Saturday, January 29, 2011

CAT Heavy Equipment At Alderside

January 15th, 2011

On the afternoon of the 15th, I was heading out to visit some family in Turner Valley. As I was driving down highway 2A, I was scanning the horizon to the east as I usually do when I drive that stretch. The MacLeod Sub parallels the highway down into and past High River to almost Azure, but CP only runs regularly up to the Cargill plant to do some switching. When I got near Aldersyde, something caught my eye immediately and it suddenly occurred to me that I had left my camera at home.

What I saw was 13 flat decks with some heavy equipment on them. There really was no point in stopping as I had nothing to view them with from a distance. So I figured I would grab a few shot on the following day and on my way home that night I made sure that they were still there. I was happy to see the silhouettes barely visible in the moonlight indicating that they had not moved.

January 16th, 2011

A bit after lunch time, I headed out to Aldersyde to see if I could get a few snap shots of the CAT equipment. So I went straight to the grade crossing at Aldersyde took a picture of 5954, an SD40-2, sitting on the storage track idling. The bad thing about it being winter with lots of snow around this area, you can’t just walk out into the field to get a half decent shot. Oh well, just have to wait until summer for the "half decent shot" season.

I then headed back to the highway and take some shots of the CAT equipment from there. Thank heavens for a 300mm zoom lens. I was able to get some decent shot and was also able to read some of the reporting marks and equipment model numbers. I would have to come back another day to try and get the reporting marks that I could not see. There were a total of 13 flat cars with various pieces of equipment.

I also took a few overall shots, but didn’t hang around too long as it was cold with a good wind chill. I was out there for about 3 minutes and my hands and face were frozen.

January 18th, 2011

The evening of the 18th, while on my way home from work, I was driving down Highway 2 and noticed the headlights of a train at Aldersyde. I had to drive all the way down to the Mazeppa turn off to turn around. When I finally got to the grade crossing CP 5954 and CP 9547, an AC4400, were shunting some of the hopper and tankers. As they were doing so, some of the flat decks went by and I quickly wrote down reporting marks, but still was not able to get all of the ones I was missing.

One flat deck with an interesting reporting mark did catch my eye. It was TZPR 300004.

After they pushed the flat decks back into the storage siding, they headed to the Cargill plant with several cars to do some shunting there. I headed home as it was dark and I was hungry.

January 20th, 2011

On the way home from work the evening of the 20th, I stopped by Aldersyde to see what was happening. This time I remembered to bring my scanner with me. It was dark and 5954 and her crew were nowhere in sight. I could hear a bit of crackle on the scanner which meant that they were already down by the Cargill plant. As for the CAT equipment, all I could see were some silhouettes on a siding on the east side of the mainline. It seemed as though they were on a downhill siding that I did not realize was still there. I wondered if that was where the equipment was to be unloaded.

January 22nd, 2011

Late that afternoon, I headed out to see if the flat decks were still around which they were but without their loads. I pulled out my note book and looked at my notes to see which flat decks I was missing numbers for. Two were missing numbers and two were missing a single digit. So I pulled out my camera, zoomed in and with the process of elimination was able to complete the inventory chart listed below.


Here are some pictures of the flat decks I was missing the reporting marks for and another shot of 5954.

All but two of the flat decks were TTX owned. The reporting marks for six of them started with HTTX and the other five started with TTHX. With a little bit of research, I found the differences between the two flat deck types although they generally serve the same purpose.

The HTTX flat decks are “equipped with 38 heavy duty chains, with snubbers and turnbuckles, each secured to movable and retractable tie-down winches in 4 longitudinal channels, for transporting large earth moving equipment” and the TTHX flat decks are “equipped with heavy duty chains anchored to removable stake pocket castings. When tie-downs are removed, car becomes same as 60' car stencilled MTTX".

I quoted these explanations from a website that I recently found called Canadian Freight Cars and it has pretty extensive listings for CNR, CPR, Canadian, Private and Other. I found the definitions for the HTTX and TTHX flat decks in the "Other" category. There is a ton of information to be found on this site.

Another website that I refer to quite frequently to identify freight cars is called Canadian Freight Car Gallery. I like this database because there is a Reporting Marks Index which is very useful if you do not know who owns the freight car. After you find the reporting mark you are looking for, it brings you to another listing of freight cars for that reporting mark. Each listing here brings you to a page with a photo and other relevant info about that particular freight car such as manufacturer, year built and also the photographer, location spotted and date spotted.

The other two lat decks that are identified with the TZPR marks are from the Tazewell and Peoria Railroad which is a shortline that runs about 24 miles of track in Peoria County and Tazewell County in Illinois. It was acquired by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. in 2004. There is some information that can be found on their website and there is also a short blurb on Wikipedia.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Macleod Sub Auto Rack Storage - Part 3

If you wish to follow along in Google Earth, here is the kmz file for download.

September 6th, 2010

This is the conclusion of the three part series of the Macleod Sub Auto Rack Storage. In part 2, I posted about the first 27 auto racks that were stored on the MacLeod Subdivision. Unfortunately for part 3, I am only able to show pictures and complete info for 2 auto racks and road names for most of the remaining 12 cars.

Back in September I was attacked by a hawk which prevented me from photographing the last few auto racks of the 39 in the second block. My intention was to wait until the first weekend of November. I figured that the hawk would be gone by then. I also wanted to get back out there to finish the job before the first snow fall, but a combination of time, work and scheduling did not permit this to happen. I had driven by a couple times after work to make sure that they were still there and figured I could knock off the last few over the Christmas holidays regardless of snow or not.

I drove out there late afternoon one day after Christmas to check the conditions and snow build up, but as I came over the hill they were all gone. I was not overly thrilled at this discovery. All the signs indicated that they were moved sometime in December when the snow was on the ground and probably not too long before the holidays at that.

It’s too bad that I did not get to finish this “inventory” as it was kind of fun to do. I had also intended to do the same to a few blocks of coal hoppers other rail cars that were stored on the Lomond Spur out by Herronton, but they were all taken away back in late September.

Here is the partially completed list of what the last few auto racks.

BNSFTTGX 997504Bi-Level
NSNS 110274Bi-Level
NSTTGX ?Bi-Level
?TTGX ?Bi-Level
NSTTGX ?Bi-Level
?TTGX ?Bi-Level
UPTTGX ?Bi-Level
UPTTGX ?Bi-Level

Here are the last two pictures that I have of the auto racks that were stored on the MacLeod Sub. The Norfolk Southern car is a bi-level articulated AutoMax carrier. That was the first time I ever saw one in real life.

As a final thought, the next time I set out to do something like this I'll think back to this experience and finish the job as quickly as possible.

Goggle Earth kmz file.


Friday, January 14, 2011

An Hour At Alyth

If you wish to follow along in Google Earth, here is the kmz file for download.

April 2nd, 2010

One Sunday back in April, I was observing some action at Alyth at my usual location. I was only there for about an hour, but did manage to see the hump backing in, one train arriving from Edmonton, two trains leaving Calgary heading west, and a few locos hanging around.

I arrived at around 16:30 and as I was arriving, the Hump in the process of pushing a train over the hump into the classification tracks. Someday I would like to be able to see a hump operation in action, but I know that my chances are very slim. The lead on the hump was 6612 with 5795 both SD40-2's. An interesting bit of info is that 6612 use to be a former SOO locomotive.

As the hump was pushing in, a train lead by 9635 started pulling out heading west. There were a few auto racks at the front and the remainder of the train was intermodal. About halfway through was 9540 and that was all for locomotives on this train. It wasn't an overly long train which would explain only two locos. I would assume that the train would probably pickup another locomotive or two somewhere along the way before they reached the spirals at Field in British Columbia. Both locomotive were AC4400's.

After it had gone by, I spotted a familiar paint scheme. Over by the diesel shops were FP9A's 4107 & 4106 and F9B 1900. 4106 & 4107 are the main power for the Royal Canadian Pacific passenger train. Also by the shops were CEFX 1050, CP 9753 and CP 8275, two AC4400's and a GP9. And further into the yard you could see the hump still working and another set of SD40's waiting, but they never came out while I was around and was not able to identify road numbers. Notice the blue sign indicating that track P$ if closed as there are people either inspecting or working on some of those tankers, or some other reason.

From out nowhere a team of locomotives, 8646 and 8837, in reverse were on the track heading into the wye and more than likely to turn around to latch up to a westbound train. Here is an opportunity to identify the differences between an AC4400 and an ES44AC locomotive as the two look very similar. If you look at the second picture, there are two major differences between the two locomotives. The first is the trucks and the second is the radiator hood. You can also notice the rear headlight is a single on 8646 and double on 8837, but this may not be for all railroads as some have their own preferences for headlights. There may be a few other subtle differences, but the trucks and the radiator are the two visibly major ones.

Sitting there all alone on one of the far tracks was an Alberta grain hopper number ALPX 628373 with the "Take an Alberta Break...visit Medicine Hat" slogan. It must have been a bad order or something. You can find a fairly extensive list of all the Alberta grain hopper at

About ten minutes later, a container train came in off of the wye from the north. A couple AC4400's, CEFX 1047 and CP 8604, were in the lead of this one.

I took several shots of some of the containers as well for modeling references.

After quite a few well cars there were a few box cars and hoppers and a block tankers of which I also photographed for modeling references.

As the train was going by, 8646 and 8837 showed up reversing to somewhere in the yard out of sight.

About another ten minutes later, another train was leaving the yard heading west with 8834 and 8606 pulling, and 8524 at some point in the middle. This train was all intermodal. As the train was pulling out, a couple other railfans showed and we chatted for a bit.

On one of the maintenance tracks on the far side, there were 6 locomotives that had been sitting there since my arrival. They were 5793, 3110, 3084, 9779, StL&H 1625, and 1696. Their types were SD40-2, GP38-2, AC4400, GP9 and GP9. Steve Boyko from the blog Confessions of a Train Geek saw 1625 in Winnipeg at the diesel shop there and posted a picture on his blog. He updates his blog frequently, so there is no shortage of good info to read and videos to watch.

As I chatted with the other railfans, they mentioned that there was a KCS unit around the back side of the diesel shops. They said that there were a couple clean SD70's at Sarcee Yard. I said my goodbyes and headed out to see if I could find the KCS unit.

When I did find the KCS locomotive, I couldn't get a really clear view of it. The three pictures below are the best I could get. KCS 2500 is a GP40.

Apparently KCS 2500 was on loan to CP as a test unit. It and 27 other SD40's and GP40's were converted to SD22ECO Locomotives and refitted with the 710ECO diesel engine. The EMD 710 engine was used for its "record of reliability and service ability in rugged locomotive applications" as is stated in a KCS news release. You can read details on the KCS website.

After that I headed up to CN's Sarcee Yard for Some New CNery to spot those SD70's.

Goggle Earth kmz file.