CN F Units – David Othen

Photographs of Canadian National F units “covered wagons” taken between 1972 and 1989.

General Motors Units

F3A 9000 in its early years of preservation at APRA in North Edmonton in May 1972.

F7A is being serviced at the Calder shops, Edmonton in June 1972.

Between 1972 and 1974 many of the F7As and F7Bs were upgraded for freight and passenger duties. Here 9158 & 9163 (formerly 9080 & 9116) are taking the Winnipeg to Churchill train # 93 “Hudson Bay” round the curve at Thompson Junction on 30 May 1986.

Four days later 9168 (formerly 9052) has brought the Mondays only train # 8 into Capreol from Winnipeg. The F7s did not have steam generators and so a separate steam generator car was pulled behind the locomtive(s). Crews are just boarding GP40-2 9527 at the head of an eastbound freight.

The upgraded F7Bs could be identified by their orange-red ends (instead of black). 9198 (formerly 9037) is seen at Prince George on 8 June 1989.

Some of the F7Aus were later converted to B units by blanking off the cabs (presumably to save money when lead unit safety appliances were mandated). 9103 (9152:2: 9034) is seen stored at Dunveygan yards, Edmonton along with many others on 2 June 1989.

GM FP9A 6528 with F9Bs 6633 & 6616 (all with steam boilers) have been serviced at Fairview shops, Halifax NS and are ready to take the next passenger train to Montreal on 28 April 1974.

Usually at least some Alco units were used on Atlantic Canadian trains and here we see a GM Alco mix in May 1976. GM FP9A 6521 and Alco FPB2 6859 are on the point of the westbound Scotian at Windsor Junction NS.

In January 1974 the Scotian leaves Halifax station passing the grain terminal and docks. FP9A 6533, F9B 6631 & FPB4 6860 provide the power for the 8 coach train (the snow in northern New Brunswick & Quebec is probably deep and so the extra power is needed!).

Moncton, December 27 1976, FP9A 6539 & F9B 6626 on the westbound Ocean are refuelled.

When VIA took over passenger service in Canada it began to upgrade the GM locomotives. Here we see FP9Au 6310 (formerly CN 6532) and F9B 6625 with the “Canadian” at Thunder Bay on 14 May 1986. Eventually these were displaced by the new F40PHs and in turn they displaced the F7Aus. The last unit is used as a switcher at Vancouver Maintenance Centre.

Alco/MLW Units

In the early 1970s, three Alco units have been serviced at Fairview, Halifax, NS: FPA4 6764, FPB4 6862 and RS18 3112 which is fitted with a pipe to carry the steam from the boilers in the A & B units to the coaches.

A similar combination of units with 6793 at the head is seen through a lattice bridge with a Halifax-bound train leaving Sackville NB in the winter.

Two models of the Alco A & B units were used: FPA2 & FPA4 and FPB2 & FPB4. Here we see the two types of B units at Fairview NS in May 1974. 6859 is an FPB2 and the next unit is an FPB4 with an FPA4 at the head.

The CN Alco units passed into VIA’s ownership and continued to power most locomotive-hauled passenger trains in Atlantic Canada. The last of these A&B units were retired by VIA in 1989. Some were resold and are still in operation (eg Napa Valley Wine train) or are being restored.

On 22 December 1980 FPA4 6782 , FPB4 6858 and another FPA4 take a rare second section of the Ocean carrying green flags as train 111 out of Halifax station.

Passenger extras were just as unusual as second sections. Here FPA4 6781 takes an Apple Blossom Special out of Halifax in May 1987. Note the white flags attached to the rungs of the front ladder.

Two modified FPA2 and two modified FPB2 units were passed from CN to VIA and these were the first units to be scrapped. 6759 is in the scrap line at Moncton on 14 June 1982.

From the Spadina Street overpass in Toronto FPB2 6859 is seen with FPA4 6787; 6761 and 6871 are on the next track. 6785, 4132, an RDC2 and a F9B are also visible on 9 June 1983.

About ten years earlier a similar mixture of GM and Alco units & Budd cars are present. FP9As 6536 & 6528 are ahead of two FPA4s lead by 6784 and GP9 4107. Other FPA4s and dayliners are on adjacent tracks.

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Material on this page copyright 2000-2012 by Pat and David Othen. Used with permission of David’s widow Pat.