Thursday, May 5, 2016

CN green-door combination boxcars

A very colourful and identifiable CN car series was CN 557000-557739, built 1/73-7/74, 52'8" in length, equipped with 8-foot Youngstown plug and 10-foot sliding doors, the latter painted with CN Green No 12 paint. The green doors were being painted out by 1987. The combination doors provided a wide opening through which lumber could be loaded by forklift. Today, much of that lumber would likely be shipped wrapped, carried on modern high-capacity centre-beam bulkhead flat cars. CN 557528 was westbound through Kingston on CN No 305 on February 8. 2003 (top photo). Note that the number had been restencilled in a different font, and that the green door has been partly-repainted.

A derailment at Kingston in March, 1980 involved three of these green-door cars carrying canned goods: CN 557522-557617-557410. CN 557522 was still on the rails, gingerly removed to the west:
 CN 557617 has some extra running gear underneath:
CN 557410 was tipped over, fouling the north track of CN's Kingston Sub, soon righted with a gentle nudge from a bucket-loader!
North American Can of Canada Co. in Portage la Prairie, MB received green-door cars, as seen behind this westbound CP freight in August, 1978:
Louisiana-Pacific's CN-served particle board mill in Minitonas, MB shipped product in these cars. CN 557115 wore the short-lived CN North America scheme, of course without the signature green door! CN 557417 and 557420 wore a black/white/blue- and black/white/purple scheme (respectively) for Expo86 in Vancouver.

And other related lading...personal effects and furniture. When CN engineer Mark Perry moved from Gillam, MB to Dauphin, MB, CN provided CN 557132 to move his stuff in. Here it is being unloaded in Dauphin, May 1987. (Mark Perry photo)
Some of the last green-door cars I observed, with date, car number and CN train on:
Nov 29/97 CN 557603 on No 335
Feb 12/98 CN 557647
Apr 26/98 CN 557644 on No 361
Jan 16/00 CN 557568 on No 369
May 20/00 CN 557467
Aug 24/00 CN 557664-557702 on No 366
Oct 25/00 CN 557661
Jan 14/01 CN 557479
Apr 28/02 CN 557497
May 15/02 CN 557702
Jun xx/02 CN 557264
Jun 14/07 CN 557038
Jul 19/08 CN 557623

And at least one repainted car received a small-CN logo: CN 557482 observed on No 306 Apr29/01.

I traced EXPO86 CN 557417 for twenty months, July 1997-April 1999, after a Kingston Sub sighting:

Minitonas MB Louisiana-Pacific chipboard mill to Vancouver WA on BN
Eckner SK to Granger IN
Lasarre, QC to Denver CO on BN and Ashburn GA on NS
Val D'0r track FN49 to Denver CO on UP, Eau Claire WI on UP, Eatonton GA on NS, Denver, CO on BN, Copley OH on HS and Denver CO on BN
Longlac, ON Tk KB43 to Gilbert AZ on UP
Minitonas track CW76 to Fresno CA on the San Joaquin Valley RR
Minitonas to Denver CO on BNSF
Minitonas to Roper UT on UP
High Prairie AB on RLGN to INDSCF, IN on CR

When Rapido Trains Inc. produced these cars in HO scale in 2023, the hunt was on for the trust lettering at the top-left corner of the carbody (Mike Shirran photo)
Earlier version of Surface Transportation Board recordation 6866 from 1972:


Canadian Train Geek said...

I've always been curious about those cars... I've seen the model variety. I'm not sure I have ever seen one myself.

Eric said...

Kaslo Shops! Indeed Steve, it might have been very challenging to see one of these cars after the 1990's. Fortunately, we still have some classic photos by Bill Linley and others, showing these unique cars in service, including in the Maritimes!

Thanks for your comment,

Tyler said...

Any idea if the cars at North American Can in Portage were inbound or outbound loads? This evidence of them serving in Portage gives me extra incentive to track down a Kaslo Shops kit. Would be nice if they re-stocked them now that Kaslo seems to be replenishing many of their "long lost" items!

Eric said...

Tyler, I think they were inbound loads. They were definitely frequent visitors and not one-offs. Also, neat interchange from CN to CP potential!
Thanks for your comment,

Michael said...

Did you ever come across a reason why CN would paint these doors green? Was there a purpose to it?

Eric said...

It was part of car utilization and marketing program on CN, Michael. Green doors on 40- and 50-foot boxcars for lumber service, yellow for newsprint; red and blue doors on mechanical reefers for produce and meat.

Not as well-known as CP's multimark scheme where the entire car was painted. CN was more conservative and kept the original car colours, merely painting the doors to signify specific services.

Thanks for your question,

Michael said...

Aha! I knew CP colour-coded its cars, but wasn't aware that CN did so with the doors.

Chris vanderHeide said...

CN stopped with the colour-coding around the early 1980s, and eventually as cars were repainted the green and yellow doors slowly disappeared. By the 2000s, there were plenty of these cars still in service, but few still had the door painted green.

Eric said...

Thanks for that additional information, Chris.