Sunday, 19 July 2020

CN Stuart Street Yard - GMD SW1200RS Road Switchers

The story of CN’s gnarly looking 1200/1300 series SW1200RS locomotive is well known. Between 1955 and 1960 GMD London would deliver some one hundred and ninety-two of the diminutive road switchers which were deployed system wide. They could be found in all manner of service from singular industrial switching to MU’d mainline manifest freights. The Hamilton based gaggle would initially serve in their intended over the road role; mainline transfers, out of yard deliveries and the well-known daily way freight along the former H&NW line south to Port Dover. For decades the compliment of purpose built MLW S-4’s performed most of the switching duties associated with the steel city’s vast lake front industrial base. In time, as the MLW’s were retired, the SW1200RS’s would increasingly assume the switching activities in and around the Stuart Street yard. Unlike their similarly shaped MLW S-4 counterparts who were not as fortunate, the 1200/1300’s were subject to life extending rebuilds and upgrades, making them commonplace for some forty plus years. While their existence on Canadian National has all but evaporated, a couple soldier on. Incredibly, No. 7304 (built in August of 1960 as No. 1390) continues to toil away at the nearby Parkdale steel distribution center. While not as popular on the aftermarket scene as their larger cousin GP9RM’s, there are numerous SW1200RS’s in the employ of short lines, industrial operations and contract leasing and contract switching companies. Considerable time will pass before they become nothing but museum pieces. 
No. 1208 was constructed by GMD as No. 1579 early in 1956. Renumbered in mid 1956 the unit is shown in the Allan Fleming ‘wet noodle’ origin 1961 scheme. Aside from paint, changes since delivery include the application of robust spark arresters, full length walkway platform handrails and ACI labels. No. 1208 would depart the roster in 1984. 
No. 1364 was delivered from GMD in April of 1960. Counting from the original olive green/yellow delivery dress, No. 1364 is dressed in the fourth version scheme whereas  Note the shorter height of the smoke arrester stacks.
While GMD became famous for their production volume of the SW1200RS north of the border, it was actually parent EMD that pioneered the model. According to the authoritative chronicle ‘Canadian National Railways Diesel Locomotives Volume Two’ Grand Trunk Western took delivery of four units (Nos. 1505 – 1508) a few months prior to parent Canadian National. GMD would enhance the design somewhat by increasing the fuel capacity and adding large, easy to see number boards on both ends. No. 1366 was delivered from GMD in April of 1960 and is shown wearing the final paint scheme applied to the pint sized road units.

No. 1387 was delivered by GMD to CN in July of 1960. In 1999 the veteran unit was reassigned as a shop switcher and renumbered CS03. Declared surplus two years later the London graduate was sold to Larry’s Truck and Electric (LTE) and renumbered 1213.

No. 7309 was originally constructed in June of 1960 as CN 1378. In 1987 CN’s Pointe St. Charles facility embarked upon a life extension rebuild program of the SW1200’s. Basically in kind, the rebuild included 645 power assemblies, improved cab amenities and relocation of the horn cluster from the cab front to a position adjacent to the bell. Note that the exhaust stacks were returned to as delivered geometry. Acknowledging that they remained of relatively low HP, CN capped the rebuild program at eighteen units; Nos. 7300 – 7317. Following her employment with CN No. 7309 was sold to LTE in 2009 becoming LTEX 1212 and subsequently LTEX 1231.

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