Saturday, May 28, 2016

Vancouver Wharves Layout Corner Improvements

My Vancouver Wharves HO scale layout is set in the Vancouver of the early 1970's featuring CP Rail switching operations from 'N' yard, on Burrard Inlet. Industrial switching of nearby waterfront, and some farther afield, is performed by three switch jobs, with cars cycled off the layout via the Burlington Northern elevated interchange and CP carferry to Vancouver Island. Recently, while card-making by my wife and niece was taking place in the other end of the railway/craft room, I decided to make some long-awaited scenic enhancements to the layout, plus some important impromptu improvements!
CP switch job crews discuss how the day is unfolding (top photo) in front one recently-improved area. Though I'd long employed my Maple Leaf Meats structure flat, left over from my previous Winnipeg-prototype layout, I hadn't realized its full potential. Shacks, rusty vehicles and various distracting, lazy viewblock details had to go. Here was one part of my layout heretofore trackless! (above) That had to end! Soon, CN work crews arrived and you can see two mock-up stock cars placed in the scene:
Not that I'm operating a spaghetti-bowl layout, but once I'd completed the trackwork on my nearly-without-a-trackplan layout in 2010, I was surprised at how few industrial car spots there were to switch! Only nine? I no longer had a place to spot my extensive CN and CP stock car and reefer fleets. This was one of my favourite spots on the layout, with the elevated BN interchange visually hiding access to my Alberta Wheat Pool harbourfront terminal grain elevator, while increasing trackage for interchange cars via an ascending loop. A right-hand No 4 switch, two short pieces of flex track, a rattle of Robertson screws, and the CP script-lettered switcher was working the Maple Leaf spur before the tools were even cleared away:
But I also needed to improve my Atlas two-span bridge. This involved securing the spans to the track they held, painting and improving the abutments and middle piers (readers with a P.Eng., please forgive my lack of proper structural support here!), adding a small interlocking tower at one end, and adding scenery to tie in the bridge and structural flats to the scene. I had to regrettably use in-camera flash to properly show the stock cars in this shadowy scene. The CP script picture-window, CP Rail single- and double-deck cars I kitbashed, painted and decalled myself.
A contented crew enters the switching lead, watched by a vigilant ground-bound tower operator:
An overhead view. Remaining vestiges of green plywood paint have to go! (Readers with railway engineering experience, please forgive my total lack of ballast!) Cars on the two-track BN interchange rise above the switching lead giving access to the terminal elevator at left, and new Maple Leaf spur at right:
Kitty-corner to this improved area lay another problematic, unresolved scenic dilemma...how to bridge the gap between the backdrop showing the harbour and North Vancouver with the entrance to the below-city loop track up to the interchange, loosely based on CP's waterfront Dunsmuir Tunnel portal leading to the Drake Street yard:
Believing structures to look better on a foam-core base, I screwed one in place with Robertson screws (possibly the best Canadian invention ever, besides The Unnecessary Apology - sorry for bringing that up!) left sticking up to anchor the structures (above). A structural flat and a boiler house/smokestack were painted and put in place:
Sign, piping, fencing, scenicking were added. Now, to cover up that portal-hole!
And soon a switch job was passing by the newly-scenicked corner!
In a nearby corner was Pacific Produce, a fruit-and-vegetable wholesaler receiving reefer-loads directly onto a loading dock, where the perishables were trans-shipped to waiting trucks and trailers. This balsa-wood unloading-dock was made decades ago by my Dad for his Cataraqui Northern Lines, still sturdy and still serving! Thanks, Dad!
I added vegatation under the dock and paper-paved the lot, adding more scenicking, an office, and fencing where the lot met the retaining wall. I printed a new sign, glued to supports so I can move it around while I decide where to put it! The CP switcher soon spots a Northern Pacific 57-foot Athearn mechanical reefer of soil-borne spuds as the conductor and his con-freres confer confidentially close-by.
On the backdrop between these two corners, I fit in a perfectly-sized skyline view (New York, meet Winnipeg in Vancouver!) and broke up the space between track-level, structural flat, ascending loop and backdrop with some trees.

This was a blitz of basement modelling begun before the balmy summertime season of bird-chirping, squirrel-scrambling, chipmunk-chomping front-porch layout-building begins. So far, the minimally-sized, minimalist 2016 front-porch layout exists only in my imagination.

Running extra...

CP has begun building railfan remotes. I photographed these ingenious railfan retreats at Roblin, ON last weekend, featuring lockable a cabinet to store your stuff, sling a hammock or gain some unique photo angles from this trackside all-weather photography platform. Thanks, CP!
Thanks to Trackside Treasure reader Rod McKiggan for sharing this up-close view of Hydro One Schnabel car HEPX 200 spotted on CP at Myrtle Station, ON. A new gravel pad was laid to facilitate the movement of the car's transformer load to a nearby transformer station
Is this Open Doors Toronto, or has the TTC finally found an outlet for transit fans via the Vestibule View? Beautiful footage of the Bloor Viaduct from an open-air subway car. Lush green foliage! Your life flashing before your eyes? Proof Of Payment becomes Proof of Life!

Friday, May 20, 2016

CN 'Flatside' boxcars

CN acquired some former Conrail, ex-Penn Central boxcars that had a unique, not-quite-Canadian appearance. Their flat sides led me to dub them, well, Flatsides! Sharp-eyed Steve Lucas noted the Penn Central lettering at top-left, above the reporting marks of CN 410600 at Brockville at Brockville's former Clarke building, now CN's metals facility, likely in ingot service in August 1998 (top photo) and CN 416367 sliding through Kingston on CN No 321 in a rather greasy, roadside pan photo from September 9, 2006 with two sisters:
Here's an online photo of an original Penn Central 229000-229499 X72A built by US Railway Equipment. These were refurbished by Ebenezer Rail or USRE/Itel in Junction City KS, prior to acceptance by CN.  Dimensions: 4140 cu ft, blt 11-72 to 4-73:
These cars were in two CN series. numbered CN 416243-416475 and 416481-416566 acquired May-November 1988 and some are still in service. Another series: CN 410500-410649 150 cars, off CN roster 2010. In CN service, these cars were used primarily in metals service, and possibly by freight forwarders.
Some cars had the Conrail logo and reporting parks patched, some had full repaints. The cars received a distinctly un-CN-like mineral brown austerity scheme with reporting marks and minimal dimensional data only. A freshly-painted CN 416491 and sisters at CN's MacMillan yard in September, 1988. (Photo by John Riddell, from the Bill Grandin collection via James Parker)

My observations: date, car number, remarks and CN train on:
Sep 1/95 416407-416389-416544
Nov/95 416416
Mar 16/96 410619-410508
Apr 4/96 416472-416331
Jun 26/96 410609-410583-410620
Dec 1/96 416352-416293
Jan 31/97 410642
Mar 27/97 416309
May 24/97 410586-410556-410518
Jul 27/97 410592
Aug 20/97 416322
Aug 28/97 410602
Sep 13/97 410516 with heavy graffiti-410564-410563
Sep 27/97 410607-410598-410513
Oct 4/97 416458
Oct 5/97 416488
Oct 18/97 410613
Oct 25/97 416467
Dec 16/97 416512-416453-416267
Feb 14/98 416565 Dest. Calgary
Feb 21/98 410541-416275
Feb 26/98 416333 Dest. Belledune NB empty-416410 Dest. Flin Flon MB empty
Feb 28/98 416455
Apr 10/98 410510-410649-416354
Jul 17/98 410545
Aug 16/98 416245
Sep 4/98 410583-416407-41x412 Dest. Flin Flon empty, CN No 368
Sep 12/98 CN 410578-410579 Dest. Ottawa empty
Sep 18/98 416267
Feb 4/99 410646
Feb 20/99 410596
Mar 27/99 410618
May 22/99 416423-416425
Jun 24/99 410602
Aug 19/99 416257-416483
Aug 20/99 416308
Sep 4/99 410639
Sep 19/99 410504
Oct 16/99 410516-410517-410520
Apr 23/00 410546-410625, CN No 321
Jun 30/00 410581, CN No 321
Jul 29/00 410591-410596-410602-410540-410566, CN No 321
Jul 30/00 416245
Aug 9/00 410534
Sep 24/00 410639-410494, CN No 365
Oct 7/00 416453
Mar 4/01 416490
Jun 24/01 416372
Dec 3/01 416383
Mar 21/02 410593, CN No 321
Jun 9/02 CN 416422-416491
Jul 19/02 416415
Sep 21/02 416332
Dec 22/02 410581
Oct 25/04 416418
Mar 18/06 416437
Jun 3/06 416346
Sep 9/06 416367, CN No 321
Jul 19/08 416257
Jul 3/09 416381
Apr/10 416301, CN No 368
Apr 6/12 416378, CN No 368

Modelling resources:
  • Numerous online forum discussions about kitbashing these cars
  • Model Railroader June 2001 extreme weathering of an MDKX, ex-PC boxcar
  • RailModel Journal January 1990 Car Spotters Guide No. 1
  • TRAINS August 1976 featured a photo of PC 229499 with quickie ConRail (sic) patch paint
Lots o' links: 
  • Matthieu Lachance's modelling conversion, Life-Like model from good to better.
  • Ian Cranstone photo of CN 410559 with Conrail logo peeking through.
  • James Parker photos of CN 410501 (what the heck is hanging off that car ladder?)
  • JS Rybak photo of CN 410568 at Cornwall (Kingston Sub denizens)
  • Bernie Goodman photo of CN 410584 at Belleville
At least two HO-scale manufacturers have produced these cars, either in or out of CN paint: Life-Like and Proto 1000. Life-Like cars famously retailed around $3 for a lower-quality but properly-scaled model.  CN X72's on my Vancouver Wharves layout:
CN 410570 I repainted and decalled, showing clean side (above) other side with graffiti (below):
 Life-Like CN-painted model out of the box:

Running extra...

CKWS-TV in Kingston posted two viewer photos showing a Kingston Transit Route 7 bus at the John Counter Boulevard crossing, which crosses the CN Kingston Sub just east of the Kingston VIA station. Note the south-side gate on top of the bus. That means the front of the bus is already past the gate! The photos were taken earlier this month.

Another view, taken from the station parking lot, with no trains in sight.
Fortunately, a project that will render this, one of the 50 most dangerous crossings in Canada, safer is the construction of our $60 million Counter Street flyover. Preliminary berm work is currently underway.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cars on CN Nos 376/369/305, May 2016

St Lawrence & Atlantic SLR 109 
On Saturday, May 7 I was trackside along CN's Kingston Sub in Belleville, ON. On a previous visit to Belleville on March 12, I found myself photographing two things: passing CN and VIA trains, and the cars CN was hauling. On both days, CN Nos 376 (Toronto to Riviere des Prairies, QC) and 305 (Moncton to Toronto) made an appearance. On May 7, CN No 369 (Arvida to Toronto) also put in an appearance. Some mundane cars on these three trains caught my eye, and I'll share them in captioned photos in this post. Mid-track cars are on 376, near-track cars are mostly on 305 and some 369.
WC 84624-84194

CN 388803 with some flaming autumnal graffiti

TTUX 891193-881200 highly-secure enclosed bilevels

AXLX 20072 salt cars - your choice graffiti or rust!

UNPX120701 sodium chlorate service cylindrical

SR 530724-NS 412000 hey y'all!
This Arizona Eastern, ex-Southern Pacific ingot service car is one of the few 40-foot boxcars produced in the 1970s. A modelling article here.
Spray-painted details are on many AZER cars like AZER 77025 

CN 598197 with an unusual open-door policy

BN 461908 rare to see a large "BN" logo!

CN 625306 lumber-hauler or in this case, ingots

DWC 409665 pre-owned

CBTX 784471 propane tank car built 12-2015

PROX 17099 sulfuric acid tiny tank car

Unimin Corporation WWUX 6099

GACX 13612 - this is NOT Archer Daniels Midland's new paint scheme!

Running extra...

Railroader and model railroader Steve Lucas is blogging about the Midland Railway in 1956. Looking forward to lots of engrossing posts from Steve.

The RCMP Musical Ride is coming to Kingston this year. Currently they're strutting their stuff in the UK, at the Windsor Horse Show, including special performances for the Queen's 90th Birthday celebrations.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Springtime in Belleville, May 2016

Another opportunity to survey the shiny silver rail offerings of CN and VIA in Belleville, ON presented itself on Saturday, May 7. Though I would like to have stationed myself along Airport Parkway, the southern exposure this time of day was too tempting, so I stayed on the south side at the VIA station and points east. Out of the car waiting for one of the few Saturday VIA trains, the first train crept and crawled through the yard to its station stop:
This was VIA No 643:  909-3463R-3336-3326Ren-3302R at 1200, running a little late.

VIA No 40 slunk through at 1214: 6453-3467R-3325-3358-3306R. That orange ex-CN maintenance-of-way building is now privately owned.
In between, CN No 376 announced its arrival at the VIA station, behind 2520-2013. Though rolling at track speed, this train would stop for a crew change east of the yard.
More on the day's mundane, not-so-mundane, and blisteringly mundane rolling stock in this subsequent post. GATX jet fuel tank cars on the tail end:
Recrewing at Elmwood Drive in the heat waves:
CN crew transporter parking spot in use:
Starting to pull at Mitchell Road:
Ex-American, already showing its age in its new CN colours:

At 1250, CN No 305 led by 3063 with 660 axles. I have yet to photograph a train that doesn't look good at this location!

Wings to fly!
A bit of Trackside Treasure sleigh-of-hand here...CN No 305 actually met CN No 376 before 376 started pulling as shown in the above photo. Trying to keep it intuitive for the readership!
DPU on No 305 was CN 3051, another of CN's newest GE's:
A mere 27 minutes later at 1317 - CN No 369 also at Mitchell Road: 2270-IC 2462 with 654 axles and unphotographed DPU 2538:
Bluebird of Happiness!
With that, we headed away from trackside, eventually returning east to Kingston with some trainwatching memories and photos, plus craft supplies (spouses' program again). Watch for an upcoming post on the Thurlow/Point Anne cement operation that once interchanged with CN and CP just east of Belleville. Now the site of a marine operation, its former history remains cemented in time.

Running extra...

We dined deliciously at the Belleville A&W. Since the former carhop establishment has gone to an a l a carte menu, fries or onion rings are extra. Extra tasty, that is! Followed by shopping at Taste of Country. As part of the Trackside Treasure spouses' program, if you go...start at the back of the store, work to the front and grab your cart for the food items. Much easier to negotiate the narrow aisles of this old farmhouse.

Though this might more appropriately reside at my OTHER blog, Fast Food and Trains (see sidebar) McDonald's has summer drink days on now. Only a dollah (or two), all summah!
The annual campaign of dandelion eradication has begun. Nary one of the Yellow Menace should reside on any self-respecting homeowner's lawn, just waiting the expel its 400 seeds per flower! Trackside Treasure fun fact for non-carnivores...did you know that the dandelion is one plant of which every part is edible? Just dandy!