Friday, November 14, 2014

NBEC 1821

In my recent survey, someone posted they liked MLW locomotives and would like to see more. For those who don't know, MLW was the Montreal Locomotive Works, originally a subsidiary of the American Alco company and later owned by Bombardier. Alco/MLW engines are revered by many railfans for the smoke they produced as well as a certain sound the diesel engines made.

My personal exposure to MLW engines comes from two main sources: the former New Brunswick East Coast Railway's extensive roster of MLW locomotives and the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad's pair of MLW locomotives.

I've decided to feature NBEC 1821 in this post, as it was the NBEC RS-18 locomotive I happened to see the most, and also one of the two NBEC locomotives I saw first.

I first saw NBEC 1821 on July 5, 1999 in Miramichi (Chatham) paired up with NBEC 1866. I took some truly bad photos of the pair of them at sunset.
Well before I learned how to pan
These were the among the very first railfan photos I ever took. The very first ones I took were on May 3, 1999 I believe.
The best of the lot
If you're familiar with the area, you can see that the latter photo shows them crossing Water Street in Chatham in front of the Lafarge facility.

I didn't see 1821 again until January 9, 2001 when she was paired up with 1840 and 1864 for local switching. By then I think my film camera was broken so I really had nothing to photograph with.

The next photo I have of NBEC 1821 dates from July 22, 2003 when I was using the 1 megapixel digital camera in my Sony DCR-TRV25 video camera. I still hadn't learned to stand on the sun side of the train.

I'll take a moment to explain what type of locomotive NBEC 1821 was. MLW produced a series of locomotives designated RS-18 (Road Switcher 1800 horsepower). It was essentially the Canadian version of the Alco RS-11. CN bought the vast majority of the RS-18s (225) and ran them long-hood forward, while CP bought 72 and ran them short-hood forward. The PG and E (which became BC Rail) bought 29 and various resource railways bought a few each. All of these were delivered with high short hoods like CP 8743 here (Greg Brewer slide):
CP 8743 in Fredericton, slide by Greg Brewer
NBEC 1821 was built as CP 8741 in April 1957. It soldiered on for years until 1984 when it was rebuilt, the short hood was cut down, and it was renumbered to CP 1821. It continued in service on CP until the New Brunswick East Coast Railway bought it in April 1998.

OK, moving on. My next photo of NBEC 1821 was from October 6, 2003 in the Miramichi yard. 1821 was paired up with NBEC 1849 and was nicely parked in the sun.
Still only a 1 megapixel photo
I next photographed it down at the port of Miramichi on January 8, 2004, doing some switching with leading engine NBEC 1814.

Note the long string of BCOL and CN boxcars. This was after the CN-BC Rail deal was announced...

Later that month I photographed it and 1814 in the Miramichi yard on January 28, 2004. I was taking some detail photos, I guess.

Note the class lights above the number boards, the bell mounted right in the middle, the red safety stripes (some of NBEC's engines had black stripes) and the "NBEC" painted over the CP in "CP Rail".

On February 18, 2004 she was paired up with NBEC 1867 as yard power in Miramichi. The yard power tended to change fairly frequently as they went back to Campbellton for servicing and reassignment. The only constant seemed to be that black NBEC 1857 stayed close to Campbellton most of the time.
Hadn't really mastered night photography...
My next photograph of NBEC 1821 was taken on March 29, 2006 and here I have a different camera! The Fuji FinePix A210 was/is a 3 megapixel camera and takes decent photos as long as nothing is moving.. kind of like today's smartphone cameras.
So much better quality
Here 1821 was coupled up to derelict NBEC 4219 and 4243, locomotives used for parts. They were apparently moved to Miramichi for final scrapping and languished in the back of the yard for months before finally meeting their doom.

Next we fast forward to May 28, 2007 with NBEC 1821 at the head of an empty ore train in Bathurst, NB. You'll note yard power NBEC 1845 to the left and a string of blue ore cars to the right.
Finally, NOT Miramichi!
By this time I was using my Canon S3.

Here's a video from 2007 featuring three RS-18s including 1821 in Bathurst, pushing some ore cars back across Golf Road.

A few months later I was photographing the loaded ore train in Bathurst from the St. Anne Street overpass on September 14, 2007.
Ready to roll!
I took video of this train leaving. THIS is why people love Alcos... that chugging noise.

I chased this train... I caught it on a curve at Madran on its way to the smelter in Belledune.

A little pop of fall colours..
My next photo of NBEC 1821 was at Belledune on February 21, 2008.. apparently it was cold as there is some fog on the lens.

Note the black box behind the cab. This is new and I believe NBEC 1821 was one of the engines to get retrofitted with smart start but I could be wrong. 1821 was behind two SD40 engines on the main line train. For some reason I was back to using the Fuji camera on this trip so the resolution is not as good.

I saw 1821 again the next day (February 22) in Bathurst by the station.

I didn't know it but NBEC 1821 had less than a year of operation before she would no longer grace these rails. In fact, I would see it only for three more months.

Here's a Bathurst video from the spring of 2008 featuring NBEC 1821 and 1819.

Here it was on May 26, 2008, the last time I saw it. It was on the empty ore train, heading out of Bathurst toward Brunswick Mines.

But 1821's story doesn't end there. My friend David Morris photographed it in Gaspe meeting the Chaleur on December 2008, after CN bought the NBEC and its sister railways back.
Photo by David Morris
Michel Boudreau caught it in Bathurst, NB on February 7, 2009, paired up with a CN GP40, presumably on the ore train.
Photo by Michel Boudreau
But that still isn't the end of 1821.

It was purchased by the railroad of Le Massif de Charlevoix (together with NBEC 1868) and pulls the tourist train in Quebec.

Still operating, after 57 years. Not too shabby.


Eric said...

A great collection of photos and videos, Steve. Especially for any Alco-haulics out there.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thank you, Eric!

Carolina Caboose Captain said...

Great walk down memory lane, thanks for the exceptional historylesson. I recall seeing a similar engine along the rail train in Kennsington, PEI. Remember similar ALCO beasts from my youth train watching along the LIRR in USA

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, CCC! The locomotive in Kensington PEI is CN 1762, an RS-18 like CP 1821 except that it was converted to use six-wheel trucks and derated to 1400 HP... designated RSC-14.

LIRR - that would have been fun to watch!