Saturday, 25 May 2019

CN Rymal Pt. 11: Freight Cars Part 2 - Shaw Pipe Protection

In addition to the double ended siding at Rymal, two other spur tracks served local area industries; Penn Lumber and Shaw Pipe Protection – see Rymal Part 4 ( While the Rymal Station stop trackwork dated from the 1870’s inauguration of passenger service, most likely the additional sidings were constructed in the late 1950’s as the diminutive local  industrial base expanded. This month’s installment will focus on railway operations related to Shaw Pipe Protection.
Hamilton was and is known as the ‘Steel Capitol of Canada’; both the Steel Company of Canada (Stelco) and Dominion Foundries and Steel (Dofasco) once operated major facilities on the lakefront. Today, only AcelorMittal, owner through acquisition of Dofasco, continues to produce steel. Operations at the recently renamed back to Stelco instalation are currently limited to finishing (galvanizing) and coking.
In its prime, Stelco had several affiliated area operations including Stelpipe located in nearby Welland. While the facility manufactured a variety of pipe geometries, their staple was oil & gas pipe intended for major pipeline construction projects. Underground pipe requires a protective coating, a process performed by Shaw Pipe Protection. Formed in 1958, Shaw Pipe Protection Limited would initially establish coating facilities in Hamilton and Toronto. Proximity to pipe supply together with rail access combined to make the local hamlet of Hannon an ideal location for the Shaw facility. A thriving enterprise for some thirty years, the level of activity would ebb, and flow as major pipeline construction projects were launched and completed. In 1984 Shaw secured a major supply contract related to a large-scale pipeline construction project in western Canada. Due to limited siding capacity it became necessary to switch the Shaw siding twice a day; in the morning by the daily way freight, in the afternoon by an ‘Extra’ job dispatched from the south. ‘Extra’ weekend switching was also required. Following the lifting of rails in 1993 activity at the Shaw plant began to decline significantly. A further blow was dealt in 2005 when Stelpipe was sold off as part of Stelco’s insolvency. Lack of rail access together with potentially unstable pipe supply resulted in Shaw having virtually no opportunity to participate in major pipeline construction contracts. As a result the facility was essentially doomed; overall operations would cease around 2007. Several years ago the entire infrastructure was razed and the vacant land remains a brownfield site. While no development has subsequently taken place on the former Shaw property it appears that the process of soil remediation is nearing completion. Still a global enterprise, information on what Shaw became part of, go to Additional information on the history and development of the Shaw corporation can be found within the obituary of founder Leslie Earl Shaw;
Above: CN 667407 is a 62 ft. flatcar built by National Steel Car (NSC) in 1974 as part of series CN 667275 – 667410. The payload consists of 24-inch pipe protected by a 2-Layer Polyethylene Coating known as ‘Yellow Jacket®’. Yellow Jacket® consists of a continuous sheath of high-density polyethylene cross-head extruded over a rubberized asphalt adhesive. Introduced over half a century ago the protective layer can withstand routine handling and allows for field bending in temperatures as low as -30°C. Note the adjacent CN gondola loaded with pipe to be coated.
Above: CN 668238 is an 89 ft. flatcar built by Hawker Siddeley Transportation (HST) as part of a three hundred car lot (CN 668000 – 668299) in December of 1975. Compared to the payload above, the pipe appears to have received some type of asphalt or perhaps rubber-based coating. For pipe protective coating alternatives, go to;
Above: CN 557353 is a 52’ – 8” combination door boxcar built by National Steel Car (NSC) in January of 1973 as part of series CN 557300 – 557439. Most likely this car is being used to bring in raw materials related to the coating process; blast grit media, plastic pellets (bagged), etc. Despite only being eleven years old, the car appears to have been recently repainted.
Above: CP 341485 is a 52 ft. low side gondola built by Eastern Car Company in 1954 as part of five hundred car build lot (CP 341000 – 341499). Note the converted friction bearing trucks on both this car and the coupled CP gondola. Given the mandated AAR maximum service life of forty years (cars built prior to 7/1/1974), CP 341485 would only be eligible to continue in service for another decade. Due to the proximity of Stelpipe in nearby Welland, a greater amount of pipe was delivered to Shaw by transport truck rather than flatcar or gondola. Local trucking company ‘Tallman Transport’ maintained a service contract with Stelpipe for several decades.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

CN at Rymal Pt. 10: Motive Power Part 5.

Employing the inauguration of passenger service date of 1873 and the lifting of rails date of 1993 as book ends, Rymal would be witness to some one hundred and twenty years of motive power evolution. Steam locomotive wise, the technology would progress from diminutive so called ‘American’ 4-4-0’s to CNR’s preeminent ‘Northern’ 4-8-4’s. Late in steam, the everyday freight or mixed became famous for ‘Moguls’ and ‘Ten Wheelers’. To climb out of the lower city, when warranted by tonnage, the light weight Moguls were either doubled up (sometimes tripled!) or aided by ‘Mikados’. While the former H&NW line may not have been home to 4-8-4’s for the workaday traffic, superstar excursion performer Northerns 6167 & 6218 each plied the line in the 1960’s.
As previously mentioned, my attention (i.e. take photos) to the line began in the mid 1970’s. Motive power at the time was exclusively the smallish, gnarly appearing SW1200RS. Wooden cabooses were still the order of the day. The interest and experience would consume almost a decade and a half. GP9RM 4107 pictured below would be the last unit I would capture on film (why did I shoot B&W for so long???!!!). Nevertheless, I’m more than grateful to have had the opportunity to capture as much Rymal activity as I did over the years.
Above: CN GP9RM No. 4107 was constructed by GMD London in September of 1957 as GP9 No. 4123. Remanufactured by PSC in 1984, remarkably the veteran unit is still in service at age sixty-two! With no turning facility at Rymal the freshly rejuvenated unit will venture south back to home base long hood forward. Guessing that the crew has left the unit idling to go and have dinner on this pleasant appearing evening of July 27th 1989.
CN GP9 No. 4569 coming and going. Unfortunately, I did not take the time to date some of my earlier material. However, there are some time frame clues. The car in the background is a 1980 Plymouth Horizon TC3, my first set of wheels. Need for my own form of transportation was generated by my entering Engineering at McMaster University in the fall of 1979. Judging by the remnants of snow, the season would appear to be late spring, most probably in 1980. The relatively short consist is shown sprinting across Nebo Road, about to cross Twenty Side Road. Today the right of way has been transformed into the ‘Chippewa Rail Trail’ that will eventually connect Hamilton with Caledonia. Note the well-maintained track structure, permitting No. 4569 enough speed to generate conspicuous exhaust blow back/dissipation. Constructed by GMD 11/1957, No. 4569 would be transformed in 1990 by PSC into slug No. 245 and is still listed on the active roster. The HANNON SCHOOL structures shown in the background still exists as IBEW offices.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

CN Stuart Street Locomotive Shop - Motive Power Variety

In the 1960’s, with its convenient location (positioned more or less centrally among the cities of London/Niagara Falls and the metropolis of Toronto), the Stuart Street facility was always home to a diverse bastion of diesel locomotives. Numerous switchers, of course, to serve the yard and vast water front industrial base, road switchers to serve the branchline south to Lake Erie, as well as passenger units deployed on the Oakville subdivision Lake Shore commuter trains. Recall that this was, for the most part, pre MacMillan Yard/diesel shop and pre GO Transit. Drop pits in the shop building facilitated government mandated ninety-two day inspections and protection (spare) units or units in need of minor repairs could easily be accommodate within the sizeable amount of real-estate. As previously mentioned, the infrastructure would evolve and diminish in importance over time. Eventually, all of the locomotive maintaining functions would be transferred to other locations and the infrastructure razed.

A sunny morning in August of 1966 finds the backyard of the Stuart Street diesel shop crowded with a marvelous gathering of GMD/MLW built motive power. Left to right; SW1200RS 1229, FP9 6513 + sister FP unit, SW1200RS 1315 and S4 8167, among other unidentified brethren. Nos. 1229 and 8167 are in their as delivered schemes while 1315 and 6513 sport the famous 1961 modernization dress. Aside from the MLW interloper this image could very well serve as an advertisement for General Motors with the Morency Orange panel truck prominently featured in the foreground! Today we could photo shop out the S4!

A scene that would cause an MLW Salesman to smile from ear to ear! Not a competitive intruder in sight! Present that day; RS-18’s No. 3114 (blt 10/59), Nos. 3126/3129 (blt 12/59), and S-3 No. 8468 (blt 1953). Retirements from the RS-18 build group (3100 – 3129) would commence in 1982 and by 1975 all of the S-3’s would be gone.
Changing of the guard! A pleasant Halloween day finds a transitional assortment of all GMD power on property. Left to right; GP40-2L(W) 9436, GP9 4524 and GP9RM 4116/unidentified GP40-2L(W). No. 9436 (blt 6/74) would be cast off in 2000 becoming TPW 4053, No. 4524 (blt 12/56) would be transformed by PSC (1991) into GP9RM 7028 and is still active, while No. 4116 was constructed as GP9 4131 (blt 10/57) having been remanufactured by PSC in 1984 and is also still active. Note that in the intervening years that the black horizontal fuel storage tank has been replaced by a trio of silver vertical tanks.

Friday, 25 January 2019

CN Rymal Pt. 9: Freight Cars Part 1

The siding at Rymal was part of the original construction of the Hamilton and Lake Erie Railway, facilitating the first station stop above the escarpment. Following the last run of mixed train M233 in 1957 the small station was boarded up and the former H&NW line would be freight only its remaining thirty-six years. Local area residents recall that the quaint station structure was not razed until the mid 1960’s.
Overall, Rymal siding would see well over a century (1870 – 1993) of continuous use. In the diesel era daily way freights departing from Stuart St. Yard deposited waybilled cars on the double ended siding and also employed the parallel right of way to stage cars for delivery to the industrial sidings added for Shaw Pipe and Penn Lumber (see FLASHBACK CN Rymal Pt. 4). Following the damage to and subsequent removal of the Stone Church Road overpass (see FLASHBACK CN Rymal Pt. 2) in 1987, the siding was needed as a run around track for train movements dispatched from the south to be able to return to home base.
As previously noted, local development in the form of a construction material distributor breathed some life into the line, albeit very late in the game. The increase in activity was somewhat politically related. On October 4th 1987 the original Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was agreed to in principle. One of the benefits of the accord is documented in this post.
BN 621842 is a 60’ – 8” I.L. (Inside Length) bulkhead flat car built by Greenville Steel Car Company in April of 1977. Greenville Steel Car (GSC) was a historic builder located in its namesake hamlet in western Pennsylvania. In 1986 GSC was acquired by Trinity Industries and manufacturing at the home location was shuttered in 2000. The wide flat expanse behind the car offered ample space for local enterprises to off load all manner of freight equipment.
BCIT 16705 is a 52’ – 8” I.L. bulkhead flat car built 12/1973 by Hawker Siddeley Transport (HST) located in Trenton Nova Scotia. The bundles of lumber are labelled for West Fraser. West Fraser Timber Company Ltd. ( is still a thriving enterprise, and still employs the same corporate insignia. Technically, the BCIT reporting mark implies that this flatcar is not permitted to make domestic moves. As this is long before the FTA, either the lumber originated in the US, or a duty violation has occurred. Note the displaced bundle bands; in both directions!
CN 603147 is a 52’ – 8” I.L. bulkhead flat car built 1/1975 by HST. As the wrapping on the lumber bundles is labelled ‘BC RESOURCES’, the origin of the payload is not a mystery! Note that the middle two rows are hard against the left-hand bulkhead. No doubt hard coupling related!
BN 621842 is a nominal 100 ton capacity (263,000 lbs total Gross Rail Load) car with a load limit (LD LMT) of 183,200 lbs. This would translate into a payload of approximately 3,100 sheets of drywall. Note that to minimize any potential damage due to shifting of the payload, dunnage has been inserted between the bundles of drywall to force them tight against the bulkheads. Damage is further mitigated by the fact that this car is equipped with End Of Car Cushioning (EOCC).
DWC 605628 is a 52’ – 8” I.L. bulkhead flat car built 11/1973 by CN Transcona. The LD LMT of 161,000 lbs would translate into approximately 2,800 sheets of 4’ x 8’ ½” thick sheets of drywall. Note that the top of the payload is well below the Inside Height (I.H.) of 11’ – 1”.
TTPX 81430 is a 60’ – 7-1/2” I.L. bulkhead flat car built by Bethlehem Steel Car (BSC) 11/1975. Increasingly, US based freight cars appeared at Rymal loaded with American product.
TTPX 82394 is a 60’ – 7-1/2” I.L. bulkhead flat car built by BSCar (BSC) in 1980. The load is labeled ‘TEMPLE – EASTEX’; a paper/building products company, now part of International Paper.