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. 

Saturday 25 January 2020

CN Stuart Street Yard – MLW S-4 Switchers

Associated with the vast adjoining industrial base, for many years CN’s Hamilton Ontario Stuart Street Yard complex was home to a sizeable switcher fleet, mostly comprised of locomotives constructed by Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW). Resident familiar unit into the mid 1980’s was the S-4. Among the more popular of switcher models to be produced by Alco/MLW, CN’s S-4’s were supplied from 1951 through to 1957. As is well known, MLW’s production mimicked that of parent Alco; for S-4’s this included a McIntosh and Seymour model 539 prime mover along with Canadian General Electric (CGE) traction motors and electrical gear. Initially, from 1949 until 1962, MLW contracted the manufacture of the 539 prime mover to Dominion Engineering Work (DEW) prior to bringing production in house. CGE hardware came from Peterborough Ontario. Unlike previous S-1 through S-3 switcher production, both Alco and MLW would modify the carbody, albeit not in the same fashion. Starting with the S-1, the low height switcher hood featured the Otto Kuhler design elements of soft bevels and generously curved edges. During S-4 production, most likely to improve fabrication, the carbody was modified to include tighter round corners along the length and overlapping ends (Alco)/feathered edge ends (MLW). MLW took the modification one step further by changing access door louvers to carbody filters. In total, almost 1,000 S-4’s would emerge from Schenectady and Montreal (second only to the S-2). See for additional information.
CN S-4 No. 8164 was delivered from MLW in August of 1956. Shown in the 1961 so called ‘Wet Noodle’ paint scheme the tidy end cab unit would have initially been painted switcher standard black/yellow trim and continue to serve her owner long enough to receive the 1973 orange cab/yellow frame stripe decoration. Note the ACI label beside the second stanchion.
No. 8165 was received by CN in August of 1956. As mentioned, MLW would alter the carbody construction over the lengthy production run replacing access door louvers with rectangular filters; note the parallel openings below the stack adjacent to the ‘C’. Welded construction would also be incorporated. Note also the tapered top box immediately ahead of the cab on the running board. The small enclosure housed modified piping associated with the braking system upgrade from 14 EL (as built) to 6 SL.
CN 8169 departed builder MLW in September of 1956. A scene depicting classic 1970’s railroading; single door 40 ft. boxcars along with a 52’ – 8” combination door boxcar. None of this equipment is still around; the nominal fifty-ton capacity forty footers would be all but gone by the mid 1980’s while the marginally longer cousin probably held on until the early 2000’s. Note the freshly ballasted track. Used at the time by GO Transit to access the CN James Street Station, in time GO would relocate to the CP/TH&B Hunter St. facility.
The fate of No. 8169? Online photos show the venerable unit stored out of service in 1986, still at Stuart Street.  Note the Dofasco containers at the intermodal facility in the background.