Monday, July 25, 2011

"Where are the lights?"

Canadian National Railways 4811, Vancouver BC, July 3, 1961. My late buddy El Purington and I had journeyed north from Seattle Washington to Vancouver BC on our holiday Fourth of July. Like Seattle, Vancouver was a train-chasers delight!

Here was the northern terminus of the Great Northern, the Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian National Railways, Pacific Great Eastern over on the "north shore," and a terminal service, Pacific Coast Terminals working the docks on the Fraser River.

As you may glean from earlier posts, my family had lived in Prince Rupert BC, 500 miles north of Vancouver as the Raven flies, from 1957 through 1959. My interest in railroading began there.

Indeed, seeing the CNR 4811, and her cousin, the CNR 4201, was a reunion. I had seen both units, on a regular basis, in Prince Rupert. I have written about my rides on the CNR 4201, and there was a good chance I had ridden on this unit.

To the casual observer not familiar with Canadian National Railways power, this would seen to be merely a "roster" shot of a GP-7. However, there are details I would like to share.

This series, originally built as 7555 through 7578, was built to CNR's "Branch Line" Specifications. These "specs" reduced locomotive weight for branch line service on light rail.

That included Flexicoil trucks and 1,000 Imperial gallon fuel tanks. Somewhere in her history, the Flexicoil's were switched out in favor of swing bolster trucks. In addition, she received a steam generator car control panel in the cab, as evidenced by the receptacle on the leading handrail.

A curiosity to me is the absence of ditch lights. CNR invented ditch lights back in 1957. These consisted of flood lamps bolted on the head end of the locomotive. Moreover, since CNR ran long nose forward, I am wondering, "Where are the lights?"

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railways 4811. Built by Electro Motive Division in London Ontario as GP7, 1,500 hp, CNR 7566, October 1953, sn A-545. Renumbered to 1711 9/54, to 4361 6/56, to 4811 8/57. Retired 12/71. Scrapped 6/73.

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