Sunday 7 October 2018

CN at Rymal Pt. 8: Motive Power Part 4.

CN F7Au 9172 is shown in A-B-A form along with F7Bu 9196 and F7Au 9169 approaching Nebo Road 4/12/1986. No. 9172 was originally constructed as F7A No. 9072 by GMD London in August of 1952. Rebuilt by CN’s Transcona (Winnipeg) Shop in December of 1973, the venerable unit would be retired and removed from service in 1989. Note the well maintained right of way.

By far the greatest claim to fame for the former H&NW line would have to have been the late era ‘Covered Wagon’ period. Rumour of the day was that the local CN motive power superintendent had requested the venerable units for the dedicated service. With limited switching requirements, the reduced visibility nature of first generation cab units was not of concern and the old soldiers were well suited to the daily run from the lower city in Hamilton to Stelco’s satellite location in Nanticoke.  My recollection was that the run (Train No. 725) was daily and split monthly between CN and CP. Thanks to the H&NW surveyors, the National system operators enjoyed a much more favourable, almost direct, route end to end, albeit one way. Due to Hamilton city dweller concerns CN agreed not to send loads northbound through the heart of the city along Ferguson Avenue. The return path from Nanticoke was via Brantford along the Dundas subdivision. CP had a much more circuitous path through Brantford and Waterford. The consist was essentially that of a unit train of sixty foot CP/CN (667 series) flat cars fitted with specialized steel slab supports. On occasion, regular freight waybilled to the same end points would be added to the head end.
No. 9172 is shown crossing Nebo road 4/12/1986. Not needing to be turned in A-B-A geometry, the pioneering form diesels were well suited to the point to point service. In overall geography, the Hamilton/Nanticoke/Brantford/Hamilton orbit formed a loosely shaped triangle; adding a second caboose facilitated a quick change in direction at all three points.
Same train, same day, different photographer! No. 9172 is shown alongside the St. George’s Anglican Church Cemetery (on the right hand side). In the background, also on the right, is the Ancaster CO-OP siding along with the years ago abandoned concrete grain silo complex. While the former H&NW/CN right of way was converted to a ‘rail trail’ in the mid 1990’s, all of the structures in the background are still extant. The weather trodden silos still stand guard, and the former Ancaster CO-OP complex has been expanded and repurposed as a Home Hardware location. As part of amalgamation the City of Hamilton assumed responsibility for the burial site in the former hamlet of Hannon. Today this view is completely obscured by wildly unkempt shrubbery.
Having surmounted the Niagara Escarpment and crested the rise (see below) the engineer at the controls of Nos. 9169/9196/9172 has elected to throttle up his consist on the approach to Rymal Road; the flashing warning lights have stopped all traffic rendering the transportation mode intersection clear. Apparently the sun gods were not all that enthused about the presence of the legendary motive power! No. 9169 was built by GMD London 6/1951 as F7 No. 9042 and converted by CN Transcona 10/1973. Retired from service in 1988 the ‘Covered Wagon’ was donated to the Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum located in Prince George. F7Bu No. 9196 was built by GMD London 8/1951 as F7B No. 9053, converted 9/1973, and removed from service in 1988. All of the F7Au/Bu’s received rebuilt 567BC prime movers upgraded to 1,750 HP.
No. 9169 is shown with the entire consist in view. Note the hogback nature of the terrain and the encroaching housing on the right. Not surprisingly, horn blowing was very unpopular!