Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Hold Up a Train

At 2000 hours on Monday, May 26 CN's Toronto-Moncton freight train No 308 was heading east on the Kingston Subdivision at track speed. Little did the crew suspect that Mileage 178 would be the site of an unexpected hold-up. Slack action encountered due to train marshalling, topography or just plain bad luck led to a train separation. Looking west, two flat cars with steel loads mark the beginning of the tail-end of the train. The DuPont warehouse in the background was originally rail-served.
Looking east from the same location - more steel loads on flat cars, with several carlengths in between where they stopped separately after the brakes applied. An emergency call to the Rail Traffic Controller pinpointed the location of the train's head-end around Mileage 177, on the south track. Raxx, the bar and pool hall at left, is a local landmark and access point familiar to crews. Usually, the engineer would stay in the cab of 2671, with the conductor conveyed to the break by taxi after its location was relayed by a passing VIA train.
I found these cars interesting - loads of steel aboard several LMIC (Lake Michigan & Indiana Railroad) 89-foot flat cars in various paint schemes: green, brown and indeterminate.
The variation between the cars and their downward camber under the heavy sheet steel loads caught my eye.
Walking along the edge of the right-of-way (Kingston ne'er-do-wells take note - the fence in this location is non-existent). I stopped photographing the cars when I reached the Gardiners Road underpass. The third, northernmost track, part of CN's Industrial Spur led to the Northern Telecom plant until 2003. This site has also been the site of two derailments - watch for future posts depicting these untoward events - one of which happened right in front of me!
The sun was setting, its golden rays glinting off the steel loads:
Despite the use of Distributed Power to improve train dynamics and eliminating break-aparts, CN trains on the Kingston Sub still regularly go into emergency with broken knuckles, brake rigging or drawbars. Longer trains, alternating blocks of loads and empties, not to mention tricky track profiles contribute to these events. VIA No 59 with 6412 leading a refurbished LRC Business Class car, not a taxi, brought the conductor to the site of the separation:
CN's Cataraqui Spur used to meet the Kingston Sub here. The conductor climbed down and now assesses the damage. Need help? Yep - a drawbar falling out of the underframe can damage the rails. When the Belleville road repair truck and trainmaster Richard West arrived, they were able to drive right across the grass to the site. The drawbar was chained up safely, the first part of the train including the Distributed Power Unit was dragged two miles east to Queens, where the offending flat car was set out in back track KL29.
Then there was the reassembling of the train. Three hours plus. Quite a hold-up, indeed - just another day on the Kingston Sub.

Running extra...

Song lyrics kept running through my head as I blogged this: Going through the big 'D' (Drawbar) and Don't mean Dallas by Mark Chesnutt; Breaking up is (not that) hard to do by Neil Sedaka; Lay it on the Line, Don't Waste my Time by Triumph. Another song title...Daytime, Night Time by Keith Hampshire
A nice sofa by day, a nice view (now stainless steel cars at Vancouver) by night. Notice the special table for use by rail enthusiasts to record consists and observations, or perhaps to hold their camera!
VIA Rail has publicized and promoted its first two completed Prestige Class cars, Chateau Denonville and Laurentide Park at Rendez-Vous Canada, (watch the video here)  a major travel expo in Vancouver - along with refurbished LRC Business Class car 3472, the first LRC car to reach the West Coast in VIA history! UPDATE** 3472 is already heading back east on No 2. No trips to Rupert!** Note 2+1 seating:
Definitely a nice setting in which to smite a smooth Sleeman!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Napanee - Down by the CN Station

The best photo from my two-part series on CN's Kingston Sub photos from the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library, in my humble, somewhat biased opinion is a view looking east through Napanee, just 23 miles west of Kingston. I've labelled the photo (above) with some of the salient features and trackage it shows. A modern-day photo from a point just to the east, and north of the tracks, includes the now land-locked former CN Smiths Falls Sub single track at left, plus the Kingston sub double-track mainline. See the biscuit factory at far left, dairy site, modern-era town water tower and the station at right? More about these in our next post.
Looking west from the same point toward Napanee West interlocking (overpass is Belleville Road). The rusty Smiths Falls Sub rails end east of the interlocking, where CN removed the switch and flipped over many of the rails, after the end of rail service to the Goodyear tire plant.
Rick Beaubien of Oshawa sent me some memories of growing up down by the station in Napanee, growing up in the 1950's-1960's in a big clapboard house on John Street, near the station. Some of the amazing rail activity Rick observed: loads of lumber for Gibbard's Furniture factory, outbound rolls of snowfence, the Kimmerly Lumber Co. near Centre and Dundas Sts. receiving shipments of lumber by rail, inbound loads of feed for Lasher's Feed Mill west of Centre St. and inbound loaded coal hoppers for the Vines Fuel Co. At the time, both the Belleville Road overpass and Centre Street underpass were still level crossings. Interestingly, Rick remembers playing pond hockey on two large 'steam shovel' ponds near the Belleville Road crossing reportedly dug by rail-mounted steam shovels! A 1960's aerial photo posted on the Vintage Kingston Facebook page, shows the Smiths Falls Sub diverging to the north; the modern-day water tower and the Nabisco biscuit factories as trackside landmarks. Note the cool coal-unloading barge south of Water Street!
Ron Barrett of Kingston remembers the barge Hilda being guided upriver by Pike Salvage steam tug Salvage Prince with most of the coal destined for Strathcona Paper and Vines. Ron also noted that the Centre Street level crossing was the site of a tragic seven-fatality car-train collision in 1951. The Grand Trunk Railway, later Canadian National Napanee station shown in this undated photo, has changed little (below). The station was the site of some railfan vehicle visits made in a Volkswagen in 1985 and classic Chevette in 1989.
Malcolm Peakman of Napanee noted that the Centre Street crossing was replaced by a road underpass in 1981. The ex-GTR station and immediate property now belongs to the Town of Greater Napanee. Originally co-located was the Bay of Quinte Railway Napanee, Tamworth & Quebec station and offices: (L&A County Museum photo)
This vintage drawing shows the Grand Trunk slicing through the pastoral countryside around Napanee, having crossed the Napanee River. This is one of the most scenic views from VIA Rail along the Corridor, and will be featured in an upcoming post on Canada's most scenic railfanning location! The now-closed, soon-to-be-condos Gibbard Furniture factory occupies the bend in the river.
Grand Trunk steam locomotive(s), likely posed while crossing Napanee River bridge:

A few views of Napanee during the CN era: 1974 westbound , 1974 Smiths Falls Sub, 1965 semaphore and 1974 station view. VIA's Turbo crosses the Grand Trunk Railway bridge, as a classic GM product rolls along Highway 2 in the foreground (Brian Schuff collection). I was proud to have my logo featuring the numbers '2000' nested under the arches, accepted by Napanee's Millennium Committee. 
CN White Fleet flatcars, rebuilt from 40-foot boxcars with track gang accommodation units occupy the feed mill track along East Street in the 1980's. The Smiths Falls Sub trackage is about to cross Dairy Avenue at the crossbuck:
The station is located beyond these two aluminum boarding units basking in the summer afternoon sun:
Looking southeast, the water tower is visible at left. The first car's sewage outlet seems to be connected into the local system. Malcolm notes that the remaining freight shed lead was shortened and then removed from the parking lot side of the station when the lot was resurfaced. The original alignment north of the shed and a switch remnant are still visible near the base of the water tower. Ron remembers boat-building with a friend in 1953, including receiving shipments of wooden hulls from Mahone Bay, NS delivered to the freight shed. The hulls were built using the same principles used to construct  de Haviland Mosquito fighter-bombers!
CN 1971 car control diagrams of Napanee, showing the trackage west of Centre Street (then a level crossing, now an underpass):
and east of Centre Street. Later versions of this diagram will appear in the next post in this series, as will photos of the buildings and trackage shown here. The 'Exp Frt' represents the freight shed behind the station:
Heading north of Napanee towards Smiths Falls on the subdivision of the same name (arrow on map, above), the CNoR bridge over Highway 401 led to the Goodyear spur. The Goodyear tire plant no longer receives shipments by rail.
The Goodyear plant previously received shipments in Southern Pacific and Santa Fe 50-foot boxcars, set out by twin Geeps that had backed east after leaving their train at Napanee West. In February 2008, the trip up and back to the mainline took CN No 591 90 minutes. In the winter of 2008, the mainline frog was removed. The Strathcona Paper Co., located just to the north in the village of Strathcona began manufacturing paper in 1875. The plant was still receiving Boston & Maine boxcar loads of paper pulp in the 1980's!
Two hiking photos (above). The second photo is taken on private property (not condoned by Trackside Treasure).

Running extra...
From an upcoming episode of Sister Railfans on TLC, May 17 at County Road 6 level crossing between Amherst View and Odessa. It's CN No 369 heading west along CN's Kingston Sub. Side mirror lettering: People Shown in Mirror may be Bigger Railfans than they ever Imagined.
Get your potash in gear In this Vista:
There is no word that rhymes with ingots:
No auto racks today on the tail-end:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Myrtle Beach 2014, Part 2

Myrtle Beach is home to the Grand Strand Model Railroaders. This local club has operated from a storefront at the Myrtle Beach Mall on Highway 17 for the last three years. I decided to pay the group a visit while the others in my party were elsewhere in the mall! I'm glad I did. These guys run a good operation and were most generous with their time for a visiting 'snowbird'. Club PR Officer and Long Island native Joe Corsetti (at right of above photo, with Don, Bob, Bobby and Derek from left) told me the club's story, showed me the entire operation and is pictured running the operating container crane at the intermodal terminal. Spot the CN Intermodal container?
The club started with six members in 1986, now rostering 63, modelling in N, HO and O scales. Joe  is the fifth-youngest, with a fine Carolina Southern stone train modelled by Bobby that emerged from staging, with CSXT and AEX-lettered loaded cars. Check out the busy locomotive terminal, replete with N&W and Southern influences:
I was shown the staging areas (the group operates HO, N and Lionel layouts), club room and sales area, and a very neat, modular N-gauge staging area that Joe built, complete with removable plexiglas cover. Spot another, freelanced Canadian car? It's at the steel mill which is modelled in its entirety; also visible in the two top photos. I missed out taking a photo of the back-to-back Seaboard Centipedes that were pulling a long train, but you can still see and hear them. And the most ginormous trestle ever.
The club's oldest member is Bob Kern, at a spry 93 years old. Bob is a US Army veteran, having served with the 749th Railway Operating Battalion in the Phillipines in 1945. Before and after the war, Bob amassed a career of over 39 years in a steel mill railway in Pittsburgh, PA. With Bob is Derek Blanton, who is a Fairbanks-Morse fan and Horry County magistrate, and was also involved with the depot preservation and its history. Like most of us, these gentlemen were happy to talk trains. I could do that all day, too! But the others in my party were waiting...
I was invited to sign the club's guestbook, with my page quickly filling from the other visitors that day. The group has free items to get visitors interested, and invites donations, and I was happy to contribute. Here's what caught my eye and got me interested in the club...the club's old clubroom door next to Ed's Hobby Shop in downtown Myrtle Beach. Doesn't it remind you of the colours of VIA's LRC's?
If you find yourself marooned by the siren call of the shopping outlets on a Monday evening, Wednesday afternoon or Saturday, there's always the Myrtle Beach Mall and the GSMRRC! Life is a beach, and then you dry...
Joining a plethora of motorhomes, Floridians in Cadillacs, and my favourites: Omaha's own Werner Enterprises transports, we headed north. Swinging off I-95 into sleep Selma, NC as we did on our southward journey in Part 1, nothing was rolling. Some Norfolk Southern locomotives and cars were soaking up some sun with their black paint. Looking east into the yard, 2512 and 9520 wait alongside 1008.
Traversing the Pine Level Selma Road, north of the yard, an opposing view of the power:
NS coal hoppers were the only railroad-owned cars visible, with the yard awash in AEX covered hoppers, NDYX gons, Procor tank cars and other leased cars.
NS 9813 asks the motive power question...is this the head-end? Is it the tail-end? Is it a DPU? Is it a road train? Is is a yard switcher? Who can tell? The Norfolk & Western and Southern Railway were both partial to high-hood road units. While NS retains some, they have overwhelmingly converted to low-hood units, and retro-fitted high-hood units with Admiral cabs.
The vista from the east end of the yard. Spot the railfan vehicle? The local Lions Club provides a handy turning spot. Home of tail-ends and tail-twisters:
Model this:
And a final view of NS 9813 on the head-end. Or is is the tail-end?

Running extra...

Alex, I'll take Things That Are Black for 400? Black NS units. The Black Watch play The Black Bear!

Tim Horton's new 50th anniversary commercial channels the Man in Black. I've Been Everywhere. You be the judge - is that a VIA passenger at the 00:27 mark? I can't believe it includes Boucherville sung as Boo-shur-vil. Butchered it. Here's a location list.

A black day for media events. Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak gets ejected from a subway car trailing politicos, flacks and PC social media people! It's Toronto - they have rules. Tim can ride the subway, cameramen can ride the subway. But the moment you are campaigning or turning on video lights, ya gotta have a permit, Sir. Cameramen cannot explain technical details to transit cops. Hudak can only smile benignly as TTC customers heckle. Politely. Mind The credibility Gap!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Myrtle Beach 2014, Part 1

Occasionally, even this clearly Canadian railway blog dips its toe into deep end of the swimming pool called big-time US railroading. A return visit to CSX's East Syracuse yard on April 26 netted six trains in less than one hour! Seems like my last visit was longer than a scant five months ago. Steaming south for surf, sun, sand, subs, sunrises, sunsets and suntans, and also some song lyrics! At Syracuse signature location NY MP 286, two trains pass (above).

We're the First to Arrive and the Last to Leave: CSX 7879-430 empty auto racks wait on the yard lead:
Looking Out my Back Door: CSX 5343-3150-9027 prove that intermodal trains can switch, too! This one see-sawed back and forth a few carlengths at a time. Also switching at the same time were CSX 6457-2230 with boxcars, farther away.
You Light up my Life. New signals that three crews were working on, intermodal still shifting:
Good Morning America, How Are You? Eastbound Empire Service: Amtrak 710-Amfleet 82740-82635-82666-82554-88520-48163 meets empty autoracks behind CSX 7820-682:
Happy Trailers to You. CSX 3134-7563-7711 zip through while the earlier intermodal shimmies. UP  and FedEx trailers, plus a mix of containers co-exist on CSX intermodal trains, unlike CN which is container-only on the Kingston Sub.
It's My Turn Now: CSX 7879-430 finally get a chance to leave the yard:
I've Been Everywhere: CSX Corporation - Jacksonville FL on the cab doors of these S&C trucks as the maintainers wait, and wait, and wait for track time:
Trailer on Flat Car becomes: Trailer on Trailer on Trailer on Trailer on Trailer. One rack is labelled CSX Chassis Pool. TSFZ and TSXZ are reporting marks for these Transamerican Leasing units.
I Ride Old Paint: Is American auto rack graffiti different from Canadian? You be the judge, on P&W, CSX, and brand-new KCS bilevels


That's What I Like About the South: April 27 at Selma, NC, just off I-95. Lighting is difficult due to being on the north side of the yard (the only access being an NS road access on the south side.) The north side road access parallels the yard, though largely without shoulders on either side. Drive-by time! NS 'yard power' 6712-8937 basks in the midday sun:
UP Where We Belong: What appears to be a road freight is actually making a cut in the yard. A few tank cars, cement cars, aggregate cars and an NS ballast car will be worked in the yard for awhile.
Wings - Band on the Run: FPNC! Foreign Power North Carolina: UP 5442 leads the locomotive consist. We checked out Selma in 2013 as well.
Down by the Station Early in the Morning: Myrtle Beach's Conway & Seashore, later Conway Coast & Western, and Atlantic Coast Line depot is preserved in the downtown, often used for civic events. The depot includes a passenger waiting room and large freight room, and a nearby plaque tells more of the story:
The last passenger service operating from the station was a mixed train service that ended in March, 1955. The service suffered from a lack of through connections to local mainlines, and the advent of increased  intercity automobile use.
Station rear view, toward Terminal Street (above) and front view, toward Broadway Street (below) 
 Front view showing the operator's bay:
While the line in front of the station has a few small trees taking root, the major problem preventing it from seeing train traffic now is the condition of the Carolina Southern trackage north to Conway. A lift bridge over the intracoastal waterway can be used, but the line requires some remediation, mainly the bridges on the line. The railway even rostered some ex-CN power, and I observed a couple of CS Geeps at Conway. In 2012.
In Part 2, we'll explore more of Myrtle Beach and head back north through Norfolk Southern country.
Detail on freight room doors:

Running extra...

I've heard of  AT&SF El Capitan transition cars built with a partial second level. I'd even heard of heavyweight cars that had their clerestories covered. But until last week, who knew that C&NW built dummy second level cars, including diners, to match bilevel coaches on their Peninsula 400 and Flambeau 400? I sure didn't.

Thanks, Trackside Treasure readers for casting your votes in the Bayview weekend posting poll. The test question even garnered some interest. (Bayview was not a TV show featuring the coiffed David Hasselhoff "I look good, but I probably have the insides of Elvis", or either of the buoyant Pamela Andersons.) Getting back to the poll, there was equal interest for a longer series of posts with more data/caption information, as there was for separate posts for CN, CP and VIA action I observed at the famous junction. Your input is appreciated, and I'll try to incorporate it in the output. Watch for upcoming posts as I GO and scan these ancient 110-format prints. (Below) Classic transportation in the triangle! Oh, and the train, too!