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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

13-11-27 PHOTOS: Thanksgiving Transfer

Every year on the day before thanksgiving I go out with Chuchubob for some area railfanning. This always includes at least an hour along Amtrak's NEC to catch whatever extra trains and expanded trainsets they are operating, but also includes trips to various SEPTA or NJT locations. Unlike previous years Thanksgiving Wednesday 2013 was marred by a constant drizzle so Bob and I figured we should hit up Bristol and West Trenton due to the guarantee of good action and passenger shelters to keep the rain off.

While this plan was somewhat successful two day later on Black Friday Bob found himself available and we set out again to check out Cove road and the newly opened Pennsauken Transportation Center so the two trips combined yielded a fairly descent photo set which you can find in its entirety right here

So we begin trying to locate the Bristol train station in the city's maze of one way streets. After making a wrong turn we happened to catch an outbound R7 train lead by Silverliner IV #417 passing under the 67 automatic signal.

Not to worry, with 30 minute headways another R7 showed up with SL-IV #387 in front and #406 on the rear.

A 5-car inbound R7 also went by with SL-IV #163 on the front and #407 on the back.

For the Amtrak stuff I stuck to video since still was going all blurry. We were there for a little over an hour and saw quite a few trains, but due to a service disruption on the Shore Line southbound Boston trains including T95 and an AX were no-shows. This montage includes:

Northbound Keystone with AEM-7 #952.
Northbound Silver Service train with HHP-8 #650, 3 sleepers and an extra baggage car on the rear.
Southbound Regional 1195 with AEM-7 #932.
Southbound Amtrak Pennsylvanian with AEM-7 #907.
Southbound Silver Service train with HHP-8 #657, 3 sleepers and 5 Amfleet II coaches.
Northbound Acela Express with power cars #2010 and #2015.
Northbound Keystone with AEM-7 #949.

We arrived in West Trenton in time to catch an R3 in the act of departing towards Philadelphia with SL-IV #309 on the rear.

The inbound was soon replaced by an outbound R3 with SL-IV #361.

The proper route under the tracks is long and cumbersome so the entire train of people just cross the tracks. While this might not look safe the train was facing a Restricting signal.

SL-IV #132 was on the rear as the train pulled into the yard.

After Bob, myself and a second friend ate lunch at Freddies, we noticed that the track #2 dwarf signal was lit up with a Clear indication for an approaching freight train which turned out to be a North Dakota special complete with BNSF runthrough power including C44-9W #5295.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

13-11-03 PHOTOS: BSM Antiversary

While most railfans in the Northeast were enjoying themselves on a rare millage excursion courtesy of Amtrak on the first weekend in November, 2013, a small group of non-conformists decided to sit out the festivities in Baltimore and celebrate what they considered to be a somewhat more important milestone. The Baltimore Streetcar Museum was founded in 1966, got its stuff in 1968 and started operating in 1970, so one might wonder what they would be celebrating in 2013. Well this is the 50th anniversary of the cessation of streetcar operations in Baltimore City by the Baltimore Transit Company in 1963. While celebrate might not be the right word for this unfortunate, but by no means unique event, the BSM was not going to miss the opportunity for a special shindig.

I believe that the date of the last run was on Nov 3rd, 1963, but the interesting things was that it took place around 6:30am instead of something like midnight and that was because while official scheduled service ended at the time you would expect, trolley enthusiasts had chartered a special last run car which stayed out until just before sunrise. Now I am not sure that I would count a charter as "service", but the BSM seems to and 50 years later they reenacted the event by having a simulated last run at the appointed time before continuing on with a full day of Streetcar Museuming in conjunction with a Maryland Classic Car enthusiasts group to provide additional "atmosphere".

You can find all the roadcar and streetcar photos here.

I am going to start off with this photo of a classic Baltimore Transit Company GM bus #1426 because I think the BSM missed a wonderful opportunity to have a little fun. Instead or commemorating the last run then having a normal museum day they should have converted the Baltimore Streetcar Museum into the Baltimore Bus Museum, declaring that the trolleys had been retired from service because they were too "old fashioned" or something. They then could have kept up the charade for the remainder of the day giving rides in this and other buses until some pretext brought the trolleys back.

Anyway, the coolest piece of equipment on display was this yellow 1970 Pontiac GTO. This is one of the first road cars to be outfitted with a modern solid state AC propulsion package...or at least that's that Wikipedia's disambiguation page seemed to imply. It would take over two decades before this technology made it to rail vehicles.

Here is Baltimore's very own PCC #7404 sitting out on the loop under the fall leaves and sun.

 One special treat was the car #417 was finished its restoration work and ready for limited service. #417 is the oldest operable electric streetcar in the world having been built around 1880 as a pre-electric horse car then later fitted with electric traction. Unfortunately while riding #417 I missed my chance to ride in the GM Bus :-(

Business end of #417.

1959 VW Bug.

I should know what this is, but I don't. Perhaps one of the folks who had one of these as a kid could help me.

BSM workhorse #4553 with a 1980's Corvette in the foreground.

1970's flame painted GMC van that did not happen to be a-rockin.

It was warm enough for open car #1164 to be out, seen here at the 28th St loop.

Full house on #1164.

While I didn't get to ride the evil GM Bus #1426, I did snag a few photos inside it.

One wouldn't think that a streetcar rail designed to be used in the street would present a hazard to road vehicles, but while exiting the event this Ford Falcon ripped off its oil pan and exhaust system. One of the major disadvantages to low riding.

The BSM did have two work cars on hand to tow the hapless Falcon, but there was no room in the carbarn to perform the needed repairs.

Well that's it. Next time tune in for some Thanksgiving stuff.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

13-11-02 PHOTOS: Amtrak Fall Foliage Express

In 2013 Amtrak added something new to its fall foliage excursion offerings, which had previously consisted of attaching its remaining great dome car to various trains such as the Adirondack and Cardinal. Marshaling spare cars from across its system, Amtrak assembled an 18 or so car special excursion train to run a rare milage trip starting at Philadelphia's 30th St Station, running down the NEC, up the Port Road, around Enola Yard, over the Rockville Bridge, back down the Royalton Branch and across the Columbia Secondary before finally returning to Philadelphia via the Harrisburg Line.

While the trip was great and offered some excellent scenery, it was somewhat marred because the actual photography options were a bit limited thanks to being stuck inside an Amfleet car with tinted windows (I was in one of the Amfleets instead of the Horizon cars which made up the bulk of the train and I think offered clearer windows).

I won't try to bore you too much with a lot of nasty side window shots with all the reflection and color balance issues, but if you want to see the full set you can find them right here.

It was clear that the best photo opportunities were afforded those persons who chose to chase the train instead of ride the train so I wound up with more photos of railfans than railcars. Here we see a group at the point of the wye in Perryville, MD as he turn off onto the Port Road.

Now on the Port Road we soon passed under the former B&O Philly Sub bridge over the Susquehanna River.

Crossing the Octararo Creek on the Port Road south of the Conowingo Dam.

Flock of about 15-20 vultures (or Eagles?) perched in trees along the Susquehanna River. 

New and old powerhouses at the Holtwood Dam.

Approaching the new signals at CP-WEST HARBOR under the A&S Viaduct that I visited last week via bicycle.

Mann's Run Shoo Fly (flume) that I had also visited a few weeks prior from the other side.

Railfans at the Walnut St crossing and Route 30 bridge in Columbia, PA.

Looking north up the Susquehanna River towards Three Mile Island at the Shocks Mill Bridge.

Site of the old PRR Electrification substation at Enola Yard.

NS SD40-2 #3353 and GP38-2 #5004 sitting at Enola Yard framed by the old school PRR catenary supports.

C40-9W #9730 and C40-10W #7668 at the Enola Yard engine terminal.