Friday, November 30, 2007

Fairbanks-Morse and Company

Portland Oregon, December 6, 1959. My buddy Mike left Prince Rupert and moved to Portland just ahead of us moving back to Seattle in 1959. Later, the family loaded up and drove down from Seattle to Portland to see Mike. As predictable, it turned into a railroad photo shoot for us!

We captured First Class #17 rumbling in from her afternnoon run down the Columbia River at St. John’s Junction heading for Portland. Having been “weened” on GMD’s this was like a trip to Candy Land seeing a Fairbanks-Morse lash-up.

My Dad was a diesel engineer on deep sea tug boats. And he had nothing nice to say about the FM OP (Opposed Piston) engine breaking down mid-way between Astoria and Honolulu. As he put it, you had to separate two motors to get to the problem.

And as further evidence of this misadventure by FM was a statement by another friend of mine who lived in Portland, whose Dad was a UP engineer, giving him rides from Portland to the division point at Hinkle. He wrote me that “If we left Portland with four units on line, and arrived at Hinkle, 184 miles, with three units on line, it was a very good run!”

The Erie-built was the first streamlined, cab-equipped dual service
diesel locomotive built by Fairbanks-Morse, introduced as direct competition to such models as the ALCO PA and EMD E-units. As F-M lacked the space to manufacture the units in their own plant, the work was subcontracted out to General Electric, which produced the locomotives at its Erie, Pennsylvania facility, thereby giving rise to the name "Erie-built."

The unit's 2,000 hp, ten-cylinder
opposed piston engine prime mover provided ample power to its A1A-A1A wheelset. F-M retained the services of renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy to create a visually impressive carbody for the Erie-built. The initial windshield configuration utilized rectangular glass panes, whereas those units manufactured after March, 1947 (such as Santa Fe #90 and #90B) received curved glass.

Most units rode on conventional General Steel Castings
trucks straight from the factory, excepting those destined for the New York Central (including NYC #5000) which were fitted with specialized assemblies. At least one Erie-built (KCS #61C) was later repowered with an EMD 567 series diesel engine.

Looking at these photographs I have a few questions that maybe my readers can help me answer. #1. What is inside that huge nose? #2. It seems to be a sizable cab; what is the layout for engineer, fireman, and head-end brakeman? And finally, #3. What is behind that huge aft radiator? I look forward to hearing from you!

Railroad Stuff: UP656A, Fairbanks-Morse, 2,000hp. Built as UP 706, April 1948, sn L1138. One of only 13 built; 8 "A" 5 "B" Scrapped in March, 1961.

"My Dad's Trains"

Port Townsend, November 30, 2007. Whilst researching a new article on railroad derricks and cranes, I tripped over a wonderful blog entitled "My Dad's Trains."

A fellow named Bill "started the blog to share (his) Dad's pictures he took before (he) was born and I thought I'd share them so folks could remember a quieter peaceful time, and when the railways still had a personality."

Why I found this blog so exciting is, that it is about the experience's of a young man, who, like me, was learning about and riding locomotives, within a few years of my experience, also on the Canadian National, but in Nova Scotia, as far from Prince Rupert BC as one can get!

His entry "Cab Ride" April 8, 2007 was electrifying for me. It reflects almost word for word what I experienced on my first cab ride, right down to the view of the Steam Generator Car!

Highly recommended - give it a view!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Special Buick Special!

Interbay Roundhouse, Seattle, January 1960. Wow! What a find, tucked away in the back of the Great Northern roundhouse. A 1955 Buick Special inspection car. Well, what the heck, if you've got to do a track inpection, might as well do it in style!

I managed to uncover a covey of old time motor vehicle inspection cars, check it out!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Static Display #2: Rayonier #10

Forks, Washington, June 16, 1961. On a family tour of the Olympic Peninsula, we stumbled across, in a wonderfully open display, Rayonier #10, a three-truck Shay, without an ugly chain link fence enclosure!

At the time, I didn't know diddly about the Shay and it's place in American Logging History. It wasn't until 25 years latter when my ex and I spent our honeymoon at Cass, West Virginia, did I come to learn about these magnificent machines.

All kinds of accolades have been bestowed upon Ephraim Shay and his magnificent machine. I have bestowed "Singer sewing machine" as my adoration for these machines. And I began collecting HO brass of the three major players in the geared logging locomotive scene. The Heisler and Climax were also remarkable machines, but the Shay is my favorite. As I watch my videos taken in Cass, I am still hypnotized by these "sidewinders!"

Rayonier ran extensive logging operations on the Olympic Peninsula for many years, terminating it's rail operations in the '60's. I would encourage you to visit Andrew Craig Magnuson's very informative web site to learn about Rayonier's logging operations, including details maps, and what happened to this locomotive since I saw her in 1961!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Self Propelled Rail Cars

Fort Bragg California, October 1966. I was driving to Seattle on leave (stationed at Hamilton AFB from 1963 – 1967), choosing the 101 over I-5, which was still under construction. Plus that, the 101 is more scenic!

I ran across this little gem, making a heck of a racket at the grade crossing. Looks like a revenue load! This is California Western M-100, a self-propelled rail bus. She was purchased to carry passengers and loggers along the line running from the famous Mendocino Coast inland to Willits, California. Manufactured by Edwards Rail Car Company. Someone told me this was a one-of-a-kind circa 1925, and earned the skunk logo because - they stank!

Many railroads, especially logging roads, came up with some sort of self propelled rail car that did not require a locomotive and tender, especially for “local” runs. The concept reached it’s zenith with the Budd RDC’s rail diesel cars, offering a full range of self propelled cars in several imaginative “floor plans!”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Williams Lake: Then and Now

Williams Lake B.C., November 1959. Managed to shoot some locomotives here when the northbound freight stopped to set off a string of cars. I recall it was about 20 degrees (f) and little time was spent exploring, family patiently (?) waiting for me in the car.

Pacific Great Eastern began as the Howe Sound and Northern, later renamed Pacific Great Eastern after the BC Government took over operation. Working north through the Cariboo County of Central BC, steel finally arrived at Williams Lake in 1919.

I found this photo of a steam train arriving from North Vancouver:

Built as a “Standard #3 Station” it was completed in 1919-20. The station now contains an art gallery!

You know, it’s easy to roll off important dates when things change. As an example, BC Rail gave way to privatization on 0001 hours, July 15, 2004 when Canadian National became the operator. That’s the easy part. What about the locomotives, do you repaint them or let them reach their “natural” passing? What about the people? Well I found a document that sheds some light on such a complex turnover. Scroll down to Section 13 "Training and Piloting."

I remember the mess after the Great BN Merger, with locomotives running around with stenciled numbers on the cabs!

Williams Lake. Then and Now.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Jack "William's" Lake, B.C.

Williams Lake, B.C., November 1959. A sudden sense of urgency overtakes me, as it suddenly dawns on me that I won’t be back this way again – if ever. Our family is in transit back to Seattle after three years living in Prince Rupert. My Dad was very tolerant of me, as he’d stop the family bus every time we saw a locomotive, as we headed south.

Located on the east bank of the Fraser River, midway between 100 Mile House and Quesnel. The village was apparently named after Jack Williams, a Cornish settler, some say "squatter." Incorporated as Williams Lake Village Municipality in 1929; re-incorporated as a Town Municipality in 1965, and re-incorporated as a City in November 1981.

American Locomotive Works had a mirror partner in Canada, the Montreal Locomotive Works, where these two handsome units were built in 1951. I always admired the “skylight windows” of the cab. PGE 561 and 565 have stopped their north bound run to Prince George long enough to set out a string of cars. Soon they will be reconnected, and whistle off – the asynchronous burble of two 4-cycle engines, which slip in and out of sync with each other was quite distinct!

PGE 565 was rebuilt as a slug – power unit only with no cab – in 1986 after PGE became BC Rail. And PGE 561 after a remarkable 35 year run, found a new life at the West Coast Railway Association in Squamish, north of Vancouver, BC.

Take a few minutes to explore their Web Site! I’m motivated and determined to save my pennies and take a trip up there. They’ve taken over the former PGE/BC Rail round house, so they are in good shape for maintaining their collection.

Railroad Stuff: PGE 561, built 5/51, sn 76014, retired 4/72, to West Coast Railway Association 1986. PGE 565, built 6/51, sn 76016, rebuilt as a slug S409 in 1986. Apparently still in service when CN took over operation 0001 hours, July 15, 2004

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"No other engine is so right..."

Prince Rupert, 1959. "No other engine is so right for railroad service" So stated the Fairbanks-Morse brochure. I was fifteen at the time, and had developed an instant love affair with railroading. Not only was I able to look and touch locomotives, in the westernmost outpost of the Canadian National Railways – Prince Rupert – I was also able to ride in the locomotives.

All I knew at that time was GMD F’s, Geeps, and RS-1200’s. But through Trains Magazine and Railroad Magazine, I was able to learn about other types of locomotives. My Mom and Dad marginally accepted Railroad Magazine – they did publish fiction stories that were a little revved up!

I wrote to English Electric, Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton, Budd, GM, and Fairbanks-Morse, requesting builder’s photos and specification sheets. And by writing, it wasn’t like the instant gratification of today’s computerized youth. In those days, I painstakingly typed, on a manual typewriter, my letter. If I made a mistake, I ripped out the paper and started all over again. My Mom would proof read my letters, and that would occasionally send me back to re-type the letter. She taught me the proper way to fold a letter, so that the recipient could open it, right side up, ready to read. I would bet these are lost arts.

Weeks – not seconds - would go by, and finally, one-by-one, my responses came back. I still have the correspondence, in the original over-size envelopes. Except for one. From Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton. I got a number 10 envelope from them with a letter informing me that they had ceased operation, and that the photos and specification sheets were no longer available. I still have that letter.

Fairbanks-Morse caught my attention with their beefy looking opposed piston engines. My Dad, who was Chief Engineer on the Comet, lugging a rail barge between Prince Rupert and Ward Cove Alaska, shook his head when he saw that motor. His last posting, on the Mikiona, Hawaiian Tug & Barge powered by an O-P motor, the last three years leading up to his retirement in 1975, his comments were the exact opposite of the brochures “ease of maintenance” which I can’t publish here!

Indeed, I had a friend in Portland, Oregon, who rode the O-P’s stated that if they got to Hinkle from Portland, with 3 of 4 units still on line, it was a good run!

Urban Legend has it that the end of WWII found Fairbanks-Morse with a building full of motors that were destined for the Navy. They put these 8-cylinder blocks on rails. Something must have gone wrong, because when the dust settled, GM was out in front of the pack.

In 1958, the family took vacation in Seattle. Driving down the Thompson and Frazer River Canyons, I was able to see “real live” locomotives other than what I was used to. And so I was really THRILLED to see Canadian Pacific Railway 8719, one of those Fairbanks-Morse H16-44’s at Spence’s Bridge!

Railroad stuff: CPR 8719, Canadian Locomotive Works, 5/57, Spence’s Bridge BC, July 1958.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Bob Tail" at Interbay

Seattle, January 9, 1960. Looking a little awkward without a supporting booster, I found GN 310C grumbling onto the turntable at Seattle's Interbay Yard. "Bob Tail" is a common term in the trucking industry for a tractor running without a trailer.

Back in those days you could wander around these facilities without anyone paying much attention. And if you stepped OVER rails instead of upon them, they knew that you knew. And forget carrying a large flat blade screw driver. Those type of folks were the outlaws that could easily ruin everything for the rest of us.

GN had 8 of these 1600 hp units, with this particular unit being traded off, after the merger, to GE for a Uboat - a U28B.

Railroad stuff:
ALCO FA-1, 1600 HP V-12, SN: 78118, built 4/50. Never repainted to the Big Blue paint scheme.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Puget Sound Railway Historical Association

Seattle, 1960. I joined the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association. Shown here is a copy of their membership application. Cost for me was $10.00 per year. 

As I recall, we had monthly meetings in an old NP business car parked on a siding beside Owens Glass, on E. Marginal Way across the street from the then Consolidated Freightways Terminal. Little did I know that I would work for a CF subsidiary, Freightliner Corp years later!

The meetings included discussions of the progress out at Snoqualmie Falls rail site, up-coming work parties, followed by a slide show or home movies and refreshments. It was there I met a fellow, Elwin Purington, with whom I spent many hours chasing trains in the Valley, Black River, Cedar Falls, Stacey Street, Argo, and Van Asselt (in honor of Henry Van Asselt – 1817-1902?)

The Association in 1961 or ’62, published an eight-page illustrated roster of their equipment, including three tank engines. 0-4-0T Minnesota & Ontario Paper Company Davenport, an 0-6-0T Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Limited, Baldwin #17, built in 1886, and 2-6-2T Port of Olympia. 

September 4, 1960. Union Bay (Vancouver Island) BC. This scruffy crew are members of the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association, posing on Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Limited #14, Baldwin, 1898. This crew was dispatched to Union Bay, Vancouver Island, to prepare this locomotive, a 2-6-0T #17, and a coal car for shipment to Snoqualmie Falls for the museum.

Robert Dunsmuir owned major coal interests on Vancouver Island. You remember him; he donated the water fountain located in Dunsmuir, California. Union Bay was the end of the coal line, with a massive elevated dock for loading ships, bound for San Francisco.

While the adults partied all night, two youngsters – me at far left, and my buddy next to me, were given orders to light off #14 in the morning, so she could be used during our chores. Big mistake. What did we know about lighting a boiler!

Railroad Stuff: Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Limited #14, 4-6-0, Baldwin Locomotive Works 1884.

Friday, November 16, 2007

PGE - Prince George Eventually!

Quesnel, BC, Mile Post 384.3, Prince George Subdivision, November 26, 1959. It’s difficult to think that I took these photos 48 years ago, because I don’t feel old! These photos were taken when our family is in transit back to Seattle, after three remarkable years living in Prince Rupert, BC. My Dad knew it was important for me to grab these photos on our way south. He really supported my photography of trains. So we stopped for about a half hour, and I documented a slice of PGE history.

Quesnel is roughly 1/3rd of the way between PGE - Pacific Great Eastern’s Mile Post zero in North Vancouver, BC, and end of track at Fort Nelson in the Peace River Country, Mile Post 728.4. north of North Vancouver, and some 262.5 miles north of Prince George! An article in Trains Magazine years ago, spotlighting the PGE, remarked on the roller coaster track profile of the PGE, through the gut of British Columbia. Up to 2.2% ascending and descending grades that were rough on brake shoes!

Birthing as Howe Sound and Northern, the Province of BC (hence, the public) took over in 1918, as Pacific Great Eastern. Lovingly referred to as “Please Go Easy” or, my favorite, “Prince George Eventually” the line conjured up profits hauling wood products and service to hinterland communities. Tumbler Ridge coal came in later years, when the name had been changed to BC Rail in 1972. MLW - Montreal Locomotive Works (Canadian American Locomotive Company) supplied the bulk of locomotives to the line, with their asthmatic four-cycle motors. At throttle-up, they sounded like they were going to disintegrate!

Rail connoisseurs held the PGE in awe, as the Caribou Dayliner, First Class 1 northbound, First Class 2 southbound, service passed through some of the most remarkable scenery in North America. Passenger schedule shows a tremendous scenic view. The Budd RDC’s (Rail Diesel Cars) were an efficient means of travel, which served the dozens of communities well for many years. For an in-depth look at the world class Budd cars, go to "Interesting Web Sites."

But there was a Change in the Wind. A master plan was brewing. In 2004, Canadian National bought the operating rights, NOT the roadbed upon which the rails lay, for 1 Billion (B as in Billion) Canadian Dollars. The roadbed upon which the steel lays is still owned by the Provincial Government (hence, the Public.) Purchasing these track rights gives CN a direct link from Prince George to Vancouver, as part of the massive investment in the Prince Rupert Container Port. See previous entries on that subject.

So here we are at Quesnel on a god-awful cold day in November 1959. A close examination of the station reveals two things. One, frozen sheets on the clothes line to the left of the structure, and two, the Train Order paddles are set to stop trains for paperwork. Conductors to sign clearance forms and pick up train orders.

Train order signal brings northbound Third Class #25 PGE 579 +589, ker-lunking to a halt for signatures. Conductor, sporting a nifty cap, is ready to step ashore. Notice the spill on side of lead engine. Whatever it is, that fireman never made eye contact with me ... obviously he’s been chucking coffee out the window!

Paper work done, conductor is back on board and Third Class freight #25 resumes her northbound journey to Prince George. She immediately leans into 12.5 miles of 2% grade up to Cotwood. As the hogger pulls the throttles open, these MLW's make one heck of an asynchronous, agonizing rumble that characterize the four-cycle motor!

Railroader Stuff: PGE 579, RS-10 (Canadian Version MLW of Alco DL-700,) 1600hp, built 1956, SN 81537, wrecked 12/85, scrapped 1986. PGE 589, RS-18 (Canadian Version MLW of Alco DL-701,) 1800hp, built 1958, SN 82509.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thomas Spence and his bridge.

Spence’s Bridge, November 1959. At this time, a lonely outpost located at the confluence of the Thompson and Nicola Rivers, northeast of Lytton.

Originally called Cook's Ferry after Mortimer Cook who ran a raft style cable ferry across the Thompson River, it was later re-named after Thomas Spence. Spence, a Royal Engineer and road builder, won the contract to build a bridge across the river to replace the ferry during the construction of the Caribou Wagon road. The bridge then became known as Spence's Toll Bridge. Unfortunately the bridge was built too low and during spring runoff in 1894 it was washed away.

After the gold rush, the town became a farming and railroad community, which it remains to this day. The site of the Last Spike of the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway is located on Highway 1, approximately 10 miles north of Spence’s Bridge on the east bank of the Thompson River. The rail line is now part of the Canadian National Railways system.

Evening shadows come early in the Thompson River Canyon. A Canadian Pacific GMD GP-9 8487 scurries into Spence’s Bridge under cover of white flags. Mileages on signs are "pre-metric" shown as "miles." Notice the ubiquitous snow shovel and broom hanging beside the switch stand.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First Ship - First Train!

Prince Rupert, October 31, 2007. The big day – evening actually – arrives in the shape of the M/V COSCO Antwerp from the Chinese ports of Hong Kong, Yantian, Qingdao, Dalian and Xiamen as well as Yokohama, Japan. This vessel is capable of carrying 5,400 teu. TEU stands for 20-foot equivalent units. Simply, the number of 20-foot containers she is capable of handling. (BTW, her sister ship, M/V COSCO Busan just hit the Bay Bridge a few days ago!)

Containers also come in a 40-foot, that you typically see on the highway. A 40-foot container would equal two 20-foot units. The next time you are stuck behind one at a light, read the vast amount of information concerning the dimensions and weights – all of which are factored into loading a vessel.

So we’ve all seen pictures of container cranes lifting containers off the ship, and loading them onto a trailer, ominously referred to as a bombcart pulled by a yard tractor. The name seems to be derived from carts used to haul bombs to aircraft. Some yards use modified forklifts or straddle-carriers; to unload the bombcart, placing the container in an assigned order for loading onto rail cars.

The vehicle of choice in this facility is the Kalmar DRF450-605SXC reachstacker, an odd looking material handling machine with a long boom connected to the spreader which grasps the container. Look carefully - there are two in this photo. It’s also used to load the to load the double-stack rail cars.

Here is the entire process - from ship to rail. Once the rail cars are loaded, and the locomotives connected, an impressive train is ready to go. The first container train out of Prince Rupert on November 1st 2007 was 180 double stack cars – 360 containers, some 9,000 feet or 1.7 miles long, heading for Chicago, 3,000 miles and 105 hours to the east!

When I first saw this photo - shock! Gone is the unnerving gravel road sans shoulders! Pavement, with strips, fog line and turn-out! Phooey! The old days were much more "exciting!"

All photographs in this series are Courtesy Port Authority of Prince Rupert. This completes my three-part look at this important piece of railroading history. It was an important follow-up event for, because THIS is where it all began for me, back in 1957.

See also:
* New Era
* Container Cranes Arrive
* Dedication

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dedication Day!

Prince Rupert, September 19, 2007. Finally, after years of planning and construction, the public gets to see their new World Port container facility. Right now, just a huge blacktop field, with three massive newly installed container cranes.

First Nations Tsimshian Chief and officers lead a prayer of unity with this new venture, only fitting, as they were the original inhabitants of this area.

Then the formal ribbon cutting, and smiles all around from local dignitaries, representatives from COSCO (Chinese Overseas Shipping Company) who partnered with Maher Terminal Services, and of course reps from Canadian National.

Millions were spent on this facility, and CN ordered not only a ton of double stack cars, and more than 100 new locomotives, lengthen passing tracks, raised tunnel roofs, modified highway overpasses, clearing a "pipeline" directly to Chicago, 3,000 miles and 105 hours to the east.

With a day of celebration capped off with a fireworks show! Sure would love to have been there!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Container Cranes Arriving!

I just reported about the World Port Container facility recently opened in Prince Rupert, BC. The reason I am so excited about this development, is this is my connection with my teenage years growing up in Prince Rupert, and the beginning of my affection for railroading as a photographic hobby.

The area where this facility is constructed, south of town, was my favorite area for train watching, as the departing locomotives would be clearing their throats, and settling in for a long run through lonely Northern BC wilderness some 500 miles to Prince George, with a few widely spaced settlements such as Terrace, Smithers, Huston, Burns Lake, and Vanderhoof. The red "O" points to the original main line track alignment.

What an awesome sight! Here we see the 788' Chinese heavy lift vessel Zhen Hua 16 on the approaches to Prince Rupert Harbor. Prince Rupert is on Kaien Island, to the right, and just out of sight to the north.

As the vessel approaches the container terminal, we see a total of four cranes on her deck. The three blue cranes to be delivered here, the fourth red crane is destined for Vancouver Container Terminals in Vancouver, BC.

In the distance, you can see the white hull of the BC Ferry Queen of Prince Rupert, the replacement vessel for the Queen of the North witch hit a rock and sank off Gil Island last year. Just above the white hull, you can barely make out the twin towers of the CN car barge rail bridge, which I detailed in "Box Cars go to Sea."

Back in those days, that structure was all alone, south of town. There was a long curvature to Fairview Cannery, and then nothing for 10 miles to Port Edward. Now, as we can see, it's all filled in. In fact on the skyline is the 17-story Highliner Plaza Hotel and conference center - a sky scrapper in Prince Rupert!

The Zhen Hua 16 slowly passes the terminal, and executes a turn to bring her port side alongside the pier.

I don't care how many times you explain the principles of vessel buoyancy and stability, this simply just should not work! By the end of October, these giants will be setup, tested, and ready for the arrival of the first container ship, COSCO Antwerp, at the end of October.

There is a feature that has run for years in the Seattle Times entitled "Before and After" featuring photos taken from the perspective of old historical photos. The point being, to see the changes over the years.

That's what this means to me. I spent many an hour hiking down the railroad track with my pooch, out in the wilderness. Now it is a blacktopped modern edifice symbolizing the new growth potential for Prince Rupert!

See also:
* New Era
* Dedication
* First Ship - First Train