This lineup represents a typical Northern Alberta Railways work train and is the only surviving complete set. Work trains repaired and maintained track. Besides the repair equipment, they included a cook-supply car, a cook car, a dining car, and bunk, recreation and shower cars. The bunk cars were the sleeping cars for the work crews, as well as their living area after the day's work was done. Another example of a bunk car is NAR 18104 on the Auxiliary Train.
This car is an example of a light duty flat car and shows a step in the evolution of the flat car. It is a versatile piece of rolling stock, simple in design and easily built at a relatively low cost. Anything that could be spiked, nailed, chained, wired or otherwise secured was a potential load for a flat. In addition, flats were employed as idler cars next to other flats carrying loads that extended beyond the end of the loaded car. Originally xCN 661595 the frame was numbered 15511, August 1950 after a fire at Mile 216 on the Slave Lake Subdivision. Trucks have coil springs and 5.5 x 10 journals with plain bearings. Trucks also have 1909 patent dates
15015 Flat Car
Built: Between 1900-1914 Weight: 35,400 lb. Length: 36 ft.
Steel center sill and bolsters with wood stringers and wood deck
Steel end sills with pole pockets at each corner
K-type air brake equipment
This car is another example of a light duty flat car like 15511 above. It is smaller and lighter than normal, and has arch bar trucks and 4.5 x 8 journals with 1911-20 wheels. It is presently on the repair track - also awaiting a new deck.
14040 Ballast Car
Light Weight: 81,200 lb. Capacity: approx. 1450 cu. ft. or 57 cu. yds. Load Limit: 148,800 lb.
This ballast car was built by Hart-Otis around 1919. It is on the storage track awaiting restoration. It has steel-reinforced wooden sides and outside deep steel sills to allow either side or centre dumping. The dumping mechanism is manually operated. This is the only car in the collection with Dolman Patent trucks having 5 coil springs in each side frame; it has 5.5 x 10 journals. A sister car, 14005, which was built in 1908, has been preserved at the Canadian Railway Museum (Exporail) in Delson, Quebec.
About Ballast Cars The ballast car traces its origins to the earliest form of hopper car, which was designed to reduce or eliminate the slow and back-breaking method of manually unloading a plain gondola-type car (a flat car with sides added). The earliest hopper cars used gravity to unload their contents. The next step was to control the placing of the material. Initially the bottom-unloading hopper car was used primarily as a mine product car, delivering coal, for example. Where the material could be dumped in a pit, this worked well, but when the cargo was dumped on the ground then hand labour was required to clear away the material from under the car.
When railways began to pay more attention to ballasting their roadbeds in order to accommodate faster and heavier trains, there was a need to distribute ballast on the sides of the track as well as between the rails. This was why the Hart-Otis Ballast Car was invented.
Ballast is the gravel or rock that is used to keep the railway ties in place. Ballast also supports the rails and provides for proper drainage of the roadbed so that ties do not rot or sink.
A Lidgerwood winch car and a plow were used to empty the cars. The winch car was coupled at one end of the ballast train and the plow was placed in the last car at the other end. Carrying the cable from the Lidgerwood to the car carrying the plow involved several steps.
One of the work cars had a boom attached to its roof. The ballast train was spotted on a siding, the locomotive picked up the boom car and, moving onto the parallel track, stopped next to the Lidgerwood where the cable was attached to the boom. The locomotive and the boom car now ran parallel to the ballast train and carried the cable to the plow in the ballast car at the end of the train.
The locomotive was returned to the end of the train, coupled up to the Lidgerwood, and provided the compressed air to operate the winch. The ends of the cars were lifted out, the winch pulled the plow through the cars and the ballast was dumped either down the center of the car between the rails or off on either side, along the rails.
More recently a crawler tractor (such as a Caterpillar D4) was used to unload the cars. It was loaded in the end car and, after the end panels were removed from the cars on the ballast train, the bulldozer would travel along the train, pushing the ballast out of the cars.
The ballast train was usually followed by a spreader and a tamper to pack the gravel. Before mechanized tamping was developed, crews of men would perform the function manually.
Primary use: hauling and dumping material (i.e. rip rap rock, sand, gravel) for bank widening and grade stabilization. Material would be dumped in one location, then distributed via Jordan spreader, bulldozers or horse drawn scrapers.This car uses compressed air from the locomotive to dump the gravel - an improvement on the Hart-Otis car NAR 14040. 14085 is equipped with two different trucks: a Dolman (patented 1929) and a Vulcan (patented 1911), with pole pockets cast into the ends of the truck sides.
The flanger was donated to the museum in 1982, repaired in 1995 and was repainted inside and out in 1996.
The flanger was built in June-July 1914 as a standard 40 foot boxcar for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway; converted to boarding car service April 1921 as Car 45; converted to revenue service August 1923 as Car 171; restencilled ED&BC 5024. It was converted to a flanger in April 1931 and stenciled NAR 17022. It was stenciled again in October 1946 as NAR 16601. The underframe was reinforced in 1947. After amalgamation with CN it became CN #56241 in 1982.
Here are two photos of the flanger's interior.
About the Flanger A flanger is used to plow small amounts of snow off the tracks, or is pulled behind a ballast car and used to spread the ballast. The operator rode in the cupola to operate the flanger. There is only one control on the flanger, a lever to raise or lower the blade, assisted by air pressure supplied by the locomotive. Half of the flanger serves as living quarters for the operator. Above is a closeup of the flanger's blade.
Signs having two white dots on a black background or vice versa are placed along the right of way to tell a flanger or snowplow operator to raise the blades because of a crossing obstruction on the track. More than one of these signs on the same post indicates more than one obstruction.
16522 Jordan Spreader
Ordered by the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway just prior to amalgamation, this spreader was delivered to the NAR in 1929 and numbered 16522. It was obtained by the Museum from CN in 1982. The cab and decking were restored in 2011 and it is awaiting painting.
A spreader is a multi-purpose piece of equipment that is used year round. It is used for spreading ballast along the side of the track, clearing track-side brush, and increasing drainage for a better roadbed. In the winter the spreader is used to plow snow from the right-of-way. The locomotive pushes the spreader and provides the compressed air supply to run it.
The builder's plate on the side of the spreader reads:
No. 437 O.F. Jordan Co. Spreader, Flanger, Scraper, Bank Builder & Snow Plow East Chicago, Indiana.
68301 Outfit Car
Double wood sheathed, this car started out as a box car in 1911 and was converted by the GTR into Outfit Car #18914, then numbered by CN as #341614, and is now outfit car 68301. Its wheels come from three different makers and four different locations. The makers are:
New Glasgow Wheel and Foundry Co. - New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
Griffin - Detroit, Michigan
Dominion Wheel and Foundries Ltd. - Toronto, Ontario
Dominion Wheel and Foundries Ltd. - St. Boniface, Manitoba
The car is currently used for parts storage.
CP 409748 Outfit Car
Built: circa 1896-1900 Light Weight: 30,863 lb.
wood stringers under the car body
four truss rods
K triple air brake
arch bar trucks
4.25 x 8 journals - plain bearings.
This was the first piece of rolling stock obtained by the Museum after the acquisition of NAR steam locomotive 73. It is formerly CP box car 56936.
The car exhibits three outstanding inventions: the automatic coupler, the arch bar truck and the automatic air brake. At the time it was built, it represented the highest standards of freight car construction and technology. It is currently used for parts storage. It was donated it to us in 1999 by the Canadian Railroad Museum (ExpoRail) in Montreal, Quebec.
A steel water tank car with steel centre sill and frame.
About Tank Cars During the era of steam railroading, the most essential occupation of railway operating departments was the provision of water and fuel at convenient locations and in continuous supply. Finding a sufficient and quality water supply for locomotive boilers was a particularly difficult problem. Operating conditions also presented problems to slower trains and those engaged in frequent stops or delays, resulting in the limited supply of water carried in the tender getting dangerously low or depleted entirely. This was partly overcome by building tenders of larger capacities but many of the older locomotives continued to use smaller tenders.
The spare water car soon became standard equipment in way freight and work train service. The tank was connected by suitable hose and valves to the tank well on the tender and the two tanks could be equalized or used independently.
Employees and their families living and working along the line often had no water supply, or else water was not drinkable. The spare water car was used to fill the cisterns which were placed at wayside locations. Track gangs often had one or more of these cars in their consist. Fresh cars would be delivered to them as needed and the empties returned for refilling.
Many ingenious methods were developed to prevent freezing in winter conditions. One was a good pail of 'dope': wool waste saturated with car oil and used for packing journal boxes. The 'dope' was placed at the problem area and set alight. It was a sight to behold: a water car, tender pipe and locomotive feed pipe all ablaze as crews or shop employees fought to thaw out the equipment.
69695 Bunk Car
Light Weight: 29,200 lb.
K triple air brakes
arch bar trucks with leaf (riding) springs.
This car was built in 1910 as Box Car #16846 for the Grand Trunk Railway, converted to GTW Bunk Car #338546 and taken onto the roster of Canadian National as 69695.
Here is a picture of the car's interior.
17050 Bunk Car
This two-man bunk car was donated in July of 2000 by RaiLink, a short-line railway which once operated the track up to Lac La Biche. It was found abandoned on a siding at milepost 197 on the Waterways Subdivision, north of Lac La Biche.
The photo shows 17050 as it looked when it arrived at the museum. It has been refinished inside and repainted on the outside. The car was relocated and taken off its trucks to be readied for an interpretive role as a family car.
17900 Engineering Car
Built around 1914, NAR Engineering Car 17900 served on the work train as the road car and field office for the civil engineer responsible for the right-of-way. The history of the car is unknown, but it was probably built as a box car for either the Grand Trunk or the Canadian Northern Railway and converted to work service when steel box cars were purchased.
A complete restoration has been carried out on 17900. The exterior has been repaired and many boards replaced. Windows and doors were rebuilt and the floor was repaired and re-tiled. The rest of the interior was restored, including shelves, doors, cupboards and moldings. The car was completely repainted inside and out. It has been fitted out as a display car, showing the implements and tools used by the Track Engineer.
17009 Foreman and Tool Car
Light Weight: 29,200 lb.
Originally GTR box car 23213 and CN boxcar 343413, this Foreman and Tool car was used on the work train as the office and sleeping quarters for the work foreman. This car contained all the documents necessary to authorize repairs to the track, the time sheets for the crew, and the tools to carry out the job. This is also where the pay packets were handed out.
The car has been painted inside and out as part of its restoration to last used condition. It was purchased by the NAR from Canadian National Railways on July 18, 1940 for $1,450.17. CN donated the car to the museum in 1982.
Here are two photographs of the interior.
17032 Cook Supply Car
Weight: 42,000 lb.
This cook supply car was built around 1911 by the CPR as an outside sheathed box car and was built during a period of great expansion to meet the demands of Western Canada for supplies and shipment of commodities to market.
In 1941 it was refitted by the NAR as a mobile pantry and living quarters for the cook. One end of the car has a bed, locker, stove and sink for accommodations. The other half of the car serves as storage space for the food supplies needed for the cook car which is coupled to it. The shelves are slanted so that cans which are stacked on them do not fall over when the train moves. There is also a refrigerator for the storage of perishables, and a meat cutting table across from it.
When in service, there would be only a narrow passageway down the middle because it would be stacked to the roof with supplies. The cook and assistants moved between the cook car and the cook supply cars to obtain supplies. A typical day for the cook and crew would start about four in the morning and finish at around ten at night.
The Cook Supply Car was donated by CN in 1982, was completely painted inside and out in 1995-96 and currently contains many interpretive artifacts.
17062 Cook Car
Originally, this car was built in 1917 as CPR boxcar #214022. It was bought by the NAR in the 1930s and used as a boxcar until 1944. Then it was converted to a cook car by replacing the freight doors and putting in new flooring, windows and cupboards.
The cook car is best described as the kitchen for the whole crew, which could number 50 to 200 men. The cook car was where the cooking and baking took place and food prepared for serving. The open lower shelving is for pots and pans, the upper cupboards are for dishes. The dish cupboards are securely latched so that no dishes fall out when the train moves. A metal triangle just outside one side-door is used to call work crews to meals.
17092 Box Car
Light Weight: 40, 700 lb.
Arch bar trucks with 5 x 9 journals and plain bearings
Truss rod support
Originally Canadian Pacific 199801, this outside sheathed box car was built in 1911. It was rebuilt along with a number of other box cars in 1924-29 with pressed steel "reverse Murphy" body ends. The NAR purchased the car and converted it to a material car in 1944. It was donated by CN in 1982 and painted in 1997.
At right is a scale model of this boxcar. The model was created by Brian Pate.
Weight: 47,300 lb.
Built by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company for the Northern Alberta Railways in 1953, this caboose became part of the CNR system following the NAR takeover in 1981, and was renumbered CN 78978. It rides on American Association of Railroads (AAR) double truss trucks with leaf springs. This caboose also had a generator which provided power for lights and a hotplate. It was donated by CN in 1983 and is fully restored.
The caboose used by the NAR is a bit different from the CNR caboose in the collection. The NAR caboose exhibits the final development of the traditional caboose.
The most visible difference between this and other cabooses is the replacement of the cupola with bay windows. The NAR adopted the bay window style mostly due to employee concerns that the increasing heights of cars and lengths of trains reduced forward visibility. Cupolas do not allow the crew to see down the side of the train when it is going down a straight track; side bays allow a better view of the entire train while it is in motion.
The crew sits on the padded seats in the bay windows, looking forward along the train, checking for problems like sparks from the wheels. At night, black curtains can be pulled. These allow the conductor to do his paperwork inside the caboose, while still giving the brakeman a clear view into the darkness.
At night, when the train is stopped, the bay window seats can be removed and placed in the slots opposite the table to become a bed. The table can also be lifted up and slid out of the way when not in use.
There are a number of NAR cabooses preserved in various towns in Northern Alberta: Westlock, Peace River, Grimshaw, Rycroft, Beaverlodge, Hythe, Onoway and Fort McMurray, to name a few.