Wednesday, December 30, 2009

CN Consist at Belleville, November 1991

Here's a CN freight consist from November 15, 1991. Seen at Belleville, Ontario this 84-car ETU-equipped train stops at the east end of the yard for a crew change at 1405, meets an eastbound Laser with 30 platforms behind 9589-9562, and heads west for Toronto through the drizzle and mist at 1440. Most cars are CN boxcars. Other cars are shown as originally noted:

2408
2103
CN 633020 COFC flatcar
CN 404322
CN 404238
CN 400749
CN 401694
CN 407067
CN 400820
BCOL 5356 boxcar
CNIS 408011
CGTX 13432 tankcar
CNIS 376016 covered hopper
CN 704001 first of 7 autoracks
CN 704421
CN 704030
TTGX (CR) 253955
SOU (NS) 250791
CN 712270
CN 710089
CN 404093
ATSF 306992 covered hopper
ATSF 303385 covered hopper
LW 1040 boxcar
CN 374218 pd covered hopper
CN 416380
PROX 29579 tankcar
CITX 35368 tankcar
CNA 553615
CN 557014
CN 138215 gondola
CN 137497 gondola
CN 401663
CN 400780
CN 375107 covered hopper
CNIS 412020
CNIS 412010*
CNIS 412006*
CNIS 412002
CN 157065 gondola
CN 157240 gondola
CNIS 412037
CNIS 412065
CN 157226 gondola
CN 711911 autorack
TTGX(UP) 964472 autorack
CN 710013 autorack
CN 157146 first of 7 gondolas
CN 157075
CN 157001
CN 157143
CN 157063
CN 157281
CN 157064
CN 401437
LW 1005 boxcar
CNIS 400576
CN 407087
CN 157002 gondola
CN 157200 gondola
CN 157151 gondola
CN 400781
CN 401327
CN 407012
DWC 403589 boxcar
CVC 402183 boxcar
CN 401123
CN 418122**
RBOX 38748 boxcar
CN 416332
RBOX 36932 boxcar
CN 416513
CN 418158**
CNIS 412083*
CNIS 412087*
CN 412099
CN 412080
CN 412070
CN 411039
CN 157267 gondola
CN 157181 gondola
CN 401365
CV 402xx1 boxcar
NAHX 487562 covered hopper
CN 369873 covered hopper
CN 694038 wire reel flatcar

*blt NSC 11/89
**blue ex-N&StL
The eastbound Laser pulls in for a crew change as the westbound departs, and the tail-ends of both trains are about to pass each other:
This two-hour visit to Belleville also netted three VIA trains, eastbound and westbound locals, and a westbound Laser.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Trackside with my trusty Hawkeye

Westbound out of Capreol on VIA's Super Continental in August/78, the Instamatic I had with me started to misfire. Above is one of its last successful shots, taken during the servicing stop at Hornepayne. CN 760-VIA 5703 are in the foreground, with a GP, lots of interesting cars and the Hornepayne auxiliary behind. Upon arrival in Portage la Prairie, my aunt and uncle donated a Kodak Hawkeye for my use. Little did I know it would become my railfanning camera for the next six years.
Produced by Kodak from 1974-1979, the Hawkeye Pocket Instamatic camera reflected the shift away from 126-format film to 110-format. The smaller film format made for a thinner camera that could fit in a pocket, compared to the 126 Instamatic that could fit in...a box, I guess. The viewfinder is at the opposite end to the orange shutter button, and the film advance is below the button. Handy carry-strap and camera ready for film loading, not including the elastic band I used to keep the back from popping open:
Downside was a tiny negative that resisted all attempts at enlargement, decent reproduction, and detail. It is amusing to find an unused Hawkeye for sale on eBay for prices ranging from $5 to $40, referred to as "vintage". Notice the pedestal for the flashbulb, used for indoor photography before built-in flash. That yellow box contains the film that was in a sealed foil package.
One of the first photos I made with this new acquisition shows CP 8532-5553-5541 switching at CP's Portage station early on the morning of August 16, with CN's main in the foreground:
Not every shot was a keeper. Prone to vibration while taking a photo, the camera nonetheless documented some classic trains with CN GMD-1's and "black-widow" straight SD40's, and CP tiger-stripe SD's. In the digital age, I would have deleted some of these shots right away. (At the time, I would've de-selected them if I could've, but in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't). The digital vs. film debate was recently discussed on the MB-SK Rails Yahoogroup - click to join on my right sidebar. On August 18, CN 4245-4315-4317 were switching the yard. This shot clearly shows both the Flexicoil trucks of the Geep plus the elevator behind, proving that the little Hawkeye could do a pretty good job:
Pacing poetry in motion at 75 mph - 6759 westbound at Beaurepaire with an Ottawa train in October/78:
Over the next six years, my trusty Hawkeye accompanied me on railfan trips from coast-to-coast, surviving all types of weather conditions and minor accidents. Pacific: BC Hydro Railway 900 switches in Vancouver, October/80:
Atlantic: CN 1751 rests at the ferry dock at sunset, Borden, Prince Edward Island, April/82


To paraphrase Puff the Magic Dragon, A dragon lives forever, but not so Kodak Hawkeyes. During a week-long Canrailpass trip around the Corridor in March/84, it became apparent that its remaining photographs were few. I left the last few photos entombed in the Hawkeye on its last film. Years later, I had them developed. Here are the results of the two photos at Dorval as I received them along with a note: "Film old or left in camera too long. Subjected to heat or high humidity."


Taken on the platform at Dorval, 5186-5156-5095 haul eastbound covered hoppers ahead of International Service caboose 78108 at 1230 on March 9/84 (above). December 2014 Update! Drew Makepeace worked some colour correction magic both of these nearly-unrecognizable images. Here's the much better result:


 Seven minutes later, 4240-3726-3122 haul three tank cars and 79556 westbound:





I bought a Yashica FX-2 SLR and finally entered the 35mm world. One of its first photos (f2.8 at 1/1000) shows 2332-4349-4117 eastbound at Mi 191 Kingston Sub at 1618 on May 2/84:

Trying out the camera a week later, 6784-6865 were in charge of an 8-car VIA westbound at Mi 183 (f8 at 1/500):
Running extra...
The Christmas break is allowing me some time to work on my layout and its new prototype. Some of the progress to date shows track laid to represent CP Rail's 'N' Yard on Burrard Inlet in Vancouver. In the background are a mock-up of CP Pier B-C and some photos for inspiration. CP, BN and some CN operations will be represented.
Hey, is there any fruitcake left? Why is fruitcake so maligned, anyway? It's enjoyed in many countries, and its history dates to the Roman era. Once used to preserve candied fruit, it was enjoyed by early hunters on lengthy hunting trips. I propose "Nutty as a can of cashews" instead.
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Seems two nativity pageant donkeys escaped from their pen at Eagle River Presbyterian Church in Eagle-Vail, Colorado. Following their trail, pursuers found the donkeys had travelled up the UP (ex-DRG&W) tracks toward Minturn, and were safely captured. The wonky donkeys were on burro-ed time and made complete asses of themselves.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

VIA Corridor Consists 1987-1990

Although GM and MLW cab units were in charge of most VIA trains in the late eighties, the F40PH-2's, VIA's first new locomotives since the LRC, were about to arrive. The first of the 6400's arrived on December 15/86, with 25 delivered by the following September, and the last of the series in 1989. 6514 and four cars were eastbound (above), and 6778-5652-3232 were westbound on a snowy February 5, 1987:
It was possible to see 6400's, 6500's, 6700's, and LRC 6900's all in one day. On at least one occasion, in Ottawa, a 6500-6400-6900 combination was observed - although it was a rare sighting, it remains a holy grail for many fans of VIA's late eighties era.

March 5/87 0300 EB: 6408-6652-Elrose-5603-5497-3033-Everett-Glace Bay-9648 (my first F40 sighting)

March 14/87: 6916-6904 (dead)-3472-3339-3316-3344

I noted one of the early GPA-30b's, November 24/87: 6422-3453-3355-3369-3463-3458

Soon the F40's were looking right at home replacing LRC locomotives,

May 15/88: 6416-3402-3331-3352-3302:

The F-units were bumped to remaining conventional trains, Friday and Sunday Nos 168&169. August 7/88 No 169: 6505-University Club-5482-3228-5471-5437:

January 29/89 No 169: 6761-752-5728-5494-3219-5621 (my last FPA4 sighting)
February 17/89 No 168: 6557 (ex-CP)-5 cars

June 4/89 No 168: 6513-5499-5503-5506-3219-Union Club:
LRC consists of 6-10 cars had one LRC locomotive at each end.

August 14/89: 6920-3454-3357-3347-3367-3354-3375-3307-3368-3372-3470-6909.

It was also possible to see two 6500's or two 6900's hauling conventional cars, truly a Canadian passenger conventional consist cornucopia.

February 4/90: 6903-6907-15xxx-Union Club-6 blue&yellow cars

February 11/90: 6540-6530-6 blue&yellow cars-96.

VIA's F's were making their last stand, with 4 6700's departing for the Napa Valley Wine Train in January/88, and 10 ex-CP F's billed to Sidbec for scrap in February/88. Another ex-CP F, one of the last three, appeared on the Kingston Sub at Belleville.

April 30/90 No 62: 6437-6569-5503-5611-3247-5444-5642-3253-Union Club-9645:
April 30/90 No 63: 6448-8117-9628-Mount Royal Club-3220-5594-5621-3238, with 8117 being one of the first Head-End Power (HEP) conversions of former CP Canadian stainless steel cars from steam heat, evident by its tinted glass and blue stripe matching that of 6448:

F40's could also be seen with conventional cars and not-yet-HEP'd stainless steel cars.
May 25/90 No 63: 6430-9639-Club Laurier-3217-5616-5503-3218-101-100.(below)

June 9/90: 6414-6914-123-3230-5603-5617-3203-University Club-9639.
June 11/90: 6450-3201-5569-5529-3242-York Club-9645:
June 13/90 No 63: 6450-6429 (back-to-back)-8118-8120 (both newly HEP'd)-9640-Union Club-3253-5437-5621-3211-95-Sandford Fleming.

July 2/90: 6441-15475-5514-3248-5594-5488-3207-Empire Club-9632:
Some representative consists with LRC equipment:

September 16/90: 6425-3466-3343-3312-3369, 6427-3455-3341-3348-3351,
6417-3471-3335-3333-3371-3328.

Westbound through Belleville, HEP baggage 8601 rode between the F40 and the SGU:

October 20/90: 6456-8601-15417-9671-Mount Royal Club-3200-5581-5487-3219:
Running extra...
Looking for New In Box steam and diesel HO Rivarossi, Bachmann, AHM, Model Power, Cox, coaches and train sets such as Bachmann and Lionel HO Confederation, MRC powerpacks and N locomotives and cars? I visited a friend with a well-stocked basement today, ready to sell at reasonable prices. Contact me by email (mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca) and I will get you in touch.
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Jason Shron of Rapido Trains has posted his plan for the lower level of his proposed layout, including the Spadina Coach Yard and Toronto Union Station. It will no doubt be full of Rapido cars: CN, VIA, ONR and the Turbo.

Only in Canada..people referring to the movie The Polar Express as the Polar Bear Express. My favourite scene/lyrics: "Here, we've only got one rule: Never ever let it cool! Keep it cookin' in the pot, You've got Hot choc-o-lat!"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

CN Ballast Trains, Part 2

Ballast Trains, Part 1 included some classic ballast train consists and photos. CN 300175 is one of 42 ballast hoppers behind 5256, distributing ballast around Kingston on September 26, 1999, pictured at Mi 181. The consist of the train: CN orange 302585-302309-302391-90467-302225-302155-90422-302149-90341-90217-302227-302203-90055-302276-90227-301131-300534*-300xxx*-300175*-300870*-300704-301312-300168-300321*-300834*-300072- 3 cars*-301080-300341-300372-300977-300007-300030*-301451-300667-300679-300030 with a small CN logo- 2 cars*-301301-caboose 79911R. (*denotes cars in original Canadian National block-lettering scheme, others wear the wet-noodle scheme)CN 90227 travelled quite widely over the next 16 months: from St Cyrille to South Parry ON, then empty from Battle Creek MI to Capreol ON and back to Battle Creek, loaded from Carbondale IL to Champaign IL and Virginia MN to Wellsboro IN, then from St Cyrille to St Lambert and Fitzpatrick QC, and five more trips to St Lambert in a month-and-a-half.

CN train No 307 has a 20-car ballast hopper block on July 28, 2002. These cars were loaded at St Cyrille, track M044 near Drummondville, Quebec. CN 300312 (above) wears the block-lettering, while CN 300110 (below) shows a graffiti'd wet noodle:
Some of the distinctive orange cars I noted in Part 1's consists are visible in the above two photos, mixed in with the brown hoppers. These government branch-line rehabilitation program cars were built in 1976-78. A cut of these orange cars from St-Cyrille was on CN No 309 at Kingston on October 1, 2005:
On September 20, 1985, 5316-5176 haul Jordan spreader 50937 and a 30-car cut of the orange cars at the head end of a westbound freight on CN 's Rivers Sub:
CN and CP now hire Herzog's Programmable Linear Unloading System (PLUS) train for major track programs. This GPS-linked system precisely spreads ballast at 20 mph over a pre-surveyed area, clear of switches, road crossings and signal installations. The train can work 24 hours a day, in all weather, and eliminates the need for ground forces.
Operating as CN train No 493, the Herzog train was westbound to a distant work location, at Kingston in July, 2006, including car HZGX 8289:
Mark Perry, CN hogger from Manitoba relates, "The Herzog was out here last year and the guys that worked it say it is a dream to work with. A crewman sits in the second unit with his laptop and GPS and they slow down to dump, doors open automatically for the stretch and then they close and you notch her back up to speed until the next dumping spot. Never stops, no one is out on the ground getting all dusty. A far cry when I worked a GLR funded work train on the Hartney sub in 1985, on duty 23 hours a day, 7 days a week...
Running Extra...
Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson is the book I'm currently listening to. Description of an Italian train ride: "The train was crowded but I found a seat by a window. Everyone on the train passed the time by sleeping. At Naples I emerged from the train only to encounter 27 taxi drivers that wanted to take me somewhere nice and distant...I bought a ticket for Sorrento. The train was packed with sweating people and very slow, stopping every few hundred feet at some suburban station where 100 people would get off and 120 would get on."
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Rapido Trains' CP Angus Shops centre-cupola caboose is now shipping. First schemes out of the yard include TH&B as well as fanciful GN and Santa Fe. Now if Santa would only get my CP van down the chimney and under the tree...maybe if he's still working in January.
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The whistle ban debate has reared its ignorant and uninformed head here in Kingston again. Have we learned nothing from local tragedies in recent years? Building over/underpasses at most of the remaining level crossings would be impractical due to engineering challenges, thus leaving level crossings as the only option.