Freight Car Friday #55 – AC 3809


For this installment of Freight Car Friday we turn the clock way back to May 6, 1957 to look at one of the Algoma Central’s 48’6″ drop-end mill gondolas in its original 1947 as-delivered paint and lettering.

The lighting is a little dark and the image is of course in Black and White, so it doesn’t convey colour information, but this early spartan scheme (dressed up with the bear logo towards the right-hand end of the car side) features a black car body with white lettering – except the rings encircling the bear logo are in red. This paint scheme was typical of all AC steel gondolas from the late 1940s and was also applied to the home-built 39′ and 40′ gondolas in the 4601-4804 series.

While the billboard lettering with the ALGOMA CENTRAL name spelled out across the car side in 24″ tall letters and the bear herald in the centre is more familiar to most fans and modelers, and was applied to these cars n later years, the original delivery of these cars predates the first use of that lettering in 1958 on the new 52’6″ cars. (Also note that the familiar image of the billboard lettering is of a black car with white lettering, the original late 1950s version of this scheme had the car body painted brown. This only lasted a few years, and early 1960s repaints were in black.)

Photograph by Walter E. Frost, City of Vancouver Archives collection. (ref. no. CVA 447-1680)

Railfanning a Big Move

Just in advance of the long weekend, I was tipped off about a special move on the Goderich-Exeter Railway here in Southern Ontario of an extra-large dimensional load on a specialized “Schnabel” car. The load is some sort of industrial boiler(?) that was constructed at Babcock & Wilcox in Cambridge, ON and was being moved to the port of Hamilton, ON to be loaded onto a ship for the next stage of its journey to its final destination.

Fortunately I happened to be visiting the area for the long weekend and was able to spend the day Sunday following its move from Guelph to Georgetown for interchange to CN. The move was actually a full 2-day affair, with Goderich-Exeter lifting the loaded car in Cambridge and bringing it to Guelph on Saturday, and the move from Guelph to Hamilton – with Goderich-Exeter handling it to Georgetown, and CN handling it Georgetown to Hamilton – completed on Sunday.


The train with the load gets underway in Guelph.

The entire move from Cambridge to Georgetown on the Goderich-Exeter was done with the engines shoving and the caboose leading. This was done so the train so that on arrival at Georgetown the GEXR engines could be replaced by CN power and be facing the correct direction for the move from Georgetown to Hamilton.


Pushing through the countryside just outside of Guelph. The load and its special heavy-duty car dwarfs the rest of the equipment on the train.


The special move parked on the north track in front of Georgetown station.

On arrival at Georgetown, the train would sit and wait for a bit for three other trains to pass by, including the regular GEXR freight returning from CN’s Toronto MacMillan yard. The the GEXR power would be removed and head back onto Goderich-Exeter rails, and the CN power waiting west of the junction would back on to take over for the run to Hamilton.


Sadly a cloud dampened what could have been a spectacular shot of side-by-side Goderich-Exeter trains on CN, with regular CN MacMillan Yard to Stratford train GEXR 431 slowly passing the stopped dimensional extra.


Side by side CNs at Georgetown. The dimensional extra at left, now with the GEXR power replaced by CN 2598, is passed slowly by manifest freight M399 rolling by with a 10 MPH restriction passing the dimensional load.