|The sky was dull on January 08/89, but any time you could catch a Big M leading a CP freight, you could call it a good day for railfanning.|
Thursday, 21 April 2022
Throwback Thursday - Does This Fit Your Era?
Whenever I look at this picture I can still hear the "chug-chug-chug" as ALCo-powered M-630 number 4571 headed its westbound freight up the ruling grade of the Windsor Subdivision in Southwestern Ontario. If this is a scene you wished to replicate on your layout, the time frame would have to be pretty narrow. The unit sports ditch lights, so the late 1970s would be too soon. By the early 1990s some of these locomotives were still operating, but basically as trailing units. Most of these 4550-4573 series diesels were retired by 1993, although several were later re-activated for a few months. The actual date of the photo was January 08, 1989, so if your layout was set in the 1985-1990 time frame, the locomotive would probably be appropriate.
So, now that we have a time frame established, what would the rest of the train look like? Following the two units was a mixture of auto racks, COFC (containers on flat cars) and TOFC (trailers on flat cars). Most of the auto racks were fully enclosed at this time, although quite a few were still open-topped with wire mesh side panels like the one positioned right behind the power. CP hasn't run piggyback freight in our area for quite a few years, so that would be both nice and appropriate to model. As for the COFC traffic, there would be a few well cars, but most would be flat cars equipped with container pedestals. None of the well cars would be double stacked, since the Windsor-Detroit tunnel was not enlarged to handle most high cars until 1994. Many of the names on the containers would be recognizable today, but to be era-specific, you would want to include a few names like Cast, CP Ships, and Canada Maritime which have subsequently disappeared.