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For many years, the forty foot boxcar was the most common type of car in Canadian National Railways’ freight car fleet. Most of them were constructed with six foot doors by various manufacturers. As time went on, boxcars with larger door openings became more desirable for loading and unloading by forklifts. In the mid 1960’s, in order to keep useful cars in useful service, CN began converting many of their six foot door cars into various configurations for various services. One of these modifications was to convert them to “roofless” boxcars for wood chip service. Wood chips at the time were not a high value commodity and many railroads just shipped it in order to gain the lumber shipments. Many railroads, including CN decided to convert older cars rather than purchase new. The majority of CN’s wood chip boxcar fleet was built in CN’s Moncton, New Brunswick shops from 1970 to 1983 in small batches but numbering in the hundreds during that timespan. The cars that were chosen for conversion were in no particular order and merely chosen for their physical condition and availability. This resulted in many variations in the ends, sides, and details for each small batch of cars the shops built creating an interesting fleet of wood chip cars that are distinctly CN. These cars saw service in the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and even down into the US. By 1990 most of them had been cut up for scrap.  Ontario Northland also had a small fleet of similar cars that lasted a few years longer.


This particular version of the car was one of the common conversion methods where they would cut the roof off of the car, add roof braces and 24” high side extensions, and simply weld the existing six foot door closed. Some of these cars survived the rebuild without a repainting so they soldiered on in the maple leaf scheme until the end of their service lives. Most though, received the wet noodle logo that was used post 1960. Some of the cars also received a further modification with the addition of yellow corner brackets to prevent damage to the cars when being pushed around by front end loaders or other equipment in the mills. The cars were unloaded via a large vacuum type system or an excavator and these methods would occasionally damage the roof braces.  Many of them were in very rough shape by the time they met the torch. It was also the last major series of cars to be converted for the service as most wood chip cars were purchased new from a manufacturer after that. Just like the six foot door on the forty foot box, these cars fell out of favor to larger 100 ton cars with rotary and end dumping capabilities, ending another distinctive car type on the CNR


CNR number series

856000-856079          856080-856084          856085-856099           856100-856114

856200-856469          856470-856571          856572-856736           856737-856856

856900-856954          857100-857119          857120-857199           857200-857299

857300-857340          857396-857699          857700-857899           857900-857999



ONR number series

7300-7319                    7320-7344

Darren Altbaum,
Feb 28, 2017, 5:56 PM