Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rare Bird!

Canadian National Railways 4800 and 4200, Prince Rupert, July 1959. It’s just after eight in the evening. I got off to a late start hoofing it out to my favorite photo location when my subject, the evening Time Freight, overtook me!

The engineer dusted my butt with a couple of “move along” tattoos on the horn as he throttled up past me. By the time I got organized and got a light meter reading, I was only able to get a moving away shot.

It’s interesting to note that rail photographers shy away from this type of shot. As can be attested to by the mind-numbing display on the world’s largest picture posting site. We all do the ¾ head-on’s. In doing so, we are looking at where the train is coming from, instead of going to. Furthermore, as a species, we always stand with our back to the scenery we are looking at, rather than looking at the scene we take photos of.

Canadian National Railways 4800 is a rare genus. The road got into purchasing GP-7’s (General Purpose) late in the game. I’m sure that many a rail fan will raise an eyebrow when I tell you they only ordered 24 units. I took photos of eight. That’s 1/3rd the fleet!

The Prince Rupert Extension was constructed as branch line. Weight saving locomotives were necessary to keep from beating up the tracks. Indeed, the entire 700 plus miles carried a 40-mile per hour speed limit for passenger trains. It wasn’t until the mid-60’s that monies were finally pumped in to upgrade steel. And that accelerated with the dawn of coal unit trains running out of Tumbler Ridge.

This photo tells us a lot of information. Lead engine – GP-7 4800 – is riding on heavy Blomberg trucks. She weighed in at 246,530 pounds.
GR-15a [102k]
Canadian National Railways 4200 is riding on weight saving Flexicoil trucks. The Flexicoil truck is much lighter than the Blomberg. The so-called “GP-9L” weighs in more than seven tons lighter at 232,240 pounds, but with more horsepower than the 4800! Weight savings in large part due to the Flexicoil trucks and 1,000 imperial gallon fuel tanks.

Given two identical units, Blomberg trucks added 6,000 pounds over a similar unit with Flexicoils.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railway 4800, nee 7555, built by General Motors Division, London Ontario, August 31, 1953, serial number 534, as a 1,500 hp GP-7. Renumbered 1700 9/54, 4350 6/56, and 4800 in August 1957. Running with CNR 4808, hit a rockslide at Mile Post 40.7, Skeena Subdivision on March 2, 1967. Both units were written off in June 1967.

Canadian National Railways 4200, nee 4496, built by General Motors Division, London Ontario, November 1956, serial number A1014. Renumbered 4200 in 1957. Refitted with Blomberg trucks and renumbered back to original number 4496 in 1963. Sent to St. Charles Shops and converted to GP-9RM number 7258, classs GY-418e, 1990.

2 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

Robert, I had no idea CN had those GPs riding on the flexcoils. Very interesting, thanks for sharing the photo. -Leland

Robert in Port Townsend said...

From time to time, I see remarks on the Internet to the effect that Flexicoils permitted faster speeds. Quite the opposite is true. Using banks of coil springs, lateral dampening was not contained, with predictable beating up of the rails. Except where specific branch line operations were still on the books, Geeps were retrofitted with Blom's as budget and maintenance schedules permitted.

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