ONT 9′ Door Boxcar Rebuild (AC 2917)

A while back I stripped the paint on a handful of True Line Trains 40′ Ontario Northland boxcars in preparation for modifying and repainting them as cars acquired second hand by the Algoma Central for LCL and company service. Naturally, these then sat on the workbench for a while awaiting detailing and painting while I tackled other projects. Last night I pulled these back out in order to start finishing off the details and get them ready for painting.


First up is this car which will end up representing AC 2917. This car was built in 1947-48 by National Steel Car for Ontario Northland and rebuilt by the ONR in the early 1960s with a 9′ door opening. This rebuild required reinforcing of the side sill below the door opening and new door tracks. Note that the new doors used were taller than the original doors, being meant for a 10’6″ interior height car while the Ontario Northland boxcars were older cars with a 10’0″ interior height, so the door tracks in addition to being longer to accommodate the larger size of the door are mounted lower down.

The doors on the True Line model are unfortunately molded as part of the car body, so the first step of the major modification was to cut this opening out entirely. The side sills also had to be carefully cut off along the bottom edge of the car body so that new side sills and door tracks cut from styrene strip could be added. I don’t really recall where the doors came from originally, I pulled them out of my parts box where they’ve been for a while.

After removing the ladders and brake detail, original mounting holes were filled in with round styrene rod and the ladders were shortened and reattached. Tackboards on the doors and ends are original parts from the model relocated. The brake wheel housing was also remounted lower down.

This car just requires a few more of the brake detail parts to be re-applied on the “B” end of the car, and also the addition of a new horizontal grab iron on each end (I couldn’t find my small diameter brass wire last night) to complete the detailing. Then it should be ready for the paint shop.

I have a few more cars that basically just need all of the ladder and brake detailing work done which I hope to complete over the next week and then I should have a small fleet of about half a dozen ex-Ontario Northland boxcars for work and wayfreight service.

Freight Car Friday #21 – ONT 7908


Photographed by myself in Sault Ste. Marie in August 2004, ONT 7908 is the last of a 109-car group of cars on Ontario Northland’s roster in the 7800-7908 series and acquired in 1983. While official equipment registers and therefore most other compiled roster information for the ONR lists these as a singular series due to their similar dimensions and features (from a usage perspective), there are actually at least three distinct sub groups involved:

ONT 7800-7844, built by Evans Products /197x?, ex-NSL ?
ONT 7845-7899, built by Berwick /1978, ex-MNJ 120565-120599
ONT 7900-7908, built by Evans Products /1979, ex-NSL 155150-155194

* While 7800-7844/7900-7908 are both by Evans, they are from different years of production and have differences in the side sills, so each of the three groups are different from each other.

These cars are classed with an AAR mechanical designation of “XP”, indicating special features or assignment to particular commodities. Notes in the equipment register indicate that these cars are intended for metal refinery products, so these would be used hauling processed or semi-processed nickel and copper products such as ingots or anodes from Timmins or Rouyn-Noranda. Some movements destined for the western/mid-western United States could be routed via Cochrane-Hearst-Sault Ste. Marie over the ACR.

In addition to the 7800-7908 series cars, Ontario Northland also rostered a few other groups of former St. Lawrence Railroad (NSL) boxcars, which were given ONTA reporting marks and unlike the 7800 series cars actually kept their original NSL numbers and paint, with the original lettering just patched out, which adds a little additional colour.

Series ONTA 150550-150574 and 150775-150824, comprising a total of 75 cars, were Plate C cars built by Berwick in 1979 and acquired by Ontario Northland in 1981. ORERs seem to last list either of these series around 2003.

Series ONTA 102381-102399 and 151000-151010, comprising a total of 30 cars, were Plate B cars built by Golden Tye using Berwick kits/components and also acquired in 1981, although by 1984 the 102300 series cars were off the roster and in my 1986 ORER only five of the eleven 151000 series are still listed.

Another group of 16 cars, also built by Berwick in 1980 but from an unknown original owner, were acquired in 1989 and numbered in the ONTA 3000-3015 series. These cars were painted a plain brown and also listed as assigned to zinc/copper refinery products. This series disappeared from ORER listed in the mid 1990s.

Aside: The centre-beam flatcar at right in the main photo at the top of this post, with the wrapped Tembec lumber load, likely also came from the Ontario Northland at Hearst.

Freight Car Friday #9 – AC 8623


AC 8623, mixed in with other CN and IC family hopper cars in a CN freight through Ingersoll, Ontario on January 15, 2005. Photo courtesy David Graham.

This car is one of 30 triple hoppers acquired in 1978 from the Ontario Northland railway, from series ONT 6000-6070 built by National Steel Car in 1971. These cars carried their original Ontario Northland numbers with AC reporting marks for a few years before being renumbered into the AC 8600-8629 series in or shortly before 1984. (AC 6003, 6006, 6042, 6054, 6056 have been photographically verified.)

When new, these cars were painted in Ontario Northland’s 1960s-70s dark green “Progressive” scheme with the circle-inside-square logo of a stylized N superimposed over an O. Weathering and grime turned them into a somewhat visually indeterminate colour.


AC 6056 (ex-ONT 6056) in March 1981, prior to renumbering into the 8600-8629 series. Photographer unknown, my collection.