Thursday, December 1, 2016

Black Friday in Belleville, November 2016

Black Friday as a 'holiday tradition' is migrating north to Canada. To cash in on sales, Canadian retailers are adopting the post-US Thanksgiving holiday retail extravaganza. Regardless, practising some retail therapy in the family, I found myself at the mall on Black Friday. More specifically, Kingston Transit's new Cataraqui Centre transfer point. Not-really-Express-bus KT 1259 was at the transfer point (top photo) while brand new NOVA Kingston Express 1684 arrives from Gardiners Road (below). Speaking of road, it was time for it to be hit. So we hit the road for Belleville.
Belleville yard is a wasteland. Formerly the site of the welded-rail plant and then Great Lakes Region MoW car storage, it is now an empty expanse across which I spotted ACTX 210040, an orange-saddled car of Hydrogen Fluoride for Port Hope's Cameco plant, along with three bulkhead flat cars of pallet wood for Cobourg. Note the Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) train in background:
Also in the yard were CN locomotives 5414 and 2116. The next day, 5414 would lead the CWR train east to Kingston.
CN 2116 seemed to have some odd markings behind its cab. It's actually a CN welding truck behind the backhoe at left. At least four hi-rail trucks and three pieces of track machinery were jockeying back and forth on the yard tracks behind those stored Trailer-Train well cars.

Over at the car shop, I found this Herzog equipment. It's actually an RUM - Rail Unloading Machine used to thread rail from a CWR train. Here's a Herzog Youtube video which shows it in use.
Some detail shots, just in case an ardent Trackside Treasure reader has a yearning to scratchbuild one:

At 1110, VIA No 62/52 streaked eastward. CN No 376, a perennial favourite of mine at Belleville, arrived at 1130 behind CN 8925-5794. Easing to a stop at Elmwood Drive crossing for a recrew, it departed east through the mist and fog about 15 minutes later.
 About to depart, with incoming crew ready to do pull-by inspection:
 Starting to pull with ditch-lights now on:
The first car on the train, centre-beam bulkhead flat BCOL 730792 was toting Anderson Planers lumber. Able to note 99% of 376's consist, here is the breakdown of cars:
  • 45 boxcars, mostly TBOX or FBOX
  • 30 covered hoppers, mostly plain-jane ACFX grey on the tail-end
  • 82 tank cars carrying a variety of commodities: styrene monomer, sulphuric acid, limestone slurry, carbon dioxide, xylene and propane
  • 8 centre-beam bulkhead flats carrying Aspen Planers, Canfor, West Fraser, Riverside, Hampton Portland Oregon and Tolko lumber 

     My HO-scale decal work is not perfect, but neither is the lettering job on this GATX tank car.
     IC 385370, 101963 and 389152 were about thirty cars in:
     NADX 120056 is a sixty-foot single-door box among tank cars:
     Mid-train DP unit was 2277:
     Refreshing to see an un-graffiti'd car: Procor's UNPX 123316:
    Back on November 13, sister car UNPX 123149 was also clean and pristine, also on No 376 at Kingston (below) and here my Belleville report ends photographically. (I will be asking Santa for a second camera battery!) I subsequently caught No 373 westbound at 1200 with five tanks, 17 grain cars and 64 empty auto racks behind CN 3077. No 369 was arriving at 1400 behind CN 2330-8877, carrying Resolut and Barrette lumber, four pitch tankcars including CGTX 18472.

    Running extra...

    Thanks to Trackside Treasure's responsive readership for your kind comments and supportive emails you sent re: the previous post. The blogosphere continues to unfold as it should. Much appreciated.

    This may not have been Albert Hammond's highest-charted song, but the vocal harmonies are tight (especially the sevenths around 2:45) and a version of this song with appropriate train images was shown on Captain Kangaroo many years ago. I'm A Train I'm A Chick-A Train Yeah!
    Following up on the Cameco tank car, Mike Lockwood kindly shared two photos of Belleville power CN 4115-4125 switching Cameco the next day. ACTX 210040 is swapped for ACTX 210047; the power accessing plant trackage on the lead behind Port Hope's VIA station. Thanks, Mike!
    If you're on Facebook, I'm posting a FB Christmas Thought of the day, daily between now and Dec. 24. I started a day early in case I get into some of my son's homemade eggnog and need to take a day off (12 large eggs, 1 pound sugar, pints of whole milk, heavy cream, half and half, cup of cognac, cup of bourbon, nutmeg and kosher salt). Season til festive.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2016

    The Dark and Seamy Side of Blogging

    I was surprised to receive an intimidating email from a fellow blogger this past Monday. A blogger with whom I've had an amiable online connection with since about 2010. Apparently, my fellow blogger felt slighted by the fact that the link to his blog on Trackside Treasure's sidebar was in the bottom of three such gadgets featuring blogs I keep up with. This revision was made some weeks ago and was no different than any layout change I make - based on readability, functionality and the overall look of Trackside Treasure.

    The simple fact of the matter is: there are so many blogs that I find interesting that I keep the most prolific bloggers near the top of the sidebar. Just so I can keep up. This blogger has posted once a month in 2016. I have other bloggers in the same gadget as his who have not blogged for two or even five years. They might start up again, so this is my way of keeping their blogs 'alive' to me. 

    I'm a firm believer in not only dealing with criticism, but also shining a light on dark behaviour, for which the online environment has become known. Like aggressive drivers emboldened by their powerful cars, social media can be an equalizer for letting out our emotions, fears and suspicions. With that in mind, I'm sharing a family-friendly version of the email I received, without the blogger's name shown. Prepare yourself:

    "What an arrogant s.*.*.

    What is YOUR criteria to judge Blog writers?

    I have been in ******** since ***** 2015. I have labored hundreds of hours to provide the Blogosphere with thoroughly researched articles. 

    I strive for accuracy.  Not to compete for numbers with you and ********

    While you pissed me off with your snide ****-off, you have inspired me to write an evaluation of so-called "rail" blogs. As they say, "watch this space." And don't forget to remove my hyperlink from your DISMISSIVE and OFFENSIVE "Things in the Bottom Sidebar."

    Thursday, November 24, 2016

    Belleville TOFC ramp

    Someone asked recently about extant piggyback ramps. I knew there was one in Belleville, across from the VIA station. Since I've christened this The Year of Photographing the Blisteringly Mundane, I knew where I was going next! There is nothing more mundane than a broken, disused ramp, is there?
    When CN actively marketed its own Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) service, it provided loading ramps at its major terminals to facilitate onsite loading and subsequent pickup of the loaded flat cars. Online auction site photo of early circus-loading from a CN timber ramp.
    Since each piggyback car was equipped with a bridge plate on the right-hand side, so that when coupled to another car, tractor-trailers could load their trailers 'circus-style'. 
    From the days of circus trains travelling by rail, circus wagons would be loaded one after another onto strings of waiting flat cars to move to the next town. This involved driving or backing across several cars to load the most distant one first. Likewise, ramps also provided a right-hand bridge plate to facilitate such loading.
    While some ramps would be timber or concrete, the Belleville one is a concrete retaining wall backed by gravel up to flat car deck height. The bridge plate hardware is bolted to it, and recesses are built into the concrete to allow for couplers.
     Tire's eye view:
    Looking west toward the VIA station, the piggyback tracks would have been located here.  Today this area is largely forgotten, with CN having sold off its maintenance buildings in the area, creating other businesses and vacant lots as its Belleville footprint shrunk. Today, loads travel along Highway 401 to reach Toronto or Montreal. And those are racks carrying containers that are lifted into well cars, not trailers requiring these loading facilities! 

    Running extra...

    Put 'em up close to the Derail. Not sure what transpired at Kingston's Invista plant on Tuesday, but SRLX 45132 was on the ground yesterday. Road-building for road crane access was underway. Re-railing took place today. A similar derailment took place in February, 2015.
    Heed that blue flag message!
    SRLX 45132 is one of the cars that Invista is loading with outbound product, usually one at a time. All other cars at the plant bring in feedstock material for nylon production.

    Saturday, November 19, 2016

    Lancaster & Chester Boxcars

    The Lancaster & Chester Railway, a 60-mile shortline, owned two fleets of boxcars - forty 50-footers built in 1979, numbered 200-239 and twenty 60-footers built in 1996, numbered 600-619. The latter were used primarily by GAF to haul rolled roofing material. On September 1, 2010 Gulf & Ohio Railways purchased South Carolina's 62-mile Lancaster & Chester Railway. The railroad continued to use its name, powder blue paint scheme and slogan 'The Springmaid Line'. However, 2005 and later photos show the railway name and logo being painted out on the fleet, whose blue paint continues to fade. A 2012 photo shows at least one car repainted, with grey dip paint and WRWK reporting marks.

    These cars were standouts on passing freights on CN's Kingston Sub.

    My observations of L&C boxcars. Date, car number, CN train number on:
    Feb 28/98 LC 604 on CN No 320 (top photo - note placards)
    Sep 1/98 LC 607
    Sep 4/98 LC 616 CN No 368
    Nov 11/98 LC 604 CN No 320
    Jun 5/99 LC 613 CN No 367 Dest Toledo, OH empty
    Jun 12/99 LC 608-616 CN No 320 Dest Delson, QC loaded
    Aug 12/99 LC 606 on CN No 366
    Mar 18/00 LC 605 on CN No 306

    Running extra...

    A previous post in my Classic Canadian Freight Cars (see sidebar) series featured DuPont's SCLAIR covered hoppers. One of these rolling rarities (looks to be NCLX 46548) made its way up CN's Kingston Sub today on CN No 369. Trackside Treasure reader Logan Cadue caught the train at Kingston station, sharing this capture - thanks, Logan! Same car photographed in Belleville without the mill gon and right behind the power. Likely a Belleville set-out for Kimco back in Kingston, which it has just passed in this photo!
    Speaking of sidebars, check in for updates on my latest book on VIA Rail, which is now in the works - hence the red background. Not green for a little while yet. And yes, there will be a colour section. Thank you for your votes and comments.

    Speaking of votes, an unnamed country directly to our south held an election recently. I watched a lot of coverage. I mean a lot. Probably too much. I did appreciate the eclectically elucidative comments offered by five CNN reporters who covered the unnamed successful candidate's campaign. Here at Trackside Treasure, we are MakingTrainsGreatAgain. Not that they were not great in the first place. Like that same unnamed country. Not perfect, but still great.

    Friday, November 11, 2016

    CN Expo 86 Boxcars

    CN applied unique Expo86 Vancouver paint to four of its boxcars. The cars were painted as early as 1984 to publicize the upcoming World's Fair. I was fortunate to be able to take in Expo86 - watch for an upcoming post on the Parade of Steam - in reverse! Observing these Expo-painted cars was always a treat trackside. I was able to catch three of them. Each had slightly different shades of stripes applied, so they were each truly unique. Photos and my observations follow...
    Pierre Fournier shared this December 13, 1986 view of an eclectic consist: CN 557417 on CN No 305 behind VIA steam generator unit 15481, ahead of  a 'leftside' insulated boxcar (above). An online auction site photo of CN 557417 dated March 22, 1986:
    Jim Parker kindly shared this Bill Grandin collection photo of CN 557417 on August 29, 1986:
    Lots o' links:
    My observations of CN Expo boxcars:
    Mar 28/86 CNIS 417093
    May 3/86 CNIS 417093
    Dec 28/87 CN 557417
    Oct 24/91 CNIS 417225
    May 29/94 CNIS 417225
    May 16/01 CNIS 417093 on CN No 365

    I also caught CNIS 417225 with its faded colour stripes at CN's Belleville yard in (approx) September, 1999. Unfortunately, camera malfunctioned! Orange stripes and '86' are fading. Trackside Treasure reader Kevin Ingraham also observed this car in Binghamton NY in 1998.
    CNIS 417225 was back in CN colours in 2006 (Marc A Hudon photo):
    CNIS 417225, also in the early 1990s in Vermont, twice. Here is CNIS 417093 at Bayview Junction in 1989 (online auction site photo).
    Aboard VIA No 4 at Edmonton, returning from Expo86, appropriately-painted CN SD42-2(W) 5334 was at CN's locomotive facility, right outside my coach window!
    My HO scale version of CN 557417, using an Athearn 50-foot double-door car with scratchbuilt plug door:

    Running extra...

    Fellow Kingstonian Paul Hunter kindly shared photos of three of VIA's now-small fleet of RDC's tagging along behind No 63 at Kingston on November 4. Ostensibly heading to Southwest Ontario for more testing, the three (6208, 6105 and 6251) made a fine sight behind 6431 as Paul photographed them from the south side. Thanks, Paul!