Wednesday, March 1, 2017

CN's Blind Mice F-Units

Some of CN's 9100-series GFA-17's were rebuilt to GFB-17's numbered 9100-9108 between May 1983 and December 1984. These were formerly CN 9174, 9170, 9157, 9152, 9154, 9178, 9155, 9179, 9150 respectively. CN 9100-9104 were assigned to Symington, and 9105-9108 assigned to Calder. On June 4, 1984, an eastbound 112-car loaded grain train into Portage la Prairie was led by CN 9173-9103-9100. The connecting track between CN Rivers Sub and CP Carberry Sub is in foreground:
Two years later, I was over-nighting in Rosetown, SK when a westbound freight made it into Rosetown through showers in the early evening. Tying down the train, the crew 'went for beans'. One of the blind mice was the second unit behind CN 5575:
On that same trip of mine, passing through Edmonton on VIA train No 4, CN 9101 was with CN 7949 at the Calder Yard shop tracks. Look right through the portholes!
The rebuilt units' front windshield and side cab windows were covered with one-eighth-inch steel. Number boards, classification lighs and the inside of some radiator vents were also covered with sheet metal.The headlight was kept in operation, with two emergency brake valves, no horn, no hostler control, no brake control and the units could not operate independently, being totally dependent on other locomotives for movement. For ballast, retired axles were mounted inboard, with six in the rear and seven in a the front compartment. Sanding pipes were reduced. CN 9102-9103 and VIA SGU's were at CN Symington shop in Winnipeg in 1985 in this online photo auction site photo:
CN engineer Mark Perry noted that crews referred to these units as 'red beetles'. Jim Booth kindly shared photos of CN 9102 at Kelowna, BC in February, 1987:
The units were retired in December, 1989. By 1990, CN 9100 and some classmates were in the scrapline at Montreal's Taschereau Yard (Bill Thomson photo):
CN 9103 in Jasper, captioned 1986.
CN 9173 in 1986 in Nanticoke, ON. Cabride!
Thanks to Jim Booth and Bill Thomson for sharing their photos for this post.

Running extra...
Looking forward to the annual Kingston Rail-O-Rama train show, March 11 and 12 at Kingston's Ambassador Hotel. Show co-chair Paul Hunter has worked hard on the show's website, flyer and buttons (sure hope he has a couple set aside for me!) I'll be there at the open, with those big bags I usually take to the grocery store!


Chris BIGDoer Doering said...

Is that some brand spanking new tractors on a flat car, right behind the locos, in the Rosetown image?

Eric said...

Looks that way, Chris. Quite a nice mix of cars on that train, including piggyback.

Watch for an upcoming post on ag machinery on flat cars (including bulkhead flats) when combines were small!

Thanks for your comment,

Unknown said...

CN sure knew how to get their money's worth out of their power! Any idea if any of these units has survived the scrapper Eric?


Eric said...

CN was creative, perhaps innovating more than CP. CP was more interested in grinding every last penny out of their fleet. We call it sweating the assets.

These were retired by 1989 and as far as I know, were scrapped thereafter. CP blinded several of their units, too.

Thanks for your comment, Andrew!

Zartok-35 said...

Great shots Eric, especially the Rosetown one! The Rosetown Subdivision had light rail from just west of Rosetown to Kindersley, and they were only allowed to run 15 cars per train over the weight limit. The Blind Mice aswell as those HellKittens would have come quite in handy. Oddly enough, the rest of the Oyen and Drumheller Subs to Calgary had mainline rail.

Zartok-35 said...

Also interesting is the second unit in that deadline photo is CN 9190, the first F7Bu, which apparently still sports its original angular stripe paint from its referb back in 1972. 9157, one of the converted units, lasted almost as long in its original "Black capped Chickadee" paint, through 1983, and quite possibly up until it was plated over.

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, Elijah. Retro rules the roost! My one and only trip to Rosetown. Had these F photos out when I was scanning elevator photos from Stranraer taken during my visit there!


The Bucknell Family said...

Rosetown was on the line to Calgary. The Prairie North Line goes to Edmonton.

Eric said...

Thanks for that additional information, Bucknell Family.

Anonymous said...

Anyone able to shed some light on why they went through the trouble to blind the locomotives could they just leave the windows in and locomotives operational till retirement

Eric said...

I'm glad they did, because it was part of their singular appeal, A. Since they were entirely dependent on other locomotives for movement, I guess there was no need for windows. CP would not have covered them if it were their project, I'd wager.

Thanks for your comment,