Re: CNR 1917-1920 design Dominion cars (5-foot door)

Stafford Swain <sswain@...>


The CNR cars Don Valentine is talking about below are the 16,750 later 5-foot door cars delivered to (1) the old Intercolonial (IRC)) and (2) then new Transcontinental divisions of the Canadian Government Railways, (3) the Canadian Northern, and (4) as Canadian Nationallettered cars all between late 1917 and 1920. Essentially, they could be viewed as a product of a Canadian federal government bail-out of the financial collapse of most the Canadian railway system (except for the CPR) and the creation of the CNR, so let's call them the "CNR 1917-1920 design Dominion (or Fowler) cars".

These cars were all built to a seemingly homogenous design which had features which varied from the earlier cars of the CPR (or at least the vast majority of same) and the Intercolonial Railway's CPR Phase III clones.

A key "spotting" difference (in my view) would be the "parallel" side diagonals as opposed to the "non-parallel" side diagonals of the overwhelming majority of CPR cars and all the early (pre-1916 built) Intercolonial and CGR-Transcontinental cars 5-foor door. This "non-parallel" side diagonal feature of most (if not all) early 5-foot door cars has been well-rendered in the Westerfield models.

IMHO a second key "spotting" difference (which emulates the 40-foot 1916 cars of the CGR [aka the Storzek resin kit] is the use of a "board-width" steel horizontal tie-brace halfway up the car side between the corner post and the nearest inboard vertical post. While this horizontal brace is arguably a minor feature, it is quite obvious in many in-service photos. Thus, it is often a good way to identify these cars in photos where the road number isn't visible.

In summary, the CNR 1917-1920 design Dominion cars are both different enough from the earlier 5-foot door cars and significant enough in fleet size numbers, that they merit separate treatment if accuracy is the goal.

A condensed roster for these cars (never published by MM for reasons that remain unknown) goes as follows.

402000-402499 (500 cars) 1918 NSC nee CNor 80000-80998 (even # only)
402500-405999 (3,500 cars) 1919 CC&F nee CNor 81000-87998 (even # only)
406000-406999 (1,000 cars) 1919 NSC nee CNor 88000-89998 (even # only)
(407000-407810 earlier design 1913-1915 built IRC cars and unused numbers)
407811-408810 (1,000 cars) 1918 CC&F nee CGR/IRC 81611-82610
408811-410110 (1,000 cars) 1918 ECC nee CGR/IRC 82611-83610
(numbers 409293-409592 in the above series were not used by the CNR)
410111-411110 (1,000 cars) 1919 CC&F nee CGR/IRC 82611-83610
(411150-412149 earlier design 1915 built CGR cars)
412150-414149 (2,000 cars) 1918 CC&F nee CGR/Trans 550000-551999
414150-414649 (500 cars) 1918 NSC nee CGR/Trans 552000-552499
414650-417149 (2,500 cars) 1918 CC&F nee CGR/Trans 552500-554999

422750-423499 (750 cars) 1919 NSC "New"
423500-424499 (1,000 cars) 1920 CC&F "New"
424500-424999 (500 cars) 1920 ECC "New"
425000-426499 (1,500 cars) 1920 NSC "New"

As indicated this roster totals 16,750 cars. Also note that some of the 1918 orders were partially built in late 1917, etc.

I've now re-read my own article in the Nov/85 MM. It has on page 43 a line which I will quote "An inside metal roof didn't look different from from the earlier overlapped-double board wood roof."

I then go on to talk about the application of outside metal roofs to CNR's cars and identify certain of the 1920 built cars which had same. Specifically, I mentioned CC&F 424000-424499 and NSC 424500-426499. It's always good to catch your own mistakes even 18 years later. This should have been NSC 425000-426499 (and not the 424500-424499 series which were ECC built). Once corrected, this implies that a total of 2,000 (roughly 12 percent) cars of the CNR 1917-1920 design Dominion cars were delivered with outside metal roofs.

So far so good, but now this gets confusing. About five years ago I acquired a Dave More laser copy of a builders photo of the 425000 from NSC in 1920. It clearly had a wood-sheathed (i.e."inside metal") roof when built. Unfortunately, my nifty set of data sheets which allowed me to figure out the CNR roster on a piece meal-basis, to learn about issues such as rebuilding cover plates on early cars, and also to conclude these 2,000 cars had outside metal roofs has developed the ability to walk. Time to see if I can scare up a set diagram sheets for these cars and figure out if they were truly outside metal roofs and if so which ones.

Anyway, there are numerous photos of these CNR 1917-1920 design Dominion (or Fowler) cars around including 3 in John Riddell's color guide. Until Al Welch provided me with a copy of a photo of 404862 the other day with what appears to be a Hutchins roof I had never seen one with an outside metal roof of any of the variations. Having said that, the only 1920-built cars I have seen photos of are the builders photos of 423996 (which was published on page 43 of the Nov/85 issue of MM) and the more recent acquisition of the 425000 photo from Dave More.

Whether there were 14,750 CNR 1917-1920 design Dominion cars built with inside metal (wood-sheathed) roofs or 16,750, my bottom line is this model should have a wood-sheathed roof as Hutchins roof rebuilds like the 404862 seem pretty scarce to me (and I've done some looking both in the 1980s and in recent days).

Let me also add a concluding comment on "outside metal roofs" . They were pretty varied in appearance across the industry and changed over time. As a CNR fan I have it easy as most CNR applications seem to have been Hutchins roofs into the early steel box car era.

Quoting Rob Kirkham <>:

Stafford, thanks for your input on these cars again. My interest is
> piqued by the following comments in your e-mail:

> research leans you to favor wood sheathed. (Knowing that you model a
period than do I).

Let's try to clear a couple of things up here to assist Rod and others,
too. The car for which the roof type has not been settled on yet is the
second style of CNR car we plan, the CPR fleet being more homogeneous than
that of the CNR in post war years.

The fact that boards show on the outside of the roof does not necessarily
mean that the car does not have a metal roof. This is due to the fact that
some early metal roofs had wood sheathing ON TOP of the metal, strange as
all that sounds. The CNR and CPR each used outside metal roofs from a
different suppliers, primarily Hutchins for the CNR and primarily Chicago
(who sold the Murphy style roof) for the CPR. The INSIDE metal roofs used
by the two may well have been the same. Since they were hidden by the board
sheathing it doesn't make any difference as the look of the board sheathing
seems to be quite standard and doesn't seem to have been effected by the
use of an INSIDE metal roof underneath some of them.

This being said, my strong inclination has been to use a wood sheathed
roof for the second style of CNR cars. Such a roof could be utilized for
both straight wood sheathed roofs or wood sheathed roofs with an INSIDE
metal roof. It was decided early on with this project to mold the cars
having the floor included with the sides and ends, rather than the roof, for
the reason that it provided greater flexibility with the roof. We could offer
all cars with a choice of several roofs.....and earn the wrath of every hobby
dealer in North America at least. It is better, however, to offer each style
of car with only one roof but make roofs available separately so that modelers
can change roofs if they wish to do so. That is what will be done and that is
why I've been leaning so heavily toward the wood sheathed roof for the second
style of CNR car. Then, with three different roofs available separately, if
ever all modelers are happy with something, everyone should be happy.

So, does that make everbody happy early on a Sunday morning?

Take care, Don Valentine

Stafford Swain
26 Kenneth Street
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
R3T 0K8
(204) 477-9246

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