Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Takin' it to the basement

The trackside time has pretty much dried up for me, since there is so little happening in Ottawa to begin with, but with the stay-at-home orders, it's even tougher. I've been thinking of things to share in this strange time. I have a model railway in my basement, which doesn't receive a lot of attention in busy times. But it's seen a little bit of love in the last few weeks.

I have been trying to figure out how to take a decent shot of the set, which is far from finished. The walls of my den are also adorned with pictures and framed copies of some of my old newspaper stories from my journalism days. It makes photos pretty tough. There's also a lot of bare wood still showing and a lot of unfinished track work, particularly in my rail yard.

So, I decided I would content myself with a few shots of a few test trains that I have been operating, just to ensure my main line is somewhat operational. So far, my operations have gone quite smoothly, with almost no derailments. That's a real step up from my days of model railroading back in my teens, when persistent operational problems were enough to make me quit the hobby for long spells.

Here's a shot of my test train, led by Chessie System SD40-2 7614. It is passing by a spur that will serve some sort of plastic or petrochemical customer in the near future. I have a storage tank, tankcare unloading platform and a general purpose industrial building.

Right now, I have some intermodal cars parked there for no reason at all. Possibly my railway is relying on car storage fees before its official start-up. Those container wells were actually given to me. They don't really fit in with what I'm doing, but they look okay parked.

The covered hopper I picked up used a few months ago. Someone tried to apply their own West Virginian livery on the car alongside the Chessie cat, but I was able to get rid of the hand-drawn logo for the most part. What's left looks like old graffiti, which is okay by me. I used to see these hoppers an awful lot on the Sarnia Sub when I was a kid.

I should mention that the SD40 was an engine which did not prowl the Sarnia Subdivision, but I like to use it anyway, as it was a Christmas gift from my parents many years ago. I am not one to strictly follow prototype rules. I'm not sure what part of the old CSX Canadian operations I am modelling, but I am trying to blend a few of its operations in and around Southwestern Ontario.

My diesel roster also features a B&O GP35-2 and a Seaboard GP38-2. There was sometimes a blend of pre-CSX power on the Sarnia Sub before the CSX units began to take over. The Seaboard units were exceptionally rare, but they were not unseen, in my experience.

I also recently finished a secondary spur that ends at my station. The spur now houses an old Canadian Pacific baggage car, a wood box car, a flat car and a gondola, which will act as a MoW consist, if I ever feel the urge to operate one of these trains.

It reminds me of this MoW consist I once captured in Sarnia. In fact, this photo below was my inspiration.

I would be happy to share some thoughts about my model railway endeavors, but rest assured that I intend to continue my focus on real world railways when the world opens back up.

Take care. Stay healthy.


Heritage St. Clair said...

Greetings Michael from back home! -- St. Clair Township, which you would have known as Moore Township. One of the volunteers in the Train Room of Moore Museum, Mooretown wonders if Chinook Chemicals of Sombra Township had their own tank cars. We haven't found anyone locally who can remember whether or not they did. We need to tap your expertise. Do you recall if they did? If yes, a photo would be great if you have one available. Thank you. Ian Mason, Secretary, Heritage St. Clair, municipal heritage committee of St. Clair Township

Michael said...

Hi Ian! There is a Facebook group dedicated to the history of the C&O/Chessie System/CSX railway line. My guess is no, Chinook did not have its own tank cars. I didn't see any when I lived in Corunna and watched the trains or when I went to school in Port Lambton in the 1980s. I will ask those in the group if they know. Stay tuned!

Steve Boyko said...

Hi Michael, I'd love to see more of your model railway! It's always interesting to me to see what thought process others go through to plan their basement empires.

Michael said...

Steve -- Yes that will become a focus in the next little while, since I really don't have many great options for actual railfanning outside at the moment. Stay tuned, as they say!

Michael said...

Ian -- To answer your question, no Chinook didn't have their own tank cars, but they did lease tank cars from leasing companies and some of these cars at some point had the company's name printed on the cars. However, the consensus is that none of the cars had the swaying tree logo, which you and I remember so well. One friend told me there was a picture in the book "Canadian Railways Color Guide To Freight & Passenger Equipment Volume 1: Ontario & East, Regionals & Short Lines" by John Riddell. The picture in this book had a shot of a Chinook-stencilled tank car, but with no logo. The folks who used to watch the old CSX line say the cars at that plant were usually grey and leased from one of three leasing companies. I hope this information helps. No one has yet to find an actual personal photo of these cars yet. I will let you know if I come across one of them in my travels on the Interwebs. Keep up the good work at the Moore Museum. I was there recently and it's great! One of my favourite community museums.