Friday, March 24, 2017

CNR 1983 Kingston



Here are many things you will no longer see in Kingston.




Conveniently located near an approach-lit intermediate signal, Hillview crossing provided a quick place to stop and view trains on the way home from work. It was the original crossing at Collins Bay. The distant crossing just to the west - at Collins Bay Road - is now the only crossing which remains here. In the past, the sharp curve and two crossings for which to observe and whistle, kept engineers busy.

An enduring attraction for engineers, descending to the level of this bay on Lake Ontario, is 'drawbar hollow' - farther to the west. 

On a similarly beautiful afternoon, I stopped here on the way home from work. An eastbound - like this one - went into emergency as it passed. The train's tailend rolled by ... but without its caboose. After puzzling over this for a few seconds, the answer could be seen, arriving from the west. Led by some gondola cars came the tailend section of the train.

Somewhere in overlength Rule M is the warning about expecting 'the movement of trains, engines or cars at any time, on any track, in either direction'.



Seen during the early afternoon at the Kingston station is this self-contained old-tyme consist.



As the sun sets in the summer warmth and humidity, Train No 1 arrives at Kingston.
The headend crew is operating their air conditioning tonight.



As regular train watchers survey No 1, modern No 46 arrives.
To quote another regular watcher, as he left:
'You see one, you've seen them all'.



Rare at any time.
I think I have photographed the elusive drawing room.



It's dark and grainy, but fewer and fewer solar photons are
refracting their way through the layers of glass of the long lens.

With only the soft whoosh of compressed air, the tailend cars will begin to move.

If one imagines a barking, whistling, driver-slipping machine - hammering out soot and cinders on the headend ...
it is readily understood why the higher-priced accommodation was placed at the tailend ...
way back when summer climate control was provided solely by opening windows.



This is what the cab activity looked like on another evening.
Below is a view inside the cab of a similar model.


from: Operating Manual 1600HP Freight-Passenger Locomotive; May 1951; Montreal Locomotive Works.



No 56 arrives, viewed and considered by two regular, distinguished train watchers.



Above, may be No 56 on an equipment-balancing evening.
(or No 68 on a low-traffic night)



In the old days ...

Before every single Chief Executive Officer was 'exceptional' ...
and before rail CEOs received more 'free' stock options to get rid of 'unproductive' rail ...
Queens had tracks 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Train 318/317 was a regular visitor to Track 4 - usually with local work to do in each direction.
Tonight's consist includes some welded rail cars.

He's lined, and probably waiting for No 69 to clear the block (just guessing) ...
and 'getting his light' will start the crossing protection.





By this time in the evening, the mosquitoes were becoming quite persistent.

But a good time had been had by all those congregating at the east end of the parking lot.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Confederation Train Encounters


This last post about the Confederation Train
looks at our two encounters with the train
and some records made by others.

*  *  *

First Encounter 
September 2, 1967 - Dorval, CPR Back Track



The date of our first encounter with the Confederation Train is lost to history. This is probably early in September (perhaps Sat Sep 2) and as close to daybreak as possible to avoid the crowds.

This is at Dorval looking west. Today's Autoroute 20 is beyond ... across both sets of tracks. The CPR is closer to the camera. Montreal's main airport is to the camera's right. This back track lines up with the straight section of Cardinal Ave. The parking lot is probably that of today's Dorval commuter station.


My father recorded a person entering the
Confederation Train Motive Power Records and Tools Office.

As described in the other sections, this must be either a Motive Power Attendant
... or a well-dressed thief stealing the CNR's precious gaskets and valve packing.


Everyone always loves old automobiles! 

Looking way down the train consist, almost all the passenger cars visible here are for museum support and staff accommodation ... The museum entrance would have been 7-8 cars back - near that structure. 

Another photo shows the line of people forming along the sidewalk of Cardinal Ave. I remember there being a wooden walkway 'bridge' to convey visitors across the ever-present railway ditch. On the left railing of the 'bridge' was a button, with an invitation to press it. So we did - a few times. Nothing. It was only as we left that spot, as the line advanced ... that we noticed there was a correlation between pressing the button and the sounding of the 'O Canada' whistle on the 1867 ... the whistle bells were facing away from us and they were about 8-10 cars away.

... Located midway between departing DC-8s and 707s ... and a four-lane freeway ... this 'O Canada' was not a 'railway whistle - prohibited on Montreal Island, except to prevent an accident' ... it was just museum advertising. The loud ambient sounds probably prevented us from noticing we were operating the whistle sooner. 

So far, this series of posts has taken little note of the reason for the creation of the Confederation Train and the Caravans ... a quick tour through Canadian history ... from ancient landmass to the space age. The exhibits were state-of-the-art 1960s museology.

The idea was for people to look ... then KEEP MOVING. Often multiple car-lengths of visitors were lined up and waiting in the heat, cold or pouring rain.


from: New York Times; Jan 15, 1967.



It seems that $1 million, with inflation, is about $7.3 million in 2017.

The CNR must have subsidized some of the 'other costs' as part of its Centennial role as 'The People's Railway'.

Ektachrome slide, LC Gagnon.

If you'd like to see a nice collection of 'newspaper quality' black and white photos of the Confederation Train exhibits. You should check my link following the next two samples. I have reproduced a couple in low resolution to get you interested ...







Confederation Train at Kingston; Courtesy of Eric Gagnon.
My spouse remembered seeing the Confederation Train on the Kingston waterfront. My brother subsequently found the photo above. The former Kingston and Pembroke station is to the camera's left and this park was once a railway yard. The tall building is Kingston's Holiday Inn - built on the pier of a demolished grain elevator. You will notice again the use of snow fence for crowd control. 

A few years later, we were aboard the footplate of Alan Pegler's Flying Scotsman locomotive which was displayed at this location. It was touring North America with its train of British passenger rolling stock.

*  *  *

Wouldn't you know it? ... The Confederation Train version of history was controversial!
I found a few references to the following event during my research.

Here were some of the risks inherent in presenting
a quick 'common' account of our Canadian history in the 1960s ...


L'idée de décolonisation dans la pensée et l'action de Pierre Bourgault (1960-1970);
Gaston Côté, MA Thesis; Université de Montréal.


*  *  *


Second Encounter
November 24-26, 1967 - Lachine Wharf Spur.



An officer, who may be a member of the Lachine city police force (then again, the shoulder flash could well be CN Police), maintains his cold and lonely vigil at the headend of the train. An unmarked (except perhaps for police garage brushmarks) cruiser stands by.

The wooden snow fence seemed to be the universal crowd control medium across Canada. At the right, in red, is one of thousands of kids who posed in front of the power. Consider the site preparation for this stop. At the left, a sibling leaves the temporary washroom facilities. Power and street lighting for the area is supplied from the new wooden power pole. 



Above, about two car-lengths of visitors are in line and boarding the first exhibit car. They will continue through the museum toward the sun and the tailend of the train. Grading, lighting and fencing have all been set up along the Lachine Wharf Spur. In the foreground, evidently not trusting the efforts to keep patrons high and dry, some Anglokid seems well-prepared for any flooding.



... Views of some of the exhibit cars ...




The Confederation Train tailend at Rue Notre Dame in Lachine.
Another lonely officer stands near an old-style Montreal Transportation Commission bus stop sign.


A nice summary of key elements of this museum (and its controversies) follows.


from: New York Times; April 16, 1967.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

1967 Confederation Train - Motive Power Attendant, Maintenance Locations



This is the last of a three-part series on Confederation Train motive power documents.
... A few years ago I purchased a duo-tang containing forms used for the Confederation Train.

A fourth post will cover 'encounters' with the Train.



This is probably the cover page of the original document,
rather than an interpretive sheet used to sell the collection.
... The paper used matches a number of the originals.

Notice the 'ready for Expo 67' Turbo.



















At Kingston, the Train was exhibited at the downtown waterfront (spousal observation).








Ektachrome slide; LC Gagnon.

The sun sets early during a late November afternoon.

The second to tailend car of the Confederation Train sits on the Lachine Wharf Spur.
On this car, the 'display car white' blends back into the train's overall blue and purple scheme.

Some detail on the Lachine Wharf Spur and the Montreal CNR track system circa 1968 follows.

Based on the information in the following employee timetable, probably:

The headend of the Train was at 25th Avenue,
the tailend was just clear of Notre Dame.



The tailend of the east-facing Confederation Train was just short of the curve into the wharf.

As you can tell, my father obtained this timetable 'in the wild'
and the liquids it was saturated in have
'bent' the paper so a sharp focus is not always possible.


The Lachine Spur can be found in the bottom, right corner below.


Other interesting operations are shown on the back cover of the timetable.



Saturday, February 25, 2017

1967 Confederation Train - Documents and Steam Generators


This post continues to examine Confederation Train sheets and logs purchased years ago at a railway show. The Confederation Train was a modern museum on wheels which travelled across Canada during Canada's Centennial of Confederation, 1967. 

A third and final post will include the most interesting materials from this series.

The first pages reproduced below come from an annual handbook put out by the Government. The publication was produced for at least four decades and was written for a general audience. It covered all aspects of Canada: its citizens, industry, natural features, culture, etc. 

... The editions issued in certain years provided greater emphasis on different subjects and prominent projects, for example: 1940s, Trans-Canada Air Lines (originally part of the CNR); late 1950s, nuclear technology development, and Canada's sharing of this knowledge with other countries for nuclear medicine and power generation.

The 1967 edition of the handbook was at least double the usual thickness as Canadian history and progress over a century were being described. 

In 1967, over half of all Canadians were under 25 years of age. Many Canadian adults had been shaken up by World War Two and many people were still alive who had experienced the Great War. In the late 1950s arrived a new menace - the threat of nuclear war wiping out all of civilization's progress on the planet.

However, for one reason or another, in 1967, most Canadians realized they were very fortunate indeed. As you will infer, a great deal of hope was invested in the potential of the youth of Canada. 

From the Federal Government's perspective, the pages below describe how we will celebrate in 1967. You'll notice that the Confederation Train (and the truck caravans) represented a large proportion of the national program of celebration.


from: Canada Handbook 1967; Dominion Bureau of Statistics.


from: Canada Handbook 1967; Dominion Bureau of Statistics.


from: Canada Handbook 1967; Dominion Bureau of Statistics.


from: Canada Handbook 1967; Dominion Bureau of Statistics.

*  *  *

Here is another tranche of the Confederation Train motive power documents.
Below, my practice of moving from less interesting to more interesting items continues.


















The CNR steam generator car and locomotive (6509 renumbered 1967) orientation details follow next.
Last is the CPR leader - 1411 renumbered 1867.








*  *  *

Steam Generators

In many cases, looking for 'history' on the internet is an exercise in nostalgia. Internauts seek out information and artifacts which remind them of experiences, now lost in the past, which they remember with fondness. For those people, it is the papers reproduced here which may be of greatest interest. 

People like Rolly Martin (whom I met exactly 40 years ago, as I write this) could explain and discuss these technologies, and their experiences with them, for hours. 

For example, in the last years of the operation of The Canadian along Lake Superior, during cold weather, VIA would supply train riders whose job it was to 'keep steam up' in circa 1955 diesel-electric locomotives so train heat could be maintained and the passengers kept comfortable. 

One night, Rolly and his mate got a call from their conductor requesting more heat. As I have written before, Rolly left the 6400-class engine, went back to the 30-year-old trailing unit ... and the VIA train rider witnessed a former CPR steam locomotive fireman getting a steam generator plenty hot ... there were no more requests made for more heat for the balance of the trip. Every time Rolly told me that story over the years, I sensed that he had derived a lot of satisfaction from that single event.


For everybody else ...

... That is, for people too young to have be running VIA trains in the 1980s, or for general-interest readers of the future, there may be an interest in understanding WHY steam generators existed in the first place.

Back around the time of Canadian Confederation, passenger cars were made of wood. In winter, they were heated by stoves burning wood, and later coal or coke. In a simple derailment or in a collision, the wooden cars would suffer damage and/or upset - often trapping some passengers inside. Frequently, the stove would fall over during the accident, setting the wreckage on fire, and the trapped passengers would be killed in the resulting blaze.

In the decades which followed, steam locomotive technology developed and they began burning coal instead of wood. Because of public outrage - stirred up by newspapers - and government regulatory action ... a way to safely pipe steam back through passenger cars, to operate steam radiators, was developed and applied to passenger trains.

Larger, more powerful locomotives, which could generate surplus steam through the use of more energy-dense coal, AND the development of train steam systems to heat (and eventually, cool) cars made it possible to eliminate fuel burning stoves on passenger cars. As well, newer passenger cars - built primarily out of steel - protected passengers more effectively. 

In the 1920s, Canada and the US had a good supply of these modern steam-heated cars and they continued to be built well into the 1950s. These cars might have useful lives of 30 to 50 years. 

However, in the late 1940s, many railways got into a money-saving headlong rush to replace labour-intensive energy-hog steam engines with diesel-electrics. The diesels had no need to make steam for propulsion. 

The existing passenger car steam heat systems were efficient enough that it didn't make economic sense to scrap this equipment. To facilitate diesel locomotive sales, the builders ensured that many new diesels could be equipped with 'steam generators' inside for passenger train service. 

The CNR, with greater car heating needs than many southern US railways, refined steam heating technology a little more ... by developing separate cars designed solely for the purpose of generating steam.

The Confederation Train had both a CNR steam generator car and locomotives with on-board steam generators. 

*  *  *

Steam Generator Operating Details


For both the people who knew them, and for people interested in understanding steam generators better, I have included the most helpful diagrams and descriptions I could find from a particular manual. I think this is probably representative of the equipment to be found on the Confederation Train.

When viewing the ornate colour diagram of the generator's various systems, be sure to slide all the way over to the right to see all of it.

Forty years later, there was a renaissance, of sorts, in the publishing of steam generator documentation. VIA produced some plasticized fan-fold pamphlets for quick reference by train crew members who hadn't apprenticed as CPR locomotive firemen.



from: Vapor-Clarkson Steam Generators, Operator's Manual; March 1953; Vapor Clarkson, Chicago.


from: Vapor-Clarkson Steam Generators, Operator's Manual; March 1953; Vapor Clarkson, Chicago.


from: Vapor-Clarkson Steam Generators, Operator's Manual; March 1953; Vapor Clarkson, Chicago.


from: Vapor-Clarkson Steam Generators, Operator's Manual; March 1953; Vapor Clarkson, Chicago.

Rhetorically, if these complex machines were kept operating in VIA's CNR and CPR heritage equipment for about 40 years ... is it any wonder that imperfect maintenance and operating technique ... and just plain wear and tear ... made VIA's winter trains subject to uncomfortable temperature fluctuations before the completion of HEP conversion (electric heat)?