Since sprint of 2020, when CN mothballed the former Algoma Central line between Sault Ste. Marie and Hawk Junction (no freight has run south of Hawk since April 2020) loads of pulpwood in AC/WC flatcars have been a relatively common sight running through southern Ontario on Toronto to Chicago train M397. A log loading operation at Mead (former location of the old Newaygo sawmill that operated between 1974-85) is one of the only major customers on the former AC line, and with the line unused south of Hawk these loads take the long route to northern Michigan/Wisconsin via Toronto and Chicago.
It’s not uncommon to actually see AC-marked pulpwood cars mixed in with the WC ones – most of the AC 238100, 238400, and 238500 series cars are still active – but this WC car in particular happened to catch my eye out of a block of nine loaded WC cars on August 2nd’s CN M397 through my hometown of Sarnia.
The WC 237000-238000 series of converted pulpwood flatcars is a wild range of old flatcars from many previous CN-family (mostly DWC and BCOL, but also other former CN and WC cars) rebuilt and renumbered with very little organization to what prior groups the cars are pulled from, just renumbered into the series as they’re converted.
The orange colour of WC 237703, and some of the paint patchwork underneath the most recent patches for the new WC number and the log bunks suggested a North American Car Co. (NAFX) heritage – likely via AC 2476-2494 series. Some cooperation on facebook with a couple of guys with access to the UMLER (Universal Machine Language Equipment Register) – the common electronic equipment database used by North America’s railways – helped confirm that the previous identity of WC 237703 was in fact AC 2489, and its original number before being acquired by the Algoma Central (in 1994) was NAFX 53201 (from NAFX series 53200-53249).
This unique Canadian Pacific skeleton flat is a new model I just finished* this week.
*(Assembly, paint and decals; still needs clear coat and weathering.)
The model is a Custom Finishing kit, which is made up of a series of soft metal (pewter) casting. After cleaning up all the parts with a fine file, and drilling holes for grab irons and truck and coupler box mounting screws, the model was assembled per the kit instructions using two part epoxy to glue the major parts together. As there’s barely a dozen pieces, it’s actually a very easy and straightforward build. I also drilled through the joint at each end between the main spine of the car and the end platforms and pinned it with a short piece of wire to reinforce the joint, so that the main structural pieces aren’t only held together by the epoxy. One extra addition I made was to apply 1×10 plates for the KarTrack ACI barcode labels on the right-most stake on each side, and I also drilled holes in the end sills to mount Kadee #438 air hoses.
With the assembly completed, the model was airbrushed black and lettered with decals from Black Cat Publishing specifically for this car. ACI labels came from a MicroScale set, and a couple of missing elements (“Plate C” marking and NSC builder’s logo) were added from a Highball CP Rail flatcar set.
The prototype for this car is one of 50 cars built in September 1968 by National Steel Car as CP 305560-305609. (Another 300 identical cars were built for Pacific Great Eastern in two batches in 1966 and 1968.) The cars were designed for use transporting full length logs and poles.
I’ve heard some mention of shipments of telephone poles to the Sault Public Utilities Commission; I’m not sure where such shipments would be unloaded, but all that is needed is a team track with a driveway beside it. Whether such movements actually happened with any regularity, the “rule of cool” applies here a little as well, and that’s what the waybill for this car will show when it runs on my eventual layout.
Just need to make a (removable) pole load for this car now…
The prototype for this car was built by Pullman-Standard in late 1962 for their Transport Leasing Company and leased to Spruce Falls Power & Paper Co. of Kapuskasing, Ontario for what appears to have been a ten-year lease. Originally numbered TLCX 1001-1075 and decorated in an attractive dark green paint scheme with large and eye-catching yellow logos for the paper company, the lease expired by the end of 1972 and by early 1973 the cars were then leased to Canadian Pacific and they were renumbered into the CPAA 89910-89980 series and had their original lettering patched out. These lasted on the CP roster until about 1987 at which point they disappeared, disposition unknown.
The model is a Kadee PS-1 boxcar that was factory decorated for Spruce Falls Power & Paper. I gave the car a basic layer of airbrush grime weathering and masked and painted over the original logos much like the prototype did and added the new numbers using MicroScale stencil decals. This should be a unique and eye-catching addition mixed in with other CP and CPAA marked boxcars for paper and pulp service via Franz.
CP 80967 is a simple study in very minor paint and decal tweaks to update the appearance of a (basically) RTR car.
The subject is a factory decorated model originally produced by Life Like under the Proto1000 brand label. (This tooling is now owned by Walthers.) It’s basically Ready to Run, other than the ladders and door rods being modeler-applied parts although they don’t really take any special skill to install.
One thing about the model is the colour of the roof. The roof is factory painted a pale grey colour to represent a bare galvanized steel roof, but just being a flat grey fails to really “pop” properly. So to improve the car (actually a trio of cars I have in these colours) I masked off the roof and re-sprayed it with Model Master “Steel”. The overall colour is almost the same shade except the Steel actually gives it a proper metallic finish. Next, as the 80967-81216 (yep, this car is actually the “class unit” for the series) were delivered in 1967 and actually originally painted in script, the Action Green MultiMark represents a repaint of these cars, and a little bit of Action Green overspray was added around the edges.
Standard decal additions of COTS and U-1 stencils in varying locations on the different cars and updated weigh dates completes the standard lettering updates before weathering.
One really neat feature of this model also needs to be addressed here. Life Like tooled two body version with different styles of plug doors – an inside-post (flush appearance) as shown on this car, and an exterior-post (recessed appearance). The interior post doors were on cars built up to 1968, and cars built 1969 or after had the exterior post doors. Another key difference between the earlier and later cars was the wheelbase, with cars built up to 1967 having a shorter 38’10” length between truck centres, and cars built 1968 and later have a longer 40’8″ truck centre distance. The model does something super clever here that a lot of people may not even be aware of – the truck bolsters are actually separate pieces that can be removed, rotated 180 degrees and reinstalled to shorten the wheelbase. (The truck centres should be narrowed on this car, but I took the photo before addressing the trucks.)
A roster of prototype cars that match the models, with door and wheelbase information (via Jim Eager on the MFCL list):
re# BCOL 4601-4642
re# CNIS 400350-400599 /70
re# BCOL 4651-4750
re# CP 85000-85499
re# CPAA 86000-86099 /88
Door: YPD = regular interior post Youngstown plug door, YPDX = exterior post Youngstown plug door.
Underframe (UF): C = cushioned underframe, U = un-cushioned underframe
CN 557417 is a 52′ inside length combination plug + sliding door boxcar built in the mid 1970s for lumber and forest products service. It’s part of a large group of such cars (740 cars built in three orders between 1973-1974), but its paint job is one of a kind.
This car was one of 4 boxcars painted by CN in 1984 as a promotion for the upcoming 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, BC, branded as “Expo86” by the event organizers. Each car was painted in a similar black and white scheme with 4 diagonal coloured stripes, although each of the 4 cars was in a different colour.
Also painted in the Expo86 scheme was SD40-2 5334 with multi-coloured stripes (yellow, green, blue and purple).
The model was built using a Kaslo Shops resin kit for a CN 52′ combo door boxcar which matches the prototype and painted and lettered using a decal set from Highball Graphics (this set appears to be now discontinued). This was a challenging paint job, requiring a lot of masking (including diagonal masking to paint the stripes) over the raised details of the car doors.
Since I’m modeling 1985, the car’s paint job is still pretty fresh so the car just received a clear coat and will remain un-weathered. Eventually the car will see service on my future layout hauling lumber, plywood and other forest products from mills on the CN beyond Hearst westbound via Oba or south to the United States via Sault Ste. Marie. It’ll be an eye-catching change from the regular CN brown boxcars hauling paper and lumber out of the north.