Tuesday, July 28, 2015

110 Minutes at Union Station, July 2015

I arrived in Toronto on VIA No 651 on July 9, and at the end of the day I had some spare time. Checking in at the Business Class lounge in Union Station, I picked up a new VIA hat from their souvenir selection, perused some email over a Coke, then  tickled the ivories a bit, before heading toward the CN Tower to do some trainwatching before departure back to Kingston. I visited the same spot last September! Here's a sample of the 59 trains I observed in 110 minutes! The first GO train arrived right on cue at 1600, behind MP40PH-3C class unit 600 (above). 
New this visit, having just inaugurated service in early June, was the Union Pearson Express (above). Two- or three-car Nippon Sharyu Diesel Multiple Units operate between train and plane, making a 25-minute trip every fifteen minutes. I saw cab (A-units) 1002, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012, and mid-train (C-unit) 3002 - that's 10 out of the 18 car fleet. Though the UP sounds like a fair ride as it accelerates, I appreciated the real bell, in a sea of VIA and GO electronic sound-alikes! An aerial view shows my perch, accessible from the west end of Union Station, through the inteior (yellow line) Skywallk, which exits to a glorious (though shadeless) fenced, concrete pad across from the convention centre. Ripley's Aquarium is now to the south, then it's the former CP John Street roundhouse and Steam Whistle brewery:
Five minutes later, the first VIA train made its appearance: 915-four LRC cars-6433-three LRC cars. Having walked west, behind some brick service buildings, this is a Hail Mary-hold the camera-over the chain link fence-shot!
After another five minutes, an eastbound GO consist was trailed by Metrolinx-scheme 2417 and F59PH 564, one of three I'd see. These have been refurbished and are the last handful remaining from the fleet of GO's previous workhorses.
That's a wrap! Or at least a partial one, for ZenBanx, on 2046 eastbound at 1616.
Union Pearson Express has its own full-length wrap on bilevel 2030, between Metrolinx-scheme 2839 and 2554, at 1616.
Metrolinx-scheme 662 makes an appearance from around the shrubbery at 1622.
What's better than one Metrolinx-scheme car? Two! 2418-2846 are westbound at 1623. Most trains now include at least one car in this scheme.
VIA 902 leads 4001 and four LRC cars west at 1636 as a GO cab car peeks out from the trainshed in the background:

Wraps - for the Pan Am Games on 2058 (above). The lead-up to the games was in full swing, though I avoided acquiring a case of Pan Am fever. Our good friend Thomas the Tank Engine on 2028 (below). No, lady behind me, don't tell your kid it's Thomas the Train. Thomas pulls the train!
VIA action - my 651 consist from the morning - 906-4003-4104-4101-4111 arrives at 1717 from points west while two other VIA consists led by 913 and 916 wait. Heading west at 1733 was 916 with stainless steel HEP2 cars, except for Business Class LRC car 3477. Ten minutes after that, 913 was also westbound with four LRC cars and HEP2 coach 4122 bringing up the paddle.

There was no way I was going to transcribe all my notes for this post! However, they're all here for you to peruse: top-to-bottom and left-to-right on each page. As always, click for a larger image. The grand total? In 110 minutes, there were 59 movements: 45 GO (eight of which were four consists returning in the opposite direction), eight UPX, and six VIA. Metrolinx-scheme equipment has an 'M' suffix. It was an enjoyable, at times stressful bit of scribbling, with the longest lull being a scant seven minutes!
This westbound GO consist at 1722 included two MP40s pushing hard on the tail end: 633 and 653. Another interesting operational wrinkle was cab car 219, functioning as a regular coach, sandwiched between 610 and Metrolinx-scheme 2855 eastbound at 1740.
See what I mean by stressful? VIA 6433 arrives with four LRC cars from the west at 1729, as an eastbound GO consist behind 608 also arrives from the west, AND a third GO consist in the background behind 625 has just departed westward! Scribble, Kingstonian, scribble!
It was a hot afternoon, but not as hot as Havana! Cuba wrap on GO 2027:
I observed much of GO's locomotive and cab car fleet: 600, 602, 605, 607,608, 609, 610, 613, 614, 615, 618, 620, 622, 624, 625, 626, 628, 629, 630, 632, 633, 638, 640, 642, 644, 648, 649, 650, 651, 653, 654, 656, 657, 659, 661, 662, 663, 666 and 558, 559, 564. Cab cars 200, 201, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 213, 214, 215, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 226, 228, 231, 232, 233, 234, 238, 241, 243, 244, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 256, 257.
The second-to-last GO train, just four minutes prior to the end of my 110 minutes at 1750, included Metrolinx'ed 607 and 2844 on the tail end, westward into the late afternoon sun (above). I was pleasantly surprised by an eight-hour late VIA No 2, arriving at 1738 behind 6406-6434:
Side view of the just-arrived units from inside the UP Express terminal:

Running extra...

You can't go home again. Unless you're rolling stock. Not only is former VIA sleeper Edmundston coming home, so are CPR G5's 1238 (built 1946 by MLW) and 1286 (build 1948 by CLC here in Kingston) currently in Staunton, VA. The Americans were quicker to get rid of steam, though the realization of preservation came too late, and mainly Canadian locomotives were left in service. Heading the the Prairie Dog Central/Vintage Locomotive Society in Winnipeg.

Despair not, Trackside Treasure retro readers. I know these present-day posts are short on retro, but we're bringing retro back...upcoming posts on the riding VIA: the Super in 1978 and the Canadian's Montreal section in 1985. Thanks to Elijah and Michael, respectively, for the inspiration!

Is this trainwatching? While driving by Kingston's Invista nylon plant, I had a rare sighting of their Trackmobile, as it emerged with an empty adipic acid covered hopper and was about to grab a load. The crew member shows the driver the distance to the joint:
 Though it shows better head-on, this compact critter is equipped with LED headlights.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kingston-Toronto Return Trip, July 2015

Just like a year ago, I headed to Toronto on July 9 aboard VIA No 651. Morning coffee is now $2.25 and the new paper timetable came in handy, along with my Boarding Pass. The QR code is under the timetable and it gets scanned by the crew member just before you get your hatcheck. If you're sitting beside the emergency window, a separate colour hatcheck is added to show that you got 'the talk'. Though I'm in VIA Business Class car (651's consist was 906-4003-4104-4101-4111) this early train does not include that level of service. This is primarily a commuter run into Toronto (ssshhh, VIA doesn't run commuter trains).
Napanee station was just outside the south side window (above). BCOL  4601 was the middle unit on a westbound intermodal, likely No 121, during its crew change at Belleville (below) looking out the north side window. Yard power CN 4018-7038 was resting at the yard office.
At Pickering Junction, CN's York Sub takes Kingston Sub freight trains to MacMillan Yard. Passing over GO Transit's double-track and Highway 401, notice that plywood is in place to prevent ballast from hitting traffic below.
At Toronto's Old City hall, an ALRV heads west past the cenotaph. A nice blend of modern and classic:
Walking from Union Station's Great Hall to the skywalk to the CN Tower (and my rush-hour trainwatching spot) I passed the terminal for the Union Pearson Express which began operating in June. Previously boarded-up last October with hoarding, under construction, the terminal is now open and beckoned me to the UP arrivals/departures track. Of course I went in. At least long enough to see one train arrive.
At the airport-inspired over-priced gift shop: a set of six pencils for $18? Three commemmorative UP pins for $18? I didn't stay long. The hall view:
A sample of VIA action under the daylighted, tarnished trainshed, as seen from the skywalk VIA 902 and five cars departed west at 1636.
The exterior of the UP terminal. A two-car A-A set (1005-1002) is arriving while GO Transit prepares to leave:
You may wish to read the rest of the story of my 110 minutes at Union. It's the filling of this Toronto sandwich. (The two pieces of bread are my trips to and from The Big Smoke.) Two letters? Meet two letters:
VIA's Canadian behing 6406-6434 arrived eight hours late at 1738 - a nice surprise for this 'country mouse' visiting the big city. After a quick unload, the train headed for servicing and a 0200 departure west, thwarting my hoped-for trackside viewing under the trainshed. Classic and classy Budd day coach 8103:
Inside the UP terminal, an arriving train precision-spotted at the doors, with No 2 in the background.
Lots of folks got off with big suitcases. Stewardess-like hostesses circulated in the terminal, assisting passengers.
Under the trainshed, my train home (below). VIA No 48, all-stops to Kingston. 6418-3475-3321Ren-3350-3334, with VIA 6401 on the adjacent track pointing westward. Under-the-shed photography is much-improved now with the daylighting work underway.
The Pope shares an auto rack side with Autism, during our Oshawa station stop:
Cobourg station train view, not trackside view, as the evening shadows lengthen. Can you spot the F40 bulge shadow?
Morningstar Road, just west of Trenton Junction. What's that backhoe for? CN and CP crossing protection doing their job! CP saves money by only having one gate!

Running extra...

Happy 50th to Trackside Treasure reader, fellow VIAphile and 1980s-era photographer Brian Schuff. Brian was an instrumental contributor to my second book on VIA Rail, and has been sharing OS reports of VIA Nos 1 and 693 from Diamond, MB on Facebook. Enjoy your sixth decade - 50 really is just a number. OK, it's a really big number!
Gladys Knight and the Kpips (the K's are silent) backed up Midnight Train to Georgia 40+ years ago. Currently in the Peach State, ex-VIA 8-4-4 E-series sleeper Edmundston built 60+ years ago (or is it Edmunston, at least sometimes?) is Rapido Trains' latest project. It's a big project (Rapido Trains photo, courtesy Charley Pults - in blue base coat, above). But hey, the extremely elfin envelope of extant E-series examples engenders extra effort. It was running back to Saskatoon in 1981

E-series names were featured in Trackside Treasure's Fourth Anniversary Contest! Watch for our Seventh Anniversary Contest! Coming soon...

Travel Advisory! Due to scheduled work programs by the infrastructure owner, all trains between Montreal and Toronto may be delayed approximately 30 minutes from July 21 to 28, 2015 inclusive. Please note that train 66 and 669 will be delayed approximately 45 minutes, like tonight's No 669 - 28 minutes down!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Outdoor Layout: The LBM&SBGW RR

Back in the 1920s, two pasta-industry magnates controlled a major part of the North American pasta market. L. Beau McAroney and S. Bud Getty elbowed their way to the top, wearing their signature bowties and starched collars. Using their noodles, they practised their craft: dinner, putting everything they had into a pot together. Sometimes their relationship was strained, but business soon mushroomed. Drunk with success, they hit the sauce for awhile. Sometimes their tempers boiled over, but it was never a question of every manicotti for himself. They had zoodles of ideas, including a few silly, but were committed to not living in the past-a. Concentrating on growing the business became part of their daily rotini, as did saving every penne they made.

They explored every farfalle-fetched pastability, choosing to regularly meet and have a ball.  They attended many souper Italian weddings. Environmentally responsible, they monitored their plant's carbonara footprint. Generously, the pair sponsored several local sports teams, including the Spaghetti-O's roller derby squad. They built an ornate headquarters building, shaped like an oversized handful of spaghettini, though they were originally interested in a "leaning tower of pizza" design. The pair was disappointed to find the CN 'noodle' logo was already taken. Dismissing half-baked ideas, and fending off a plethora of competitors like L.A. Zonia, Fred Achini Alfredo, Ray Violi, Alf Agetti, Lynn Guini, Mary Nara, Vern Iccelli, R.Igga Tony, Sem Olina and Sonny LaMatina, and the "Three-Als" conglomerate: Al Denty, Al Fresco and Al Forno, who eventually tipped their capaletti to them, conceding defeat. L. Beau and S. Bud invested in a world-renowned collection of macaroni art, posting it on their fridges. They considered themselves fridge magnates. 

For this summer's porch layout, I give you the L. Beau McAroney and S. Bud Getty Western Railroad. 

Serving the pasta factory, this switching layout includes a yard, interchange track, passenger station and railroad offices, and hop track. More about that later...

This layout differs from my past two summer porch layouts (the MMPP&BTCo and the GCL). It's an elbow, partially made from last summer's Greater Cataraqui Lines. This shape uses the front porch planter to support the left side of the layout, negating the use of a table to hold it up - just a selfie stick at right. After deciding on the elbow shape, I tried an early mockup of a trackplan. Front portion of the elbow:
 Side portion of the elbow:
Too many switches - switches gobble real estate on any layout. And the minimal leads for the run-around track spelled operational paralysis. Take 2 - the use of a 25-degree diamond to conserve real estate. (Wouldn't a turntable work well in this spot? But no.) Now, this was better. A screwed-down and slightly-scenicked final trackplan. Each end of the elbow includes two spurs, trailing-point or facing-point. The main track around the outside of the elbow is not really a run-around; more like a switching lead.
Viewed from the front door, with operator's position (rocker with chair pad) in foreground and front-elbow leg support and wires visible. The gerbera daisies in the planter keep watch. The Robertson screws I used for the track are visible from space, like the Great Wall of China.
The only challenge became - facing-point and trailing-point switches without a run-around track. Fortunately, there is a hop track. In reality, this allows the little 44-tonner to hop over to the next track, (from the far plant spur to the right lead, and vice versa) thus allowing it to travel to the left portion of the elbow to switch the two left-side spurs via the diamond.
If the idea of the 0-5-0 switcher moving the 44-tonner over one track bothers you, imagine instead that there is a sector plate/hidden staging/helix there! The green-roofed pasta plant looms small in the front portion of the elbow. Here's a labelled photo of the layout's points of interest:
The usual operating pattern involves cars for the pasta plant being moved from the interchange track on the left-side portion of the elbow, to the station. While here, the agent watches the cars to make sure they don't move! The 44-tonner then moves to the hop track, and couples on to the cars after crossing the diamond and reversing to reach the station. Reversing again, it once more crosses the diamond to switch the plant.
Tour trains are operated to show off the line to pasta buyers and other visiting civic dignitaries. Work extras are also still being operated. The president of the line's house is in foreground, part of his sizeable land holdings that cost a pretty penne, where he was often out standing in his field, as well as the cattle pasturing sideline with some hamburger helpers, and the chicken noodle soup and wagon-wheel repair shops.
I should add that all the buildings are glued to the layout. This makes it easy to lift the layout out of the garage, carry it on its side to the front step; put the support leg in place, pay out the extension cord; plug in power and attach track wires, add rolling stock and go! As the owners wisely observed - careful how you stir your alphabet soup or you might spell disaster!
I added Detail Associates' Rail-Scene land backdrops taped to foam-core support, Robertson-screwed to the plywood. Everything about this layout is transitory - because there's always next summer's layout looming! Following are some photos from a backyard operating session. The 44-tonner lifts a Pennsy hopper of coal from the interchange track (above) and adds it to some company cars:
Heading for the station via the diamond and right lead:
Switching the pasta plant. Cars of flour from a variety of roads, plus fuel and other supplies arrive - all in shortie cars to save space!
Backyard setup on the patio table - didn't need the selfie stick for support. YMMV - I have a Keurig in the Late Night cup and a banana bread bar on the transformer.
I heard a tap on the window. My wife's iPad photo op of my photo op. Fun!

Running extra...

Fellow model railroader and image king Randy O'Brien has been busy - he created a cool graphic for The Pasta Line. Check out the black border in which tiny Trackside Treasures trail!

My graphic pales by comparison, but I decided to give it a GO: