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.