Work Car Wednesday #5

ACR from Blair 019

This pair (actually a trio, with AC 10656) of interesting little tank cars were acquired secondhand from Canadian National, likely somewhere around 1990(?). These cars store potable water to supply accommodation cars in work trains.

Lending to the unique appearance of these cars is the coating of spray-foam insulation on the body of the tank and small heater to prevent the tanks from freezing in the winter and that huge vent(?) fashioned from an old caboose smokejack.

ACR from Blair 021 (2)

Both photos courtesy of Blair Smith.

Work Car Wednesday #4


AC 10668 is another bunk car painted an unusual bright yellow colour. (This and hoistman’s bunk 10607 are the only cars I’ve seen photos of repainted all in yellow.)

10668 is a service bunk car rebuilt from one of the Algoma Central’s 9501-9520 series wooden cabooses. Several such conversions were performed in the late 1970s after new steel cabooses were purchased in 1976 to replace several of the older wooden cabooses, although a few older wooden cabooses remained on stand by service for when extra cabooses were required.

At Steelton Yard, March 1981. Photographer unknown, slide in my collection.

AC 2915

Here’s another AC 40′ box I finished some weathering on last night.


Like the others earlier this week, this was a TrueLine Trains Ontario Northland boxcar with some custom painting (the large patches over the logo were done by hand to try to simulate how the logos were painted over with a paint roller, and smaller patches over the reporting mark and number masked and airbrushed) and then weathered with a combination of pan pastels and a bit of grime airbrushed along the lower edge of the car and on the car ends.

Interestingly, Ted Ellis has an early 1990s photo of this car on his site where it looks like the number on the car end actually reads 2907. So it appears that this car has changed identities along the way. It looks like it may have been acquired from the Ontario Northland as AC 2907, possibly renumbered into a 10000 series work number and then reassigned back to the general pool and renumbered 2915, possibly replacing a different car that was the original AC 2915. (Dale Wilson sent me an older photo of 2915 that shows a completely different pattern of paint patching, and it’s the same side as Ted’s photo, so it’s clearly not the same car.) I reproduced this confusion on my model as well. Like Ted Ellis’s photo, the numbers on the ends of my car read 2907, but on the sides on a prominent black patch it’s no. 2915.

Freight Car Friday #47 – MWCX Copper Concentrate Gondolas


One interesting source of current bridge traffic over the former Algoma Central is copper concentrate heading over the Ontario Northland Railway to be smelted at the large facility at Rouyn-Noranda, QC. This traffic apparently comes from the Michigan “Upper Peninsula” from the concentrator at the Humboldt Mill which was recently rebuilt and started ore production in 2014 and travels across CN up to Hearst to interchange with the ONR.┬áThe three photos of MWCX cars in this post were photographed on July 16, 2015 in Cochrane, Ontario, but had just arrived from Hearst that day. Several more cars (possibly even the same ones actually) were seen from a distance in the northern section of Hawk Junction yard a few days earlier.


MWCX 200115 is an older car originally built by Greenville Steel Car for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, and has had a few interim owners since them, one notable operator of these former P&LE cars being the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. Its acquisition by Midwest Railcar Leasing (MWCX) is pretty recent however.

This closeup shot shows a fair amount of load spillage around the top edges of the car; you can see the buildup of the greenish-coloured ore copper ore concentrate in the dust on the side of the car.


This car, MWCX 200475, is a good example of the modern gondola on today’s railways, having been built in early 2015. One other car in this set of five was also built in 2014, and the others were older, but clearly quite recently shopped and repainted in 2014-2015.

While this movement (and certainly in these particular cars) seems to be a fairly new one, copper mining in the upper Michigan area seems to have been a sort of on-again, off-again affair, and shipments of ores from the states to the Noranda smelter seem to have occurred at various times in the past, so I might be able to make some sort of justification for adding a bit of this sort of traffic onto my eventual layout. (In older, contemporary cars of course.) There also seems to be some westward (to or from) interchange of ore concentrates in CN cars at Oba, possibly from as far away as Trail, British Columbia.


This SOO gondola photographed on July 17, 2013 in Sudbury (cars seen here would have been routed to/from points south via the ONR, OVR and CP) also shows telltale weathering of having been in concentrate service and provides a good look at the inside of the car. Note the caked-on greenish gray concentrate material on the interior sides. Today concentrates are shipped with fiberglass covers applied to the cars to prevent any loss in transit for both economic and, significantly, environmental concerns, but in the 1970s and early 1980s the stuff was actually shipped open. Bram Bailey’s book “Ontario Northland in Color” from Morning Sun Books has a couple of photos of trains with concentrate gondolas and a large greenish dust cloud trailing behind it…

Work Car Wednesday #3


AC 10607 is one of the railway’s older bunk cars built from old 36′ wooden boxcars. Once the railway had several very similar or identical bunk cars all around the 1060x number range, but 10607 definitely appears to have been the last survivor from this era.

This car was assigned to the diesel hoist operator as a sleeping car. Photographed in the early 1990s at Steelton yard by Blair Smith, it was freshly repainted into this eye-catching bright yellow in 1982.