Saturday, June 17, 2017

CN International Service Cabooses

With the advent of U.S. Federal Railroad Administration Safety Glazing Standard Part 223 for cabooses operating in the United States, CN modified some of its 1970-74 built Pointe St Charles cabooses for international service, many drawn from the 793xx and 794xx ranks. Beginning in December 1982, CN glazed the windows of thirty cabooses, renumbered 78100-78129 to denote this new service. The FRA standard required such equipped cabooses to be modified by a June 30, 1984 target date. Later, CN 78130-78135 were also converted in 1987, followed by 78135-78140 (including 78139) in 1989. Visually, the cabooses were made instantly identifiable (and tempting targets for trackside photographers!) by painting the cupolas yellow and adding International Service lettering on or around the cupola.  CN 78106 tails a westbound freight at Kingston on June 30, 1983 (top photo by L.C. Gagnon)

Specific testing requirements for side- and end-facing glazing involved a 22 calibre long rifle projectile moving at 960 feet per second and a 24-lb cinder block impact! "Good morning America, how are you!?" The cabooses were used in service across the border to Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota; often seen in terminals like Sarnia, Montreal, Winnipeg, Niagara Falls and Fort Erie.

CN 78118-78120 were modified to fit through the tunnel between Sarnia, ON and Port Huron, MI. Operating thence on GTW between Port Huron and Chicago, the trains were cabooseless. (Also, CN 79719 shows similar, perhaps earlier modification.) Some of the International Service cabooses were equipped with central red marker lights, likely flashing, and the centrally-lettered road number moved to one side of the roof end. Some cupolas bore horizontal white striping.

Interestingly, CN 79548, 79549, 79550 and unknown others were lettered International Service with partially-yellow cupolas as early as 1973, for service on the DW&P. Kevin Toulouse kindly shared this photo of CN 79548 at Chatham, ON in January, 1981:
As time went by, and with the phasing-out of cabooses in the 1990's, the specially-equipped International Service cabooses were found on regular freights and locals, such as CN 4136-78132 at Kitchener in August, 1992 (below), and eventually even work trains into the new millennium.

My CN International Service caboose sightings with date, car number and remarks:

May x/83 CN 78100 and 78120
Aug 31/83 CN 79550 which I noted as 'Ex-I.S.'
Mar 9/84 CN 78108 on an eastbound freight at Dorval -- ironically on one of the last trains I photographed with my Kodak Hawkeye!)
Sep 18/84 CN 78111 at Symington Yard, Winnipeg
Sep 20/84 CN 78112 on a westbound freight at Portage la Prairie, MB
Feb 9/89 CN 78121 on a wayfreight switching Kingston's DuPont nylon plant
Jul 16/89 CN 79549 on westbound freight
Aug 25/92 CN 78132 at Kitchener
Jan x/94 and Jul 8/94 CN 78109 on wayfreight at Kingston
Oct 13/95 CN 78100 derailment on wayfreight at Kingston
Nov 5/95 CN 78100 on wayfreight at Kingston
Apr x/96 CN 78100 on wayfreight at Belleville

Interestingly, here's CN 78100 at Belleville in 1997 likely taken near the station, on the wayfreight to Cobourg - online auction site photo:
Additional online auction site photos:

CN 78100 at Bayview Junction in August 1983:
Oops! CN 78133 in January 1988 at London. It had been involved in a collision with VIA 6902 the month before near Komoka, ON:
CN 78138 in October 1989:
Another, undated view of CN 78138, not looking quite as minty:
78120 trailing intermodal traffic in well cars in 1985 at Bayview Junction:
CN 78113 in 1983:
CN 78113 at Ajax, ON in 1983:
Jim Parker kindly shared this undated view of CN 78124 from the Bill Grandin collection:

Running extra...

CANADA 150 is on, and July 1 is coming soon. Watch for Trackside Treasure's annual Canada Day post...150 great things about Canadian railways. Or if I get lazy in the nice weather, the consist of a passing 150-car CN freight! Thank goodness VIA did something, because corporate Canada constituents seems to be doing their own thing, virtually at the last minute! Kingston, being Canada's short-lived first capital city, features City Hall's clock tower:
There are expensive commemmorative coins and stamps being issued. For Canada's Centennial, my Dad reused the cardboard from an old Kleenex box to make his own presentation set box for each of us. A cotton-batten lined lower half contained the minted Centennial coins, while the upper section displayed the Centennial stamp issues. On the cover, our name emblazoned in commemmorative pencil on masking tape!

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