Saturday, 14 August 2021

CN Rymal Pt. 17 Caledonia 6/13/1992

Following the disruption to the former H&NW line at the Stone Church Road overpass in 1987 (see CN Rymal Pt. 2) all train movements to service Rymal were dispatched northward from the southern terminus. As previously described, at about the same time, activity at Rymal had increased marginally beyond the existing enterprises with the arrival of a building products distributor. The new enterprise employed the CO-OP siding to receive a variety of bulkhead flat cars laden with drywall and assorted construction materials. The pint sized train shown in Caledonia is representative of the Rymal related traffic pattern at the sunset of line; the empty bulkhead flatcar having delivered drywall or lumber to the CO-OP siding (see CN Rymal Pt. 4), the loaded bulkhead flatcar having picked up coated aluminum extruded tubing from Shaw Pipe Protection. As previously depicted, the crew elected to save time and not place the caboose in the trailing position (see CN Rymal Pt. 6). Not surprisingly, the same view today is very different; both structures in the background have been razed, and most of the track shown has been lifted. In addition, the Argyle St. grade crossing behind the photographer has been removed and paved over. However, not all of the news is bad; the derelict (at the time) Caledonia Station out of frame to the left has been lovingly, authentically restored to its former glory. As well, Canadian National has repatriated the Hagersville sub from the short line sub-lease and is actively upgrading the line.
Seemingly, the van (caboose) is at the wrong end of the train.

CN GP9RM 4130 was built 4/1955 as GP9 1748, renumbered 4424 in 1956,  and remanufactured by PSC 1991.

PSC caboose 79669 was constructed in 1974. 

Following Transport Canada permission, so called ‘End Of Train’ (EOT) devices brought up the rear and the rolling conductor’s office would be off the roster by 1996.

Note that the paint is still shiny on the recently remanufactured ‘Geep’!

Sixty-six foot bulkhead flat car CNIS 621177 was constructed by Marine Industries Ltd (MIL) in April of 1980. Following service with Canadian National the BHF would be acquired by Essex Hybrid and is still active as ZEKX 621177.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

CN Stuart Street Yard – GMD ‘Light Weight’ GP9


As is well known, Richard M Dilworth was the creator of the landmark, historically ubiquitous ‘General Purpose’ masterpiece locomotive series. Following the introductory 1,500 HP GP7 was the marginally more powerful GP9 at 1,750 HP. GP9’s enjoyed a long production run in both the US and Canada and were offered in several forms; with or without dynamic brakes, with or without steam generators, high nose or low nose to name some of the versions. North of the border CN collaborated with EMD affiliate GMD to create a uniquely Canadian variant; the go anywhere, lightweight version.

Following the introduction of the GP9 to subsidiary Grand Trunk Western the prior year, CN would acquire their first ‘off the shelf’, standard version GP9’s in 1955. So as to expand their utility on the railway’s vast expanse of secondary trackage, CN worked with the GMD London Ontario plant to create a reduced mass version. By fitting smaller fuel tanks and swapping out ‘Blomberg’ trucks for ‘Flexicoil’ style, GMD was able to shave off as much as nine tons from the standard GP9 weight. The first six of the featherweight GP9’s arrived in November of 1956 (CN 4496 – 4501) and CN would eventually assemble a fleet of 192. CN’s mostly western Canada based network of marginal track work would initially script their principal operational region. As the volume prairie trackage diminished, many of the underweight GP9’s migrated east, several of which would eventually call the Stuart Street Yard in Hamilton home.

GP9 4351, built 10/1959 by GMD London, was remanufactured by AMF Technotransport in 1993 as GP9RM 7277 and is still active. Note the larger 48” diameter cooling fans, a late model GP9 production feature, and centrally mounted air tank adjacent to the undersized fuel tank. Note also the early application of so called ‘ditch lights’ hung from the end handrails.

CN GP9 4207 was constructed by GMD London in June of 1957. Renumbered from CN 4589 in 1957, the lowered mass unit was remanufactured by Pointe St. Charles in 1990 into GP9RM 7269 and retired 2013. Note the longitudinal geometry fuel tank and lack of underbody mounted air reservoir. Many of the lightweight GP9’s had their air reservoirs installed inside the short hood.

CN GP9 4276, built 1/1959 by GMD London, was remanufactured by AMF Technotransport in 1993 as GP9RM 7082. Retired in 2019, the veteran unit was subsequently acquired by Dieselmotive Company Inc. and renumbered BUGX 7082. Note the top of hood mounted air line running from the short nose inside mounted air reservoir.

CN GP9 4338 was delivered by GMD in June of 1959. Remanufactured by Atelier Montreal Facility (AMF) 1992 as GP9RM 7045, the veteran unit would be retired 2011.

CN GP9 4385 was constructed by GMD in October of 1957. Renumbered from 4133 in 1984, the London graduate would be remanufactured in 1992 by AMF as GP9RM 7072, and retired 2007. FAIX leasing would subsequently acquire the unit as their FAIX 801. Both the SW1200RS and lightweight GP were constructed with Flexicoil trucks. While some of the Flexicoil truck assemblies carried on under remanufactured slugsets, all of the lightweight GP’s rebuilt into GP9RM’s received replacement Blomberg style trucks.

Monday, 15 March 2021

CN Rymal Pt. 16 Freight Cars Part 5

 As previously mentioned, the former H&NW line southwest out of Hamilton was plied daily by way freights dispatched from the lake front Stuart Street Yard throughout the 1970’s, well into the mid 1980’s. For a brief period in 1984, the line experienced bidirectional dispatching related to a major pipeline coating order being processed by Shaw Pipe Production. As well as commerce generated on line, foreign RR connections at Hagersville and Jarvis supplemented the freight mix with interchange traffic. Hagersville was bisected by the Canada Southern (Caso); in succession, New York Central, Penn Central and Conrail. Trackage rights on the CN Cayuga subdivision permitted Norfolk and Western to pick up/drop off in Jarvis. Damage to the line at the Stone Church Road overpass in 1987 would result in as needed service northward only to Rymal with starting points off either the Dunnville subdivision from Caledonia or off of the Cayuga subdivision via Jarvis. Prior to the line severing, development of the Lake Erie adjacent Nanticoke industrial landscape generated traffic to and from the ‘Steel City’. Stelco’s satellite facility also resulted in the deployment of CN’s railfan favourite F units on steel slab trains. Following the Stone Church Road bridge mishap, southbound unit train movement of slabs followed a rather circuitous route via Brantford. Concerns related to the potential of a runaway careening through the lower city always kept northbound slab trains off the H&NW north of Caledonia.

ATSF 313158, Santa Fe Class Ga-180, was constructed by Pullman-Standard at their Butler, PA facility; lot 9617, series ATSF 312800-313799, built 12/1972 - 2/1973. Shown moving northbound through Rymal, a possible routing could have been as follows; an agricultural product load from the US mid-west interchanged to Conrail in Chicago, followed by movement along the Caso to Hagersville where it was dropped off for Canadian National.

CGLX 812 is from series CGLX 800 - 909, built by Hawker-Siddeley (HST) in Trenton, Nova Scotia; lot 2335, built 9 - 10/1968. The 3,800 cu. ft. covered hopper cars would later be renumbered to CP 383700 - 383802 in 1983 and 1984.

CN 302149/302423 are from series CN 302000 – 302599, built by National Steel car as lot P. 7940 from 2 - 6/1976. Both trains are shown southbound, most likely the ballast hopper cars are empty and destined for the Cayuga Quarry. Given the geological make up, the Niagara Peninsula was and still is dotted by quarry operations. In the past, in general, Canadian National practice was to employ crushed slag ballast on mainline track and limestone ballast on branch line right of ways. Slag ballast, as a waste byproduct of steel making, was relatively inexpensive. However, over time slag pulverizes, causes tie degradation and was later determined to have unwanted electrical properties. Limestone breaks down, but can be cleaned and re-applied. Ballasting is also regional; note the light coloured ballast in both views. Today, CN employs granite-like crushed rock as ballast along mainline ROW’s.

CN 663660 is from series CN 663600 - 663699 built by Canadian Car & Foundry as lot 2154 in October and November of 1956. Note that the utilitarian 52’ – 6” long flat car is equipped with friction bearing trucks. Over the years, raw pipe was delivered to, coated, and shipped from Shaw Pipe Protection. The flat cars shown are comparatively short for pipe transportation and may have been employed as idlers between overhanging pipe loads.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

CN Stuart Street Yard - GMD GP40-2L(W)/GP40-2(W)

With its vast, far flung system, Canadian National has historically always been subject to large scale motive power acquisitions. During the steam era the national carrier would assemble the largest fleet of Northern Type (4-8-4) locomotives; some two hundred and three. The diesel era would be no different; so called first generation motive power, among much builder variety, would be dominated by hundreds of Richard M Dilworth’s fabulous ‘Geep’s’ (system GP9 total: 434). The second generation of motive power would initially be populated by over two hundred SD40’s, delivered in the late 1960’s, followed a few years later by an even larger number of GP40-2’s fitted with the infamous CN developed ‘Comfort Cab’ or ‘Safety Cab’. 

In a repeat of history (the Northern Pacific Railway acquired the first 4-8-4 and established the ‘Northern’ name), while Canadian National would amass the largest fleet of GMD GP40-2’s they did not receive the first. That honour would to GO Transit when it took delivery of No. 9808 in December of 1973, three months ahead of CN 9400. CN would go on to order a total of two hundred and sixty-eight wide cab GP40-2’s from GMD and, in 1991, add ten of the eleven built for GO Transit.

No. 9446 was a member of the first order (9400 – 9490); delivered from GMD in June of 1974. Unfortunately, in March of 1997, No. 9446 would encounter a 200 ft. washout at Conrad British Columbia (Ashcroft Division) and tumble into the Fraser River. Unrecoverable, the twenty-three year old locomotive was stricken from the roster. Trailing unit No. 9554 (GMD 03/1975, build lot 9531- 9632) would depart the roster in May of 2000. Following service south of the border with the Yadkin Valley Railroad and Wiregrass Central Railway the London graduate would return home to toil on the Southern Ontario Railway as RLHH/SOR 3049. Subsequently sold to Metro East Industries, the well travelled locomotive would find a new home on the Indiana Harbor Belt as their No. 4022.
CN 9404/9653/9402/9412 are shown at the head of a caboose hop at Stuart Street Yard in Hamilton, ON. Note that the three 9400 series are GMD model GP40-2L(W); unique to CN, these ‘safety cab’ units were equipped with a light weight frame. Spotting clues include the taller geometry jacking/lift fittings above the trucks and full size (3000 gallon) fuel tanks. The additional weight of the wide nose cab necessitated the alternate frame geometry to stay within CN’s prescribed weight/axle load limit. Disposition as follows; CN 9404 (QGRY 3016), CN 9653 (MEC 513), CN 9402 (still in service with CN), CN 9412 (MEC 501).
CN 9493 was delivered from GMD 9/1974. Aside from the addition of rear cab snow shields and a replacement center cooling fan the unit is virtually unchanged since delivery.  Retired in 2007 the locomotive would be acquired by Progress Rail as their PRLX 9493. 

No. 9525 (GMD 11/1974, build group 9491 – 9530) is among the survivors still on the Canadian National roster; according to the 2020 issue of the Canadian Trackside Guide, as of 2020, fifty-nine of the onetime two hundred and seventy-eight man garrison still remain. After some fourteen years of service the unit is mildly weather beaten, but otherwise unaltered aside from the replacement center cooling fan and snow shields. Note the full sized fuel tank. 

No. 9550 departed GMD London in March of 1975 as a member of the follow up hundred unit order (9531 – 9632) CN placed with the EMD subsidiary. Note that the horns have been relocated from the top of the cab front bell bracket to a location just forward of the rear fans. Thinking this would be most appreciated by the crew!

No. 9653 (3/1976) is from the last group (9633 – 9667) constructed by GMD. Note that this build lot was equipped with standard geometry frames and fitted with shorter/smaller capacity fuel tanks. CN worked closely with GMD on the light weight frame that was included in earlier production and specified wheel slip control based on technology developed in house by the railway on their GP40’s. Note the speed recorder device and cable on the rear axle of each truck (front axles so equipped on opposite side).

GP40-2(W)’s Nos. 9667 (5/1976) and 9658 (4/1976) are shown at the head of a MAERSK container train. No. 9667 would depart the roster in March of 2000 and be acquired by Helm Financial while No. 9658 would be sold to Progress Rail in March of 2002 and eventually become DMVW 9658 (Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad).

Saturday, 24 October 2020

CN Rymal Pt. 15 Freight Cars Part 4 – Rymal Siding

As previously indicated, construction of the H&NW right of way out of Hamilton would conquer the Niagara escarpment in the late 1860’s and continue to forge southward towards Lake Erie. The siding at Rymal was laid early in achieving the higher ground landscape with construction of the diminutive station occurring shortly thereafter. Passenger service over some eighty-four plus years took place from September of 1873 until October of 1957. Post passenger duties, the parallel trackage would serve the local industries, mostly in a delivery capacity. While no doubt there were items shipped out from Rymal, receiving incoming loads was the primary function of the siding. Initially, grains (in boxcars) for the local feed mills and, in later years, construction materials for the local home improvement warehouse were the primary wares delivered to the location. Despite the line being severed at the Stone Church Road overpass in 1987, Rymal siding would remain active until the very end in 1993.

CLC 1347 (CLC 1301-1350, Pacific Car & Foundry, 11/1980) is shown adjacent to the long unused storage silos. With an inside length of 60’ – 6” the PCF bulkhead flatcar is of uncommon geometry compared to the popular 66’ – 0” car.
TOE 4158 (TOE 4100-4274, Evans-SIECO lot 1816, built 12/1980 - 2/1981), also 60’ – 6” inside length. Note the alternate bulkhead geometry compared to CLC 1347.
DWC 605660 (DWC 605600 – 605799, CN Transcona 11/1973 – 1/1974) has been emptied of its payload and is awaiting pick up at the unmistakably marked Rymal siding.

CN gondola 156261 (CN 156200 – 156399, NSC 12/1965 – 1/1966) has most likely been involved in OCS (on company service) maintenance of way activity; note what appears to be some type of culvert remnant at the end of the car. Incredibly, unlike the bulkhead flatcars noted above, and despite their mandated forty-year life, five of the original two hundred car build are still extant; most likely also in OCS/non-interchange service. This particular gondola was stricken from the roster at the end of 2015.

CN 603042 (CN 603025 – 603324, HST 12/1974 – 3/1975) is a 52’-8” bulkhead flatcar most likely shown loaded with drywall; the heavy black plastic sheeting providing protection from the elements. Note all the discarded strapping materials on the ground on the right-hand side of the photo. Despite the available fifty-year life, all the cars from this series have been removed from service; the industry having moved to higher capacity equipment.

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.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

CN Rymal Pt. 14 Line Side Structures

With week day way freight service and as required Saturday extras, the former H&NW (CN Hagersville Subdivision) branchline was maintained to Class 2 standards; Maximum 25 MPH (freight). Deferred maintenance and neglect would not be associated with the track work that remained active well into the late 1980’s. Like any right of way, all grade crossings needed some form of protection; a look at the Rymal Road (Highway No. 53) intersection as follows.
View is looking northeast from the points of the Shaw Pipe Protection siding lead. In the distance, crossing protection devices from left to right; cross arms with flashing lights, instrument cabinet (on ground), and nearer instrument case (on cement pole). Nearer shown also; switch stand and 25 MPH speed limit sign. Also in the distance ‘DO NOT TRESPASS’ sign; adjacent to instrument cabinet. Notice the freshly augmented ballast. 

This modest little structure is an SS 5A instrument case. The small locked box on the side near the top is used for testing the crossing by the section men. Related to security, it required a different key compared to the main case
Like all CN lineside cabinets, it was painted standard silver.

Note the electrical connection to the hydro pole in the background.
This box mounted on a concrete post is an SS 19 instrument case. Items housed inside the enclosure included batteries, relays, and rectifiers; all used in conjunction with the approach for crossing protection. 
Batteries would serve in the event of a power failure or if there was no hydro line and no electrical service otherwise available. Without hydro service a primary battery would be used; usually lasting for up to one year depending on traffic volume. Likewise, the SS 19 was painted silver.
The 'DO NOT TRESPASS’ sign is severely weather beaten and would appear to offer rather limited authority.
The target (painted red) on the switch stand is marked ‘HA 20’; Hagersville Subdivision, Zone HA, Shaw Pipe (Hamilton Car Control).
Note the 7.12 printed on the lower back of the arm. This indicates 7.12 miles from the start of the Hagersville Subdivision off the Oakville Subdivision (located in lower Hamilton north of Barton Street near Ferguson Ave.).

Crossing protection flasher mast at Rymal Road (Hwy 53). The cross arms (cross bucks) have recently been changed from B&W ‘RAIL_WAY CROSSING’ to reflective red and white.