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