Interesting travelogue and a bit more on that service disruption

Over on the Trains magazine site, this interesting two-part travelogue has been posted under one of the editorial sections. The writer traveled from Sudbury to White River on VIA Rail’s RDC (self-propelled Budd Rail Diesel Cars) train service and then intending to ride from White River to Franz and catch the southbound ACR service to Sault Ste. Marie. Unfortunately this happened to be on the day that the passenger train got held up, and he wound up waiting at Franz for no train. Fortunately there was a CN employee that was able to give him a ride out to Hawk Junction in a hi-rail truck. Check out both links, it’s an interesting re-cap:

In the second link, he includes this paragraph, which clears up a few other details about the situation that caused the cancellation:

A half hour later (around 1:20 PM), I called again, and the agent made it clear, without divulging details, that she felt it highly unlikely that the ACR train would complete its run that day. I later discovered that a formal complaint was filed with Transport Canada around 10:30 that morning against the crew of the ACR train, alleging that a violation of operating rules had occurred the previous day (the ACR crew was later cleared of any wrongdoing). Once such a complaint is filed, neither crew involved can legally operate a train during a mandatory 48-hour investigation period. That day was only the day after a new operator, Railmark Canada Ltd., had formally taken over the passenger train’s operating contract (replacing CN crews with its own). Since Railmark had not been able to hire any additional crew, it had no way of operating the train until the investigation was complete.

That’s a bit clearer than just “unspecified infraction” that showed up in the media articles which didn’t really have any more information, and I think wraps that all up rather nicely.

Section House Progress

While I was mostly busy with other things over the Christmas and New Year’s period, I’ve been managing to poke away at a couple of projects and have managed to complete another milestone on my Franz section house project, and now I have my first actual project posting of 2015.

The house is now painted, and has shingles applied.

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The house was airbrushed white and the trim carefully masked and painted Southern Sylvan Green. I had a setback at this point that rather threatened to ruin the entire project – on one side I sprayed a little too heavily with the green and it leaked and spread under the masking. After venting some frustration (“Model Railroading is Fun”?? – MR’s old tagline) including some choice words that would have disappointed my mother, I tried to recover the project by scraping away some of the green paint, and repainting the side again with white to touch it up and once again masking off the trim and windows and then touching up the green.

I think I managed to not botch it too much the second time around. Phew.

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The shingles are a heavy paper product from Rusty Stumps. They are pre-cut for a standard 3-tab shingle pattern and can be ordered with or without an adhesive backing. (Rusty Stumps has several different variations of shingle types available, and different colours are also available. Their dark green will likely come in handy when I build Hawk Junction station…)

You can see above that I have also been working on finishing off the assorted tool and speeder sheds with shingle roofing material as well (I actually completed a few of these over the Christmas season, and applied the last shingles to the section house tonight). Some of these small structures are known to have tarpaper/roll roofing but I’ve managed to source some photos here and there and some of the specific locations I’m intending these for (Franz, Mosher) had shingle roofing on these sheds. Even some of the different section houses had varying roofing and siding treatments, with some of them also having tar paper roofing as well. Franz however, is well documented as having normal black asphalt shingles.

All of the model structures just need a ridge cap applied yet to complete the roofing treatment.

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Here we see what the Franz section house would look like in context with its storage shed, although you kind of have to imagine a forest around and behind it, a nearby outhouse, and chances are when I actually build Franz, you’ll end up looking at the back of the house from the aisle.

It’s taken a while, and had it’s bumps along the way, but I’m happy that these structures are really starting to look a bit more like the real ones they represent.

Franz Section House – Porch and Trimming

I’ve had the opportunity to put a little more work into my section house build, and it’s starting to get a lot closer to finished.

Across the front of the structure is a covered porch which extends the full width of the building. According to the standard drawings, the porch extends five and a half feet forward from the structure. To start the porch roof, I built an open framework using scale 4×4 strip for the porch roof. This was a very delicate piece to work with, but holds together fairly strongly once fully assembled with the sheet material for the roof’s surface cemented to the rafters.

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After this was all set up, I proceeded to add the fascia trim to all of the roof edges of the structure.

I also built the porch with a sheet of .020″ thick scribed Evergreen styrene sheet material and some .060x.060″ strip framing. Then, to complete the model down to the ground and also hold everything together more rigidly, I added the vertical board cladding all around the bottom supports of the structure. (Some more recent photos at this location show some of this replaced with lattice, but I have a couple of older photos that I’ve saved and archived in my reference folder where this is vertical siding all the way around, so I went with this approach.)

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You’ll also notice I’ve added the chimneys for the stoves that heat the structure. To mount the main chimney at the peak of the roof, I filed a notch into the roof itself so that the chimney could be cemented down on a flat surface rather than trying some sort of painful attempt to cut a peaked bevel into the base of the molded plastic chimney which I never would have pulled off cleanly.

The kitchen chimney however had the based filed off at an angle to bevel it to the slope of the roof.

Franz Section House Scratchbuild

Thanks to a couple of days off this week for American Thanksgiving (while I live and work in Canada, my office does the lion’s share of our business south of the border, so the office is closed these two days) I had a chance to actually spend a good amount of time working on model projects this week. And the main project I’m working on right now is a model of the section house for Franz, where the ACR crossed the Canadian Pacific transcontinental main line.

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Being able to just kick back and relax and spend a couple of evenings and pretty much most of my Saturday enjoying my models allowed me to actually make quite a bit more progress than I expected and the main body of the section house is essentially completed:

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The body of the structure and the doors and corner trim were constructed in the same manner and using the same approach and techniques as with the tool sheds, just with a slightly different shaped building.

As the windows on the Franz section house were all covered (and a 1981 slide in my collection showing a general view of the structures along Franz siding shows that this was the case then as well, and the newer bunkhouse and maintenance tool/storage shed are also in place then) I did not cut out the window openings to install window castings, but overlaid rectangles of .010″ styrene on the surface of the structure wall to represent the cover over the window opening and scratchbuilt frames with .010x.060″ strip and a .020x.020″ bottom sill.

The roof is .040″ sheet and still needs some fascia trimming to finish up the detailing, and a mount for the chimney in the centre of the roof line.

Next will be a matter of constructing the porch and porch roof and the footings on which the structure sits and is raised off of the ground.

ACR Standard Design Section Houses Part 2

As a follow-up to my previous post on the ACR’s standard design section house, here’s a collection of additional still surviving section houses along the line. Many of these are now private cottages, and a few farther to the north on the railway are simply abandoned.

Northland (Mile 24.7)

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Northland section. September 30, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

Typical design. Now a private cabin. The sign hanging off of the porch roof identifies it as “The Ranch”. Notice that this house has a shallower roof pitch than most of the others, matching a 1/3 roof pitch shown on standard drawings.

Another view of Northland Section in 1988, before the trees screened some of the view, from Ted Ellis’s site.

Achigan (Mile 41.8)

Achigan section, July 28, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

Achigan section, July 28, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

Achigan section has received some renovations with a replaced roof, siding and windows. Looks like the kitchen needs a little work yet. This shows a steeper roof pitch than the 1/3 shown in the standard drawing and the Northland section house above.

Achigan in 1974 (Ted Ellis)

Batchewana (Mile 79.8)

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Batchewana section. July 28, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

Batchewana is one of the last places south of Canyon that still have both an active full-length siding and a surviving section house structure. This is another almost original structure, although the owner of the house has enclosed the porch into a sunroom.

Batchewana section in 1970 (Ted Ellis)

Rand (Mile 85)

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Rand section. August 2014. Nick Acciavatti.

This was the location of a forestry service fire base, and there are quite a number of other buildings located here pretty much all of which are privately owned cabins today. There was no ACR siding at this location, but the outline of the standard section house is unmistakable, even with new siding and windows.

Rand, 1979 (Ted Ellis)

Hubert (Mile 95. 5)

Hubert section. July 28, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

Hubert section. July 28, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

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Hubert section. July 28, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

This is another former section house that has received some extensive renovations in private ownership. It (and its associated sheds) have all received new metal roofing, new siding and upgraded windows. This cottage definitely appears to be in nice shape.

Frater (Mile 102.6)

Frater section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

Frater section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

Frater’s section house was located a little farther back from the rails, across the parking area for Frater station, which was formerly located just to the south. (The station was demolished several years ago.) Frater is one of the few places along the line with easy road access, with the nearest proper highway access (other than unimproved logging roads) being 50+ miles to the north or south.

Canyon (Mile 113.8)

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Canyon section. June 2000. Chris vanderHeide.

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Canyon section. July 28, 2014. Chris vanderHeide.

The former Canyon section house is now used as the Park Ranger’s bunkhouse and first aid station at Agawa Canyon Park.

The rough-edged wood siding, giving this structure a more rustic look, is not original. This structure once had the same sort of milled siding as found on the other typical ACR section houses.

Eton (Mile 120.1)

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Eton section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

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Eton section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

The section house at Eton is now a private rental lodge. It’s seen some alterations with the front porch enclosed making a sun room, an enlarged first floor window on the south side, an extended deck and a large addition on the north side of the structure, but otherwise this structure still exhibits the typical look of ACR section houses. It also appears to have been relocated from an original location lower and closer to the tracks.

Eton is the first siding north of Canyon and still remains in service as an active siding. There is also currently quite an active pulpwood loading spur near the north end of Eton siding.

O’Connor (Mile 125.5)

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O’Connor section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

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O’Connor section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

There is no siding at this location, just this lonely section house, which is now a private cabin. Another typical design, very close to the standard drawing and almost identical to Agawa, Mashkode and Batchewana except for window and door locations on the kitchen annex.

Perry (Mile 149.9)

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Perry section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

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Perry section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

Another section house that is now privately owned. The front porch has been gussied up a bit with a lattice railing, and the stonework chimney on the south side of the structure is an alteration. You can see a cap in the middle of the roof line where the original centrally located brick chimney would have been.

The kitchen extension on this section house is definitely unusual, being full width across the back of the structure and having a peaked gabled roof, instead of a simple slanting lean-to roof that would be common on other section houses.

Perry, 1988 (Ted Ellis)

Franz (Mile 194.9)

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Franz section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

Another fairly typical section house with a large rear annex, although the window locations vary a bit from most other section houses. This building was replaced by a newer one story crew bunkhouse nearby, and is now boarded up and disused. Franz is another example with a shallower roof pitch similar to the drawing in the Sault Public Library Archives.

Oba (Mile 244.7)

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Oba section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

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Oba section. September 30, 2013. Chris vanderHeide.

This abandoned bunk house at Oba has probably the most unusual siding treatment, being covered in tan asphalt “insul-brick” below the eaves and grey shingles on the gable end. Rolled roofing instead of shingles is also unusual compared to other examples. The chimney also appears to be located to the rear of the main structure instead of the exact centre along the ridge line.

Trees and bushes growing in around the derelict structure make it hard to tell if it even has a rear annex, although this would be particularly unusual for the kitchen annex to not be present.

To finish off, here’s a few more section house locations not covered above from Ted Ellis. If any of these actually still exist today, I was looking out the wrong side of the train when we passed and didn’t see them.

Heyden (Mile 14.1), 1972

Wanda (Mile 188.3), 1983

Horsey (Mile 273.1), 1973

Coppell (Mile 280.9), 1973

And that would seem to be about it for prototype section houses for now. With some various simple sheds tackled, I’m ready to get into building one or two of these bunkhouses, starting with a new model of the Franz section house with proper dimensions.

Stay tuned…