Friday 5 November 2021

CN Rymal Pt. 18 Stone Church Road Overpass

After the long, slow climb up the face of the escarpment in Hamilton, a triple header propelled extra is shown crossing over Stone Church Road. Trailing Mogul 902 is sister 924 and Mikado 3708. No date indicated. No. 902 was the first of 25 E-10-a's constructed by CLC Kingston in 1910 as GTR 1000. Renumbered CNR 80 in October of 1951, the diminutive steamer would meet her maker at the London Reclamation yard in September of 1957. No. 924, as No. 94, would succumb in London in 1955.  No. 3708 is from a group of forty S-3-a Mikado’s (GTR 440 – 479) constructed by Alco Schenectady in 1918. Upon amalgamation GTR 448 would become GTW 3708. According to Don McQueen’s 2013 chronicle ‘CANADIAN NATONAL STEAM!’, No. 3708 would be transferred to Canadian National in December of 1943, never to return stateside. To make room number wise for incoming replacement diesels, she would be renumbered GTW 4050 in April of 1958 and stricken from the roster eight months later. Most likely, No. 3708 was providing helper service. If so, she would be cut off at Glanford as the bridge in Caledonia would not be reinforced until 1953 (by which time 902 would be renumbered 80). The Moguls do not appear to be working very hard. This is due to the fact that the extra is at the bottom of a descending grade on the Hamilton higher ground. For a steam era view of the bridge from the opposite side see page 59 of Ian Wilson’s marvelous time piece ‘STEAM ECHOS OF HAMILTON’. As previously documented, transport truck collision damage to the bridge span in 1987 lead to its removal and the end of southbound service from Hamilton.

View looking west. The original bridge abutments would have been cut stone and spaced for horse and buggy passage. Most likely, the cement cap shapes were added in conjunction with an overall structure upgrade to support heavier traffic.

View looking east. The lower cement work shown was probably some type augmentation to the original cut stone construction, and may have narrowed the overall road opening. This was probably not of concern, given the relatively low historic traffic density on the rural road.

Note the descending grade. Upon cresting the escarpment the former H&NW line immediately dips on the approach to Rymal. No doubt something of a train handling challenge with concurrent buff and draft forces in play, both northbound and southbound. Given the unprotected gap, somewhat surprising that the railway did not provide more in the way of fall prevention.

Following the second transport truck encounter, the bridge span was lifted out of position and placed perpendicular on top of the south side right of way.

Details of the bridge span construction. Somewhat Meccano like!

While the rail displacement was minimal, traffic southbound from Hamilton was suspended after the transport truck collision with the bridge.

Friday 24 September 2021

CN Stuart Street Yard – PSC SW1200RM

While a crown corporation, Canadian National benefited from rather unique fiscal circumstance. Unaccountable to share holders, the railway could deploy monies to discretionary endeavours, such as Research and Development, without undue monetary scrutiny. Not that this was unfruitful. Via R&D CN developed the industry standard locomotive ‘Safety Cab’ and played a significant role in the creation of traction control (see the CNRHA book CNR Diesel Locomotives – Vol. II). Another optional expenditure: locomotive rebuilding. While most Class One roads engaged in motive power remanufacture, CN’s were among the most extensive, in both volume and scope. Best known is the GP9RM rebuild program. The elaborate remanufacturing process more than doubled the life of a couple hundred of Dick Dilworth’s masterpieces. Not nearly as numerous, but perhaps more drastic appearance wise was the SW1200RM, or ‘SWEEP’ (as the unit was affectionately known). Seeking to create a more capable/reliable switcher, PSC upgraded the prime mover (567C to 645C/1300 HP), improved cooling by grafting a GP9 hood (switcher type cooling via belt driven fans had long been a maintenance headache), and enhanced cab creature comforts (insulation/heating/hot plates/refrigerator). For more details see pages 170 – 171 of CNR Diesel Locomotives Vol. II. Only eight SWEEP’s were completed; CN ultimately decided to remanufacture a small group of SW1200RS’s in kind, and deploy 7000/7200 series GP9RM’s into yard service (often with accompanying slugs).

CN 7103 was constructed as SW1200RS CN 1238 in July of 1956. Together with improved insulation and heating, cab amenities were enhanced with hot plates and refrigerators. Compare the rear of cab door and window arrangement between 7103 and 7315. To improve collision protection PSC applied a thicker outward opening door and reconfigured the window geometry to multiple same sized panes.

Aside from SW1200RS CN 1374, something of a Pointe St. Charles remanufacturing showcase. From left to right: GP9RM CN 4124, SW1200RM CN 7105, GP9RM 7263 and slug CN 256. CN 4124 was constructed as GP9 4530 12/1956 and departed the roster in 2009. CN 7105 departed GMD London as SW1200RS 1253 in late 1956. CN 7263 (GMD 9/1957) was originally GP9 4117 and served her one and only owner until being retired in 2019. Slug 256 (GMD 12/1956) was constructed as GP9 CN 4529 and retired by CN in 2007. CN 1374 was built in April of 1960. Renumbered CS04, the end cab unit was retired in 2003 and scrapped in 2018.
No. 7106 was originally constructed as CN 1257 at the beginning of 1957. Similar to the balance of the ‘SWEEP’s’, the modified unit would join the Savage contract switching fleet as SVGX 7106.

In ‘BEFORE & AFTER’ staging, CN SW1200RM’s 7303 and 7104 portray the Pte. St. Charles’ effort to create a super switcher or ‘SWEEP’; SWitcher + gEEP. CN 7104 was constructed as SW1200RS CN 1248 11/1956, while CN 7303 was delivered from GMD 4/1960 as CN 1370. All eight SWEEP’s were sold to CANAC in February of 2000. CN 7303 departed the roster in 2010 to become GMTX 507.

CN 7102 was delivered from GMD London in May of 1956 as SW1200RS CN 1230. Post CANAC ownership the compact unit would be acquired by Savage Inc. ( to join their contract switching fleet. Increased cooling capacity provided by the GP9 hood style radiator and fans provided for a HP increase to 1,300. Similar to the GP9RM, the inoperative dynamic brake geometry was redeployed as air intake and fitted with filters.

Saturday 14 August 2021

CN Rymal Pt. 17 Caledonia 6/13/1992

Following the disruption to the former H&NW line at the Stone Church Road overpass in 1987 (see CN Rymal Pt. 2) all train movements to service Rymal were dispatched northward from the southern terminus. As previously described, at about the same time, activity at Rymal had increased marginally beyond the existing enterprises with the arrival of a building products distributor. The new enterprise employed the CO-OP siding to receive a variety of bulkhead flat cars laden with drywall and assorted construction materials. The pint sized train shown in Caledonia is representative of the Rymal related traffic pattern at the sunset of line; the empty bulkhead flatcar having delivered drywall or lumber to the CO-OP siding (see CN Rymal Pt. 4), the loaded bulkhead flatcar having picked up coated aluminum extruded tubing from Shaw Pipe Protection. As previously depicted, the crew elected to save time and not place the caboose in the trailing position (see CN Rymal Pt. 6). Not surprisingly, the same view today is very different; both structures in the background have been razed, and most of the track shown has been lifted. In addition, the Argyle St. grade crossing behind the photographer has been removed and paved over. However, not all of the news is bad; the derelict (at the time) Caledonia Station out of frame to the left has been lovingly, authentically restored to its former glory. As well, Canadian National has repatriated the Hagersville sub from the short line sub-lease and is actively upgrading the line.
Seemingly, the van (caboose) is at the wrong end of the train.

CN GP9RM 4130 was built 4/1955 as GP9 1748, renumbered 4424 in 1956,  and remanufactured by PSC 1991.

PSC caboose 79669 was constructed in 1974. 

Following Transport Canada permission, so called ‘End Of Train’ (EOT) devices brought up the rear and the rolling conductor’s office would be off the roster by 1996.

Note that the paint is still shiny on the recently remanufactured ‘Geep’!

Sixty-six foot bulkhead flat car CNIS 621177 was constructed by Marine Industries Ltd (MIL) in April of 1980. Following service with Canadian National the BHF would be acquired by Essex Hybrid and is still active as ZEKX 621177.

Saturday 1 May 2021

CN Stuart Street Yard – GMD ‘Light Weight’ GP9


As is well known, Richard M Dilworth was the creator of the landmark, historically ubiquitous ‘General Purpose’ masterpiece locomotive series. Following the introductory 1,500 HP GP7 was the marginally more powerful GP9 at 1,750 HP. GP9’s enjoyed a long production run in both the US and Canada and were offered in several forms; with or without dynamic brakes, with or without steam generators, high nose or low nose to name some of the versions. North of the border CN collaborated with EMD affiliate GMD to create a uniquely Canadian variant; the go anywhere, lightweight version.

Following the introduction of the GP9 to subsidiary Grand Trunk Western the prior year, CN would acquire their first ‘off the shelf’, standard version GP9’s in 1955. So as to expand their utility on the railway’s vast expanse of secondary trackage, CN worked with the GMD London Ontario plant to create a reduced mass version. By fitting smaller fuel tanks and swapping out ‘Blomberg’ trucks for ‘Flexicoil’ style, GMD was able to shave off as much as nine tons from the standard GP9 weight. The first six of the featherweight GP9’s arrived in November of 1956 (CN 4496 – 4501) and CN would eventually assemble a fleet of 192. CN’s mostly western Canada based network of marginal track work would initially script their principal operational region. As the volume prairie trackage diminished, many of the underweight GP9’s migrated east, several of which would eventually call the Stuart Street Yard in Hamilton home.

GP9 4351, built 10/1959 by GMD London, was remanufactured by AMF Technotransport in 1993 as GP9RM 7277 and is still active. Note the larger 48” diameter cooling fans, a late model GP9 production feature, and centrally mounted air tank adjacent to the undersized fuel tank. Note also the early application of so called ‘ditch lights’ hung from the end handrails.

CN GP9 4207 was constructed by GMD London in June of 1957. Renumbered from CN 4589 in 1957, the lowered mass unit was remanufactured by Pointe St. Charles in 1990 into GP9RM 7269 and retired 2013. Note the longitudinal geometry fuel tank and lack of underbody mounted air reservoir. Many of the lightweight GP9’s had their air reservoirs installed inside the short hood.

CN GP9 4276, built 1/1959 by GMD London, was remanufactured by AMF Technotransport in 1993 as GP9RM 7082. Retired in 2019, the veteran unit was subsequently acquired by Dieselmotive Company Inc. and renumbered BUGX 7082. Note the top of hood mounted air line running from the short nose inside mounted air reservoir.

CN GP9 4338 was delivered by GMD in June of 1959. Remanufactured by Atelier Montreal Facility (AMF) 1992 as GP9RM 7045, the veteran unit would be retired 2011.

CN GP9 4385 was constructed by GMD in October of 1957. Renumbered from 4133 in 1984, the London graduate would be remanufactured in 1992 by AMF as GP9RM 7072, and retired 2007. FAIX leasing would subsequently acquire the unit as their FAIX 801. Both the SW1200RS and lightweight GP were constructed with Flexicoil trucks. While some of the Flexicoil truck assemblies carried on under remanufactured slugsets, all of the lightweight GP’s rebuilt into GP9RM’s received replacement Blomberg style trucks.

Monday 15 March 2021

CN Rymal Pt. 16 Freight Cars Part 5

 As previously mentioned, the former H&NW line southwest out of Hamilton was plied daily by way freights dispatched from the lake front Stuart Street Yard throughout the 1970’s, well into the mid 1980’s. For a brief period in 1984, the line experienced bidirectional dispatching related to a major pipeline coating order being processed by Shaw Pipe Production. As well as commerce generated on line, foreign RR connections at Hagersville and Jarvis supplemented the freight mix with interchange traffic. Hagersville was bisected by the Canada Southern (Caso); in succession, New York Central, Penn Central and Conrail. Trackage rights on the CN Cayuga subdivision permitted Norfolk and Western to pick up/drop off in Jarvis. Damage to the line at the Stone Church Road overpass in 1987 would result in as needed service northward only to Rymal with starting points off either the Dunnville subdivision from Caledonia or off of the Cayuga subdivision via Jarvis. Prior to the line severing, development of the Lake Erie adjacent Nanticoke industrial landscape generated traffic to and from the ‘Steel City’. Stelco’s satellite facility also resulted in the deployment of CN’s railfan favourite F units on steel slab trains. Following the Stone Church Road bridge mishap, southbound unit train movement of slabs followed a rather circuitous route via Brantford. Concerns related to the potential of a runaway careening through the lower city always kept northbound slab trains off the H&NW north of Caledonia.

ATSF 313158, Santa Fe Class Ga-180, was constructed by Pullman-Standard at their Butler, PA facility; lot 9617, series ATSF 312800-313799, built 12/1972 - 2/1973. Shown moving northbound through Rymal, a possible routing could have been as follows; an agricultural product load from the US mid-west interchanged to Conrail in Chicago, followed by movement along the Caso to Hagersville where it was dropped off for Canadian National.

CGLX 812 is from series CGLX 800 - 909, built by Hawker-Siddeley (HST) in Trenton, Nova Scotia; lot 2335, built 9 - 10/1968. The 3,800 cu. ft. covered hopper cars would later be renumbered to CP 383700 - 383802 in 1983 and 1984.

CN 302149/302423 are from series CN 302000 – 302599, built by National Steel car as lot P. 7940 from 2 - 6/1976. Both trains are shown southbound, most likely the ballast hopper cars are empty and destined for the Cayuga Quarry. Given the geological make up, the Niagara Peninsula was and still is dotted by quarry operations. In the past, in general, Canadian National practice was to employ crushed slag ballast on mainline track and limestone ballast on branch line right of ways. Slag ballast, as a waste byproduct of steel making, was relatively inexpensive. However, over time slag pulverizes, causes tie degradation and was later determined to have unwanted electrical properties. Limestone breaks down, but can be cleaned and re-applied. Ballasting is also regional; note the light coloured ballast in both views. Today, CN employs granite-like crushed rock as ballast along mainline ROW’s.

CN 663660 is from series CN 663600 - 663699 built by Canadian Car & Foundry as lot 2154 in October and November of 1956. Note that the utilitarian 52’ – 6” long flat car is equipped with friction bearing trucks. Over the years, raw pipe was delivered to, coated, and shipped from Shaw Pipe Protection. The flat cars shown are comparatively short for pipe transportation and may have been employed as idlers between overhanging pipe loads.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

CN Stuart Street Yard - GMD GP40-2L(W)/GP40-2(W)

With its vast, far flung system, Canadian National has historically always been subject to large scale motive power acquisitions. During the steam era the national carrier would assemble the largest fleet of Northern Type (4-8-4) locomotives; some two hundred and three. The diesel era would be no different; so called first generation motive power, among much builder variety, would be dominated by hundreds of Richard M Dilworth’s fabulous ‘Geep’s’ (system GP9 total: 434). The second generation of motive power would initially be populated by over two hundred SD40’s, delivered in the late 1960’s, followed a few years later by an even larger number of GP40-2’s fitted with the infamous CN developed ‘Comfort Cab’ or ‘Safety Cab’. 

In a repeat of history (the Northern Pacific Railway acquired the first 4-8-4 and established the ‘Northern’ name), while Canadian National would amass the largest fleet of GMD GP40-2’s they did not receive the first. That honour would to GO Transit when it took delivery of No. 9808 in December of 1973, three months ahead of CN 9400. CN would go on to order a total of two hundred and sixty-eight wide cab GP40-2’s from GMD and, in 1991, add ten of the eleven built for GO Transit.

No. 9446 was a member of the first order (9400 – 9490); delivered from GMD in June of 1974. Unfortunately, in March of 1997, No. 9446 would encounter a 200 ft. washout at Conrad British Columbia (Ashcroft Division) and tumble into the Fraser River. Unrecoverable, the twenty-three year old locomotive was stricken from the roster. Trailing unit No. 9554 (GMD 03/1975, build lot 9531- 9632) would depart the roster in May of 2000. Following service south of the border with the Yadkin Valley Railroad and Wiregrass Central Railway the London graduate would return home to toil on the Southern Ontario Railway as RLHH/SOR 3049. Subsequently sold to Metro East Industries, the well travelled locomotive would find a new home on the Indiana Harbor Belt as their No. 4022.
CN 9404/9653/9402/9412 are shown at the head of a caboose hop at Stuart Street Yard in Hamilton, ON. Note that the three 9400 series are GMD model GP40-2L(W); unique to CN, these ‘safety cab’ units were equipped with a light weight frame. Spotting clues include the taller geometry jacking/lift fittings above the trucks and full size (3000 gallon) fuel tanks. The additional weight of the wide nose cab necessitated the alternate frame geometry to stay within CN’s prescribed weight/axle load limit. Disposition as follows; CN 9404 (QGRY 3016), CN 9653 (MEC 513), CN 9402 (still in service with CN), CN 9412 (MEC 501).
CN 9493 was delivered from GMD 9/1974. Aside from the addition of rear cab snow shields and a replacement center cooling fan the unit is virtually unchanged since delivery.  Retired in 2007 the locomotive would be acquired by Progress Rail as their PRLX 9493. 

No. 9525 (GMD 11/1974, build group 9491 – 9530) is among the survivors still on the Canadian National roster; according to the 2020 issue of the Canadian Trackside Guide, as of 2020, fifty-nine of the onetime two hundred and seventy-eight man garrison still remain. After some fourteen years of service the unit is mildly weather beaten, but otherwise unaltered aside from the replacement center cooling fan and snow shields. Note the full sized fuel tank. 

No. 9550 departed GMD London in March of 1975 as a member of the follow up hundred unit order (9531 – 9632) CN placed with the EMD subsidiary. Note that the horns have been relocated from the top of the cab front bell bracket to a location just forward of the rear fans. Thinking this would be most appreciated by the crew!

No. 9653 (3/1976) is from the last group (9633 – 9667) constructed by GMD. Note that this build lot was equipped with standard geometry frames and fitted with shorter/smaller capacity fuel tanks. CN worked closely with GMD on the light weight frame that was included in earlier production and specified wheel slip control based on technology developed in house by the railway on their GP40’s. Note the speed recorder device and cable on the rear axle of each truck (front axles so equipped on opposite side).

GP40-2(W)’s Nos. 9667 (5/1976) and 9658 (4/1976) are shown at the head of a MAERSK container train. No. 9667 would depart the roster in March of 2000 and be acquired by Helm Financial while No. 9658 would be sold to Progress Rail in March of 2002 and eventually become DMVW 9658 (Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad).