Tuesday, June 10, 2008

CPR's First "Subdivision" Dieselized!

Canadian Pacific Railway 7068, Esquimalt & Nanaimo Subsidiary, Victoria B.C., July 16, 1960. Our family made frequent visits from Seattle to Victoria, to visit Granny and Grandpa.

Every summer my Mom would shuttle my Sister and I down to the CPR
Lenore Street Terminal, Pier 64 in Seattle and load us on board either the Princess Patricia or the Princess Marguerite for the run up the Puget Sound, past Port Townsend (where I ended up in retirement!) through Admiralty Inlet, and across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, just over 100 miles.

Being four years younger than I, I was admonished to “take care of your Sister!” Often during those crossings, I imagined ways for her to disappear …

You’ll be pleased to learn she’s still alive!

We’d been back from Prince Rupert and had taken the family bus up to Victoria to visit with the Grandparents and do some incidental train chasing. My Dad and I found diesel-hydraulic
CPR 15 and this handsome Baldwin puttering around, doing this and that.

There were only 11 of these units built for Canadian use, Canadian Pacific taking all eleven units, number 7065 through 7077. They were fitted with multiple unit controls and did the bulk of mainline work up and over the Malahat to end-of-track at Courtney.

It is a little known fact, that with the arrival of the modified Baldwin’s in 1949, the E&N became the first "division" of the Canadian Pacific Railway to be completely dieselized!

The DS4-4-1000 with the
606SC engine is sometimes referred to as an S10 model. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard the head knocking sound of this power pack, there is a sound file down the page, of an 1,000 horsepower motor, in it’s supercharged configuration.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian Pacific Railway 7068, Baldwin DS4-4-100SC, 1,000hhp, road class DS-10-g, built in 1948, serial number 73945-2522. Built at the Eddystone Plant of the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Pennsylvania. In order to reduce customs duty, the locomotive's construction was sub-contracted through the Canadian Locomotive Works at Kingston, Ontario. Retired in 1975.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kitimat, BC - An Engineering Marvel! (Updated)

Canadian National Railways, Smithers Division, Kitimat Subdivision, Mile Post 38.5, May 9th, 1959. When Canadian National Railways opened its line from Terrace to Kitimat, B.C., on January 13, 1955, the "Last Spike" ceremony featured a spike made from aluminum produced at Alcan Smelters and Chemicals, Ltd., massive new Kitimat plant.

The plant was constructed on the Northern BC coast because of water - hydro for cheap electricity. Bauxite was brought in by bulk carriers from Australia and Jamaica. And ingots were shipped out around the world.

In the 1950’s, Alcan undertook the Kitimat/Kemano project, arguably one of the most ambitious engineering projects of the 20th century. It included construction of a massive dam which redirected of several rivers, a 10 mile tunnel to carry water from the dam to a massive underground power house, long transmission lines over a mile high pass to a giant new aluminum smelter and a new company town - which included housing for plant employees, a hospital, and shopping centre.

The main company construction town for the 10 mile tunnel, underground power house, and transmission lines to Kitimat was named Kemano, some miles south of Kitimat. Kemano settlement was originally built in the 1950s, home to a thriving small community, featuring a guesthouse, one shop which sold everything from candy to guns to socks to hats, a golf course and a church.

It eventually closed its doors as a community in 2000, the residents were moved out, and the majority of houses (including the school) were burnt down as a training exercise for selected fire departments from all of BC. The plant still exists and is operational.

My train chasing buddy Mike and the brand new company town of Kitimat in April 1959, with a lot of construction still taking place.

My family took the tour of the smelter at Kitimat in 1958. The pot lines were (and are) almost a quarter mile long. At the beginning of the tour, the guide instructs us all to remove watches and cameras, which are held for safe keeping.

As we advance amongst the electric furnaces melting the bauxite to extract the aluminum, the Guide threw a 5 foot piece of steel reinforcing bar onto the concrete. It clangs to the floor, and then, like a skinny cobra, one end of it lifts off the floor, and the bar weaves back and forth in the magnetic currents of of the electric furnaces! That field would magnetize a camera's steel shutters, and ruin a watch mechanism!

As as a special treat , we caught Canadian National Railways 5000, a 4-6-2 Pacific, with Mixed Train 892 at the Kitimat Station, a Type 100-356 plan, completed in 1956. Probably one of the last photos ever taken of the CNR 50-hundred, as her days were dangerously numbered!

I never had the opportunity to cab ride the Kitimat Subdivision between Terrace and Kitimat, but I aways knew we'd beat the train! The 38.5 mile Kitimat subdivision was restricted to 25 mph!

Shown here Fourth Class 892 Mixed Train, with GMD 1750hp GP-9 CNR 4208. She and many of her sisters were built on Flexicoil trucks, with stripped down under frames – notice smaller fuel tank – to lighten them for branch line work. And the ubiquitous "Spark Sentry" spark arrestor.

I love the ambiance of a mixed train, where things just sorta come together in a practical sorta way!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

4th of July, Part 6. Canadian National Railways

Canadian National Railways 4201, Vancouver BC, July 3, 1961. Same locomotive, different looks. My train chasing buddy El Purington and I, have ventured up to Vancouver BC over the Fourth of July Weekend in 1961.

Fourth of July Part 1
Fourth of July Part 2
Fourth of July Part 3
Fourth of July Part 4
Fourth of July Part 5

Vancouver was a cornucopia of sights and sounds, with the Pacific Great Eastern, Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Great Northern, and a handful of terminal switching outfits like Pacific Coast Terminals.

Low and behold, we find 4201 chanting with 4212. I’ve seen both of these engines before, when we lived in Prince Rupert from 1957 through 1959.

Now fast forward to Christmas 1962, when my Mom, Sister and I decided to drive from Seattle to Prince Rupert to spend Christmas with my Dad. More than 1,000 miles, and hazardous driving conditions – but that's another story another time.

By now, the Canadian National Railways has retired the Maple Leaf icon, and reinvented it’s self as a global entity, renaming itself as Canadian National, complete with the “bent paper clip” logo.

I found CN 4497 awaiting assignment beside the Prince Rupert Engine facility, newly painted in the new CN scheme featuring the “bent paperclip.” The “new” 4497 is the former 4201. Which was renumbered from her original number of 4497. Is this a create work situation?

I noticed that when these engines were repainted or re-numbered, by looking at the cab at just the right angle, you could clearly make out the painted over number.

CN 4497, built by GMD, London Ontario, as a GP-9, 1,750 horsepower, November 1956, road class GR-17g. Re-numbered 4201 in 1957. Branch line Flexicoil trucks were switched out for Bloomberg’s in 1962, and returned to road number 4497. Rebuilt as road class GY-00f, slug number 243 in 1990.

Monday, June 2, 2008

VIN - Vehicle Identification Number

Canadian National 5000, Prince Rupert, 1958. When I look at this photo, I wonder “Why oh why did I not take a screwdriver to the locomotive plate beside me?"

Two reasons. 1st of all at age 14, and a newbie ferroequinologist, I had no idea about its importance. 2nd, and most telling, my Dad took this photo of me, and he would have never allowed me to begin a lifetime of thievery!

Which leads me to a lapse, a few years later, when I grabbed the builder’s plate off Alaska Railroad SW1 1203. She was sitting on death row at General Metals in Tacoma. My rational? If I didn’t grab it, someone else would. What would you have done?

And “No!” I didn’t get the bell!

Not often noticed by rail fans, not only locomotives had builders plates, but boxcars often had identification plates, such as this one on Northern Pacific 7408, taken in Prince Rupert on April 8th, 1959, on Tri-X film at f.16, 1/300th second.

Talk about your “tax shelters!” A real estate company owning boxcars? There is a lot more to this tax shelter – I remember an investment broker offering my wife and I a couple of boxcars, but I cannot remember how the scam worked.

Perhaps if you know about such a plan, you can add it to the “Comments” section at the end of this article.

I recently sold the boiler plate from CNR 7358 on eBay. The plate was given to me by a old friend of the family, who was Road Forman of Engines in Victoria.

Whilst shooting at Argo Yard in Seattle, I got this plate shot from UP 513. The temtation was there, but also two employees just behind me, who were alerted when I zerod in on the plate!

There is a lot more to the simple builders plate than meets the eye. Here is a very interesting dissertation, which discusses other types of plates, often overlooked by rail fans.

Finally, I also own this plate from a GE locomotive. But I cannot remember where I got it, and what locomotive it belongs to. Any help from my readers?

Railroad Stuff: Alaska Railroad 1203, nee US Army 7001, built as an SW-1, 600 hp, by Electro Motive Division, La Grange, March 11, 1942, serial number 1990.