Friday, October 30, 2015

PHLX Covered Hoppers

About a year ago, some very new, very clean, very un-graffiti'd covered hoppers made an appearance on CN's Kingston Sub. Carrying PHLX reporting marks, these cars built by National Steel Car beginning in September, 2014 are operated by grain company Parrish & Heimbecker. The company has made progress into eastern Canada's grain shipping market. P&H took over operation of the grain elevator just west of Trenton, Ontario, adding it to a list of over 15 elevators operated in Ontario, from Winchester in the east to Glencoe in the southwest. CN No 519 switches PHLX 105 at Trenton Jct, in March, 2015 having just come upgrade from the Parrish & Heimbecker elevator lead - Alex Pallo Jr. photo.
I caught PHLX 101 at the Trenton elevator in February, 2017 (above). Phil Niles photo, via Jim Mumford of PHLX 109 at Cobourg in September 2015:
Chris Devries photographed PHLX 109 at Brockville in May, 2015:
A string of PHLX cars on CN No 371 at Belleville, ON in December 2014, photo by Mary Peakman:

I photographed PHLX 108 on CN No 369 through Kingston on December 12, 2015 - right behind the power! Pole position.
I observed but didn't photograph PHLX 105-104 near the head-end of CN No 369 on January 16, 2016. Not to worry - Michael Berry got a nice top-shot of them on CN No 401 two days earlier:
Ron Visockis photographed PHLX 100 with new-looking wheelsets in Belleville back in December, 2014.
On July 21, 2015 CN No 369 was entering Belleville yard behind CN 8842-5258-5644-GT 4909, also photographed by Ron Visockis, with three PHLX covered hoppers on the head-end:
  • On January 2, 2015, I observed eastbound CN No 368 with PHLX 101-106-105-107-100 at Kingston. 
  • On February 1, I observed PHLX 102; then on August 26 it was PHLX 103.
  • An October, 2014 Youtube video of CN No 589 at Vankleek Hill includes PHLX 109 on the tail-end.
  • Also in October, 2014 PHLX 106 was in Montreal.
  • What P&H decal artwork might look like:

AUGUST 2016 UPDATE: Romet CZ Vilenski posted photos taken at Saskatoon of CN Nos 403 and 757 with more PHLX cars including a large cut of PHLX 200-series covered hoppers. New series?


Where they go: a photo of the P&H Trenton elevator track on Telephone Road from aboard VIA, looking north. Winnipeg railfan Taylor Woolston also caught P&H SD20 locomotive 15, also adorned with the P&H logo. Thanks to Alex, Chris, Malcolm and Mary, Phil and Ron for their photos.

The Trenton P&H elevator from aboard VIA No 65, with VIA's Trenton Junction station platform just to the west:

Running extra...

Speaking of covered hoppers - George Dutka recently published a post on AEQX (ex-Boston & Maine) and other interesting covered hoppers used to ship IKO roofing granules from CP's Kawartha Lakes Railway yard in Havelock, ON. Neat! I'd blogged CN's IKO transload operation at Belleville a year ago. George also included photos of Havelock's earlier GE Railcar Services and Hay West operations.

Some of my recent Youtube videos:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two days at Portage, August 1979

On August 18, 1979 at 0615 hours, my brother and I hopped in his VW Rabbit GTI and headed west. Driving a dit-dit-dah dash across northwestern Ontario with Portage la Prairie as our final destination, the hammer was down. Stops in North Bay, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hearst and Schreiber - more in a future post. VIA's circus-train era when CN, CP and VIA paint mingled on transcontinental trains - more in a future post as well. In this post? 

Two days at Portage la Prairie: August 21 and 22 - the most trains we'd see during our trip trackside at Portage, resulting in five films to be developed upon return to Kingston. We travelled from August 18 at 0615 to September 2, (starting Grade 11 two days later - yecch!) Two days of overcast and sun, of CN and CP, of SD's and GP's - several snapshots of non-stop train action at Manitoba's central choke-point, from which both railways' lines fan out. I'll list all the trains from those two days, along with photos of the ones I photographed!
Did somebody say SD's? CP's dominant fleet and CN conventional- and safety-cab series were everywhere. The first train on August 21, westbound at 1001 hours, was potash empties with reporting marks like IMCX, ACFX, NAHX, NIHX, USEX, and names like Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, GAF Corporation, and Duval Potash, tailed by caboose 79607. Switching the CP interchange were five SD's! 5065-5232-5176-5062-5047 (top photo) and before the next SD-laden locomotive consist appeared, VIA No 2 was eastbound at 1043 with VIA 1423-CP 8560-8526, then an elfin CN eastbound of 40 cars coupled between 9437 and 79628. At East Tower at 1157, it was lunchtime as 5067-5136-5165-5238 took CN hoppers like 197906-197650-197827 were ahead of caboose 79560 (above).
After lunch, as was often the case, a westbound was switching the CP yard when we returned trackside at 1345 - including two MLW's! CP 5555-4511-4563 and van 434477 (above). Just over half an hour later, Extra 5058 West with 5058-9459-5098-79659 stopped. The operator waited with train orders for the tail-end crew as the train was scooped by 5106-9562-79363 with Cenex and USLX potash empties westbound on the track nearest the station:
An hour later, 5751 brought 80 cars of TOFC/COFC and general freight eastbound flying white flags and white class lights ahead of two vans - 434609-434415 and the CP Rail speeder sheds:
At the same time, pups 1356-1368 were taking a work train to Brandon out of the CN yard with caboose 79856. This industrious pair would lead another westbound a few days later:
CN No 315 was switching the yard at 1600, making a lift that included insulated boxcars from Portage's Campbell's soup plant. Power was 9505-5100-5283-caboose 79268. Those safety cabs were still novel to easterners!
At 1616, CP sent 5802-5825-5507 eastbound with CP bathtub gons like 799656-799825-799686-799761-799764, totalling 115 cars ahead of van 434620. Nine minutes later and just before supper time with aunt and uncle, it was CN sending the daily BC lumber train behind 9479-9657 and lumber from Fort Nelson, Pringe George, Mackenzie, Smiths and South Hazelton ahead of 79465.

Twelve trains on August 21...sixteen trains would pass us on August 22! At 0939, VIA No 90 behind CN 9151 was right on time, then VIA No 2 at 0954 with VIA 1409-VIA 8558-CP 8519, running late. Really late. The following station times applied at CN's Portage station: Canadians VIA No 1 2252, VIA No 2 0700; Super Continentals VIA No 3 2227, VIA No 4 0730. So, we were lucky to catch any VIA action. (We all owe CP a debt of thanks for delaying No 2 on these two days, nearly three and four hours, respectively!) Ten minutes later, CP 5794-8671 dragged grain loads east ahead of vans 434101-434496:
At 1014, CN 9530-9462-9658 (oh, we have those at home so no photo) grunted general freight and caboose 79584 eastward. Candy-striped, high-multimark (of course) 5652-5595 were eastbound with grain and van 434326 at TRAINS magazine time: 1027. See that sandy area in the foreground? Just nine months earlier, VIA's Canadian had called at Portage's CP station. Now operating on CN west of Winnipeg before transferring to CP at West Tower, the wooden platform was no longer needed and had been ripped out:
CP 5747 was solo westbound, likely with grain empties and van 434022 at 1048, just before CN Geeps 4315-4254-4126 came out of the yard lugging caboose 79484 as CP Portage switcher 6569 with end cupola van CP 437103 drilled cars in the yard in the background:
Lunch beckoned as solo Geep 4303 switched with caboose 79739 at high noon. Back at 1430!
At 1426, CN 5235-9653-5566 led general freight with caboose 79329, then an hour later, CP 5708-5536-5518-5717-5758-4568 took general freight westbound with van 434112 as CN simulateously sent lumber etys west behind 9522-9496 ahead of 79747, all at 1532. 
Seventeen minutes later, CP 5756-5515 having cooled its heels, courteously curtailed on CP's Minnedosa Sub, dutifully drummed east with van 434506. The CP tie gang's boarding cars are set out right beside the mainline, plus some other miscellaneous tracks in the background near the ready-mix plant:
Another CN meet at 1612, with 9476-9471, potash etys and 79443 westbound as 9604-9506 take general freight east, including caboose 79315 three cars behind the power and 79711 on the tail-end.
CN 9485-9466-9461 brought lumber loads east at 1632 with caboose 79447, then SD's 5210-5014 closed out the day at 1725 with general freight tailed by 79366. 

We'd return east fuelled by high octane and a steady aural landscape of Quebec discotheque, Patsy Gallant, Gloria Gaynor, Earth Wind & Fire, Donna Summer and the Village People! We'd left two days after the death of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, and Lord Louis Mountbatten would leave us on August 28 of that year. Stops in rainy Schreiber, White River and Sudbury, including a ride on a miniature park train around the Big Nickel would return us to Kingston on September 2 - two days before starting Grade 11 (yecch) but what a way to wrap up summer!

Running extra...

Inspiration for this 1979 post came from my brother's recently-published blog posts First Section and Second Section about his 1985 railfanning in Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg. 

Over 74% of Canadians voted in this week's federal election. Advice from Bruce Anderson - what makes a successful leader - on tonight's CBC At Issue panel: 1. Be yourself. 2. Be humble. 3. Show that you're willing to improve things. The peaceful transition of power and the exercise of precious Canadian democratic rights are what matters, not the politics nor the platforms. Great coverage, CBC! 
Federal money well-spent - Border Security! The CBSA guys and gals (including Officer Danielle and her four-legged sidekick Nova) root out Chinese meat-smugglers, sketchy snowboarders and innocuous-looking drug-containing packages at the mail centres (least-desirable CBSA posting, I'm sure) on this very watchable TV show. Right up there with American Pickers! Watch out, Canadian packers!


The packages I've been sending out contain no contraband, just HO scale models and Canadian railway paper items. Thanks to all the Trackside Treasure readers who participated in Trackside Treasure's recent sale. Now, just mention the secret code phrase "I want 25% off!" and you can take 25% off any and all of the 19 remaining items in Trackside Treasure's October Sale

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CP and ACR at Franz, Ontario

Recently, I was pruning my collection of TRAINS magazines to make room on my bookshelf. While moving the magazines around, I came across a long-lost photo print. It just dropped out of the January 1992 issue of TRAINS and fell to the floor.

For many years, I'd had an empty spot in my 1984 VIA trip photo album. I'd probably removed the photo for some good reason, like a modelling project or research. The missing photo that I'd taken had this caption: Franz - station and work cars [on the shed track] at 1650. But where had that darned photo disappeared to? Now I knew. It marked a place in that issue of TRAINS like a bookmark. Marking what? An article on a well-known Ontario outpost, hewn out of boreal forest and Precambrian rock - Franz!

Franz has always been a location of operational interest in northern Ontario. The north-south Sault Ste Marie-Hearst Algoma Central line transected CP Rail's Cartier-White River line here, just as Algoma Central met and interchanged with the CN at Oba, ON. Having travelled the CP and CN lines aboard VIA Rail through Franz and Oba respectively, Franz seemed more photogenic. I hadn't been lucky enough to see CN-ACR interchange at Oba, plus the lines run parallel there and are less compact than at Franz.

I recorded and photographed my few lucky experiences riding through Franz on CP Rail:
October, 1980: ACR units at Franz switching the yard at 1613 (photographed from aboard No 1):
1982: Westbound - Scheduled 1520. Waited 1533-1535 for signal to cross Algoma Central, then waited for No 2 1537-1553.
1982: Eastbound - Scheduled 1530. At 1540- No locos but AC gons.

1984: Westbound - Scheduled 1520. At 1538, 15-car box boarding outfit, CP freight in hole.

1984: Eastbound, scheduled 1520. At 1650 (see top photo) and a dog on the platform, just in line with the operator's bay window! I had been riding in the vestibule in No 2, enjoying the fresh air of the northern Ontario woods when the interchange track and sidings of Franz appeared. Snap!

The bookmarked TRAINS magazine article profiled the closing of the Franz operator position with agent-operator Reg Fitzpatrick.
Checking my train order collection, I found two sets of Algoma Central clearances and train orders copied in 1987 at Franz - by none other than agent-operator Reg Fitzpatrick! And scroll back to that top photo - it shows Reg standing on the platform with a CP American-crane operator, with Reg's 1980 Ford pickup just visible between the train and the station.
A map for orientation by ACR guru Chris van der Heide and a satellite view. Here are some shots of Franz from various eras, as posted to the Franz Facebook group:
1960s: from CP train (above) and ACR (below) showing water tower and operator's house:
also from CP, showing interchange track to ACR and back track behind station (below). A 1981 view.
August, 1983:eastbound CP freight crossing ACR by Ted Ellis:
2010: ACR looking north, interchange track to left:
Former station site (below) - the station was moved to Dubreuilville after its closure. The concrete base of the water tower, which was taken down in 1983, is visible in background:
Lots o' links! The Algoma Central and Sudbury Budds provide a constant stream of present-day photos of the largely buildingless site. An album of just about every photo of Franz ever posted online. And more about 'Mayor' Reg Fitzpatrick. Now listed as an Abandoned Place. Scroll to the bottom of these Ted Ellis photos! - it's worth it. More of Ted's photos on Railpictures, plus Ted's unofficial (well, it looks pretty official to me) ACR home page. Time well-wasted scrolling through this plethora of scanned paper items!

Running extra...

Some of my fellow bloggers have adopted a day-of-the-week weekly theme post, like Wordless Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, or Front-End Friday (on the F-unit Facebook group!). While my relaxed, generally once-weekly, publishing schedule doesn't lend itself to daily posts, here's what a typical Trackside Treasure week would look like:
  • Material Assembly Monday
  • Time to Write Something Tuesday
  • What? It's Wednesday?
  • Throw it Together Thursday
  • Fretful Final Draft Friday
  • Scan some Photos Saturday
  • Success! Ship it out Sunday
If it was your last night on Earth, and you could only check out one Flickr page, it would be this one. Wow called. They want their Factor back. 

My neighbour just returned from a day-trip on the scenic Agawa Canyon Tour Train and kindly shared some photos of the train at Canyon. The ex-Amtrak units pulled Rio Grande's Ski Train and ex-CN Tempo coaches before coming north to power the Tour Train. CN 106 and another Tour Train F40PHR bracketed CN 4796:



Sunday, October 11, 2015

VIA Skyline 8501 Travels CN's Kingston Sub

CN's Kingston Sub hosts a dome car in revenue service! Over the course of three days, Skyline 8501 travelled the length of the Kingston Sub, first deadheading then in charter service. On its way to a major Rapido Trains Inc. product announcement at Exporail in St-Constant (or the Canadian Railway Museum in Delson, if you're of my vintage) the Skyline and an accompanying LRC coach conveyed a rabid Rapido customer conglomeration, also known as the Voyage of the Shronians (TM) east out of Toronto on October 11. The day before...
Thanks to a heads-up from Montreal-area railfan Michael Berry, who noted a Skyline on Montreal-Ottawa VIA No 633 at 0915 Saturday morning, my fingers flew to the VIA website to see when that consist would depart Ottawa for Toronto. VIA No 47, that's when! Arriving Ottawa around 1100, departing west around 1230, arriving Kingston 1450. To the bat cave then trackside, Robin!

Having caught the speeding train with deadhead dome at Queens East (top photo) on video, the south side platform at VIA station gave good light for video as the bedomed train arrived and departed. (Most photos in this post are video captures) Here are my Youtube videos from this weekend for your enjoyment:

Sliding to a stop, then slipping out of the station, the Skyline trod the steps earlier taken by it and other Skylines when the Canadian operated on CN's Kingston Sub from 1981 to 1985. More recently, domes conveyed performance artist Skrillex' 2015 tour.
Heading west to Toronto into the glinting afternoon sun, approaching Mi 177 Kingston Sub, the consist of No 47: 6406-3475Ren-3361-3364-3356-3353-8501
As the Shronian hordes stampeded their way aboard VIA No 52 at Toronto Union station Sunday morning, I was worshiping a non-rail deity. This precluded my being trackside to get a video of the charter eastbound on Sunday, October 11. No worries - my wife and daughter pluckily proceeded to McDonald's for coffee and egg McMuffins to fortify themselves for the withering wait trackside. Operating 13 minutes late, the J-trained consist of VIA 62/52 soon hove into sight (well, not soon enough for them, given the falsely-early trackside arrival time I had fed them) and my daughter manned the Hi-Def 1080P digital device.
VIA 907 leads a Ren Business class car and three Renaissance coaches (above) while VIA 6406 led 52's consist - four surprisingly un-Renaissanced coaches following the Biz class car and preceding 8501, very likely the same consist I observed yesterday as VIA No 47!
To the windows, Shronians - the rail mecca of Kingston beckons on the horizon! Prepare thee to enjoy arguably the Corridor's best trainwatching spot, three miles to thy east, as ye pass the venerable trackside location of Mi 179 Kingston Sub!
A fellow in a white beard occupied the south side, first table and a fellow in a ball cap was in the rear section. Dome tinted glazing precluded me identifying anyone. You know who you are. Some of you know me. Envy is such a strong word, but I certainly wish you a bonne journee, a pleasant trip and an enjoyable two days in Dorval, Montreal and St-Constant. I'll post an update of what exactly the highly-secret product announcement here. If it's something I like, that is! Actually, I am very pleased to see the quick uptake of these charter seats, the volume and quality of museum-quality models produced, and the continued success of Rapido Trains Inc.
Though I don't think I'm a true Shronian (TM), I certainly do appreciate Jason Shron's chutzpah in single-handedly turning the North American model railway marketplace on its 'B' end and shaking it - with integrity, class and an undue but understandable emphasis on underbody detail!
Speaking of the letter B...'B sure' to check out my October sale!  Just scroll down a bit for some coveted paper items, railway books, and a few of my surplus HO scale structures still available!

October 12 UPDATE:
Running 20 minutes late, tonight's VIA No 69 arrived at Kingston with this consist: 906-902-3478Ren-3352-3363-3300Ren-3307-3477Ren-8501 - the last two cars conveying chowing-down and captivated charter passengers returning from the announcement at Exporail. Oh yeah, it's called Rapido's Icons of Canadian Steam! A series of steam models to be produced in the coming years. Not wanting to gloat (a combination of laugh and goat) I had predicted a Rapido D-10 nearly a year ago. It's a natural - had to be! Second iconic steam locomotive scheduled to be produced. Back to the Skyline...
Having my car angled towards the train, idling with high-beam headlights shining, plus flash photography, seemed to catch the Shronians (TM) by surprise. The group that Jason was just finishing a round of Rapido Trivia (or TriVIA?) soon turned to a waving mass of humanity. 
 Hi Jason! Hi Blue Jays guy - Go Jays Go - Hi guy wearing Icons T-shirt!
Hi Matt! Cheers - hoist a beer to this charter and the whole Exporail experience! Not sure if there was anyone in the dome - probably but I couldn't see 'em!
And dome denizen (at the time) Andrew Jeanes kindly shared his photo of this humble blogger photographing on a darkened platform. Thanks, Andrew! For more coverage of the westbound charter, check out this just-published post on my VIA Rail books site.