Saturday 27 December 2014


Brookmere was a busy Division Point both during and immediately after the war years until the end of steam in 1954.  Today we look at the layout of Brookmere during this period.  As mentioned in the previous post, after dieselization in 1953, the train crews were much reduced and terminal activity suffered substantially due to the efficiencies of the diesel locomotive.  But for the "golden age" of steam railroading under consideration, it was a very interesting time and the veterans talked warmly of this part of their service time.  With the prosperity of the post war era and the technological developments taking place, the physical plant of Brookmere was long overdue for an upgrade and indeed the entire southern mainline was receiving many improvements in the 1940's (cf. Sanford, Steel Rails and Iron Men, chapter 8)
The west end of the yard tracks were redesigned with a yard lead and substantial changes made to the service tracks and buildings.  This happened most likely in late 1943 to early 1944 which is the period between the date of the track-plan shown in the last post and the date of the one reproduced today.  For further detailed information we rely on and heartily recommend Joe Smuin's Kettle Valley Railway Mileboards.
Before going further with the commentary on the drawings presented here, we should point out that there are some other fainter lines appearing in this drawing which we believe are simply draftsman's doodling; for instance there never was a wye in Brookmere as the lines suggest and there were no additional yard or service tracks added to the existing three yard tracks within the "wye".  We speculate that CPR designers and draftsmen were looking at ways to provide turning facilities for the new locomotives coming on stream for the southern mainline in the late forties.  These new locos were principally, the 5200 mikados with their large 10,000 gallon tender which made them too long to fit on the 70 foot turntable.  The drawing shows a faint circle surrounding the existing turntable and this suggests that they were considering a larger table.  This was not to be of course, and we understand that for the few occasions when a 5200 had to be turned, it was run down the grade to Brodie using the wye junction to do the deed.
There were two permanent changes to the east end of the yard that were made: yard track #3 which had formerly been stub-ended was connected to the other two yard tracks; a caboose track for the Princeton subdivision crews was built between Yard track #1 and the main line.  The interesting wavy offset to the yard tracks was retained in order to get around the station.  Track Centres are 60 feet near the Station. 
The western half of the plan shows the substantial changes that occurred between 1944 and 1949.  As mentioned above, there is now a yard lead on this end.  In addition, a service track has been installed north of the yard lead for the new coal plant and the relocated sand house.  The elevated service track has been removed and the old coal chute demolished.  There is a story behind that which we will get to eventually.  A major improvement to the working conditions of the engine crews was the erection of a vastly more comfortable Engineman's Bunkhouse.  A duplex residence was constructed for the  Locomotive Foreman.  These upgrades had probably occurred in 1944 or '45. More were to come.

The original date on this drawing is June 12, 1944, with changes noted to April 16, 1949.  However, many items on the drawing were built later than this last date as we shall see.
There were two significant events in 1949, which are reflected in the construction of new engine facilities.  These are drawn on the plan.  The first was the destruction of the Engine House because of a boiler explosion on March 21, of that year.  A new and larger Engine House (the third one) was soon constructed to replace it.   Also in that year was begun the conversion of the Kettle Valley steam engines to burn Bunker "C" Oil.  Most locomotives had been burning coal to that point.  Although the Coaling Plant remained for a few more years, Oil Tanks and service pipes were installed along with the requisite service track and unloading shed.  Although not showing on the plan, a boiler house appears in photos of the time which would have provided steam heat to the Bunker C Oil to enable it to flow especially in cold weather.  The Sump drawings show the heating coils.  Best guess for this building is that it was a standard No. 2 Pump House [16'x32'].
The buildings and track plan can be seen more clearly on the following enlargement. 
Moving roughly from left to right on this plan we will identify the buildings on the plan above:
  1. House (Dwelling) [36' x 20']
  2. Derail on the Service Track
  3. Sand House [12' x 32']
  4. Coaling Plant - 60 ton [tower proper 18'x18'] (blt 1944)
  5. Engine House for Coaling Plant [11'x13'] (not Round House)
  6. Engineman's Bunkhouse [23' x 60'] (blt 1944)
  7. 20,000 gal. Water Tank [22'-6'x22'-6'] (blt ~1915)
  8. 5,000 Barrel (bbl) Bunker C Oil Storage Tank [36' diam] (blt 1949)
  9. Sump [20' diam] , Pump House and Steam lines (for the Bunker C) 
  10. Oil Unloading Track and Shed (later a Car Shed) [18'x100'] (blt 1949 or 1950)
  11. Service Tank and Standpipe (blt 1949)
  12. Cinder Pit and Depressed Cinder Service Track [280' long] (filled in ~1950)
  13. Oil House [12'x18'] and Store House [10'x12'] (and possibly Book-In Shack)
  14. Turntable [70' long] (blt 1913)
  15. Engine House [100' long - middle two tracks with service pits] (blt 1949)
  16. Water Box (in ground?)
  17. Road Crossing
  18. Station [24'x74'] (blt 1917)
  19. Double Privy [~4'x9'] (Public Toilets) and sometimes a Coal Shed for Cabooses
  20. Watchman's Bunkhouse [10'x36'] (an Old Car body)
  21. West Caboose Track (and storage track)
  22. Various Private Dwellings with owners' names noted
  23. Equipment Lighting Building (not sure this existed in 1949)
  24. Roadmaster's House [36'x25'] (blt 1945)
  25. Agent's House [24'x32'] (blt 1917)
  26. Locomotive Foreman's Duplex House [~26'x56']
  27. New School (not sure the "new" i e current one existed in 1949) 
We offer one more plan which is dated June 15, 1949.  This was part of a drawing showing the "Proposed reinforced concrete fuel oil sump and unloader at Carmi & Brookmere".  The word "Proposed" is important when it comes to interpreting CPR drawings as sometimes the proposed structure would not be built at all or at least major details or dimensions varied.  In the case where the work was carried out, eventually the drawing would be updated and the word "Existing" would be substituted to show this.  However, this last drawing does reflect what was actually built and the detail is not obscured by a draftsman's doodles.  Unfortunately, as with the previous drawing, some of the dimensions are impossible to decipher.  Curiously, the Engine House does not appear.  Perhaps the CPR was undecided about how to replace the one destroyed in the boiler explosion a few months earlier.

We will continue our look at Brookmere Division Point in later years with some photos and details on the track layout and buildings in the next post.

Coquihalla Man

Friday 12 December 2014


Otter Summit arose as a settlement a few years prior to the First World War.  Its name was officially changed to Brookmere in 1915.  Kettle Valley Railway tracks had reached this location from the west in 1911.  From the east, tracks were laid by the Vancouver Victoria and Eastern Railway and Navigation Company (V V&E, a Great Northern Railway subsidiary) and the rails joined in October, 1914.  It became a Division Point for the Kettle Valley Railway some time after the establishment of regular freight and passenger service.  Engine terminal facilities were built and housing for the operating and maintenance staff as well.  Private houses followed most of which changed hands many times over the years as railway employees came and went.
large photo
Brookmere Station in 1932 looking East.  Okanagan Archive Trust Society # KVR 154
Brookmere came into being because of the railway, eventually acquiring in addition to the railway facilities, a hotel, a community centre, a school and a store with a gas pump.  In steam days it was a busy place.  In the early '50's, Trans Mountain Pipelines built homes for maintenance staff and supplied them with electricity from a generator.  With dieselization in 1953, CPR train crews were greatly reduced and after  a few more years Trans Mountain pulled out, all the homes being removed and the staff relocated.  Through trains on the Division were abolished in 1961 and the railway business further declined.  Local section crews were also reduced.  With the closure of the railway agency in 1966, only a few Kettle Valley veterans continued to reside there as retirees.  And so the town's permanent population dwindled to a hardy few.  But, with the Coquihalla highway providing easy access to civilization, summer and winter recreation in the area became increasingly popular and the village acquired a number of seasonal residents and other retirees as well.

Our post today presents several track plans with photos to show Brookmere through the earlier railway years.  The drawings were acquired from the CPR Engineering department in Vancouver very shortly before it shipped out its copious filing drawers full of plans old and new to a basement somewhere east of the Rockies.
Brookmere is a peaceful place with a few surviving relics of the town's railway past, chief of which is the old water tower.  This is quite appropriate in that the water tower would have been one of the first permanent structures erected in the town.  Just about every traveler passing by takes a photograph of it.  Joe Smuin in his book, KETTLE VALLEY RAILWAY MILEBOARDS, states that the water tower was built in "late 1914 or early 1915 and rebuilt in 1945".  So, it could be officially classified as an antique, being 100 years old.  Or is this a case of the proverbial hammer whose head has been replaced a couple of times and the handle several more.  This photo was taken in the 1960's by my friend, Glenn Lawrence.

Our first plan is a copy of an original by the V.V.&E.  Unfortunately , the title block is missing but I would suggest that the drawing dates from 1915 or shortly thereafter as the station is named "Brookmere" with Otter Summit in brackets.  It shows the KVR track in a bold line from the left and the V.V.&E. track coming in from the east or right as a finer line.  Note the "V.V.&E. Jct" label where the two lines connect on both the plan view and the profile.  The lot 659 is/was owned by L. H. Brooks who gave his name to the station.  He was the original homesteading pioneer in this area.  The water tower is denoted by the dot near the junction switch and the first "depot" which was a KVR structure.  Naturally, it faces the KVR track.  According to Smuin, it burned in 1917, being replaced by a new station building that lasted until 1986 when it also burned.  The KVR track ends right at the property lot line.  As yet there is no yard trackage, nor engine house but the turntable is in so that engines could be turned for the return trip to Merritt and points west.  The Great Northern style of signifying headblocks (the long switch ties on which switch stands were mounted) is with a round dot in contrast to the CPR style which used a diamond symbol.  The letters "H.B." also designate the headblocks.  The circle with the number 241 designates the VV&E mileage from Marcus in Washington state (Smuin p. 2-30).  On the grade profile on the lower left of the page will be seen the crest of the grades from east (-1.1%) and west (+1.0%).  This short stretch of track in front of and to the west of the depot is the only level track for many miles in both directions.  Of interest is the stream that divides into Otter Creek to flow east toward Otter Lake at Tulameen and Summit Creek to flow west to the Coldwater River.  The westward flow was later called both Pass Creek and Brooks Creek.  From it a 3" wood pipe fed the railway's water tank and town's residences.  The curve approaching the station from the west has a curvature of 2 degrees.

The next drawing was done by the CPR and dates from 1933 with emendations to 1943.  We must present it in three parts to provide enough detail.  I was told by a veteran that the single ended yard track 3 was elevated but cannot really understand why unless it was built level as the rest of the trackage sloped eastward.  Because of the yard sloping at both ends, derails were required to keep rolling stock from rolling away.  Two are noted on the plan.
This brings up a story to illustrate how important derails can be.  A gentleman who worked as a hostler in Brookmere, told me that one very dark night in 1950, a freight crew was performing terminal switching in the yard.  Unfortunately, they left three freight cars standing in the path of the hostler who was moving an engine in the darkness to the water tower (I can attest to how dark Brookmere can be in the wee hours).  On the night in question he ran into those three parked freight cars sending two of them careening down the four mile grade to Brodie where they jumped the tracks on the sharp curve near the section house.  The section foreman had been alerted to throw the junction switch to keep them from going further on the main line.  The young hostler quit his employ soon after the investigation.

 Here is the west end of the yard in 1933-43.  This trackage was changed soon after 1943 to extend the yard tracks and the yard lead.  The 1944-49 plan will be presented in the next post.  The curvature on the mailine west of the station is now 1 degree, 30 minutes.  That is greater than a 45 foot radius in HO scale.

  Here is an enlargment of the heart of the plan for clarity.  From this one should be able to discern the dimensions of buildings and spacing of tracks among other things.  Note the three stall Enginehouse and the location of the Coal Chute and Sand House on the main track.  To the west of the Coal Chute is the Boiler Room which powered the bucket hoist for the coal.

The service track for the coal and sand was slightly elevated as can be seen in the following photograph which dates from the 20's.  The yard tracks in the picture appear to be of a different alignment than the drawing of five or ten years later.  The sawmill in the foreground burned in 1925 according to Smuin.  There are some concrete foundations in this area today which could well be those of the mill.  Photographer unknown.

From the archives of the Okanagan Archive Trust Society, here is a shot of the Brookmere enginehouse.  The photographer is standing next to the Station building to his left.  The old freight cars have been made into crews quarters.  Taken about 1932, this is file No. KVR092 of the OATS  collection.  Photographer unknown.
large photo

Another shot from the Okanagan Archive Trust Society, being KVR 158.  It was taken by Bill Presley in 1935 and shows the Eastbound Kettle Valley Express train No. 12 waiting at the station.  The coal chute and sand house are in the background and located to serve engines on the main line as the drawings show.  They were later removed and a new coal chute built near the yard lead as will be seen in our next post on Brookmere in later steam years.

large photo

Until next week,

Coquihalla Man

Friday 28 November 2014


In the summer of 2003, Robert Schleicher of Railmodel Journal came to Vancouver looking for potential layouts to feature in the magazine.  Making contact through one of the local hobby shops, he arranged to view the layout in my basement.  After the shoot, we talked of an article and captions to accompany the photos and the result was published in November of that year.  This was part of the lead-up to the NMRA convention in Seattle in 2004.  It turned out that several Vancouver area layouts hosted operating sessions and tours in association with the Convention.

Recently,  we have had a few inquiries about the layout and its trackplan and herewith we post a scanned copy of the RMJ article in response to those requests.  The layout has been substantially developed and expanded since the article appeared and eventually, this blog will treat of the expanded trackplan which is an interesting development in its own right.  Today's post should provide an initial answer to the question. 

The RMJ article had at one time been made available on the internet at:  Unfortunately, the site no longer reproduces the article.  Here is the entire layout tour article with some additional comment.  Readers can click on the images for larger views of the pages and pictures.

 This cover shot shows No. 11, the Kootenay Express exiting the west portal of tunnel no. 1 at Mileage 19.7.  Engine 5120 has been modified since the photo was taken to bring it more into conformity with its prototype.  See the post at:

A small error crept into the text in the middle column of page 29.  It should read,"The members are usually made of 3 1/2-inch wide "boards" cut from 5/8-inch plywood."  These plywood boards are more stable than solid stock and usually less expensive.  In a few cases we used solid maple hardwood for longer spans.  The caboose was built from a Juneco kit but has long been retired after the purchase of Trueline Trains versions.  The green "beach-ball" on the ground is a marker for a Kadee uncoupling magnet and should have been removed for the photo.
Page 30 has two photos taken from opposite ends of the room.  Photo 1 shows Brookmere railyard looking east.  The Coquihalla sub is on the upper level and this same view looks west on the upper level.  For operations it would have been better to have a consistent east and west orientation.  This is one small drawback of a two level layout with a helix in the middle.  It is a small price to pay for doubling the length of the mainline and allowing additional scenic possibilities.

The first of the trackplan pages follows and shows Coquihalla summit with its Wye for turning pushers and work trains.  To the left of the wye is the entry into the helix.  Beside the camera symbol #16 is a line designating the hinge side of the entry gate.  The other brown line suggests the leading edge of the gate and its swing line.  The caption for photo 9 refers to the absence of "extra flags" which is no longer the case.  Extra flags and green flags for a "following section" have only recently been brought into use for our operating sessions.  They are a nice detail that is rarely modeled and have the added operational feature of being removable.
 The upper level track plan is shown on page 32.  At the time of Robert Schleicher's visit, part of the upper level was unbuilt so it does not show in the photos (#1 & #4).  The Wye at Hope connects with the lead for the staging tracks and is useful for turning trains between sessions as well as functioning as the real one did for turning pushers.  It may not be evident immediately, but the helix is not connected with the track in this level.  The mainline to the staging tracks circles the outside of the helix tub.  These turn-back loops are not objectionable as they are out of sight and circle the tub making very efficient use of the space.

 Here is the lower level. The Brookmere railyard is very close to the original track layout in 1949, only diverging in length and the end curves.  And the location of one switch near the water tower has been slightly altered due to the compression that comes with modeling.  Interesting that one veteran railroader spotted the alteration early in his viewing of the layout.  But engineman,  Dick Brocola, complimented the accuracy of the track alignment and scenic elements saying that they truly reflected his memories of working in Brookmere.  We will have more to say on this subject when we treat of Brookmere in depth in a future post.  To the left of Princeton town is the helix tub.  Entry to the main line helix is from the junction switch at Brodie.  Taking the left or normal route the track enters the helix on a 2.2% grade up to the summit at Coquihalla.  The track traverses 4 1/2 turns on a radius of 31" or diameter of 62".  Most of the topmost turn is visible and sceniced.  A train will travel 1.2 scale miles while in the helix.  The elevation gain is 22 1/2" from Brodie to Coquihalla.  The track that diverges from Brodie junction represents the Merritt sub and travels down on its own one-turn helix below the mainline to two staging tracks.

Pages 34 and 35 were a centre spread that has been stitched together by a follower friend.  Thank you Colin.  This is an overview of the Brookmere Railyard looking west.  The caption continues:
"This division point serves as a base for the pushers and is the crew change point between the Coquihalla and Princeton Subdivisions.  The new roundhouse foundation has been poured as part of the plan to rebuild the roundhouse which had been destroyed in a boiler explosion early this year.  The modeling in this scene is very close to full scale in all three dimensions."

Various shots of the layout are on page 36, photos 4 and 5 trying unsuccessfully to illustrate the entry gate to the layout room.  Photo 5 wrongly denotes the gate as being in the closed position when in fact it is open and in photo 4 it is closed.  Photo 3 is not Coquihalla siding but mileage 19.7.  Brookmere yard is below.

Shots of Coquihalla summit.
Another two page spread, stitched together again by my friend Colin..  The modeled Timetable here has been superseded by Timetable No. 94.  This model trestle, Mileage 20.6, was built from a timber off the original one, all the wood components being milled in our shop.

This concludes the article.  Thanks to Robert Schleicher and his inspirational model railroad magazine.
Now that I am un-retired, we will think in terms of bi-weekly posts, meaning that the next post will probably be on Dec 12.
Not sure what the future brings but it will inevitably concern detail on aspects of the prototype Kettle Valley railway and our efforts to represent it in scale.

Coquihalla Man

Monday 17 November 2014


Canadian Pacific's Gondolas went through significant evolution over the years from the typical, early wood construction with some steel components to the later all-steel versions.  One interesting Gondola Car had steel centre sills and frame, a wood deck and wood sides flanked by wood posts set into stake pockets.  They were listed in the CPR's SUMMARY OF EQUIPMENT or M.P. 14 as "Gondola, Stone", or "Gondola, Stone Sides".  Commonly called "Stone Cars".  They were basically flat cars with removable, planked sides.  Strictly speaking, not a Mill Gon but an early precursor.  Here is a drawing of one. Click on the photo for enlargement.

Nor West models produced a kit for this car some years ago but it is now out of production.  BGR models acquired the molds and masters and may reissue this kit. 
Riddell's Canadian Pacific Color Guide photo of the Stone Car on page 84.  Still bearing car No. 338206 in 1970.  Riddell comments that they were used for ballast service.  I believe they were also used in cinder service.  One could be built from the Tichy Flat car kit by adding the stakes and boards in styrene.  From the photo and the drawing, one can see that the prototype had 13 stake pockets so that one of them was centered on the car.  This necessitated the steel door to be placed off centre.  My friend Len built a few from the Nor West kits and here are two of them lacking only numbers and exterior weathering.

From 1937 to 1941, 400 cars were built for the CPR as "Gondola - Mill Type, Drop Ends".  They were the first of their kind.  They carried numbers 353,100 to 353,499 with interior dimensions of 48'-5" x 9'-6" x 3'-0".  It is
possible that they were originally built with straight side sills but later needing strengthening.  The theory is that a fishbelly reinforcement was added to these sides at a later date.
There are few photos of them but Marc Simpson Railway Photos: sells this good 3/4 view of one carrying panel track sections.  Although it is in Company Service, it still carries its original number: CP 353321.  The gaudy yellow safety items were added at a much later date.  Of particular interest is the arrangement of the road name lettering.
None of these cars appear in Riddell's book. 
After studying the photo and glimpses of them in other shots, I kit-bashed a few that are close enough for me and my budget.  Here is one.

This model was built from a Proto 2000 kit which were in plentiful supply at hobby shops and train shows though they are a little harder to find now.  They are fairly cheap.  It turned out that by cutting the centre panel out and reconnecting the two remaining parts, the length and width were a match for the prototype.  I cut them on my table saw with a plywood blade (80 tooth) and a very accurate sliding table - accurate in that the sliding table cuts absolutely square.  I cut a little proud of the centre of the ribs to allow for styrene melting under the action of the glue when pushing the halves back together tight to a straight edge.  A major cosmetic feature of the Canadian Gondolas is the "cut" or slope of the side sill, which sloped over only one panel instead of two which was the American practice.  To match it we must continue the level line above the trucks and then shave the sloping panel to the new angle to match.  Rivet decals could be added to the newly sloped side sill.  The main discrepancy with this kit-bash are that the ribs are "hat - section" style and they are spaced differently than the prototype which had 11 panels whereas the model has 14.  Also the interior height is only 3' - 0" and the Proto model is a bit more but this is close enough for me. The hat braces are not so delicate as the "Z - braces of the later gons.  The interior securement hoops, the positionable drop ends and the brake lever are nice features of this model and with the added details of wire grabs and stirrups, the result is a good representation.  I had a few Athearn models like this but they lacked these features, so they were sold off when these upgraded models were added to the roster.  One bonus to consider is that the Proto 2000 kits with CPR lettering can remain without modification as the car numbers are correct for this car.  The model pictured bears the stock model lettering.  The shape of the letter "C" in the reporting marks is the only deficiency in the otherwise very nice lettering.

Later in the mid 1940's, the CPR managed to acquire 1200 Gondolas despite the wartime restrictions.  This batch of cars were in the series 339,000 to 340,199 and were four feet longer than the 48' - 5" car described above.  This is the car that Rapido has recently marketed.  Its "Z - brace" ribs are easily broken if handled roughly but Rapido did a fine job of a very important Canadian car which all major railways carried on their roster. They are still around in limited numbers on OCS having lived a long life despite hard service.
For our 1949 Kettle Valley layout, we kit-bashed several from the Proto 2000 kit which matches all major dimensions and details except the sides.  The ribs on the kit sides were shaved off very carefully between the end posts.  Cast resin sides by Brian Pate:
and a cap rail were then attached to the sides with CA glue and the usual grabs and stirrups added.  A lead weight was inserted beneath the interior floor as the steel weights supplied with the kit can be affected by uncoupling magnets.  I must admit that in the building of the models that several of these fine "Z" section ribs were broken - just like the Rapido's can be.  It is a little tedious to fix them.  But well worth it to do the model since it is an important car for the era of our chosen prototype railway.  We built these a few years ago before the Rapido model was announced.  Rapido's website:

Here is the version in service on the Kettle Valley Model Railway.  CN Sig Warm Black paint, Black Cat decals, Bragdon powders for weathering, Accurail trucks, Intermountain semi-scale wheelsets, and Kadee short "scale" whisker couplers.

Riddell's Color Guide has four photos of these cars on pages 84 & 85.
As can be found on the page from the M.P. - 14 shown above, there were an additional 650 Mill Gondolas built in 1949: numbers 330,000 - 330,649.  This order was unique in that the cars came with "Fixed Ends", unlike further orders in the 1950's all of which are listed as "Mill Type - Drop Ends".  All orders but one shared the same interior dimensions of 52' - 6" x 9' - 6" x 3' - 6". 
Here is a shot of a gon in Midway awaiting a load of railway ties in the mid 80's.  Note bulging sides.  I cannot explain the Car No. which does not appear even in the M.P. - 14 for 1965.  Perhaps there was a re-numbering at some point.  It certainly looks the same as the other 52 foot Gons.

And a couple of interior shots I took some years ago of two different cars.  Note floor finishes.  Car Nos. unknown.  Securement hoops appear on the car on the left but not on the car on the right.  That is a ladder against the car end added more recently for accessing the interior of the car which had a service number.

Studying the M.P. - 14's for 1947, 1950, 1952, 1956, and 1965, we present the following list of build years and numbers.  Note that the numbers jump around a bit.  The car numbers of successive batches did not follow in numerical order.  Also noteworthy is that the 1965 M.P. - 14 lists the 1949 cars as built in 1945 in disagreement with all earlier M.P. - 14's.  Even clerks can err.
  • 1937-41 Nos. 353,100 - 353,499   400 cars
  • 1943:     Nos. 339,000 - 339,499   500 cars
  • 1944:     Nos. 339,500 - 339,999   500 cars
  • 1945:     Nos. 340,000 - 340,199   200 cars
  • 1949:     Nos. 330,000 - 330,649   650 cars with Fixed Ends
  • 1951:     Nos. 338,700 - 338,999   300 cars
  • 1952:     Nos. 340,200 - 340,499   300 cars
  • 1954:     Nos. 340,500 - 340,999  500 cars
  • 1954:     Nos. 341,000 - 341,499  500 cars Interior height 4’- 0”
  • 1955:     Nos. 341,500 - 351,694   195 cars
  • 1955:     Nos. 341,695 - 341,699       5 cars with nailable steel floor
  • 1956:     Nos. 341,700 - 341,899   200 cars
  • 1956-7:  Nos. 342,700 - 342,891   191 cars  
  • 1957:     Nos. 341,900 - 342,396   360? cars
  • 1957:     Nos. 336,800 - 336,849      50 cars
  • 1958:     Nos. 336,850 - 337,899      50 cars
  • 1958:     Nos. 342,400 - 342,699   300 cars
·         Total                                                      5,201 cars
And of course, the shorter (48'-5" x 9'-6" x 3'-0") Mill Gons: 1937-41 Nos. 353,100 - 353,499  400 cars.

Finally, a crop from a photo that has been published several times which clearly shows Coal Gondolas of the 348000 series in service (see previous post) and the Mill Gons featured in this post.  The first 6 cars are empties probably going to Princeton and then to Allenby on the Copper Mountain Sub to transport loads of copper concentrate for the Westward trip to the Smelter in Tacoma Washington.  This seems to be the car of choice for this lading as soon as they entered service in 1948.  An average of 3 per day were filled at the concentrator and brought down the hill to Princeton for lifting by the Westbound way-freights.  (We will give some attention to the Copper Mountain railway activity in a future post.)  The lighter colour of the sides about half-way up on the interior wall suggest that they are in concentrate service due to its caustic properties that have affected the paint.  Had they been in regular coal service they would be filled to the brim and then some.
The next 5 cars are Mill Gondolas - possibly those with fixed ends - with a lading that only partially fills the car.  Again, this suggests that the mineral is a heavy one, coming up from the coast.  The most likely candidate is lead concentrate from somewhere off-shore, destined for smelting at the Cominco plant in Trail.  Old timers commented on the phenomenal weight of the carloads of lead concentrate that necessitated a short but heavy extra East during steam days.  This photo was taken by the special photographer of the CPR, Nichloas Morant in 1954.  Those nearly new Alcos seem to be handling the train well enough.  Morant took another shot of the tail end of the same train which has also been published ( see Garden p. 354; Sanford p. 116).  This photo provides solid evidence that Gondolas were prominent in the freight trains of the Kettle Valley.   For full photo See Doeksen Vol 1 p. 42; Bain Vol. vii, p. 18; Dean & Hanna p. 54.

A few statistics follow on the use of Mill Gondolas gathered from the Penticton Scale Reports of 1961.  These 140 loads were all originating from on-line customers on the Kettle Valley railway, one of which was destined for an on-line customer.  "Lumber" could mean logs, poles or timbers.  "Concentrates" were all copper from Greenwood going to Tacoma.  The Silica, Quartz and Rock originated in Oliver and went to Washington State.  Most of these loads traveled Westward.  This list of course is not representative of all originating lading as no reefers of fruit or vegetables were weighed at the Penticton Scale, these commodities being weighed in the various packing houses.  Only a few loads originating in Princeton are recorded in the scale reports and no cars from the Midway and Carmi areas appear either.  Yet we know that many loads of concentrate, ties and lumber were shipped Eastward from there and were presumably weighed elsewhere such as at the Nelson scale.  Nevertheless, the scale reports do give us interesting information on car types, their movements and their ladings.

Year Blt Car Nos. Total Lumber Concentrate Silica Quartz Rock Ties Scrap
East West On-line
49 330003 - 330500 15
7 1 2 4 1

43-44 339003 - 340173 41 2 16 3 3 13 1 2
1 39
52-57 340272 - 342152 73 6 35 3 9 8 6 5
1 72
37-41 353109 - 353485 11
4 2 2 2 1

1 9 1

140 8 62 9 16 27 9 7
3 135 1

We are a bit delayed on this post as the research and tabulation required no small amount of time and effort during a time when I have been busy with work and resting from work.  Add to that a Train Show and an operating session.  So, a busy time.  This will have to do till November 28th as I have another operating session and some scenery to build for the new bridge.  I hope to make the latter, the subject of a post soon.

Till then;

Coquihalla Man

Friday 31 October 2014


In considering the movement of coal on the Kettle Valley, an aerial photograph of Penticton yard in 1948 presents useful evidence for a modeler of the Southern Mainline in steam days.  The website is Vintage Air Photos and if the specific item does not immediately come up, try keying in "Penticton Saw Mill" in the Search box.  The photo is a fantastic source of information for us modelers as we can zoom in for close examination of the detail as well as get a big picture of the railway in the late steam era. 
On one of the Penticton yard tracks we see a string of six coal cars and two more on the service track of the coaling plant.  These latter two are definitely hopper cars - most likely they are Twin Hoppers.  There appears to be one Triple Hopper car and a Twin on the yard track and 4 low gondolas.  In addition, there are several other coal cars in the tracks beside the string which on close examination, also seem to be Twin Hoppers.  By the heights of the loads, it could only be coal as no other mineral is piled so high in an open top car.  It is also very neatly trimmed, which suggests a major coal shipper.  It is doubtful that the coal is going East, so we can speculate with some degree of certainty that it is going West, having  originated at a large mine in the Crowsnest area.  Whereto is an open question.

In the 1949 CPR equipment register, the M P - 14, there is a classification called "Gondolas - Coal" or in earlier M P 14's a variant: "Gondolas  (Coal Sides)".  These are the other cars in the string already referred to in the aerial photo.  There were several types used over the years and for our modeling era we present 3 models of the 4 most common prototypes.

The oldest car in the late steam era was probably what some modelers call the "Low Otis" which hauled many, many tons of coal into the early 40's. Built in 1906-12, only a few survived to 1950 and many of those only in cinder service. Railroad Model Craftsman carried a thorough set of articles on the prototype and the model in the Dec 1987, Jan '88 & Mar '88 issues. Ken Goslet wrote the prototype articles and Eric Clegg built the model and wrote about it. Clegg extracts statistics on the "Low Otis", stating that there were 500 in service in 1945; 174 in 1948; 43 in 1958; with 19 hanging on till 1964. Number series can be perused in the article. In the 1953 ORER page reproduced above, only one can be positively identified and matched with the roster list in the RMC article: CP 345685. But from the teens to the early 40’s these cars were abundant; over 2500 being built. For our layout, we have two intended for OCS but as yet only one finished. The bodies were cast in resin under the brand, Scale-Craft Models, 20 years ago or so by Mr. Don Hough, a local model-maker. Here is one of them:

 Here is a fine model representative of the "Big Otis" drop-bottom, composite cars with 8 doors each side.  This model was produced by Overland Models and is of brass construction.  The brass trucks were not functional and have been replaced with Bowser plastic trucks: PRR 70 ton Crown.  A wonderful model of an important car.  There should be more of these models in our roster and we may add a few using the resin kit by Funero And Camerlango: built in the 1920's with wooden sides, there were still 1199 of these cars in service in 1949; with 697 functioning as late as 1965.  The listing for these 350,000 series cars will be found underneath the red line in the ORER page reproduced below.  see Riddell p. 80.  see CFRG
In 1937, another composite car was produced and it is pictured here in a poor photocopy reproduction of a prototype photo in my collection.  I cannot remember where it was taken - possibly Brookmere - and how I got it.  Not much doubt about the cargo being coal as the trainmen are helping themselves to a bucketful for their stove.  Probably better coal than what the CPR supplied.  Going by the built date appearing on the car side, I suspect the photo was taken between 1937 and '39.  It is listed below on the ORER page.  Another series is listed on the page: 352000-352169.  This seems to be identical and Riddell supplies colour photos of them on pages 82 & 83.  Total numbers then are 370 built.  These lasted a long time, the Riddel photos being taken in 70's.  No model produced, but it is tempting...
Next is the 348,000 series of drop bottom gondolas which fast became useful in Western service.  They were used for coal but more-so for transporting copper concentrate to the smelter in Tacoma.  For our era, the concentrate came from the mill at Allenby on the Copper Mountain Sub.  As noted in a chart below, our scale reports show that in the 60's, concentrate was shipped out of Greenwood to Tacoma.  Before these cars came on line in 1948, it would seem from photos of Allenby concentrator, that the concentrate was moved in box cars.
This model is really a stand-in as there is no commercial version that is even close to the prototype.  Perhaps a rendition could be manufactured with the new technology known as 3-D Printing.  This stand-in is made of two MDC gondolas cut and spliced to give the high sides it needs although the vertical ribs are lacking in detail and placement.  The horizontal joint is somewhat visible.  A set of 7 was built from 14 body shells cut up on a table saw.  Basic dimensions are given in the M P 14 but the ORER has more detail which is advantageous for duplicating or approximating in scale.  The overall dimensions of this model are close so that the original ribs could be removed and more accurate ribs fabricated and rivet decals applied.  One of these days...  see Riddell p. 81,82. see CFRG
Here is the upper part of the relevant page from the ORER for CPR Gondolas with the 348,000 series underlined in red.  Looking up to the column headings one can obtain critical dimensions.

Besides the M P 14 and the ORER mentioned in this and the previous post, we have in our possession a copy of the daily scale reports of the Penticton track scale for the entire year of 1961.  This "book" provides some helpful insight into the on-line origins and far-flung destinations of freight cars and their respective loads.
In 1961, 150 carloads were shipped in the Big Otis and the High Steel Gondolas Westward.

No. Carloads
Car Type
Car Series
Big Otis
350000 -
Oliver, BC
Seattle WA [2], Chehalis WA
rock, quartz, silica
High Coal Gon
348000 -
Greenwood, BC
Tacoma WA [139], Seattle WA [6]
concentrate [132], rock[13], quartz [2]

There were no Eastbound carloads weighed and no coal loads at all weighed in Penticton.
Some car numbers repeat as many as 5 times appearing in near consecutive months such as Car CP 348922 being weighed once each in June, July, August, October, November.  Most cars appear only once.

In conclusion, it seems safe to say that:
  • Coal was shipped in Hopper Cars and Coal Gondolas in the 40's and '50's across the Kettle Valley railway.
  • After the opening of the coal port in Port Moody in 1960, Hopper Cars prevailed but...
  • The Coquihalla sub closed to traffic in October 1959.
  • The coal trains bound for the coast probably did not transit the KV for anything but the briefest time in 1960 if at all.  This was due to the CPR, sometime in 1961, rerouting all Westbound through traffic by way of the Kootenay Central to the mainline.

Due to my personal schedule, posts will normally be done on Fridays as with this post.  Next Friday is the beginning of our annual Trains convention at Cameron Recreation Centre. The week after that we will treat of Mill Gondolas.   The Kettle Valley Model Railway is a participant in the show.  Might see you there.

Coquihalla Man