Saturday, July 28, 2018

CN Tempos to Moncton

Behold I tell you a mystery...

Norm Shapland posted the above photo of CN 3155 on Facebook. The far-from-home Tempo RS-18m (rebuilt to class MRE-18g from CN MR-18g 3887) is said to be photographed leading the Ocean into Halifax on June 29, 1976. Why? Because the Tempo locomotives were routinely sent to CN's shop in Moncton, NB for heavy maintenance such as rebuilding, major component failure, wreck repair and painting. The units apparently bypassed Toronto's Spadina shops and Montreal's Pointe St Charles shops for this work. After repairs, the Tempo units would be sent on a break-in run to a nearby terminal before heading back to their assigned service out of Toronto.

OK then, I wondered, why had I never seen one passing through Kingston? After all, to get to Montreal, nevermind Moncton, the Tempo units would have to traverse the length of CN's Kingston Sub, where I routinely posted myself trackside, notepad in hand, beginning in February, 1976.

So, off the old dusty archives I flew. Searching my roadswitcher listings (GP-9/RS-18) starting in 1976, I came to September 25, 1976 where I found CN 3155. Now we're talking! And CN 4549. Oh. 

Returning to the original (transcribed from) notepad, I found that at 1431 on September 25, CN 4549 had led 3155 east along with the following Tempo cars: 15300-372-366-364-361-348. And that's not all! I'd noted that CN 3155's own trucks were on a flat car, and that the unit itself was riding on freight car trucks. The Tempo cars were followed by some freight cars and caboose 79241.

Well, that was weird.

Further investigation revealed that 3155 may have even spent some time in Brockville yard on its way east. It was released from Moncton shops on March 2, 1977 after wreck repairs - at least five months after its incident.

Little did I know that former CN Moncton shops employee Wendell Lemon had done what I was unable to - photographed 3155 - just outside Moncton shops on November 28, 1976! It's not a pretty sight...bent frame, equipment missing, long hood telescoped, but at least it's been reunited with its trucks that travelled with it on that flat car! Wendell Lemon photo:
Jeremy MacPherson kindly shared two photos from his collection showing CN 3155 is its diesel-dishevelled state. This one is captured 'Stratford':
No location in caption (below).  Photographer unknown - both.
Perusing patiently, I came upon only one other Tempo temporary toot along the Kingston Sub that I'd witnessed. CN 3155 again - on November 16, 1978. In the company of at least two Centuries, CN 2314-2043, the Tempo unit was eastbound (at an unrecorded time) on a freight train tailed by CN caboose 79707. Since the original notes I'd taken were not in one of my still-existing note pads I no longer have any specifics on the train itself. But I'm guessing it may have been COFC/TOFC.

I'm still searching for more information on the derailment that caused that Tempo consist to be hauled east from Toronto in September, 1976.

Hours after this post was published, Sean Trofin kindly passed along the following update: 

There was a Tempo train derailment outside of Windsor, in Tecumseh on September 6, 1976. The derailment was caused by a tampered switch. The train involved was westbound train No 77 and  the derailment occured at Lesperance Road in Tecumseh. Sean remembers that the Windsor Star newspaper had an article and pictures of the derailment. Sean was a young nine years old at the time, and already a big railfan! 

Thanks, Sean! This will provide a lead to find out more about the Tempo tampering timing!

Most Tempo units arriving in Moncton were dead, only occasionally working. Return west was usually on No 15 or 341. Other reported trips to Moncton by Tempo units after 1976 include:
  • CN 3153 Aug 30, 1976 (having arrived on CN train No 340 - Wendell Lemon photo):
  • CN 3150 Dec. 6, 1978 (very fresh Wendell Lemon photo):
  • CN 3152 Feb. 2, 1980
  • CN 3154 Feb. 29, 1980
  • CN 3153 May 31, 1981
  • CN 3155 Feb. 1982 (at Moncton station for furtherance on VIA No 15 reshopped but definitely not repainted - retirement was months away - Feb. 20 Wendell Lemon photo):
This being the Tempo's fiftieth anniversary (and Trackside Treasure's tenth), it was interesting to find out more about the travels of these unique units. Thanks to Norm Shapland, Chris Mears, Taylor Main, Fred Mills, Jeremy MacPherson and special thanks to Wendell Lemon for assistance with this post.

Lots o' links:
Running extra...

Perhaps you've heard that Rapido Trains Inc. will be producing the...

Coming soon...summertime reading. See what I've been reading. Until I get that written up.....
  • I just finished two books this weekend. Yep, got 'em both coloured in!
  • Can you suggest some other names for 'thesaurus'?
  • I don't read books besides the dictionary. It's got all the other words already in it, anyway.
  • Just plowed through some medical journals. You know, written by Doctor Seuss?
  • Ultimate author putdown, "Oh, once I put your new book down, I couldn't pick it up again."
  • Ultimate reader putdown, "Oh, I'm a fan of your new book." Author: "Oh, you're the one."


Norm Shapland said...

My goodness, I would not of thought that my posting of CN Tempo unit #3155 coming into Halifax would cause such a stir of information coming forth about the Tempo unit. Thank you all for the info. Norm Shapland

Jeffrey Dobek said...

A very interesting post! The Tempo was the first Canadian train I rode (albeit only from Windsor to Chatham!). I'm looking forward to the forthcoming Rapido model, via my dealer in Germany.

Sean Trofin said...

There was a Tempo Train derailment outside of Windsor, Ontario in Tecumseh on September 6, 1976. It was caused by a tampered switch. It was westbound train #77 and it derailed at Lesperance Road in Tecumseh. I wonder if the loco from that train was the one sent to Moncton. I've been trying to find information and pictures of the derailment; I remember that the Windsor Star had an article and pictures of the derailment, but I haven't been able to find pictures or the article online. I was 9-years-old at the time and a big railfan, and I remember that I had been railfanning in Tecumseh the day it happened. The Windsor Model Railroad Club's Essex County Rail History has the derailment listed at:

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, gentlemen!

Norm - your intriguing photo caused a huge, stewy stir, sir. And for that, those of us interested in such things say 'thank you'!

Jeffrey - good to have you aboard and I can share your enthusiasm re: the anticipation of the Rapido Trains Inc. Tempo!

Sean - that sounds like a smoking gun to me! Thanks for the additional information and a possible jumping-off point to find out more about this derailment. I'll add it to the post.

Great to have you all interested and aboard for this intriguing bit of Canadian passenger train operational history!