Friday, October 21, 2011

CN's Double Deck Auto Transporters

CN's double-deck auto tranporter fleet comprised 150 cars with 9-foot end doors built by CC&F: 25 75-foot cars built in 1956 (CN 570400-570424 renumbered CN 730000-730024 in 1966), a further 50 75-foot cars built in 1959 (CN 570425-570474 renumbered CN 730025-730073 in 1966), and 75 57-foot cars built in 1959 (CN 570700-570774 renumbered to the CN 720100-series and equipped with tie-down troughs in 1974. CN 730034 is shown at CN's London Reclamation yard in 1989 (Peter Mumby photo - above). Note: due to the use of flickr and cnrphotos photos in this post, I've included 9 links to the original photos on their respective websites.

The 57-foot cars included some like CN 570717 that were painted in an overall blue with large CAR-GO-RAIL lettering to publicize this new service in 1963. Through the lens of Peter Cox, we see beautiful blue(!) CN 570717 at Vancouver in July, 1963:
Otherwise, both series of cars were delivered centrally lettered 'Double Deck Auto Transporter' in the CNR maple-leaf scheme, with some 57-foot cars later receiving the CN wet-noodle logo. Both types of cars had double decks each approximately 6 feet in height. The 57-foot cars carried six autos, and were built to offer more flexibility to shippers than the a-little-too-large eight auto 75-foot cars. An undated photo of CN 720105 with French lettering "Wagon Porte-Automobiles a Deux Etages" and English Canadian National, from the Bill Grandin collection via Jim Parker:
Revolutionary at the time, the oversize dimensions of these cars bridged the eras of 40-foot double-door automobile boxcars and open bi-level and tri-level auto racks. Providing all-weather protection, the 75-foot cars were even equipped with interior lighting. A nice black & white example: CN 570438 at Vancouver in 1959 (City of Vancouver Archives photo CVA447-1706.1)
Due to their large dimensions, these cars were not interchanged to other railways, being stencilled with instructions 'Do not load off CN lines in Canada'. Ten 57-foot cars were renumbered CN 15501-15509, retrucked for narrow-gauge service, and sent to Newfoundland in 1971. Returning to the mainland, retrucked with standard-gauge express trucks and repainted, CN 9500-9507 entered Auto-With-You service. Their eye-catching black & white scheme with red CN logo included a 'cutaway' drawing of three autos. Photos show these cars were equipped with steamlines, and I've only seen one photo of such a car not on the tail-end, instead between two CN passenger cars. CN 9501, 9504 and 9506 were definitely equipped with steamlines.
Some 57-foot cars remained in service for many years, such as CN 720127 at Churchill in 1987 (D.J. Gagnon photo - above). Between Wabowden/Thompson and Gillam/Churchill, the road network was poor or non-existent. For this service, the upper deck was removed, enabling single-level ramp loading of vehicles larger than autos. When the Hudson Bay Railway assumed operation of the line, such cars retained their original numbers with HBRY initials added to the reporting marks. Mark Fidelak kindly shared this photo of one such car that even includes an Hudson Bay Railway logo. Ex- CN 720100 at Churchill, June 2016:
Fifteen cars were converted to unique Auto Loaders for service on CN narrow-gauge lines in Newfoundland in 1975 - CN 18020-18034. The cars' roofs were removed, and large 'portholes' cut in the lower deck car sides. Here's CN 18032 at Corner Brook in 1981 (online auction site photo):
Here's another 57-foot car derivative - double-deck stock car CN 179000 also with six portholes, three compartments and moveable steel slats, built from CN 570767 in October 1964 (or some reports April 1965), photo courtesy Mark Perry.  Lower deck 5'7", upper deck 5'4".This one-of-a-kind car was later repainted silver with black lettering, renumbered into CN's 8xxxxx-series stock car numbering scheme as CN 820000 at Transcona in August 1968, and was off CN's standard-gauge roster by 1975. This car was featured in the October 1979 Railroad Model Craftsman. Interestingly, CN 179000 became CN Newfoundland 18032 in 1975! As Conrad Steeves pointed out via a comment, this car had the six 'portholes' in two pairs of three, while the other fourteen cars had the portholes evenly spaced. Dan Dell'Unto mentioned that the provenance can be confirmed - 18032 being the only 18000-series car with a door sill.
Mark Horne kindly shared this unique photo of a CN 820000-->179000-->18032 double-deck stock car, early 1970's in Vancouver to complete the puzzle: 
Some Auto-With-You cars were renumbered back to their earlier freight service number series, still wearing CN passenger paint, such as CN 9501 renumbered to CN 720045 in 1987. Another such car was CN 720026.

Other cars were used by CN in maintenance-of-way service, including CN 9503 which was converted for the masonry gang at Belleville, Ontario's car shop, equipped with roll-up doors and renumbered CN 72026.  (Kingston Rail photo - below):
I kitbashed an HO scale Bachmann auto transporter to represent CN 75107:

I came across CN 75107 at Gananoque Jct in 1994, with roll-up doors and retaining its original initial '7' numeral (both sides shown above and below). This car was also converted at Belleville in 1993, for use by the regional steel gang.  Note repainting around the new doors added side ladders, ACI labels and car end electrical plug-ins.
Eric Potter kindly shared these two photos showing both sides of CN 75107, as well as an end-door view, taken at Port Hope in 1991:
This was prior to the roll-up door being added!

story of ex-CN 9500 and its use in moving construction materials. At least 64 75-foot cars were sold to Auto-Train in 1973 for Washington-Florida service. When first delivered, the cars retained their CNR maple-leaf scheme, with reporting marks and logos painted out: AT 36, and AT 32, later repainted in the garish white-purple-red Auto-Train scheme. CN found other loads for the remaining few cars, such as boats and tent-trailers, until the last of the 75-foot cars also left the active roster in 1992. If you have the May 1979 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, Protofile 3 written by Stafford Swain is a good source of information on both types of double deck auto transporters. Thanks to Claude and Roman for your kind assistance.

With the advent of auto racks, the 57-foot cars were off CN's active roster by 1992. Here's an interesting

Running extra:

VIA train nos. 651 and 48 took me on a round-trip from Kingston to Toronto this past week. Delayed about 30 minutes eastbound into Belleville, for two westbound VIA trains, a westbound freight, plus the unseen freight we were following. Delicious key lime truffles, strong coffee, plus cognac made the delay much more palatable. Bring on the triple-track!

Thanks to readers who participated in last week's supreme passenger scheme poll. Can I conclude from the voting results that we are dealing with a 'younger' readership who appreciate the fifties CN green & black scheme, as well as VIA's blue & yellow, but whose votes are solidly behind CN's 1961 black & white?

It's that time of year when advertisers are using hokey seasonal slogans again. Rocktober, Sales Spook-tacular, even the clucking bunny with its Cadbury Screme Eggs. Q: What kind of car does a ghost drive? A: A Boo-ick.


Steve Boyko said...

Great post, Eric! I knew nothing about these before you started looking into them.

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comment, Steve. When I came across that 57-foot car at Gananoque Jct, I probably knew I should photograph it, not knowing it would be years later before I'd want to research these cars some more.

Photos of the 57-foot Car-Go-Rail demo cars in overall blue paint seem to be nearly impossible to come by.


Zartok-35 said...

Jeez, these things came in rainbow colors!
Here's a picture of an 'Auto-with-you' car on the head end of a freight in 1976:
Unless I'm mistaken, this is sort of inappropriate, is it not?

Eric said...

Elijah, thanks for that link. It looks like the following photo on Chris Guenzler's page shows 5263 with a black widow SD40, pulling that train. Indeed, a 57-foot car on a freight train.

I have read reports that the Auto-With-You service ended with VIA in 1976 or 1978, so I'm going with 1976, suggesting that car was now being used in high-priority auto transport in freight service.

You've got a sharp eye to spot that car in that photo!

Anonymous said...

Hi Eric,

awesome posts! Now a modelling question: Is the Walthers' model of the 75' auto loader accurate for either of the 2 first classes??

Eric said...

Hi A.,
I wasn't aware of the Walthers model, so thanks for your reference and also your kind comment.

Yes, the Walthers car appears to replicate the first lot of 75-foot double door auto transporters. The second lot had 'tabs' along the bottom of the car sides. Here's a webpage describing the Walthers model:

Now, just don't paint the car black & white!


J. P. said...

Eric is it possible for you to post step by step how you modified the bachmann model to match the prototype
just asking because i would like to do this as well

Eric said...

Good suggestion, J.P. First, I cut several feet of length from the carbody. I made the cut at the door opening-to-be, so there would be a less noticeable seam. I also cut a similar length from the underframe. The resulting length of the car should match the number of panels on the car side.

At the same time, I cut the door opening, filling it using scribed siding to make the roll-up door. I also added sills beneath the door.

Then I added details: a ladder, smokejack, and electrical connection on the end doors. I painted the car, and decalled with CDS decals. I kept the first digit of the car number (7) while repainting and adding the last 4 numbers.

To make the car more prototypical, I could have moved the truck centres closer to the ends of the car as in the prototype.

All of the above was done from the photographs I'd taken of 75107 at the Gananoque Jct station.

Hope this helps, and let me know if you have any further questions.


Conrad Steeves said...

You might be interested to know that CN 179000 and 18032 pictured immediately above it are the same car. It was unique in porthole positioning. The other 14 cars had 6 portholes evenly spaced along the car closer to the floor level. All 15 cars were scrapped in Newfoundland in 1988-89.

Eric said...

Thanks for that additional information, Conrad. Much appreciated.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this article! The best paint job they ever had was the auto-train Corporation red white and purple! Gorgeous!

Eric said...

Yes, U., the paint job on the 75-footers in A-T service was certainly brighter than CN's brown schemes!

Thanks for your domment,