Automobile Boxcar & Snowplow 

CN 574493 Automobile Boxcar

Canadian National 574493 wooden automobile boxcar was built in 1927 by Canadian Car and Foundry. Through its life, it has gone through several name changes. The car was originally CN 582609, then CN 574493, then CN work service car 74428, and finally part of the Tunnel Bay Model Railroad display in Brockville.

This wooden automobile boxcar was built with double doors to transport automobiles such as the Ford Model T. Model T chassis were chained to the ceiling of the car using brackets. This allowed more vehicle chassis to be transported. Count the sets of brackets to figure out the maximum number of chassis that could be carried. The bodies of the cars were transported in a separate boxcar.

This boxcar was also used for general freight. Often the car would transport automobiles to Western Canada and return to Eastern Canada with grain or lumber. Grain was transported with a special door system. Wood was boarded across the regular door frames and then paper was used to seal any cracks. Grain was then loaded into the car and finally, at the destination, the paper and boards were discarded so that grain could be removed. By using a special door system, less grain was lost during the trip.

 Its difficult work to safely load or unload a boxcar with several expensive automobiles. Despite the extra wide door opening it’s a challenge to manoeuvre a new car without touching a box car door or wall and creating expensive damage.

On the return trip from Western Canada to the east, loads of various grains were dropped in from chutes originating from above in trackside grain elevators. The extra wide doors were sealed with boards to contain the grain and allow doors to be closed. At the destination, boarding was removed, and gravity did most of the unloading. It was dusty and very little air moved as a man with a shovel waded through grain into the ends and corners of the car and muscled out the last of the precious load.

Look for the markings on the walls of the boxcar to see which grain products are denser than others. The lower the mark on the wall the denser the product. Once the car was cleaned it was made ready for another west bound trip with automobiles.

Snowplow 55400

CNR 55400 snowplow was built in 1935 by National Steel Car in Hamilton. This snowplow is a single-track wedge plow with wings. The wings are operated by compressed air from the brake system.

The plow

  • weighs 65,700 lbs,
  • 33 feet long,
  • 16 feet high.

The lower front section of the plow could be raised to avoid potential damage to switches and level crossing planks and derailments. Trackside signage warned the snowplow operator to raise the front sections.