peter Mumby)
Around 2005, the cars were restencilled for MVRY (Mahoning Valley Railway - above photo posted to Facebook) with the same 103xx-series road numbers. In 2015, the cars appeared with their Champion lettering painted out, rather crudely patched with BAEX reporting marks at least up to BAEX 1039.

Lots o' links:
My Champion boxcar observations: date, car number and CN train seen on:

Sep 20/03 CRLE xxxxx on tailend of No 368
Nov 20/03 CRLE 10326 on headend of  No 321

Running extra...

These Champion boxcars are exactly the type of limited-time-only observation that should (have) been documented as it happened. Like a budgie flying with a flock of sparrows. When will we learn to document the seemingly mundane? Fortunately someone did, and I was glad to discover that Peter Mumby had done just that! Peter often contributes to the excellent White River Division blog in Trackside Treasure's sidebar. I'm paying a lot more attention to the WRD blog now that I'm modelling a New England prototype!

Did some seemingly mundane photographic preservation for posterity today from five stories up. BN 461535 and 447969, both still bearing the large logo!

On this week's episode of TLC Railfan Sisters, we see a Norfolk and Southern ex-CBQ, GN, BN, CNW car at Elizabeth City, North Carolina, part of a station restaurant:

Monday, October 9, 2017

And on the Fourth Day.....He Operated


A couple of posts ago, you may have read about my Vancouver to Vermont model railway layout transition. I said progress might be ponderously slow. It was not. It was astonishingly fast! While vacationing in Pennsylvania, thoughts turned to three types of road: the Interstate, the clip-clop of Amish buggies on bucolic country lanes, and Vermont railroads in HO scale. Mental notes began to fill a scribbler notebook on Friday. I present some redneck scans herewith, along with some parenthetical, over-caffeinated statements and stray thoughts! Concepts of the whole layout and various switchable areas (right page, below). The good news is that I used the same benchwork!
That's the real Rutland, VT on the left (left page, above); one of the signature scenes I wanted to include. Here are the stages of construction that I used as a checklist:
To use the same benchwork, I'd decided to include Rutland on the left side - the longest and first visible, even if not entering the layout room. St Johnsbury, VT yard would be across the room. To ensure I ended up with industries to switch, I made sure I left room for some, considering what they'd be and how much trackage would be required. I also removed the elevated Vancouver interchange - there was a lot of lumber under it! The Vermont layout would include 1.5 circuits of the layout, including some hidden staging and interchanges at both main towns.
St Johnsbury hosts the iconic (there I go again) ET & HK Ide feed mill. I'd seen this weird, huge lettering for over forty years in rail enthusiast publications. Ide is a surname. Another St J modeller measured the mill, and I was able to scale out a mock-up (left page, above) as well as planning out the trackage for Rutland (right page, above) also in the scribbler pages. Standing on the shoulders of giants (Isaac Newton reference) I was able to print composite pages of the Ide mill and its neighbour, the widely-windowed Caldbeck-Cosgrove Corporation. (If I keep typing that, I might get it right eventually!) Do you C the alliteration there?
I have absolutely no intention of Dremel'ing or using an X-acto knife on styrene long into the fall nights to install said windows. I mean, look at them all! Googling the three-C-lettered company reveals an online pdf scan of one of their building product catalogues:
Paging through reveals some four-light windows that are close enough for me. (The catalogue also includes neat moldings, doorways, mantles - truly everything in building materials -  woodwork from an era of craftsmanship we're unlikely to see again.) I reproduced these windows in a printable format. I will cut and paste, literally, onto the painted styrene surface! I'll spend my time on hand-lettering.
TRAINS and RAILFAN articles have been very helpful, especially since I've been saving views of these notable VT scenes for years. Look at those windows. Hopefully then won't be too much of a pane!
I made a point of making some videos and taking photos for posterity during the transition. There are six videos.  They're short - like my attention span! A few work blocks of one to three hours over the Thanksgiving weekend enabled good progress. A tableful of removed buildings. A pile of removed HO scale people (channelling Les Nessmann - "Oh, the Humanity!") and a carton of removed vehicles were set aside. The roll of flextrack was unravelled. Nippers nipped and joiners joined. Clearances were checked with a test train which included a gon full of Robertson screws. Buildings were replaced. New ones are planned and industry names imagined. Just tonight, operation began. No derailments and some fun new switching now exists. Working the interchanges, so much a part of the overbuilt Vermont rail scene, will be challenging but enjoyable. All in four days. Some photos:
A D&H RS-3 switches the Rutland interchange. That will be Howe Scale at right. I'm recycling two existing buildings. The treed bank at left is a lichen mat picked up in a Pennsylvania craft store. Super handy! I'm pleased with the long-looking Rutland tracks! Here's the overpass view:
 Thank goodness for Pikestuff! Those structural flats will be improved upon:
I'll be adding more backdrops. I picked up this one at the Strasburg Train Shop (below), along with a B&M hopper. Over on the other side of the layout, a CP freight enters the yard at St J, with station at left and enginehouse at rear. That lumber dealer is already relocated over to Rutland! The unloading shed for the Ide mill is already done. It will be just to the left:
More stray thoughts:
  • Now I need a name for the layout. I'm thinking 'The Green Mountain Boys'. As Morduant wrote, one crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name! 
  • Interestingly, I found that my Burlington Northern (Manitoba Ltd.) torpedo Geep is still useful. Green Mountain picked up ex-BN 1849 and it operated in BN colours before receiving GMR paint!
  • Though I am all about planning, dreaming and scheming trackplans, there is a time for action. Don't led planning the ideal layout get in the way of creating something that's useable, reasonably prototypical and operable in less than a decade! 

Running extra...

Hey, it's Trackside Treasure's 500th post!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Twelve Issues I Kept

At one time I tied to keep every railway magazine - TRAINS, Railfan (even before it was Railfan & Railroad), Model Railroader (MR), Railroad Model Craftsman (RMC), Bytown Railway Society's Branchline, Upper Canada Railway Society Newsletter, and Canadian Railway Modeller (CRM). Only the latter three collections remain, and I'm a charter subscriber to CRM! Storage space, too many pages of ads, only a few seminal articles all contributed to a rip, clip and ship solution to my railway room space problems. I would even buy stacks of back issues at train shows, knowing I would only keep a few articles, but enjoying paging through them, realizing how far we've come in the worlds of prototype railroading, model railroading and publishing.

I do have a single IKEA magazine holder in which I keep special issues. Issues that are special to me. In this post, I'll show you which twelve issues I've kept all these 40+ years, with cover photos, and reasons why:
  • June 1976 MR - just how did a couple living in the Netherlands Antilles jam the Pacific Northwest into a 45x60-foot basement? I was big on model railroading and Burlington Northern at the time (still am!) and GN + UP were well-represented among the 46-locomotive, 345-car fleet. But it was the depth, breadth and massing of the layout - over 12 feet wide in places, that led author Jim Hediger to seem apopleptic with adjectives like large, largest, staggering, hundreds and magnitude.
  • July 1976 RMC - The US Bicentennial was full of hoopla and ballyhoo. RMC 'sponsored' an American Freedom Train (AFT) tour of plaster-piled, lovingly-lichened layouts like the Alturas & Lone Pine, Virginian & Ohio, with many model photographs by the versatile Jim Boyd. An AFT consist was shipped to nearly a dozen locations with SP 4449, T&P 610 and Reading 2101 alternately posed with AFT display cars. AHM advertised 0-4-0 Docksides for $11.99, Athearn their cabover Bekins and Life-Like its 13-car (one for each colony) reefer & gon Spirit of '76. EMD's stillborn GM6C was profiled plus prototype Bicentennial units from ConRail's 'Rivets' to SF's Warbonnet SD's.
  • July 1976 MR - I also saved MR's Bicentennial entry that month. More historic hoopla on the circa-1840 Baltimore & Ohio, EMD's 'state of the art' SD40-2, and an article on railroading's tomorrow: train-track dynamics research, increasing use of welded rail, the advent of only two large systems covering all of the US, and remote-control trains 'right out of Flash Gordon'! But languishing nearly neck-deep in hoopla on distant page 88 was Frank Ellison's The Art of Model Railroading! The reawakening of the dream of model railroading by instilling operation into the yards (dressing rooms), track (stage) with theatrical trickery. This was straight ether to a 12 year-old with the family's layout to operationally transform. If only I could have duplicated Frank's Strathmore board structures and his revolutionary use of space, time, and physical plant. My Dad printed neatly on the cover Special Issue too many articles to separate keep parts together. Thanks, Dad!
  • June 1977 RMC - Another issue of creepy black & white photography, Art Curren kitbashing fake windowless locomotive cabs and squint-worthy (even for your eyes) two-page ads for America's Hobby Centre, Inc. 146 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011. Bachmann Dockside 0-4-0 for $11.99, or 0-6-0 for $6.49. Reviews of Athearn's White cabover above an N-scale Kadee 'The Rock' 40-foot boxcar. The next page advertised Walthers' wacky one-truck Oscar and Piker mini-business cars. But the page before? Julian Cavalier's awesome plans and Chuck Bohi's 8-page extravaganza on Canadian Northern third class depots. Vanscoy and Veregin, Smoky Lake and Shellmouth, Conquest and Bladworth (both of which I'd visit 10 years later, the stations since gone) were pictured, some in colour! This article coincided with our family's first trip to Portage la Prairie, with a large hook, line and sinker firmly lodged in me, ineluctably pulling me west over the next few years. Bohi would release his book Canadian National Western Depots in 1977.
  • December 1981 RMC - Stafford Swain's evocative staged sunset photo of steam with wooden elevator headlined the upcoming Winnipeg NMRA Railway Jamboree in '83. The article centred on the fictional Forsyth, Manitoba scratchbuilt CNR Class III station surrounded by kitbashed Kibri and AHM false-fronted Western structures. Stafford's photo of the jumbled, stacked, unpainted village structures has stayed with me since - unconventional! But just think: Canadian prototype modelling, especially Western Canada, was a thing!
  • January 1984 MR - Golden Anniversary Special. An impressive 266 pages! Another tour - this time a 'restored' Milwaukee Hiawatha 4-4-2 hit the road visiting MR staples - Carrabassett & Dead River, Cat Mountain & Santa Fe, Jerome & Southhwestern with oompah bands, forced perspective and painted structure proclaiming, "Miracle Chair Co if it's a good chair, it's a Miracle!". Stats on the hobby: average modeller 40 year-old college grad, making $30,000 a year and spending a paltry $590 on the hobby per year. State of the art proto loco was the SD50. AHC ad: Atlas FP7 for $19.95. Athearn ad: Dupont Alathon ACF Center Flow $3.50. An industry panel predicted electronic magazines, fewer words, more images, and in the late 1980's American homes will be able to access 'remote data banks' using computers. Fun! Nice article on Al Kalmbach and the genesis, history and editors of MR
  • July 1987 MR - cover story was Developing a Locomotive Roster for the Utah Belt. Finally, someone like Eric Brooman with a believable proto-freelance layout. All-EMD roster. A good sample of late 1980's MR just before the delectable dawn of the not yet-detectable Golden Era of model railroading.
  • April 1988 RMC  - inspired by a 1977 RMC article (the June 1977 issue previously mentioned) Stafford Swain finally built his CN Class III station (Hey, wan't it pictured in the 1981 issue?) Regardless, a great how-to-build article, published several years after I'd built my cardboard/balsa station from photos alone! AHC was advertising the weird Tyco C-C trucked GG-1 for $12.95.
  • November 1992 RMC - Patrick Lawson's Cascade Sub CP Rail modelling CP Rail in the mountains article with detailed CP SD40-2s. Only two industries on his 16x18-layout, and Patrick candidly professed 'I am a real fan of flat cars'. His scenery and attention to the detail of scene composition alone made this issue a keeper.
  • June 2003 RMC - cover photo of John Slean's HO scale CN 3615-1915 with an Illinois Terminal P-S covered hopper visible. Hello! Not a single figure, and few vehicles visible, but the rolling stock was clean, colourful and Canadian. Published in advance of Maple Leaf 2003, the NMRA's national convention. John's 1970's era modelling was instructive for urban modelling in that swinging decade. Editorial content and most ads now colour!
  • January 2009 MR - Junbo anniversary issue for MR's 75th. Building a sectional layout - the Beer Line - more industrial switching. Yes! The final article on the 43x54-foot V&O left me a little cold, but hey, it's still the V&O! Trainland advertised Model Power 0-4-0 saddle tank for $11.99. Other ads include PWRS green Saskatchewan! grain cars and two-page spread for Rapido Trains' Canadian. And yet another story on the Gorre & Daphetid. The heyday of MR's era of recycled article content. Oh, and Jumbo now means 146 pages only!
Each for its own reasons, these issues stayed in my memory and on my bookshelf. Strangely, I've kept the December 1973 MR with its completely undistinguished content. An obscure Burlington Route 1:48 layout on the cover. But it's not the what, it's the who, when and why that keep this one around. Kids hate to see their parents argue and after one of these bouts, my Dad disappeared over to the store. Returning with some essentials, he quietly slipped me this copy. It was his way of saying 'Things will be alright - read this and feel better". Tucking this issue back into my IKEA magazine holder with those other remarkable issues, I remark to no-one in particular, "Thanks, Dad!"

Running extra...

Keeping to the literary theme, it's time to catch up: What I Read on my Summer Vacation. Photos with few-word book reviews follow: Dunkirk - better than the movie; Green Beret - Canadian joins the Royal Marines; Stackpoles tell the story right every time; Rick Warren - thought-provoking:
Donut - story went around and around; Tank Men - gritty; Marine One - presidential; another fine Stackpole; Cold War - Canadian in Germany:
D-Day - forbidden war diary shared; Ron and Don - a few pops together; Goose Green - definitive account; Sabre - ripping good yarn; Waterloo - not as I'd hoped, but great reading while waiting for the CP Canada 150 A-A-B-A train to arrive. 
And finally, speaking of waiting for a train...watch for an upcoming post from this bucolic Keystone State location:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Moving Vancouver to Vermont - in HO Scale!

In 2009, as my HO scale Winnipeg Terminals layout was appearing as the cover story of Canadian Railway Modeller magazine, I was already planning to move my modelled prototype locale west to Vancouver, which I did in 2010. Infamously, I used the same benchwork but rebuilt the trackage without a trackplan, resulting in my Vancouver Wharves layout. The photographic inspiration for that layout focused on CP's waterfront 'N' yard, their Pier B-C facilities, nearby marine traffic as shown in the Phil Mason 1982 photo (below). I moved my modelled era from 1976-86 Winnipeg to 1970-76 Vancouver.
Now my modelled prototype locale is about to move again. To New England! Prince Street blogger Chris Mears* has actually been there! His photo of the (over-used terminology warning) iconic ET & HK Ide feed mill in St Johnsbury, VT is one of the signature scenes I want to include:
The other is the Rutland Railroad interchange in Rutland, VT, including the Howe Scale building disappearing seemingly into the distance with its nearby trackage and foliage-covered grade at left, shown in this Trains magazine photograph:
Some of the factors that are contributing to this change taking place this week, in no particular order:
  • purchasing a large Heljan brewery built-up kit at the Picton train show. Where was I going to fit that thing in my Vancouver modelled prototype? Carling O'Keefe brewery?
  • coming across a complimentary copy of the Canadian Railway Modeller article on my Winnipeg Terminals layout
  • adding some St Johnsbury photos to my Pinterest page (sign in to view)
  • this post on my brother Dave's Rolly Martin Country blog - B&M in 1954 - classic New England railway photography by our Dad
  • it seems unlikely I'll ever capitalize on a long-waning whim to build a layout of CN's Kingston Sub with limestone and lichen. Besides, some other modeller is building one!
  • a long-standing interest in New England railroading, perhaps going back to 1954!
From the above-mentioned Rolly Martin Country post...the Boston & Maine switcher in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Perhaps the image rivals a Jim Shaughnessy photo in tone, and the subjects - switcher, Swift and signage - are visually compelling and highly modellable:
Also from that post - my brother's scan of the 1954 B&M timetable shows two communities of interest circled. As the crow flies, they were not far apart. Perhaps convincingly linked in HO scale:
There remains much to be decided:
  • Era - I would like to have a sliding scale of era for at least vehicles and rolling stock, perhaps 1960's to 1980's. 
  • I need to do more research. Railfan magazine other soft-cover books from my library will help.
  • Motive power - I'm good for CP and there's even a Maine Central RR 44-tonner in my stable (*also thanks to Chris!)
  • Rolling stock - I likely have enough CN, CP, MEC and northeast US roads to pull it off. Cylindrical covered hoppers for grain service, prepare to fade farther into the background.
  • Structures - ET & HK IDE, Howe Scale for sure. Also, a lumber dealer at which to spot the Thrall All-Coor cars, farm supply and some other New England staples. There will be no fishing wharf, lighthouse or other kitschy, stereotypic seaboard structuring. Although there may be some shades of Earl Smallshaw**.
  • Train length - not an issue, since one locomotive and several cars seems to be standard for many New England locals
  • Trackplan - no laps to run! Perhaps just transiting from one signature scene to another. Perhaps even one of those pointless overpasses so common on today's layouts!
  • Recycling the same trackplan I have, with some modifications. I'll likely remove my raised trackage to make way for Rutland. Since the trackplan is STaying CONSTANT, I'm considering the new layout's name as the St Constant, St Johnsbury & Rutland RR!
The exact equipment mix is still forthcoming, though I've already corralled several pieces of regional rolling stock:

RESOURCES

**While researching Earl Smallshaw's structures and layout-building, I was chillingly surprised to find out he died the same day as my Dad.

So, stay tuned in case anything actually happens and progress is made, even if ponderously slowly. After all, it's New England and not much changes they-ah. Prahgress happens wicked slow, leaf peepers, in the Green Mountain state!

Running extra...

Thanks to those loyal Trackside Treasures, and others, who participated in my September Sale. Remaining lots (those not garishly marked ****SOLD****) in the previous post are now available at a 20% discount. Just mention the promo code 'Johnny Cash' in your email expressing interest in a remaining lot.

I need to profile some of my recent reading in this space - it's impossible to avoid. Suffice it to say it was inescapably weird to read to books in a row (Dunkirk and Younger Next Year) that each included a word I'd never seen or spoken: ineluctable.
Fun Five-digit Fact - It seems that during the 1980's, Vermont licence plates finally progressed from five numeric digits to six digit alphanumeric combinations. Waving a fond farewell to summer and to VIA No 67: