Posted on 13-04-2012
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

In the spring of 1974 CPR had a chronic shortage power to run their trains, so they leased units from the Precision National Corporation I notice looking through my trip ticket books on March 23, 1974 we had PNC 114 for power on a Sharples turn. Next appearance was May 1, 1974 Zone 3 Wayfreight we had PNC 116 for power going from Alyth to Wimborne returning to Alyth the next day, and again on May 15, 1974 working a Sharples turn. On May 22, 1974 we had PNC 111 for power on a Sharples turn. And on May 29, 1974 we had PNC 111 and PNC 114 on a Carbon turn. On May 30, 1974 we had PNC 123 from Alyth to Tudor to Wimborne. On May 31, 1974 we ran from Wimborne to East Coulee and made a Finnegan turn returning to Alyth on June 1, 1974. These units were painted dark green with yellow lettering and PNC on the engine hatch, some of them had a painted logo under the cab’s windows a machinist’s micrometer and draftsman’s T-square, and the cab interiors were painted a horrible dark green that made a real depressing working environment in my opinion. These locomotives had seen better days, and Precision National Corporation, a company based out of Chicago had put them together from locomotives discarded from the other big carriers in the United States, some changes to the paint schemes were made, and the number boards on the units were changed to PNC, and the number. They were not very reliable always breaking down on the road, I remember on one occasion coming back from East Coulee to Alyth when one of these units started acting up from low water alarms, they leaked so much water, in order to keep going with the tonnage we were handling we had to get some 5 gallon pails from the caboose and a length of rope and get buckets of water from Kneehill Creek and pour it into the locomotives in order to keep moving. Here I was working this Turkey trail with track speed only good for 15 mile an hour, living in a caboose built around 1910 with a cast-iron coal stove for heating, and cooking, and an ice box to keep your food in. To add insult to injury, I would look over to the CNR running up and down their secondary, branch line with modern cabooses powered by electric generators, and fuel oil heaters, and refrigerators, lots of high horsepower locomotives to run their trains with, and decent track with speed limits of 45 mph, sometimes I wondered if I was working for the right company. Of course, that is the difference between a privately owned stock traded company of the CPR where they really knew how to sweat its assets. And the CNR that was crown corporation, a ward of federal government subsidies that kept it going since its incorporation after World War I.


1.) PNC 172 locomotive in 1974.

2.) PNC 1011 logo with “P” made from machinist’s micrometer, and draftsman’s square.

3.) CPR Langdon Sub running along Kneehill Creek, our source for water.

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