by Don Gaw
CP's 3 E-8's, 1800-1801-1802 used to run through and into
Ottawa years ago.
I made many trips behind those three diesel locomotives, and one trip
that comes to mind happened behind 1802 on January 29th, 1962. Train 233
was a daily passenger train leaving Montreal's Windsor Station at 0800
with six regular stops enroute to Ottawa. The train had one or two trains
to meet that required taking the siding, being in the inferior direction,
and arrived at Union Station (downtown) at 1035. This was a very popular
train, especially with people from the business world and Members of Parliament,
etc. They could leave Montreal in the morning, arrive in Ottawa, do their
business and return at 1700, arriving at Montreal at 1915. There was good
accommodation, with dining and parlour car service.
On the date in question, I was the conductor with Armand Richer the engineer.
We had a five-car train consisting of baggage car 4490, coaches 2287 and
2247, cafe-parlour 6672 and parlour 6664.
The trip was uneventful until we were stopped unexpectedly by the train
order signal at St. Eugene (Ontario). After making the stop at the station,
we were advised by the agent that Rigaud (Quebec) had reported smoke coming
from the wheel area of our engine. On examination, we found that the independent
brake had been on enough to turn the wheels white hot. Several applications
and releases of the engine brakes were made to see if they were functioning
properly. A couple of times when the brakes were released, the shoes did
not move free of the wheels, especially on wheel "L-6", the
trailing wheel on the trailing truck on the fireman's side. To move the
shoes free of the wheels, I used one of the sectionmen's snow shovels
to hit the brake shoe. When some of the snow that was on the shovel struck
the hot wheel, it started to sizzle. After we assured ourselves that the
brakes were operating properly, we departed St. Eugene several minutes
late. This was of particular concern to the passengers, especially those
Members of Parliament who had to be in the House for 1100 and the business
people who had appointments.
On this particular morning, the weather was sunny and very cold. It was
also a Monday. After passing Navan (Ontario), and travelling about as
fast as the 1802 could turn a wheel, along about mileage 78 or 79 (M&O
Subdivision), there was an emergency application of the brakes. Before
we got stopped at mileage 81, we had travelled approximately two miles
around a long left-hand curve and over the angle crossing just east of
Blackburn siding. After coming to a stop and making an inspection, we
found about a third of the wheel, "L-6" on the 1802 was broken
and the piece was missing. This, you will recall, was the same wheel we
had examined at St. Eugene. When the wheel had broken, the piece apparently
flew up and broke the train line on the baggage car and caused the emergency
application of the brakes. The portable telephone was immediately connected
to the poles and the dispatcher advised of our problems. Arrangements
were made to transfer the passengers to Ottawa by taxis and bus, Another
engine and the shop staff from Ottawa West was brought out to move the
1802 into the siding at Blackburn and take our train into the station.
In order to move the 1802, a tie was placed on top of the rail and the
broken part of the wheel rested on the tie and the engine was "skidded"
into the siding. After we had left Blackburn, the skidding process was
continued all the way over to the Ottawa West shops. This was a long slow
operation that lasted until late into the evening. I was told that by
the time they reached the shops, there was only the nub of the wheel left!
Our train finally arrived in Ottawa, sans passengers, at 1330. There,
we were advised by the Superintendent how lucky we were that we didn't
take the ditch. The sectionmen had examined the track and found several
broken rails starting at mileage 78 and at least three were sticking up
in the air in such a fashion that it was unbelievable how the train was
able to pass over them. This is one time that we were fortunate to have
a unit with a six-wheel truck and the trailing pair of wheels. If it had
been a four-wheel truck, we would no doubt have ended up over in Le Mer
Bleu. ( A big swamp east of Ottawa).
Of course, at the ensuing inevitable investigation, it came out that the
crew was shovelling snow on the wheel to cool it off. When it was explained
exactly what had happened, the matter was dropped. It was also revealed
that the engineers had been having problems with the independent brake
slipping on, and had been booking this condition for several trips. Needless
to say, this was promptly rectified.
In closing, I found something else of note when checking
my records. The engine that was sent out to haul our train into Ottawa
was the 8558 (RS-10). It so happens that both of these derelicts, 8558
and 1802, ended up on the VIA engine roster. (Both have since been retired).