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Memories of an E-8

by Don Gaw

CP's 3 E-8's, 1800-1801-1802 used to run through and into Ottawa years ago.

I made many trips behind those three diesel locomotives, and one trip that comes to mind happened behind 1802 on January 29th, 1962. Train 233 was a daily passenger train leaving Montreal's Windsor Station at 0800 with six regular stops enroute to Ottawa. The train had one or two trains to meet that required taking the siding, being in the inferior direction, and arrived at Union Station (downtown) at 1035. This was a very popular train, especially with people from the business world and Members of Parliament, etc. They could leave Montreal in the morning, arrive in Ottawa, do their business and return at 1700, arriving at Montreal at 1915. There was good accommodation, with dining and parlour car service.

On the date in question, I was the conductor with Armand Richer the engineer. We had a five-car train consisting of baggage car 4490, coaches 2287 and 2247, cafe-parlour 6672 and parlour 6664.
The trip was uneventful until we were stopped unexpectedly by the train order signal at St. Eugene (Ontario). After making the stop at the station, we were advised by the agent that Rigaud (Quebec) had reported smoke coming from the wheel area of our engine. On examination, we found that the independent brake had been on enough to turn the wheels white hot. Several applications and releases of the engine brakes were made to see if they were functioning properly. A couple of times when the brakes were released, the shoes did not move free of the wheels, especially on wheel "L-6", the trailing wheel on the trailing truck on the fireman's side. To move the shoes free of the wheels, I used one of the sectionmen's snow shovels to hit the brake shoe. When some of the snow that was on the shovel struck the hot wheel, it started to sizzle. After we assured ourselves that the brakes were operating properly, we departed St. Eugene several minutes late. This was of particular concern to the passengers, especially those Members of Parliament who had to be in the House for 1100 and the business people who had appointments.

On this particular morning, the weather was sunny and very cold. It was also a Monday. After passing Navan (Ontario), and travelling about as fast as the 1802 could turn a wheel, along about mileage 78 or 79 (M&O Subdivision), there was an emergency application of the brakes. Before we got stopped at mileage 81, we had travelled approximately two miles around a long left-hand curve and over the angle crossing just east of Blackburn siding. After coming to a stop and making an inspection, we found about a third of the wheel, "L-6" on the 1802 was broken and the piece was missing. This, you will recall, was the same wheel we had examined at St. Eugene. When the wheel had broken, the piece apparently flew up and broke the train line on the baggage car and caused the emergency application of the brakes. The portable telephone was immediately connected to the poles and the dispatcher advised of our problems. Arrangements were made to transfer the passengers to Ottawa by taxis and bus, Another engine and the shop staff from Ottawa West was brought out to move the 1802 into the siding at Blackburn and take our train into the station.

In order to move the 1802, a tie was placed on top of the rail and the broken part of the wheel rested on the tie and the engine was "skidded" into the siding. After we had left Blackburn, the skidding process was continued all the way over to the Ottawa West shops. This was a long slow operation that lasted until late into the evening. I was told that by the time they reached the shops, there was only the nub of the wheel left! Our train finally arrived in Ottawa, sans passengers, at 1330. There, we were advised by the Superintendent how lucky we were that we didn't take the ditch. The sectionmen had examined the track and found several broken rails starting at mileage 78 and at least three were sticking up in the air in such a fashion that it was unbelievable how the train was able to pass over them. This is one time that we were fortunate to have a unit with a six-wheel truck and the trailing pair of wheels. If it had been a four-wheel truck, we would no doubt have ended up over in Le Mer Bleu. ( A big swamp east of Ottawa).

Of course, at the ensuing inevitable investigation, it came out that the crew was shovelling snow on the wheel to cool it off. When it was explained exactly what had happened, the matter was dropped. It was also revealed that the engineers had been having problems with the independent brake slipping on, and had been booking this condition for several trips. Needless to say, this was promptly rectified.

In closing, I found something else of note when checking my records. The engine that was sent out to haul our train into Ottawa was the 8558 (RS-10). It so happens that both of these derelicts, 8558 and 1802, ended up on the VIA engine roster. (Both have since been retired).


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