Friday, 15 May 2015
Freight Car Friday tonight features PROX 17386, a brand new 13,800 gal sulfuric acid tank car built for Procor Limited by UTLX Manufacturing at Sheldon, TX. The car is part of an order that is being built in Texas and shipped to the Procor shop at Oakville, ON for painting and interior coating; part of this order is being painted and coated at the Union Tank Car shop at Altoona, PA. While the overall sulfuric acid tank car arrangement hasn’t changed in many years, this car exemplifies some recent changes that were made to tank car design. The first and perhaps most obvious is the addition of a pressure-car style fittings protection assembly on the top of the car. All fittings are now enclosed within the housing rather than on separate nozzles. Secondly, all cars built after January 1, 2015 are required to have the new style end platform safety appliance design. Whereas previous cars only had a crossover handrail along the transverse running board, the new design mandates an extra grab iron so that railroad personnel can have three-point attachment when riding the car. Additionally, new lower steps are mandated that do not exceed a height of 17” above the rails. The new safety appliance design consumed additional space at the ends of the car, requiring the air brake reservoir to be placed underneath the car (as had been done on cars built in the 1960’s). A further change is that cars on this order are painted white, at customer request, which is something that had all but disappeared from the Procor acid car fleet as previously-white cars had been painted black at time of coating replacement.
‘Til next time,
Posted by Unknown at 20:02
Thursday, 14 May 2015
|Somewhere, an MLW salesman must be smiling!|
Tonight's Throwback Thursday features a piece by guest author, my dad Keith. As a die-hard Alco (and MLW) fan myself, the M420W is one of my favourite models of locomotive, and a distinctly Canadian prototype. Without further ado, you're up Keith.
In a scene that would have pleased an MLW salesman, three M-420 (W)’s (3530/3551/3515) single handedly (triple handedly?) head up a manifest freight with a book ended, albeit grimy, paint scheme configuration. Even 3551 is begrimed despite having been repainted. Unfortunately the date and location of the photo are unknown though a logical guess would be the early to mid-1990’s somewhere in Southern Ontario. Originally delivered in the 2500 number series, the four axle MLW’s enjoyment of the mainline was relatively brief as they were diverted at an early age to secondary service by the incoming hordes of higher horsepower GMD GP40-2 (W)’s. Reduced in weight for their new role by limiting the amount of onboard fuel and sand beginning in 1986, the modified M-420 (W)’s were renumbered into the 3500’s. Note the smaller sized fuel tank on 3530/3551 delivered in the second build group. As part of the MLW purge, all were off the roster by 1998. However, given their bullet proof Alco origin 251 prime mover, many found second homes with several continuing in service to the present.
Trailing unit 3515 was from the initial pioneering build (CN 2500 – 2529 in early 1973), the first series of North American locomotives to be equipped with the so called ‘Crew Comfort Cab’ (Canadian competitor GMD followed MLW’s lead with their version of what ultimately would become the ‘North American’ Cab on GP38-2 (W) 5560 later in the year). Continuing the innovation theme, MLW developed a two axle version of their ‘Zero Weight Transfer’ truck. Designated as the ‘ZWT-2’ truck, conventional centerplate/bolster type geometry was replaced by a downward (from the frame) yoke and Metalastik pad combination. Unfortunately the lack of traditional springs resulted in the unit’s having a reputation for being rough riders. Unlike the preceding six axle MLW’s, and much more disturbingly, the units also gained a reputation over the years as being somewhat weak pullers. The M420 (W)’s were also noteworthy for launching the so called ‘Zebra Stripe’ paint scheme that would be applied to new power and repaints for almost 20 years. Still far and away my favourite modern era CN locomotive system of locomotive decoration.
Posted by Unknown at 19:20
Thursday, 7 May 2015
|The CP/TH&B Goderich Turn pauses while switching with TH&B 77 &401 at Guelph Juntion, near Campbellville, ON, on July 18, 1984. Reg Button photo, author's collection.|
Today’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to July 18, 1984; it’s late in the day at Guelph Junction, located 39.2 miles up the Galt Sub from Toronto. Guelph Junction is an interesting place on the Galt Sub, and is the location where the Hamilton Sub joins the Galt Sub (from the south) and where the Goderich sub branches off northward to Guelph (cut back from Goderich in the late 1980’s). What remains of the Goderich Sub is owned by the city of Guelph (the only municipally-owned common carrier railway line in Canada) and now operated by shortline Ontario Southland Railway. Interestingly, the two branches are not directly connected to each other, but a pair of wyes (facing north and south) are used to bring trains on or off the Hamilton/Goderich subdivisions. Guelph Junction also marks the end of CTC territory originating in Toronto, and where OCS track warrant territory continues another 74 miles to London (except for CTC islands at Wolverton and London). A GO transit storage facility was located here for a number of years, used to store GO commuter trainsets used on the Milton line in the evenings or on weekends. Discontinued a few years ago when a new layover facility was constructed in Milton, use of the yard is now confined to OSR/CP interchange to the shortline. At one time, the Goderich sub featured a daily-except-Sunday passenger train from Hamilton to Goderich, usually powered by one of the road’s quaint 4-4-4 Jubilee engines, and included an unusual reverse move at the junction to cross the Galt sub (northward train would pull around south wye, back down the Galt sub, and carry on northward around the north wye and onto Goderich). If a Jubilee wasn’t available, or if the regular engine broke down, a spare engine stationed at the junction would be used to power the local passenger train. Often this was a P-1 or P-2 Mikado, which made for quite the interesting little passenger train! Additional passenger service was provided by a CP gas-electric doodlebug based out of Guelph, and often made several round trips between Guelph and the junction (about 15 miles) per day.
Through the viewfinder, we observe a pair of TH&B geeps, GP7 #77 and GP9 #401. The subject train (though apparently absent of cars this day) is the Goderich Turn, operated north out of TH&B’s Aberdeen yard to its’ namesake port on Lake Huron. An interesting operation, the train commonly operated with TH&B-supplied power, often with just a single unit. This is especially interesting considering the steep descent down the Niagara Escarpment from Guelp Junction and the TH&B units’ lack of dynamic brakes. The pair of units on today’s train is an interesting anomaly, considering TH&B’s common practice of using borrowed engines to power its’ own trains. It appears that the train is making a switching move at the time of this photo – note the conductor with his large shoulder-slung radio appears to have just lined the main line switch back to the normal position. Most of what is visible in this photo is now gone – the CP Chevy van undoubtedly disposed of after years of service, and the station demolished to make way for additional GO Transit storage tracks, the TH&B geeps, and even the train order semaphore, a Guelph Junction landmark for decades. But for at least a moment back in July 1984 we can imagine what the geeps’ 567 engines sounded like while switching at the Junction.
‘Til next time,
Posted by Unknown at 19:18
Friday, 1 May 2015
Recently I’ve been playing around on Youtube, looking at videos where model railroaders have placed a small camera on a flatcar and rolled it around their layout. I found this incredibly interesting, not only to see other people’s equipment on their layout, but their creativity in planning trackwork, scenery, or even other trains on the layout. Poking around on eBay one day, I came across a small video camera designed for mounting to bicycle helmets for $30 (including shipping) that was fit nicely on an HO scale flatcar. A few days after purchasing the video camera it showed up in the mail, and in short order the camera was taking a ride around the layout. My brother Mark did an excellent job of building a small wooden cradle to hold the camera (it has a round cross-section) and off we went up and down every spur and track on the layout. I’m not sure why, but I find it quite amusing to watch the resultant video, particularly in areas of the layout not normally/easily accessible. It also occurred to me that this is more-or-less the HO scale version of a track inspection train. While it doesn’t measure the gauge or detect sub-surface rail flaws, it is nonetheless useful for evaluating spots that may need some repair, such as dips or kinks in the flextrack. The camera offers a nearly-track level view of the layout, a perspective not normally seen from our normal “helicopter” vantage point, which I think is pretty neat.
|Backing into the yard (screen-capture of video).|
Overall, for $30, I think this is a good bit of fun. One thing we did learn though: depending on how you mount the camera on a flatcar, it may suddenly become an Excess Height car, so watch where you take it! Mark found out one day that, even though double stacks can fit under the bridge on our layout, when the camera is elevated to a position to simulate a rooftop-view, a bridge-camera interference problem develops (see photos below).
|A rooftop view, mid-train.|
|The 'black box' revealed the cause of the wreck: the car (camera mounted on it) was too high! Image from video taken just prior to impending collision.|
‘Til next time,
Posted by Unknown at 18:15
|L&N SD40-2 #3562 and SCL C420 #1223 share a quiet moment at Corbin, KY in October 1976. Uncredited slide from author's collection,|
Circumstances conspired against me last night when I started to write this, but nonetheless, here’s a slightly delayed Throwback Thursday. It’s October 1976 and we are deep in Louisville & Nashville Territory at Corbin, Kentucky. Very much a railroad town, Corbin lies a few miles north of the Kentucky-Tennessee border and is home to a large yard facility, closely tied to the areas’ coal mining industry. Home to many local mine runs, and later an important inspection point for unit coal trains, the yards and facilities form the main terminal for the L&N/SBD/CSX’s Cumberland Valley Division.
A railroad that wasn’t afraid of mixing it up when it came to motive power, the L&N purchased products from EMD, GE, and Alco, often on the secondhand market. One of many roads that bought EMD’s popular SD40-2, L&N ordered 30 units from EMD on order #74644, with delivery beginning in October 1974. Evidently considering them a fine example of four-axle motive power, L&N acquired a large fleet (if not the largest) of Alco C420’s, amassing units both new and cast off from other railroads. SCL C420 #1223 is an example of the latter. Built in June 1965, the engine was one of 35 C420’s that the SCL rostered, originally wearing road number 121. Retired in April 1982, the engine would go on to become part of the L&N fleet, becoming L&N 1362, continuing the railroad’s penchant for acquiring Alcos second-hand. An interesting visitor at the time of this photo, the unit would likely pass through Corbin many more times while working for its’ second owner.
L&N SD40-2 #3562 would go onto have a rather interesting history itself. Built in October 1974, the unit was approaching its’ second birthday at the time of this photo. A few years later, in 1982, the engine received minor damage to the nose after a washout wreck at Whiteside, TN. Interestingly, the unit emerged from the event with a solid grey short hood, an example of the L&N’s habit of experimenting with nose paint options (solid yellow, solid grey, sawtooth patterns, etc). In the ensuing mergers of the 1980’s, the unit became SBD 3562, to SBD 8190, and subsequently CSX 8190. A renumbering to CSX 2424 and a reconfiguration to a slug “mother” meant a relocation to Rice Yard in Waycross, GA, where recent photos reveal the unit in the current “dark future” paint scheme.
‘Til next time,
Posted by Unknown at 04:52