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Old Time Trains

Canadian National

Self-propelled equipment

Oil Electric and gas-mechanical cars.

All photographs Jim Parker Collection unless otherwise credited.

Like many railways the CNR sought to reduce operating costs for its lesser passenger trains especially those on branchlines. Late in 1923 a CNR official visited William Beardmore and Company in Glasgow, Scotland where airship motors were being tested and it was agreed they could be adapted for railway use.

Beginning in 1925 CNR took delivery of a number of self-propelled diesel-electric cars assembled by their Pointe St. Charles Shops in Montreal using these Beardmore diesels (4 cylinder, 185 hp), Ottawa Car Manufacturing Co. bodies, National Steel Car trucks and Westinghouse Electric traction motors. The first car delivered in August 1925 was 15819 a 60 foot double-ended car that began service on September 21st. between Hamilton-Guelph-Galt-Brantford. The first articulated car was 15817 which began operation September 18th. Montreal-Hawkesbury-Ottawa. A month later it was replaced by 15818 and reassigned to Guelph-Southhampton service.

The next car 15820 was destined for Western Canada and beginning November 1st it made a record breaking run 2,937 miles to Vancouver. Following this epic run it ran back to Edmonton where it took up service on trains 77 and 78 between Edmonton and Vermillion covering 129.8 miles Daily Except Sunday. Five more similar cars were delivered in 1927 following which five bigger cars (15826-30) 73 feet long double-ended with 6 cyl. 300 hp Beardmore diesel engines were also built in 1927. There were now 30 self-propelled cars of various sorts and in the year they operated nearly 2 million miles!

Read more: Early diesels

CNoR 500 Re# 15800 Article 1912

Loading Royal Mail. Note trainman waiting to load express also on baggage cart.

15700 ex M-1 see below. June 1930

Bud Laws Collection

15702 (ex Toronto Suburban Ry. 24) Preston Car 1914
This car used for many years to move riders (switchmen) back to the hump at Neebing Yard in Fort William.
Retired 10/1964 to Canadian Railway Museum, Delson, QC. 1/1988 to Fort Edmonton Park, AB.

15750 trails un-numbered unlettered unit used on employee shuttle.
Motors M-1 and M-2 built Fort Rouge shops 1919-1920 Re# 15700, 15701 late 1921.
Ford T 4-cyl. gas engine carries 10 passengers.
Trailers T-1 and T-2 renumbered 15750, 15751.

Kamloops October 17, 1940 Unknown credit.

15767 RPO coach (22 seats) trailer ex CV 151:1st. Brill 9/1926
Shown here as Lakeshore Model Railroad Association club car next to Mimico yard on dead track in New Toronto.
Acquired by LMRA 9/1960 eventually going to CRHA (Delson) in 1978.

15801 (ex 100) 55 foot 30 ton battery car Brill/Battery Storage Car Co. 5/1921
Demo 5/1921 Trenton-Belleville. Acquired 1921.
Operated 1922-23 Toronto-Beaverton.
Digital restoration Walter Pfefferle

Note: Displaying signals (green flags) indicating following section which is confirmed by lack of markers.

15801 Toronto-Beaverton passed under Gerrard Street viaduct under construction. 11/16/1922.

15804 Brill model 55 seats 40 Built October 1929.
Truro, NS November 1939 Unknown credit

15810 Brill 4-cyl. gas-mechanical model 55 built by Ottawa Car 1925 15 tons 43 feet 38 passengers.
Used on employee shuttle two miles between Kamloops and Kamloops Junction.
Kamloops October 12, 1941 Bud Laws Collection

15812 Ledoux-Jennings gas-mechanical 6-cyl. Reo 20 passengers 10 tons. June 1922

15816 Built National Steel Car 11/1923 Sterling 6 cyl. gas engine. 54 feet long, 32 seats. Toronto 6/10/1936.
Scrapped May 1941 Leaside. Colin Menzies III/Gary Everhart Collection

Note: This car was ordered by Grand Trunk but was taken over by CNR prior to delivery.
It was said to be the most powerful self-propelled car in North America at the time.
In November 1923 it began service between Toronto and Hamilton.

15817 articulated train. Canadian National 23653

Front door open to show diesel engine. Canadian National 23645

Canadian National 23647

15817 with a coach.

15820 two views 23605 above and 23604 below


15823 Ottawa Car-Beardmore 4-cyl. 185 hp April 1926. Sold November 1949 PGE 107

15824 with 15708 below

15708 rebuilt 7/1926 as tower car, rebuilt 8/1946 as trailer. .


15826 diagram shows small passenger compartment seating 27.


15830 Beardmore/CC&F 1929


Motor Train 603 has arrived in Midland at the end of its run from Lindsay in a light snowfall. Passengers have detrained and new ones entrained for the return trip while express is handled by the contractor A.C.Mc.Nabb Phone 136 Midland.
It is about Noon on Saturday, January 25, 1958. Robert J. (Bob) Sandusky

15832 is a 74 foot CC&F combination car with a 27' 3" baggage compartment and a 22' 8" 37 seat passenger compartment. Built in 7/1930 and equipped with a Westinghouse 6 cyl. 350 hp diesel and two Westinghouse 215 hp traction motors. Also, Peter Smith hot water heater. Holding 275 gallons of fuel. Weight 70 tons.

Note: Diagram of 18526 (above) also applies to 15832.

Note: Following its retirement 15832 was converted in 1960 for work service as Auxiliary Cable Car 60026 (unpowered) as were others.

15767 is a 51 foot 29 ton combine with RPO mail section and 22 seat passenger compartment. Built by Brill 22411 1926 as CVR 151 all-baggage lightweight trailer. Converted 1941 by CNR. Preserved at Exporail.

NOTE: Last runs of 603 and 604 were on Saturday October 25, 1958 with Pacific 5292, mail & express 7732 and coaches 5170 and 5196. 15832 had been transferred to relieve D-1 on the Hamilton-Georgetown-Allandale-Meaford run.


15836 handling express at Sarnia. 5/08/1956 Digital restoration Walter Pfefferle

Converted 1960 to auxiliary cable car 60027

15837 Pointe St.Charles 7/03/1954 John Dziobko

15842 provided a typical daily except Sunday branch service 81 miles between Stratford and Sarnia.
Forest, ON 9/1948


D-1 Motor Train


D-1 with C-1 and C-2 with Hamilton-Meaford train. Tottenham September 20, 1958
Clayton Morgan/Doug Hately Collection. Digital restoration by Walter Pfefferle.

This rebuilt streamlined motor car was a prototype for updating self-propelled motor cars to present a modern look.
It was the only one the public got to see. No further conversions were undertaken by CNR.

D-1 running Extra this is likely a display train. Brockville December 1951

This streamlined front put a modernized look to the train set complete with unique numbers.
Certainly better than the usual ugly look of these cars! It was to be the only such conversion.
By this time modern Budd Rail Diesel Cars were coming.

D-1 rebuilt PSC October 1951 (ex 15834) as powered baggage car with two trailer cars. Caterpillar D-397 12 cyl.diesel.

C-1 (ex 15742) combination RPO coach trailer seating 14 passengers.

C-1 RPO door. Note letter slot for public to post mail.

C-2 (ex 15739) trailer coach seating 52 passengers including 8 in smoker section

Central Vermont

CV 146 combine 60' seating 59 and trailer. Brill 1926 Jerry LaBoda Collection

Transferred to CNR September 1939. Not used. Scrapped Val Royal, Que. December 1948.

Grand Trunk Western

GTW 15805 EMC August 1925 R/B July 1941 Caterpillar diesel.


Evans Auto-railer

movie demonstration 1935


CN 15950 Evans Auto-railer baggage car. Oshawa 7/15/1937
Sold as truck 1942 to Dept. Munitions and Supply, Canada.

Note: Three 25 seat passenger units 15951-15953 were built in 1937 by Evans Products Corp. Detroit.
Equipped with 6 cylinder, 100 horsepower REO Gold Crown gas engine.
Used by NS&T primarily for boat connections originating in USA by road
and after crossing border, by rail on NS&T to Port Dalhousie.
Removed rail wheels in 1938 due to mechanical problems and used as buses.

15951 and 15952 repainted Canadian National Transportation Ltd. in 1941.
Transferred 1942 to Oshawa Railway for use as buses.



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