Coal extra to Mount Forest...(Warning: Lots of pictures)

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by doctorwayne, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Grand Valley Consolidation 25 has been cooling her heels at Port Maitland for over a half hour. She was late into Lowbanks, the previous station, by 20 minutes, and late out by another 10, so she's already late by an hour for her arrival at the TH&B interchange/carfloat operation on the other side of Port Maitland. Once she gets underway, the trip will take only 15 minutes, and the carfloat is being held for a couple of cars in her train.
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    Finally, the reason for the wait bursts from between the buildings of GERN Industries Gibson Works.
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    It's coal for the power plant in Mount Forest, in the charge of Erie Northshore Mikado 632.
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    The dozen hoppers, fresh off the TH&B carfloat S.S. Maitland No. 1, comprise a train, with the caboose, of just under 900 tons, well within the 632's capabilities on the Port Maitland Subdivision. However, beyond Lowbanks, the next stop, severe grades and curvature will cut her tonnage rating almost in half, necessitating a second loco.
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    As our train rolls into Lowbanks, bell ringing for the station, it crosses over to the north main, away from the station platform. Sitting on the baggage wagon, waving, is Larry, known to the locals as "Lumpy" - he's what's know as "slow", and has been waving almost non-stop to the photographer while he awaited the train.
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    While the hoppers clatter over the switches, Larry will be counting the cars, as he always does.
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    With the Lowbanks station in the background, the sturdy Mike slows her train to a stop.
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    With part of her train still coiled around the curve between Lowbanks and Port Maitland, the 632 cuts off and heads for a drink at the nearby stockyards tower.
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    A couple of local motorists are relieved to see that it's only a light engine move, as they have important business in Lowbanks. With the station and loco shops nearby, plus the stockyard siding, this crossing is often blocked, and has been the subject of several irate letters to the local newspaper.
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    While the Mike slakes her thirst, her companion for the run to South Cayuga rolls from under the coaling tower. On lease from the CNR, she was in the Lowbanks shops for the addition of an auxillary steam line for running a Barber-Green SnowLoader.
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    The 4100, a T-2-a out of Kingston Locomotive Works in September of 1924, is the most powerful loco on the CNR roster, but even she can't take this train to South Cayuga on her own.
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    She backs to the train as 632's fireman bangs the water hatch closed, then scrambles back to the cab.
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    Now the 632 backs to the train, as the 4100 pumps off the brakes.
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    With the brake test completed, slack is taken, and then, with a couple toots of the whistle, Extra 632 East is off.
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    The locos clump over the crossing, struggling to gain speed as quickly as possible.
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    Rolling out onto the Maitland River bridge, still accelerating, the train heads for the far bank, where the grade begins. As the hoppers clank past the station, Lumpy hears the sound of a flat wheel on one of the cars: clump, clump, clumpy, lumpy, it calls out to him. He waves.
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    At the east end of the bridge, the Mike heels into the curve, the train still accelerating.
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    Their train well in hand, both locos show clean stacks as they round the bend.
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    No traffic today on Indian Line, a relief for the crew as many locals race the trains to the crossing here.
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    The sound changes as the locos roll out onto the Chippawa Creek bridge, hidden amongst the trees.
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    With the locos still working hard, the vibrations scatter the fish in the creek below.
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    As they reach the end of the last span, the hoggers close their throttles, drifting into the curve into Elfrida, and letting the still ascending hoppers slow them for the run past the station.
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    It seems suddenly silent as the caboose clatters off the bridge, but soon the cicadas are buzzing and the birds are back at their business.
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    Bells ringing, our locos roll by on the station main. There's a westbound, out of sight, on the passing track, working the industrial area of Elfrida. The hogger on the 632 is already on the whistle for the town's only crossing.
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    There's no need for a water stop here, so the locos began accelerating as soon as they passed the depot. The headend is already into the grade as the 4100 hits the crossing.
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    And cab windows slam shut as the tunnel nears.
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    The grade here is 2.5%, and the track curves sharply to the right just past the west portal. The 632's 63" drivers slip momentarily on the wet rails inside the tunnel, but the hogger quickly gets things under control. The 4100's 57" drivers churn away relentlessly, both engineers playing a symphony on the sander valves. The daylight is blinding as they burst from the tunnel and roll onto the Speed River bridge.
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    The grade doesn't slacken over the bridge.
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    The high bridge in the background is part of the Grand Valley's line north to Mount Forest, the eventual destination of our hoppers.
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    As seen from River Road, the landscape looks more like the high desert than Southern Ontario.
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    With the rear of the train still on the first curve in the tunnel, the headend is about to enter the curve left towards South Cayuga.
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    The Grand Valley line northwards, in the background, is also on a 2.5% grade, but there's a short section near the lower end at 2.8%. Any train that makes it past that point will most likely arrive in Mount Forest.
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    You'll have to imagine the lush forested hills that should be in the background - the original trees were cut down to supply material for the ongoing tie replacement program in this area. ;)
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    Our train's in the home stretch of the first part of the climb to the power plant.
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    Meanwhile, waiting in South Cayuga, is Grand Valley 26, a sister to number 25 who opened our story.
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    The Grand Valley is a north-south road, and the 26 has recently brought a southbound, from Mount Forest, into South Cayuga. That train was parked behind the station while the 26 ran light to turn at the wye in nearby Dunnville. She's back now, awaiting the arrival of Extra 632 East.
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    With her parked train in the foreground, the burly Consolidation simmers in the summer sun.
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    And here comes the Extra now. With bell ringing, our train rolls by the Cayuga Junction Tower, becoming Extra 632 South as she enters Grand Valley trackage.
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    The train threads its way over the switches to the west main, again avoinding the station platforms. As the caboose passes the switch, the hogger on 26 opens the throttle and rolls ahead.
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    With Station Street blocked by hoppers, the Mike is cut off the train.
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    And then reverses onto the house track behind the station. She'll take the train that No. 26 left here into Dunnville.
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    Meanwhile, the 4100 has also cut off from the train. She'll run light to the Dunnville wye, then return for the northbound trip.
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    The 26, meanwhile, has coupled to the caboose and is pushing the hoppers into the lead to Hoffentoth Bros.' siding.
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    Once he clears the switch under the caboose, the hogger will pull the entire train north, until the south end of it is in the clear.
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    Now, with only the caboose in tow, he backs down the station main. The 632 has already started to pull her new train from the house track.
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    Extra 632 South's caboose is almost in the clear as the 26 rolls towards the switch. She'll drop her caboose just south of the switch for the passing siding, then hustle back north, cross over to the passing track, and back the hoppers onto the waiting caboose.
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    The 632, meanwhile, is well on her way to Dunnville.
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    She'll take water at the tank just ahead.
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    And, here comes 4100. She's been turned and is heading back to South Cayuga.
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    Passing Mercury Mills, in the background, she regains the main.
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    And trundles across the bridge at Negro Creek. That new steam pipe is clearly visible, running from the steam dome to the smokebox front.
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    The 26 hasn't been sitting idle. She's got the caboose on the south end of the train, now.
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    And has cut the train to keep the road crossing clear.
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    Three hoppers, plus the caboose are on the Hoffentoth lead, south of the crossing.
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    Traffic scuttles across the tracks, the smell of creosote heavy in the hot afternoon air.
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    A whistle sounds for the crossing, then the big 2-10-2 rolls into town on the east main.
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    After crossing over to the west main, she backs to the waiting train. With the air already up on the front part of the train, she couples up, then the two locos back to the cars on the lead.
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    With the brake test complete, and bells ringing, the train whistles off, then lurches forward.
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    With not much of a run at the hill, but with dry rails, this pair should handle the train easily past that 2.8% grade just before the Speed River bridge.
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    As the coal crunches through the stokers, it's not long before the hoppers are banging through the switches, and that flat wheel is once again singing Larry's song.
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    I hope that you've enjoyed your afternoon ride on the Mount Forest coal train.

    Wayne
  2. w8jy

    w8jy Member

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    Wayne, that was a most enjoyable trip! The great photos and the narrative make that short ride a memorable one. Thanks for taking the time to share that with us.
  3. galt904

    galt904 Member

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    That's some pretty liberal modifications of Ontario geography! Awesome pictures Wayne. :)
  4. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    WOW!! Fantastic story Wayne! You sure do capture a sense of reality with these. Great photo's too. I assume that we're seeing some of the newer part of your layout that was yet to be done when I saw it.

    Val
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Thanks for coming along on the ride, and for the kind words, too. :)

    Thanks, The place names are real, but any further ressemblance to reality is highly unlikely. :p The names were chosen because some were apt for the general area, while others have some personal significance, and the rest just because...well, just because. :-D

    Thanks, Val, and as you can see, those areas are still "yet to be done". :rolleyes::-D On the bright side, though, can you imagine how long this would've been if the second level of the layout had been in place? Not to mention the additional three towns that would've been transposed from their original locations. ;)

    Wayne
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    If anybody wants to view the coloured versions of these photos, along with some "out-takes", and of course minus the narrative, check Here in the Gallery.

    Wayne
  7. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

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    So we don't get to see the train go to the mine? What a rip off!

    *kidding*
    Great thread!
  8. cn nutbar

    cn nutbar Member

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    What an outstanding job Doctor Wayne :thumb: I almost feel like I'm the engineer on #4100 waving back at Lumpy---the boys at the Lowbanks Shops certainly know their buisness as that new snow loader looks awesome---this thread (and all your others) should be published---thanks for the ride---nutbar
  9. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

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    great story Wayne,you should seriously think about writing a book man :thumb:,that was great (but should i expect anything less :mrgreen:) keep up the good work man.

    quick question, isn't there actually a desert in northern Canada? i never even heard of it before i saw it on the side of a..well...U-haul truck sign1.i don't know if its true but if not some AD manager is very convincing :rolleyes:.--josh
  10. chooch.42

    chooch.42 Member

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    Doc, Thanks !!! Feel like I'm about 1" tall,and just got through spending an exciting afternoon railfanning from Lobanks to the Canadian "High Desert" and back ! Hope I can find an air-conditioned Diner, and a room for the night so I can do it again tomorrow. Great trip, wonderful photos, and a typically Dandy Doc Wayne thread. Thanks again ! Bob C.
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Thaks to all for the kind words and warm reception, especially considering that the pictures were b&w. ;)

    I have to agree with you on this one. I would've liked to have included a coal mine, but they were extremely rare in southern Ontario.:rolleyes: Perhaps the next layout will at least include the carfloat operation - the TH&B brought a lot of coal into Port Maitland, both in hoppers on the carfloat, and in bulk loaders, from Ashtabula, Ohio.

    Well, it's not really northern Canada, but the area around Kamploops, B.C. is high desert county.

    Wayne
  12. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Thank you, Bob. :-D Incidentally, I believe that flux magnate and bon vivant Charles "Cookie" Gibson has relatives in your hometown. He may actually own the town. ;)

    Air conditioned diner we have: EG&E Magnetawan
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    Air conditioned coach/solarium/lounge we have: EG&E Tuscarora
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    Unfortunately, no company-owned Pullmans, although you could hire either of these cars - both are self-contained, with all amenities, and come fully-staffed:
    EG&E private car Tyandaga
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    Grand Valley private car Rockhaven
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    Wayne
  13. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

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    SLAP OUTSTANDING WAYNE!!!:bravo:

    The pics of the operations alone was AWESOME:thumb: , but the story along with it just made it a FANTASTIC experience:bravo: :worship: . it really made me feel as if i was there:winki::mrgreen: . the addition of "Lumpy" really was a nice touch too Wayne:thumb: , i think people on a layout kinda brings some "life" to it:winki: , made me feel as if i knew "Lumpy", and was glad to see him:mrgreen: .

    AGAIN, you have outdone yourself Wayne:worship: , THANK YOU!:mrgreen:

    :deano: -Deano
  14. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Thanks, Dean. I was a little bit concerned that someone might take offence at the "Lumpy" character, although none was intended. Growing up in the '50s, there was at least one of these characters in every neighbourhood that we lived in: my first encounter, at the age of 5, wasn't a pleasant one. The guy could've been 12 or 15 or maybe even 20, but he was huge :eek: and a mean-spirited bully. When my old man heard about him, he went up the street to talk to the guy's father - I don't know what was said, but I was never bothered again. :-D Lumpy represents all of my more pleasant memories of these folks. He's currently employed by the railroad's express department, as a baggage handler.

    Wayne
  15. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

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    What a great trip - and story. Well Done! Very Well Done!
  16. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    This way THE most awesome story you've EVER done!! (Although quite a few come close)

    What's this talk about "another layout?" :eek: Oh no! You're not going to tear this one down now are you?
  17. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

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    Thanks for including many shots of that 4100 with the snow loader line! Great story Wayne, even my 3 year old enjoyed having it read to him - whenever I read the word 'whistle' he provided sound effects.
  18. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Thanks guys, I'm pleased that you enjoyed it. :-D

    Naw, no plans to tear it down, yet. I think that you always contemplate what you might have done differently, though.

    Thanks, Galen, it sounds as if you've got another railroader in the family. ;) My Grandkids enjoy running the trains here, and the locos always get a workout, as does the old switchman. :rolleyes:

    Wayne
  19. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    Thank goodness! Whew. Had me scared there.

    Anyways, There isn't room for carfloat ops?
  20. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Not really enough room to do it justice. The TH&B trackage is represented by the lowest track in this photo, just behind the post.
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    Wayne