Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grain boxcar train consists, 1982

Here are a couple of grain boxcar train consists from 1982, when the use of grain boxcars was beginning to decline:

A westbound CP train of grain empties behind 5523 at Portage la Prairie, June 21 with 69 covered hoppers and these 37 grain boxcars:

CP 140888 - 269733 - 116147 - 120221 - 119027 - 17519 - 119420 - 120000 - 121804 - 17342 - 121679 - 118348 - 123536 -269324 - 21887 - 119298 - 120009 - 119812 - 140969 - 112827 - 119966 - 141744 - 141080 - 116750 - 118514 - 117415 - 114404 - 117380 -112823 - 17204 - 120487 - 121672 - 119493 - 112276 - 115807 - 119118 - 118053 - 121848.

Consist of a loaded eastbound 30-car grain train of boxcars on June 11, behind GMD-1's 1053 - 1054:

CN 420396 - 426630 - 427482 - 483868 - 425755 - 420430 - 425023 - 525183 - 420402 - 487370 - 534717 - 426974 - 479142 - 426011 - 537092 - 421963 - 426502 - 428302 - 424391 - 427304 - 478142 - 426097 - 423732 - 477246 - 428249 - 426374 - 538841 - 426966 - 427854 - 426561 - caboose 79763.

For the modeller or rolling stock enthusiast, these consists give an idea of what car series were still in use, even as Canada, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Canadian Wheat Board covered hoppers were appearing in greater numbers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

CP Grain Boxcars


Boxcars were the freight car of choice for grain transportation from the early 1900's until they were replaced by gravity-discharge aluminum and steel covered hoppers beginning in the 1970's. The covered hoppers were easier to load and unload. Boxcars required wooden or cardboard grain doors, to hold the cargo in while the car was being loaded via the door. In 1987, terminal car dumpers still existed for boxcar unloading, but they were quickly aging, and costly to repair and operate. Grain boxcar fleets declined through attrition, and the railways' intention after 1986 to use them only on branchlines unable to accommodate covered hoppers. Boxcars are spotted at the elevators in Stalwart, Saskatchewan, while branchline rehabilitation is underway on the Colonsay Subdivision in 1986:


In 1981, the number of railway boxcars and government covered hoppers in dedicated grain service were at a break-even point, at about 13,000 each. The Grain Transportation Agency in that year predicted a decrease of 164 cars per month, due to attrition. CP had 4,545 grain boxcars in 1981, 2,972 in 1985, 1,260 in 1986, 672 in 1990, 363 in 1992 and only 209 in 1993.

Incredibly, this photo from 1985 shows a solid train of CP grain boxcars. Many wear the 1950 stacked CPR scheme, or the 1962 script scheme, but only 6 of the 25 boxcars visible are in the 1968 CP Rail scheme.
Grain east, empties west: CP 5779 pulls 113 grain empties, including 61 boxcars westbound at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1981. It's meeting eastbound grain loads behind 8698 and 5546:

Federal government boxcar rehabilitation schemes were undertaken in 1979 and 1980. Floors, nailable door areas, spot welding, and doors were repaired and spray painting was done. A yellow wheat sheaf, a smaller version of the government grain hopper scheme, was applied to the left of the door. Under it was a stencilled bilingual message, reading in part, "REPAIRED WITH FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA".

CP 123541 in the stacked scheme, has been repaired under the program, seen in Winnipeg in 1984:
CP 123692 is in the CP Rail scheme:

Far from home, CP 269331 has the spartan lettering of an International of Maine-assigned car. Spotted at the Meadows, Manitoba elevator on CP in 1984, the car had nothing for the elevator agent to cooper (nail) the grain doors to, so it was kicked by in favour of four covered hoppers:

CP 6569 switches grain boxcars at the United Grain Growers elevator at Eighth Street in Portage in 1984. The journey to a distant terminal, likely Thunder Bay would soon begin. Direct grain shipments to the U.S., and a shift in grain markets from Europe to Asia, were already signaling the decline of grain export from the Lakehead. In 1983, a record 17.7 million tonnes were shipped from the port, compared to this year's record low of 5.6 million tonnes.

By 1995, CP's remaining boxcars only operated on Manitoba's Russell Subdivision and a few lines in Saskatchewan.  Their last year of operation was 1996. 

Running Extra...
Barack Obama's train from Philadelphia to Washington is rolling into history. Two P42's, four to six Amfleet cars, and President-Elect aboard private car Georgia 300 are making the 137-mile trip today. CNN commentator David Gergen is giving his usual wise commentary on this and other inauguration events.
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Patrick McGoohan, the New York-born actor raised in Ireland and England, died Tuesday. If you are a fan of the 1976 movie Silver Streak, you may remember he played shifty art dealer Roger Devereau, who rode that phony Amroad (CP) consist through the midwest U.S. (southern Alberta) until it crashed into Chicago (Toronto) Union Station. He died previously in the movie, dangling from the cab of the F-unit as it passed through a Chicago (Calgary Alyth) freightyard. Gotta find that DVD so I can enjoy the comic antics of Gene Wilder and Roger Pryor again.

Some frozen switches, but few broken rails or VIA Rail delays were the result of this week's cold snap in eastern Canada. Crisp evenings magnify the sound of whistles of passing trains here on the Kingston Sub, although the snow deadens the whine of the rolling steel wheels on the curve at the top of the hill at Mile 179.

Cavalier Christmas Consists

Here are a couple of additional Cavalier consists that tie together previous posts about these trains and Christmas, since these two consists are from December 26, 1989:

No 58 0317 EB
6908 - 15424 - 5648 - 3204 - 5545 - Naiscoot River - Chateau Lemoyne - Stuart Manor - 9619

No 59 0332 WB
6427 - 15450 - 9616 - Clearwater River - Chateau Salaberry - Elgin - 5449 - 3251

The two trains met just east of Kingston, and in a month the service would be no more.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Postscript: VIA Cavalier Consists 1979-1987


The Cavaliers featured interesting and sometimes crazy consists, with a caveat - one had to be nocturnal to enjoy them. With a leisurely schedule (compare 7 hrs 55 mins to the Turbo's 4 hrs 30 mins in 1980), the Cavaliers meandered along the Kingston Sub. Nos 58 and 59 often deadheaded equipment, and hauled CN and VIA private cars on the tail-end. It was not uncommon for the trains to be met at Kingston station by police cars and/or ambulances, likely due to a combination of the late hour, alcohol and whatever transpired before boarding the train at 2335!

Here are a few Cavalier consists, from 1979 to 1987, all VIA paint scheme except as noted:

March 22, 1979
0307 EB

6775
6632
9670
Manitou (stainless steel)
5423 (CN)
5217
5531
5284 (CN)
3033
5733
Fortune Bay
Edmunston
GHM-1 (Private car)

October 3, 1981
0303 EB

6521
9673
5481
3035
5726
Fortune Bay
Chateau Latour
Riverlea
Riverside (CN)

February 23, 1986
0308 EB

6781
6862
5652
5495
2510
5719
Chateau Lemoyne
Enterprise
96

March 23, 1986
0316 EB

9401 (CN)
15461
118
5622
750
5719
Chateau Lemoyne
Erickson

March 30. 1986
0455 WB

4220 (CN)
9412 (CN)
SGU
5488
5452
5622
750
5719
Chateau ?
Excelsior

March 31, 1986
0315 E

9317 (CN)
15405
Endako
5487
5488
5452
5622
750
5719
Chateau Lemoyne
Excelsior
Chateau Jolliet
6907 (dead)

November 8, 1986
0305 EB

6760
15456
Erickson
5441
5533
3032
Elgin
Glace Bay
9639
15205

November 13, 1986
0255 EB

6771
6631
15430
2510
2512
Edmonton
5441
5474
3039
Ellerslie
Glace Bay
9653

December 15, 1986
0256 EB

6553
6510
Ethelbert
5516
5441
5474
3039
Ellerslie
Fortune Bay
Chateau Vercheres
9639
15165 Tawaw

March 5, 1987
0300 EB

6408
6652
Elrose
5603
5497
3033
Everett
Glace Bay
9648

Running Extra:

Are you a fan of the Greater Winnipeg Water District? I recently came across some mind-boggling photos on rrpicturearchives.net, in Vern Wigfield's collection. Check out the amazing assortment of equipment used on this line, which ensures Winnipeg's water supply:
http://tinyurl.com/7rr5om

If you're interested in Manitoba railways, scroll down a bit more, past my list of VIA car types, and click on that purple button to join a YahooGroup devoted to flatland ferroequinology of all eras. Conducted by CN hogger Mark Perry, this lively group averages 200 purely prairie messages monthly.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

VIA's Last Cavaliers, January 1990

Nineteen years ago this month, massive cuts to VIA's national network included the overnight trains on the Kingston Sub, the Cavaliers. Since then, the run was reinstated as the Enterprise, then cancelled again. The last runs were on a bitterly cold night that made for some interesting night-time photography. Here's my original account published in the March, 1990 issue of the Bytown Railway Society's Branchline:

The wee hours of January 15, 1990 found my father and I driving to the Kingston VIA station, to witness the final passage of the eastbound and westbound "Cavaliers", the last truly inter-city sleeping car trains in Canada.

We waited in the station, as it was a frosty 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside. While watching the few passengers arrive who were to take the train, we were treated to two freights. The first, an eastbound, roared by with 9526 - 9455 - 9316. Shortly thereafter, a westbound trundled by with an impressive lashup: 9561 -9550 - 9471 - 2319 - 2020.

Soon thereafter, the darkness to the west of the station was pierced by the headlight and ditchlights of an LRC unit. A few minutes of its 0337 scheduled arrival, VIA No 58 pulled in. Its consist included 6914 - 15460 - 5737 - 5707 - 5488 - 3236 - Hudson Bay - Chateau Cadillac - 9639. We noticed the engine crew climb down from the cab and head over to the station - an unusual occurrence. The reason for this became clear as westbound VIA No 59 became visible, creeping towards the station with ditchlights extinguished at 0355. The crews were to exchange trains and return to their originating terminal this night.

Pulled by 6925, No 59 included 15424 - 9616 - Chateau Denonville - Chateau Salaberry - 5560 - 3231 - 5617. Activity was light, as fewer than 15 passengers boarded or got off either train. Nothing happened for the next 20 minutes, with both trains parked on the mainline in front of the station. With the relaxed schedule of the overnight trains, this had been a common occurrence at many of the on-line stops between Montreal and Toronto.


As I snapped a few time exposure photos for posterity, baggage was unloaded into a waiting pickup truck for the last time.


"They don't want us anymore", commented one of the train crew, referring to VIA as he boarded the train. No 58 was the first to go. As he got rolling, we could see one coach full of sleeping passengers. The sleepers and baggage car tagged along behind as 6914's horn sounded for the crossing to the east of the station.


All too soon, the conductor of No 59 walked from the station to his train. The brakes were released and the train quietly accelerated away from the station.

The soft sounds of escaping steam and wheels rolling along snow-covered tracks merged as the markers on the last coach slipped into the night. The Cavaliers were gone.

Running Extra...Lately I've been blogging a lot about VIA. What about the freight side of railroading, you ask? Going through some 1981 train register sheets from Ignace, Ontario on CP Rail revealed lots of grain empties returning from Thunder Bay for reloading. Between 110 and 130 cars, usually with an SD40-2 and a lesser unit, an 8600, 4200, or 4400. Once these trains reached Winnipeg, they were allowed only an SD to take them the rest of the way. And the eastbound loaded grain trains? 13,000 tons' worth. That's a lot of bread.