Thursday, October 29, 2015

ARM Revisited!

Back in 2009, I wrote the series of articles on rail barge service between Seattle and Whittier, Alaska. I rode this tug, Western Towboat's "Alaska Titian," from the Lake Washington Ship Canal to Harbor Island,

where she made up with the "F/B Whittier Provider." This unique barge carries a deck load of rail cars, and shipping containers and other stuff on an overhead rack.

Poor photos are showcased in this offering. Citing "Executive Privilege," I foist them off on my quality conscious audience, with the lame excuse that I have not mastered my latest acquisition, a Panasonic Lumix ZS50.

I've only had the camera for about a week, so am still learning how to use it with confidence. Riding a ferry at dusk, on a windy stormy evening, obviously not the setting to learn-on-the-fly, setup the control ring for shutter speed!

ColReg 13 - Again!

Wednesday afternoon, I was returning from an appointment in Seattle. Noting the time, around 5:30 p.m., I was curious to see if we would cross paths with Alaska Railbelt Marine, now Alaska Rail Marine, which I knew departed Harbor Island, Seattle, around 5:00 p.m. each Wednesday, on her conveyor belt service to Whittier.

Soon after we departed westbound from Edmonds, I gazed to the south, and noted that the eastbound ferry, "Walla Walla," had stopped, shortly after departing Kingston Washington. And quickly it became apparent why:

The westbound ferry I was riding, "Spokane," departed Edmonds at 5:25 p.m., and created another contentious ColReg 13 passing situation, involving the eastbound ferry "Walla Walla," Mediterranean Shipping Company (another MSC vessel) container ship "Anya," and Alaska Rail Marine (ARM) rail barge service to Whittier, Alaska, with Western Towboat "Alaska Titan."

Belching a huge plume of black carbon-laden smoke, the 5,043 t.e.u. MSC "Anya" throttled up from cruising speed to flank speed, completing a starboard - port passing of the "Alaskan Titan."

Flipped Camera

The latest camera is the Panasonic Lumix ZS50. I had previously spent months researching compact camera form factor and specifications.The main selling points that prompted me to acquire the Nikon CoolPix 7800 was articulating monitor, hot shoe, and 3.5mm audio jack. But the Nikon P7800 went away on eBay a few weeks ago, replaced by former 2nd place choice, Panasonic Lumix ZS50.

•  Long reach zoom; Nikon 7.1x vs. ZS50 30x.
•  Vastly superior 1080p HD video recording; Nikon, 1080/60i, at 18.8 Mbps. vs. Panasonic 1080/60p, 28 Mbps. (Higher bitrate = better quality.)

When I shoot some of the rail video I am planning, I will fall back to the tried and true audio recorder and clapper/slate for sound synchronization in my digital video solution, Sony Platinum 13.

The bitrate made all the difference in the world. I shot video with the Nikon 7800 at the Polar Pioneer shoot, and was royally pissed off at the "focus hunting" and lack of 1080p/60.

As a career videographer, building my first TV studio in 1972, I knew the pioneers in video were JVC (Japan Victor Corp.), Panasonic, and Sony. So, I asked myself, why would I look to Nikon for video excellence?

This gnawed at me so incessantly that I sold the CoolPix P7800 on eBay and purchased the Panasonic Lumix ZS50, within the past few weeks. The switch was a zero-zero expense!

Since becoming a Septuagenarian, I've made a determined effort to pack a high performance camera that will fit in my shirt pocket. The objective; to be free from a bulky camera and camera bag, allowing unencumbered freedom, whilst exploring with my Production Assistant "GingerSnap," leash on my left hand.

I had a bad accident with GingerSnap years ago, trying to grasp a bulky camera, camera bag, and wriggling doggie, which resulted in her suffering a broken leg.

I have succeeded with the ZS50. If only the ZS50 had a dedicated 3.5 mm audio input, articulating monitor and hot shoe, I would be in camera heaven.  But like all photographers, I've had to refine my expectation.

As you can see from initial results, I've a long learning curve to master my "downsizing is best for me" shirt pocket camera modus operandi.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Oil-Electric Turns Eight!

I was discussing my Blog with a friend, who noted this is apparently the eighth year of Oil-Electric's publication. She asked if I was going to "blow my own horn" about the milestone.

Cringe! Blowing one's own horn is considered, especially in this day and age - "Trumpish!"

On the other hand, pointing out the eighth year of Oil-Electric is really about a birthday celebration, yes?

And what better way to deliver the birthday cake than by Schnabel Car!

Canadian National Railways (CNR) 5000, a Pacific-type 4-6-2, is featured on this occasion, because she represents the end of steam operations on the Western Region, British Columbia District.

We had only been living in Prince Rupert for about eight months, when I learned from my newly forged contacts in the Yard Office and Engine Shop, that her main rods had been removed over the past few days, tacked to her running boards.  She was to leave in the evening as part of the consist of Time Freight 922, to be eventually stored at Jasper, B.C., awaiting the inevitable cutters torch.

Bear in mind; I was only 14 years old, and had been "railroading" for about eight months.

It occurred whilst writing this article, the shot I got of 50-hundred off loading in Kitimat, B.C., on April 25, 1958, is perhaps the last operating shot of this locomotive. CNR 5000 was often assigned to Fourth Class 892, a mixed passenger/freight milk run between Terrace, B.C., and Kitimat.

While the route was completed to the new aluminum smelter in Kitimat, the 38 mile division serviced several logging camps and lumber mills. A sign posted in the station prohibited the wearing of "caulked logging boots" in passenger cars.

I was naively beholding the end of steam in Canada.  50-hundred's older sister, CNR 5149 left Prince Rupert in June, 1958, with east bound passenger train 195, she passed a pair of General Motors Division (GMD) SW1200RS', pulling west bound passenger train 196, at Lake Kathlyn on the Bulkley Subdivision.

There is no photographic record of that momentous milestone; I heard her whistle off as I sat in a dental chair chilling a broken tooth!

CNR 5000, Whyte Class 4-6-2, Road Class: J-1-a
Number in Class: 4 (5000-5003)
Builder: Montreal Locomotive Works
Built: (as Canadian Northern 700) 1913
Boiler Number: 52255
Retired: May, 1958
Scrapped: November, 1958
Cylinder: 23"x28"
Driver: 69"
Boiler Pressure: 190 psi
Tractive Effort: 34,670 lbs

[Ed Note] In April 1960, CNR 6043 made the last scheduled run of a steam locomotive on Canadian National on train 76 between The Pas and Winnipeg.