Thursday 28 December 2017

Throwback Thursday - 23 Year's Difference at Paris, ON

CN GP40 #9306 leads train #411 westbound through Paris, Ontario, on May 19, 1994, with C630M #2038 and M636 #2322 assisting. Reg Button photo, author's collection.
Tonight's Throwback Thursday goes back to May 1994, where we find CN GP40 #9306 leading Toronto-Sarnia freight #411 through scenic Paris, Ontario. The train is westbound in the late afternoon, having just crossed the large bridge over the scenic Grand river (out of sight, in the middle of the S-curve through which the train is visible), passing the location of the long-demolished Paris train station. Assisting are C630M #2038 and M636 #2322, all three engines in a somewhat run-down rendition of CN's 'zebra stripe' paint scheme. Privatization of the crown corporation is a little over a year away, and the big MLW's wouldn't last much longer either. The lead unit survives today, however, unlike many of the other 15 CN GP40's (CN 9302-9317); once common in southern Ontario (sometimes referred to as "tunnel pullers", a remnant of their assignment to Sarnia-Port Huron tunnel duty), the lead unit would end up spending more time in southern Ontario than most other CN GP40's. After sale to RailAmerica, the engine became RLK 4096, and would be assigned to the Goderich-Exeter Railway for a number of years. Currently, the unit is still in Ontario, now serving on sister-road Ottawa Valley Railink. 

Fast-forward 23.5 years and we find CN SD70M-2 #8953 at the same location with train #397. The view is largely the same, though a bit more closed-in and obstructed by the growth of the trees. An old CN trailer is an interesting addition to the scene, perhaps forgotten by whatever company department left it there (I doubt the accountants will even notice if it is still on the company balance sheet). The former location of the Paris railway station is now a stores area for company MOW material, and seems to be fostering the growth of some annoying foliage (at least from the photographer's perspective!). Photo taken on 12/17/2017.

Fast-forward 23 and a half years, and we again find a westbound passing the John Street overpass with an EMD in the lead. This time the train is #397 and SD70M-2 #8953 is assisted by ES44DC #2300 and IC SD70 #1029. The intervening years have brought a merger with Illinois Central, privatization, droves of (in my opinion, rather bland) GE's, but Paris is still a great location to watch trains, be it from the John Street overpass, the bridge over the Grand River, or Paris Junction, just west of this location. To paraphrase the Dos Equis spokesman, "stay trackside, my friends!" 


Sunday 24 December 2017

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK (On the Railway)

Despite their homogenous appearance, none of the above units were originally built for CN. Heritage as follows; CN 2185 (GE Dash 8-40CW, ex BNSF 847, nee ATSF 847, built 10/29), CN 2100 (GE Dash 8-40C, ex UP 9065, nee CNW 8553, built 8/91), CN 5423 (EMD SD60 ex GMTX 9060/EMDX 9060, nee OWY 9060, built 11/86). Note the fresher paint on No. 5423.
Canadian National long haul train M38531 (M385) is a daily mixed freight from Toronto MacMillan (Mac) Yard to Flat Rock, Michigan. Departure is early morning and the train often works yards along the route, depending upon demand and on line traffic congestion. Recently the normal workaday routine of M385 was interrupted; story line as follows.

Motive power assigned this day were six axle units CN 2195/2100/5423. Arriving at Aldershot Yard in Burlington the crew brought the train to a stop to assess over heating issues on trailing SD60 No. 5423. All modern units have on board diagnostic capabilities and built in safeguards were preventing the unit from loading (pulling). Electing not to swap out the faltering EMD and further to some ad hoc ‘McGyvering’, the crew managed to get the unit to load and set off to do battle with the nine mile climb that marks the beginning of CN’s Dundas subdivision. At 173 cars, some 11,553 feet of train, the struggle would be mighty; ten MPH overall would be a monumental achievement. This in fact would represent almost an hour of very hard pulling. Regrettably, No. 5423’s overheating gremblins returned, neutering the unit, making the SD60 unable to contribute to the task at hand. Just prior to reaching the half way point at mile four, No. 5423 shut down, bringing forward progress of the more than two mile long consist to a halt. Fortunately, Aldershot local train L55131 (L551) had not departed the yard, making available the assigned motive power; GP9RM’s, Nos. 4125 & 7068. The veteran duo would save the day, pushing M385 past the crest of the Niagara Escarpment (near Copetown), all the way to Brantford. What about L551’s assignment for the day? Delayed, and most likely performed by a different crew. The rescue crew would probably be short of hours to needed to carry out the local switching assignment. Same story for M385; depending upon their start time at Mac Yard, the crew may have run out of hours prior to crossing the border into the US at Sarnia. What about CN 5423? Most likely set out in Sarnia, the unit returned to Mac Yard for proper attention. By the end of the week the repaired unit had ventured as far afield as Moncton, New Brunswick.
At 3,800 HP the SD60 packs more than double the horsepower of the units sent to rescue M385; the two GP9RM’s combined total 3,600 HP. Of note, No. 4125 (age 62) is twice the age of No. 5423 (age 31). Doubtful that No. 5423 will be around 31 years from now!
Heritage of the GP9RM’s as follows; CN 4125 (GMD GP9, ex No. 4406, nee No. 1730, built 2/55), CN 7068 (GMD GP9, ex No. 4323, built 5/59).

Saturday 11 November 2017

CN at Rymal Part 4

Passenger train service on the H&NW Railway would be inaugurated from Hamilton to Jarvis on September 18th, 1873 when the first train departed from the Ferguson Avenue Station in the lower city. Like many branch line runs the service would in time transition into a mixed train; M233. The last run of M233 would take place some eighty four years later on October 26th, 1957. For a nostalgic look at the line in the 1950’s have a read of Ian Wilson’s wonderful chronicle ‘STEAM ECHOES OF HAMILTON’.
By comparison, freight train service along the line south from Hamilton would last for more than a century, finally concluding in late 1993. As previously documented, damage to the Stone Church road overpass in 1987 would suspend service from Hamilton to Rymal. Only six years later the rails would be lifted all the way from the lower city to Caledonia. Enough with the history lesson, let’s fondly recall an everyday exercise in the life of the daily wayfreight; switching Shaw Pipe Protection at Rymal. (Unfortunately I did not date some of my early images; best guess is that I shot the switching sequence of photos in the spring of 1977)

As shown above, CN SW1200RS’s Nos. 1208 and 1204 have arrived at the CO-OP siding and pulled up to the south switch. After uncoupling and moving ahead with the first two cars, the short two car consist would reverse into the siding and deposit the loaded bulkhead flat car and empty flat car. The locomotive duo would then head south to exit the siding, reverse direction, re-couple and push the remainder of the consist back past the north switch. Following another reverse in direction, 1208/1204 would reenter the siding and couple onto the empty flat car from the opposite end, and once again reverse onto the main. Heading south, the one car train would then cross Rymal road to complete the delivery. Note the careful planning of the head end of the consist during assembly at CN’s Stuart Street Yard.
Contemporary satellite view of the former CN Rymal. Of the enterprises once served by rail, only the CO-OP structures remain, now converted to a Home Hardware operation.
The conductor and brakeman are shown riding 62’-6” flatcar CN 667407 being delivered to Shaw Pipe Protection; for loading of out bound finished product. Doubtful such casual performance of duties would be condoned my management today! Constructed by National Steel Car in the June of 1974, the flatcar would be removed from service by 2013, most likely due to the forty year rule (cars constructed prior to July 1, 1974).
Having completed their switching assignment at Rymal, the re-assembled wayfreight carries on southward towards Caledonia trailed by newly constructed PSC caboose CN 79866. Note the forty foot double door boxcar on the Penn Lumber siding on the right.
View of the Penn Lumber siding lead (near) and Shaw Pipe Protection siding lead (far) looking north. While the cement block structures on the east side still exist, as shown above, virtually everything on the west has been razed. No doubt significant soil remediation, from decades of heavy duty industrial chemical usage by Shaw Pipe, was necessary.
View of Penn Lumber from the right of way. Eventually transformed into a Castle Building Center, the lumber and hardware enterprise was shuttered many years ago.

Sunday 5 November 2017

New Haven vs. Canadian National

Hello Readers - No, I haven't abandoned the hobby, but a new job and generally not doing much modelling or railway-related activities throughout the summer have tended to keep me away from the blog... Anyway, we're back - my dad Keith has previously contributed material to the blog, and I've figured out how to add him as an author so he will now contribute original material to the blog. Additionally, I'm  slowly getting back into the hobby during the "indoor" months and should have some more modelling material to share over the next few weeks. Tonight's post is from my dad, on the remarkable similarities between the Canadian National Railway & New Haven Railroad diesel locomotive paint schemes of the 1960's, in particular as applied their SW1200's.


Background information on the Canadian National half of the story came in large part from Lorne Perry. Perhaps a name familiar to some, Lorne worked for many years at CN in Public Relations, retiring in 1992. Most generously he provided a wealth of information and insight on the rebranding effort the railway undertook in the late 1950’s.

As has been very well documented over the years, the 1950’s were a decade of tremendous upheaval and change for the railway industry on many fronts. As steam power was eschewed and diesel electric propulsion embraced, a number of railways sought to re-brand themselves and adopt a modern, contemporary image.

Two very different railways employed surprisingly parallel strategies to achieve remarkably similar results, in order; the New Haven Railroad and Canadian National Railways.

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, under the leadership of newly minted president Patrick B. McGinnis, was first out of the gate. Following the remodeling of its corporate offices in Grand Central Terminal in early 1954, McGinnis contracted the NYC based firm Knoll Associates to redesign the road's overall corporate image. McGinnis wanted to distance the line from what he perceived to be an old fashioned and overly elaborate NYNHH moniker and instead offer the world a flashy and modern-day image. Knoll assigned the task to Herbert Matter, an up and coming Swiss photographer-designer. Matter had become known for his bold, succinct graphics and he seized upon a much simplified ‘NH’ emblem for the railroad. Employing a daring, large scale Expanded Egyptian font was the stroke of genius. Colour wise, it was out with the stodgy, somber greens, yellows and grays, replaced by black, orange and white.

Design wise, the new passenger locomotive scheme featured a geometric pattern, for the most part, unrelated to the shape of the locomotive. Gone were the large swooping curves and pinstripes previously popular for use in colour separation on the road’s Alco DL-109’s. As applied to freight locomotives, Matter crafted a very utilitarian pattern using changes in orientation to vary colour; black sides, orange ends. Large white NH initials were applied boldly to the sides. A handful of switcher/road switcher alternative schemes were also generated. Following publication in the annual report, what would become known as the 'McGinnis' scheme debuted on GE Erie built EP-5 No. 370 in late 1954. Freight unit wise, the McGinnis scheme first appeared on EMD SW1200 No. 640 in early 1956. No. 640 was also the first EMD unit on New Haven, virtually an all Alco/FM entity previously. While the NH was long ago folded into Penn Central/ConRail, the McGinnis scheme has proven to be incredibly durable. Following rejuvenation on Connecticut Department of Transport (CDOT) FL9's the scheme has been applied to all state funded motive power including newly built BL20GH commuter locomotives supplied by Brookville Locomotive. Mr. Matter's handiwork, now some sixty years on, certainly confirms the adage that sound design is timeless!

In similar fashion, towards the end of the decade, having invested in new fangled diesel power, CTC installations and continuous welded rail technology, among other modernization efforts,  Canadian National sought to rebrand itself and embarked upon a path parallel to the NH. What was known as the ‘CN Visual Redesign Program’ began in 1959. Under the leadership of President Donald Gordon the then multifaceted (railway/telegraph/hotel/express/marine ferry) corporation would look beyond the 49th parallel and engage the small Manhattan based firm James Valkus Inc. to accomplish the monumental task. To recognize the crown corporation status, i.e. government ownership, the agreement with Valkus stipulated that a Canadian designer was to be involved. Further to a series of interviews, Toronto based Allan Fleming was selected and the two set about their task. As is well known, the outcome was the infamous ‘Wet Noodle’ or ‘Lazy Three’ symbol. Perhaps not as well-known is the fact that the design was very much a collaborative effort between Valkus and Flemming. Acknowledging the Canadian component, Flemming was publically given full credit. However, much credit goes to Valkus for placing the new symbol on a grid pattern facilitating easy scaling; from letter head size to the forty foot moniker on CN’s Montreal Headquarters.

Colour-wise, some five years beyond the New Haven metamorphosis Valkus and Fleming would certainly have been aware of the colourful black/orange/white combination. While seemingly copycat, the CN scheme is actually black, ’CN orange’ and off white. The off white or light grey was chosen so as to acknowledge the dirt filled operating environment and so as to not have a freshly painted locomotive immediately appear ‘grubby’.

Following somewhat prolonged internal review and approval the ‘Visual Redesign Program’ scheme debuted in January of 1961, and as they say, ‘The rest is History!’

- Keith.  

CN SW1200 No. 7029, built by GMD London in 1956, is shown in the textbook 1961 black/orange/white. Renumbered to 7729 in 1985 the gnarly looking unit (mostly due to the spark arrestors) would be off the roster by 1990, her duties having been usurped by the incoming horde of PSC remanufactured GPRM’s. Note the 1973 scheme painted sister unit.

New Haven SW1200 No. 648 was the second last locomotive delivered by EMD from its first order from the railroad (640 – 649) in February 1956. Note the Hancock air whistle on the cab face above the windows and the folded up cross over step on the pilot. The road switcher would be conveyed to Penn Central as No. 9188 and then Conrail as No. 9371.

Canadian National SW1200RS No. 1233 was supplied to the railway by GMD London in mid 1956. Compared to the NH version, CN added number boards at each end, larger volume fuel tanks and later retrofitted spark arrestors and full length handrails. No. 1233 would serve her original owner for 34 years prior to be retired and sold to Relco in 1990.
No. 640 was built by EMD in January 1956. To enhance their usefulness both New Haven and Canadian National specified higher speed capable trucks. Initially termed ‘Flexible’, EMD/GMD would later call such trucks ‘Flexicoil’. Compared to the immensely common ‘Blomberg’ truck, the Flexicoil truck axle spacing is one foot less at 8’-0”. Note the difference in the shape of the diagonal end step braces. No. 640 would become PC 9180, then CR 9363 and in order; LIRC 9363, PHL 36 and finally ECRX 36

No. 1211 was built by GMD in 1956 as No. 1582. The unit is wearing something of a hybrid scheme; 1961 redesign with 1973 yellow frame stripe. Retired in 1993 and sold to LW&S Ferrous the unit would be parted out to keep sister units running.

Friday 7 April 2017

Flashback Friday - CN at Rymal Part 3

Tonight's Flashback Friday (late version of Throwback Thursday...) is a bit special, not only because it's written by my dad, but again covers the namesake station location for this blog. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do! 


The only through train on the line towards the end, the Hamilton-Nanticoke steel train heads south past the old station sign at Rymal, by this time reduced to a place to spot  the occasional lumber car for offloading for local businesses. The train is approaching Rymal road with it's classic ABA F7's and a caboose on each end of the train to ease in maneuvers at Nanticoke.

Recently, our local newspaper (MOUNTAIN NEWS;, in conjunction with Canada’s 150th anniversary included an article on the origin of Hamilton’s railway infrastructure. This led me to conduct some additional research on the origin of the former Canadian National branch line from Hamilton to Port Dover.

As is commonly known, Sir Allan MacNab is widely credited with having the tremendous foresight to view the mid 1800’s then-newfangled railway technology as the means to achieve city building, even nation building. Deploying shrewd political persuasion along with considerable investment prowess, MacNab was able to have the construction of the Great Western Railway Niagara Falls to Detroit line routed through Hamilton, with rails arriving in the harbour town in January of 1854. MacNab would subsequently become president of the Hamilton and Port Dover Railway (originally chartered in 1835) in 1855 and immediately formulate a plan to join the two adjacent Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie by steel. Such a link would provide access to the United States, in particular the Appalachian coal fields in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The task would prove to be both formidable and lengthy. The initial hurdle, surmounting the 330 foot high Niagara escarpment, would require five miles of right of way, consume approximately one million 1860’s dollars, and take some three years to complete. Having overcome the first obstacle, further progress of the line stalled, pending the sourcing of additional funding. In 1869, with several additional Hamilton financiers in the fold, the Hamilton and Port Dover Railway (having already absorbed the virtually identically chartered Hamilton and Southwestern Railway Company in 1856) became the Hamilton and Lake Erie Railway Company. Further to championing the next geographical challenge, bridging of the Grand River in Caledonia, service to Jarvis was established by 1873. Attaining the by then long time goal of reaching Port Dover on the shore of Lake Erie would consumer another five years and involved yet another amalgamation; combining the 1872 chartered Hamilton and Northwestern Railway with the Hamilton and Lake Erie Railway in 1875.

The vision and legacy of Sir Allan MacNab is hard to overstate. As mentioned, he orchestrated the economically vital path of the Great Western Railway to include Hamilton. Further, he persuaded the railway to locate their major rolling stock and locomotive construction/repair shop complex in his fair city. The GW facility would establish an industrial base and spawn enterprises that still have descendants located in the city to this day. Most noteworthy would be Canada’s best known steel makers Stelco (The Steel Company of Canada) and Dofasco (Dominion Foundries and Steel Company). Access to Appalachian coal and the natural harbour facility together with the expanding railway network were cornerstones in Hamilton becoming the Steel Capital of Canada. Sadly, Sir Allan MacNab would not live to see much of his Great Lake joining vision unfold. MacNab would pass away at age sixty-four in 1862 just as his Hamilton and Port Dover was mired in the process of climbing the Niagara Escarpment. However, his spirit may still have an eye on the Hamilton railway scene; his home, long ago preserved as the museum known as ‘Dundurn Castle’ overlooks the Canadian National Railway’s Stuart Street Yard complex (currently sub-leased to Genesee and Wyoming’s Southern Ontario Railway). Not sure he would be pleased about the presence of the American interlopers, however.

- Keith.

As shown on the map below, atop the escarpment, the H&LE chartered line runs virtually arrow straight to Caledonia. Despite increasingly sporadic service on the line, the track structure and subgrade was well maintained right up until the very end.

Lifting of the rails from the connection to CN’s lower city main line to Caledonia began in the mid 1980’s and was completed by 1993. However, owing to industrial development along the Lake Erie shore in Nanticoke, the line from Caledonia south is still in place and very active. Track work shown in the photo stub ends several hundred feet beyond the last of the trio of CN boxcars. In the early 1980’s CN decorated four boxcars along with a couple of other pieces of equipment with insignia promoting the upcoming EXPO 86 being held in Vancouver. The scene has changed significantly otherwise however, as the large structure in the background was razed several years ago. Good news wise, the Caledonia station, unseen to the right, has been fully restored to its as built condition and is open to the public as a museum.

Sunday 12 February 2017

Railfan Report - The Halifax Trip

After clearing the crossing, a swarm of traffic races past CN 9639, shoving containers into the port.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Halifax with my sister. Though most of the time was spent wandering around the downtown area, and checking out whatever tourist shops (and pubs) were open, I did find some time to do some railfanning, though some of it was merely a result of being in the right place at the right time, with camera ready to go. Overall, the weather was cooperative - not really all that cold - and the people were extremely friendly, and the railfanning not bad to boot.

On the second day in town, I rode the ferry to Dartmouth, where CN maintains a small yard next to the Alderney ferry terminal. Primarily serving an auto terminal nearby, the yard mostly handles autoracks with cars to be loaded for import/export. The day I was there was clear and sunny, and I was lucky to catch CN 8843 & 5768 moving around the yard. I believe the 8843 had developed engine trouble as it wasn't running and had a few CN employees inspecting the open hood doors. CN 5768 then went on to do some switching further north.

CN 8843 and 5768 are dwarfed by the Angus L. MacDonald bridge in the background. 

On the third day in Halifax, I was able to catch two different yard movements (one, in not both, was L501 I believe) that were servicing the container terminal at the south end of the peninsula. The first job had GP38-2W #4772, in relatively new paint, and ex-GO Transit GP40-2W #9673 for power and they lifted 42 cars out of the container terminal (loaded containers from arriving container vessels) for movement westward. Later in the day, CN GP40-2W #9639 brought 38 loads down into the terminal. After leading the movement into the yard (the Young street bridge offers a terrific view of the port area), the locomotive ran around the cut of cars before shoving them onto an empty track on the dock. Shortly after CN 9637 arrived, VIA 15, the westbound Ocean departed at 13:00 with VIA 6452, 6437, and 6431. 

CN 9639 makes a runaround move past its' train before shoving it into the container terminal.

The view from Young Street overlooks the container terminal and much of the old docklands in south Halifax.

After getting hosed on the view I had initially planned when CN 9639 showed up with its' train, I had to settle for a slightly more telephoto shot than planned.

I was amazed to discover that Marginal road runs pretty much through the middle of the port terminal. At first I thought the road was strictly for truck traffic bringing containers into the port, but after observing many joggers running down the sidewalk (from the Young St. bridge), it dawned on me that it was open to the public. The road, complete with wide sidewalks) offers a rare and fascinating view of the inner workings of a modern port. Among the things I was able to observe were the Canada Steamship Lines vessel ATLANTIC HURON, a dock where CN was importing rail and loading it on 85' flatcars, a Parish & Heimbecker mill, and an X-ray scanner through which trucks bringing containers into the terminal had to drive. In all, for any student of modern industry, a walk down Marginal road fascinating way to spend a morning.

'Til next time,

CSL's Atlantic Huron was moored in Halifax during our stay in town. The pier just out of view to the right had several loaded CN rail flatcars waiting to be picked up. This view was from the sidewalk on Marginal road.

Looking about 180 from the previous photo, we can see the distinctive Young street bridge in the distance. The tracks in the foreground are used for empty well car storage.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Throwback Thursday - Alberta Gas Chemical Cars Remembered

Tonight's Throwback Thursday is penned by my dad Keith. A slightly different layout for a TT, rather than discussing a single photo from my collection, presented below is a short history of the Alberta Gas Chemicals tank car fleet. 

'Til Next Time,

Undoubtedly, among the most instantly recognizable North American rail photo locations is Morant’s Curve located in the province of Alberta. Named for the legendary Canadian Pacific Railway corporate photographer, the iconic ‘S’ shaped right of way is located NW of Calgary in Banff National Park, adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway. If one happens to venture to Canada’s oil producing province, directions are as follows; travel westward on the Trans-Canada approximately 200 km from Calgary until you reach the Lake Louise turn off. Double back to the first right, Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A), and continue for about 4 km to the Outlet Creek viewpoint. Note that the sign is only visible when traveling eastward. For those so equipped; GPS coordinates: N 51 deg 23.980 min, W 116 deg 07.638 min.

Shown in the above photo (CP Corporate Archives E6736-2) is a trio of CP’s once ubiquitous SD40-2’s at the head end of a methanol unit train. Unfortunately there is no date on the photo. However, there are several helpful timeframe clues. Number 587X can be made out on the rear of the very clean middle unit and all three locomotives are decorated with the smaller ‘Pac Man’ multimark and larger 8” wide diagonal stripes. GMD London delivered SD40-2 nos. 5865 – 5879 in October/November of 1984. As information, diagonal end stripes were revised from 5” to 8” in 1977 and CP standardized on the small MultiMark in 1979.

The unit train is comprised of 30,000 gallon (nominal/usg) non-insulated tank cars, mostly decorated with the large red and white ‘ALBERTA GAS CHEMICALS’ logo. The consist is a mixture of AGCX tank cars, owned by Alberta Gas Chemicals, and PROX tank cars owned by Procor. Note that both AGCX and PROX tank cars sport the large AGC emblem. Note also that four of the PROX tank cars simply have ‘Alberta Gas Chemicals’ spelled out as lettering – see below. Also as shown below, the Procor owned tank cars were originally stenciled with UTLX reporting marks - ‘PROX’ was introduced in 1981. In 1990, Procor purchased the entire AGCX fleet which at the time consisted of fifty cars built by Procor Oakville in 1978 (AGCX 10000-10049) and one hundred and eighty cars produced by Hawker Siddeley Transport in Trenton Nova Scotia, 1981/1982 (AGCX 10050-10229). A quick identifier of the Procor built tank cars, both AGCX and PROX, is the prominent reinforcing ring at each end). The new owner was obligated to paint out the AGC emblem ASAP.

Alberta Gas Chemical was a 1970’s origin subsidiary of Nova Corporation of Alberta, whose beginnings date back to 1954 when it was incorporated as The Alberta Gas Trunk Line Company Ltd (AGTL). Methanex Corporation acquired in whole Nova’s methanol business and operations in 1994.

Date of the photo? As related above, the date bookends are 1984 and 1990. All clues factored in, and based mostly on the very clean appearing 587X and relatively pristine condition of the trailing coupled unit: 1985.

Now for some close-ups:

AGCX 10021 was built by Procor Oakville in August of 1978.

AGCX 10198 was built by Hawker Siddeley Transport (HST) at their Trenton, Nova Scotia manufacturing plant in December of 1981. 
PROX 40655 was built by Union Tank Car at their East Chicago, Indiana facility in August of 1975. Note the ACI label and large COT&S B&W block. Note also, aside from the re-stenciled ‘PROX’ reporting mark, still original paint.

PROX 40825 was built with UTLX reporting marks by Procor Oakville in November of 1974.

UTLX 46491 was built by Procor at their Oakville, Ontario manufacturing plant in June of 1974. Above the tank test information on the right hand side the car is stenciled ‘METHANOL ONLY’. This car would be remarked to ‘PROX’ in 1988. Note difference in the COT&S block compared to PROX 40655 above. Given the limited amount of wheel spray, the methanol hauler may be on its first trip from the factory. Note also the similarity to AGCX 10021 below.


Wednesday 25 January 2017

Weekend Project – Athearn Tank Car “Repaint” (100th Post!)

Over the weekend I turned an Athearn RTR UTC 30,000-gal tank car that was originally decorated for DODX into one decorated for Procor (PROX). 

Lately my free time has been reduced a bit due to work demands, so I thought I’d attempt more small projects that I could reasonably accomplish in the span of a weekend. This past weekend I wrapped up the first of what will hopefully be a series of regular updates on this sort of thing. And, as it turns out, this is my 100th post - how time flies!

This week’s project involves redecorating an Athearn RTR Union Tank Car prototype 30,000 gal general purpose tank car. I say redecorating because I didn’t actually repaint the car. Instead, I took a ready to run model that was painted for the US Department of Defense (DODX) and used a Badger air eraser to scrub off the unwanted lettering. The air eraser is essentially a small grit blaster that can use baking soda or aluminum oxide as a blasting media (I use baking soda, it’s much cheaper than aluminum oxide). I carefully masked the areas to be removed, which allowed for preservation of most of the car’s original finish. I specifically chose the DODX car to start with as it had substantially less graphics to start with compared to other paint schemes of the same car. Also, it’s somewhat less desirable, so it was much cheaper to buy than some of the other RTR schemes.

After masking the areas to be removed, I blasted off the unwanted lettering outdoors. Doing so does take a sizeable air compressor due to the amount of air required, at relatively high pressure. After I was done, I rinsed the car with water and let it dry overnight. I then used Microscale’s set 87-1466 (Procor/PROX, Various Tank Cars) to reapply the desired lettering. The set is a great improvement over some of their previous offerings for Procor equipment, but still contains a number of inaccuracies. Using the air blaster, I was able to preserve some of the original graphics such as the “2 INCH HF COMP SHOES” on the side sill and the COTS decals. Lettering was pretty straightforward, using prototype photos found on Chris Vanderheide’s Canadian Freight Car Gallery website. I found a car only two numbers away; I chose PROX 44815 since the number was already aligned in the decal set and wouldn’t require any splicing of individual digits. In prototype, the car is used to carry condensate, essentially a thinning agent used in crude oil pipelines to improve viscosity. The real-life car was built in 2007 at UTC’s now-closed East Chicago, IN plant, and is one of many so-called “short GP30’s” in the fleet (General Purpose, 30,000-gal capacity, less than 60’ in length over pulling faces).  I enjoy decal work since it’s easy to see the results of one’s work, and in this case, pretty quick; the car was decaled in less than an hour. After decaling I used Testor’s gloss coat to seal the decals to the car. I will eventually weather the car lightly, as I model up until 2010, so the car would still be relatively clean and shiny in my modeling era.

‘Til next time,