Friday, June 22, 2012

Postscript: Private car Pacific

On its current Mother Parker's Remembers tour, private car Pacific was on the tailend of VIA No 64 at Kingston on June 5.  A marked contrast to the sleek and modern (well, modern if you live in the 1970's, like my haircut, see below) LRC cars that it's knuckle-to-knuckle with. Rebuilt in 1949, after a busy quarter-century of service with CN including Royal Trains, directors' specials, and the campaign train of prime minister John Diefenbaker, the car then as now has an impressive appearance.

One of a two-car series of six-compartment buffet lounge observation sleeping cars, built by Canadian Car & Foundry in September, 1924 Pacific was numbered 1197, along with Atlantic, 1196. Some facts and figures:
  • Length: 82'7" over diaphragm buffers, 73' over end sills, with 57'6" truck centres.
  • Steel construction, with steel underframe, with double-vestibule ends, open platform, six-wheel trucks and wide double windows
  • Car #4 of the May-June 1939 Royal Train, during which the observation was enclosed.
  • Three major modifications were made in 1938, 1948-49 and 1951, and during the second rebuilding I believe the clerestory was covered by a turtle roof, one with arched and rounded ends.
  • Timken roller bearings 12/51
  • Renumbered CN 15157 in 2/74, then CN 48 in 4/74, retired 5/75, purchsed by P. Higgins in 2/76.
Pacific is tentatively scheduled for the following trips: Montreal-Toronto on VIA No 67 on June 25, Toronto-Ottawa on VIA No 48 on June 27 see this postscript post, Ottawa-Montreal on VIA No 32 and Ottawa-Toronto on VIA No 59, both on July 4, then further trips to London and Windsor. Remember that's a tentative schedule.  This effort by the Higgins brothers is to use their beautifully-restored private car to generate donations to Alzheimer's research in conjunction with the Alzheimer Society.  If you know someone living with dementia as I do, please consider making a donation to stop Alzheimer's in its tracks.
Walker Express blogger Adam Walker captured this level-crossing view of Pacific's lair in a photo taken from Dowty Road crossing in Ajax.  A notoriously rough crossing, it even rated mention in the Toronto Star fixer column in 2010 as being brutal while riding on or driving behind a bus. My Durham Region paramedic son noted that in an ambulance it is not a comfortable ride either.
Check out this Bing aerial view of plant and spur.  Interestingly, another car stored at the same location (not Pacific) and visible in the Bing photo was stored just west of Napanee station.  Ex-CN rule instruction car 15025, a Pullman car built in 1910, is stored in Ajax (with ex-VIA cafe-lounge 765) but when I photographed it in 1989 it was in a more agrarian, less industrial setting:
Here's an online photo auction site view of CN 9529 and caboose 79257 spotting Pacific in Ajax captioned April 2, 1982:
Pacific at home, beside the Mother Parker's plant in Ajax.  The old girl is likely happy to be out on the road now and rolling again on its first outing since 2000, rather than penned up agonizingly within earshot of passing trains on CN's Kingston Subdivision (Toronto Star photo, 2010):
Pacific's debut after restoration was on a Montreal-Richmond-Victoriaville CN fantrip on September 15, 1973.  Restored CN Mountain type 4-8-2 6060 led the black & white-painted consist, though it and Pacific were resplendent in CN green.  At Central Station's distinctive high-level platform before the excursion, (left) 6060 fairly gleamed in the morning glow and then glowed in the afternoon gloaming after taking on water and fuel oil at Richmond (right):
My siblings and I were fortunate to be on this trip, having travelled all the way east from Kingston the day before at my father's urging.  I'm the shortest, tousle-headed one, during a water stop at St Hyacinthe station.  
Then a runpast at commuter station at Otterburn Park.  Hey garcon, get off the roof!  Form a photo line! 
 Fantrip photos by L.C. Gagnon.
CHUM radio and CBC TV personality Larry Solway was on the train too, seen walking alongside coach 5219 during a runpast at Upton (left).  Double runpasts were held at St Basile, Otterburn Park and Upton. The tailend star of the show, Pacific brings up the markers (right) during an Upton runpast:
Until the fantrip, Pacific was a retired, semi-preserved repository for historical items under the control of CN's manager-historical projects, J.Norman Lowe.  It underwent a complete refurbishing at Point St. Charles shops, with repainting in the original green colour of the Company to match 6060.  The car's purpose was four-fold: to serve as a retail sales outlet branch of the Montreal sales store, a small museum for artifacts from the CN collection, a VIP reception area and to provide sleeping accommodation for potential cross-country trips.  Note reapplied CN wafer heralds, brass railings and curtains on the open observation platform:
Once again, I encourage you to take the opportunity to support the Mother Parker's Remembers campaign for which Pacific is generating donations, while travelling along VIA's Corridor.  Click here for more information on the tour, and if you feel this rail-related campaign is one you can support, click here to donate now.

Running extra...

VIA's Canadian is back up to its longer, summer consist.  Steve Boyko of Winnipeg just posted some nice photos and video of the speedy stainless steel streamliner here.

Just finished listening to Dick Cavett's Talk Show.  Can the laconic son of two English teachers from Nebraska make it big as a writer for Jack Paar and Groucho Marx?  Yes. Dick's career spanned four decades.   Unexpected best passage in the book is his account of the power of music.

A Washington state company has been granted salvage rights for the SS Islander, owned by Canadian Pacific Steam Navigation Company.  She sank near Juneau, Alaska on August 15, 1901 with a reported 480,000 ounces of gold aboard.  Did you hear the one about the shipload of yo-yos from China that sank in Vancouver harbour?  She sank thirty-seven times.


Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for the link, Eric, and great article on the Pacific. I hope it comes west so I can get a chance to view this great old car. It has an odd look to the rear of it as you don't normally see a car with a platform that is clearly designed to mate up with other cars.

BTW did you know that Canadian Railway Modeler published a blurb about your blog (and mine)?

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Steve. You're right about its appearance, the diaphragm in the middle of the observation platform is indeed unusual. I'm hoping to see her go by again tomorrow night on VIA No 67.

Was the CRM blurb awhile ago? If so, I do remember seeing it, perhaps it was in the same issue as the review of my book. Or is it a new blurb? Morgan is pretty good at highlighting the efforts of enthusiasts like us.


Canadian Train Geek said...

Diaphragm.. that's the word that was eluding me!

It is in the "latest" issue, Train 18 Track 3, published Feb-Mar 2012.

Eric said...

And apparently it was only one of two cars on the CN system with that observation platform/diaphragm arrangement.

T18T3 - with Chris Lyon's LVN on the cover? Checked my copy tonight, Steve, didn't see blurbs, though I did see your letter to the editor. Page number? Or did CRM accidentally forget to change the masthead?


Eric said...

Steve, my issue arrived today - it's T18T4, and it's nice to be listed in the company of such a prolific blogger!