Saturday, February 27, 2010

CN Cabooses

Canadian National rostered over 700 steel cabooses. Featuring modern conveniences like electricity from axle-driven generators, improved seats and windows, two modern oil stoves, built-in markers, roller bearing trucks and cushion underframes. 79200-79349 were built by Hawker-Siddeley in 1967, and 79350-79897 were built from boxcars at CN's Pointe St Charles shops in Montreal in 1970-1977. These run-through cabooses were built to replace wooden cabooses built in the 1940's and 50's. 79558 is eastbound through Napanee, Ontario in early 1985 (above).

Go east (and west) young man. 79753 has an ACI label just to the left of the cupola, punctuating an eastbound freight at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba on July 24, 1978 (above). Four months later, 79532 is tailing a westbound through Kingston (below). Interestingly, 79532 has been preserved near Boston Bar, BC!

The H-S cabooses had smaller side windows, arched roofs with end posts, and cupolas angled out from the roofline. 79283 bears consolidated lube stencilling and is stopped at Mi 182 Kingston Sub on March 12, 1979. Nine cars ahead, a Pacific Fruit Express reefer has knuckle trouble.
High view at Bayview. 79218 is almost to Hamilton, passing through Bayview Junction on June 23, 1981.
Extreme closeup. 79290 is trailing uphill at Mi 183 Kingston Sub on a westbound in 1985, in the low sun of a winter afternoon.
Vanishing point. The cabooses operated system-wide, including the Prairies. 79301 is westbound at Bradwell, Saskatchewan in 1986, following a long train of lumber empties destined for the BCR.
Shop til you drop. Just renumbered and repainted with a smaller consolidated stencil, 79917 is one of 25 cabooses outshopped in 1982. Tailing a wayfreight switching the DuPont nylon plant on Kingston's Cataraqui spur on January 22, 1983.
Go your own way. A little farther up the Cataraqui Spur, 79569 has picked the switch to the terminal grain elevator in February, 1990.
A few good vans. By 1997, CN's fleet was down to 130 PSC cabooses. Remaining cabooses were in work (W) service, such as 79707 accompanying crane 50451, spending the weekend in the sun at Napanee in April, 1998. Ten years later, she's still escorting welded-rail trains on the Kingston Sub.
Take this job and shove. What's a Hornepayne-stencilled caboose doing at Kingston's DuPont plant? Working, that's what. Pushing back on the tank track at the plant, in the waning days of cabooses on the spur, the tail-end crew is watching the process of the backup movement in March, 1999. Formerly 79820, 77017 was renumbered in 1995.
Ghost rider, near the wye. Within two years, windows welded closed, doorways covered with steel plate, and used as a Rider Only car, 77017 shepherds a welded rail train at Queens in March, 2001.
Harsh light of day. Silhouetted in the glare of a summer sunrise in July 1988, the conductor in the cupola 79878 follows the leader 79574. Cabooseless operation is less than two years away. Recently, a Scotford (Alberta)-stencilled caboose was seen in Saskatchewan, protecting backup switching movements. Would you believe an ex-Illinois Central now working for CN in work service in Ontario and Quebec? Today, only 14 cabooses inhabit CN's roster.
Fade to black. 79733 is more primer and grime than little red caboose, bringing up the markers of a 14-car metals train behind 4406-4365, south of Hawkesbury, Ontario on October 29, 1988.
Running extra...
As the Olympic flame is extinguished in Vancouver, Canada has acquitted itself both as a team and as a host. CTV's coverage was entertaining, including CTV's Brian Williams meeting NBC's Brian Williams. The PM has enjoyed taken in quite a few events, having not managed to get the Olympics prorogued.
Did somebody say record number of 14 gold medals for a hosting nation? Also, a gold medal for that CP commercial, showing the CP Olympic train in some typically awesome Canadian scenery, along with representative employees.
CN Kingston Sub RTC Tim Ball is calling it a career as of this Wednesday. Tee...JAY...Bee enjoy your retirement and enjoy photographing what you've been dispatching.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Postscript: Kingston Derailment March 1980

Here is the first indication of the derailment - the delayed trains that will be held until at least one track is clear. The steam-heated Cavalier and a freight behind 2322-9537 are at the Queens West interlocking, the first crossovers east of the site, which is six miles to the west. Spending the better part of twelve hours at the derailment, at least 15 trains made their way past the site. Before-and-after. An initial view of the derailment at 1000, then a westbound VIA makes it way past the remaining nine cars, after the north track has been cleared and tailend cars have been pulled clear of the site:

The VIA passenger trains were the first ones allowed past (VIA markings unless shown as CN):

1138 WB: 6765-6634-CN 9647-CN Greenridge-5417-5203-5517-5648-3034-5727-Buckley Bay-CN Ellerslie-5423-5414-5432-CN 5383-CN 94
1150 WB: Railiners CN 6120-6001-6116
1246 EB: 6771-6867-3118-5411-5407-5468-2511-5599-CN 5283-CN 5402-CN 5412-Rideau Club-CN 5183-5421-2503-5594-5294-CN 9662.

-lunch break-

1416 WB: 6787-6871-6616-CN 9604-CN 5472-Great Slave Lake-5473-CN 5647-5508-5501-2504-5596-5452-5704-CN University Club (above)

Then the freights were allowed to roll in eastbound and westbound fleets:
1515 EB: 9636-9512-79684
1527 EB: 9417-5072-9416-79594 (above)
1603 WB: 2322-9537-79458
1615 WB: 9473-9629-9588-79636
1630 WB: 9446-4595-4013-79380

-supper break-

Lots of trains rolling by after dark too:

2014 WB: 6768-6861-9639-2511-Rideau Club-3035-5651-9648
2133 WB: 4002-3122-3209-79560
2143 WB: 9460...79295
2208 EB: 9547-5583-9409-79475
2220 EB: 9501-9421-5500-79800
Luckily, CN 557617 stayed upright, supported by smashed trucks.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Derailment at Kingston, March 1980

The derailment of an eastbound freight on CN's Kingston Sub on March 15, 1980 blocked both mainline tracks. At 0345, a broken drawbar led to six loaded auto racks and two CN combination-door boxcars of canned goods derailing at Mi 182 in Amherstview, just west of Kingston. Two freights and the westbound 15-car overnight VIA Cavalier behind were held at Queens West.

A front-end loader drove down the north track and pushed the crazily-tilted CN 557410 over so it was no longer fowling the north track. Shattered trucks and draft gear littered the south track. Two Geeps and a caboose arrived from Belleville to haul away the last 25-30 cars of the train. This was all presided over by at least three 'white hats', one of whom reported on the situation using a telephone rigged into lineside wires. This was the pre-cell phone era.

With the north track clear and all but the derailed cars on the south track, repair of damaged ties began. Section forces from around the area were on scene. A slow order would remain in place at this location for two weeks.

A March break Saturday, a cool day with clear skies, and good visibility from soccer field to the south and farm fields to the north made monitoring the crews' progress easy. A signal maintainer moved lineside wires to the top cross-arm, to allow more room for the cranes to operate during re-railing:

At 1100, the Toronto Auxiliary arrived. Some of the auxiliary crew huddled on the boom car, and as they passed the site, they had a look at what they'd soon be contending with. Consist:
Engines 9516-4400
60113 tie car
two gons
57945 rails
57551 lighting flatcar
57935 wheel flatcar
50397 auxiliary crane
59012 auxiliary tender
60337 cable/tool car
57948 boxcar
43621 generator/clothes dryer boxcar
59345 sleeper
42179 white fleet boarding car
59215 diner
41410 white fleet boarding car
78338 wooden caboose complete with marker lamps

No-one was in a particular hurry to do anything. Methodically, safely, the work proceeded with an air of "Oh, we've done this before". The auxiliary consist was shuffled in Kingston, then returned to the site in the early afternoon with 50397 in the lead, ready to go into action:

Road-rail crane RC-10771 also arrived, and operated on the south, then north tracks rerailing auto racks. Outriggers and timbers were used to stabilize both cranes on the super-elevated curve. A special sling was used by 50397 to lift the tall trilevels:

Dozens of fine Chrysler products would soon arrive safely at their respective car lots due to the careful handling of the crane crews. Only a few days earlier on March 9, an eastbound CP freight derailed 12 cars at Blair Road near Cardinal, ON, destroying 500 feet of track.

Passenger trains were allowed through first (though some VIA trains had detoured over CP between Montreal and Toronto.) A plethora of pent-up freights then cleared the bottleneck in eastbound and westbound fleets, including 2322-9537 westbound at 1603, passing the auxiliary train flatcars carrying portable lighting and extra trucks:

Today, such derailments are cleaned up by contractors with side-boom Cats, and it's unlikely that access by the public would be tolerated as it was back in March, 1980. Ironically, a 5-car derailment occurred at this same location in July, 2008. For that derailment, a gravel road was laid north of the tracks, west from Coronation Boulevard to allow easy access to the site by road equipment. CN's Toronto Auxiliary would not be making any more appearances.
Running extra...
The derailment in this post took place less than one month after the closing ceremonies of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
CP and KCS business car trains are staged at an emptied CP Burrard Inlet yard, also the centre of my Vancouver Wharves layout. Rumours abound about Union Pacific and BNSF sending business car trains north as well for Olympics hospitality. Who needs overpriced, overbooked hotel rooms?
How about those opening ceremonies, eh? Coulda done without the bad-hair-day fiddlers and giant floating canoe. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, Donald Sutherland, Jacques Villeneuve, Barbara Ann Scott, Ann Murray, Julie Payette, Betty Fox, and best hockey player in the history of hockey Number Four Bobby Orr did us proud carrying the Olympic flag.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Vancouver Wharves Layout

Have you ever picked up an HO-scale model railway layout and transported it 1500 miles? That's what it felt like when I made the decision to change my modelled locale from Winnipeg Terminals to Vancouver Whaves. I've modelled Manitoba for years, the latest iteration being my current G-shaped, point-to-point industrial switching layout. The benchwork remains 99% the same for the Vancouver Wharves, but the trackplan is 99% different.

Some like-to-have's for this layout: a central yard, interchange with BN/CN, low line at water level plus a high line, car ferry operation, modelling a harbour without modelling water, import/export and prototype Vancouver industries. Current structures would be re-purposed wherever possible (ever tried to re-purpose a grain elevator?). Some must-have "signature scenes" to be included in selectively-compressed form: CP's 'N' Yard on Burrard Inlet, their massive Pier B-C steamship dock building (above and below in preliminary form), and Dunsmuir Tunnel linking CP's Front Yards to Drake Street Yard.

The only benchmark changes were construction of a high line, linking visible staging/interchange (below) with 'N' Yard, and a short lift-out segment to enable continuous running (track to oblivion in top photo).

All I needed was a trackplan. Some modellers refine their trackplan to perfection over several years. My approach was a bit more, well, organic. Start laying track from one end, using only a pen sketch. Connect 'N' Yard to industries with an interesting mainline run, with enough run-around trackage to make switching easier. Most pier trackage would end, and the harbour begin, at the layout edge.
I was surprised to find I ended up with only nine industries arranged around the highline. Yards consume large amounts of benchwork, but 'N' Yard will accommodate 25 cars on five tracks, plus a run around/engine service track and switching leads. I've got two off-line destinations: car ferry and interchange. That'll keep cars moving on and off the line. Winnipeg's Ogilvie mill, shown below without a backdrop, will become United Grain Growers terminal, loading ships with grain for the Asian market:
What about era? Inspired by the Flickr photos of RRHorne, I wanted to keep Pier B-C as a background. This means confining the era to the early-mid 70's, with era-appropriate rolling stock. Waterfront operations on Burrard Inlet are largely CP, with CN operations at Port Mann and near CN's passenger station, so this will be a CP-heavy operation. The Opsig industry database provided some prototype Vancouver industry names.

For now, trackage is in place, the layout has been populated with inbound traffic, and cars are moving in and out of all industries and interchanges. There is much left to do: possible trackage revisions, some structure building and lots of detailing and trees to add. Transfer runs and switch jobs of 5 to 10 cars are running. The Vancouver Wharves are coming to life.