Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Preparing for a New Year

This photo in front of the Avondale Locomotive Terminal demonstrates the prominence of Alco units in the Carleton Railway's freight locomotive roster.  With the exception of five Fairbanks-Morse units (four H24-66s, and one H16-44), a single GE 44-tonner, and five passenger F-units, all Carleton Railway locos are Alcos.  Seen below from right to left are C420 #2010, RSD-15 #2416, C424 #2404, and C628 #2802 (click on photos to enlarge):  

The Baird Company is now ready to begin receiving shipments of wholesale merchandise and raw vanilla at its Grafton warehouse and processing facility.

The yard sale in Wakefield keeps expanding:

Business is booming in downtown South Newbridge.  The tiny Mulheron Street station (top right) has proven convenient for railway passengers who wish to spend a few hours shopping.  

The McCain distribution warehouse in Avondale is a regular rail customer.  Mechanical reefers are loaded at the modern faculty at every operating session.
The next operating session is scheduled for Friday evening, January 11.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5 Operating Session

After a long summer break, the Carleton Railway operated for the first time in four months.  A crew of eleven guys moved a lot of potatoes from Carleton County farms, while having a great time together.  The new passing siding between Pembroke and Wakefield worked well to alleviate the bottlenecks that had become too common in South Newbridge.  Here are a few photos of tonight's activities:
George operated "Extra 2010 East."  In the above photo, George is switching the BQM meat plant in Waterville.
Above, Lou, Lawrence and Blake enjoy a short break while other crew members work feverishly to pick up a multitude of potato reefers in Rosedale.  

The Carleton-York Peddler, pictured above on the Little Presque Isle River bridge in Waterville, is the daily eastbound way freight.  It was especially busy this evening with an unusual number of set-outs and pick-ups through potato country.  Below, engineer Roy and conductor Doug sort out their switching moves in the South Newbridge yard.
Bob K. did an excellent job as yardmaster in South Newbridge, and Peter and Bob H. worked well together to keep the busy Avondale yard working efficiently.  Thanks guys!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back from the NMRA National

It has been quite a vacation this summer.  We began by flying to Edmonton, where we boarded the Canadian for the trip through the Rockies.  

After a visit with our son and his wife, I moved on to Grand Rapids for the 2012 NMRA National Convention.  My main interest was operating, and I was not disappointed.  On the first day, I operated for eight hours (2 4-hour shifts) on Bruce Chubb's "Sunset Valley Oregon System."  It is breathtaking.  The signals are amazing, as is the scenery and the sheer size of the four-level layout.  Below are photos of two of the Dispatcher's panels:

Here are a few photos of the Sunset Valley layout:
Bruce Chubb at Lake Yard:
The John Allen Trestle, salvaged from the former layout:

Another large layout was Andy Keeney's "Nashville Road."  The double-deck layout is still without scenery but the trackwork is fabulous and the 1100' mainline (much of it double track) is enormous.  The following three photos were taken from the same spot, with the camera facing three different directions:

The National Train Show featured some very nice layouts.  One especially impressed me (Peninsular Model Railroad Club).  Here are a couple of photos of their modules:

A large O-scale layout was quite impressive:

Also amazing was a large Z-scale layout:

Finally, I was excited to see something very familiar on a couple of the modules:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prep for Operating Session

With the final op session until fall scheduled for this Friday evening, I have added a few details to the layout.  In Northampton, an old wooden boxcar has been placed beside the Northampton Beverage plant and is being used for storage of glass bottles and bottle caps.  I remember a similar wooden boxcar for storage being located near the CNR station near my home in Woodstock during the 1960s (click on photos to enlarge them):  
 The sawmill in Northampton is also looking much busier these days, with a full crew of workers, freshly-sawn lumber, and trailers being loaded:
 Folks in Wakefield were at first relieved to hear that Vaughn (of Vaughn's Salvage yard) had purchased the cape cod house right next to his business.  Neighbours hoped it would lead to some clean up at the business.   Instead, it appears that Vaughn's plan is to have a permanent yard sale in front of his new home:
The operating session begins at 7 p.m. on Friday evening (June 15).  For the first time ever, train # 22 (the Fast Freight East) will arrive in Avondale as two sections, due mainly to the number of freight cars being used to haul farm chemicals for the potato farmers.  Even ice-bunker reefers, which would otherwise be idle at this time of year, have been called into service to deliver fertilizer.  It should be a busy evening.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

MFMR Convention

I had a great weekend at the Maritime Federation of Model Railroaders (MFMR) convention in Halifax this weekend.  Four members of our SJSMR club took our modules to be included as part of the public train show on Saturday.  The Carleton Railway was represented by my six modules representing Monticello, Maine.  Since our club's show last November, I have done a considerable amount of work on the two outside modules.  
In the photo above, a train has just entered the Monticello yard.  The busy commercial district can be seen in the background. 
Above, the local farm supply dealer is hoping for good sales this spring--the lot is crowded with the latest tractor models.  Below, a residential area has been added across the tracks from the Main Street.
The weekend concluded with some visits to Halifax-area layouts and a brief operating session at Doug's White River Southern.  Thanks to everyone in the Halifax club for their work in making a good convention.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A crew of 12 people showed up for a great night of operating on May 25.  In the photo below, George has just guided the Fast Freight East into the station in South Newbridge (led by two big Alco C-630 locos) while Peter works the yard.  Darren and John enjoy some railfanning, while Blake can barely be seen on the right as he moves a passenger train toward Northampton (click to enlarge photo).  

An Evening of Firsts

With twelve proficient crew members skillfully at work, the latest operating session on the Carleton Railway resulted in a number of “firsts” for the railway.  Notably and for the first time, there was not as single misplaced waybill at the end of the operating session—a clear sign of how adept the yardmasters and train crews have become at ensuring that all freight is delivered quickly and accurately.  As management checked each destination after the session had ended, all car cards were found to have been placed exactly where they were supposed to be.  The crew is to be congratulated on a job well done!

A second “first” was the simultaneous operation of two switch locomotives in the Avondale Yard, thus doubling the crew’s efficiency.  With yardmaster Bruce at the controls of locomotive 1025 (an Alco S4), Assistant yardmaster Bill was spotting cars at local industries using locomotive 1503 (an old Fairbanks-Morse H15-44 still lettered for the Avondale Terminal Railway).  The ATR, originally owned jointly with the CNR, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Carleton Railway (although CN has retained trackage rights to reach industries in Avondale).  

A reminder of another “first” was the return of one of the railway’s original crew members.  Darren, who recently moved back to NB from BC, had participated in a three-person operating session on the Carleton Railway in 2002-2003 when it was DC powered and did not include any of the central peninsula.  In those earliest days of the layout, no more than two trains at a time could be operated from staging just east of South Newbridge to staging just west of Waterville, and scenery was very basic.  The only towns served by the railway were East Newbridge, South Newbridge, Pembroke, and Waterville (a passing siding on a steep grade in the furnace room allowed trains to meet between Pembroke and Waterville).    

The final first of the evening was the first passenger train ever to arrive in Northampton!  The workers at Patterson’s Mill were amazed to see Extra West 71, an Island Central passenger train, creeping past the millyard toward the millpond loaded with the movers and shakers from the Loyalist City.  The locals thought it must be a mistake, and sure enough—it was.  It seems that Doug, the engineer who originally brought the train and its passengers from Saint John to the posh resort at Nortondale, was nowhere to be found so another crew member volunteered to take the train to be turned in the yard in Grafton while the passengers enjoyed an afternoon of shopping in South Newbridge.  The train neither stopped at the Mulheron Street station in downtown South Newbridge nor did it take the spur into Grafton.  When management noticed the train entering Northampton and mentioned that the train’s orders clearly directed the train to be turned in Grafton, crew member Bob mentioned something about “not reading train orders.”  Now that the locals have photos of a passenger train in town, you can be sure they will be lobbying for improved service.  Currently, Northampton is served by a daily mixed local—the heavyweight coach “Muniac” provides passengers with connections in South Newbridge as well as daily service to the York County towns of Nortondale and Millville.  

The 30-car Valley Local 

Though not a first, the 30-car westbound “Valley Local” also deserves special mention.  The train typically has about 15 cars when it leaves South Newbridge but the bustling Carleton County economy resulted in a train twice that length when crew members Lawrence and Norm were ready to leave town.  Powered by two 2400-HP units (H24-66 #2431 and C424 #2403), the train was carefully pushed up the 2.9% grade to Pembroke by South Newbridge yardmaster Peter with Alco S4 #1023, from where the train continued on its way to Avondale.  

These regularly scheduled operating sessions are really helping me to identify any problem areas on the railway.  I have a list of things to be fixed before the next session.  Each session helps move the layout closer to being derailment free.

Sincere thanks to the excellent crew for a very enjoyable evening.  The next session (and last scheduled session until fall) will be on Friday, June 15.       

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Northampton Renovations

Now that scheduled operating sessions have resumed on the Carleton Railway, I am noticing things that need to be fixed or improved on the layout.  The community of Northampton has been somewhat neglected; because it is in the furnace room, it is out of sight most of the time, but during the last operating session I watched in frustration as a string of flat cars derailed and I also realized that nothing had been done to make the scenery look "finished."  Since the last session, after investigating the track work, I have made some improvements to the track, including the addition of a guard rail on a troublesome crossover.  I also discovered that two of the flat cars needed some work, and repaired them.  Hopefully the derailments will be fewer at the next session.  

The next project was to make Patterson's Mill in Northampton look like it is actually in business.  The sawdust burner was installed, a large sign was added, roads and level crossings now make the mill accessible to vehicles in the outside world, and the beginnings of a lumber yard (where the ground is covered with sawdust) suggest that the business is prospering.   In the photo below, a truckload of logs has just crossed the tracks en route to the millpond (click on photos to expand).  
In the scene below, stacks of lumber await shipment by rail to customers.  That is the "Dukeshire's Apples" warehouse barely visible in the background behind the box car.  
The Northampton Beverage Company is new to the community.  Its main product is Frostie Root Beer (when I was a child growing up in Carleton County in the 60s, the Frostie plant was just a short distance from our house).
Improvements are also underway on the six Montecello, Maine modules--they will be travelling to the MFMR convention in Halifax in early June.

The next Carleton Railway operating session is scheduled for Friday, May 25.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 4 Operating Session

With the skill and expertise that always characterizes the Carleton Railway's crew, the May 4 operating session saw fourteen scheduled trains move freight and passengers, along with an extra freight that worked for most of the morning switching cars in Waterville, and an extra passenger train that caught everyone's attention.   
In the above photo, in the distance the westbound Valley Local (Lawrence and Norm) is picking up a couple of loaded reefers from the potato house beside the Rosedale Road crossing.  The Carleton-York Peddler (Bill and Bob B.) has completed its switching in Waterville and waits in the siding.  Matt enjoys a few minutes of railfanning before heading out on the Northampton local.
Efficient yard crews are essential to a successful operating session.  After morning yard duties in Waterville, Wendell worked as assistant yardmaster in Avondale for the rest of the session.  Bruce did a great job as a very busy yardmaster in Avondale, and Peter kept everything running smoothly in South Newbridge.
The highlight of the evening was the inaugural run of "Extra 71 West" -- an Island Central Railway passenger train filled with well-healed business leaders from the foggy city seeking a weekend escape at the Carleton Railway's posh resort in Nortondale.  With engineer Doug Devine at the throttle, the ICR's dilapidated Osgood-Bradley coaches were pulled by a trio of aging locos that limped into the station at Nortondale at mid-day.    

Thanks guys for making another Carleton Railway operating session successful. The next operating session will be on Friday, May 25.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Saint John markets

The Carleton Railway continues to serve its industrial customers by transporting their products to developing markets. Rumours via the Island Central Railway that the paper mills in Saint John were looking for additional supplies of wood chips led the Carleton Railway to purchase appropriate rolling stock. Patterson's Mill in Northampton now has a market for its surplus woodchips, and the Carleton Railway not only has additional revenue but continues to build its customer base in the port city. In the photo below, the first Carleton Railway wood chip car can be seen in the ICR's Dever Road yard. Later the same day, an efficient ICR switch crew can be seen spotting the car at the Irving paper mill. That is "The Atlantic" in the foreground, preparing to leave Union Station.

It was a great night of operating on Doug Devine's layout! The Carleton Railway's next operating session will be on Friday evening, May 4 (7 p.m. - 10 p.m.).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

May Operating Sessions

Two operating sessions are scheduled for the month of May: May 4 and May 25 (Friday evenings from 7 - 10 p.m.). The Carleton Railway's posh European Resort in Nortondale has been expanding and improving facilities in preparation for the busy summer season. New cottages, a large gift shop, and a beach volleyball court are now available for the VIP guests (click on the photos to enlarge them). A few unseasonably warm days in mid-March allowed a few guests to have a workout at the new volleyball court, while the tennis court in the background was also busy. The Capital City Commuter is slowing for the depot in Nortondale.

It isn't often that hotel guests can catch some rays on the beach in March, but this winter has been far from normal.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


After a long wait, 13 locals descended into the basement on February 10 to operate the Carleton Railway. The crew did an excellent job of moving scores of freight cars and six passenger trains across the layout. Being the first operating session in nearly two years, it is not surprising that a few glitches were discovered (dirty track, low couplers, etc.) but all in all the layout worked well. Of special note is the fact that the Northampton Local East was the first train ever to pick up freight cars on the newly constructed Grafton spur.

Although the expert crew did an amazing job of delivering freight cars to their proper destinations, management did express some concern that loaded meat reefers from "Buckingham Quality Meats" in Waterville somehow did not make it to their destinations. At the end of the day, six loaded meat reefers were sitting on a yard track in Avondale. Another loaded meat reefer was left all by itself on a yard track in South Newbridge. The railway will ensure that the cars are kept well refrigerated until they leave on the next freight, but customers at grocery stores in Montreal and in Saint John may have to go without their supply of bacon for a day.

The other strange discovery was that although a tank car loaded with potato starch was picked up from the Hatfield Industries plant in Grafton early in the day, to management's surprise the same loaded tank car had been delivered back to the yard in Grafton at the end of the day.

It was great to see the railway in operation after many months of inactivity. Next session: Thursday, March 1.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rosedale Road spur in service

With the first operating session approaching, two new lineside industries near the Rosedale Road are now being served by the Carleton Railway. Mill Pond Farms and a bulk fuel dealer will add to the work of the way freights as they make their way between Waterville and Rosedale. In the photo below, a wayfreight led by two RS3s is approaching the Rosedale Road crossing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

9000 Horses

A photographer captured this shot of a test run of three new Alco C630 units in Rosedale, Carleton County, in the fall of 1965. After no Canadian roads purchased the 2750-hp C628, MLW enticed the Carleton Railway to be a trailblazer by purchasing the first two Canadian C-630s (nos. 3005 and 3006). Other Canadian railways (CPR, CNR, PGE) soon followed. Although these three 3000-hp units are unlikely to be in service together, railfans on the Carleton Railway should have opportunity to see these three units often--the CPR has dedicated C630M #4506 to service on the Fast Freight--the daily priority freight train between Fredericton and Montreal--and the Carleton Railway expects that their two new units will see regular service (click on photo to enlarge). Scheduled operating sessions begin on February 10!