Saturday, March 13, 2010

Postscript: Alcan Gondolas at Kingston

CN 188000-188435 are covered gondola cars used by Alcan for shipping aluminum coils. Loaded at Arvida's continuous cast operation, the coils are covered while still warm. The covers are heavily-insulated, mainly for wintertime, when ambient temperature on the trip can change from -30C to 20C. Moisture from the temperature change would stain the aluminum and cannot be removed, and since the 5-7 coils are valued at $35,000 each, that can be a costly mistake. Today, the coils are shipped by rail to Indianapolis, then trucked 70 miles to Terre Haute for further rolling. Upon arrival, the coils are still warm. CN later added more cars to the fleet.
In the cutting west of Belleville yard, CN 188438 and two classmates, undated (above - Peter Mumby photo).
CN 188443 had been significantly downgraded when I photographed it at Kingston in May, 2018 in scrap tie service! Regardless, I was able to get a close-up of the lettering (above) and overall view (of course now lid-less - below):
CN 188403-188406 making a rare appearance in OCS panel-track service, with CN 188411 just ahead. (Image courtesy Railstream, LLC) March 29, 2021.
In March, 1995, at least two of the cars were spotted on Kingston's Aluminum Spur (above). The cars may have been in Arvida-Kingston service for awhile. A photo on the Canadian Science and Technology Museum website shows coils being unloaded at Kingston.
The cars had CN and Alcan logos on their covers. I've yet to add the CN logos to my HO-scale gondola's covers. When Alcan Rolled Products was spun off to Novelis in 2004, the Alcan logos had been painted out. In fact, I first recorded the Alcan logos being painted out on June 14, 1999. A one-day trace of the gondola fleet in the late 1990's:
Arvida, Roberval & Saguenay: 188400, 188402, 188403, 188405, 188416, 188424, 188427, 188429, 188433, 188434.
Garneau Yard: 188401, 188431.
Montreal Taschereau Yard on train 364: 188407, 188411, 188414, 188415, 188417, 188418, 188420, 188425, 188432.
Oshawa on train 369: 188404, 188406, 188413, 188419, 188426, 188428.
Flint, Michigan on train 216: 188410.
Chicago, Indiana Harbor Belt: 188409, 188412, 188421, 188422, 188423.

In the 1960's, CN and CP were competing for Alcan's business in Kingston. Alcan was one of CP's major customers here, and much of the rolled aluminum was sent to Wilkinson in British Columbia. CN sent the rolls in tarped gondolas, but the tarps had to be rolled up and shipped back - a troublesome process. CP developed two-section steel lids which provided better protection from the elements. This probably explains the presence of that covered CP gon in an earlier post on Kingston's CN-CP interchange.

Thanks to Ian Stronach for sharing information on Alcan. An HO modeller, Ian's Montreal Terminals is a professional-looking operation.


Robert in Port Townsend said...

Great information on a car I knew nothing about. That's the beauty of these blogs with people sharing information hitherto unknown to others. The more you hang around these blogs the more you learn about what you didn't know. Right?

Eric said...

Right on, Robert. To quote a certain D. Rumsfeld, "There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know."

Interesting cars indeed, these Alcan ones. They usually travel in small groups, unlike many model railroads, which move single cars. In my case, I only had an attention span long enough to model one car (cover is made of cardboard paper towel tube).

Thanks for stopping by,

Adam said...

I absolutely LOVE this blog! I love seeing such rich history of Kingston's long lost railways. Its unfortunate I missed a lot of the small spurs and yards.

I just shot some excellent pictures of the Cataraqui Spur near the old lumber yard where Cataraqui meets the CN mainline.

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Adam. I'll be posting more of Kingston's (recent) rail history. An excellent book on this topic, if you can find a copy, is "At The Bend In The Road Kingston" by Gordon Smithson.

Stay tuned,