Sunday, 18 March 2018

CN at Rymal Pt. 6: Motive Power Part 2

CN GP9 No. 4130 was constructed by GMD London in October of 1957. In order to clear the number sequence for the GP9RM program the unit would become No. 4383 in 1984, and subsequently be remanufactured into ‘booster unit’ (slug) No. 237 by CN Pte. St. Charles (PSC) in 1988. Following several years of faithful yard and transfer service, the tractive effort assister would be removed from the roster in 2005. No. 4130 is shown switching Shaw Pipe Protection (see CN at Rymal Pt. 4) on June 7th 1984. Set up to run long hood forward, No. 4130 has traveled as designed north from Caledonia to service the facility mid day. Shaw Pipe at the time was in the midst of a large scale production order. While inbound uncoated pipe was received from local suppliers by transport truck, most finished product was shipped out by flat car. With only one relatively short siding an extra move was required during this frenzied period in order to keep the operation fluid. Earlier in the morning the daily wayfreight dispatched from Stuart St. Yard in Hamilton would have also made a pit stop to switch out loads.

While the 1960’s and 1970’s were the preserve of CN’s ubiquitous SW1200RS, motive power along the former H&NW over the following years until abandonment primarily consisted of Dick Dilworth’s seemingly omnipresent GP9. The transition is entirely logical. Throughout the middle to late 1970’s CN took delivery of several hundred GMD wide cab GP/SD40-2’s, displacing older/lower HP locomotives from mainline and higher priority manifest service. Despite relatively low traffic volume along the H&NW, the right of way and track structure were well maintained and could easily handle the nominally larger road units. Thus, tonnage that on occasion required three end cabs could easily be conveyed by a pair of ‘Geeps’. Often, as shown, a single GP9 was sufficient.
While interchange traffic continued to diminish, there were a couple of ‘Last Hurrah’s’ for the line. As noted above, the local pipe coating enterprise landed a sizeable contract related to a major Western Canada pipeline project. Probably much better known was the movement of cast steel slabs from Stelco’s newly commissioned Lake Erie Works to their Hilton Works based rolling mills in lower Hamilton. Unfortunately, due to the Stone Church bridge transport truck incident in 1987, the Rymal segment of this trip was rather short lived – see CN Rymal Pt. 2.

No. 4521 was built 12/1956 by GMD London. In 1985 the veteran unit would enter the Pte. St. Charles remanufacturing facility and subsequently emerge as GPRM No. 7007. In 2011 the unit would be sold to Motive Power Resources ( becoming MVPX 7007. CN 4521 is shown switching the CO-OP siding in June of 1979.

CN 4521 together with sister 4560 is shown on a caboose hop southbound just about to duck under the White Church Road overpass (just east of the hamlet of Mt. Hope). Unfortunately I did not date my early material; best guess is spring of 1980 or 1981.
CN GP9 No. 4523 was delivered from GMD London in December of 1956. Note the lack of dynamic brakes, a consequence of wreck repair employing a replacement GP7 long hood assembly. In 1990 No. 4523 would be remanufactured into booster unit No. 263 and is still on the roster. Nos. 4523/4521 are shown crossing Limeridge Road E on Hamilton Mountain in an undated photo; guessing spring of 1981.
Similar to No. 4523 above, No. 4524 (GMD London 12/1956) has been subject to GP7 long hood replacement, most likely also due to wreck repair. CN had long ago disabled the dynamic brakes in their GP9 fleet and in most cases the hardware remained in place. Similar to the sisterhood, No. 4524 would be included in the PSC GP9RM program and renumbered to 7028. While still on the roster, No. 7028 has been out of service for a couple of years. Coupled to No. 4125, No. 4524 is shown north of Highway 53 (Rymal Road), switching Shaw Pipe Protection on May 30th 1984.
CN GP9 Nos. 4528 and 4519 were delivered by GMD London in December of 1956. While both would be transformed by PSC into GPRM’s, only No. 4135 (1991 phoenix of 4528) is still on the roster. In 1985 No. 4519 would emerge as GP9RM No. 7006 and stay on the roster until 2000. In the photo above the duo is shown southbound diagonally crossing Nebo Road. Love that Firebird rag top! Again, more of my early undated material; most likely taken in the spring of 1981.
In 1991 No. 4560 (GMD London 11/1957) would become GP9RM No. 7055. Still toiling away for Canadian National, the venerable unit is shown some four decades earlier on the caboose hop previously shown from above. In this view Nos. 4560 and 4521 are heading south out of Hamilton about to cross Twenty Side Road. Aside from the engineer’s all weather window the GP9 is virtually as delivered. The building in the background on the left is the former Hannon public school, now the home of the IBEW Local 105 Training Center.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Copetown Show 2018

This past weekend, my dad, brother, and I attended the annual train show at Copetown, ON, known for being more of a showcase of modeling talent than of the more common flea-market type. This year was no different, with many models displayed by local modelers, an operating S-scale layout, and several photo and model scenery vendors. The weather was perfect with clear blue skies, so we turned up early in order to take in some railfanning before the show, though CN was a bit less cooperative than desired with only CN 385 making an appearance (photo angles a bit less than desirable). Still, it was a great chance to talk with old friends and make some new ones. I'll let the photos do the talking...


The operating S-scale layout took me back to the days of bringing a step-stool in order to be able to see the action!

Stephen Nichol displayed some very nice weathered CN locos, though my favourite is easily the OSR RS-18u.

Roger Chrysler displayed some of his outstanding Grand River Railway/Lake Erie & Northern models.
To me the Rapido table was the highlight of the show, with plenty of eye candy on display. The second group of 3800 CF hoppers have recently arrived at the Rapido headquarters, with the SW1200RS's about 3-4 weeks away.

Both my dad and I are eagerly waiting the arrival of the SW1200RS's.

CN 385 grinds up the last mile of the hill to Copetown with 12,000' of train and four screaming engines on the head end.

Friday, 19 January 2018

CN at Rymal Part 5 - 1970's Motive Power

Above: CN SW1200RS No. 1265 was delivered to the railway by GMD London in 1957. Nos. 1265 and 1213 have paused their early evening northward journey to switch either Shaw Pipe Protection or Penn Lumber. Unfortunately, in my early railfanning days I did not take notes or consistently record the date. Best guess is that this shot was taken in the spring of 1977 or 1978 using my trusty Russian made Zenit E fully manual SLR (external light meter) camera. As shown, pretty good optics from the Helios 58 mm lens on the bargain basement priced camera (scanned image from colour print film). See CN LINES SIG (CNRHA) Vol. 1 No. 1 for detailed information on CN’s SW1200RS’s.
This time we’ll take a look at the type of diesel power deployed by Canadian National to the south out of Hamilton. By the mid 1970’s motive power assignment along the former H & NW right of way was typical of most Canadian National branch line operations of the day; the ubiquitous SW1200RS. Most likely the pattern would have been the same in the 1960’s early post steam era. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across any photos of this period to confirm that this was in fact the case. As previously mentioned, the late steam era was wonderfully documented in Ian Wilson’s fabulous chronicle ‘Steam Echoes of Hamilton’.
Scheduled operation throughout the 1970’s was daily except Saturday. On rare occasion an extra would be sent out on the weekend, guessing due to traffic demand or other unusual circumstance. After reporting for duty at CN’s Stuart Street Yard in the early morning the crew would assemble their train, depart eastward, and swing off the Hamilton-Niagara mainline to do some street running in the lower city along Ferguson Avenue. After clattering across the T, H & B line at its base the train would conquer the Niagara Escarpment, zip through Rymal, and run south west to near the shore of Lake Erie. Depending upon the amount of switching/interchange activity at the south end terminus, the crew would normally transit back through Rymal in the opposite direction in the early evening. Remarkably, up until the delivery of PSC vans (caboose) and their immediate deployment to mainline traffic, all trains were trailed by CN’s well maintained wooden vans. Power wise, the normal compliment was two units, back to back as shown, so as to not have to worry about reversing the consist to return home. However, it was not uncommon for the amount of tonnage to require a third unit, still arranged so that there was always a long hood at each end. Traffic was always much heavier southbound and on occasion, the northward move would be light power. Apparently when the lack of tonnage permitted, crews of MU’d SW1200RS’s would idle the lead unit (or all but one trailing unit) so as to provide a quieter ride. Not sure if it was the practice on this line?
Above: No. 1204 was delivered to the railway by GMD in March of 1956. Despite being the lowest numbered SW1200RS, No. 1204 was not the class unit. No. 1222, built as No. 1593 seven months prior to No. 1204 (built as No. 1575) was the first pint-sized road switcher produced by GMD London. See production totals below. Aside from a couple of low volume home road remanufacturing programs, the SW1200RS’s were not subject to much in the way of extended service life. Unfortunately, they did not prove to be overly popular on the second hand locomotive market either. No. 1204 would leave the roster in 1990.
Above: CN SW1200RS No. 1208 was completed by GMD in February of 1956. Note the white extra flags above the front end number boards and ACI label on the frame just ahead of the cab. Following twenty-eight years of service No. 1208 would leave the roster in 1984.
Above: No. 1213 was also delivered by GMD in 1956. The unit is shown decorated in the third (of four) SW1200RS paint schemes (1973) while No. 1265 is sporting the second (1961). With production concluding in 1960, all SW1200RS’s would have initially been delivered in the classic olive green and gold dress. Note that the engineer has been treated to an all-weather window. Aside from the addition of full length handrails and top mounted radiator covers, the units were virtually unaltered throughout their lengthy careers. Disposition wise, No. 1213 would be retired at age thirty-eight in 1994 while No. 1265 would be removed from service in 1991; age thirty-four.
Above: Incredibly, the above pan shot was taken by my sister using a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera! Guessing the date to be 1975 or 1976, No. 1233 is shown delivering the CP bulkhead flat car to Penn Lumber. Also constructed in 1956, No. 1233 would be stricken from the roster in 1990.
Above: Nos. 1265 and 1213 have crossed Hwy 53 (now known as Garner Road) to perform their switching duties. Note the style of end platform steps employed by GMD. Compared to their EMD counterpart, the London factory favoured vertical geometry vs. stepped.
CNR SW1200RS production by General Motors Diesel Division in London Ontario
Former Nos.
1204 - 1221
1575 - 1592
1220/1221 renumbered to 425/426 in 1979
1222 - 1226
1593 - 1597
Renumbered to 1504 - 1508 in 1957
1227 - 1247


1248 - 1268


1271 - 1288


1289 - 1304

1295 trnsf to AMF in 1994. Renum AMF 01
1305 - 1337


1338 - 1357


1358- 1397