Saturday 3 August 2019

CN Rymal Pt. 12: Caboose Variety Part 1

Like most secondary operations, the former H&NW line would be home to CN’s well maintained wooden caboose long after modern steel end of train cabins had been introduced. Time did eventually catch up with the legendary wooden vans (van; ‘Canadian’ for caboose) and starting in the mid 1970’s they began to be supplanted by steel bodied successors. While it’s possible that a Hawker Siddeley Transport (HST) built caboose did traverse the line, it was the well-known Pointe St. Charles (PSC) that singularly plied the line until the end of service in 1993.
Details of the PSC caboose are well-known; between 1970 and 1977 CN’s Montreal based repair/rebuild facility would transform some five hundred and forty eight 1937 built 472000 series forty-foot boxcars into very well appointed crew cabins (CN 79350 – 79897). Exterior features included;
·        Welded cupola with upward tilted end windows equipped with windshield wipers
·        Large carbody end picture windows equipped with windshield wipers
·        Large carbody side picture windows
·        Red/green marker lights on roof end
·        Clear end sill mounted backup lights
·       Axle driven generators and battery boxes
Above: CN 79444 was a member of the first group to be constructed in 1970. Note the horizontal ductwork running parallel to the roof placing the smoke stacks against the faces of the cupola. The concept was to provide the crew with unobstructed vision. Unfortunately, the offset geometry did not draft well and later construction placed the smoke stacks directly above the oil fire heaters. No. 79444 would be transformed into International Service caboose No. 78100 in 1982 and receive a yellow painted cupola. Still on CN’s equipment roster; today CN 78100 is most likely a ‘rider car’.
Above: CN 79796 was delivered from PSC in 1975. Propelled by GP9 Nos. 4521 and 4560, opposite to its intended deployment, the orange and black cabin is shown leading a caboose hop southward from Rymal in the early 1980’s. Despite having the opportunity to conduct a run around on the CO-OP siding, the crew has elected to save time and return to home base earlier in the evening. CN 79796 would remain on the roster until June of 1995.
Above: CN79825 would emerge from PSC in October of 1975 and remains active today. Given their origin, the PSC cabooses combined contrasting construction methodologies; riveted carbody sides from 1937 and all welded roof/cupola assemblies from the 1970’s. Note the reconfigured smoke jack assembly; a segment of rectangular ductwork positioned at a right angle places the smoke jack centrally on the roof. The opposite side smoke jack is positioned directly above the space heater. CN GP9RM No. 4107 (ex 4123; GMD 9/1957) will lead the consist south on this mid-summer evening.
Above: CN 79866 was constructed in 1977. Based on a guess of a spring 1978 photo date the shiny orange and black crew cabin is but a few months old. Note the positioning of the smoke jacks and the air vent directly below the ‘6’, not included in prior construction (see CN 79444 above). Sadly, CN 79866 was destroyed in a rear end collision on the Dundas subdivision on May 4th, 1984. CN GP9 No. 4513 was also destroyed ( Tragically, a crew member in CN 79866 suffered a severe leg injury.
Above: CN 79869 was also delivered from PSC in 1977. Application of the large carbody picture windows was noteworthy; their size was unprecedented, certainly in wooden caboose construction, and contrasted with US small window practice which acknowledged security and vandalism concerns. As with the cupola windows, the carbody end windows were tilted up slightly to reduce glare. CN 79869 was renumbered to CN 77018 in 1995 and would remain active as the Kamloops Auxiliary caboose and finally as the ‘Western Canada Engineering Work Car’ until 2006.