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The Turnout - NUMBER 287 November 2000 - ISSN 0227-244X

While on holidays in Calgary, AB, Juris Zvidris took this photo of a cenotaph by the Canadian Pacific Railway in memory of those employees who died in the line of duty as soldiers during the First World War.

President’s Message - John St. Roundhouse Update

After seventeen years (!), we finally are seeing some progress with the John St. Roundhouse railway museum concept.

The roundhouse site went from CP Rail to Marathon Realty to the City Planning and Development Dept. to the City’s Park Dept. and now to Economic Development, Culture and Tourism where it probably should have been since 1983!

On Monday, 11 September 2000, we attended a meeting called by Culture and Tourism at Metro Hall. In brief, the city has no funds to build a museum (it could cost up to $50,000,000.) But the city has called for preliminary proposals for commercial development of the site to include a rail museum component. Four proposals were submitted and now detailed proposals are being sought. These proposals should come in about the time of the municipal elections in early November. Hopefully they will come before Council in January 2001.

What all this means is that a railway museum in Toronto may be under construction in 2001! What has been done, to date, is the reconstruction of pits # 1 to 11 for "Steam-whistle Brewery", the building’s new tenant, new windows all around and new doors for each stall. The roof has also been repaired. The major immediate jobs are 1, Asbestos removed, 2. Lead paint removed, and 3, the installation of a sprinkler system.

Next time, we will give you some background on the Museum proposal and, hopefully, another update.

Did You Know

This year (2000), the Canadian Pacific Railway will carry 217,929 remote controlled toys, 902,947 alkaline batteries, 900,000 cases of paper cups, 13,182,000 kilos of ice cream, 46,358 packages of carpet stain remover and 97,000 pairs of earplugs. Toronto Star, September 22, 2000


This Month’s Quotes

"It is quite possible that a single locomotive could handle trains clear across the continent without being relieved...such locomotives would greatly reduce the need of terminal facilities...and would eliminate such vexations as smoke and cinders. Taken all together, the indications point to a rapid development in the use of oil-electric motive power on the railroads of the continent." The late Samuel J. Hungerford, then CN Vice-President of Operations, commenting on the November 1925 cross-country run of CN self propelled Diesel-electric railcar No. 15820. CRHA News Report, October 1950.

"If the provincial government is looking to put in dollars to that (Spadina line), and we can convince the federal government, too, then the subway extension will be a reality." Vaughan Mayor Lorna Jackson who is advocating an extension of the Spadina Subway to York University and her community on Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Tony Clement’s comment that the Ontario government will help fund public transit projects. Globe & Mail: Sept 16.

75 Years Ago

CN 15820’s Cross-Canada Run

By Hollie Lowry

In the 1920’s, Canadian National (CN) was one of the front-runners in the growth and development of the Diesel-electric engine for railway use.

In the fall of 1923, while returning home from a trip to Sweden, CN’s then Superintendent of Motive Power, the late C.E. (Ned) Brooks, stopped over in Glasgow, Scotland and paid a visit to the plant of the William Beardmore Company where several airship motors were on test. Mr. Brooks saw that these engines might be adapted to railway use and the manufacturing company’s engineers shared his opinion. Arrangements were therefore made whereby the Beardmore Company would supply a number of modified power plants for experimental railway purposes in Canada.

Mr. Brooks returned to Canada and orders were placed with the Ottawa Car Manufacturing Company for nine special motorcoach bodies, which would be equipped with the Beardmore Diesel engines. Generators and traction engines were supplied by Canadian Westinghouse and the completed units were assembled at CN’s Pointe St. Charles Shops in Montreal during the early part of 1925.

Thus was born the Diesel-electric railway car.

One of those rail cars was No. 15820. When it was completed, it was assigned to CN’s British Columbia District on the Pacific Coast. Thus an opportunity was presented to make the supreme test-by operating the car under its own power across the continent to Vancouver.

Therefore, at 1430 EST on Sunday, November 1, 1925, No. 15820 departed from CN’s Bonaventure Station in Montreal, PQ. There were a number of officers on board who travelled either all the way or part of the way to Vancouver. The car travelled over the route later used by CN’s Western Transcontinental passenger trains between Montreal and Winnipeg, which included the Longlac cutoff. 15820’s interior was slightly changed for the convenience of the officers and crew who made the journey, the seats in the main passenger compartment were altered to provide sleeping and eating facilities, and additional fuel oil storage was installed in the baggage section.

The trip was marked by number of events including a collision with a moose and a broken air pipe. A near tragedy occurred near Boston Bar, BC when 15820 came upon a section-man on a long trestle, hidden from view by a sharp curve. The emergency brakes were thrown on but, fortunately, the section-man jumped clear of his speeder. The 15820’s pilot cut through the speeder like a knife, but the man was safe and waved the car on its way.

Notwithstanding these happenings, No. 15820 arrived in Vancouver, B.C. at 11:25 PST on November 4, 71 hours and 55 minutes after it had departed Montreal. After subtracting a total of 4 hours and 55 minutes for delays, mishaps and meets, it was found that the running time was 67 hours. It set world records for endurance, economy and sustained speed over such a distance.

No. 15820’s run clearly demonstrated the superiority of the Diesel engine over the steam locomotive. To prove this, No. 15820 departed Montreal 16 hours and 15 minutes behind the steam hauled Continental Limited, it arrived in Vancouver 20 hours ahead of it! Also, the cost of fuel and lubrication oil for the entire run was stated to be $80. It also led to the development of North America’s first successful Diesel road locomotive, CN No. 9000 in 1929, and the enthusiastic adoption of the Diesel-electric principle by North America’s railways.

Following its cross country run, No. 15820 was placed into service on November 16, 1925 operating on trains 77-78 between Edmonton and Vermilion on a Daily except Sunday frequency. By December 31, 1933, the unit had been assigned to a run between Halifax and Waverley, NS. It operated on CN for more than 30 years before being officially retired and scrapped in the late 1950’s. However, a sister unit, CN No, 15824, built by National Steel Car in 1926 is now preserved at the Canadian Railway Museum at Delson/St. Constant, PQ.


"Oil-Electric Car’s Montreal-Vancouver Trip." Canadian Railway & Marine World. December 1925, page 609

"The Development of the Diesel-Electric Rail Car." CRHA News Report, October 1950.

"Self Propelled Cars of the CNR" by Anthony Clegg, CRHA, 1962.

Various Rail Clippings are included in each issue of Turnout

In May 1973, ex CPR D10h class 4-6-0 No. 1057 is seen easing onto the turntable at the CPR’s John St. Roundhouse following restoration work by members of the former Ontario Rail Association. Notice that the locomotive is missing its headlight and cab windows Photo by Joel Rice.

 On the morning of Saturday, October 13, 1973, ex CPR A2m class 4-4-0 No. 136 and D10h class 4-6-0 No. 1057 are doubleheading past the former John St. coaling tower in downtown Toronto prior to departing Toronto Union Station on a two day weekend excursion from Toronto to Owen Sound, ON and return. Both locomotives are now at the South Simcoe Railway at Tottenham, ON. Photo by Joel Rice.


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