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Same caption as original submission
Copyright Notice: This image ©Paul O'Shell all rights reserved.

Caption: Further to John Pittman's submission of a John Parnell photo depicting a CP track motor car, here is the CN version of the same car. CN 131-52 is a Woodings Railcar model CBI 2-man inspection track motor car. I captured it while on an inspection trip to CN's P-811 concrete tie laying gang on the Caramat Sub west of Hornepayne, ON on June 19, 1985. The Woodings Railcar CBI (2-man inspection car), and the slightly larger CBL (4-man section car) were direct competitors to the Fairmont MT-19 (2-man inspection car) and MT-14 (4-man section car) models. By the late 1980's and into the early 1990's, track motor cars were becoming the exception and not the rule as more and more hi-rail vehicles were introduced to Engineering Track, S&C, B&B, Welding, and other groups within CN Operations.

Paul O'Shell [159] (more) (contact)
Date: 6/19/1985 (search)
Railway: Canadian National (search)
Reporting Marks: CN 131-52 (search)
Train Symbol: n/a (search)
Subdivision/SNS: Caramat Sub. (search)
City/Town: west of Hornepayne (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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Photo ID: 40316

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  1. Paul’s response to my question explains a lot. Turning the car around for the return trip sure beats reversing (is running backwards for miles even practical?). So I guess 180 degree turnaround could have been needed as much, or more, than clearing for a train.
    The extendible lifting handles plus lifting from the back ensure that only a fraction of the car weight is lifted, with good leverage – the heavier front end (with engine and transmission) supported by the car wheels on the turning surface.

  2. jp4pix…Having to take these “gas cars” as we knew them off the tracks was a regular and frequent occurrence. In fact, many times each day. There were take off locations every couple of miles to accommodate this activity. Track maintenance was totally different years ago and these little vehicles were used to transport men, equipment, and supplies to where they were needed. Track take off locations were very simple: a couple of planks between the rails and a couple of ties at right angles to the track for the wheels.

  3. Thanks John. Yes, those blades are know as rail sweeps and their function is to knock objects from the ball of the rail as the motor car travels down the track. Rail sweeps were at one time only found on track motor cars but are now commonplace on most pieces of MoW work equipment.
    Removing motor cars from the track to clear trains, or turning them to travel forward in the opposite direction was once commonplace.
    A 2-man inspection car could be turned by one (preferably two) people. By extending the lift handles the maximum distance out the back of the car one person could lift and turn the car 90 degrees to align it with a motor car set-off, or 180 degrees for forward movement in the opposite direction. When two people were available, one often stood on the front foot bar and held on to the running light bar while the other lifted from the rear.
    Section cars being slightly larger and heavier required two or more people to turn it or set it off.
    You can view a motor car being turned at the 5:20 mark of this video clip …
    Hope this suitably answers your questions.

  4. Nice to see your Woodings picture on rp.ca Paul, interesting subject and scene.
    I suppose that blade ahead of the front wheels is to clear small obstructions from the rails, a 1540 lb railcar (plus load weight) not being able to crush ballast stones to dust like a locomotive.
    Can anyone comment on amount of manpower needed to get a speeder clear of rails for a train to pass, and onto them again, at a suitable non-siding spot? Hopefully that was an unusual event.

  5. I was working in the Area Engineering Office in Capreol that summer. I was sent to Foleyet to “guard and protect” the railway’s property there. They had to get me home to go back to school after Labour Day!! Fun ride that I’ll never forget.

  6. I believe it was a Fairmont. We had a couple of caboose seat cushions for comfort. No side protection of any kind, and some how we all lived. Think of Gord every day. How sad.

  7. Hi Don, My father was CN Roadmaster in Windsor during the national rail strike you are referring to. I have a photo from the Windsor Star of an incident involving CN 6531 that occurred during the strike that is dated August 21, 1966. Your memory is great! P.

  8. Thanks Don. I travelled over that same territory you described in early March of this year on my trip from Vancouver to Toronto on VIA #2 The Canadian. A lot smoother and a lot quieter I must say than your ride! :-) You must have been in an old Sylvester or Fairmont ‘one-lunger’. Back then there was no seat padding, no sound dampening insulation and no heater! Quite spartan by today’s hi-rail standards.
    PS. It was 3 years on Friday the 22nd for our good friend Gord. :-(

  9. Paul, What a great picture. Not sure of the year, but it was September 1965 or 1966 (National Rail strike in Canada). I had the pleasure to ride one of the 4 person beasts all the way from Foleyet to Capreol; all 148.3 miles of it. Jointed rail all the way. My head and back pounded for months afterwards!! Thanks for the memories. Don Jaworski

  10. Larry,
    The section cars were not a lot longer than the inspection cars but were given the slightly larger double hinged door opening for quicker and easier ingress & egress. The main difference was the seating. In the inspection cars there were two forward facing cushioned seats while in the section cars the seating for the four occupants was on the center console. The two forward occupants sat 90 degrees to the rail while the two rear occupants sat at about a 45 degree angle. The motor car operators position was at the rear left of the car.
    For those interested, Larry & I are discussing the cab door opening and CN running number differences in my above photo and Larry’s submission from January of this year;

  11. Thanks for the extra info Paul. It answers the question I had as to why yours is numbered differently than the one I shot. Also on the double hinged doors. It must have been a bit of a tight squeeze in the back seat. LOL.
    Glad to see some speeder photos lately. When I was a kid, it was as much of a thrill to see the speeder go by as it was to see trains.

  12. This is great. Comparing this to the Railcar photo I posted a while back, I can sure see how that one was miss treated. The dome is smashed off the flashing light on the roof and the grill has been removed from under the little compartment door at the front (between where the hand holds slide in). I see it also has an odometer on the rear wheel in your photo. Neat. Thanks for posting this Paul. :-)

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