An Exceptionally Quick One…

Someone is still upset with LeBron James and chose a railway car to express it.

Warning: this contains some salty language.  Courtesy of The Basketball Jones

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Whitby Model Train Show 2012

A relatively quick one on the Whitby Model Train Show from November 17th.  Many of the usual suspects were present (Belleville, Ganaraska, Miner Junction, etc.), so here are a few I hadn’t seen before.


The Erin Mills N scale setup was very good, lots of detail and interesting components.  I’m fascinated by how much you can do with very little space when it comes to N scale, but also by how dynamic it can be when used on a big layout.  Obviously, I still love my HO, but look at the track work here…


And here…


and here…


I’m looking forward to maybe seeing them again at shows in the future!  But N scale wasn’t the smallest at this show – for the first time here on The Walker Express, observe the awesome power of Z scale!


Okay, maybe not.  But it was very small and neat to see up close.  For those looking for time period accuracy, look no further than the Pickering club’s N scale layout. featuring your standard, common place T-Rex!  Watch out GO commuters!


The neatest thing for me was the N Scale work of Jerry Randall and his Ontario Northland collection:



This guy has got some serious talent and dedication and I was very pleased to make his acquaintance.  I opted not to try and shoot close-ups of each of his pieces, because he’s already done a superb job of doing so on his own website.  Hopefully there will be more for him to model in the future!

With that, I was just about finished.  I don’t think there are any more shows I’ll be going to until February when Ganaraska is on out in Port Hope.  Until then, maybe I’ll spend a bit more quality time down in the basement and get some actual work done on my own layout.  New Falkenburg, here I come!

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CP Holiday Train 2012 – Oshawa

My wife and I took our daughter to see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train at Oshawa this year.  You may recall that we went last year, just the two of us and had a bit of fun.  This year, we were joined by my parents, as well as my sister and her husband and daughter.  It was quite cold and the crowd was a bit less large this time, although I believe we got there earlier this time than last.  The train approached from the east about five minutes earlier than scheduled, led by CP 9815.



Followed immediately by the decorated boxcars…





I attempted a long shot of the first four cars…


At the same time, an eastbound container train rolled by, taking the track behind the Holiday Train but going faster than I expected.  No shots of it, exactly, but you can see it passing in some of the shots above and below.



Santa was on board, of course.  He disappeared back into the train after it came to a full stop.  Old time maroon passenger cars brought up the rear, as per last year.


A number of musicians were on board, starting with the Brothers Dube.  Here’s a “concert” shot if I’ve ever seen one.


And with that, we were on our way.  Much too cold to stay, especially since it wasn’t really geared towards adults or very young kids.  But it was a lot of fun and nice to share with my family.  Hopefully it’ll be back again next year!

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A Quick One – VIA 913 at Harwood

I stopped in at the Harwood Avenue overpass on November 17th to try and catch a quick eastbound VIA.  I could see that I hadn’t missed it, since the eastbound signal on the south track was still open.


It timed out nicely, so I only had to wait a few minutes before 44 was coming my way.


As it approached, I was able to zoom in and see that it was being led by VIA 913.



And the rear shot, now with the south track signal closed.


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Developments at Grace

I try and drive by Grace Chemical every couple of days to see if there is a car on one of their tracks.  I haven’t seen anything there since June 2011 and there have been de-railers on both of their tracks for sometime, but you never know.  The other day I saw that they had fenced off a large section of their rail area and I feared the worst: they were pulling up the tracks.  I’m pleased to report that it doesn’t necessarily seem like that’s the case.  It looks like they might be doing something to the building or the track bed, but the tracks look like they’re still in place and not all the track is covered by fence.

Anyway, I started shooting from the north side.  You can see piles of some kind of aggregate, along with caution tape and snow fencing.


There were some interesting looking tools (?) lying around, such as this thing.


Here’s the area from the south.  Much nicer with the sun from behind me.


As I mentioned, there have been de-railers on the tracks.  I finally have a shot of one – they’ve been there for months but I’ve been a little bit lazy.


One more, as I headed back to my car. 


I’d like to say that a guy in an SUV rolled up about twenty seconds after I parked and just sat in his car the whole time I was there.  He wasn’t watching me, since I kept one eye on him while shooting, but it didn’t make it any less creepy.

Anyone heard anything about Grace Chemicals in Ajax?  Google isn’t terribly helpful and I don’t have anyone on the inside there (as I kind of do at some of the other places like Mead).

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A Quick One – VIA 920 at Harwood

I was out and about on October 13th and decided to setup at the Harwood Avenue overpass to catch one of the morning westbound VIA trains as they headed for Toronto.  This day was interesting, weather-wise, with spots of rain, snow, sun and cloud.  I was hoping for a bit of sun while shooting and got just that – a bit.  I heard little action related to the coming VIA, more for CN, but sure enough it came along.  It hit the detector in east Whitby, already at 89 MPH having just left Oshawa station.  Here it is splitting the signals at mile 304 on the Kingston sub.


It was flying at this point, but I managed to get a fairly clear one just as it came close to the bridge.


VIA 920, which I hadn’t seen outside of being part of this consist last year.  That was it for this part of the day.  I heard a bit more action on the scanner, but that’s for another day.

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Barrie Collingwood Railway


For my wife and I, Thanksgiving sometimes means a trip north to Meaford for dinner and a stay at her grandparent’s home.  As per my standard MO, my goal is to find any trains or train related stuff en route.  I previously covered the Owen Sound and Collingwood area in 2011, so I decided to take a different approach this time and seek out more active rails. I plotted us a route that would go through Utopia, HQ of the Barrie Collingwood Railway and interchange with Canadian Pacific at mile 58 of the Mactier subdivision.


Here’s the view to the north of the Mactier sub.


And to the south, with the junction and diamond between the Mactier and the BCRY, formerly the CN Meaford sub.


The shop for the BCRY is at mile 7.5 of the former Meaford sub, as indicated by this signal.  It’s misidentified on some websites as being mile 75.


We continued on towards Angus, Ontario, where one of the major crossings exists at mile 10.65, Meaford sub.  Here’s the signal box.


And the cross buck with the mileage on it.


The view to the north west.


And the south east.


The black shape in the distance is someone walking down the tracks.  While this doesn’t get much service any more, it’s still ill advised to do this on any train tracks – don’t trespass!  Also in the area was this interesting sign.


I’ve never seen something like that before.  I wonder what made them have full service at such a specific time.  In any event, we continued on, almost following the tracks all the way to Stayner.  When I was through here in April 2011, there were rail cars in this area.  With Collingwood removing their support from the BCRY, service was cut off for most customers west of Utopia.  As you can see from the condition of the track just before mile 22.8.




Here’s the signal box and cross buck at highway 26 in the heart of Stayner



With the basic abandonment of this track between Utopia and Collingwood, will we see the province/Metrolinx step up and buy the right of way to hold the tracks in place.  Some of this stretch is over 150 years old, meaning it needs serious work to be used for anything other than shortline operation.  And while some would say that the need for higher speed freight or any speed passenger service to this area is in the distant to possibly non-existent future, these rights of way need to be preserved.  The rail trail between Collingwood and Meaford and Owen Sound is nice to have and effectively holds the right of way in case of the future, but leaving the tracks in place serves as a reminder to all that future train service should be expected.  Anything less is a waste of opportunity.

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Level Crossings I’ve Known… – Havelock Sub, Mile 117.14


As I mentioned before, my family and I went up to the Kawartha’s for a week after Labour Day.  While on one of our trips into Peterborough, I stopped our vehicle near one of the bridges that crosses the water that runs up through the middle of the city.  This spot is close to the locks and has a really classic looking swing bridge.  Here’s a direct shot to the east, bridge in the open position.


One of the bridge again, kind of framed by the trees.


The westbound view.  Perhaps one day we’ll see a version of this view from the inside of a passenger car.  One can dream, right?


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A Quick One – A Sunday Northlander

I was at work on September 16th and brought my camera with me to catch a southbound Northlander.  I went out earlier than the usual time, but didn’t mind waiting for it.  As she approached my usual viewing point, south of the siding at Oriole, I got a bit of an arty shot of the signal with the engine in the distance.


I couldn’t quite tell from that distance, but as it rolled closer, I saw that it was 1809.


And the money shot as she passes by the signal, the south entrance to the siding and the remains of the CN Leaside spur.


Not to get too morose, but it’s a real shame we probably won’t see any more engines with this paint scheme on it.  Anyway, it was a great evening for shooting and I was glad to get another shot of this great train.

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One Last Northlander…

Having been unable to see the very last Northlanders on September 28th, I really wanted to see the return trip of the very last Toronto bound Northlander.  I asked on the Railfanning The Ontario Northland Facebook group and “inside man” James Hoffman let me know that it would be heading out in the morning of the 29th.  I took my daughter with me and off we went to Ravenshoe Road, where I shot the Northlander the last time before she was born.

I setup where I did that previous time and kept my scanner on and I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After about 45 minutes and after checking Facebook, I saw that they had hit Doncaster at 9:42am, when there was an expected departure from Union at 9:30am, so I thought that I was too late.  The scanner helped me here, sort of, having told me that they would be going into the siding at Pefferlaw, to the north, to wait for a southbound freight.  They sounded clear and close, so I figured they had gone by, slowly, just before I got to Ravenshoe Road.  In something of a panic, I took off north to try and catch them in the siding before I missed my chance forever.

Naturally, it was as I took off up Park Road that I heard the detector a few miles south go off, reporting a train going by at 66 MPH – the speed of a passenger train.  I cursed myself for being so impatient, but continued on at a rocket pace to try and get to a crossing at Old Homestead Road.  The distance was farther than I thought, but I finally made it.  Here’s the map:


As I hit the crossing, I looked to the south and saw the consist slowly coming up the tracks.  I pulled off to the side of the road and leapt out of the car with my camera.



It was going at a nice slow pace by the time it reached the crossing.  My car (and sleeping daughter) sit shadowed in the foreground.


A wave from the engineer as they rolled by.  I think he probably noticed my Ontario Northland t-shirt.


A quick shot of 1800, not as well framed.


And the going-away shot of the engines and the cafe car.


It looks like they wyed the engines, but not the cars, as the APU brought up the tail.


And disappearing around the corner…


Then it was gone and I was left to shoot the crossbuck…


The south-west view of the Bala sub, green signal for the southbound freight that the ONR crew would encounter before continuing their journey onto the Newmarket sub and home.


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