SD40 Diesel Electric Locomotive No. 5500
This locomotive was the first SD40 purchased for use by the Canadian Pacific. It was built in 1966 by General Motors in London, Ontario and originally sported a tuscan red, gold, and grey paint scheme with script lettering. The Revelstoke Division required the most power of any area of the country because of its steep terrain and heavy snowfall. The SD40s provided greater power than previous locomotives and helped usher in a new era of locomotive technology. CP would eventually own 65 of these units and over 500 of the very similar (but more technologically advanced) SD40-2 models.
Diesel locomotives are more efficient than steam locomotives, and require fewer stops to refuel. They are also less labour intensive, more reliable, and cleaner.
Engine No. 5525 at Albert Canyon, 1970. From the Collection of Peter Cox.
Silk Car No. 4935
This car was built in 1927 as a silk car. Delicate raw silk deteriorated rapidly and the market fluctuated daily, so speed, security, and safety were top priority. Silk cars were specifically designed for fast travel, and were given priority over all other types of rail traffic. They were able to race from Vancouver to Thunder Bay in 15 hours less than a typical passenger train.
Silk was shipped overseas from Asia to Vancouver, then loaded into these airtight rail cars. The cars were lined with varnished wood, sheathed in paper, and sealed to protect against moisture and thieves. Armed guards were the only passengers. However, the invention of air transportation and man-made fibers in the 1930s led to the cancellation of the silk trains.
Silk cargo arriving in Vancouver, 1930. Canada Science and Technology Museum Archives, 35046.
Robot Car No. 400900
This car has seen many different uses since it was built in 1927 as a Silk Car. In 1967 it was reconfigured into a Robot Car. Robot Cars remotely controlled mid-train diesel locomotives from the head end of the train. Mid-train units allowed for safer and more efficient operation of long trains by distributing power. A Robot Car carried the radio and mechanical equipment that managed the mid-train units. Canadian Pacific was an industry leader in this new technology.
However, technology develops quickly and soon Robot Cars were rendered obsolete, as radio equipment was put directly into locomotives. This car was then reconfigured once again into a steam generator car that was used instead of herbicides to kill weeds along the tracks.
Canadian Pacific Robot Car No. 4465, 1967. RRM Collection, P-3284.
Spreader No. 402862
A spreader is the railway equivalent of a road grader. When new track is laid the ties, rails, and hardware are laid first. The ballast (gravel) is then dumped on top of the track by hopper cars, and evened out using the spreader. The blades and wings are operated by air cylinders from air supplied by the locomotive. Small hand winches secure the wings for transport.
Spreaders can also be used to clean ditches along tracks, and assist with snow plowing and clearing of avalanche debris. In the yard, a spreader can clear snow from three tracks at once. On the mainline, the spreader follows a wedge plow and helps push snow further from the tracks.
Image of a spreader from a Jordan Company sales brochure. From the Collection of Doug Mayer.
There are 3 boxcars in the Railway Museum’s rolling stock yard. Early boxcars, like No. 184254 built in 1913, were made of wood with a steel frame. These boxcars hauled many types of cargo, including grain. Steel plates along the bottom and sides of these cars prevented leakage of grain during transport.
Steel boxcars better protected their cargo from the elements and from theft. Boxcar No. 242857 has a steel exterior with a wooden interior. The interior has markings to show the maximum capacity of cars when carrying certain grains. It was built in 1929, and bears the “Spans the World” logo used from 1946 to 1949.
Boxcars in a freight train enter the lower Spiral Tunnel, ca. 1960. RRM Collection, P-3049.
Road Repair Car No. 404116
If a piece of rolling stock developed a bad wheel bearing, flat wheel, or brake problems, this car would come to the rescue! The road repair car held all of the tools needed to make necessary minor repairs. There was also a hand winch attached to the deck of the road repair car for heavy lifting.
The defective railway car would be set out on the closest available siding, and the road repair car would be coupled on to the next train heading in that direction.
When the repairs were completed, the road repair car and the repaired rolling stock would be picked up by the next passing train.
Kamloops Road Repair Car No. 403271, Unknown Date. From the Collection of Dave Love.
Tank Car No. 389130
This tank car was built in 1953 to haul Bunker C fuel oil. Bunker C fuel powered all of the steam locomotives assigned to the Revelstoke division after 1912, as well as the boilers and diesel engines powering the ventilation fans at the Connaught Tunnel. Using oil for fuel helped to eliminate forest fires caused by cinders from coal burners.
This car was later used to haul diesel fuel for locomotives, and ended its life hauling water used for track maintenance. Today’s tank cars look very similar to this one, but include enhancements such as a special coating inside to prevent the steel from corroding and a stronger construction to reduce leakage in train wrecks.
A steam locomotive pulling tank cars in the Revelstoke yard, 1956. RRM Collection, P-10769.
Snow Plow No. 401027
Snow plow No. 401027 was built in 1926 specifically for clearing snow from mountain railway tracks. Different regions have different types of snow and require different types of plows. This plow was designed to deal with wet, packed mountain snow. The brow of the plow is shorter, and mountain plowing was done at a much slower speed than plowing in the prairies.
The plow was placed in front of a locomotive, and the locomotive pushed the plow through the snow ahead. Spreaders such as our Selkirk Spreader were often placed behind plows to assist with clearing the tracks of snow and ice.
Plowing near Revelstoke with Mt. Begbie in the background, 1987. RRM Collection, P-1139.
Hopper Car No. 353119
This is a steel hopper car. It was built in 1969 and was specifically designed for hauling coal to port. Coal cars pass through Revelstoke frequently on their way to the Roberts Bank super-port near Vancouver. Other types of hopper cars carry sulphur, potash, dry chemicals, and grains. You may see hopper cars passing by as part of “unit trains”, which are dedicated to hauling a single type of cargo to a single destination. Transporting this way saves time and money.
Modern hoppers are mostly made of aluminum. Aluminum is much lighter than steel, which allows more cars to be pulled and thus more material is transported at once. Coal cars are delivered with fresh red paint, but quickly turn black from coal dust.
Westbound coal train at the Laurie Sheds, 1979. RRM Collection, P-2928.
Caboose No. 437477
Caboose No. 437477 was built in 1954. It was one of the first CPR cabooses to have the cupola (the raised portion) built in the centre of the car, rather than towards the rear. From the cupola, crew members watched over the long line of freight cars for hazards such as broken axles or dragging equipment. In emergencies, caboose crewmen could pull a brake and stop the train. The caboose also provided the crew with basic cooking and sleeping quarters. Older cabooses were made of wood, but later styles were made of steel.
Cabooses were made obsolete by trackside scanning technology and the use of end-of-train units. Such units automatically relay information to the locomotive using radio signals.
3 men posing on an older style wooden caboose in the Crow’s Nest Pass, 1907. RRM Collection, P-2891.
Flat Car No. 421237
This flat car was built in 1924, making it one of the oldest pieces of rolling stock in our collection.
Flat cars are used to transport a variety of goods. While boxcars are used to transport goods that need to be protected from the elements, flat cars are used for transporting less sensitive cargo and larger objects that cannot fit into a boxcar. Over time, flat cars were built in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate different cargos. You may see flat cars rolling by today, carrying everything from steel beams to pipelines, or even wind turbine blades.
A work team poses on flat cars behind an early steam locomotive, ca. 1900. RRM Collection, P-3270.