Thursday 21 January 2016

Throwback Thursday #25 - Canadian Pacific DT-2 Switcher at Goderich, ON in July 1964

Canadian Pacific DT-2 44-ton centercab switcher #17 work the grain elevators at Goderich, Ontario in July 1964. Except maybe for gloves, it doesn't look like there was much PPE back in 1964! CP's impressive bridge over the Maitland River can be seen in the distance at left. Uncredited Kodachrome from author's collection.

Tonight’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to July 1964 in Goderich, ON, where we find Canadian Pacific DT-2 switcher #17 switching grain boxcars. A seldom-photographed engine, CP owned 14 of these unusual little diesel-hydraulic locomotives, scattered around the system for light switching duties. The engines were built by Canadian Locomotive Company of Kingston, ON from 1957-1960, but were not a Fairbanks-Morse design, as were most diesels that CLC built. Instead, two Caterpillar D-337 engines each contributed 250 hp, routed to the inboard axles of each truck, and from there to the outboard axles by means of crank rods. A rather bold departure from the rest of CP’s diesel roster, the units proved to be somewhat of a pariah, with retirements occurring as early as 1969. Built in 1959, CP #17 replaced 0-6-0 #6275 (noteworthy as the last operating 0-6-0 on CP’s system) , itself surviving on the CP roster until a sale to Cambridge, Ontario boiler and steam energy equipment maker Babcock & Wilcox in 1974. Another sale in 1996 took the unit to Tottenham, ON where it served as a parts source for South Simcoe Railway’s other DT-2, #22. Briefly reunited with one of the few remaining DT-2’s, #17 was stripped of usable parts and eventually scrapped in 2006 once it had outlived its’ usefulness.

While photographs of CP operations in Goderich often feature the small lakefront yard or the adjacent passenger station, the grain elevators seem to have been seldom photographed. The namesake of the 111.8 mile branchline CP used to reach the town, Goderich was important enough to warrant two railroads, CN being the other line to serve the town. Salt, grain, Champion road graders (later Volvo Construction Equipment), and other industries in town contributed to the majority of the railway’s business in the town.  Gradually though, trucks and centralized manufacturing eroded much of the industry served by CN and CP, with the latter abandoning the Goderich subdivision north (west) of Guelph in 1989. In 1992, the competition also pulled out of Goderich, with CN selling the line west of Stratford to new Railtex operator Goderich-Exeter Railway. The Sifto Salt mine located on the waterfront is now the largest industry served in Goderich by GEXR. Changes in grain rates made Ontario grain less favourable in comparison to that grown on the prairies, and many Lake Huron ports including Goderich, Owen Sound, and Collingwood, faced reduced grain volumes (or a complete halt in grain shipments altogether), a problem made worse for the railroads by stiff competition from trucks. Goderich, however, faired better than some other ports, and Goderich Eleveators continues to send grain out by ship primarily to the export market. Both trucks and the GEXR serve the elevators, though modern 4650 CF cylindrical hoppers are a far cry from strings of 40’ boxcars!

Interestingly, both CP #6275 and the former CP steel bridge over the Maitland River survive today. Old #6275 resides indoors at the Huron County Pioneer Museum, never having left the city it served for many years. The bridge is now a part of a hiking trail and offers a unique view of the port and Maitland River.

A Google Streetview image in approximately the same area as our subject photo. This elevator is no longer served by rail (trucks only), though the elevator in the distance still has rail service.

A Google satellite shot of the port of Goderich, as well as the town's unique octagonally-arranged historic downtown core. The old CP line extends in an arc down and to the left from top-center, while the ex-CN (now GEXR) line extends left-right across the image to reach the Sifto Salt mine at left.

‘Til next time,


Wednesday 20 January 2016

Wreck Repair

AGCX 10050 was involved in a derailment on CN at St. Tite, Quebec back in November 2009, after a broken rail caused several cars - including this one - to fall off a bridge at 38 mph. Given the age and potential cost of repairs, the car was decided to be beyond repair after evaluation at home shop. The car is seen here at London, ON on 10/16/2010, heading for Zubick's scrap yard. See the TSB report HERE.
I've been meaning to write this blog entry for a while, but it always seemed that one thing or another seems to get in the way. Anyway, I finally managed to put pen to paper (or whatever the digital equivalent is), so here we go…

What happens after a train derailment? From the car owner’s perspective, much as with the railroad, a lot of paperwork. Assuming that all the fires have been put out the main line is back in service, the exciting part is over, as far as the news media is concerned. But the process is really just beginning; one of my main tasks while working at a railcar lessor was that of handling the paperwork associated with cars that were involved in derailments or accidents (accountants love paperwork!). It turns out that the process is usually quite drawn out, usually lasting several months or years even.

When a derailment occurs, the railroad will notify the equipment car owners using an electronic communication system known as the Damage and Defective Car Tracking System (DDCTS; I like acronyms…), which is operated by Railinc, the digital information subsidiary of the AAR. This system is also used to coordinate shoppings for cars that are defective (bad ordered) but which the handling road cannot repair on a conventional RIP track (truck hunting is a common defect reported in DDCTS). When a new derailment event is created, it gives the handling line access to basic information about a car, including owner, owner contact information, and depreciated value (DV) – what the car is worth at the time of the accident. An email is sent to the car owner to describe the damages, as well as facilitate further handling of the wreck. The handling line has three basic choices – a) repair the car and return to service (at handling line’s expense), b) send car to home shop (one designated or owned by car owner), or c) consider the car destroyed in the wreck and settle with the car owner for DV. The DV route isn’t favourable, but there are many cases where a car is too badly damaged to make economic sense to repair.

If pursuing the first option, the car will usually be routed to the railroad’s nearest RIP track, usually at the nearest large yard. There, minor repairs such as bent hand grabs or damaged wheelsets can be replaced. The car owner will get a repair bill showing the repairs made, and that they were the handling line’s responsibility ($0 bill).

The option to send a car to home shop means that repairs are beyond the skill of the handling line (for example, almost anything to do with tank cars or specialty components on other cars such as pneumatic hopper car gates). Sometimes the car is in sufficient mechanical condition to move on its’ own wheels to shop (common if car was only sideswiped), but usually if one or both trucks separated from the car in a wreck, this means a ride on a ‘hospital’ car to shop (flatcar). These days many railroads consider it safer to load the damaged car onto a flatcar (at not insignificant expense) than to attempt to repair the brake gear or trucks if damaged. This usually extends the process considerably, from sourcing a spare flatcar, arranging a crane for load-up, and checking clearances along the route. Usually a mechanical carman will determine whether a car is salvageable or whether it is too badly damaged to repair. If the car is considered destroyed, the railroad can keep the salvage (scrap) value of the car, whereas sending it to shop involves finding a flatcar, paying for a crane, a crew to secure the car, freight to shop, and once actually there, the repairs to the car. Thus, if a wrecked car tends to be old, or major items on the car are damaged, the damaging line will often choose to write off the car instead of attempting repairs. Relatively-new cars tend to be less expensive to repair than to scrap, as they have higher DV’s. One measure of a car’s repairability is the trucks – if the trucks were significantly damaged or lost, replacing or repairing them might not make financial sense. Including new bolsters, sideframes, wheelsets, springs, friction wedges, and miscellaneous components, a new set of trucks for a car can easily run $18-$20,000+.

UTLX 49270 was involved in a minor derailment which sheared off one or more pneumatic hopper outlets and allowed the commodity of plastic pellets to partially escape. After temporary repairs to cap the leak, the car will likely be allowed to move for offloading before going to home shop for repairs. London, ON 11/3/2015.

Other than providing shop disposition to the damaging line, the car owner can’t do much until the car shows up at the repair shop. Once there, a repair inspector will look over the car and make a detailed list of defective or missing items, known as a joint inspection certificate (JIC); often writing the JIC is harder when parts are missing from the car, since there isn’t a reminder that a part should be on the car! Some items, like ladders or couplers are pretty obvious when they’re missing though… The car owner will send the JIC to the damaging road for endorsement; if/when endorsed (agreed upon by owner and damaging line), that is authority for the car owner to bill the damaging line for repairs made using the AAR Car Repair Billing Price Master, which contains job codes and billing rates for most possible repairs to be made to the car. The price master provides a fair method for car owners and railroads to bill each other, and factors in material condition (new or reconditioned), inspection, material, and labour costs associated with the repair. Items not specified in the price master, such as tank car valves or pneumatic hopper car gates, are billed at cost plus the labour to repair the components.

I picked up CSXT 7818, an Atlas C40-8W, at a local recent train show for about $40. Despite several defects, and looking like it was in a 1:87 wreck, I think with a few detail parts and a little bit of elbow grease, the unit can be brought back to life. 

The unit in the above photo I bought at a local train show, knowing it was already damaged. I think I paid $40 for it (it has sound, and runs decent), and on inspection found a number of repairable defects including bent/broken handrails, broken snowplow, missing cab sunshade and couplers, broken horn and bad weathering. I don’t know what caused the engine to be in this condition, but to me it looks like it could have been in a minor HO wreck; given the low purchase price, availability and cost of replacement parts, I think this engine can be repaired fairly easily, and will make a nice addition to the run-through power roster. I have a spare plow in stock, possibly the handrails as well (or can be ordered from Atlas), along with horn, sun shades, and couplers, and hopefully the weathering won’t be too difficult to remove – I think that may be the most difficult part of the project, removing the weathering material without damaging the underlying paint. Stay tuned for a future blog article showing progress that the repair crew has made on the unit…

Hope you found this interesting,

Til Next Time,

Thursday 14 January 2016

Time-Link Thursday: Early GO Transit Action

A bit of a variation on the Throwback Thursday theme here; tonight's article is another one written by my dad Keith. Hopefully soon my brother Mark will have some material to contribute to the blog as well (he's currently working on a couple very interesting HO projects; more on this in upcoming weeks). Anyway, onto the feature story. Cheers, Peter.

Time-Link Thursday

GO 104 was built as C754 by HST in 1967. Renumbered 9854 in 1970, 104 in 1975, the pioneering cab car would be sold to AMT in Montreal in 1990 and removed from service in 2010.

Some time ago Peter acquired a sizeable collection of B&W negatives at a local train show. Unfortunately, the seller did not have any background on the photographer and no companion information as to date and location, etc. Fortunately though, a number of views have stations in the frame and some of the locations are familiar. However, many remain unknown to us. If any reader recognizes locations of photos in this or upcoming posts, please drop me a line and let me know the location.

I have always been fascinated by photos showing equipment from different eras. To me they form a connection between generations, often spanning decades. As example, an early CNR Northern coupled to a boxcar built in 1960. Hence, the title ‘TIME LINK’. Time-wise, the span could be seventy three years: a U-2-a built in 1927 coupled to a boxcar that could have lasted until 2000 (freight cars built prior to 7/1/1974 were eligible to continue in service for forty years). If the boxcar was subject to AAR ‘Rebuilt’ status (+ ten years) and coupled to one of CNR’s long lasting E-10-a 2-6-0’s, the span would be a century!

This month’s examples connect early generation GO Transit cab cars to still contemporary bi-level commuter coaches. As to date and location, the following is what we know about each:

GOT 104
-    The F40PH on the opposite end was delivered in 1978 and would serve GO Transit for a decade prior to being sold to Amtrak in 1990.
-        There are a number of high rise towers in the background.
-        The train is passing under a very distinctive design bridge (road or rail?).

GOT 901
-        Bi-level coaches were introduced in 1978.
-        901 would be removed from service in 1995.
-        A distinctive (public?) building can be seen in the background.
Built by GMD in 1951 as ONR FP7 1505, the veteran ‘covered wagon’ would be converted into an APCU (Auxiliary Power Control Unit) for GO in 1974 and numbered 9859. Renumbered in 1975, 901 would soldier on until 1995 when she was removed from service and scrapped.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday #29

Good Evening All,

Just wanted to wish Happy New Year to all readers and hope that 2016 brings much modelling happiness. The last few weeks have been pretty quiet on the blog as lots of time was spent with family over the holiday season, and (almost as importantly) working hard in the train room on new projects which I will post further articles on in the next week or two. Regular features such as Throwback Thursday should also return to their regular frequency. Until then, enjoy a photo of CN #509 heading out of the yard behind a pair of Athearn Genesis SD75I's.