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Early Diesels - CPR

R L Kennedy

It had long been believed by most people that 7000 built in 1937 was the CPR's first diesel. In fact, the first diesel was 9006 a self-propelled rail motor car (referred to by CPR as "automotive equipment"). Sometimes called doodlebugs, these cars could pull additional cars not just lightweight trailers.)

9004 (same as 9006) Sat. April 26,1958 on the last run of train #346 to Guelph Jct.

9006 built August 1931 by Ottawa Car Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Ottawa, to designs of Electro-Motive Corp. Cleveland, Ohio, with an 8 cyl. 400 HP Winton gasolene engine and Westinghouse electrical equipment. Combination baggage-coach with a 15'10" engine room, a 20' 2 1/2" baggage room, 8'9" smoking compartment with 14 seats and a 23' 4" passenger compartment seating 36, total 50 psgrs. 72'0". Weight 142,000 lbs. (152,000lbs. with diesel) It was first operated on Western Lines between Regina and Weyburn, Sask. (125 miles). It suffered a major fire in 1934. It was repaired and re-engined in 1935 with an 8-cyl. 400 HP Harland & Wolff diesel and operated in and out of Drummondville Que. Thus it became the CPR's first diesel powered unit two years ahead of the 7000. It was finally retired and scrapped in 1957. Unfortunately, no CPR car was preserved.

9006 after conversion to diesel

CPR 7000 diesel locomotive was a custom built one-of-a-kind unit never repeated, using imported components from British Empire countries to avoid heavy Customs duties. Ordered in 1935 from Stone Franklin of Canada Ltd, Montreal it was built by National Steel Car Co. Hamilton using a 6cyl. 600HP diesel from Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland with electrical equipment by Laurence Scott and Electromotors, Norwich, England. Its unique six position throttle provided only two operating speeds with a maximum of 30 mph. It weighed a heavy 245,000 lbs. It was delivered in November 1937 and operated in Hochelaga Yard, Montreal. Following delivery of five ALCO S2's in 1943 it was leased for 3 to 4 months to Marathon Paper Mills Ltd., Peninsula, (now Marathon) Ont. and then sold to them in October 1944. It operated there without a number for many years being re-engined in 1951 with a 600 HP Caterpillar. It was retired following delivery of a used GE 70-tonner (#30178 6/49 PGE 555), donated to the CRHA and remains at the CRM, shown below.

Marathon Corporation of Canada Limited, no number, 1950.
Marathon and District Historical Society

7000 at the Canadian Railway Museum.

The era of standard production yard diesels on the CPR began in 1943 with the importing of
ALCO model S2 1000HP units beginning with 7010, shown here in Montreal Terminals.
Note the curved numerals above the headlight. Canadian Pacific P18505

Displayed at the entrance to Heritage Park in Calgary in its original paint scheme, 7019 is a project of The Locomotive and Railway Historical Society of Western Canada. Photo taken June 2002 by Michael Harle.

NOTE: ALCO S2's cost $115,000 (115 tons) with duties, while new G5 4-6-2's cost $88,000.

E&N No.1 engine CP 8004 northbound crossing Arbutus Creek, 1949 Nick Morant

Canadian Pacific used its Esquimalt & Naniamo subsidiary on Vancouver Island as a test bed for dieselization due to its location separated from the main system where road failures would not interfere with other trains.
In December 1948 CPR received thirteen 1000HP Baldwin road switchers, light units for what was essentially a branch line operation of some 200 miles in total although with many miles of moderately heavy grades under 2%. These were to replace twenty steam locomotives (mostly D-10 class 4-6-0's). All freight and passenger trains were hauled by one these units, (it was not until later years that M.U. equipment was added.) These rugged locomotives remained in use on Vancouver Island until their retirement more than 25 years later in 1975. The first unit, 8000 has been preserved by the CPR.

8011 and another Baldwin road switcher with empty log cars near Ladysmith, VI September 1969.
Jack Neville

8003 8000 southbound near Mount Sicker enroute to Lake Cowichan with a long train of empty log flats.
June 1973 Robert D. Turner

What If?

In the "What if "category comes a number of things. First, the CPR had decided to "standardize" (something it rigorously followed) small road switchers for all work on the E&N, passenger, freight and yard. Five units were equipped with steam generators for passenger service. Only three were actually required but for the sake of better utilization (something essential considering the high cost of diesels) five were so equipped. It considered adding m.u. controls but in a typical CPR move this cost was cut. Multiple unit controls of a non-standard 21 pin type were finally added in the 1960's.

Even more interesting is the fact that two or three units were considered to be equipped with A-1-A six wheel, four traction motor trucks to allow a higher speed (60 mph) on the light 65 pound rail of the Victoria Subdivision between Parksville and Courtenay. Again, in the interests of standardization it was decided to live with the lower 20 mph speed restriction until heavier rail could be laid.

Another interesting "What If?" concerns the make of diesel chosen. The CPR was in a hurry to get the diesels and choose Baldwin over Alco as both Alco and EMD were backed up with orders. These were the first road units as the CPR had only bought Alco S2 1000HP yard switchers to this point. Had Alco been able to deliver the units sooner RS-1's would have been acquired instead. MLW was just beginning to build Alco design S2 switchers, so it is possible they could have built the RS-1's themselves. The CPR did later modify some MLW S4's with auxiliary fuel tanks to give longer range for road use as they had small tanks. They were over-worked (another typical CPR method) in this capacity and had to be replaced with proper road switchers of much higher horsepower.

What the RS-1's might have looked like.

Not considered was dynamic brakes. Perhaps not well understood in practical operating terms at the time such brakes would have been of great advantage on the many steep grades on the E&N. Diesels reduced the fires set by steam locomotives (even oil-fired) but fires continued never-the-less. These fires were due to brakeshoe use controlling speed down grades. When the old Baldwin's were finally retired in 1976 and replaced by GMD GP38's with DB it was suddenly "discovered" fires were greatly reduced. No doubt the cost of equiping the Baldwins with dynamic braking and their maintenance costs would have been saved many times over in brakeshoe and wheel wear and in reducing firefighting costs over a period of a quarter of a century.

Otherwise, if EMD had been able to supply the CPR's needs it is likely NW5 1000HP road switchers would have been built for the E&N service instead.


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