Another ex-ONT 40′ Boxcar for Work Service: AC 10352

Here’s another jade green Ontario Northland boxcar that I have in my shop as a companion to the handful of 2900 series boxcars rostered by the ACR for LCL or company service duties. This one will be modeled as work storage car AC 10352. The 10xxx series range on the Algoma Central was reserved for cars specifically assigned to work and maintenance service. This car was likely in service as a tool or materials storage car for work train service.

On this car the original markings were covered over with a large grey-green paint patch. Apart from the more extensive paint patching, this car also features new placard holders on the doors and ends and ventilators on the centreline of the roof.


The car body all masked off for painting the paint patches.


To paint the patches, I rather unscientifically mixed “Grimy Black” into some “NYC Jade Green” until I had a grey-green colour I liked, and then sprayed it on using my airbrush.


After the paint had dried, I peeled off the tape and remounted the car’s floor/underframe in the body. I think the colour of the patches came out quite nicely.

I also touched up the roofwalk supports and the spots on the ends where the tops of the ladders and the original brake hardware locations on this car and the AC 2906 from the other day with a little bit of NYC Jade Green straight out of the bottle, which is a perfect match to the jade green on the TrueLine Trains model for touching up.

Now it’s just a matter of re-working the ladders and brake hardware into their lowered position for these two cars, plus a few more ONT brown cars that will receive similar treatments into either 2900 or 10000 series cars.

I’ll also need to find some detail parts for the ventilators on the roof of this car.

AC 2902-2915 series ex-ONT boxcars from TrueLine Trains’ 40′ NSC boxcar – Part 1

In the late 1970s to early 1980s the Algoma Central acquired some secondhand equipment from northern Ontario’s other regional railroad, the Ontario Northland Railway. This consisted of about 30 open hoppers acquired in 1978 for general service (basically meaning sinter from Wawa) and a number of old 40′ boxcars. Quite a number of former Ontario Northland boxcars ended up with 10000 series work service numbers as tool and storage cars, and a small handful received standard fleet numbered in the 2902-2914 series. These cars were used for the railways own local on-line freight service, hauling company supplies and materials, express and less than carload traffic to various remote places along the line, for which the railroad was the only way to bring in any sort of supplies or building materials. The railway used to run a weekly wayfreight for this service. I consider it highly unlikely that these cars ever left AC rails.

These boxcars were originally built in 1947-48 for the Ontario Northland by National Steel Car in Hamilton, ON. A few years ago, True Line Trains made modeling these cars easier by producing a ready-to-run model of this car, which was exclusively rostered (as original purchasers) by Canadian National and Ontario Northland.

These cars did receive a few modifications though, so a little bit of work to the model is required.


Here’s AC 2915 at the Steelton shops in 2004. The car’s running boards have been removed (a common modification as roof running boards on boxcars were banned from interchange service on all railways in the 1970s) and interestingly, the brake wheel on the end of the car has also been relocated to a lower mounting.


The first step obviously is to remove the running board (roof walk) from the car. It’s best to shear the mounting pins as you do this, or once removed, cut off the mounting pins and glue them back into the body mounting holes to plug them up. On the left side of the picture above, you can see how the mounting pins are located in the middle of several of the running board supports molded into the roof. While good for hiding the mounting pins when the running boards are installed, it’s a little visible when the running boards are removed. So I used a needle file to file the rounded housing around the mounting pin off into a flat running board support like all the others on the car.


The next step is to similarly (and *carefully*) remove the ladders and end hardware details from the car, since the ladders will need to be cut down in height, and the brake wheel mounting reinstalled at the lower height. I cut the ladders off after the 5th rung from the bottom, following reference photographs.


While I had everything removed, I didn’t like how far away from the side of the car the tack boards were mounted, so I trimmed the back off the tack board so that when I glue it back on using CA glue, the tack board is much more snug to the end of the car.


While most of the cars in this series were in the Ontario Northland’s early brown paint scheme (like the 2915 at the top of this post), this particular car will be given the road number AC 2906, which was in the Ontario Northland’s jade green colours. I have several more of the True Line Trains cars in both jade and brown, so more of the brown cars will join this one.

The patching out of the former Ontario Northland name and logo was clearly done with a paint roller on the prototype cars, so I took out some mineral brown paint and hand painted the patchwork with a small brush.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far; the next step will be to remount the ladders and brake hardware, renumber the car with stencil decals and weather it. All in all, a pretty straightforward job however, made easy by TrueLine’s ready-to-run Ontario Northland models.

A couple of CP boxcars lettered

Almost finished off the lettering on another pair of CP 40′ standard boxcars, plus the ex-International of Maine roofless woodchip boxcar.

The lettering on all three is again from CDS dry transfer sets, with ACI labels, consolidated stencils, U-1 wheel inspection dots and some detail lettering from various Microscale sets.

The three cars just need a few finishing touches like installing trucks and couplers, then to be clear-coated and heavily weathered for service in the 1980s.

CP 257210:


CP 259546:


CP 31236:


Oba Lake-Franz Video

Here’s some timely video I came across on YouTube taken in 1994 from the southbound regular passenger train, starting from the longest (middle) of the three trestles at Oba Lake. Video begins with showing the train crossing the wooden trestles on Oba Lake at mile 212.7 and 211.9, then has a fair bit of running between Oba Lake and Franz, with several other small lakes and at least one siding (at Hilda or Scully) seen before arriving at Franz near the end of the video. The southbound approach signal is seen before arriving at the Franz diamond.

In the video, you can see that the long trestle at mile 212.7 was still the original wood trestle in 1994. This bridge was replaced by a trestle with steel pilings sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Here again is the modern trestle and widened approach alignment where you can see the track has been moved to the right:


Oba Lake Trestles

While along its route the ACR runs alongside many lakes and rivers, just south of the station and siding at Mosher, the Algoma Central skirts the shores of Oba Lake, and here is found one of the more interesting features on the railway that is rarely photographed.

As the line hugs the shoreline of this large lake, it cuts directly across the mouths of several bays on a series of causeways and trestle bridges.

You can see the line cutting directly across these bodies of water in the satellite image below:


While not as spectacular as the iconic 1550′ curving steel viaduct over the Montreal River and power dam at Montreal Falls, or even the 800′ long trestle at Bellevue, these bridges are an interesting feature, and the longest of these bridges is nearly 1200′ in length (not including the approach causeways) and mere feet above the surface of Hoodoo bay.

All three of these trestles were wooden pile-bent construction. (Although the longest bridge has since been upgraded, but more on that later.)

According to the stories, when these bridges were first built across these bays, the ACR engineers found themselves driving piles into nearly “bottomless” mud and muskeg, and the bridge piles apparently “float”, held up by the friction of the pilings in the mud rather than any solid foundation. All trains cross these bridges at a severely restricted speed of 20 MPH, and the conductor on our train when I rode the line in October mentioned that if one were actually standing trackside when a train passes, you can actually visually see the bridge deflect by at least 6 inches!


This excerpt from a 1996 Wisconsin Central track chart shows the area of the three bridges, located at mileage 211.9, 212.4 and 214.2 respectively. Lines at the top of the chart indicate the curvature and grade of the line. The railway is shown as a straight line with marks and notations indicating the location and length of each bridge and culvert, as well as the details of their construction.

For example, the first trestle has the following notation above the mark indicating its location:

211.90   31 SP PB
424′ LONG

The “211.90” is the mileage of the bridge. The “424′ LONG” is obviously pretty self-explanatory. The “31 SP PB” is a little more cryptic, but this indicates the construction of the bridge: a 31 span (SP) pile-bent (PB) trestle.

You can see the notations along the bottom of the chart indicating the speed limits for this section of the railway, note the 20 MPH limit for all trains over the bridges.

Mile 211.90 Bridge


The first trestle is the 424′ long wooden pile trestle at Mile 211.90.


Note the lack of guard rails on this trestle, which you’ll also see on the other wooden bridge at Mile 214.08.


Milepost 212 is located on the approach causeway just north of the end of the actual trestle.


At the north end of the causeway is a stop for Woods Camp, one of many such remote wilderness camps along the ACR. In addition to this small shed, just down and to the left out of frame is a small floating boat dock (the actual camp is located somewhere else on Oba Lake and accessed via water).

Mile 212.4 Spur

Between the first and second bridges is this short little maintenance spur for storing supplies and work equipment when maintenance is being performed on these trestles (this is a very remote area).


This isn’t shown on the track chart above, but is listed in old timetables from as a 7-car company spur, and is clearly still in place today (as shown in these 2013 photos).

All around this area were stored fresh timbers and supplies for maintaining the wooden bridges, plus a couple of big piles of ruined ties that have been removed and replaced on nearby track.

In the weeds at the south end of the spur is an old ex-Ontario Northland boxcar used for a storage shed.

Mile 212.70 Bridge

At nearly 1200′ in length not including the approach causeways at either end, this is the longest of the three bridges at Oba Lake. At some point in time, this bridge has been replaced with a new bridge with steel pilings with concrete caps supporting the bridge spans.

The original bridge would have looked identical to the other two, other than the much greater length.


The southern approach to the bridge, looking north with Hoodoo Bay to the right. Note the obvious widening of the roadbed to the left for the original alignment of the old bridge.

When crossing over the bridge, the wooden pilings for the original bridge can be seen on the left side, although the water level in the lake was high when I travelled in October, so the tops of the pilings were just below the surface of the water and are not visible in any of my photos. They were quite visible in person however, and I’ve seen other photos where the water level is lower and the tops of the pilings do stick up above the surface.


This photo is taken roughly at the mid-point of the bridge.

With the upgraded bridge, the train was able to travel a bit faster than the 20 MPH restriction on the other two entirely wooden bridges.



Detail of the abutment at the end of the bridge.

You can just see the ends of the concrete caps on the pilings which support the new bridge spans.

The horizontal timber at the water’s surface is evidence of the original wooden bridge.


Again note the widened causeway on the north end of the bridge. The original alignment would have been to the left.

Mile 214.20 Bridge


And lastly, the third bridge at Oba Lake is this 445′ bridge at mile 214.2. The construction is again identical to the first.


The bridge at Mile 214.2, with the track curving away on the causeway on the north end to run along the shoreline.


Just under a mile north of the last bridge is one final causeway that completely cuts off another small bay of Oba Lake. This is also clearly visible on the satellite image at the top of this post.

While it would certainly not be feasible to model all three of these bridges, and certainly not to full scale (the longest bridge would be over 13 1/2 feet long in HO scale just for the bridge, not including the approach causeways and even the two shorter bridges would be at least 5 feet long) I’d definitely like to include a representation of at least one of these bridges south of Mosher on my eventual layout, as I think the long, low trestle running just 10 feet above the surface of a quiet lake will make a great model scene.