Re: Photo: Delivering A 1957 Chevy

Ian Cranstone

When built, these special cars were seen as replacements for the old-style automobile cars, which were much more cumbersome to load and unload. CN had 25 75 foot cars built in late 1956 (CN 570400-570424), and 50 more followed in early 1959 (CN 570425-570474), along with 75 56 foot cars (CN 570700-570774). In the late 1950s and into the early 1960s, these cars were used extensively by CN to deliver newly built cars, and were clearly marked “not to be interchanged off of CN lines in Canada". When the industry opted for auto racks instead, CN then acquired a large fleet of bilevel and trilevel racks between 1962 and 1965, which rendered these unique bilevel automobile cars surplus — it would appear that they did not mix well with the newer autoracks, but likely worked in blocks in service to specific points only. For example, an aerial photo of Winnipeg’s East Yard taken in 1968 shows several of the 56 foot cars at an unloading ramp.

As part of the 1960s CN renumbering, the 75 foot cars were renumbered to CN 730000-730073 and the shorter cars to CN 720000-720069, with some subsequently renumbered 720100-720139 in 1974-75.

During the 1960s, CN experimented with a number of other uses for these cars: one was converted to a bilevel stock car in 1965 (CN 179000, later CN 820000), and some of the 56 foot cars found themselves in a dedicated Oshawa, Ontario to Newfoundland narrow gauge service in 1971 (as CN 15501-15509). The following year, these dedicated cars were repainted in the famous cutaway auto logo and assigned to Auto-With-You service (CN 9500-9507), in which passengers could have their automobiles travel with them on the same train. There was an earlier version called Car-Go-Rail, in which the car would move by fast freight to be delivered after the passenger train’s arrival.  A number of these 56 foot cars (including the stock car conversion) were later converted in 1975 for auto rack service in Newfoundland narrow gauge service (CN 18020-18034), and were heavily modified with the complete removal of sides and roof above the upper deck, and large holes cut in the sides of the lower deck. A few surviving 56 foot cars were converted to OCS service in 1987, at least one with large roll up doors cut into their sides (CN 72026 was the former CN 9503, still lettered with the cutaway auto scheme), and some may remain on the roster today.

When Auto Train began operation, the longer 74 foot cars were first leased, and subsequently sold to Auto Train – I suspect the date of sale was in 1973, as CN continued to list them in the ORER up until that point. Only 5 of these longer cars were retained by CN.

CN modellers in HO scale have been spoiled over the years: Walthers released the 1956 version some years ago, Bachmann did the 1959 version many years ago as part of their Auto Train set (albeit cruder and with hand brake recesses on both sides of the car) – and did release a CN version, but with the Auto-With-You cutaway paint that was only applied to the shorter cars (Stafford Swain upgraded one of these cars which was featured in a RMC Protofile feature back in the early 1980s); and Sylvan did the shorter 56 foot car in resin. Unfortunately, none of these models is currently available.

Ian Cranstone

Osgoode, Ontario, Canada


On May 29, 2019, at 10:09 PM, Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> wrote:

"Auto train" is the correct analogy. They were not "freight cars" per se - not even listed in the ORER.

If you wanted to stage a publicity photo, would you try to find a beat up automobile to entice customers,
or show that a new automobile emerges unscathed from its trip?

Tim O'

On 5/29/2019 9:52 PM, Schleigh Mike via Groups.Io wrote:
The Model Railroader article did not relate just how the CN used these cars.  However, I always believed that they were used in much the way AutoTrain did.  That is, passengers on their long haul trains brought along their personal autos.  My wife's family likely used this service when they moved back east from Vancouver, BC in the mid-1960s as they brought home their car after a one-year assignment there.  My October 1958 ORER shows these cars not in interchange.  Perhaps one or more of those in the frozen north can comment.

However, that is clearly a NEW 1957 Chevy in that publicity photo.  There were only 25 cars in the fleet so they could have been used for delivering new cars in some limited or perhaps burgeoning new service offering.

Regards---Mike Schleigh in Grove City, Penna.

On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 9:19:17 PM EDT, rwitt_2000 via Groups.Io <rwitt_2000@...> wrote:

Question: Why a Canadian car? Were some cars built in Canada as early as 1957 or was there some sort of "car pool" in operation.

Bob Witt

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