Throwback Thursday #1

Chips Will Fly at Paper Firm Plant

Mead, Ontario – Newaygo Forest Products Ltd., a subsidiary of Consolidated Papers, Inc., Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., will dedicate its $5.2 million lumber-chip complex here Oct. 6.

The new facility – which has 92,000 square feet of space in five buildings – has the capacity to produce 75 million board feet of lumber and 80,000 tons of wood chips for pulping a year, the company said.

Some of the features, it said, are computer sorting of logs, extensive use of chippers rather than conventional saws and hydraulically powered and controlled equipment.

Newaygo said the complex would enable nearly complete utilization of trees: cutting lumber from the trees fist [sic], chipping what is usually edgings and slabs for pulping and using the bark and sawdust for fuel.

A sister subsidiary of Consolidated Papers, Newaygo Timber Co., Ltd., owns more than 350,000 acres of forest land in the Mead area and will provide most of the logs to be processed in the new facility.

Employment of the two companies is expected to reach 270 when the facility is in full operation. Delays in equipment deliveries have postponed the startup of operations except for the sawmill.

– Milwaukee Journal, Sep. 24, 1974 Sec2, p13

Woodchip Traffic on the ACR

Wood chip traffic on the ACR primarily derived from the sawmills and Dubreuilville and Mead. Both mills were large sources of chip traffic – although not at the same time.

Newaygo Forest Products (Mead, ON)

In 1974 Newaygo Forest Products built a new modern mill 20 miles south of Hearst on the ACR at Mead to produce lumber and wood chips for export to the United States. The woodchips would be shipped to a paper mill in Appleton, Wisconsin.

To supply cars for this traffic the Algoma Central purchased 89 cars from National Steel Car in 1974, with unique ACIS reporting marks designating them under some customs rules or regulations for International Service. A further 23 cars with regular AC reporting marks were added in 1980.

These large capacity cars, the biggest cars on the ACR roster and painted a unique pale green colour with yellow end doors and “billboard” lettering cut a striking appearance, and travelling over almost the entire length of the railway and into Michigan and Wisconsin, there are several good photos of both of these car series available.

They seemed to ship up to about half a dozen cars at a time from Mead, and extra empty cars would often be stored in the siding at Horsey or Coppel, on either side of Mead.

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ACIS 1433, one of a few survivors from the Algoma Central’s woodchip car fleet at Steelton yard in 2001. Blair Smith photo.

The mill at Mead shut down in 1985 bringing this traffic to an end.

Dubreuil Forest Products (Dubreuilville, ON)

In about 1986 or 1987, Dubreuil Forest Products installed a new chip spur and loader at their mill at Dubreuilville to load woodchips for the pulp mill on the Canadian Pacific at Marathon.

Cars for this service were 52′-60′ gondolas provided from Canadian Pacific. Over 100 cars were provided, with empties stored in the sidings at Goudreau and Wanda north and south of Dubreuilville to protect the loadings at the mill.


1991 switchlist showing cars in the transfer track at Franz. The dozen empty CP 343xxx series gondolas listed are woodchip cars for Dubreuilville.

Despite the large numbers of car loads involved, since they operated only between the interchange at Franz and the mill at Dubreuilville about 10 miles south, and both locations being a bit more than just slightly off the beaten path, this traffic wasn’t too visible and I haven’t seen much in the way of photographs of these cars in ACR trains, unlike the much more visible AC/ACIS woodchip gondolas that were used to service the Newaygo mill. Fortunately the cars have been well photographed in other locations, particularly as many survivors have recently been used in tie service.


A common variation of CP’s woodchip gondolas rebuilt from a 52′ gondola with extended sides. Bill Grandin photo.

During the 1990s, the AC (and later WC) ran an weekday evening “Franz Turn” out of Hawk Junction to switch lumber and chip loads at Dubreuilville and the interchange at Franz.

The mill at Dubreuilville closed in 2007.

Lecours Lumber (Calstock, ON)

After Newaygo shut down their operations at Mead, the fleet of AC and ACIS woodchip cars were sold off, with many cars being transferred to Newaygo for use on other operations.

One place where ex-Algoma Central cars with Newaygo (NFPX) markings seemed to show up regularly in the 1990s and early 2000s was at the Lecours Lumber stud mill west of Hearst, on trackage now operated by Ontario Northland. These chips apparently headed down into the US somewhere, so by a curious twist of fate, these ex-Algoma Central cars continued to operate over the former Algoma Central rails for several years.

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NFPX 1511 with a load of woodchips at Steelton yard, 1999. Blair Smith photo.

I’m not sure when this service ended (or if indeed it still continues on a periodic basis) but in my few visits to the area over the last few years I’ve never seen any chip cars.

Woodchip Gondola Basic Underframe and Body Assembly

Another project starting to look like something.

I’ve been slowly working on the basic underframe for these three cars over the last several weeks, and this afternoon I got the all of the body components put together.


There’s a lot of underframe & body details to do yet, obviously, but with the main pieces assembled into bodies, they at least start to give the impression of what these will look like.


Net Storage Boxes

These storage boxes are a simple detail, but due to their position right at the top centre of the door (yep, the box is actually mounted right on the door itself) makes for a prominent feature on the A end of the car.

These boxes were used to stow mesh netting, which would be used to cover a load of woodchips to (try to) prevent the contents from blowing out of the car while in transit.


The boxes of course are straightforward simple construction, with a front cut from .020″ sheet and sides and bottoms cut from pieces of .020x.100″ strip. Of course the one wrinkle is that the box does come over the top frame of the door, so the top corners have to be carefully notched .040x.040″ to clear the frame but not leave any visible gap when finished.

The lids (installed after the assembled boxes were cemented to the end assembly) are pieces of .010x.080″ strip.


Here’s one of the partly completed ends with the storage box installed.

Apart from grab iron and ladder details, my stack of parts is really starting to look like something now.

AC Woodchip Car Progress and Doors


Over the could of weeks I’ve been continuing to make some progress on my scratchbuilt Algoma Central woodchip gondolas. I’ve completed some more sides so that I have enough for three cars currently and I’ve also been getting some work done on the door ends of the cars.

These took some careful laying out, but other than that have been going together fairly well. Like the other parts of the car so far, this mainly consists of a .020″ sheet forming the backing of the main door with .040″ square styrene strip for the vertical ribs on the door. The corner posts are .060″ square and the top beam is .080″. These parts of the frame are glued to the edges of the .020″ door sheet, not using the surface backing.

The trickiest part actually turned out to be cutting the angles on the bottom sheet representing the reinforced end sill on theses cars (since the majority of the end isn’t structural, but a top-hinged door that can open up like a dump truck). I had to throw out a few attempts that weren’t quite symmetrical.


The hinge detail was also a little tricky to manipulate due to the extreme small size of the pieces, but otherwise the design is pretty straightforward.

The vertical parts of the hinges attached to the door are .010x.040″ strip while the hinge mounts were carefully cut out of bits of .010x.080″ strip.

There’s still some additional detail to add (ladders, grab irons, latches and a storage box attached to the door for mesh nets used to contain loads and prevent chips from blowing away in transit), but otherwise I have all the major pieces now to complete three bodies except for the next major project: the underframe/floor.