Friday, August 3, 2018

Canada's First Government Grain Car

As Canada's federal government cylindrical grain car fleet continues to be sold off, it's interesting to look back at the early era of this non-railway grain car fleet. The first cylindrical government grain cars were built in 1972. The cylindrical design was easy to fabricate, with no interior bracing and unloading done by gravity. Hamilton's National Steel Car led production, with Hawker-Siddeley in Trenton, NS and Marine Industries in Sorel, QC also contributing. Each manufacturer's cars differed by only minor design variations. The initial Government of Canada paint scheme was brown overall, with a 15-foot yellow band and two wheat sheaves measuring 7'9" by 5'6". 

So what are we to make of the top photo from an online auction site? Some features in the photo, namely those yellow-and-black boxes and roof overhangs on passenger platforms immediately made me think....Ottawa! Not exactly a place to load, unload, or even set out a grain car! The photo shows what appears to be a new Government of Canada cylindrical grain car being guarded by railway police, and receiving a rooftop inspection by some 'suits'.

Indeed, sharper eyes than mine will find some spotting features that confirm is not actually a government grain car. In fact, it's CN 379024 which would normally be painted in CN's overall grey scheme. CN 379024 was actually built in late 1970, while the government grain car program was not announced, and first cars produced, until mid-1972!
Fresh out of the paint shop, CN 379024 masquerades  as a government grain car in this black-and-white photo (above). Paint scheme? Yes. Reporting marks? No. Closer inspection shows the reporting marks CX 379024 in use! While the government grain cars would be lettered CNWX and CPWX for operation on CN and CP lines, respectively, neither the CX nor the 379-series would be used on the 100000-series CNWX cars and 600000-series CPWX cars! So the above photo represents what I would call a faux builders photo! Here's another view, likely taken at the same time at what looks like CN's Pointe St Charles shops in Montreal:
The single column of capacity data, under the reporting marks looks odd, as does the COTS stencil on the fourth hopper. CRHA's Canadian Rail tells more of the story:
Speaking of Rowatt, SK..during my 1985 grain elevator photography trip to Regina, I returned to the Queen City with Rowatt being my last stop, where two of the later paint scheme Coke can government grain cars were spotted:
So, this one-of-a-kind grain car, this cylindrical charlatan, this Prairie poseur, this wheat-filled wraith has never appeared on the western railway radar. Until now. I'm assuming it was painted over quickly thereafter - at least the reporting marks would have to be solemnized or removed. While it must have been Canada's shortest-lived grain car, it was also apparently Canada's first government grain car!

Thanks to David J. Gagnon for his assistance with this post.

Running extra...

Of course you can read more about the rest of the Canadian grain car fleet in my latest Trains & Grains books (sample colour page below). Rosters, in-service photos and more...tracing the evolution from the pesky grain boxcar to the final Coke can cylindricals. 
Speaking of cans, it's radler season! Apparently these citrusy-beery blends were originated by a European barkeep who had a large group of cyclists arrive and not enough beer on hand. So, beer, meet citrus! Refreshing on a warm afternoon, as during my weathering session of five Green Mountain Lines freight fleet members yesterday. Thanks to Andrew and Riverhead Brewing Co. of Kingston's limited release Grapefruit  Radler for making it happen!

Speaking of rivers, here's some recent Microsoft Word and Paint designed and printed lettering on the Moose River Paper Co. mill on my HO scale Green Mountain Lines: 

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