Having seen a few of the trains, and collected consists since, I was interested to hear from Mark Perry, CN engineer in Dauphin, on this topic. Researching the CN F7Au's and the transition from CN express reefers, through boxcars, CN mechanical reefers and COFC and TOFC flatcars, I was able to summarize some information and create a timeline. Here's an old photo, from a March, 1971 National Geographic School Bulletin article on Manitoba's Train to Tundra, showing 2 CN GP-9's pulling CN head-end and passenger cars, in both the black-and-white and earlier olive-and-green paint schemes.
The locomotives used on these trains included GP-9's, some with Flexicoil trucks, but after CN rebuilt some of its 9100-series F7's, these units predominated. Initially, they wore CN's passenger scheme, but later received a full red nose, yellow frame stripe and freight stripes. Here are some power consists, from a variety of sources:
1971: 2 GP9's
1972: 2 F's
1979: 9151-91xx, 9155-9152
1980: 9154-91xx, 9153-4117, 9151-9153
1981: 9150-9154, 9155-9152
1985: 9168-91xx, 9163-9158
When CN rebuilt some FP9's into the 6300-6304 FP9ARM's in 1984-85, these replaced the 9150's, such as No 93 with engines VIA 6304-6300 on August 19, 1984.
Photographed from the mosquito-infested embankment above CN's East Yard in Winnipeg, 9163, 9158 and steam generator unit 15484 arrive from Symington Yard to power VIA No 93 to Churchill, on a warm September night in 1985, around 2000 hours:
The head-end traffic was handled in a variety of former CN boxcars and reefers, some left over from the steam era, until containers and later highway trailers were carried on the Churchill trains. The following observations show the evolution of the cars in use into the 1980's:
Through boxcars, 40-foot with sliding doors:
1976: 11119, 11064
1981 and later: not in evidence
Express reefers, 40-foot with plug doors:
1976: 10621, 10657, 10673
1979: black/white, olive/black
1982 and later: not in evidence
CN 2226xx-series reefers:
1970: 222601, 222619, 222608, 222603, 222624
1977: 222620, 222614
1980: 222620, 222619, 222609, 222600
1981: 222618, 222604, 222626
COFC 89-foot flats with 3 ISO containers:
1985 in use
In August 1981, the northbound train to Churchill passed Gladstone's Manitoba Pool elevator, then made a station stop:
Head-end traffic on this August night was handled in two CN reefers, as the use of the older cars was waning. The consist: 9150 - 9154 - 15450 - 222602 - 222604 - 9621 - 5440 - 3032 - 5574 - Palliser - Eldorado - Terra Nova River (CN) - Cape Race - Glace Bay (CN)- Mount Resplendent.
"I hated working with those reefers. In the summer of 1982, I was a trainman on Nos. 94-95 between Thompson and Gillam. By that time most of the reefers were in captive service between Thompson and Churchill. There were no carman stationed in Thompson so the train crew had to do up the steam conduits between the cars after picking them up from the express shed - a very dirty and hard job to do. Can you imagine what a blue VIA uniform looked like after doing up the steam conduits on 6 reefers between the SGU and the baggage cars, crouching underneath cars, wrestling with those conduits, kneeling on oily and watery tracks?"
I'm always on the lookout for more passenger consists that operated on the Churchill line.
For all your Canadian passenger car modelling needs, be sure to check out the Rapido Trains website at http://rapidotrains.com/index2.html
I had the chance to meet Jason and Dan, and although they take their production of quality Canadian prototype models very seriously, they seem to be having a lot of fun at the same time.
Ted Rafuse, of Steampower Publishing is looking for text and photographic material to use in a book under consideration, on the Kingston & Pembroke Railway. See http://www.canrailpub.com/