Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Book! Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections

I'm proud to announce the launch of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections, my fourth book on VIA Rail. The idea for this book was planted last fall, and it's sprouted this spring. Professionally printed by Allan Graphics here in Kingston, with graphic design by Bryan Babcock, I'm especially proud of this fourth volume. It's perhaps the most 'personal' of the four. If a picture tells a thousand words, two Youtube videos should be worth quite a few more: What's In This Book? and Behind the Scenes.
With 20 more pages than my second book published in 2012, including a 10-page colour section, there has been no price increase. And postage within Canada is still included in the price of $35! As with all my other books, I aim to keep the price reasonable, encouraging sharing of the information it contains. Getting it out there for posterity!
The best place to check out all the details? I encourage you to check out my New VIA Rail Book blog, which is at top right of Trackside Treasure's sidebar. There you'll find information on the book and its creation, but more importantly my email address for Interac e-transfer through a Canadian financial institution, alternaively a printable order form if you'd care to order with a cheque or money order by snail mail in the US or Canada.

I usually ship within two business days when an order is received. Each book is shipped in a padded mailer with cardboard stiffener, and can be signed if desired. I'll be here at Kingston station platform at 6 pm for a one-hour launch for local railfans:
So how is this book different and why? Why does it deserve a place on your bookshelf? I think you'll find within its covers a nice mix of text, data and photos. Maybe you can find some of this information elsewhere.  But it won't be all in one place for your perusal. And frankly, some of this information is not available elsewhere. Not only is there research, data and photos of mine, but also of my contributor team: Tim Hayman, Don McQueen, Mark Perry and Mark Sampson brought their expertise in modelling, locomotives and VIA operations in Northern Manitoba and VIA's Canadian, respectively.

Let's face it - there are very few books on VIA Rail out there. I've listed the only ones in existence in my first book, and I've added two published since then in this book. Now there is one more!
Trip accounts from throughout VIA's history, and consists from 1981 to 2016 comprise the 'personal' parts of the book. Not knowing my Dad had saved consists that I'd lost track of (no pun intended), I've included them, plus accounts of VIA trips made by my parents, as well as photos of VIA operations taken by my Dad and my brother in the 1980's. All in one convenient package! Bryan was kind enough to deliver the first print run to my house, which we eagerly opened and posed for our graphic designer/book creator photo! Now that's service!
Just the facts:
  • Trackside with VIA: Research & Recollections
  • $35 delivered anywhere in Canada
  • 126 pages
  • 106 B&W photos
  • 78 colour photos
  • colour covers
  • 10-page colour section
  • all the details here!
***As always, thank you for your interest in my books and I trust you'll enjoy them 
as much as I enjoyed creating them.*** 
- Eric

Running extra...

Interestingly, on this date in 1955, Canadian Pacific launched its Canadian and Canadian National launched the Super Continental. On the same date in 1977, VIA Rail issued its first joint timetable! And now, forty years later, this book launch!

Coming full circle - my Dad's influence, photography and trip accounts figure prominently in this book. He was trackside on April 24, 1955 with camera in hand as the first Canadian streaked west through Dorval at 1320 hours on a grubby, greasy weather day that disappointed press photographers but not an intrepid CPR man like my Dad! Thanks to book contributor Mark Sampson for reminding me of this launch date!
A rough calculation provides an answer for 'how long did this take you?' Working during coffee breaks at work through the fall, winter and spring I reckon about a full month of 8-hour days. But I wasn't really counting!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre, Part 2

In Part 1 of my visit to VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre (TMC), I had made it nearly to Kipling. Rounding the bend north toward Horner St, I came upon this little rail-served industry - National Silicates' Toronto plant. Several covered hoppers like GACX 3351-3280-3189, SHPX 432106-432494 and tank car TILX 170110 were here:
Great views available through fencing:
For your model structure-building pleasure:
Heading back along Judson, past the imposing building with few entrances but orange-jumpsuited occupants, euphemistically named the Toronto South Detention Centre and Intermittent Facility, I kept walking. Nearby were several rockpiles, but not for breaking. Ah, Kingston convictions were calling!
Back atop the Islington overpass, I observed a vintage Tamper and bilevels everywhere. A similar facility near Oshawa is a-building, and the long servicing buildings looked similar (above). This fine old station is now a community centre/presentation centre for On the Go (almost literally) condominiums. Or is that condominia? It's enough to give me insomnia! But no, I had a train to catch, otherwise I would be forever marooned in Mimico!
With so many tracks to choose from, I once again assumed my meerkat stance, peering at the screens. Found my track for the 16:21 from Mimico back to Toronto Union:
Deadheading 6456 backed toward Toronto out of the TMC, followed by VIA No 650's consist that I'd travelled on just that morning:
Classic ex-CP 8127 ping-pong paddling on the tail-end:
My ride, led by GO 660, came in before 650's equipment got a light to head east. 
Here was 6456 back at Toronto Union. A westbound from the Kingston Sub nosed onto it, and the doubleheader left westbound at 1803. The sight of such a doubleheader caused railfan pandemonium throughout southwestern Ontario.
One of the new Crash Energy Management (CEM) coaches, 4000, was on a westbound all Metrolinx-scheme train: 356-4000-2852-2847-2838-2848-2845-2859-2846-2856-2851-2843-663:
Ah, the siren song of the CANADA 150 cars lured my lens. There is still a 20:1 ratio of CANADA 150 locomotives:cars based on online photo posting. Doing my part to right the imbalance, here's 3353 on an eastbound at 1757:
The four Canadian divisions in action at Vimy Ridge in April 1917 are represented by this logo on Business Class cars, both HEP and LRC. Though the division colours are not in numerical order, they are in order for their relative positions in the line during that battle. The Vimy Foundation distributed pins on VIA trains, during the centenary of the actual battle dates.
The Vimy Foundation still makes these pins available for $5. They are substantial, both in composition and in historical significance. Thanks to Jonathan Barton for this one:
Return to Kingston was aboard VIA No 48 917-3461-3370-3361Canada 150-3302Ren-3371-905Canada 150. I was surprised that though I expected VIA to steal the show at Mimico, there was more than enough CN and GO nearby to keep the walk interesting! 

Running extra...
Expect an April 24 launch for my latest book on VIA Rail. Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections has been an over-the-winter project. Watch the New VIA Rail Book blog, uppermost in Trackside Treasure's right sidebar for updates. In the meantime, enjoy some of the VIA memorabilia in this promotional VIAdeo.

This VIAdeo has it all: CANADA 150 and Kingston Transit after an eastbound trip down the Corridor. It is provided as a public service to Trackside Treasure's Portuguese-speaking readers. Feliz Pascoa!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre, Part 1

An early morning arrival into Toronto aboard VIA No 651 was not quite early enough to make it to outdoors to catch Amtrak No 64's departure for New York City. But I was able to snap VIA 916 with the CANADA 150 wrap (top photo). There are ten more Youtube videos posted here from this day's visit. The trainshed continues to grow ever brighter, making rail enthusiast photography easier than ever. Check out the VIAish orange paint:
With time on my hands later in the day, I decided I had enough time to make it out to Toronto's Maintenance Centre. A trip over to the new GO Transit concourse brought me to a ticket agent who not only answered my questions about how the heck to get to Mimico (Willowbrook? she helpfully suggested) but then printed off a Googlemap with directions for me to take along. Just the kind of assistance I needed - thank you very much! I gratefully plunked down my $11.48 for the return fare, then I acted like a Metro meerkat peering up at the screens looking for my departure track for the 14:13 aboard cab car 253. Here's my route, starting from the Mimico GO station at top right.
The entrance sign has seen better days. Perhaps rampaging hordes of VIAphiles have dislodged the planks in its platform. Security waits at left to discourage nosy neophyte notetakers:
Suddenly sumac. VIA 909, an LRC car and coach 8113 awaited camouflaged behind the spider-like sumac sprigs:
I didn't really expect to have this visual VIA visiting opportunity. So Googlemap in hand, I trucked along to see what I could see from public access areas, with a definite dearth of pre-arrival research. Cityscape sign:
Realizing that the Toronto home of those Lantic sugar destination of those CGMX/LATX covered hoppers was nearby (watch for an upcoming post) I took a few photos there before ascending the Islington Avenue overpass. Canadian cars 8106-Amherst Manor-Lorne Manor-Skyline 8501-Drummond Manor-Dawson Manor-Elgin Manor-Jarvis Manor are coupled together and fouling that distant switch. This scene is the opposite of most model railway layouts - too much track and not enough rolling stock! 
Here's an online auction site photo, taken from the same viewpoint in October,1986. Things were different then. VIA was waiting on its flashy F40PH-2D fleet:
Drummond Manor is one of three cars with non-standard font:
My morning ride, No 651 is visible pointing eastward, between the GO motive power and a J-train consist which a crew can be seen boarding:
A GO cab car in the Metrolinx scheme and the short 'consist' behind VIA 909:
A view timetable west showing the GO Willowbrook facility north of the CN mainline. Check out the 4000-series roof numbers on GO's new bilevels in foreground. (As always, click for a larger image.)
The role of Bombardier in GO operations can be sign on signage, uniforms and vehicles:
Ex-BC Rail lounge car VIA 1750 Glenfraser wears a one-of-a-kind 'leaves' wrap to mark Canada's 150th:
Coming down off the west side of the Islington overpass and to the left of the CAD bay and run-through track are some of those off-spot LATX covered hoppers:
Some say this is the future of VIA. I say two words - pipe dream. Whether these RDC's will ever contribute meaningfully in VIA intercity operations is dubious at best. Rapido Trains' 6133 reposes second from right with its awesome underbody detail with 6138, 6111, 6215 on its left:
Doors-open GO F59 558 ,and a bilevel being refurbished are visible on the south side of the VIA/CAD building:
This brick bystanding building, Dominion Colour Coating was one of several that looked to have lots of modelling potential:
Renaissance sleepers 7505, 7514, 75xx have felt the irridescently-multicoloured ire of the taggers' touch. A CN maintenance compound is in foreground:
In Part 2, we circumnavigate the remainder of this rambling facility.

Running extra...

One of the last unscenicked areas on my HO scale Vancouver Wharves received a coat of paint recently. Whether it will be building flats, an open fenced area or an area of vegetation is yet to be seen. By scenicking, we reduce the amount of real estate that's available to put, well, junk on. That's helpful. Plus it makes the layout look more finished, adds to realism and operational fidelity and satisfaction.
For fans of ballast and roadbed, look away. For fans of Flextrack, Lindberg Ford trucks and Robertson screws, feast your eyes! My great-nephew and I installed the nearest track with the ice reefer and it bears his name. It connected two spurs, serving Overseas Commodities and Dominion Bridge. Now used for off-spot cars or short-term storage. Pass the spaghetti bowl.
If you've read this far, you are a very thorough, fastidious Trackside Treasure reader. You probably want to find something fun and entertaining here, not another update on my VIA Rail book project! Enjoy a VIA CANADA 150 rolling stock update while you're here.
You are fastidious! The book project is in the hands of my graphic designer. Printing will begin soon after final draft and we are still on target for an April release. Somewhere, a stand of Canadian trees, an evergreen eldorado, a coniferous cornucopia, a fat fircone future is about to become cases of train books for venerable VIAphiles!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

BCOL Covered Hoppers

Over the years, some interesting British Columbia Railway covered hoppers have been on CN freight trains through Kingston. BCOL 2300-2320 were 4427 cu.ft. PS-2 covered hopper cars built in 1972 by NACC, likely for the Denver & Rio Grande Western. Acquired by British Columbia Railway, renumbered and repainted in an overall dark green paint scheme, the cars were placed in service in 1985-87. At the time, British Columbia Railway was transitioning to BC Rail. BCOL 2300 had arrived first in October, 1984 and was the only car repainted with the dogwood logo and 'British Columbia Railway' lettering applied. BCOL 2304, 2314 and 2320 have been scrapped. BCOL 2304-2301 were at Kingston in this undated Tim Reid photo (top), placarded UN 1759.

BC Rail acquired grain cars when the grain subsidy was applied to BC Rail, after an amendment to the Western Grain Transportation Act. Though granted access to CNWX grain cars, at least in theory, it still behooved BC Rail to secure its own grain car supply. By summer 1995, additional Trinity-built cars were leased, namely BCOL 2350-2399. It was BC Rail policy to have all car numbers begin with '80' and this became especially urgent after costs that should have been assigned to the lessor were being absorbed by BC Rail. Hence the addition of the slightly off-centre therefore notable '80' to these cars, which took place throughout 1999.

Grain loading took place at Dawson Creek and Fort St. John. In early 1999, BCOL 2374, 2375, 2378, 2382 and 2398 were engaged in soda ash service between Perry, BC (10 mi. west of Chetwynd on CN's Dawson Creek Sub) and a mining operation in New Brunswick.
Rusted BCOL 829104-829105 westbound at Kingston on Oct 1, 2005 on CN train No 309 (above). BCOL 829111 in 2005 stopped on a CN freight in emergency near Collins Bay, ON (below):
BCOL 829000-829099 were leased next - 5150 cu.ft. covered hoppers Thrall-built in 1996-1997. Off-lease cars with capacities of 4750 cu.ft. and 5250 cu.ft. BCOL 829100-829131 were leased in 1997. 
BCOL 829124 (above) and 829128 (below) were placarded UN 1759 at Belleville in a CN freight in these Tim Reid photos.
The varied types, condition and colouration of these cars caught my eye. My observations with date, car number, type ('ACF' refers to Thrall and 'P-S' refers to the flat-sided cars, and CN train on, with notes:

Jun 8/92 BCOL 2319 Ctr St Team Track Blt 9/71 (?photo)
Feb 20/99 BCOL 829014, 829125, 829018 ACF HO on No 309 destined Perry BC 
Mar 20/99 BCOL 2374 P-S, 829115 ACF on No 306 destined Bathurst NB Loaded
Apr 3/99 BCOL 829125 (no type listed), 2398 P-S, 829099 ACF, 829116 ACF on No 303, placarded UN 1759 (corrosive solids, n.o.s.) 
Jul 18/99 BCOL 829026, 829062 ACF on No 317
Aug 2/99 BCOL 829098, 829099, 829084 (all ACF) and (80)2393 P-S on No 306 destined Bathurst NB
Aug 19/99 BCOL 829114, 829110 rusty ?blue PS repaint on No 303
Aug 20/99 BCOL 829026, 829028 ACF and 829118 P-S on No 303
Oct 7/00 BCOL 829024 on No 306, to Chemin de Fer Baie Chaleur
Mar 17/01 BCOL 829118 rusty blue repaint P-S on No 309
Apr 29/01 BCOL 829115 rusty P-S on No 306
Jun 6/04 BCOL 829104 P-S on No 309
Mar 28/05 BCOL 829111 blue repaint P-S on No 309, placarded UN 1759 
Oct 1/05 BCOL 829104, 829105 P-S (above) on No 309
Feb 12/06 BCOL 829101 P-S on No 305
Mar 24/06 BCOL 2303, 2301 dark green P-S and BCOL 829104 grey P-S
Jul 7/06 BCOL 2307 green P-S and 829108 P-S on No 309
Nov 27/06 BCOL '80'2387 grey P-S on No 305
Jan 21/07 BCOL 829016 ACF on No 376
Jun 11/07 BCOL 829099 grey ACF on No 308
Sep 22/07 BCOL 829059 grey ACF on No 309 (?photo)
Jan 11/08 BCOL 829131 grey P-S 
Aug 3/08 BCOL 829002 grey ACF on No 305
Apr 17/10 BCOL 802353 grey P-S 
Feb 1/15 BCOL 829011 grey ACF on grain train

Lots o' links:
Running extra...

Mimico meanderings...a recent trip around Mimico included Lantic Sugar and those CGMX/LATX covered hoppers, VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre and some unexpected surprises. My trip did not include a Fitbit or pedometer. Watch for an upcoming two-part series:
Arrival was aboard VIA No 651 Eng 916 bearing the CANADA 150 wrap. Photography is sooooo much better under Toronto Union's daylighted trainshed! Passenger expressions...'Wut?'
Upon arrival home, a flurry of emails and a river of revisions travelled back and forth electronically between me and my graphic designer. My fourth book on VIA Rail is taking shape nicely, if not taking flight yet. To conclude for now, just when you thought, "It's all good, baby"...