Freight Car Friday #67 – CPAA 207259 Model

A number of years back, Athearn came out with a model of a 50′ SIECO boxcar in their “Genesis” line of ready-to-run rolling stock models. Amongst some of the flashier US Class I and shortline schemes, one of the paint scheme offerings on this model was a spartan brown scheme with Canadian Pacific’s CPAA reporting marks.

Naturally I snapped up a half dozen of these, as plain boxcars with CPAA markings are absolutely just the thing for any 1970s-1990s Canadian model railway, especially one with significant interchange of woodpulp via the CPR. (And I got them for a relatively decent price, since many model railroaders like the flashy cars and don’t really pay attention to what actually runs out there…)

Unfortunately, after I actually started comparing the cars to prototype photos, it became clear that Athearn actually made a huge miss with these cars. The colour is rather dark, compared to photos and compared to an Atlas ACF “Precision Design” car offered in a similar scheme (but done right!), although with weathering, this variation in the cars could be worked out. However the truly nagging failure is in the lettering – and just about everything about the lettering. It’s almost as if Athearn took the description “brown car with spartan lettering” and just ran with it, without consulting photos (or the one photo they used was a really unusual, non-standard repaint…). The font isn’t remotely close, the car number is squished into two panels instead of three, and any sort of dimensional data on the right hand side of the car is completely absent.

So…. into the alcohol bath went a pair of these cars to get stripped and repainted. The lettering was pieced together from bits and pieces of various MicroScale and Highball Graphics sets. The main reporting marks and numbers specifically came from Highball’s “Transport Gothic” alphabet set, which is fairly close match to the font on the real car. ACI labels, U-1 wheel inspection dots and COTS stencils from MicroScale accesory sets round out the car lettering. The photo below is the pre-weathering result, while the photo at the top of this post shows the original out-of-the box appearance of one of this car’s sisters.

Weathering still needs to be applied, and so far I’ve completed two of these cars, sold off another two at a train show, and still have two more cars of my original six in original factory paint that I haven’t entirely decided what to do with yet – repaint as two more CPAA cars; repaint as some other spartan IPD/pool car, or sell on the train show circuit.

Freight Car Friday #56 – CPAA 208558

Today’s “Freight Car Friday” post is linked to a scan I received of an empty car waybill for the movement of an empty Canadian Pacific boxcar. The waybill shown below is for the movement of empty boxcar CPAA 208554 from Canadian Pacific’s Sault Ste. Marie yard to the CP yard at Schreiber, ON, via the Algoma Central from Sault Ste. Marie to Franz.

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Note a few interesting things about the waybill: there’s no actual shipper or consignee other than CP Rail itself. The notes at the bottom where the load/commodity information would be for an actual loaded shipment indicates a particular assignment number.

Presumably, based on its destination, this car is most likely a car assigned to woodpulp loading (which I’ve written about before) and was returned empty from SOO Line to CP Rail at Sault Ste. Marie, and there it received this billing for movement up to Schreiber where it will be reassigned for loading at one of the pulp/paper mills at Red Rock, Marathon, or Terrace Bay.

The car referenced on the waybill, CPAA 208554, is one of a grouping of cars built by Berwick Forge & Fabricating for the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad (MPA) and acquired secondhand by CP Rail in the early 1980s. Later in the late 1980s-early 1990s many of these CPAA cars were renumbered CP by removing the “AA” from the reporting marks. I caught CP (ex-CPAA) 208558, part of the same group and just four numbers away from the car on the waybill, at CP Guelph Junction (Cambellville, ON) in February 2004:

Freight Car Friday #49 – CP Woodpulp Boxcars

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A pair of modern examples of Canadian Pacific boxcars in wood pulp service at Sault Ste. Marie on July 12, 2015, arriving back in Canada from Michigan to head back to CP via the interchange at Franz.

The top car was built new for CP in 1998 by Greenbrier’s Trenton Works in Trenton, NS. The bottom car’s history is a little more obscure. An early 1970s design from Pullman-Standard, the car’s original owner before coming to CP is unknown. It would have been repainted and renumbered into its current identity in 2001 (and probably rebuilt to raise the roof and add an additional 6 inches to the interior height of the car at the same time).

The flat plates on the sides of both cars are protective covers for vents in the carbody. These vents are typical on modern cars in wood pulp service to allow moisture in the product to escape.

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Woodpulp Traffic on the ACR

Not to be confused with raw products like pulpwood logs or woodchips, wood pulp is a semi-processed intermediate step in the paper production. While some paper mills, like the Abitibi (later St. Marys) paper mill in Sault Ste. Marie are integrated mills covering the entire paper-making process from logs to pulp to finished paper, some mills are only pulp mills, producing market pulp which is sold to other mills for turning into other finished paper products.

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Boxcars in the transfer track at Franz will likely be in wood pulp service. Late 1990s, WRMRC collection.

While there weren’t any pulp mills on the Algoma Central, this was a very common form of bridge traffic from pulp mills on along the north shore of Lake Superior served by Canadian Pacific at Marathon, Terrace Bay and/or Red Rock to finishing mills in Michigan and Wisconsin. Some pulp may have also been delivered to the mill in Sault Ste. Marie, but I believe most of this traffic actually crossed the border into Michigan.

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Switchlist at Franz showing several loads of woodpulp, mostly bound for export via Sault Ste. Marie; note one car for Kapuskasing to be lifted by northbound train to Hearst. c1991

This switchlist at Franz also shows that at least some of this traffic went north to mills east of Hearst on the Canadian National (now Ontario Northland) as well. The switchlist shows one car of woodpulp being forwarded to the Spruce Falls Power & Paper mill at Kapuskasing, which produced newsprint.

Wood pulp continues to be an important source of bridge traffic on the former ACR. My recent visits have resulted in spotting quite a number of pulp service boxcars owned or leased by CP on the ACR: at Sault Ste. Marie arriving in the daily freight train from Michigan, at Hawk Junction in the regular CN freight, and in the siding and transfer tracks at Franz (as seen from my ride on the Tour of the Line in 2013).

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Modern example of a CP wood pulp service boxcar at Hawk Junction, July 2013. Plates at top and bottom of car are covers for vents, common on modern cars assigned to pulp service. My photo.

Freight Car Friday #38 – FURX Coil Steel Gondolas

Today’s post features additional coil steel cars leased to Canadian Pacific, and commonly seen carrying steel coils eastward from Essar Steel Algoma over the Huron Central to interchange with CP at Sudbury.

These cars with FURX reporting marks are part of a group of 100 cars leased to Essar Steel Algoma from First Union Rail, the rail leasing and financing arm of First Union Bank. These cars were originally built by Alstom in 1999 as part of NOKL 380601-380850 series.

Officially the NOKL reporting marks are registered to the Northwestern Oklahoma Railroad, but in reality cars with the NOKL reporting mark are owned by First Union and leased to other railroads. Some of these NOKL (like these three here) have been re-marked to FURX and SMW (another First Union managed mark). I’m not sure why First Union sometimes transfers cars between their various marks (FURX, NDYX, NOKL and SMW) but I’m sure there is a organizing system to this in their accounting department and may or may not have something to do with whether a railroad or private operator is leasing the cars.

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Three photos taken by myself on two separate visits in 2013.

Recently, a group of these FURX/NOKL cars have been rotating through Ontario Northland Railway’s car shops in North Bay for inspection and repairs prior to lease return; they seem to be largely being replaced by the cars leased from CIT Group featured last week.