The TNVR was progressive in its approach to the diesel locomotive, having been one of the first railways in Canada to convert to 100% diesel operation in 1947. It pursued a policy of using light locomotives, not only because of the light steel rail in places but also because these kept wear and tear on the track to a minimum. The General Electric 70 ton locomotive became the mainstay of the locomotive fleet, adapted by the Thurso shop forces for the needs of the logging railway. The locomotive fleet is described here in the order in which it was acquired by the railway.
Throughout this document additional information is identified through hyper
links to other documents. In each case there is a hyper link to return you
to the same location in this document.You may either scroll through or use
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The first locomotive to run over the line was leased from the Canadian Pacific Railway in the fall of 1925. This was done to speed up construction in advance of the acquisition of the company's first locomotive. Nothing definite is known about this locomotive although the following Canadian Pacific locomotives were on lease to the contractor, Anglin Norcross between September and December 1925.3008 built by CPR on 7/88. 2-6-0 class J2a assigned to Trois Rivières, on lease Nov-Dec 1925.
3010 built by CPR on 8/88. 2-6-0 class J2a assigned to Smiths Falls, on lease Oct-Nov-Dec 1925
3039 built by Canadian Locomotive Company on 6/90. 2-6-0 class J2b assigned to Ottawa, on lease Sep-Oct 1925.
7336 built by CPR on 7/94. 4-6-0 class D3k assigned to Carleton Place, on lease Sep-Oct-Dec 1925.
Other Canadian Pacific locomotives worked on the line from time to time:
#216, a 4-6-0 built in December 1891, worked on the TNVR in the
1920s. #216 was scrapped in July 1933.
The first locomotive acquired was a tank engine in late 1925 from Singer (USA). It was an 0-6-2T built in 1902 by Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Standard Oil Company where it was #2. It was later sold to Singer for their Elizabethport, New Jersey plant. #1 worked on the construction of the line and handled all of the traffic until the arrival of #2 in 1927. It ran semi-permanently coupled to a flatcar which carried additional coal and water in a wooden tank. In this bizarre form the locomotive made several round trips to Baie de l'Ours, mile 23, to bring out veneer logs for shipment to St-Jean, Québec.#1 fell into disuse around 1929 and was left to rust on the siding behind the old car shop where it lasted until the mid 1930s. When it was cut up by Zagerman's of Ottawa the boiler was found to be in relatively good condition. Boiler inspectors had repeatedly cut the working pressure to the point where the locomotive could hardly move itself. A switching order to Damien Lafleur on June 4, 1936 makes reference to an old locomotive tank. Parts of a steam locomotive are said to have been tipped into Cairo Lake at mile 27.75. If this was the case, parts of #1 could have lasted until 1936.
#2 was purchased new from the Montréal Locomotive Works in February 1927. It worked mainly on the southern part of the line below Singer. A normal 12 hour day would consist of a trip to Singer, mile 26, with the empties and a return with the loads. It would then switch the Thurso yard. In this work it would burn between 6 and 7 tons of coal (in those days costing $14.00 per ton) and would evaporate 10,000 gallons of water.
The 2-6-2 wheel arrangement was unusual in Canada as only three such locomotives were built.
For all of its time at Thurso #2 only had one regular engineer. It was Park Smith who ran in the locomotive and finally saw it replaced by a diesel. Great attention was paid to its appearance.
The locomotive was examined by a man from Canadian Pacific in late October 1942 and it was held at Thurso for repairs to the running gear and driving boxes in November of that year. More extensive repairs were required in early 1945 and work on the firebox, tube sheet and ash pan was carried out by Canadian Pacific at Angus Shops, Montréal. This created a crisis for the local farmers who received cars of hay and feed by rail. Following correspondence with the Québec Deputy Minister of Agriculture twelve cars of feed were given priority when the locomotive returned. Park Smith was admonished for not looking after the locomotive and it was suggested that this was the reason the locomotive had to go to the CPR for repairs.
Until the coming of the diesels, #2 remained the principal main line locomotive. It still had a few years left, however, and was sold in January 1947 to the Montréal Coke and Manufacturing Company at Lasalle, Québec. It was presumably cut up when the company converted to diesel operation in 1954.
The principal dimensions of #2 were:
Cylinders 17" X 24"
From 1929 until 1931 the TNVR leased #53 from the Haskell Lumber Company of Fassett, Québec. This was a 70 ton three truck shay locomotive that was purchased new by Haskell in May 1908. No details of the disposition of the locomotive are known although a geared locomotive was used at Fassett until the late 1940s.
#3 was a three truck Heisler geared locomotive built new for the TNVR in May 1929. It weighed 70 tons in working order and was built to the older Heisler design with slide valves, although it did have an all weather cab. #3 was shipped from Erie, Pennsylvania without lettering and it may have stayed that way for its working life.The locomotive would have been hauled to Thurso on its own wheels with the gears being removed from the axles. This would make the rest of the working parts inoperative and it would roll freely in a train, just like a car. A travelling engineer would have accompanied the locomotive to Thurso to ensure proper lubrication and to put it into service upon arrival. He was required to live in the cab and living quarters were provided by building a bunk in the left hand side of the cab. A few shelves were installed for storing groceries and other items. He was supplied with bedding, a stove, cooking utensils, lantern and other articles. The bunk also served as a table and a nail keg for a stool. Locks were provided on the doors to keep out thieves when he was absent for any reason.
The Heisler locomotive was designed specifically for logging operations with steep grades, sharp curves and light rail. The 70 ton model would negotiate a 100 foot radius curve and operated on rail as light as 45 pounds per yard. On level track it would haul 4352 tons while on 9% grades it could handle 108 tons. The capabilities of #3 had quite an influence on the construction of the TNVR branch lines.
#3 was a powerful, but very slow, machine which took four hours to move twenty cars to Singer from Thurso. For this reason it was generally restricted to the operations north of Singer where it spent most of its time outside in the woods. At first an inspector was sent into the woods to examine the locomotive as well as the steam log loaders. This practice was changed in April 1936 when it was felt that the TNVR engineers were sufficiently experienced to make the weekly inspections.
Being kept most of the time in the woods there was some concern expressed over the care taken by the engineers. By November 1941 #3 was due for heavy work.
#3 was replaced by the first TNVR diesel, #4, in 1946 and was scrapped at Thurso in 1947 by Zagerman's, a long established Ottawa firm. Some parts of the locomotive are believed to have survived. A piece of steel which looks suspiciously like a sand dome or a steam dome was left outside the Car Shop and is currently doing duty as a sump in the floor of the Car Shop.
The principal dimensions of #3 were:
Cylinders 16 3/4" X 14"
There was a four wheeled Plymouth gas locomotive with a Ford V8 engine. It carried Plymouth serial number 2924, a model DLB-6 that was delivered to the National Cement Company at Pointe aux Trembles, Québec on June 1, 1928. 2924 was replaced at the cement company by a heavier model JLC (serial 2957) and was resold to Shawinigan Engineering at Shawinigan Falls, Québec on August 2, 1928. From there it moved to Thurso on May 17, 1933.An account of the type of work originally entrusted to the Plymouth is set out in the TNVR Diary. The Plymouth lasted until the 1940s as a small switcher for the Thurso yard. It was used in the construction of the line north of Duhamel and, with the arrival of the Whitcomb, the Plymouth was sent to Duhamel where it was used as a shop switcher for a number of years. It was likely scrapped in the early 1950s. It did not carry a road number and seems to have been considered separately from the road locomotives. Running this locomotive must have been quite exciting as one could see the track and ties through the missing floorboards.
The Plymouth is one of the more unusual locomotives to have hauled a royal train!
The TNVR also had a small Whitcomb in the 1940s. This was likely sent from St-Jean and was received in Thurso on June 25, 1946. This locomotive was built new for Shawinigan Engineering in 1930 as serial number 13053. The Whitcomb was likely replaced by #6 and probably scrapped in the mid 1950s. No photographic evidence has survived.
This 44 ton unit was shipped by General Electric from Erie, Pa on January 12, 1946. The severe Québec winter caused some initial problems and #4 would not start well. General Electric representatives flew up from Erie to see what could be done but #3 had to bring the diesel back to Thurso. As a result of this a wooden two stall engine house was built at Duhamel. The small diesel was used mainly north of Singer. It was equipped with multiple unit control in 1949 to operate with #8. #4 was wrecked at mile 49.5 on October 14, 1958 and was brought back to Thurso to be scrapped although the frame is still used as flatcar #3. The first paint scheme is unclear but early photographs show a light colour, probably grey.
This was the first General Electric 70 ton end cab long hood locomotive and was built as a demonstrator #7001. It was shipped from Erie, Pa on October 1, 1946 and was photographed at Thurso on October 11. #5 was originally fitted with multiple unit controls but these were removed in 1947. The unit was an initial success and, as a result of its acquisition, #2 was sold. However, the Cooper Bessemer engine caused trouble and #5 went to the Canada and Gulf Terminal Railway (in exchange for their first #355 which became #8) in 1949 as C> #355 (second use of this number) and later #101. It moved to Sidbec Feruni at Contrecoeur in 1977 and was not scrapped until 1983. When the TNVR was looking for another locomotive in 1981 it was offered this unit. The offer was declined in favour of another unit which turned out to be the second 70 ton unit built!
Tiny 25 ton #6 was shipped new (with an August 1947 builders plate) on September 4, 1947 from General Electric for switching the yard at Thurso. It replaced the small Whitcomb which then went to Duhamel and also went to the north end of the line when #10 arrived. Its small length caused a few problems, particularly when it was used to haul the 65 foot long passenger cars around sharp curves. The wider swing of the passenger car coupler would derail the short locomotive. A second hand engine was installed in June 1974 at which time it may have acquired the builders plate from #9 which it carried as well as its own until the time it left Thurso. #6 was not powerful enough to handle the three car consists of long logs and it was sold in part exchange for #13. There was a dispute over #13 which was missing a traction motor when it arrived at Thurso and, because of this, #6 did not leave for the dealer, G. Silcott of Worthington, Ohio, until November 6, 1983. In 1986 #6 was sold to the Timken Company in Ohio as their #5706.
The TNVR had a second locomotive which carried the number 1. This was a small GE 25 ton locomotive which was built in 1949. It was delivered new to Singer Manufacturing and went to Great Lakes Carbon in January 1976..
This 70 ton unit was acquired from General Electric in July 1949 as a highly successful replacement for #5. By 1972 it was beginning to show signs of its age and on April 24 that year it was taken out of service with a badly worn crankshaft. A new Caterpillar engine was installed by November 1973 and, at the same time, it received new wheels and multiple unit connections to allow it to work with the then recently acquired CN locomotives #11 and #12. #7 made its first main line trip after rebuild on January 7, 1974. When new, #7 was fitted with a hood that had a louvreless front. This has been replaced with a louvred hood from the third CN 70 ton unit that was purchased for parts in 1971. This CN unit also donated the multiple unit style hand rails and running plate. This TNVR veteran is still hard at work having been fitted with 26L brake equipment in November 1981. A major engine overhaul was completed on September 24, 1984. #7 has carried the number 5131 as well as its road number since August 1985.
This General Electric 44 ton unit was purchased new by the Canada and Gulf Terminal Railway as their #355 (first use of this number) on December 21, 1948. It was found not to be powerful enough and it was exchanged for TNVR #5 in July 1949. At Thurso it worked mainly north of Singer, first with #4 and later with #9, since it was equipped with multiple unit controls as built. By the early 1970s it began to suffer traction motor problems and, following the acquisition of the CN 70 ton units, it was sold to Donohue Charlevoix at Clermont, Québec in August 1972. #8 came to an abrupt end when it was demolished in an accident on January 13, 1974.
General Electric 44 ton locomotive #9 was purchased new by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in November 1941 as their #0805. Equipped with multiple unit control, it was subsequently acquired by the Marquette Cement Company in September 1953 and was then sold through an equipment dealer and later rebuilt by the GE Pittsburgh service shop. It left the US plant on February 19, 1959 and arrived at Thurso on March 4, 1959 as a replacement for #4. With the arrival of the CN 70 ton units this, already old, machine was scrapped, its frame being used as a flatcar for several years until that, too, was scrapped.
General Electric 50 ton unit #10 was purchased new by the Singer Manufacturing Company, Elizabethport, NJ as their #1 in September 1946. The employees didn't like the soft sounding steel bell with which it was supplied and installed a bronze bell from the steam locomotive that it replaced which it still carries. It arrived at Thurso on April 18, 1960. Some reports suggest that it was used for a time at St-Jean but, more likely, it came into Canada via St-Jean. Because of its side rods and the limited size of the radiators, #10 was kept close to Thurso. The number 5132 was added to the cab side in 1985. For a number of years #10 ran tilted to one side. Just before the end, the tilt seemed to have corrected itself although the shop staff claimed not to have done work on it. A closer examination revealed a number of broken truck springs and the real reason for the apparent improvement was that the track was off level thus compensating for the tilt.#10 bent a coupling rod on the last day of full operation, 20 May 1986 and was not used after the closure of the main line in June 1986. It was sold to Art Tommy of Wakefield, Québec in October 1988 for a proposed tourist operation and was moved there early in the following year. It was sold in running condition and came complete with bent coupling rods. The locomotive saw no use until it was donated to the Bytown Railway Society and moved to the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa in September 2000.The BRS has put it into operating condition.
Canadian National purchased this General Electric 70 ton locomotive new with multiple unit control in March 1950 and it worked most of its time with CN on Prince Edward Island. It carried first #7803, then #1529 and finally #29 before coming to Thurso in CN green on May 18, 1970. However, it did not make its first trip on the main line until September 20, 1971. On March 4, 1974 the original Cooper Bessemer engine block was declared scrap having been damaged as a result of a broken connecting rod. A Caterpillar D398 engine was installed and it made its break in run, with new wheels, on July 10, 1976. A spare truck, from CN Moncton, was installed under #11 in July 1981 and a major engine overhaul was completed in August 1984. The number 5133 was added to the cab side in August 1985 which it carries as well as its road number. Upon closure of the main line in 1986 #11 was little used.
This General Electric 70 ton unit was also obtained from the Canadian National Prince Edward Island operation on May 18, 1970. Purchased new by CN with multiple unit control in May 1950, it carried road numbers 7810, 1536 and finally 36. It, too, came to Thurso in CN green. The Cooper Bessemer prime mover suffered damage on August 8, 1972 with seized crankshaft bearings. A Caterpillar D398 engine was fitted and the first test run was made on February 9, 1973 to mile 26 and back along with #11. The wheels were turned at the Canadian Pacific Angus Shops in October 1974 and 26L brake equipment was fitted in January 1982. A major engine overhaul was completed in December 1984. The number 5134 was added on the cab sides in August 1985 although it still carried its road number. #12 was retained upon closure of the main line in 1986 but the engine was sold in early 1992 when it was decided to use #12 for parts to keep #7 and #11 going.
In May 1970 the TNVR acquired for parts General Electric 70 ton locomotive CN #26. Purchased new as 7818 in May 1950, it subsequently carried the numbers 7800 and 1526. The frame and trucks were used for a rail mounted crane and other parts found their way on to the other 70 ton locomotives #7, #11 and #12. This locomotive never ran on the TNVR. The fuel tank was placed on a stand at Duhamel and was used for storage of diesel fuel until the closure of the main line.
This was the second General Electric end cab long hood 70 ton locomotive built and had a chequered career before coming to the TNVR on December 30, 1981. The full history is not known but it seems that it was bought new by the Saratoga and Schuylerville as their #4 and from there it went in succession to:
Claremont and Concord #11
Montpelier and Barre #23
Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington #23
New York City Transit Authority #13 then #20009 then #13
While in New York, #13 was used on those sections of the South Brooklyn Railway where the clearances were adequate. It was stored for some time on the property of Davidson Pipe although it was never owned by that company. The movements between leaving New York and arriving at Thurso are not known.
The original Cooper Bessemer engine was still in the unit on arrival at Thurso. This was found to be unreliable and so a new Cummins, truck type, turbo charged engine of 600 hp was obtained. Installation presented quite a challenge to Edouard Hébert and the other masters of innovation at the Thurso shop. The Cummins engine operated at twice the speed required by the DC generator and a specially fabricated engine bed was required. In addition, the new engine was much lighter so the weight reduction was made up in ballast.
Edouard added another new twist. #13 was intended for use in the woodland operation where it would need to be left out, shut down, over the weekend in extremely low temperatures. He incorporated a small Deutz engine ahead of the Cummins radiator. This little unit drove a small pump which circulated the crankcase oil through a heat exchanger, using the exhaust from the Deutz engine for heat. This allowed the Cummins engine to be shut down for long periods in sub zero weather and to be re-started easily.
As if it wasn't enough to install a truck engine in a diesel locomotive the final indignity was to be found in the whistle that was fitted. This gave a high pitched single note toot similar to that found in the Paris Metro. As rebuilt, #13 was very distinctive! There can have been no other locomotive quite like it!
The engine was first fired up on December 21, 1982. It made its first main line trip on February 6, 1983 and was left at mile 31 so that it could be used for spotting empties for loading. The Cummins engine sounded very unusual on a locomotive. #13 spent most of its time at the top of the line in the log loading areas and only came to Thurso when it needed attention. It was not equipped with multiple unit connections so that when moved to and from Thurso it ran as the third locomotive in the consist where it would idle for most of the run. The brakeman would go back and work the throttle for the uphill stretches. The number 5135 was added to the cab sides in August 1985 in addition to its road number.
With the closure of the main line in 1986, #13 was put up for sale
and was shipped to the Port Stanley Terminal Railway at Port Stanley, Ontario.
It passed through CP Rail's Walkley Yard, Ottawa, on July 23, 1990.
There was a diesel that came from the Poinsett Lumber Company in the USA. This spread the curves on the main line and did not last very long.
LOCOMOTIVE ROSTER SUMMARY
1:1 Baldwin sn 21012 9/1902 0-6-2ST
New - Standard Oil #2;
to Singer Manufacturing;
to TNVR 1925;
scrapped mid 1930s.
- Singer Manufacturing, TNVR #1:2;
2 Montréal Locomotive Works sn 67209 1/1927 2-6-2
3 Heisler sn 1577 4/1929 70T (B-B-B)
Acquired new; scrapped 1947.
4 General Electric sn 28485 12/1945 44T
5 General Electric sn 28238 10/1946 70T
6 General Electric sn 29046 8/1947 25T
Acquired new; to Silcott,
Worthington, OH, 11/83;
7 General Electric sn 30179 6/1949 70T
8 General Electric sn 29991 12/1948 44T
New - Canada & Gulf
9 General Electric sn 15027 11/1941 44T
New - NYNH&H #0805;
10 General Electric sn 28625 9/1946 50T
New - Singer Company
To Bytown Railway Society, Ottawa, 9/00.
11 General Electric sn 30609 3/1950 70T
New - CN #29 (1529, 7803);
12 General Electric sn 30616 5/1950 70T
New - CN #36 (1536, 7810);
13:1 General Electric sn 31171 11/1951 70T
New - QNS&L #91;
13:2 General Electric sn 28239 10/1946 70T
New - Saratoga &
53 Lima Shay 1956 5/1908 70T (B-B-B)
Leased from Haskell Lumber 1929-31.
NO# General Electric sn 30624 5/1950 70T
New - CN #26 (1526, 7800:2,
NO# Plymouth sn 2924 6/1928 DLB-6
New - National Cement;
NO# Whitcomb sn 13053 6/1930
New - Shawinigan Engineering;
to TNVR 6/46; scrapped mid 1950s