Posted on 20-04-2010
Filed Under (Calgary 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

CPR's Industrial Yard Office Calgary
My next student trip was on the 15:30 South Industrial, this assignment worked out of the Industrial Yard Office or (IYO) located on 9th Ave. & 7th Street, Southeast just West of the Elbow River bridge, and across the avenue from the site of Fort Calgary where the settlement of Calgary had its beginnings in 1875. The blue metal building in the picture is where the yard master, and industrial clerk’s had their office, along with a lunchroom, washroom, and lockers for the yard crews. There was an old wooden sectionmens tool house on the other side of the IYO that served as a lunchroom, and locker room for the locomotive engineers, the two tracks visible in the foreground are the eastbound and westbound mainlines that run up to the Calgary passenger depot that is just underneath the tower that is visible on the left-hand side of the picture. The tracks visible on the other side of the IYO are “I” yard, and “G” yard tracks.


I signed the register in the lunch room and met the crew, the Yard forman was John McLaughlin, and there was one helper, the engineer had a student this day, his name was Bob Clements, the shop track was located across from the IYO, and the engineer said that we would be using the first engine the 6716. CPR diesel locomotive 6716 was out-shopped by General Motors as a SW9 on March 15, 1955 it is a Class DS-9a that stands for Diesel Switcher-900 horsepower, and the “a” and shows it came from the first group of the class that was manufactured.

Alongside shop track is a yard caboose track, so our first move was to dig out our assigned caboose, and kick it down the “F” yard lead past “F-4″ track. In the Railway lexicon “kick” is a switching term, where you have a hold of a string of cars (cabooses in this case) and you give the locomotive engineer a kick signal my hand, or verbally by radio, the engineer will then open the throttle fully and the cars will speed up rapidly, the Yard Foreman will then pull the uncoupling lever behind the caboose, and give the engineer a stop signal, the caboose will separate from the string and the helper will ride it down the lead and secure it with a handbrake when it has gone far enough.

A little explanation how the Industrial Yard works there are 7 day assignments, 4 afternoons, and 4 on nights, and except for 2 on days and afternoons that switch the passenger trains most of the jobs service customers in Calgary industrial areas. On day shift there is a 630 Tramp that services the warehouses and industries located along the South mainline that are designated as “H” lead, there is a 730 North and a South Industrial that service the Mayland Heights industrial park in northeast Calgary on “M” lead, and Manchester area in southeast Calgary looking after “J-a, b, c, and d” leads. There are 2 jobs that start at 900 a.m. one is called the Government and looks after the Pillsbury flour mill, Canada Malting plant, Alberta Distillers, IKO Industries, and the Canadian Government Elevators located along the mainline beside the Alyth yard in the Southeast district of Bonniebrook on “Q” lead. The other job is called the 900 South and it services the other warehouses on “J” lead, the last job on day shift is the 1000 East Calgary its territory includes the Calgary Brewery, and Maple Leaf Mills and other “L” lead customers along the North mainline out of Calgary, this job also services the low “M” lead switch numbers from 32 down. On the afternoon shift there is a 1500 Industrial assignment that switches the express lead and brings transfers from Alyth to the IYO and switches them out it also takes a large transfer of empties called the preference from the IYO to Alyth, and a 1530 North Industrial that services Mayland Heights, the 1530 South Industrial that services the Cominco (Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company) fertilizer plant located at the far end of “J” lead. On the midnight shift there is a 2300 North Industrial that services Johnson’s Terminals a freight forwarding company located at “M-10″ at Mayland Heights, a 2330 South Industrial that services the grocery warehouse of McDonald’s Consolidated at “J-40″ a 2345 Tramp that services in Calgary’s original warehouse district along the alleys located between 9th and 10th Ave. on “B” and “BZ” leads, there is also one 2359 Tramp assignment that does transfer work.

There are eight tracks in “F” yard F-1 is used to store cars for the low “M” lead spurs under 32, “L” lead, and “Q” yard, F-2 is used for preference overflow, F-3 for preference (preference cars are the empties that have been unloaded, and the loads from the industrial territories), F-4 Cominco cars, F-5 for yarding transfers, F-6 empty boxcars to be cleaned, F-7 “B” alley, F-8 upgrade track, where cars are cleaned and repaired by the car department for loading. On the other side of the mainline in front of IYO is the four tracks of “I” Yard I-1 is for straight “J” lead cars, I-2 is for Ja, Jb, Jc, and Jd cars, I-3 is for M cars 32 and up, I-4 is for H cars. past I yard are “G” yard tracks these are stub tracks, some lead to the remaining CPR freight sheds, they number in odd numbers from G-1 to G-25, G-1 and G-3 are used for Johnson’s Terminals cars. G-5 to G-9 are used to hold cars in government bond. the other tracks are used for storage.

Back to our assignment, we put the other cabooses back to the caboose track, and line our engine up for track F-4 and from there we switch out the cars we need for today’s work, we end up with 6 empty fertilizer hoppers, and 3 tank cars for loading liquid nitrogen. The air hoses between the cars are connected, and a Carmen gives us a brake test. We are now ready to leave the IYO, so we call the operator at 12th Street Tower and ask him for a lineup from the east end of F yard to the Manchester lead, we get a signal and proceed eastward to Alyth

CPR Industrial

Below is a view of the West End of Alyth yard that I took from the Blackfoot trail overpass in 1974, you can see the caboose of a southbound train leaving the yard, the cinder brick building to the left of the telephone pole is 12 St. Tower, to the left side of the train is the Burns Packing Plant, that was owned by Sen. Patrick Burns who made his fortune providing beef to the CPR during its construction. The IYO is out of view about three quarters of a mile past the Tower. Our small train would pull down to about where the caboose is with the locomotive leading, the operator at 12th St. would then give us a signal and we would take the same route and he would cross us over to the Manchester Lead that is located alongside of the South mainline when we had cleared the public crossing at 11th St. we would take a coffee break at the Shamrock Café located across the street. After coffee we would shove down southward on the Manchester lead to 42nd Ave. here the lead diverges from the South mainline and heads in an eastward direction and crosses Blackfoot Trail, it then turns south again and crosses underneath Glenmore Trail, until we get to Heritage Drive where the Cominco plant is located on the south side.
12th Street Tower 1974

Heritage drive at this time was nothing but an oil road that wound down from Blackfoot Trail in front of the plant, the plant site is now occupied by Deerfoot Meadows shopping center, there was also a CNR lead that ended here, this track was built before World War I and was supposed to continue on to Lethbridge to tap into their coal resources, but this plan was scuttled when the Canadian National found rich coal reserves at Nordegg in western central Alberta. The Cominco plant was built during World War II, for the war effort, and in peacetime made Ammonium Nitrate fertilizers, and liquefied Anhydrous Ammonia. The plant site was secured with fencing all around it, and there was a pair of gates and a security guard house at the entrance. We stopped our caboose clear of the crossing, and remove a derail off of the track, this is a safety precaution to protect the plant in case a car gets away from above on the hill.


Derail sign

Views showing a Derail from both sides, in the locked position, unlocking, unlocked with lock off, being lifted off, and in the off position, lastly a DERAIL warning sign.
A derail is a cast-iron hinged device that is spiked into the railway ties alongside the rail, it is laid across the top of the rail, and secured with a switch padlock, and if a car gets away and it’s wheels hit the derail it will cause them to lift up and derail them onto the ground alongside the railway track.

Our Yard Foreman John goes to the security guards house and signs a register showing the time of our arrival, in the meantime we set our caboose over to an adjacent track, as no open flames are allowed in the plant, and our caboose is equipped with a stove. We shove our hopper cars over the crossing and down a lead along the east side of the plant, we have three empty tank cars for loading liquefied Anhydrous Ammonia next to our engine we line ourselves for a lead that runs westward and curves around the west side of the plant where there is a loading rack and scale house for weighing these cars, there are four cars that have been loaded previously, we couple onto them and weigh them. The weigh scale is mounted underneath the tracks on a floating platform that can be locked and unlocked from the scale house, to weigh a car for two sets of wheels or placed upon the scale, and the car is weighed, then the car that was weighed is shoved by and the second car is waiting this procedure repeated for the third and fourth cars, we than spot up the three empties on the loading rack, and pull our loads down the lead and leave them by the guard house. We than run around to the south end of our empty fertilizer hoppers and pull them down to the south end of the plant were we spot them up for loading, and pull out three loads that are listed as lifts, we shove them northward alongside plant and run around them returning to our caboose for our lunch break. After lunch we couple onto our loaded fertilizer hoppers, and double over to our tank loads of Ammonia. John registers us out at the guard house, and we couple onto our caboose, replace the derail, and we then attack the Hill up out of the plant, we have a good engine and make it up the hill quite easily, on occasions when there is too many loads and you stall on the Hill there is a doubling spur at the top, and in that case would cut off half of the cars securing them with hand brakes plus the air brakes, and take the first portion up the hill and set them over into the doubling spur, and return to pick up the balance pulling them up and reassembling the train.

We run down the Manchester lead calling the operator at 12th St. Tower and asking him for a lineup into the yard at Alyth. John calls the Train Yard Coordinator by radio and tells him that we have 7 loads, he tells John that there is room on the West End V-5 and to place the cars into there. The operator at 12th St. has lined down towards P yard lead we pull our cars down to V yard lead and stop just before V-5 switch, we close off the brake pipe angle cock behind the locomotive, and open up the conductors valve on the caboose this puts the air brakes on our train into emergency we than manually bleed the air off of the cars to release the air brakes. We then do a maneuver called a “drop” in which we use gravity to place our cars into the West end of V-5. The physical characteristics of the yard is that it slopes from the West to the East end so cars will roll quite easily towards the east end. We disconnect the caboose and secure it on the lead with a handbrake, we then get the engineer to pull our cars ahead slowly, we can get him to give us a little bit of slack and we uncouple the cars, the engineer then pulls ahead quickly down the lead, the switch for V-5 is lined and the cars that are picking up speed roll into V-5 one of the crewmembers rides the movement and controls the speed of the cars with a handbrake to make sure they do not couple of too hard in V-5. With this done we couple back on to our caboose and we call 12th Street Tower for a line up from Victor yard to the east end of F yard we get a signal up the mainline on P-1 and we shove westwards up over the crossing on 8th Street, and over the Elbow River bridge into F yard where we kick our caboose into the caboose track, and line our locomotive for the shop track and call it a day.

My first Hamilton dail
I was talking to the locomotive engineer trainee Bob Clements on the job, and in conversation he asked me if I had a railway approved watch. I told him no, he said he knew a watch inspector who had a pocket watch for sale for $50. I always had an allergy from wearing jewelry, rings, chains, and wristwatches where the metal touched my skin would break out in a rash. At that time, Lee jeans had good-sized watch pockets and $50 sounded better than $175 for a railway approved wristwatch. That was quite a bit of money to put out at that time, as it has been quite a while since I had received a paycheck. I went and saw the watch inspector his name was Mike Biber, and he worked out of Classic Jewelers in Chinook Centre, he sold me a Hamilton 992 for the $50. It was in a very worn gold filled case and ran nicely, it had a 12 hour dial but Mike said he would change to a 24 hour dial for me later. I paid for the watch, and he issued me a CPR watch inspection card,
My first Hamilton case
Here is a picture of the case back, it is well-worn from years of being carried, the brass shows through the gold filling, railway pocket watches are lever set so you have to unscrew the front face and pull out a small lever under the dial with your fingernail in order to move the hands to set the watch to the right position, this was a safety feature for railway approved pocket watchs, so the time could not be change inadvertently.
My first Hamilton dial2
This view shows the dial with me face screwed off and you can see the groove filed into the case rim between the one o’clock and two o’clock position on the dial and the setting lever sticking out the crown on top can now be turned to set the time, when the lever is restored to its normal position under the dial the crown can then be turned to wind up the mainspring to power the watch.
This takes about 30 to 40 turns, and when the watch is fully wound it will run about 40 hours. So if you wind it once a day it should never run down.
My first Hamilton movement
Here is a picture of the movement it is marked Hamilton Watch Co. Lancaster Pa. 21 Jewels, 992, Double Roller, Adjusted 5 Positions 1632591 (this is the serial number and the pocket watch was manufactured between 1922-1923) Made in USA, so it was over 50 years old when I bought it. The two large nickel plated wheels on the top are for winding the mainspring, the shiny wheel in the center is made of gold, and you can see the jewel’s on the top plate in gold settings, the large wheel under the center wheel is the balance wheel that is the heart of the watch, and it regulates its time with a back-and-forth motion the whiplash spring on top of the wheel is for adjusting the watch to make it run fast or slow you can see a scale engraved in the plate above the balance wheel with its pointer in the middle, and a regulating screw you can move the pointer to the left to make it run slow and to the right to make it run fast, this is all done by a certified CPR watch inspector.
My first Hamilton case trademark
This view shows the inside of the pocket watches case back, it is marked FORTUNE with a winged wheel emblem underneath, and 10K GOLD FILLED CASE MADE IN CANADA A.W.C.Co. 3938977 there are also many other numbers scratched on to the back, these are numbers made by the CPR watch inspector every time the watch was taken in for cleaning or repairs, which was usually every 18 months. The watch was made by the American Watch Case Company of Toronto, Ontario

This watch has a very interesting history, it took me 15 years to find out, and I will share it with everyone in a future post. I have now finished all my student trips and was marked up on the Yardmens Spareboard June 18, 1973.

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Posted on 10-04-2010
Filed Under (Calgary 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

The next assignment I was called for was the 07:00 Pulldown this job had a four man crew; Locomotive engineer, Yard Foreman, and two Yardmen and started at the Pulldown tower that was located at the east end of Alyth yard, on day shift there were four assignments that started from this location a 06:30 Pulldown, the 06:30 Pusher, our assignment, and a 08:00 Pulldown, the Pulldown assignments work strictly on the east end of the yard building outgoing trains from the classification yard tracks, and switching incoming and outgoing trains, that included switching out bad order cars, and cabooses.

CPR Pulldown Tower
Here is an aerial photograph of the East End of Alyth yard showing the three-story Pulldown tower in the center foreground, to the left of the roadway running down the center are the locomotive shop tracks, and Victor yard, to the right-hand side of the roadway are the Classification yard tracks starting with C-1 nearest the road and ending at C-48. The four tracks behind the tower are interchange tracks with the Canadian National Railways track closest to the Bow river is their main line, which was formerly part of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway until after World War I, the large tanks visible in the distance on the right-hand side are part of the Gulf Oil refinery.

I book in at the yardmen’s lunchroom of the main floor of the Pulldown tower and meet my crew. The Pulldown supervisor comes the from his office located on the third floor, he provides us with switch lists for our assignment, and portable radios with fresh batteries. The two yardmen on this job are called the engine follower, and the longfield man, I am assigned to work with Eric Nordvil (nicknamed Whitey because of his white hair) he is the longfield man. We read over our lists, and check that are radios are communicating correctly calling our locomotive engineer who is on the shop track, with the two locomotives we will be using today the 8102, and the 8411. Our list instructs us to tie up tracks C-5,C-23, and C-35 assembled them together and set them over to track V-3.
CPR 8411 & Pulldown tower
The engine follower goes out to bring our locomotives to the class yard, view from the cab of the 8102 showing the 8411 coupled on behind.  CPR diesel locomotive 8411 was out-shopped by General Motors as a Model GP7a on March 29, 1952 it is a Class DRS-15c that stands for Diesel Road Switcher-1500 horsepower, and the “c” shows it came from the third order of the class that was manufactured. The Pulldown tower is visible above the roof of the 8411.
CPR 8100
The 8100′s series locomotives were preferred for use as the lead engines on the locomotive consists used in the pulldown area because of their cabs better visibility. CPR diesel locomotive 8100 was out-shopped by General Motors as a Model SW 1200 on June 13, 1958 it is a Class DRS-12a that stands for Diesel Road Switcher-1200 horsepower, and the “a” shows it is the first order of the class that was manufactured.

Eric and I start down the lead of the classificationyard lining up tracks switches to route our locomotives toward C-35 the first track we will work on, we arrive at the east end of C-35 and walked alongside the cars checking that the numbers correspond with the ones on our lists, if we find an extra car we contact the Pulldown supervisor for instructions what to do, in some cases the car will be okay to go, if not we will have to set it over to an adjacent track. As we walk along we check that the cars are coupled together, in some cases there are gaps between the cars where they did not couple correctly, we find a car behind six where the knuckles on the couplers have boxed together, to explain this I have added some photos of couplers and boxcars to explain some of the terminology.
E coupler

Photo of standard E coupler for freight equipment, comes available with top lift, or with articulated rotary locklift that is under slung. In this view you can see the knuckle of the coupler in the closed position, when cars are properly coupled the other cars nuckle would be locked inside behind this knuckle shown. When knuckles are “boxed” they are both in the closed position and would be like two fists butted up against each other. The shank of the coupler or drawbar is connected to the cars frame or center sill by a steel key that is locked to the frame of the car with a Cotter pin

F coupler
Standard Type F Interlocking Coupler has two completely interlocking aligning wings which prevent vertical slip-overs when two Type F Couplers are mated. These wings also prevent a pull-out from dropping to the track; in addition, a shelf insures the same safeguard against a conventional coupler dropping to the track when mated to a Type F Coupler.

CPR boxcar
View of older boxcar showing coupler end, this is a top lift coupler, you can see the pin lifting mechanism on top of the coupler with its operating lever running under the ladder on the left-hand side of the car. This car is equipped with a stem winding handbrake that is operated by climbing up the ladder and training the horizontal brake wheel in a clockwise direction this tightens a chain mechanism that is attached to the rod extending down alongside the boxcar ladder, the chain is connected to a lever mechanism that will tighten the brake shoes against the wheels on this end of the boxcar. To the right side of the coupler you can see an angle cock with a rubber hose extending down, this is for connecting up the air brakes on the cars.

GTW boxcar end
Photo of newer boxcar this car is equipped with an under slung uncoupling lever its handle is visible under the car frame and above the wheels. It also has an Ajax hand brake, patented 1942, with its vertical hand wheel that has a ratchet mechanism behind it and steel rod that runs down to a chain linkage that’s connected to the brake shoes on this end of the car that you can see on the left side of the coupler, also visible is the end of the running board to the right of the handbrake wheel.

GTW boxcar top view
Top view of boxcar showing running board they ran on top of the cars so yardmen could go from car to car to apply or remove handbrakes without having to climb up and down each individual car.on older cars the running boards were made of wood, and were quite treacherous in winter conditions when they were covered with ice. The newer cars like the one in this photo were made of steel and had better surfaces that were corrugated.

Eric and I continue up the track, we radio the engine follower and tell him that there is a boxed knuckle behind six cars which he will attend to when the couples on. We find another car about 12 back that has not coupled we opened the knuckle on the east end of the car and walked up tracks further where we find another joint to be made about 20 deep. The engine follower has coupled on and made the joint behind six, we tell him that there is another joint behind 12 he gets the engineer to back up slowly to couple up the gap, when the cars connect we get the engineer to stretch out the string of cars and they are altogether up to where we are 20 deep, we make the coupling and see that all 24 cars that are on our list are there, and we tell the engine follower to pull the cars down to the east end of the track, and that we will meet him over in C-23. We cut across to the west end and tie this track up, and do the same in C-5 We are now ready to double our tracks together, we contact the Pulldown Supervisor for a route to use out of the class yard.

East of the Pulldown tower the yard narrows down to four tracks that cross over a bridge on the Bow River, these leads from the tower are called the New Ogden, Old Ogden, P-2, and P-1 which is the main line east of Calgary. In this view on the left-hand side you can see one rail from P-1 and a crossover to P-2 next to the by the bridge abutments is the Old Ogden lead, the New Ogden that was built in 1971 is on the other side of the bridge abutment. The Pulldown Supervisor tells us to use the Old Ogden, our yard foreman is up ahead lining us up for this route. We pull the 30 cars from C-5 down to the class yard lead switch, we then backup the cars towards C-23 and couple on, we then pull the 25 cars out of that track and double them over to track C-35, we now have a hold of 80 cars which we pulldown to the west side of the bridge and stop, the yard foreman has lined us up for V-3 it is a clear track and long enough to hold the 80 cars we have a hold of. We notify that he is all lined up for V-3 and that it is a clear track and that he is okay to back up. The physical characteristics of Alyth yard is that it slopes eastward towards the Bow River, so in order to shove 80 loaded cars up into track V-3 we need all the horsepower from our locomotives to accomplish this, once the first car starts into V-3 we tell the engineer and he opens up the throttle full keep the cars moving, this can reach speeds of 15 miles an hour. The long tracks in P,V, and N yards are equipped with shove lights, the tracks on the West end are wired with electronic sensors built into the track and are connected to a signal light mounted on the ground at the east end of each track that will extinguish the light when cars occupy it. So Eric and I stand by the shove light watching its indication as the train goes by us, as the locomotives and the east end cars come off the bridge the yard foreman, and engine follower jump onto the first eight cars nearest to the locomotives, and start securing handbrake’s. In the meantime the west end of our movement is getting close, and the shove light goes out, we instruct the engineer to stop what he does, we then ask him to pull eastward slowly until the shove light goes on, and we get him to stop. When the yard foreman and engine follower have finished tieing down the handbrakes, they get the locomotives pull ahead and make sure that the track is six year, and the cars remain stationary. With that our work is done and we go to the pulldown tower for a coffee break. After coffee we do another list, have our lunch break, and do one more list before it is time to go home.

The next assignment I was called for was the 10:30 Imperial Oil, this assignment started from the lunch room of the General Yard Office where I signed the register and met the crew, and we received our lists from the West end yardmaster, we then crossed over to the east end of the Alyth diesel shops, where our locomotive engineer and engine were waiting for us. We then went down to the East End of the Classification Yard to get empty tank cars out of one of the C yard tracks, with our cars assembled we called the Pulldown Supervisor saying that we were ready to go over to the Imperial Oil Refinery. To get to the refinery we had to crossover the Bow River bridge on P-1 and line ourselves into their plant by a switch on the Eastside of the bridge. We spent the remainder of our day in the refinery switching out loads of gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum products, and spotting empty cars on their loading racks. With this done we called the Pulldown Supervisor for a route into back into the yard and a track to put our loads into.CPR Bonniebrook Bridge
Here is a photo I took in autumn 1980, it has a good view of the CPR Bonniebrook bridge over the Bow River, in the foreground is the CPR irrigation canal, the locomotives are a Pulldown consist pulling some cars from the class yard the New Ogden lead, to the left side on the bridge you can see the Old Ogden lead, P-2, and P-1 the mainline. By the time this picture was taken the Imperial Oil Refinery had closed down, you can see the red brick administration building on the left hand side of the picture, the track accessing the plant has been torn out. It used to run behind the red section house near the bridge, and across Ogden Road this side of the Silver bridge

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