Friday, September 16, 2022

The old guy in the lead

On a trip back from Southwestern Ontario in July, I encountered this strange consist idling on an overpass over the 407, near CN's Brampton Yard. There are a few things about this consist that caught my eye after my wife snapped a few shots from the passenger side of our car, which was headed east.

I liked how the old GP9 was the lead unit of a three engine consist lashed together elephant style. The engines in the image are GP9RM 7029 followed by GP38-2 7509 and GP38-2 7512. Look closely and you can see the differences between 7509 and 7512. One noticeable change is the extended roof overhang on 7509, which 7512 does not have. Also, the placement of the horn on each is different, as 7512 has it mounted on the cab while 7509 does not, although it's hard to judge by the image. Also, there's the obvious difference in paint schemes between the GP38s and the GP9, which looks tired.

A shot from further back gives you a better idea of the size of the container train on the parallel track.

The noteworthy aspect of the image in my mind was that the GP9 is in the lead. This is not all that surprising at first glance, as I'm sure it just happened that this is how the locomotives lined up when they coupled them together.

But given that CN has only 29 of these old units left on its system, any sighting of these engines is worth noting these days, before they disappear forever. Over the years, I have come across a number of GP9s in action in Windsor, Sarnia, Lambton County and even here in Ottawa in recent years.

The GP9 is a survivor, many of which were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although CP's fleet has disappeared and morphed into the GP20 ECOs, the CN roster continues to toil in its yards scattered throughout its system, but for how long.

I have been thinking about these old warhorses in recent months and thought that this image taken in late July might be a perfect opportunity to do a little retrospective on these engines and my encounters with them over the years. 

That will wait for the next post.


Eric said...

Hi Michael,

I watched a Geep, long hood-forward, leading (likely) CN 9639 today west from Kingston back to Belleville. So there's a data point. They have surely outlived their intended service life via remanufacturing by CN!

Looking forward to that Geepalicious post!

Michael said...

Indeed, they have, Eric. Their lifespans are among some of the longest among the GP series for sure. I realized that I have been running into them for decades, which prompted the post to come. Thanks for stopping by!