Kitbashing Basics – Upgrade a ScaleTrains ‘Kit Classics’ Havelock Shops Gondola

We published a blog post a number of years ago about resuscitating old kits, in the hope it would inspire more hobbyists to kitbash and upgrade older models. However it wasn’t really a representative ‘how-to’ guide as the core kit came with separate detail parts, so that upgrade was just a case of adding finer details, matching the paint, and weathering to finish. So this article was written to assist any new modellers who might be apprehensive about taking a hobby knife to a plastic model.

Aside from showing some basic techniques, this article is also an attempt to answer the griping that happens on a lot of model railroad forums about the prices of today’s exquisite ready-to-run (R-T-R) pre-assembled models. If you are a newcomer to the hobby and/or on a budget, there are some manufacturers who are trying to help you by producing classic ‘shake-the-box’ model kits. The big one a good number of rail modellers seem to forget about is Accurail, who’ve been producing an extensive line of easy to build freight car kits for over 30 years now.

Now recently ScaleTrains have entered the field, (yes, the same company who are better known for producing those museum-quality R-T-R models that the price-gripers like complaining about) by introducing their more affordable ‘Kit Classics’ line of easy-to-build rolling stock kits. The following is a step-by-step guide to updating their Havelock Shops gondola.

CBQ_002

Here is the base body of the Scale Trains Havelock Shops gondola as it comes out of the box. Paint and lettering is crisp, and the moulding is fine too. If you simply assemble and weather the model as is, it would look good. But by replacing the moulded-on details, adding a few extra parts and decals, and then finishing with a good weathering job, you will create a model that really pops.

Before we begin, an explanation may be in order as to why the CP Sudbury Division would require a Chicago Burlington & Quincy gondola. Well, we do model a portion of the CPR transcon line across Canada, and though the majority of the traffic we’d see is domestic, there are always a few interlopers from south of the border in any manifest freight. Of those US companies, the Burlington Northern (the 1970 merger that swallowed the CB&Q along with three other railroads) was a large and friendly interchange partner. To top it off, the WRMRC has two photos in our archive which show BN gondolas in Sudbury yard. We have not figured out why, but clearly having some BN and predecessor company gondolas on the club roster was warranted. Furthermore, this particular gondola is a good one, as these were signature BN cars home-built by the Burlington’s Havelock Shops (located outside Lincoln, Nebraska), so kits painted for BN and original CB&Q were acquired for the Sudbury Division roster.

CBQ_003

The first step is to carefully scrape away the moulded-on grab irons. Though most modellers use X-Acto knives for this, the author was a former biology student and prefers scalpels.

The kitbashing begins with the removal of all moulded-on grab irons from the gondola sides. X-Acto knives are the traditional tools for this in model railroading, but I highly recommend scalpels. I learned to use them many years ago as a biology undergrad, and just like the feel of them when doing precision cutting. Frankly, nothing beats a fresh #10 scalpel blade for cutting styrene plastic, however I urge basic caution. These blades were obviously designed for cutting flesh, so always cut away from your hand. Also you should wear eye protection. Plastic is tougher than flesh, and you can break the blade if you force and bend it too much, causing the business-end to go flying. Nevertheless you may want to give them a try, and most better hobby shops carry the handles and various sized blades. You can actually sense the undulations and unevenness in the plastic with each pass, which helps as you scrape away the offending moulded-on details from your models.

CBQ_004

On the gondola ends, a smaller #15 scalpel blade was used to carve out the ladder rungs while keeping the upright side-rails intact. This photo shows what a difference this makes between the left and (as yet) unmodified right ladders.

To help the appearance of the car ends, the ladder rungs were cut away using a smaller number 15 scalpel blade. The method is to cut on small diagonals in each direction, and eventually chip away each ladder rung while maintaining the ‘rolling pin’ pattern of the Dreadnought ends. Be advised that even after sanding with a small sanding block, you will never achieve a perfect ‘unhacked’ finish. But that doesn’t matter as weathering done to the car will help hide any imperfections the cutting leaves behind.

I had considered removing all traces of the ladders by cutting out the side-rails as well. However that would be almost as much work as cutting off the ends entirely, and rebuilding with old boxcar Dreadnought-ends I have laying around in my spare parts collection (yes, I considered that too). The later option would provide a clean car end, and would be the way to go if building a contest model. I quickly realized that either option would require a lot more effort than I was willing to spend on this project, and replacing the rungs alone was enough to help give the ladder depth and greatly improve the appearance.

CBQ_005

After scraping away as much as possible, drill #79 holes for the new grab irons by using the shadows of the old moulded-on details. Sanding is done afterwards to remove any scratching or imperfections left behind. Sanding first would make positioning the drill locations more difficult.

The next step is to use a pin vice to drill #79 holes for the new wire grab irons, using the shadows of the old ones as your placement guide. It is easier doing this now, before any sanding that will widen those shadows. You can shave and sand away any remaining imperfections once all the holes are drilled.

I utilized Tichy Train 18″ phosphor bronze drop grab irons for my car, but any manufacturer’s scale 18″ wire grab irons (Detail Associates, A-Line, etc) will work just the same. Tichy calls for drilling #80 holes for their product, but I prefer a slightly larger hole to take into account the cyanoacrylate superglue that the grabs will be dipped in prior to positioning. Aside from making it easier to slide the wire in, I also have a habit of breaking #80 bits with little effort on my part. So I stand a much better chance at drilling all 32 holes required using a #79 without breaking another drill bit.

CBQ_006

New scale-18″ grab irons are installed by cutting back the wire ends to about 6 scale inches (to keep them from protruding inside the gondola) and then dipping each end in a puddle of cyanoacrylate (otherwise known as CA ‘superglue’) prior to installation. Note that the very top grabiron is positioned upside-down in relation to the other three.

I also cut down each grab iron end to about 6 scale inches, and with Tichy using phosphor bronze wire, cutting them back is easy. This way the grab irons will stick out about three scale inches from the carbody (as they should) without the wires protruding inside the gondola body. After installation, sand the gondola insides around those holes to remove the imperfections as best you can. Between the sanding, gap-filling CA superglue, and rust painting/weathering that will be done later, those grab iron holes should pretty much disappear by the end.

Now for the gondola ends the process is much easier. I simply glued pieces of 0.1″ styrene rod across the side-rails to replace each ladder rung. You can use either CA superglue or any MEK-based plastic weld for this. Once the glue is dry, you can trim and sand down any rod sticking out past the side-rails. Admittedly, I employed a quick and ad hoc method of ladder replacement, but it’s easy and effective. This is a big improvement in appearance with minimal effort, and after painting and weathering it will be difficult for the layout observer to tell that the end-ladders are not a separate detail part.

CBQ_007

Ladder rung replacement was done simply by gluing lengths of 0.1″ styrene rod. It’s a quick and ad hoc method, but it accomplishes the task with minimal effort.

After all the grab irons and ladder rungs are replaced, the next step is to add some super-detail parts to the gondola, specifically coupler cut-levers and brake-line hoses to the gondola ends. Since all the new details still need to be painted, I leave the already coloured black brake hoses to the very end before I weather the car. There are many different pre-bent coupler cut-levers offered by many manufacturers, but I had none in my collection that worked. So being a cheap frugal modeller, I elected to simply bend my own using 0.1″ phosphor bronze wire with a fine pair of needle-nose pliers. To attach them, a #79 hole was drilled into the bottom-left side sill of each gondola end, and eye bolts glued in place (see photo below). Then slide the cut-lever in through the eye bolt, and fasten the wire against the bottom of the coupler with CA superglue. If you ever need to service the car in the future it’s easy enough to break this bond, and then just re-glue the cut-lever and touch-up the paint.

CBQ_008

Coupler cut-levers were fabricated by bending 0.1″ phosphor bronze wire, and attached using brass eye bolts fixed to the bottom-left side sills of the gondola ends.

The next step is to repaint all the detail parts, and the resulting damage caused from kitbashing the gondola. I use an airbrush for this, but the number of great quality acrylic hobby paints available these days makes it easy to brush paint too. The only hard part is picking a red that’s a close match to the original gondola colour. ScaleTrains recommends Tru-Color TCP-086 Burlington Red, but this is a solvent-based paint and I’ve long ago switched to airbrushing with water-based acrylics.

The CB&Q was famous for their Chinese Red painted equipment, which was a very vibrant shade of red. Now being a 1970s CP Rail modeller, I have lots of CP Action Red in stock, but there is too much orange in that shade of red. So I tried my luck by opening a bottle of TrueLine Trains (long out of production) post-’90s CP ‘Bright’ Red, which is the same colour as 1970-80s era Soo Line ‘Full Signal’ Red. Looking inside the bottle it looked pretty close to me, so I loaded it up in my airbrush and was pleasantly surprised that I could not see any difference. I got lucky here. If you also prefer a current production acrylic paint, all I can suggest is try to find a Chinese Red shade as close as possible. Also, maybe reach out to CB&Q modellers on-line as to what they recommend.

CBQ_P_001

After masking the end reporting marks with small pieces of green painters tape, and wrapping some tape around the couplers, all the worked-on areas of the car were airbrushed to match the original CB&Q Red. I got lucky that old TrueLine Trains CP/SOO ‘Bright’ Red was an exact match. A piece of paper was simply held while airbrushing to protect the lettering along the gondola sides.

Turning to the inside of the gondola, the top was masked to protect from overspray, then airbrushed with a coat of Mission Models ‘Standard Rust’ as a base. If the name is new to you, they are a US company that make wonderful acrylic hobby paints. They are well known to military modellers, but they do have a weathering line that rail modellers should learn about. Getting back to painting, this rust coat is just a base as weathering will be completed with various powders and stains. If you don’t own an airbrush, then Mission Models paints can also be brush painted. So with both the exterior paint repaired and interior now given a rust coat, the gondola is ready for weathering.

CBQ_P_002

The inside of the gondola was airbrushed with Mission Models MMW-005 ‘Standard Rust’ as a base. This will be further weathered with various stains and powders.

It should be noted that before you begin any upgrades or kitbashing, it is highly recommended that you try to find some photographs of the prototype to assist you. Not only does it help you with detailing, but they will also show if any extra decals need to be applied, and they also aid with weathering. In my case, I was lucky enough to find a photo on RRPictureArchives.net of the exact gondola; CB&Q 83453.

cbq_proto_gon

When kitbashing, finding prototype photos beforehand is always highly recommended. A 1980s photo of the real CB&Q 83453 showed where additional COTS stencil, ACI label, and white frame stripe decals needed to be applied. For weathering, it also shows where dirt tends to accumulate.

This was a photo taken in the 1980s by Chuck Zeiler, and it shows the gondola with new ladders added on the car sides, versus the as-built separate grab irons. I have come to learn that Burlington Northern was gradually replacing these on all the old Havelock shops gondolas over time. However in our modelling period of the 1970s this gondola would be under 10 years old, and probably still had the separate grab irons. As mentioned earlier, I purchased a BN painted model too, and I will probably add ladders to that gondola when the time comes. This actually makes it easier to kitbash, as a ladder is much easier to glue on versus installing all those wire grabs. A final note about the proto-photo, you will notice there are also some very recently spray-bombed grey lines painted along the tops of the car. However for my purposes, that’s a fairly recent detail I didn’t need to duplicate.

Another thing this photo helped determine was where the COTS stencil and the ACI label were located (this differs from car to car) so I could duplicate this exactly by adding decals (Microscale, if anyone was wondering) in the appropriate locations. There were also white frame stripes which the CB&Q applied to the gon as built, but which ScaleTrains failed to add. These were also applied to my model by using scraps of white decal remnants I hold on to for just such an occasion. After the addition decals were added the gondola was sprayed with a flat coat to protect and seal everything, and was now ready for weathering.

Though gondolas are among the most abused pieces of freight equipment in the industry, these Havelock gons would have still been in decent shape in our club’s modelling period. In their first years they were initially equipped with covers and used to haul concentrate ores, which is a fancy term for sand. It was not until the mid-70s that BN began using these cars in general service, which is when these gondolas could potentially begin showing up on the Sudbury Division. So my weathering treatment was limited to just adding grime and rust.

CBQ_P_003

Photos showed the majority of the dirt tended to collect along the exterior posts of the gondola. That heavy reinforcement bottom sill plate also collected dirt too, along with the area around the grab irons. The gondola ends also collect serious road grime. All of this can be reproduced with hobby weathering powders and a good angled paint brush.

Studying prototype photos, I concluded that the majority of the grime would collect along the sides of the exterior posts. Interestingly the posts themselves stay relatively clean, and it’s the area around them that mainly collects dirt. Road grime would also collect around the heavy reinforcement sill plate that runs between the bolsters, and of course some serious filth would also build up on the gondola ends. The area around the grab irons would get grimy too, thanks to employee’s greasy gloves. All of this can be reproduced with weathering powders. There are plenty of great products out there to try; AIM weathering powders, Vallejo effects, AK Interactive pigments, or PanPastel artists pastels are just a few of the wonderful brands that can help you age your models. Don’t be afraid of mixing various pigments, because dirt isn’t all the same colour and texture in reality.

CBQ_P_004

After spreading multiple rust powders and general soot to the interior, Tamiya panel line accent (shown here drying) was applied to highlight the separate boards of the gondola floor. A little more rust powder was then added to blend any irregularities, and all was sealed with flat finish.

Turning to the gondola interior, the first step was to apply multiple grades of rust and general soot coloured weathering pigments. Afterwards, I applied black Tamiya panel line accent to bring out the detail of the separate boards on the gondola floor. To finish, some more rust powder was added here and there to blend any irregularities, and then everything was sealed with a spray of flat coat to protect the weathering.

It should be noted some modellers supplement their interior weathering even further by gluing small piles of real crushed rust flakes inside their gondolas. While I encourage this, I avoided doing it myself as this gondola will be hauling multiple inserted loads on our club layout, and these rust piles have a habit of interfering with how the loads sit. But otherwise, it is an excellent way to further enhance the realism of your weathering.

CBQ_P_006

Weathering around the gondola ends was also done with powders. The grime usually accumulates around ladders, in between protruding ribs, and on top of the crossover platform. Aside from enhancing realism, adding dirt really brings out the ladder rung replacement efforts too.

Turning to the gondola ends these get particularly filthy, for that matter this is true for most rail cars. The reason is that dirt is kicked up from the trucks, in addition to employees causing grime to accumulate around the end-ladders and on the crossover platforms. Also, much like the exterior posts on the sides, the areas between any protruding ribs seem to collect more road grime. Again, all of this was duplicated using weathering pigments. As a bonus, and with the efforts from the earlier ladder rung replacement, the weathering pigments collecting around the end-ladders help give the appearance they are separate from the carbody. And as mentioned earlier, the weathering also help conceal any scrapes or scratches left over after sanding.

CBQ_P_005

Photo showing the finished weathering on the main body, but with the trucks yet to be completed. This helps illustrate that even the best weathering efforts are unconvincing if the trucks are left in their kit-supplied shiny plastic and metal state.

With the main weathering completed, I then airbrushed a light spray of Mission Models MMP-123 ‘Rail Tie Brown’ to the underbody to help highlight the brake details. The beauty of this being a ScaleTrains kit, the underbody brake details are a one-piece separate detail complete with brake rods and levers. All the weathering efforts were then protected by spraying the gondola body with Tamiya flat coat, right from a rattle can. If you’re still using Dullcoat, give Tamiya a try. You’re welcome!

CBQ_P_007

Wheel treads were masked with green painters tape, then airbrushed with MMP-105 ‘Worn Black’.

Aside from the brake detail, ScaleTrains also supply these kits with their excellent 100-ton trucks, including their high-quality free-rolling metal wheelsets. Which brings up a pet peeve of mine; going to the trouble of aging and weathering a model, then leaving the trucks unweathered. Even the best weathering efforts are thoroughly unconvincing if the trucks are left in their kit-supplied shiny plastic and metal state. And it’s relatively easy to do, I just masked off the wheel treads and airbrushed the trucks with Mission Models MMP-105 ‘Worn Black,’ though any dark grey-camouflage colour will work. You can go further by painting the wheel faces and insides a rusty colour, but with trucks being in the shadows anyhow, I find these extra efforts are lost on most casual layout observers. As long as the trucks are grimy, that’s good enough for a layout model. And with the trucks weathered, the gondola is ready to enter revenue service.

CBQ_P_008

The finished gondola, ready to enter revenue service on the CP Sudbury Division layout.

In conclusion, the techniques high-lighted here were once common practices in the hobby, before all the expensive R-T-R models arrived. So I encourage anyone new to the hobby, or those sitting on an armchair for years, to invest a bit in the tools required and to begin hacking up any inexpensive, shake-the-box kits that tickle your fancy. Yes, there’s a trial and error period at the beginning, but you learn more by messing up and fixing your mistakes. There is also the satisfaction of upgrading and owning a unique model for your layout. So if you’re inspired to try, these inexpensive ScaleTrains ‘Kit Classics’ are a great place to start. Then try an Accurail model. Personally, I find upgrading kits to be one of the most satisfying aspects of the hobby, and I hope more modellers will discover this too.

 

B&O F-Units in Twilight

Part 3 of That ’70s Rent-a-Wreck Fleet

Introduction was: That ’70s Rent-a-Wreck Fleet
Part 2 was: The Saga of the Bellequip Geeps

By the time Canadian Pacific had fully dieselized their system in the early spring of 1960, a recession had hit the North American markets. Additionally, the CPR was realizing all the efficiencies that a 100% diesel roster provided, and was beginning to unlock their fleet’s full potential. These factors caused the CPR to cancelled purchase orders with General Motors Diesel for more GP9 and SW1200RS locos which were scheduled for delivery later in 1960-61, and it doomed all remaining stored steam power for good. It also created a stable four-year period between 1960-64 for the CPR’s motive power needs, where they rostered sufficient locomotives to meet all traffic demands. From 1964 right up to the present day, the Canadian Pacific Railway would never again have such a time.

B&O 4517 at Soo 18March73

A great illustration of what a colourful time the 1970s were for CP Rail. Here we see script-lettered GP9 8676 coupled with B&O F7A 4517 (one of few leasers to wear the early ’60s *Sunburst* scheme) as they assemble freight #912 at S.S.Marie ON on 18 March 1973. (Ted Ellis photo)

Over the winter of 1964 the CPR entered the wonderful world of locomotive leasing. Forced into it by a sharp traffic upturn, their short-term solution was to lease several A-B-A sets of Union Pacific Alco-built FA-1 and FB-1 locomotives. These 1600hp cab units were early diesels built after the war in the late 1940s, and they were never a favourite of the UP who tended to run them hard with deferred maintenance. In fact the UP had tied-up this fleet earlier in 1963, and then re-activated them specifically for the CPR to lease. When they were returned later in 1964, the UP promptly retired them all and used them for trade-in for credits on new EMD locomotives. They literally ran their last miles over the CPR.

After dipping their toes into leasing with the cantankerous UP FA-1/FB-1 fleet, Canadian Pacific refined their rental practices throughout the late 1960s into a useful and effective strategy. Future leases included diesels from such diverse owners as the Bessemer and Lake Erie, Boston and Maine, Bangor and Aroostock, and the Chicago Great Western. All of these leasers proved to be of much greater reliability, and held a number of assignments over this time. Though they operated mainly in the CP Eastern Region, it was not unheard of for leasers to reach as far west as Calgary. Leasing numbers were highest over the winter months when traffic levels hit their peak, and coincidentally when CP’s own locomotive reliability stats suffered from the legendary cold Canadian climate.

Locomotive leasing really peaked in the early 1970s, as CP Rail began running robot coal trains to the new Roberts Bank Superport, and the Canadian government had inked large grain export contracts with both the Soviet Union and China. By January 1972, CP Rail already had over 75 leased units in service, primarily from locomotive leasing pioneer Precision National Corp. But by February the motive power crunch hit a critical point, and CP was forced to take anything that was available. Enter the Baltimore & Ohio F-unit lease fleet.

B&O 4487

Travelling between Sudbury and Smiths Falls over the Chalk River line, B&O 4487 leads GP9 8493, M-636 4731 and FA-1 4015 on train #974 through Carleton Place ON on 27 February 1973. This photo helps illustrate two points; that B&O F7As could and did lead while leased to the CPR, and that the motive power bureau wasn’t too picky about diesel arrangements when lashing locomotives together during the 1970s. (Bruce Chapman photo)

The once mighty B&O F-unit fleet had become a shadow of its former self by the early 1970s. Back in the day they were a staple of mainline operations, featuring 155 F7A and 104 F7B units. There were also older F3 models (some upgraded to F7 standards) along with second-hand F7’s purchased from the Bessemer & Lake Erie, and a number of 7000-series F7A’s transferred from the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O had acquired controlling interest in the B&O in 1962). However by 1972 the B&O F7-fleet was significantly diminished through attrition, and were being used as trade-in bate towards new EMD GP38 and GP40 locomotives. The surviving F-units were holding down secondary freight and local coal mine shunting assignments. To put it bluntly, they were in rough shape.

B&O 5529

Entering its second winter season on lease to CP Rail, venerable B&O F7B 5529 is seen here sandwiched between sister B&O F7A 4587 and CP C-424 4243 at Smiths Falls ON on 26Dec72. (Bruce Chapman photo)

The B&O began transferring the F-units from Detroit MI on 08 February 1972, and all the leasers were initially inspected at CP’s Windsor Yard before entering service. In a foreshadowing of their decayed state of maintenance, five of the first leaser locomotives to arrive were judged to be mechanically unsound and were returned to the B&O. Another five units would arrive later to comply with the lease contract. (See roster below for details.)

The CPR was in such desperate shape for power that the first three units accepted for lease (F7A 4622 & 4646, F7B 5498) were almost immediately placed on local manifest freight #74, and left Windsor ON for CP’s Agincourt Yard in Toronto on February 10th, 1972. After arrival the trio were promptly placed on train #955 to travel north up the MacTier Sub to Sudbury ON, and eventually wound up in Chapleau ON the following day.

Ultimately a total of 28 F7A, F7B and even a pair of FP7 diesels would be leased to the CPR over the 1972 traffic crunch. Most wore the spartan post-B&O/C&O merger Enchantment Blue scheme, but at least two F7A locos (4487 & 4499) and an F7B (5477) were still sporting the classic late-50s B&O double blue / yellow pinstripe scheme. Another trio of F7A units (4517, 4622 and 4645) wore the remains of B&O’s famous, albeit short-lived early 1960s ‘Sunburst’ scheme, though all their noses had been repainted and lost their attractive sun rays in the process. As if that wasn’t enough variety, all the 7000-series F7A locos transferred from parent Chesapeake & Ohio were wearing hastily patched C&O paint in various states of degradation.

B&O 7054

The former identity of B&O F7A 7054 is hard to miss as she leads CP RS-3 8431 and SW1200RS 8161 on an eastbound at Smiths Falls ON on 18 February 1972. All the B&O’s ex-C&O cab units on lease to CP were in various states of paint decay as such. (Bruce Chapman photo)

As one would expect, this combination of B&O paint variations coupled with CP’s own radical corporate image change, plus the riot of colours available in the leased ‘rent-a-wreck’ fleet, resulted in a particularly vibrant period of CPR motive power lash-ups. Possibly the wildest incident involving B&O leasers (recounted by a credible source) was of a CPR employee (and closet railfan) who proceeded to chase northbound train 955 from Toronto up the MacTier Sub into a blinding snowstorm. The reason? On the point was a perfect A-B-A consist of B&O 4487, 5477 and 4499, all adorned in the old late-’50s double blue / yellow pinstripe scheme.

B&O_5498_Nairn

B&O 5498 is the trailing unit on train #911 at Nairn ON on the WRMRC’s CP Sudbury Division layout. Model was completed by the author from a powered Intermountain F7B, with Polyscale paints and Microscale decals. The unique B&O spark arrestors were scratchbuilt from styrene.

Whether it came down to duct-tape, bailing wire and ball-peen hammers to keep these weary beasts rolling, the CPR shop crews faithfully maintained these F-units until the initial lease ended in August of 1972. But only four short months later a number of these original leased units would return again, along with a few new numbers, to help out with the ’72-’73 winter season. All B&O F-units went off lease and were returned to home rails by the end of April 1973.

However it would not be the end of spotting leased ‘Chessie’ power on the CPR, as they and successor Chessie System (the official merger of B&O / C&O and Western Maryland) seemed to have forged a rental relationship that resulted in leased C&O GP30 and GP35 units operating through 1979-1980, and again between 1984-1989 with B&O GP38 and GP40 locos. But as Canadian Pacific began amassing their own large fleet of SD40-2 locomotives throughout the 1970s, that signalled the end of a particularly evocative and polychromatic era of locomotive leasing, and the B&O F’s were operating right in the middle of it all.

On a final note, the Baltimore & Ohio F-unit rental experience did somewhat emulate the Union Pacific’s FA-/FB-1 fleet from almost a decade earlier, as many of these F’s were placed into storage after their return to home rails. A good number also soldiered on for a while, but eventually all would be used for trade-in credits towards new Chessie System GP38-2 and GP40-2 diesels from General Motors. Just as before, there were rent-a-wrecks operating their last revenue miles on the CPR.

 

All-time Roster of B&O F-Units Leased to CP Rail Between 1972-73

Road No. Model Paint Scheme Notes
4472 F3A B&O Solid blue Replacement unit from B&O – Feb 72
4477 F7A B&O Solid blue Failed inspection & returned – Feb 72
4487 F7A ’50s Double blue
4499 F7A ’50s Double blue
4502 F7A B&O Solid blue
4503 F7A B&O Solid blue Replacement unit from B&O – Feb 72
4517 F7A B&O ‘Sunburst’
4575 F7A B&O Solid blue
4576 F7A Not confirmed
4577 F7A B&O Solid blue
4580 F7A B&O Solid blue
4586 F7A B&O Solid blue
4587 F7A B&O Solid blue
4589 F7A B&O Solid blue Replacement unit from B&O – Feb 72
4622 F7A B&O ‘Sunburst’
4630 F7A B&O Solid blue Failed inspection & returned – Feb 72
4645 F7A B&O ‘Sunburst’ ex-B&LE acquired 1962
4646 F7A B&O Solid blue ex-B&LE acquired 1962
4648 F7A B&O Solid blue ex-B&LE acquired 1962
5420 F7B B&O Solid blue
5424 F7B Not confirmed
5429 F7B B&O Solid blue
5447 F7B B&O Solid blue Replacement unit from B&O – Feb 72
5448 F7B B&O Solid blue
5477 F7B ’50s Double blue
5495 F7B B&O Solid blue Failed inspection & returned – Feb 72
5498 F7B B&O Solid blue
5515 F7B B&O Solid blue
5529 F7B B&O Solid blue ex-B&LE acquired 1962
5533 F7B B&O Solid blue Failed inspection & returned – Feb 72 / ex-B&LE acquired 1962
7039 F7A Patched C&O ex-C&O, transferred to B&O 1962
7052 F7A Patched C&O Failed inspection & returned – Feb 72 / ex-C&O, transferred to B&O 1962
7054 F7A Patched C&O ex-C&O, transferred to B&O 1962
7081 F7A Patched C&O ex-C&O, transferred to B&O 1962
8009 FP7 B&O Solid blue
8011 FP7 B&O Solid blue Replacement unit from B&O – Feb 72
Additional notes:-
  1. Units were leased Feb 1972 to July 1972, and from Dec 1972 to April 1973.
  2. All units received by CP at Windsor ON via C&O’s Rougemere Yard / Detroit MI.
  3. Initially 28 units were listed by Extra2200South magazine – March 1972.
  4. The fleet was down to 10 units by end of Feb ’73 (X2200S, no numbers listed).
  5. All returned by May 1973, a number were stored after return. All retired by parent Chessie System by 1975.

References: Extra2200South, Bruce Chapman, Bruce Mercer and Greg McDonnell.

 

The Sudbury Ore Car Fleet

It was during the construction of the CPR during the 1880s that copper ore was discovered and sparked a flurry of mineral exploration and mining claims. Since then, Sudbury has been known as a major mining and smelting centre, producing not just copper but becoming a world leader in the production of nickel. As the new railway opened up accessibility to the mineral resources in the area, many mining and smelting companies were incorporated such as The Canadian Copper Company, Mond Nickel, British America Nickle Co. (BANC), Dominion Nickel, International Nickel Co. (INCO), and Falconbridge Nickel.(The first four would later be absorbed by INCO to become the major player on the Sudbury scene.)

Much of this ore would be moved between the mines and the smelters by rail, so transport of both ores and finished products is a major part of the rail scene in the Sudbury area. The mining companies had their own private railways connecting some of the mines, and other mines were served by the “common carrier” railways: Canadian Pacific, Algoma Eastern (later part of CP), and Canadian Northern (later Canadian National).

Sometime around 1910, the Hart-Otis Car Company of Montreal patented a drop-bottom gondola design, whereby doors in the floor of the car could be operated by geared handles on the ends of the car to discharge its load to the sides of the track, which would quickly become popular across Canadian railways with short steel versions of these cars being adopted as the standard car for shipping raw ore for INCO in the Sudbury region.

The Pre-1920 CC&F Cars

cp370094u

CP 370094 was built in 1916 as part of the AE 2801-2925 series and renumbered to CP around 1932. John Brown photo (WRMRC collection), 1970.

The early Hart-Otis design cars used by INCO were a 22’5″ interior length car with 4 drop-bottom doors on each side. Interior bracing give the cars a nice smooth-sided appearance. Canadian Pacific, Canadian Northern (later Canadian National), Algoma Eastern, and INCO themselves all rostered cars to this basic design and size. (When CP went to a larger car size as we will see below, CN and INCO continued to also use cars of this smaller size at some of their operations.)

The CP cars were built (probably by Canadian Car & Foundry in Montreal) in three batches totaling 200 cars between 1914 and 1919. Another 125 were built for the Algoma Eastern, which would later be transferred to CP in the early 1930s after CP leased the AER and absorbed its operations. An unknown number of identical cars were also owned by INCO.

By the 1970s only a tiny handful of these older cars would still survive.

Series #Cars IL Builder Date Note
CP 370000-370124 125 22’5″ 1916 CC&F ex-AE 2801-2925 /32
CP 371200-371239 40 22’5″ 1914 CC&F?
CP 371240-371259 20 22’5″ 1916 CC&F?
CP 371260-371399 140 22’5″ 1919 CC&F?

The 1926-1930 CC&F Cars

CP 376650

CP 376650, built in 1929 by CC&F, at Sudbury yard. Jim Parker photo, sometime in the 1970s.

Between 1926 and 1930 Canadian Car & Foundry (CC&F) built 350 cars (in three batches) for Canadian Pacific to a larger size of 25’11” interior length. The extra 3’6″ of interior length provided an increase of approximately 200 cubic feet over the previous cars and would become the standard ore car size for all new deliveries going forward.

The buttressed ends and riveted Z-shaped side bracing give these cars a rather distinctive appearance among the CP ore car fleet.

In the early 1940s, a number of the cars from this group were rebuilt with side extensions to raise the internal height and add another approximately 300 cubic feet of capacity for service hauling crushed quartz out of INCO’s Lawson Quarry, which began production in January 1942. Other cars from this group were rebuilt in the mid 1970s to convert them from drop bottom to solid bottom cars, which will be mentioned again later further down in this article. A few remained in more or less original condition until retired in the early 1980s.

CP 376809

CP 376809, built in 1930 and rebuilt with side extensions in the 1940s for quartzite service. Jim Parker photo, April 1973.

Series #Cars IL Builder Date Note
CP 376500-376599 100 25’11” CC&F 12/1925-1/1926
CP 376600-376699 100 25’11” CC&F 9-10/1929
CP 376700-376849 150 25’11” CC&F 6-7/1930

The 1942 NSC Cars

CP 376469, built 1/1943 by National Steel Car. Jim Parker photo, sometime in the 1970s.

The next batch of new cars acquired by CP were built by National Steel Car (NSC) of Hamilton, Ontario in late 1942, replacing cars that had been transferred to quartzite service (see above). Similar in overall size specifications to the previous 25’11” cars built by CC&F, interior bracing gave these cars a smooth sided appearance similar to the early pre-1920 22’5″ CC&F cars, but unique among the larger 25’11” cars.

While delivered many years before the Canadian Pacific “script” logo and paint scheme was debuted, the smooth sides lent themselves nicely to repainting with this lettering, and by the 1970s it seems most photos of these cars show them repainted in the 1960s script.

Series #Cars IL Builder Date Note
CP 376350-376499 150 25’11” 11/1942-1/1943 NSC

The 1956-1967 CCF/ECC Cars

CP 376231

CP 376231, built 1967 by Hawker-Siddeley Transportation. Jurgen Kleylein photo, late 1990s.

In the late 1950s, CP expanded their ore car fleet again, with orders in 1956 and 1957 to CC&F and Eastern Car Co. (ECC) of Trenton, NS for 2 virtually identical groups of 100 cars from each builder. Another 60 identical cars from Hawker-Siddeley Transportation (HST), ECC’s successor company, were added on in 1967. These groups of cars were numbered above and below the existing number series for the 1926-1942 cars.

These cars feature riveted body construction with heavier external bracing compared to older cars. The 1967 order would have been the first (and only) ore gondolas to be delivered in script lettering from the factory. The 1956-57 built cars would have been almost identical construction, but painted in the block lettering scheme.

Series #Cars IL Builder Date Note
CP 376190-376249 60 25’11” HST 8/1967
CP 376250-376349 100 25’11” ECC 10/1957
CP 376900-376999 100 25’11” CC&F 11/1956

The 1970 HST Cars

CP 375692

CP 375692 built in 1970 by Hawker-Siddeley. Jacques Richard photo.

CP’s last order of ore gondolas was this 200 car group built by Hawker-Siddeley in November 1970. While extremely similar to the previous cars built by ECC/HST, these are distinguished by being the only all-welded ore cars (the previous cars being of all riveted construction), and the only group of cars to be painted in the CP Rail “Action Red” paint scheme with the iconic “MultiMark”.

Sylvan Scale Models made a resin kit for this car.

Series #Cars IL Builder Date Note
CP 375500-375699 200 25’11” HST /1970

The “Tight-Bottoms”

In the mid-1970s, INCO installed a rotary car dumper at their smelter facility in Copper Cliff, converting to rotary rather than bottom dumping. Some 200 cars originally built between 1926-1942 were rebuilt between 1973 and 1979 to remove the bottom doors and replace them with a solid steel floor. These rebuilt cars were selected and renumbered rather at random into the 375800-375999 series and colloquially known as “tight bottom” ore cars.

Many of the newer cars built after 1956 would later simply have their bottom doors welded shut and door operating levers removed to convert them to “tight-bottom” cars and retain their original numbers, which can actually be seen in the photo of CP 376231 above, which lacks its door operating levers, the doors having been welded shut.

Series #Cars IL Builder Date Note
CP 375700-375799 0 25’11” n/a n/a planned but never filled;
shows in some 1970s ORERs
CP 375800-375899 100 25’11” var. 1926-1942 ex 376350-376499 &
376500-376849 /73-/77
CP 375900-375999 100 25’11” var. 1926-1942 ex 376350-376499 &
376500-376849 /77-/79

The Falconbridge Slurry Cars

CP 381930

CP 381930, built 1969 by Davie Shipbuilding. Bill Grandin collection photo.

Last but not least, we leave INCO behind and head over to competitor Falconbridge Nickel for something completely different. In the late 1960s, Falconbridge decided to ship concentrated ore as a slurry (finely crushed and mixed with water) between their mine and mill near Levack to their smelter at Falconbridge to the east of Sudbury. To ship this ore slurry, CP acquired a group of very unique cylindrical hopper cars that were dedicated to this service between Levack and Falconbridge. These distinctive cars were built in two separate batches in 1967 and 1969 by Davie Shipbuilding. The ore slurry was abrasive to the interior of the cars, and with the cars wearing out in the late 1980s Falconbridge switched to shipping by truck and the slurry cars were retired. A few survived however, being used as scale test cars by CP.

Sylvan Scale Models made a resin kit for this car.

Series #Cars IL Builder Date Note
CP 381900-381919 20 19’5″ Davie 12/1967
CP 381920-381959 40 19’5″ Davie 9-10/1969

Kitbash Free Or Die

or: How to Salvage a McKean PS-1 Kit and Create a Cool New England Boxcar

NSRC458_01

NSRC 481, a typical North Stratford Rail Corp 40ft PS-1 boxcar, was photographed rolling through Pomona, California on 07 June 1982. – Tim Brooks photo (courtesy canadianfreightcargallery.ca)

This latest project originated from an evening bout of model train show withdrawal symptoms, as the lack of flea markets and swap meets during the pandemic restrictions caused me to review my boxes of surplus models. There I re-discovered all the old McKean and Front Range rolling stock kits that I’ve been offering for sale over several years worth of Kitchener Train Shows.

NSRC_logo1Looking over these kits my mind began to meander and imagineer various modelling possibilities, somehow wandering back to the late 1980s where I recalled seeing North Stratford RR boxcars rolling though southern Ontario. They were curiosities back then, not only because they were probably the last 40-foot boxcars still in interchange service, but from their bold logo and distinctive ‘Live Free or Die’ slogans (the state motto of New Hampshire). But then I remembered the kitbashing involved to get these kits up to modern modelling standards, and reasoned there must be some manufacturer out there that produced a good ready-to-run North Stratford RR boxcar.

Well a quick internet search found there were none, but there were decals available for the project. That caused more research on the real North Stratford Railroad, and whether the WRMRC’s CP Sudbury Division layout could see any of their boxcars. The short answer was yes, which caused me to pull an 8-foot door undec McKean kit from the surplus box, followed by an online decal purchase. The kitbash was on.

NSRC458_02

Left-hand (tall-ladder side) view of the kitbashed McKean model, ready for primer. You pretty much have to toss all the manufacturer-supplied details when bashing these old 1980s kits.

A brief history of the North Stratford Railroad can be found on their Wikipedia entry, and a Google search will provide you with plenty of information if you wish to learn more. From this research, for the purposes of club operating sessions, it was plausible that NSRC boxcars could be hauling furniture from the former Ethan Allen furniture factory in Beecher Falls VT to the greater Chicago area over the CP Sudbury Division. CP trains 911/912 captured a lot of New England – Chicago bridge traffic through the 1970s, as shippers used whatever means possible to avoid the lengthy transit times caused by the Penn Central merger mess.

I’ve written before about my old kit salvage jobs, specifically here and here. Basically my goal is not to create a contest model, but to make a reasonable representation utilizing the many boxes of spare parts I’ve accumulated over the years. The challenge is to create a boxcar that will not melt if coupled between a Kadee and Tangent model, and not to spend any extra money aside from decals and maybe paint.

NSRC458_04

Right-hand (shortened-ladder side) view of the model. The various detail parts used came from the author’s spare parts collection. Roof-walk and ladder supports were fabricated from styrene.

Before you copy my work, please note there was a mistake made because I began kitbashing the car before thoroughly researching the prototype. Bashing enough of their kits over the years, I habitually began by adding the roof walk supports that McKean inadvertently missed on their model. This was done using .060” styrene angle, chopped to the appropriate length, and glued on the roof rib peaks. After doing this I came across a good roof-view photo of an NSRC boxcar, and discovered the roof had been completely rebuilt with no roof-walk supports. It turns out their entire fleet of 100 reconditioned 40-foot boxcars had rebuilt roofs. So I actually went out of my way to goof this boxcar up. Oh well, good thing this isn’t a contest model.

As for the other details utilized, most came from my collection of left-over parts from old Intermountain, Branchline and Proto-2000 models purchased over the years. The ladders, grab irons, and tack boards were all surplus left-overs from those kits. The 8-foot Superior doors were excess parts from a Sylvan Scale Models double-door boxcar kit. I never throw any good spare detail parts away. Additionally there were some wire 18” drop grab irons on the car ends, and a a wire corner-grab on the roof utilized also. I often re-bend staples to create new metal stirrups on my kitbash projects, but went the easy route and used A Line Products stirrups on this one.

NSRC458_03

‘B’-end view. The McKean brake housing was salvaged, but with a Kadee brake wheel and metal wire used for the brake and air lines. A couple of re-bent staples support a Details Associates photo-etched brake platform. That jade green tack-board must have come from an old NYC kit.

They might have been good for their time, but the underbody on these McKean kits needs a lot of work too. First I body-mount scale #158 Kadee couplers in their own boxes (nothing works better than a Kadee in it’s own box), which requires you to remove the molded-on McKean coupler housings. Doing so will expose a square hole which needs to be filled with styrene. After that’s plugged you can drill and tap a #2-56 screw to mount the replacement Kadee coupler boxes.

NSRC458_05

Underbody view. Most of the original details were cut away, and a new Accurail 1-piece underframe brake rod set was installed. Kadee #158 scale couplers were also added.

Though the underframe brake rods look complicated, they are actually very easy to add. The hard work was cutting away most of the old McKean details in order to add them. Once that was all done and cleaned, I installed an Accurail one-piece underframe brake rod set which gives your model the appearance of having a super-detailed underbody with minimal effort. To finish, I installed a set of 50-ton roller bearing trucks equipped with Intermountain 33” wheels. All the NSRC 40-foot PS-1 boxcars rode on these style trucks.

In order to blend together all the different coloured detail parts before paining, the model was first primed with light grey Tamiya Fine Surface Primer.  Yes, right from a rattle can, and you get a wonderful finish. I then looked for whatever green the WRMRC paint collection had that best matched these NSRC boxcars. Photos show a dark green / bluish colour when new, fading to a lighter, truer green as they aged. Needing to replicate a nearly new car I chose PolyScale F414188 CNW Green, unfortunately now long out of production. If you need help, I’m certain the CNW modellers know of a good replacement paint match. I then sprayed Tamiya clear gloss coat, as PolyScale paint is flat and a gloss finish helps with decal adherence.

NSRC458_06g

In progress photo of the decal application. K4 Decals go on well, but you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions beforehand, and apply on a glossy finish to maximize adherence.

As noted earlier, an online search turned up the appropriate NSRC decals from K4 Decals. They are well-printed, good quality decals, fairly easy to work with, and yield excellent results as you can see from the photos. K4 were a new supplier for me, but I’ll definitely buy again from them when the need arises.

However there were some minor miscellaneous odds and ends I needed to add that were not supplied by the K4 sheet. Specifically the near-microscopic bank trust stencil lettering found on the top left of the car, along with the tiny ‘Retaining Valve’ and ‘Defect Card Holder’ stencils along the bottom side-sill of the boxcar. For that I used some Microscale decals I had in my collection to replicate those. For the bank trust lettering I used some N-scale tank car decals I purchased specifically for cases like this. If anyone is able to read them directly off my model with the unaided eye, I’ll buy you a coffee.

NSRC458_07

Completed model. Some light weathering was added, mainly road grime around the underbody, and some grunge coming from the roof eaves. A clear flat finish was then sprayed to protect it.

I probably over-weathered this model considering it should still be shiny after it’s rebuilding in 1979, but it just didn’t look right mixed with all the other really grunged-up rolling stock on the club layout. So I airbrushed a light coat of grime along the underbody, and added some dark grungy weathering powder along the roof eaves along with some running down from the door guides. A clear flat coat was then applied to protect the weathering. Combined with the original base gloss finish the model still has a bit of a shine to it, so I’m happy with the over-all result.

In closing, I just wish to reiterate that this kit was up for sale for $5 at the WRMRC table over several Kitchener Train Shows, along with a lot of other surplus ‘fleas.’ For all the complaints on model train forums about the high cost of our hobby, here is proof that if you have the time and are low on cash, you can create quality models while on a budget. You also get the added satisfaction of owning something unique. Personally, I get a kick out of re-creating something I’ve seen in the past, and the research and efforts towards that goal are what make the hobby rewarding. I hope this story inspires others to dig around in future train shows, and look beyond the latest ready-to-run models.

When a Plan Comes Together

It has taken a long time to collect all the information we have about CP operations over the Sudbury Division. Most of it has been acquired through dedicated research, photo studies, and conversations with former employees. Even though the WRMRC has been at this for, literally, decades now. there will always be new things to learn. Research and education are lifelong pursuits after all.

A case in point; within our photo archives we have discovered three separate instances of CB&Q 2-bay Center-Flow hoppers travelling over the Sudbury Division. As the WRMRC’s chief operations guru, I’ve developed some plausible waybill information for mid-western US covered hoppers to run over our layout (note – we will be publishing a series of club operations posts in the future). However, finding out the prototype shipping information for why these specific CB&Q railcars were showing up in Sudbury would be our desired goal.

Despite the hardships one should normally expect with prototype research, sometimes good stuff just falls into your hands when you’re not even looking. Recently, Mike Confalone‎ posted a model photo on his Allagash RR Facebook page of Minnesota Dakota & Western (MD&W) boxcars being loaded on his layout. He had seen these being used in Maine in real-life back in the 1980s, and had always wanted models of them for his own layout. The problem was that despite these FMC-built combo-door boxcars being available in HO-scale for years now, they were never offered in this particular ’80s re-paint scheme. So he painted and decalled his own.

mdwboxes

Mike Confalone’s MD&W boxcars on his Allagash RR layout.

Mr. Confalone is an incredibly skilled modeller, as you can see, so it is no surprise his efforts would be top notch. The surprise for us was; why the heck are Minnesota Dakota and Western boxcars being used to load paper in Maine? The answer is forestry giant Boise Cascade (parent company of the tiny MD&W RR) owned a paper mill in Rumford ME. Apparently some of these boxcars even had “Return to Rumford ME” stencilling applied to them.

This one model photo along with the real-world information about Boise Cascade’s Maine paper production helped to resolve a number of CP Sudbury Division puzzles, ones we didn’t quite remember even existed. This explained occurrences of Boise Cascade MDW boxcars on prototype photos of CP train 911, a manifest freight that had rolled daily through Sudbury ON. This train operated from St Luc Yard in Montreal to Sault Ste Marie ON; then continued via CP’s US-affiliate SOO Line to their Schiller Park IL Yard within the greater Chicagoland area. CP #911 carried a lot of New England paper traffic bound for Chicago during our 1970s modelling era, as many shippers were avoiding the transit-time mess created by the Penn Central merger. Service was so good in fact that CP Rail continued to ship a decent amount of New England rail traffic well into the 1980s.

4232 leads train at Sault Ste Marie 09 05 1981

MLW C-424 #4232 leads train 911 at Sault Ste Marie ON on 05 Sept. 1981. Note the four MD&W boxcars behind the CP steel-coil service gondola trailing 911’s locomotives.

Our original assumption was that these MD&W boxcars were lumber empties being returned to the US mid-west, with no idea of their true origins. The truth was they were hauling newsprint bound for the Chicago area, and for all intents and purposes are as New Englandy as any paper-service boxcars painted for the Maine Central or Bangor & Aroostock.

Topping this off, one of our club members had purchased two recently released Athearn HO-scale models of FMC-built combo-door boxcars painted in the 1970s as-delivered MD&W white scheme to operate on the WRMRC layout. Being uninformed at the time, they were placed within our “Pool 733 – US mid-western misc boxcars” category (more information about our pools when we publish operations articles) and tried to stretch excuses for why some lumber might be rolling through Sudbury from International Falls MN (where the actual MD&W RR is located). Knowing the real story about why these boxcars were rolling though Sudbury, they have since been re-classed into our New England newsprint service boxcar pool. In fact our layout could now use a few more models.

MDW_10009

Produced by Athearn, MD&W 10009 wears the as-delivered 1970s white Boise Cascade corporate scheme. This car is now in New England paper-service on the WRMRC layout.

This information comes at a great time, as the Coronavirus break from operating sessions has given our club a chance to update and fix a number of older waybill shipping inaccuracies. But this MD&W boxcar mystery has to be one of the easiest puzzles we’ve had solved. When something just falls together like this, one is reminded of that old catch-phrase that Lt Col Hannibal Smith used to say on the old ’80s television series ‘The A-Team’ – “I love it when a plan comes together.”

The Saga of the Bellequip Geeps

Part 2 of That ’70s Rent-a-Wreck Fleet

The story begins in the early 1950s, as Iron Ore of Canada was nearing completion of their Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway between Sept-Iles and Schefferville QC. This was a massive project, with a mainline consisting of two full operating subdivisions running a total length of 357 miles (over 200 of which were inside Labrador), and all of it located in the harsh and desolate landscape of Labrador and the Quebec north shore. The railway was completely isolated from the North American rail network, requiring all their locomotives and rolling stock to be shipped by lake freighters down the St. Lawrence River to Sept-Iles QC. The QNS&L locomotive roster began with a fleet of GMD-London built ‘Geeps’, specifically 24 model GP7 units (road numbers 100 to 123), and 54 model GP9 locos (road numbers 124 to 177), all delivered between 1953 and 1960.

BQ_118b

Bellequip #118 (ex-QNSL GMD GP7 – blt 1953) sporting neatly patched CP Rail-style Helvetica bold/italic font at Smiths Fall ON on 20 Oct 1971. Bruce Chapman photo.

On an interesting side-note, the paint scheme the QNS&L selected their new diesels to wear came straight from the EMD styling design scrapbook. While that in itself is not unusual (several railroads chose GM designed schemes) they selected the same one chosen by the New York, Ontario & Western RR over a decade earlier. For anyone unfamiliar with the NYO&W, they operated through the Catskill mountains of New York state while avoiding any sizable towns along the way; and thus unsurprisingly became bankrupt during the 1930s, and fully liquidated by 1957. The ‘O&W’ dieselized early hoping the cost savings could help their railroad, and as a result they never rostered anything newer than their final 1948 purchase of a couple of F3A/B sets. So for any NYO&W fans who might be reading this, if you ever wondered what an ‘O&W’ Geep would look like, you should check out old photos of QNS&L GP7/9s.

PNC_177

PNC 177 (ex-Bellequip, nee-QNSL 177) was the last GP9 received by the Quebec North Shore & Labrador Rly in May 1960. It is seen here by the Medicine Hat AB roundhouse along with CP GP7 8421 on 18 May 1974. Bruce Chapman photo.

Actually the QNS&L was not the only Canadian railway to select a GM pre-designed diesel scheme worn by a US railroad. The Algoma Central selected the Delaware Lackawanna & Western (Lackawanna Road) passenger scheme for their locomotive fleet. But unlike the ACR who kept their Lackawanna colours until the end, the QNS&L dropped their attractive NYO&W colours for a bland dip gray with yellow end-stripes scheme in the mid ‘60s.

PNC_108

PNC GP7 #108 (ex-Bellequip, nee-QNSL 108) is an example of the QNS&L’s 1960s repaint dip-gray scheme. CP Rail’s patching efforts on these was never pretty. Unit is seen at Alyth yard (Calgary AB) on 12 May 1973. Bruce Chapman photo

The Quebec, North Shore & Labrador is hard on its locomotives. After all they are an isolated railway that operates heavy ore trains over rugged terrain through extreme weather conditions. So the QNSL Geep-fleet started to be retired early, once the company began purchasing large numbers of SD40/SD40-2 locomotives to replace them.

Initially the QNS&L sold 17 GP7 units and 14 GP9 units to Canadian Bellequip Ltd of Montreal in September 1971. If you had never heard of Bellequip, you are not alone. They were a short-lived Canadian locomotive leasing company who only lasted between 1971-72. The rumour back then among CP employees was that Bellequip was started by some CP directors to see if leasing locomotives made money, but this was never confirmed.

PNC118_Alyth_9Sept1975

PNC 118 with more hastily patched lettering (see photo of Belllequip 118 above) is seen here stored at Alyth yard (Calgary AB) on 09 Sept 1975. Photographer unknown

All ex-QNSL Geeps were loaded onto lake freighters for their one-way trip to Montreal, and of these most were immediately leased to the perennially powershort CPR. Once they arrived on CP property they were all cycled through St Luc shops, where their QNS&L markings were removed and replaced with ‘Bellequip’ lettering and road numbers in a black Helvetica bold/italic lettering font, the same used by then new CP Rail. While the dip gray ‘60s repaints did not look so great with the patched Bellequip lettering, the units still wearing the original NYO&W-inspired scheme seemed to be treated better, as most were carefully patched to mesh with their original paint jobs.

On February 29, 1972, established US locomotive dealer Precision National Corp purchased the entire fledgling Bellequip locomotive fleet, and these Geeps changed hands yet again. As before they were cycled through the CPR’s shops, but this time more brutally patched with new PNC lettering. In June 1972 a further 3 GP7’s and 17 GP9’s were sold to PNC with some leased to CP and 15 to CN. Eventually the 15 units leased to CN also wound up on CP Rail by November of 1972.

PNC122_Squamish BC 4-26-75

PNC 122 at Squamish BC on 26 April 1975. The 122 was one of a few ex-QNSLs be leased short-term by the British Columbia Rly in 1975. Photographer unknown

For the record, the 24 original Bellequip units on CP Rail (as of 01Nov71) were ex-QNSL – BQ (Bellequip) #’s:- 100 104 108 110 111 112 113 114 118 121 122 123 124 126 127 130 135 142 148 150 152 158 162 166.

By January 1973, when the CN leased units were added to the now PNC (ex-BQ) fleet, the 36 ex-QNSL units on CP Rail were #’s:- 100 104 108 110 111 112 113 114 116 118 120 121 122 123 124 126 127 130 132 135 137 138 142 143 144 145 148 150 152 158 162 164 166 170 171 177.

There is some discrepancy to whether QNSL GP7 #117 was ever within the PNC fleet. Bruce Chapman records it was leased in June 1974 (from his personal records when working for CP’s power bureau at the time) but this was never listed in a published all-time list in Extra2200South. This also would incorrectly put 46 PNC geeps on lease to CP Rail between 1973-74 when records only show 45. It is possible that the 117 was planned to be part of the fleet, but ended up becoming a parts source instead.

PNC3419_SmithsFalls_04Mar72

PNC GP10 #3419, a full Paducah Geep rebuild by Illinois Central Gulf for Precision National, rests in the back tracks at Smiths Falls ON on 04 March 1972 – Bruce Chapman photo

PNC’s other non-QNSL leased units on the property were GP7s 969, 970 and 971 (ex-Detroit, Toledo & Ironton), GP7s 1505, 1506 & 1507 (ex-Florida East Coast) along with GP10s 3419, 3445 and 3634. These final three were ICG Paducah-shops rebuild units that were refurbished specifically for Precision National, and they wore the full PNC green/yellow paint scheme.

Following the QNS&L’s lead, by 1975 the CPR had purchased over 200 new SD40-2 locomotives from GMD of London. With all these new units, an economical slowdown, and decreased grain shipments to the USSR and China; they began to return all their leased units. CP Rail also retired a large number of older units over 1975, including the entire fleet of CLC and Baldwin built units, in addition to storing all MLW FA- and FB- locos, and a good number of RS-3 and -10 diesels.

cnw4352

Chicago & North Western #4352 at Oelwein IA in 1976. Unit was ex-PNC, exx-BQ, nee-QNSL 145 (GMD GP9 blt 1955). Jim Sands photo

By April 1975 all the PNC units went off-lease and were either stored at St Luc or Alyth yards, or returned to Precision National. Several of the tied-up ex-QNSL units went on a short-term lease on the British Columbia Railway for a few months in 1975. After they all returned from lease, PNC sold most of these units to the C&NW and ICG. Many of these units went on to various regional and shortline railroads in the US through the 1990s and 2000s. In fact there are still a handful of ICG-rebuilt GP10s of QNS&L heritage still active as industrial switchers. So the saga of the Bellequip Geeps has yet to finish completely.

Part 3: B&O F-Units in Twilight

 

That ’70s Rent-A-Wreck Fleet

Leased B&O F7A #4487 shares company with a CP RS-18 by the roundhouse at Quebec St Yard in London ON on an April morning in 1972 – John Brown Photo

Since our club’s layout models the CP Rail Sudbury Division in the 1970s, you might come to the conclusion that all the WRMRC’s trains would be powered by CP locomotives. Well, with the exception of the CN and INCO lines that we tie into, of course. So if you visit us for an operating session or an open house and spot a foreign road diesel (i.e. not owned by the railroad on which it is running) you may wonder, “What’s up with that? Are they goofing around? Are they pooling with other railways?”

Well, our gang does its share of goofing around; model railroading is supposed to be fun after all. But we try to minimize silliness on public tours.

Locomotive pooling, defined as competing railroads sharing their diesels for seamless operation between properties, had been going on in the US since the 1960s. The pioneers of power pooling were the NYC + CB&Q, and the Pennsy + UP who started the practice to get their hot freight though Chicago without taking days to interchange. But power pooling was not common in Canada until more recent times, mainly due to the fact that our nation’s two major railways were already transcons who didn’t need to share power, and free trade with the US was many years in the future yet.

However, in the years since the CPR retired their last steam engines in the late ’50s, they have experienced traffic peaks that outstripped their motive power capacity. Sometimes these peaks lasted for many years. That’s when Canadian Pacific needed to beg, borrow, and – in some cases – steal.

Welcome to the world of motive power shortages and locomotive leasing.

The CPR was leasing for most of the ’70s, but the height of it occurred in the first half of the decade. This was due to a motive power shortage stemming from the late 1960s when the Canadian government inked large contracts to export grain to the USSR and China. Additionally, Canadian Pacific began operating long unit coal trains to the newly opened Roberts Bank Superport in BC. Finally, the first generation of diesels (those that directly replaced steam) were getting tired and in need of rebuild, or outright retirement and replacement. This combination of events created a chronic locomotive shortage for CP Rail that lasted well into the mid ’70s. At its peak between 1972-73, the CPR had over 100 locomotives on lease.

CP4047_BO4517_BLE725A_London_27Mar73

A great example of the CPR rainbow lease fleet of the early ’70s, CP FA-2 #4047 leads B&O F7A #4517 and B&LE F7A #725A on a westbound freight through Quebec St Yard in London ON on 27 April 1973 – photographer unknown

As one could imagine, leasing over a hundred locomotives from multiple sources created a serious rainbow fleet. All those colours were mixing with the CPR’s own diesels which, by the way, was going through a corporate image change itself. If anyone wonders why the WRMRC chose such a seemingly unusual modelling era like the ’70s, this was an attractive reason for choosing it.

This rainbow leasing fleet offers a bumper crop of ‘Rent-A-Wrecks’ for us to model. And yes, many of them really were wrecks. The fleet of B&O F-units leased from parent Chessie System between 1972-73 provides a good example. Chessie had these classic cab units in storage prior to leasing. A number of them never made it past Windsor because the CPR judged them to be unroadworthy and sent them back to Detroit. Of the 20 or so that were leased, many were promptly scrapped by Chessie after being returned. They were literally running their last miles on the CPR.

If direct leasing wasn’t enough, the CPR was also known to… umm… “borrow” power. CP Rail did operate a pair of pooled freight trains between Toronto, ON and Buffalo, NY in partnership with the TH&B and Penn Central known as ‘The Kinnear’. During the dark days of the Penn Central era, the TH&B and PC power that lingered around Agincourt Yard over the weekends could end up on any turn jobs out of Toronto, so long as the units were returned by Sunday night. Borrowing TH&B power like this was OK, given the fact that TH&B was partially owned by the CPR. But Penn Central diesels? The bankrupt PC was in such disarray they never checked the odometers of their units to notice the added mileage. It was not until Conrail took over that anyone looked and began billing the CPR for the added mileage. The practice stopped soon after.

The upshot for us is that a Saturday #955 could show up in Sudbury with pooled PC and TH&B locomotives during those times. Train 955 “the MacTier Bullet” (employee sarcasm) was a turn job running from Toronto to Sudbury, returning back Sunday morning as a 50-series 4th class all-stops local. For that matter GO Transit locomotives (properly leased) could also show up on weekends in the later half of the decade.

Without getting into specific road numbers, the following is a list of known leased or pooled locomotives that could be spotted on CP Rail trains in Ontario during the 1970s:

  • 1970-71 – Chicago Great Western F7A & F7B units (owned by CNW but still in CGW colours),
  • 1970-75 – Bessemer & Lake Erie F7A & F7B units,
  • 1970-75 – Precision National ALCO RS-27 units (#901 and 902),
  • 1970-74 – Boston & Maine F7A & F7B, GP9 and RS-3 units,
  • 1970-71 – Illinois Central ALCO C-636 units,
  • 1970-71 – Bessemer & Lake Erie ALCO RSD-15 units,
  • 1970-73 – Lake Superior & Ispeming GE U23C units (winter only),
  • 1970 & 1973 – Duluth, Missabi & Iron Range SD9 units,
  • 1971-75 – Precision National / Bellequip GP7 & GP9 units (ex Quebec North Shore & Labrador),
  • 1971-75 – Bangor & Aroostock GP7, GP9 & GP38 units,
  • 1972-73 – Precision National GP7 units (ex-FEC),
  • 1972-75 – Precision National GP10 units (rebuilt ‘Paducah Geeps’),
  • 1972-73 – Baltimore & Ohio F7A & F7B units,
  • 1973-75 – Pittsburg & Lake Erie GE U28B units,
  • 1973-75 – United Railway Supply ALCO RS-3 units (#101-103 – former Reading),
  • 1976-77 – Chessie System (C&O) GP30 & GP35 units (pooled power),
  • 1978-80 – GO Transit GP40TC, GP40-2(W) & F40PH units (leased on weekends only),
  • 1978-80 – Algoma Central GP7 units,
  • 1979-80 – Chessie System (B&O/C&O) GP30 & GP35 units (leased),
  • 1979-80 – Norfolk & Western SD40 units,
  • 1970-77 – Pooled ‘Kinnear’ power (TH&B or Penn Central/Conrail units, misc. models)
PNC3419_SmithsFalls_04Mar72

PNC GP10 #3419, a full Paducah Geep rebuild by Illinois Central Gulf for Precision National, rests in the back tracks at Smiths Falls ON on 04 March 1972 – Bruce Chapman photo

Many of these individual leaser fleets have interesting stories themselves, and will be the subject of future blog posts. Stay tuned for more episodes of “That ’70s Rent-a-Wreck Fleet”.

Part 2: The Saga of the Bellequip Geeps

Part 3: B&O F-Units in Twilight

 

 

CSI (Canadian Switcher Investigation): Sudbury – Episode 7091

In the railfan photographic archeology and forensics field, there is a dedicated group of crazies attempting to uncover the repaint dates of CP Rail diesels that operated in the Sudbury ON area during the 1970’s. These are their stories…

S-2 #7091 rests by the Sudbury roundhouse on 15 Aug 1986, only days away from official retirement and eventual sale to INCO as their #204. D. W. Hately photo from www.mountainrailway.com

Aside from our gang at the WRMRC, and the remaining local railfans who lived in the Sudbury area back in the 1970’s, few people know of the legend of CP #7091. This was one of four MLW-built S-2 switchers the CPR assigned to Sudbury yard from dieselization until the early 1980’s, all grouped in the early-7090 number series. They were all specially equipped with passenger buffers for passenger car switching (necessary for shunting cars off ‘The Dominion’ and later ‘The Canadian’ within the Sudbury terminal) so the group never strayed far from home over those decades.

The “legend” so-to-speak, was that the Sudbury shops personnel (who not only performed car repairs, rebuilding and repainting, but also local diesel running repairs and repaints) continued to repaint the 7091 in maroon and gray script well into the 1970’s, and they avoided sending the unit to Angus for any heavy repairs, knowing the unit would probably return wearing Action Red.

Over the years of collecting photos for our club archives, we quickly concluded this local legend of the 7091 was no legend. This was fact. Any 1970-75 era photos we found of the 7091 revealed a unit in relatively good looking maroon and gray script paint. For those unaware, the old scheme tended to weather poorly. So the pics were showing the Sudbury shops were indeed pampering the venerable old gal.

The plan worked for many years, but inevitably all good things must come to an end. One day a CPR big-wig from Montreal showed up at the division headquarters and, as the legend goes, saw a freshly painted maroon and gray 7091 working the west yard lead. And that was the end of that.

The investigation (and frustration) began after I first studied this photo of CP 7092 in Sudbury dated 09 August 1975.

 photo CP7092_Sudbury_09Aug77_zpsa3ekkyce.jpg

Photographer unknown – Sudbury ON – 09 Aug 1975

Notice at the very right edge of the photo, coupled in front of the 7092, is a maroon & gray script painted MLW switcher which we can safely conclude is the 7091. All the other Sudbury MLW switchers were Action Red by this time, and had been for many years by then. Nothing unusual about it, or so I thought, until I reviewed some other photos in the hopes of nailing down exactly when the 7091 was repainted.

Here is a Jim Parker photo of 7091 dated October 1974.

http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/cp/cp7091jpb.jpg

Jim Parker photo – Fallen Flags website

OK it’s unquestionably Sudbury because that old white icehouse was a definitive landmark. The icehouse was razed sometime by the end of 1974, so it’s feasible this photo was taken while the structure was possibly days away from demolition. Also we have a photo labeled from 1975, so it obviously would have been in this scheme the year prior.

Now here is another photo by the Sudbury shops building with the date identified by the photographer as 05 November 1975.

 photo cp7091_05Nov75_zpscij5buti.jpg

William Slim photo – from OK the PK

This is pretty late into the Action Red era. Back then, railway image was still a big deal and the CPR was aggressive in repainting things into the current image. Also, notice the scheme is getting a little worn here unlike the fresher look in that 1974 photo. So all is still well, and we can assume the 7091 lasted like this into 1976 possibly.

Now here is where the mystery begins, this shot of 7091 was posted in rrpicturearchives.net and the author wrote it was taken on Canada Day in 1977.

CP 7091 in old CP colors

Jack Smith photo – rrpicturearchives.net

Holy cow! 1977 and (never mind the colour shift in this reproduction) the paint is really fresh! Boy those guys in the Sudbury shops had guts keeping 7091 looking like this.

Problem is I eventually found that this date has to be bogus. The author probably took it on the 1st of July, but it can’t be 1977. That’s because here is a photo of the 7091 in action red candy stripes in a shot dated July 1978.

 photo CP7091_Sudbury_July1978_zpsiohktrjf.jpg

Photographer unknown – Sudbury ON – July 1978

So what’s the big deal? That was 1977 and this is 1978. So it must have been painted sometime in between right?

Well no. The 5″ ‘Candy Stripe’ scheme lasted until the fall of 1976, and was then replaced by the 8″ wide-stripe scheme. So that shot of 7091 could not have been taken in 1977, since this unit wore narrow stripe paint. It had to have been repainted sometime before 1976.

The ongoing mystery here is we still do not have a definite date as to when 7091 was finally repainted into action red. However, we have found enough photographs of her online listed as 1975 to conclude it probably lasted that long.

But at least we have learned at few things:

· We are reasonably certain the repaint happened some time between late autumn 1975 and June 1976 (when CP adopted the 8” wide stripe scheme).
· The Sudbury shops did indeed keep 7091 in good shape, as the legend went.
· You can’t totally trust the internet. That should seem obvious. But even in railway modeling, try to find as many sources of information as possible.

So in conclusion our club needs two models of the 7091, one each wearing different schemes. The script unit operates in sessions representing 1970-75, and the candy stripe unit for 1976-79. No wonder prototype modeling wasn’t very common prior to the internet age. How could anyone figure this stuff out before?

And so ends another file from the WRMRC’s Sudbury:CSI team…Canadian Switcher Investigation