Saturday, May 9, 2020

E-8's in CP and VIA Service

Canadian Pacific purchased the only E-8's in Canada from General Motors in LaGrange, IL, before GMDL was even built and building locomotives in Canada. CP 1800 was outshopped on December 2, 1949, 1801 on December 6 and 1802 on December 8, and each assumed by CP about three days later. GM serial numbers were 8680-8682, respectively.

Check out my brother David Gagnon's E-8 post on his blog, Rolly Martin Country. It leads naturally into this post, and its publication inspired me to get this post out of draft form, where it had languished for five years! In December, 2020 Rapido Trains Inc. announced their intention to release the E-8 (artwork - top).

The long-legged units were 70'3" in length, riding on A-1-A trucks with two 12-cylinder 567B engines producing 2,250 horsepower and dual steam generators. Wheel diameter was 36 inches, centre axle unpowered, transition control automatic forward/manual backward, top speed 85 mph. When in operation the long underframe meant that there was quite a bit of flexibility - the centre area flexed up and down when moving. If one engine failed, you could get home on the other, powering only its truck.


Operating between Montreal to Boston in their first years with CP, on the Redwing, Alouette and Newport Local, the units moved to Toronto-Windsor service in 1959 until the mid-60's, replaced by RDC's. They could also be seen leading the Toronto section of the Canadian in 1960. In the mid-60's the 1800's began operating from Montreal to Quebec City and Ottawa. On the Montreal-Quebec City run, the units would make three runs daily, again replaced by RDC's in 1971. Heading for Quebec City leading train No 154, CP 1801 collided with a freight train led by CP 8787-8027 at Mi 117.6 of the Quebec Subdivision that had not cleared the mainline at Lachevrotiere, Quebec on December 28, 1968 and was scrapped on October 31,1969. In the early- to mid-seventies, the Atlantic Limited between Montreal-Saint John, NB would become their home.

Rebuilt in early 1973 and emerging from Calgary's Ogden Shops wearing the CP Rail multimark, they operated on a test trip to Edmonton on CP No 987, returning on No 988.  According to Bruce Chapman, the engineer had never been on one of these units, and this thing had "manual backward transition, or some old thing".  Anyway, the main generator burned up on the first trip out of Ogden! Subsequently, there emerged specific instructions on how to run these units, and preferably not in freight service.

Famously, the two units operated on an autumn fantrip on the Thanksgiving weekend in 1973, east from Montreal to the Eastern Townships. Was this the only instance in which both units operated back-to-back while in CP Rail paint? If you see such photos, think 'fantrip' not revenue service. The consist comprised a Budd stainless steel baggage, four 2200-series coaches, Budd Skyline and two more Budd cars then a Park car. Phil Mason photographed the fantrip at Sherbrooke:
More than ready for a repaint. VIA 1802's CP Rail colours were looking a little rough when Bruce Chapman photographed it at Montreal West on October 2, 1979 on its last run on No 41 (below) with 1800's last run on the Atlantic Limited on March 4, 1978.


Bought by VIA on September 28. 1978, the two ex-CP units were repainted and rebuilt at Montreal's Angus Shops, upgraded from 567B to 567BC specifications and 2,500 horsepower. Rarely if ever did they operate on CN lines. They were operating on the Atlantic Limited in 1977, as late as 1979. VIA 1800 was repainted on October 26, 1979. Bruce Chapman photographed it with a roadswitcher protection power at Montreal's Windsor Station on November 6, 1979, likely a break-in run. A VIA E-8 in commuter service! 
VIA 1802 was repainted on February 3, 1980. Bruce Chapman photographed it the next day at St Luc, Montreal on February 4, 1980:
VIA 1400 and Canada's two E-8's: 1800-1802 elephant-style eastbound at Winnipeg in April, 1980.  (A. Walker photo, Brian Schuff collection):
When ex-CP units operated out of Toronto, CP would insist on maintaining them in Montreal, so it was possible to see E's and F's appearing in freight consists between these cities. Pat Scrimgeour kindly shared this photo of VIA 1802 steaming in a freight locomotive consist in April 1980 in North Toronto:
In the first week of June of 1980, the two units were renumbered at Alyth Yard in Calgary - 1800 to 1898 on June 9, and 1802 to 1899 on June 3.  This was done to avoid conflict with CP rebuilt RS-18's entering the 1800-series, CP 8794 the first 1800 in 1980. Just before the renumbering, this Bill Coo photo shows VIA 1802 on left-hand passenger locomotive consist, amid the usual busy switching activity at Sudbury. This was during an eight-month period between October 1979 and June 1980 that the Canadian ran on CP Vancouver-Winnipeg and Sudbury-Montreal, and the Super Continental operated Vancouver-Winnipeg and Sudbury-Toronto on CN. Between Winnipeg and Sudbury, the combined train operated on CP.
Operating on VIA's Canadian between Montreal and Calgary, they were unable to operate in  mountain territory west of Calgary to Vancouver because of their lack of dynamic brakes. At least once, one of them operated on the Calgary-Edmonton intercity run, bringing No 197 into Edmonton on January 2, 1980 then back the next morning on No 194 into Calgary on January 25.

Some more E-8 in VIA service data points in 1980:

  • 1800, January/80 on No 2 Calgary to Sudbury
  • 1899, June 10/80 trailing 1406 on the Canadian
  • 1898, Sep 17/80 on No 2
  • 1899, Sep 29/80 on No 1

Bruce Chapman related the story of what happened at Calgary to produce a loaded locomotive consist with VIA 1800-1802 and two roadswitchers on May 13, 1980. "I was working the west board, and No 1 had arrived with VIA 1800-CP 8465; they were sitting on the shop track at Alyth.  The next No 1 came in with VIA 1802-VIA 8558.  So I had four units in Alyth, none with dynamic brakes, and they couldn't go west. Should I get them all on No 2 tomorrow and get them back to St. Luc [and he did]!   The 1800 and 1802 both had front MU's by this time, but [they got] lined them up back to back with the 2 DRS in the middle.  I called Fred Clark, an Ottawa boy who was out there going to shoot No 2 the next day with this mess."  Here is one of Fred's photos from either end of the locomotive consist, showing VIA 1802-CP 8465-VIA 8558-VIA 1800:
De l'est: these four took over from CP 5825-1962-CP 8516 that brought No 2 into Cowtown:
Here is another Fred Clark photo showing the renumbered VIA 1899 at Calgary in July, 1980:
VIA 1802 eastbound at Winnipeg between 1403 and an ex-CN baggage car, April 1980. (Grant Anderson photo, Brian Schuff collection) 
The units sometimes took a vacation, as VIA 1899 took a break for awhile in 1981. It returned to service in January, 1982. Both units were seeing daily service in May. Bumped by ex-CN F's operating on the Canadian, their last runs took place in 1982 -  1898's on June 7, 1982 and 1899's on May 26, 1982. 
In the deadline in Calgary on August 7, 1982 (above - Fred Clark photo). Scrapped at Ogden in January, 1985 and November, 1984 respectively, their prime movers were used in Weston-rebuilt SW1200RSu's CP 1248-1251.


Heading west in October, 1980 our Canadian met our eastbound counterpart near Lochalsh, ON. On the point were 6533-1898. I observed No 2 at Portage la Prairie, MB on August 24, 1981 behind 1418-CP 8580-1898: 
On August 27, 1981 No 1 had 1418-CP 8580-1898-6553. Check out all the trips VIA 1898 made on Nos 1 and 2 from October 1 to November 15, 1981 through Ignace, ON:
I rode on the Canadian in September, 1981 from Calgary to Montreal, behind 1407-CP 8516-1898 from Calgary to Sudbury then behind VIA 6542-6633 from Sudbury to Montreal. Here's a closeup of our third unit during the layover in Winnipeg;
The head-end view at Winnipeg:
The sharp curve east of Jackfish, ON presented a perfect opportunity to photograph our unique locomotive consist on September 5, 1981:

Is it possible that the two units were operated back to back in the VIA era? The above photo seems to suggest yes, at Calgary. Pay no attention to the cars in front of them parked in two totally different directions!

The photo below was emailed to me by Manitoban Mark Perry way back in August, 2011. From the Brian Schuff collection, check out the units, an F and a E running elephant style! Ex-CP 1413 leads an E and an 11-car Canadian at Elie in 1980. A Lawrence Stuckey photo, this photo led to a long and  fruitful relationship with The Mayor of Diamond. Then MAP and I successfully suggested the Mayor join us on Facebook. The story continues...very Eee-nteresting!

My thanks to Bruce Chapman Fred Clark, Phil Mason, Brian Schuff and Pat Scrimgeour for their assistance with this post.

Running extra...

You won't find too many photos of my Mom trainwatching. It was among her least favourite activities. Here we are, seated together on CNR 6218's last fantrip. I have my engineer hat sideways and she seems to be crocheting. We are no longer together. I found CBS reporter Steve Hartman's tribute to his last remaining parent, in his case his father, to be especially meaningful.


Zartok-35 said...

Wowzers!! That shot of the Super and Canadian combining at Sudbury is a sure fire winner!

Eric said...

Thanks, Elijah. Just when we think we've seen it all!
Leave it to Mr. Coo to be showing up trackside and capturing the future-past on film in his then-present!

JasonPaulSailer said...

Such a long locomotive!

Sorry for the loss of your mother recently! Thoughts and prayers for you and your family!

Eric said...

Hi Jason,

Thanks very much for your kind words. I'm fortunate to have such things as blogging to fall back on when world events and life events would otherwise have me curled up in a ball in a corner of my layout room.

The E's were definitely unique in Canadian railroading, and true to form, nobody preserved one!