Thursday, September 16, 2010

Modelling the RCO and its Support Trains

After seeing the RCO in action, I was inspired to build my own HO scale version. This is similar to being inspired to build the entire Confederation train, or the CN and CP bridges at Cisco, B.C. These have both been accomplished by other Canadian modellers, so why not the RCO? Like the prototype, the centre section of my model RCO is suspended from both ends. Boxcar underframes form the wheeled sections. I built a box channel of styrene and built then suspended each work station from it. The RCO had to pivot through some pretty tight curves, so I had to make sure the tie-plate transport conveyors would clear each other in transit. I replicated the logos that the RCO bore when I first saw it in 1980, not the more spartan, stencilled lettering it had received by 1985.
I got the model out of storage and posed it on my Vancouver Wharves layout for these photos. If an army travels on its stomach, the RCO travels with its support train. Providing food and lodging, fuel, water, electricity, supplies, workshop, track machine transport, and a crane outfit, the support train was positioned near the worksite on trackage that could it accommodate its plethora of cars. Here are three support train consists from various years. In June, 1984 the RCO was working east of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba on CN's Rivers Sub, while the P-811 worked westward on CN's Gladstone Sub. The RCO seems particularly puny out on the Manitoba prairie:
On June 6, 1984 the 89-car support train left Portage westbound. All cars are "white fleet" ATCO units on black flatcars, unless otherwise noted: 5149-5157-boom car 54162-43281-wooden bunk car 67166-crane idler 58269-boom car 54123-crane 50414-flammables boxcar 73112-gons 149331-xx3801-fuel tank car 990915-gon 142635-boxcars 72699-72328-476760-482465-72310-433130-535141-43366-41914-43699-water tank car 51531-41714-41881-41882-41924-41883-41878-41871-boxcar 478863-41705-41862-41925-42128-41718-41724-water tank car 80303-43698-41923-41812-43214-41885-43468-42826-42816-41631-41696-42811-42814-42817-41805-42808-water tank car 80307-43701-41754-41900-42158-41875-41873-41109-water tank car 80304-41876-41887-43481-41884-41775-41816-41890-43673-43700-gons 149862-146192-146992-191149-149925-149857-147246-baggage car 70798-flat car 662619-fuel tank car 990982-gons 160716-160432-160730-195553-170724-161024-163431-41559-43136-79278.

The RCO rides the west leg of the wye at East Tower:
Here's a 46-car consist from April 1990, when the RCO was working on CN's Chatham Sub, via Don McQueen from the 9/90 UCRS Newsletter, including white fleet unit types: gons 160768-146879-boxcars 73419-556574-72280-564192-flammables boxcar 72030-boxcar 576340-gons 143290-143050-flatcars 662046-54324-flammables boxcar 73131-flatcars 661422-662059-boxcar 576939-flatcar 663065-water tank car 80318-boxcar 71429-foreman car 42635-41485-41484-41022-43376-wash car 43384-foreman car 41012-diner 42224-kitchen car 41438-diner 43394-cooler car 43466-foreman car 41272-water tank car 80378-generator/clothes dryer boxcar 43629-wash car 41511-41106-cooler car 43804-bunk cars 49626-42051-42104-42197-49733-42054-41848-41815-41819-41464.

Taken from the cab of CN engine 9566 at East Tower, the P-811 train reverses westward into Portage yard, complete with black&white baggage car and flatcars stacked with concrete ties for installation. Power for this movement was 4239-4332. As a brotherly greeting, the engine crew threw oranges at the cab of 9566 as they passed:
A list of car types in an 83-car RCO support train from April 1983 while working on CN's Strathroy Sub, via Don McQueen from the 6/83 UCRS Newsletter:
-8 gondolas 160000/195000-series
-1 baggage car 70783
-3 transfer cabooses 76600-series
-9 steel boxcars
-2 orange fuel tank cars 990984, 990985
-1 creosote tank car CGTX 81164
-1 Ohio crane 50471
-1 crane idler car 58273
-2 crane boom cars 58256, 54888
-47 white fleet cars 41000, 42000, 43000, 49000-series: 25 bunk, 7 foreman, 2 signals, 3 wash, 8 diners, 2 kitchen
-4 generator/clothes dryer boxcars 41942, 43655, 43656, 73928
-4 silver water tank cars 80210, 80213, 80232, 80330

In a future post I'll feature some photos of the cars from the 1984 train, both prototype and model.

Running extra...

Last week's Trackside Treasure poll reveals strong support for more prairie posts (42%), more Ontario and Quebec (28%), more Left Coast (19%) and more Down East (9%). Thanks to all those who voted, and I'll do my best to keep it transcontinental.

February's Railfan & Railroad magazine profiled the refurbished Henry Clay Inn in Ashland, Virginia. Located behind the former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac station on N. Railroad Avenue, "One can sit on the two-storey porch across the front of the building, while watching the busy CSX mainline." Refreshing, Fantastic & Peaceful.

The same issue featured a quote from railroad history author Michael Bartels, also applicable to Trackside Treasure, "I try to keep up on current affairs but of course the pull of the 'good old days' gets stronger as the years pass by". Illustrated by Wallow N. Nostalgia? I thought of a couple of fictitious names for industries on my layout. The Hugh Jass Chair Co. and the Didga-Gettenionia Sauce Co.


Bryan said...

Awesome model! How did you do the centre part of the RCO? Is that from a kit or kitbash?


Zartok-35 said...

Those support trains sound like an interesting operation; like an Auxiliary consist, but longer, with many bunk cars.

Thats a nice model you have there, too! Is it self propelled?

That orange throwing story is very interesting/strange. Did they mean to plaster citrus pulp on a GP40L?? It's unthinkable! But then again, the times have changed. They were actually abundant back then, and something you could get bored of seeing.

Oh, and was the Hugh Jass chair company inspired by 'The Simpsons'? Thats a good name.

-Elijah, enjoying the prize-package a lot.!

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments. Bryan, that kit is all scratchbuilt from photos, no plans. Elijah, my model is hand-propelled only. Every time I saw the RCO it worked slowly self-propelled, but all transport moves to worksite were pulled by a locomotive to get in the clear faster.

It was a rainy day when I was in the cab of 9566, a nice place to get out of the rain. The bell is just visible, top right of photo. The orange-throwing thing was a great joke to all concerned at the time...THWACK THWACK!


Chris Lyon said...

Very nice models. Looks like a great addition to your railway

Eric said...

Thanks, Chris. The RCO is a bit of a "yard-dweller" but occasionally it makes an appearance out on the main.
I'm not sure I'd have the patience to build it today; I must have had more 25 years ago when it was built.

Zartok-35 said...

I noticed in the first picture you have a Livestock car! It looks very nice, albeit maybe a little out of place in coastal Vancouver. Anything you can say about it? Is it a repainted Bachman model?

Eric said...

Good eye, Elijah. Ogilvie Flour is also out of place, as both should probably have stayed in Winnipeg. Let's just say I'm being RTC (resistant to change, not Rail Traffic Controller) regarding my locale change from Wpg to Van. Hardest part is sidelining all my cylindrical covered hoppers except for those with CP script. Best part is I was running trains tonight, scenery will follow.