41 North - 44 Back

| September/October 1971

250 Yonge St., Painswick, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, January 3rd:

My engineer friend, Joe, calls at about 9:30 to ask me if I'm running on time because we must be at the station before 10:00 in order for him to sign on, pick up orders, etc., for train No. 41 north bound to North Bay. We will take 41 north, and I will be the guest of Joe, the engineer, and Hank, the fireman on the 'Head End' on Canadian National engine No. 6536 on the regular Toronto-North Bay daily run. Great! An ambition fulfilled a ride on the business end of a train. Train travel is pleasing anytime, but this should be a day to remember.

We drive to the station a wonderful day, not a cloud in the sky and temperature about 14 degrees above. We are at the station in plenty of time into the crew room to pick up orders and the control key that each engineer must have to operate the locomotive controls. Time 10:20 we hear an air-horn blasting to the south ward, and here she comes picking her way through the switching yards and rounding the curve to the platform. Crew change on the engine. Hank goes back to investigate a great cloud of steam between coaches 4 and 5 and finds a faulty steam heat connection, a pipe coupling not properly secured. It is quickly fixed by a carman.

10:26 - ' 'Board' We are up in the cab now high over the rails, how narrow the gauge looks from this monster! Conductor's signal whistle in the cab blows once twice. Now hissing of brakes off, a short blast on air horn and an easing on the throttle-lever. The two V-16 diesels whine and we move forward with bell clanging, through the yard and over the switch points and start the big swing through town and around the Bay. Twenty miles per hour to operate the street crossing signals. Through the last crossing, now throttle lever fully open and diesels roaring picking up speed in her own time on the grade going up from the shore. Full power 35-40 miles per hour and the crossings come closer as the speed picks up 50-65-70, it's almost a full time job pulling on the air-horn rope as we blast through the level crossings.

This is a fast track straight and level Barrie to Orillia, good smooth road bed. We're doing a nice 75 miles per hour now and running on time. Into Orillia, a few minutes stop for mail bags, and away.


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