April
27

We were doing your regular switching at the Shell Sulfur Plant at Wimborne Alberta June 27, 1974 we have left Alyth that morning  with the CP 8641 called for 08:00 The crew was Fred Foulston, Conductor, Grant Cunningham, Locomotive Engineer, Head End Brakeman, Len Edwards, and Larry Buchan Tail End Brakeman. The usual procedure on arriving at Wimborne was to set the empty grain boxcars over to the elevator track, and leave the caboose in the siding spotted close to the engineer’s bunkhouse, the typical wooden structure used by sectionmen for accommodations out of town, these structures had a bedroom on one end with, one bed for the engineer, and one bed for the firemen. They had oil heaters, a kitchen area with water supplied, a table to eat off of, and a telephone for the conductor to contact car control at Medicine Hat, and the Train Dispatcher at Calgary when tieing up in the evening. A local woman in the town would provide fresh bedding each trip, and do general housekeeping in the bunkhouse. Once we had set off our caboose we would proceed with our empty sulfur loading tanks up the Meers Spur 2.72 miles to the Shell Oil Co. gas plant to switch the facility. There was a 30 car length run around track situated South of the plant that we would pull all our empties up into, and cut them off in the clear, putting the cars into emergency braking, by opening the ankle cock, opening it fully on tell all the air had evacuated, the ankle cock on the North end next to the engine was then closed, and a handbrake secured as a safety precaution against any unintentional movement, with the locomotive cut off, we would proceed northwards and line our self out of the run around on the North end, the track them preceded straight northward to the tank loading track, and to the left there was a North spur, that curved around a large pile of sulfur and used for loading bulk sulfur, which they were doing at this time, the track was used primarily for storage of extra cars, and No. Bills (loaded tank cars awaiting shipping information). We brought our engine up to the locked gates in front of the plant where are switch lists and loading bills were waiting for us in the locked yellow CPR bill box attached to the front gate. The instructions were pretty straightforward, we had brought eight empty tank cars from Wimborne, the four-inch by 10 inch blue paper list had a header;
Canadian Pacific (in script) CSC 10 (form number)
CUSTOMER Service CENTRE (Service in script), SHEET 1
CARS TO BE MOVED.

There were four columns with 20 spaces.

LOCATION CAR NUMBER L or E (Load or Empty) DESTINATION.

Tk Track UTLX 63113 L N/B N. SPUR
Tk Track UTLX 60358 L              LIFT.
Tk Track CGTX 12322 L          LIFT
Tk Track UTLX 60709 L                LIFT.
Tk Track CGTX 15014 L    N/B N. SPUR
Tk Track CGTX 13224 L  LIFT
Tk Track UTCX 63112 L             LIFT.

So we coupled onto the loads that have been run down south of the loading rack, there was about a dozen cars to the north that held about 25 cars, we removed and brakes, and cut in the air hoses, and the air and stopped short of the North Spur, but was located just north of the run around track, and set the two No Bill cars over, we then lined our self for the straightaway on the run around and pulled our loads down cutting them off on the south end of the run around, and making sure the diverting switch into the run around was restored to normal before bringing the locomotive southward, we then tied on to the empties in the run around and went situated on the point of the movement, where northward out of the run around track up to the loading track where we tried on to the remaining empties, and shoved are six empties back to a spot, with this finished we run back down through the run around track closing the gates unlocking them, restoring the switches to normal, and picked up our five loads of the straightaway of the run around track and preceded southwards to Wimborne.

We had only one locomotive working this trip, and it was starting to act up on us electrically, as we went along, trying to pull the five loads the electrical contactors in the control panels would drop out and the locomotive would quit loading, Grant took a look at the electrical contactors, and figured that if we held them in manually using a wooden broomstick from a corn broom we had in the cab of the locomotive to keep it clean, we should be able to make it back to Wimborne, these contactors are in a high-voltage cabinet that generate up to 600 Volts, so one has to be a very careful doing this, Conductor Fred grabbed the broom and held the contactor shut as we moved along, but finally they overloaded in the locomotive came to a stop with flash over’s of brilliant sparks, and electrical smoke filling up the cab, this locomotive was toasted, and we grabbed our bags and walked a mile and a half back to the caboose and bunkhouse in Wimborne. There we tied up for the night, advising the Chief Train Dispatcher that our locomotive disabled, and we needed new power to continue our tour of duty. So we had a good night sleep and woke up to a beautiful summer morning, and ate a leisurely breakfast, Conductor Fred phoned the dispatchers office to find out what the plan was, evidently they were short of crews and power and we would not see any relief until at least 20:00 that evening, so we spent the day leisurely, there was a great fishing hole in the bush just southwest of the wye the head end brakeman Len and Grant went fishing to catch some for lunch, I just hung around the caboose, doing some cleaning up, that included taking apart and thoroughly cleaning our caboose markers finally around 20:31 the relief train showed up. The crew was locomotive engineer Ted Washbrook and conductor Al Muiren, Brakemen Art Ressler, and Jerry Bray they had brought us a newer DRS-2000 CP 3002  along with a SW-1200 CP 8125 series, that had used in the yard many years now. This was to take them back home, and they figured they would return caboose hop, the chief dispatcher had other ideas about that and instructed them to run ahead of us taking the loads of sulfur from Wimborne along with our dead locomotive, they weren’t too happy about this, and with a lot of grumbling did what they were told to do. We had followed them out of town at about: 21:30, and had a fairly long night ahead of us running down to East Coulee, and spotting the elevators along the way. One funny thing I do remember was that old CP 8125 then had not seen any hard road service service in many years, and it’s exhaust stacks were plugged up with an accumulation of soot, and carbon when forced to work so hard pulling these loads sulfur across the Acme Subdivision lots of sparks had flew and started spot fires all along the right-of-way, we branched off on the Langdon subdivision eastward at Cosway tieing up at East Coulee at 04:25, we made six hours layaway pay when we were delayed from our regular start time at Wimborne that paid as an extra 75 miles.

Illustrations:

Electrical control panel from an EMD CPR 1200SW 8100 series locomotive, the electrical contactors are the three slots on the left-hand bottom of the picture, and are the same as our unit at Wimborne, this is where Fred held them closed with a broomstick when our locomotive had its meltdown on the Meers spur near Wimborne in the summer of 1974.

CP 3002 taken by Mark Forseille at Port Cocquitlam B.C. In 2006 looking freshly painted in its new Canadian Pacific livery 32 years after our trip with her.

CP 8125 taken by C. Prution at Kamloops, B.C. on June 27, 1975, one year to the day we made our trip to Wimborne wearing the CP Rail livery that the locomotives were painted in at that time.
You can see how hot these engines ran by the burnt paint on the top of the exhaust stacks.

CP 8641 photo taken by John Leming at Slocan City, B.C. on March 31, 1977 this GP9 was built by GMD in February 1957, it looks freshly painted in the CP Rail livery, and it’s quite possible that it had total rebuild after we fried the electrical system at Wimborne in June 1974

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