Saturday, July 22, 2017

ZCAX Covered Gondolas

The Zinc Corporation of America operated a unique fleet of shorty gondola cars in the series ZCAX 89100-89183, built in 1976 by Midwest Freight Car. I would often observe these cars on CN's Kingston Subdivision (see 1995-2003 observations below). Second-last reporting marks alphabetically, just ahead of ZVBX! ZCAX 89122 was at Belleville on CN No 303 at Belleville on April 3, 1999 (top photo).

These cars were 2200 (or 2420) cu ft, with 9'8" external height to car sides and up to 13'8" external height overall, including cover. One home point for these cars was Bartlesville, OK - historical site of three different zinc smelters, including one that changed hands in 1987 from Engelhard to Zinc Corporation of America, and served by M-K-T and AT&SF!

Initially, these were on CN train No 395, a manifest that originated in Montreal Taschereau Yard, bypassed Toronto's MacMillan Yard thence interchanging directly with UP in Chicago. It's possible these loads originated in New Brunswick - or Quebec. It looks like the ZCAX cars were replaced by newer 52-foot MHFX grey covered gondolas.

Link: Top view of ZCAX 89133 and its cover.

My Kingston observations: date, car reporting marks, CN train on and remarks:

Dec 19/93 ZCAX xxxxx on tailend of westbound
Dec 13/95 ZCAX 89137
Feb 15/97 ZCAX 89178
Jun 12/97 ZCAX 89154 and 2 others to UP interchange at Yard Centre, IL
Dec 6/97 ZCAX 89154 and 2 others on No 395
Feb 28/98 ZCAX 89107 Dest Bartlesville, OK empty on No 395
May 15/98 ZCAX 89101, 89155 on No 395
Apr 3/99 ZCAX 89122 on No 303 (photo above)
Sep 19/99 ZCAX 89180 on No 303
Mar 24/00 ZCAX 89111
Jul 15/03 ZCAX 89124, 89161
Dec 6/07 MHFX 5683 and 1 other, No 369
Feb 18/08 10 covered grey gondolas
Jul 19/08 MHFX 5769, 5753 and 8 others
Nov 26/08 MHFX 5638, 5717, 5753
Apr 24/10 MHFX 5752-5632
Jan 15/12 MWCX 202294 and 4 black covered gondolas
Jan 29/12 MHFX 5301 and 2 grey covered gondolas
Jan 25/12 MHFX 5250, 5266 on No 368
Apr 6/12 MHFX 5280 and 4 grey covered gondolas on No 368

Running extra...

CNTL and OOCL take it to Highway 401:
A trip to Toronto this week aboard VIA Nos 651 and 48 began with breakfast - coffee, bagel and two cream cheese. Passed on the banana bread.
 And a view of Geddes Station in Belleville:
Upon arrival in Toronto, it was time for No 651's consist to GO to the Toronto Maintenance Centre. Watch for an upcoming post!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summertime at the Station, July 2017

Still basking in the afterglow of CANADA 150 that was July 1 - the lineups and rain on Parliament Hill, the following festive fireworks, the patient protests, the patriotic pride, the ribald revelry - it was time to head to Kingston station on July 3, 2017. VIA No 50/60 was in the station, with CANADA 150 wrapped 6436 leading. The eight-car J-train consist comprised eight cars and three wrapped locomotives: 6436-3463-3316C-913-3458-3329C-3335-3303R-3305R-912. (C = CANADA 150; R=Renaissance scheme). Watch the video here! 
As it departed eastbound at 0915, past that most unsightly arrowed sign (above), it met westbound VIA No 43: 6449-3470-3363-3304R at the John Counter Blvd crossing (video capture below):
A few minutes later, Belleville-Kingston turn CN No 518 approached, heading for the south service track at Queens and some switching. At a veritable crawl, engines 4785-4713 led twelve cars into town, meeting wrapped VIA 905-3471-3334-3309R-3362R as No 61.
Moving east of the station to Queens...entering the Queens south service track, the two locomotives uncoupled five TrailerTrain flatcars with steel I-beams for KIMCO (Kingston Iron and Metal Co.) which is located between Counter Street and Lappan's Lane. This was formerly CN's Aluminum Spur, serving the large Alcan works and Kingston's team track. The road sign says it all:
Tiptoeing around the wye, the units paused near some coincidentally celebratory Canada Day non-coniferous maple tree coverage:
The empty CSXT bulkhead flat car in track KL05, surrounded by previous inanimate I-beam arrivals, awaited its extraction:
The two 89-foot PTTX bulkhead flat cars were bracketed by three shorter OTTX TrailerTrain idler flat cars, and due to tank car loads for Invista on the Cataraqui Spur on the train, two loaded covered hoppers on either end in case of possible longitudinal load shifting:
The last buffer car and empty bulkhead flat are pushed into the former lead to Alcan, track KL02. The friendly conductor kept a close eye on the train and passing vehicular traffic to the Kingston Area Recycling Centre. I did my best to remain vigilant and out of the way. Then the loads were spotted; photo (below) taken from the road crossing. Flange squeal caused at least one passing motorist to wonder aloud if that noise was essentially healthy. I replied as long as it stayed on the tracks...
Leader CN 4785 sits just over the crossing as the cars are coupled and air cut in for the move back to the train. The next switching would take place on the Cataraqui Spur.
Moving west three days later at Milltown, about 40 miles to the west near Shannonville, CN No 149 crossed the Salmon River bridge behind CN 5432-2573-2630 (video captures):
 Feeling reflective:
 Feeling olde Grand Trunkish:
Moving east then south to the Cataraqui Spur...Logan Cadue caught CN No 518 with the same power as above in two photos (below). One major difference! On the way to Kingston this July 12, they slipped in to the Millhaven Spur and lifted OBRY 1000. This Geep has languished at Millhaven for some years, and I last photographed it there in May, 2015, prior to that in action in spring, 2012. The train is nearing the Sir John A MacDonald Boulevard overpass with train in tow:
Switching the Front Road Invista plant, later heading to Belleville:

 Running extra...

It's always great to be a part of Edd Fuller's The Trackside Photographer. And to relive the late glory days of Manitoba grain elevators. Only one train - a VIA Rail one (actually Number 1) in this July 13 post.

My latest book Trackside with VIA - Research and Recollections (116 copies sold and counting!) is featured among Charles Cooper's Railway Pages What's New in Publications. Charles' site is a wealth of really useful information! Thanks, Charles!
Graphics guru and loyal Trackside Treasure reader Randy O'Brien kindly shared his rendition of the Paradiso, Pepperoni & Pacific's 44-tonner paint scheme. Check out the pizza wheels, and hey, the number 11 is actually made from...
Thanks, Randy!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Canada's First Song about Model Railroading

Trackside two years ago during a 43-train weekend, while waiting for approaching trains, the song Life is a Highway kept going through my head. (A hit for Tom Cochrane, it was later covered by Rascal Flatts for the Cars movie.) So what did I do? Wrote some alternate lyrics while waiting for the next train, of course! How could I bend the lyrics to a train theme without breaking them? I related them to a model railway theme.

The drums, guitar, keyboards and catchy chorus conspired to produce some lyrics I would do something with someday - for now securely stashed in my scribbler. Would new lyrics help make this song more palatable to my wife, who had heard it 46 times during a school trip and therefore wanted to never hear it again? [Her recent response: "nope"] While driving, I usually like to...crank it.

Finally, a rainy day recording session revealed itself. Coupling the horn-hooks together, I assembled a consist that I would run in in front of my camera, while simultaneously singing (and I use the term loosely - perhaps voluntarily vocalizing would be a better term) the lyrics to a backup track playing from my nearby laptop. You'll notice the consist is not quite long enough to appear to be a cat chasing its tail, but neither did it stringline during the recording!
Without further adieu, I give you the listen-if-you-dare YouTube link to....



In case you can't hear the lyrics, drowned out by the clickety-clack of non-metal wheelsets, slack action in the horn-hooks or the whine of DC power, here they are:

IT RUNS THROUGH CITIES/IT RUNS THROUGH TOWNS/
SOMETIMES I WATCH IT GO ROUND AND ROUND/
I RUN IT NOW LIKE I RAN IT THEN/
I'LL GET IT FINISHED BUT DON'T KNOW WHEN/
FROM STAGING YARD OUT TO THE MAIN/
FREIGHT, PASSENGER AND UNIT TRAIN/
IT'S COOL DOWN HERE OUT OF THE HEAT/
I  GO UPSTAIRS WHEN IT'S TIME TO EAT/

I JUST CAN'T LET IT GO/
WAITING FOR THE NEXT TRAIN SHOW/
I'LL BE THERE WHEN THEY LET US IN/
TELL THEM I'M A BUYER!

CHORUS:
MY MODEL RAILWAY/
I'M GOING TO RUN IT ALL NIGHT LONG/
MY [INSERT SCALE HERE] -SCALE RAILWAY/
I'M GOING TO RUN IT ALL NIGHT LONG/

I RUN IT WHEN IT SNOWS AND RAINS/
I BOUGHT SOME STUFF FROM RAPIDO TRAINS/
MY WIFE CAN HAVE IT WHEN I'M GONE/
A QUICK YARD SALE IT'LL ALL BE GONE/
I WORK ON SCENERY, I WORK ON TRACK/
ONE TIME I EVEN PUT OUT MY BACK/
SOMETIMES WE ARGUE AND WE FIGHT/
ABOUT THE IDEAL LAYOUT HEIGHT/

THERE WAS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME/
I'M USING HORN-HOOKS STILL/
BUT YOU MOVED ON KADEE!

CHORUS AND FADE UNTIL THE VAN APPEARS

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2017 Front Patio Layout: The Paradiso, Pepperoni & Pacific Railway

This is the fifth year I've done outdoor model railroading. Each year starts the same way - take a very vaguely sketchy idea, add a piece of wood, some track, some Robertson screws, some wires and before you know it you've got a front porch layout. A couple of differences for the fifth annual: a new patio and a pizza box. Let me explain. One type of micro-layout is a pizza box layout, so called because it fits in a pizza box, almost always just a loop of track. It is really tricky to fit a circle of HO scale track in anything but the most humongous pizza box. A couple of inspirational examples:
I had saved two Paradiso Pizza boxes, but they were not humongous. It was at that point I started to think outside the box! Instead of using just one side of the box, why not open it up to give myself twice as much room? I had a good-sized piece of plywood that would just fit. But would it work? I tried my annual mix of switchbacks, diamond crossings and shoehorning:
And ended up with a concept - a materiel yard that would have a central through track and a couple of parallel tracks from which On Company Service cars could be loaded and unloaded:
I applied some liquid inspiration, some ale for my ailing imagination, some homebrew for my home layout, some quality quaffing. But I had to stay focussed. Some loyal Trackside Treasure readers have told me that their summer doesn't begin until they see the front porch layout. Back to work!
I should describe the space I'm working in. After years of discussion, we decided we would rather improve the front of our house than the back. The front is where we spent our time, enjoying nature and spying on our neighbours, formulating imaginative stories to go along with any observed coming-and-going activities! We found Valeira Construction and Taxis Contracting at a nearby home show, and before the summer truly began, we had a nice front patio to replace a former shrubbery-filled garden and we'd added some nice outdoor living space:
Coffee in the morning, cool beverages in the afternoon. You get the idea!
And that patio set from Wal-Mart has a table just big enough for an opened pizza box! There's a plug-in in the corner, so the stage was set. After some paint was applied to the plywood, I continued with the track plan:
Sun's out...Robertsons out.
And the die was cast! Er, the layout was taking shape. 
The opened pizza box, the plywood...and the attaching black brackets, all firmly affixed with Robertson screws:
Pizza box side:
Layout side, with inside of the pizza box also spray-painted.
There's room for the transformer in the corner of the box. Out came the diminutive 44-tonner that gifted porch layout-enabler Chris Mears had gifted, plus a new toy, a Walthers American crane in CP Rail paint, purchased from Roy Whitman. This latter piece of equipment gave me the idea for the materiel yard, as it can cover the tiny trackage quite methodically.
I had some scenic material that was as bright as it was historic. Still bearing a long-out-of-business Leisure World price sticker; I finally got it used. The black paved areas are adhesive foam from Michaels:
I threw in a few train-show-purchased buildings, and I was starting to operate.
Didn't look too bad! I had yet to convert that American crane from nasty Kadee couplers to the more familiar and aesthetically-pleasing X2F's:
The working name for this layout is the Paradiso, Pepperoni & Pacific Railway. Watch for an upcoming post as the layout progresses while the chipmunks chatter, the cardinals call, the squirrels scatter, the clouds scud and the neighbours...hey, what are the neighbours doing? Are they getting take-out again tonight? Hey, is that a pizza?

Running extra...

CANADA 150 continues though Canada Day has come and gone. Some Canada Day +2 trainwatching netted a somewhat patriotic framing of CN 4713 switching here in Kingston:
Hope your Canada Day (and Independence Day for those living 'downstairs') was festive, patriotic and got you thinking about the virtues of a country that encourages people to get outside in the great outdoors and build a layout. Surprisingly, early indications of this year's front patio layout netted responses from modellers preferring a cool basement. Now there's Two Solitudes, though not a cardinal sin: