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.
CN 558419 is a good example of a relatively modern 50′ high-cube boxcar. With the double sliding doors, this is a design pretty commonly used in forest products service, and is likely an empty for loading at the GP Flakeboard mill in Sault Ste. Marie (located west of the Algoma Steel Mill and served by the steel mill’s railway). This car is one of 425 cars built new for CN in 1996 by Trenton Works of Trenton, NS.
CN 558199 below is from the same series, but has clearly been re-shopped fairly recently with a fresh coat of paint and converted from sliding to plug doors. Both photos at Sault Ste. Marie, July 12, 2015.
TILX 16265 is an example of a typical tank car in limestone (calcium carbonate) clay slurry service. This particular car is one of a 100 car series built in 2000 by Trinity Industries and leased to Omya, a major producer of industrial minerals.
Calcium carbonate, like kaolinite (also shipped as a clay slurry, but a silicate mineral with a very different chemical composition), is often used in the paper industry as a pigment and binder for high-quality glossy papers. I’ve shared photos of a couple of different tanks in kaolin service for St. Marys Paper in previous “Freight Car Friday” posts. (I’ve been checking what photos I have of the mill, or show cars in the mill interchange tracks and the tanks around the paper mill definitely bore logos of kaolin companies – Dry Branch Kaolin in the 1990s, and Thiele Kaolin in the 2000s. I’m not sure if St. Marys used calcium carbonate.)
However, the car seen above is one of a pair of cars photographed in Sault Ste. Marie in July 2015 – eight years after the mill in the Sault was permanently shut down – and headed north over the former ACR line. An educated guess as to it’s destination would be one of the paper mills on the CP line along the north shore of Lake Superior or Thunder Bay region, via Franz.
UTLX 300400 below is a similar sort of car built by 1995 by Union Tank Car, and photographed in Sault Ste. Marie in June 2000.
CGTX 15941 tank car placarded sodium hydroxide (a.k.a. caustic soda) at Hawk Junction July 13, 2015
Continuing the theme of chemical tank cars on the Algoma Central is CGTX (GATX Rail Canada, formerly Canadian General Transit) 15941, one of a pair of tank cars in sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda) service passing northbound through Hawk Junction on train 573/571 on July 13, 2015.
A common use for sodium hydroxide is in the pulp & paper industry; the likely destination for this pair of cars is one of the pulp mills served by the Canadian Pacific along the north shore of Lake Superior, via the interchange at Franz.
CGTX 70638 tank car placarded sulphuric acid at Sault Ste. Marie July 12, 2013
Another common industrial acid is sulphuric acid – indeed it is probably one of the most common industrial chemicals shipped by rail. Uses of sulphuric acid are almost endless, but include chemical digestion of wood fibers for paper making and the production processes of fertilizers and numerous other chemicals including hydrochloric acid (as seen in last week’s Freight Car Friday).
Sulphuric acid is often produced in massive quantities as a byproduct of the smelting and refining of metal ores. Based on the (lack of) compression in the truck springs this and the neighbouring white PVCX acid tank car are heading north empty, for interchange to the Ontario Northland for furtherance to the copper/zinc smelter at Noranda, QC.
Same car two days later at Hawk Junction July 14, 2013, continuing its progress northward.